Episode 457 - Managing the Historic Burying Grounds of Boston / Stories Still Coming from World War II Killed in Action

podcast episode Apr 24, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David opens with the story of the closing of his local church and what he did to commemorate it. Then, in Family Histoire News, an old scoreboard has been found. REAL old! It dates back 1,000 years! Hear where it is from. Then, some 390,000 women signed a petition for world peace a century ago. Now, this document is heading back to Wales, where it came from. David has more. Then, exciting news for a Michigan family. They had a girl. Hear what makes this one so extra special. A doctor is celebrating his 100th birthday… and is still practicing! Hear more about this special man. And, another masterpiece has been found in someone’s home in France. You won’t believe what it sold for.

The first guest up this week is Kelly Thomas of the Historic Burying Ground Initiative of Boston. These are the burial sites of such people as John Hancock and Paul Revere. Kelly explains how the sites are maintained, and, aside from the four in downtown Boston, how many others she oversees. And not one of them is a church yard. She will explain why.

Next, Don Milne returns to the show from Stories Behind the Stars, the organization seeking to create 500 word stories for every killed-in-action soldier from World War II. Hear where they are in the project, and what their latest focus is.

Then, Tami Mize joins the show to talk about her site ConferenceKeeper.org. Tami started this site in 2016 so you and I can find out where to learn more about family history research. It tracks conferences, online meetings, lectures… you name it. And best of all… it’s free!

Then, David returns for Ask Us Anything.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 457

Fisher: And welcome America, to America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Great show lined up for today! We're going to talk to Kelly Thomas from the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative in Boston, and we're going to catch up with Don Milne. You may remember the name from the past. We first started talking to him around 2020. He's the guy behind Stories Behind the Stars, which is basically a project to get the stories of all those who died in World War II, all the American service people and he's got an update on what's going on with that. We're also going to talk to Tami Mize today from Conference Keeper. What is this tool? Why do you need it? We'll explain it to you coming up a little later on in the show. Hey, it's time to check in with Boston right now because my good friend David Allen Lambert is standing by the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, welcome back.

David: Hey, Fish, how's it going?

Fisher: Great. What have you been up to lately?

David: Well, bittersweet news, our local congregational church where I was baptized and married, since 1825, it's been in my town, its last service was this past weekend.

Fisher: Ooh.

David: But as a historian, I found out what they were bringing to the new church in the neighboring town and what they were leaving behind. One was the large pine baptismal font from the church from the 1940s to the 50s, which I promptly put in the back of my sister's car and drove to the historical society.

Fisher: Nice! [Laughs]

David: They also found a box of records from the 1890s and 1920s, not baptisms and things, but like membership lists in sort of list of men's clubs and women's clubs. Now, here's the interesting thing. They predate by 40 years when the church that they would have been in burned down. So I don't know where those were hiding out. But we have them now at the historical society with a small route to my house to be digitized before they go into storage.

Fisher: Nice! That is a great service you're doing there, David, and I wish more people would think of things like that when buildings of historic note go away. That's great stuff.

David: Yeah, that's just trying to preserve the worthwhile past.

Fisher: So David, fill me in on what's going on with our Family Histoire news this week.

David: Well, let's head off to Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula where archaeologists have just found a 12 and a half inch diameter stone scoreboard.

Fisher: What?

David: Yeah, it's a scoreboard dating from 800 AD to 900 AD at this Mayan site. It has hieroglyphics on it. There's two players with a ball in the middle, and they believe it's the scoreboard for a game that was over 1000 years ago.

Fisher: Oh, that is crazy. Wow, what fun!

David: Well, this wasn't chiseled into stone, but a century ago, a group of ladies in Wales after World War I, thought it was important to promote peace. So, they went around all of Wales and collected signatures, Fish, 390,296 signatures and addresses.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Essentially, a census substitute for the ladies. This was sent over to the United States, it was on Tor, and a delegation came over. Well, now it's being sent back to Wales to be digitized and indexed.

Fisher: Wow, all those signatures, all those addresses. That's even more fun than a census in many ways.

David: It really is. So thanks for the ladies for taking that extra step. Think of 390,000 times how many descendants are living a century later, millions.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah. The box that this thing is in is unbelievable.

