Episode 71 - Born In A Hotel and SOLD As A Baby!

podcast episode Jan 12, 2015

Fisher opens the show with fascinating news out of Boston where a box, hidden in the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, was opened.  What was in it?  And what will be done with the contents?  Hear all about it! Plus, funeral homes are now offering a service that could benefit survivors of deceased loved ones for generations.  Find out what it is.

Then, Fisher visits with Heather Livergood of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, who has sought her birth family for generations.  One interesting twist... Heather was born in a hotel and SOLD as a baby!  What did she cost her adoptive parents and how did she ultimate find her mother's birth family?  