David: Exactly. It looks like a huge cedar chest. I looked at it quickly. I thought it was a casket. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] But it's definitely loaded with treasure, geological treasure. Well, I'm going to come across the United States for the next story. And this is about a Michigan family who has had an exciting family occurrence, the first baby girl, Fish, since 1885.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

David: Yeah, 138 years, and she's finally arrived. The first female in this tree, her name is Audrey. And she was born to the Clark family. And they're very excited about it. But can you imagine if you had to stop and look at your family tree that you are the first female born to a family and it's all been males for that many generations. I mean, that's going to be at least for five generations.

Fisher: Yeah.  

David: And of course, it's always a 50/50 chance what you're going again. So that's exciting news, and congratulations to them. The next person is not a baby because he was born 100 years ago, same time was that petition. In fact, he would have been an infant. He is Dr. Howard Tucker, who has been practicing medicine since 1947. And on CNBC, he talked about a variety of ways of living a happy and long life.

  1. Don't spend a lot of days being retired.
  2. Keep busy.
  3. Don't get out of shape.
  4. Don't smoke.
  5. Don't restrict myself to certain things.
  6. If you want to go out and have something off your diet, go for it.
  7. And don't let knowledge go to waste.

Having practice neurology for over seven decades, he basically has continued to teach and work with residents and students.

Fisher: Wow.

David: Keeping active and enjoying life.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Well, I love when we hear these stories of people finding things. I remember there was a lady that had like a, I think a Rembrandt hanging in her kitchen for years.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Here's what's happened again, over in France, somebody thought that this painting that hung on their TV room was fake, till they sold it for $850,000.

Fisher: You know, it's funny, because also last week over in England, we had that story about the people who discovered the 300 plus year old painting from the 1660s, remember, underneath their wallpaper or something.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: So this is happening all over the place.

David: You know, we love archeology on the show, because we're always digging to find our ancestors. And sometimes we need real archaeologists to do it. And last week, we were talking about that cemetery discovery with ground penetrating radar while they're at it now in Lincoln, Nebraska. There's a village called Amadi, which is just south of Dakota City. It was a river city that existed from 1856 to ‘66, give or take a year or so. And it had a residency of 400 and their own newspaper and post office, sawmill and a variety of other things. Of course, they had a cemetery. Well, they're not sure exactly where it is, but it's out in the middle of a farm field someplace. And they're looking for it. So who knows more ancestors can be dug up in the coming weeks.

Fisher: You never know.

David: That's all I have from Beantown this week. Don't forget, if you're not a member of American Ancestors, you can save $20 with the coupon code EXTREME.

Fisher: All right, David thanks so much. And coming up next, we're going to talk to Kelly Thomas from the historic burying grounds initiative of Boston, Massachusetts when we return in three minutes.

Segment 2 Episode 457

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kelly Thomas

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. And on the line with me today from Boston, Massachusetts, Kelly Thomas. She is the manager of the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. And this is quite a job. Kelly, welcome to Extreme Genes. It's great to have you.

Kelly: Thank you, Scott. I'm really pleased to be here.

Fisher: You know, as a manager of The Historic Burying Grounds, I'm assuming that you are taking care of some of the most historic sites in America for that matter. Like, what is it… “the Granary Grounds,” where Paul Revere is? And the victims of the Boston Massacre? That's all under your purview, yes?

Kelly: Yes. Yes, that's correct. There's a lot of well known people in the Granary.

Fisher: Yes, there sure are. I've been there several times on visits, and it is just a most humbling place. And certainly a lot of people always they're checking things out and going, wow, is this person really here? How many sites overall are you in charge of?

Kelly: I'm in charge of 16 burying grounds that are all owned by the city of Boston.

Fisher: And then there are four main ones right, and they are the Granary and what else?

Kelly: Well, I wouldn't say that they were the main ones. Those are the ones that are downtown Boston.

Fisher: Okay.

Kelly: There's the Granary Burying Ground that was established in 1660. There's King's Chapel Burying Ground, which was established in 1630.

Fisher: I think of William Dawes isn't he buried at Kings?

Kelly: He was buried at Kings, but we believe that his body was actually moved. His family moved his body to Forest Hill Cemetery in the 19th century.

Fisher: Okay. And he's the guy that rode with Paul Revere, and doesn't get much credit for it. Yeah. Okay.

Kelly: You're absolutely right.

Fisher: Okay. And what were the other two sites?

Kelly: There's Topsail, Burying Ground, established in 1669, and Central Burying Ground, which is at the end of the Boston Common, and that was established in 1754.

Fisher: Wow! And how did you qualify for this work?

Kelly: I got a master's degree in historic preservation studies from Boston University, and I was also working with another professor on a job as a research assistant, and then that job came to an end. I was like, Oh, my gosh, I need to find employment.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kelly: So this is in 2000 so job ads were still in the paper. And I saw a job that called for my degree.

Fisher: Yeah. Perfect.

Kelly: I couldn’t believe it.

Fisher: Wow!

Kelly: And I didn't know what it was but I applied and I ended up getting the job.

Fisher: And that's been 20 years now. This is absolutely amazing. So you’ve got the 16 sites. You got the four in downtown Boston, and then where are the other 12?

Kelly: They're in towns that have been annexed by the city that were surrounding Boston. Some of those like the ones closest to downtown Boston like Roxbury, Charlestown, and Dorchester. Those were also founded in 1630. So they have ancient burying grounds. There's one in East Boston, there's actually two in Charlestown one being more recent from 1816. There's two in Dorchester, which is quite a large section of town. And there's a second one that was established in 1810. There's two in South Boston, one in Brighton, one in the South End,

Fisher: And you got them all.

Kelly: I’ve got them all.

Fisher: Wow, these are not church grounds, though, are they? They're just burying grounds. This is kind of the tradition established by the Puritans, right, as I understand it.

Kelly: That's correct. Yes, Puritans believe that church burials could be corrupt, because you could basically pay your way to be buried either inside the church, or near the church, and they didn't believe that virtue was dependent on how much you could pay.

Fisher: Right. And that's the tradition of course, over in England, where they came from.

Kelly: Yes, that's correct. The Puritans, they hoped to purify the church from within, unlike the pilgrims that went to Plymouth, who wanted to separate completely from the Church of England.

Fisher: Yeah, there was a little bit of a difference there. But the Puritans, they basically were looking at this and saying, look, there's a status thing involved with burials and we don't want anything to do with it. So they just had their own burial grounds, nothing to do with churches. What is the oldest grave that you've got that you keep an eye on?

Kelly: The oldest grave is from 1653.

Fisher: Okay.

Kelly: So, that was 23 years after the first English people moved to Boston. It was actually the child of the minister of the first church of Roxbury, that he lost a series of children actually to various diseases, all within several years, which, unfortunately, was not uncommon.

Fisher: Sure, yeah. Well, everywhere of course, that was the times. So you’ve got this 23 year gap? What happened to the markers of those who died in between 1630 and 1653?

Kelly: Well, I'm not really sure, exactly. It could be that they've all disintegrated, it could be that they had wood markers, it could be that they were no skilled craftsmen in those early years to make the gravestones, or my belief is that they bought the gravestones were vain and that one’s salvation was entirely dependent on God's will not on good works, or anything that you did on earth. For the early years, I know they didn't want any kind of ministers saying prayers and things like that at the gravesite. So I guess I’ve kind of taken it from there. But I have no proof. But I've never seen any proof for anything.

Fisher: [Laughs] I gotcha. So what do you do now as manager? How do you maintain all these burial grounds? I mean, that's a lot of territory there, a lot of real estate.

Kelly: Yeah. Well, I'm thankful to have the active cemetery division who does basic maintenance, such as mowing the grass, and picking up the leaves, which are all major, major concerns. But I look at what needs to be done, which could be something with trees, it could be walkways, it could be walls, both above ground and then the underground structures. There's a lot of underground tombs, which are masonry crypts designed for multiple burials so there's structural problems with those, fences a lot of old cast iron fences. There's always something to do.

Fisher: [Laughs] I would imagine. Do you do you have security concerns at these places?

Kelly: We lock the burying grounds at night. I think all except for two sites, one that's not fenced in, and one we just don't have any problems with. We really don't have problems like vandalism type problems. That seems to be more prevalent in suburban areas. But we still lock them. We'd rather be safe than sorry. The ones that are on the Freedom Trail are locked and reopened by Boston Parks Department staff in the morning and in the evening. And then the ones that are more in the neighborhoods that aren't visited as often. They have a lock, but we have a code. People can call and get the code and go visit when they want to.

Fisher: Yeah, so these 16 sites that you have, nobody's being buried there now. These are just historic. So whoever's in there is who remains there, right?

Kelly: That is correct. Yes.

Fisher: You have a department that's completely separate for active cemeteries.

Kelly: That's correct. The city owns three active burial grounds. It's the lowest cost burial in Boston but you can still be buried there. But even though, a space is at a premium for burials in urban areas.

Fisher: Yeah, I'm sure we're seeing more and more cremations at this point. But this is just really fascinating. Now, what is your policy? Because I know this is a question that's come up in many places around the country, about people going in and taking photographs. Now being an historic site, I wouldn't think you'd have any problem with people taking pictures and posting them on Find A Grave or making notes, things like that, right?

Kelly: Oh, not at all. Absolutely, that's perfectly fine. The more people that can see the photographs, the better. We're all for genealogists. We don't allow rubbings though.

Fisher: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: That's posted on all the sites at every site, because it can damage the headstone. And I know some people are skilled at it know how to do it. But some stones are in better condition than other stones and being a public sites we have to take either yes or no, it’s not an subjective thing.

Fisher: I would imagine that if you had all the people that went through the Granary pass Paul Revere his grave, and they did rubbings, you wouldn't have a Paul Revere gravestone anymore. I know you got two of them there, right?

Kelly: Yes, there's several of them. And I don't know if any of them are from his original burial, because he's in an underground tomb. And some tombs didn't really have markers on them. So it's unclear to me. I seen a third one in historic photos and I just don't know what the answer is. I know the white marble one is not an original one.

Fisher: Right, right, right. And there are at least a couple that are still there and within sight who else is buried in the Granary by the way? There's some amazing people in there.

Kelly: Oh, absolutely. There's the victims of the Boston Massacre, there's Sam Adams.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kelly: There's John Hancock, there's the parents of Benjamin Franklin. There is James Otis. There is Robert Treat Paine.

Fisher: Yeah, all these people who go back to the earliest days of the Revolution, and everything leading up to it, and through it. It is an absolute gem. And what a job for you, Kelly, to be able to be responsible for taking care of these American treasures. This is not just a Boston thing. It's not even just a New England thing. But it's a treasure for everybody in the country to have these places maintained so that we can go visit and pay respects to those who founded our nation.

Kelly: It's a great honor for me. I never thought I would be involved in some small way with such famous people.

Fisher: Absolutely. It's not just famous. I mean, to me, I'm gonna think of famous I think a movie stars and singers.

Kelly: Yeah, no, you’re right.

Fisher: I'm talking about people who have changed the lives of millions for generations. It's just astonishing. She is Kelly Thomas. She is the manager of the Historic Burying Grounds initiative for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. And Kelly, great chatting with you. Thanks so much and we appreciate you coming on.

Kelly: My pleasure, Scott. Thanks for thinking of me.

Fisher: All right, and coming up next, we're going to talk to Don Milne. And he's with the Stories Behind the Stars, talking about their next initiative of getting all the stories of those who passed in World War II, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in five minutes.

Segment 3 Episode 457

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Don Milne

Fisher: Well, I spoke to my next guest done Milne, some three years ago, as he started a new organization called “Stories Behind the Stars.” And this sounds very Hollywood centric, but it has anything but it's actually about honoring those who died, especially in World War II. And he's having volunteers write stories about these people. In fact, your first focus Don, as I recall, was the state of Utah to get a story written about every fatality from World War II from Utah, and you've gotten it done.

Don: Yeah, it's never been done before at any state and we happen to get some good media attention early on and had a bunch of people that reached out and said, Hey, I'd like to help write these stories. And we call it Stories Behind the Stars in reference to the gold star flags that were hung in people's windows whenever they lost someone during the war. It’s a military tradition that unfortunately is still around today.

Fisher: Yeah.

Don: Luckily, we're not in any conflicts. So we won't have to have too many of those come up new, but we think that each of these stars should have the story that goes with it.

Fisher: Sure.

Don: So, starting with Utah, that was our first state that we did that that's at least 49 to go.

Fisher: Yeah. And you've got 39 state directors, and other states are moving along very well to Alabama, for instance, has what one third of their World War II fatalities written up now?

Don: Yeah, which is actually more than Utah because I think in Alabama, they lost about 7000. It was a larger state back in the 1940s. I guess it still is. Our state director there who helped on Utah, he decided, well, let's do something in my home state here in Alabama. So he's got a bunch of volunteers that are working there and we're up to 39. I can almost say 40. We've got someone thinking about it for Michigan, but I wouldn't be surprised if sometime by this summer, we might get those remaining 10 or 11 states so that every single state has someone leading the effort to identify everybody from the state who died during the war, because you would think in 2023, there would be an official list that you could go to somewhere online and get everybody who died during World War II, but it's never been done. And even the lists that we do have are not accurate. The list from Utah, we had to kind of create from two or three sources, and there may still may be missed, but it's probably the most accurate list we have at this point.

Fisher: Sure. And then you guys have gone on and done other projects too, kind of keeping track with the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and those who died on D Day. And those volunteers are working on a 500 word write up of every single fatality in those events.

Don: That's our goal. We ask our volunteers to do our free training material and use the resources that we provide. We have a partnership with Ancestry. So if you don't have an Ancestry account, we can have you access those resources through a library version of Ancestry and newspapers, you can use that do the research. And then in two or three hours, you can write up this basically a 500 word obituary, and the cool thing about it is every single one of the stories, eventually there'll be 421,000. They're all saved in a common database. And even better, this isn't some obscure database that you would have a hard time finding it saved on Fold3 And another Ancestry connection is they have an app on Find A Grave to let you go to a grave and put in someone's name. And it'll give you their Find A Grave information. But we've worked it out so that our stories that are on Fold3 will link to the Find A Grave smartphone app, so anybody can bring their smartphone to any cemetery put in a person's name that died during World War II. And right now there's about 27,000 stories that we've done, so it works on those, but eventually, say you're going to Arlington National Cemetery or the Normandy American Cemetery, you could go from grave site to grave site to grave site, with your smartphone and read the story about each of those individuals.

Fisher: Wow!

Don: In many cases, look at their pictures, and it'll just be an entirely new experience. This is just a growing thing for you. I know when you first started as like 400,000 Americans died in World War II. And your goal has been to do those and you've got 27,000 of them done, thanks to so many of these volunteers.

Fisher: And then you've got this new project now, to do the stories of all the World War II dead buried in Arlington Cemetery, 8700 of them how's that coming along?

Don: That's been our biggest single project to date. It's more than the combined from when we did Utah, and all the 2500 from D Day and all the 2300 from Pearl Harbor at 8700s, it’s a lot. We started in January of 2022. And here we are almost Memorial Day of 2023. We think we can get there. But it'll be pretty close. If we do we have about 1800 names to go. But in the last month we did the 1000 names from Arlington.

Fisher: Wow.

Don: So we just really picking up steam here, more people are stepping up and saying I'm just going to give up watching Saving Private Ryan for the 10th time.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Don: Instead of that two hours doing that I'm actually going to write about someone who really was not a fictional character, but some other really did give his life for other Americans and made it through the war. So it's really something that if you've got kind of an interest in genealogy, or if you have an interest in World War II, you just start with a name. And two or three hours later, you basically have told someone’s story that's going to be available for anyone visiting his grave site for decades to come.

Fisher: Sure, forevermore.

Don: You don't have to be a world war two buff or you don't have to be experienced in genealogy. Basically, if you've written an obituary, we can train you to do one for any of these World War II fallen.

Fisher: Now you're talking about 500 words, basically. So it's not that long. And it is about the length of an obituary, because as you pointed out to me off air, I mean, nobody wants to read a 25,000 word story, so 500 words really kind of tells it. So you have training videos. You have people who can support you along the way in doing this. I mean, you've really got this put together a long way from when we first talked in 2020. ,

Don: Yeah, at that point, we just had a handful of people. And we eventually had about 100 people helping with the Utah project. And now we've had probably close to 1000 people that have contributed at least one story. They come from all 50 states, and actually about a dozen other countries, it's probably not a surprise that we will get attention from some of our allies in Western Europe. They're grateful that the Americans fought the war against Germany there and kicked the Nazis out of their country. So like in France and England, just different people want to step forward and participate because they welcome the Americans back then, and they want to pay tribute to them now. One example being there's a museum in England is dedicated to a farmer group that was nearby during the war. And so they're focusing on the Americans from that bomber group who didn't make it home from the war. They're not even Americans are going to be writing about the Americans who were at that bomber group. And so we're just getting more and more groups like that stepping forward and say, yeah, we're just going to take on this particular set of names so we can get those done because they have a connection to them, or something in their case that’s close to their community.

Fisher: Sure. Now you have Tom Hanks getting engaged in yet another series about a bomber group, the 100 bomber group, Masters of the Air, they're calling it and you've got a tie in going with this now.

Don: Yeah, it's not an official time with them. But I don't know if anyone's saw the movie Elvis Austin Butler, the guy that played Elvis.

Fisher: Yeah.

Don: He’s going to be the lead in this movie. It’s basically the final in this trilogy that started with Bamboo Brothers, and then the Pacific. And now they're focusing on these airmen that flew these B17s and B24s during World War II, and it's going to be like eight or nine episodes on Apple TV. It happens that there are 800 Americans from the 100, the bombardment group, that's the unit that is the focus of the story that died during the war. So when we wrap up the Arlington project, which we hope we can do around Memorial Day, many of our volunteers are going to then hop right on to the 100 bomber group. Our goal is to finish all of these names by September 2 of 2025. That's the 80th anniversary, the end of World War II. And if we do that, math wise, if we get like 3000 people doing one story a week, we can get it done.

Fisher: Wow!

Don: So it sounds like the bit of all tasks, we still have 394,000 stories to go. But 3000 people doing one story a week, it's totally doable. It's totally fun too.

Fisher: So the website is Storiesbehindthestars.org. And if you're interested in writing up a story of one of those killed in action during World War II, then you just go to that site, and they've got a Facebook page, they've got videos lined up to help you learn how to do these things, and write up a 500 word biography of one of these individuals that will last forever, Don, it's a great project, you've never let it go. And it continues to just grow and become the most amazing thing. What a great project.

Don: It is. And thanks so much to you for be one of our early advocates for this, many of our volunteers came from your podcast. Thanks so much!

Fisher: Thank you so much, Don. It's great to have you on.

Don: Okay.

Fisher: And coming up next David returns for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 457

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tami Mize

Fisher: All right back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It was so great to be back at RootsTech this year. And I ran into somebody who has been bugging me for the longest time to get on Extreme Genes and talk about her awesome website and I looked at her awesome website and it is indeed, awesome! Tami Mize, Charlotte, North Carolina. Welcome, finally to Extreme Genes!

Tami: Hi, Scott. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, she has put together a site. It's called ConferenceKeeper.org. And Tami, this has been going on now for, what, about seven this year, is that right?

Tami: It was seven years in January.

Fisher: Oh, wow! That's awesome. And this is for genealogists who want to keep track of what conferences are going on everywhere. And this has everything to do with societies. And Tami, there are a lot of societies out there. Beyond many of the ones we've even heard of, right?

Tami: There are, Scott, and just a quick aside here, this is way more than conferences. This is all genealogy events. And that would be webinars, seminars, workshops, programs, meetings, institutes. If it's a genealogy event, I'm hoping it's going to be on here. And in terms of societies, that was one thing that I found difficult to find online, the comprehensive list of societies for every state. So, I set about doing my best to compile all that I could find and through other people's lists, and then going and Googling and finding more and going to state societies. So, on each state page on Conference Keeper, which you can either find under locations or by ConferenceKeeper.org/California. On the right hand side, there's a list of all of the societies in that state that I have been able to find with a link to their website.

Fisher: Wow, that's a lot of work! And the best part here is for anybody in the community, it's free.

Tami: Since the pandemic, there are more virtual events than there are in person events.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely, yes. I'm looking at some of the names of these societies and there's so few that I've ever even heard of before.

Tami: [Laughs]

Fisher: And it's a great education right there, because it really gives you something to consider when it comes time to sharpening your axe just a little bit, right?

Tami: Oh, absolutely. And I kind of built the website for my own personal use when I need to learn something. I'm doing some personal research right now and I thought, Okay, I've got to learn tax records. You know, I need to know more about getting into those. And so, I just go on the website, on Conference Keeper and up in the search bar in the top left corner of the calendar area, I type in “tax”, and it'll bring up any upcoming programs or webinars that have to do with taxes or tax records. And the majority of events on the website are free.

Fisher: Kudos to you for doing this. How many different events do you think you have on here at any one time?

Tami: Easily close to 2000 at any one time.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!

Tami: We put about, I use the royal “We.” It's just.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah, yeah. [Laughs]

Tami: But we put between 150 and 200 new events on the calendar every week. It varies just depending on what's going on.

Fisher: Anything overseas or is it just localized to the United States?

Tami: Well, originally, we had this grand plan that it would be a worldwide calendar. However, the issues of time zone and language are a little bit overwhelming. So, I have to say, it's mostly English speaking. We do a lot with Canada and a lot of UK. There's some UK societies and family history, libraries and all that are submitting things to me, which is great, because they're only five hours ahead. So, if you notice on any of the event listings, it'll list the time zone for that event in Pacific, Mountain Standard, Mountain Time, Central Eastern and UK.

Fisher: Wow!

Tami: So, if an event’s in UK, it'll show you what your time zone is, so you know whether or not, you know, you're going to get up at five in the morning or not. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right, well, what a great to service you've done for all of us. So, thank you very much for this. ConferenceKeeper.org, it’s free. Just go there and see what you can find out and get your tools sharpened.

Tami: Thank you, Scott. I appreciate you having me on.

Fisher: You betcha! Coming up next, David Allen Lambert, as we continue with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 457

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go, final question this week for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And Dave, this one comes from Deanne in Tacoma, Washington. She says, “Fellas, as you work your DNA matches, do you research matches of matches? And is this helpful?” All right, where do you want to start with this one, Dave?

David: Well, you know, I think every time I get a match on the DNA, first thing I want to do is talk to them and get some of the stories. But, you can pull up who your matches are compare with that individual person, so you can kind of triangulate if it's your dad's side or your mom's side, because you have that opportunity now with Ancestry. I also like to look at where their family is living and where their matches are from, if you can find that out, because I think you have to look at the whole spectrum of matches on DNA.

Fisher: Yeah, and the whole point of the matching is to find exactly that, all those things that are in common, perhaps a location of somebody on their tree. I mean, if you're trying to break through on a brick wall, finding the matches of matches often means that you don't know who those matches are to you. But maybe through that person, this other match, you can find them. And particularly if they're fairly close, like a third cousin, or fourth cousin match, right, you start going beyond that, you kind of fall off the DNA cliff and you can't get anywhere. But you can do a lot of these matches also on 23AndMe. You can do it on Ancestry.com, GedMatch is very good for that as well. And sometimes you're going to find that if you test your siblings or your cousins, as many as you possibly can, or maybe some older relatives, they're going to come up with some matches on their particular side of the family that you tie to them on that you don't have. And when you do that, then you're going to start to find a whole different set of people that can really help you out.

David: That's right. I mean, and I think that you really have to take those blinders off and just not concentrate on your own matches. I mean, you now have a new clue. You need to open their trees up, you need to look at what research they've done, and also inquire on their trees, if they've put a lot in. I mean, there are people that have done DNA tests with Ancestry that don't even have the tree filled out, but they have it all at home in a notebook.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So you can find out the material, they just don't have the time to put it online. But they had time to spit into a tube and do a DNA test.

Fisher: Sure. That's a good point, David. I think since most people who do DNA tests over there, don't include a tree, it certainly is at least worth asking, “Hey, do you have a tree? Can we figure out where we connect?” especially if it's a fairly close match.

David: Well, I love since ThruLines has been out. So now you can see a projected ancestor.

Fisher: Yep.

David: Without even having them on your tree. Because you could say this is supposedly your fifth great grandfather, something like that. And I then look at all of the descendants that have matches that share that same ancestor. And sometimes those matches have a direct line. And that might be your ancestor was the sibling or something of that nature.

Fisher: Sure.

David: It's amazing ThruLines has helped us out so much.

Fisher: Yeah, ThruLines is a tremendous tool and very helpful. But the one thing you have to understand is, if somebody puts in a wrong ancestor for one of your brick wall lines, that may show up as a possible person. Don't accept it, unless you've researched it to make sure that you know that that is correct. I've done this myself, David, I look at it and I go, “I know who put it up. And I know it's completely wrong.” because I'm the main researcher on that line. Where they came up with that, I don't know. So you have to be really careful with it. But, I know we've kind of meandered through a lot of things on that question, but hopefully that helps, Dianne. And David, thank you so much. And we will talk to you again next week.

David: All right, until next time, my friend.

Fisher: Well, that is our show for this week. And as you can tell there is a lot going on in our world these days. Thanks so much to our guest, Tami Mize for coming on from Conference Keeper. Yeah, helping us keep track of all the presentations that are happening in our space, many of them online and for free, to Don Milne from Stories Behind the Stars, talking about trying to get the stories together of every American fatality of World War II, and to Kelly Thomas from the Historic Burying Ground Initiative of Boston. Catch the podcast if you missed any of it on AppleMedia, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, Spotify and ExtremeGenes.com. We’ll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!


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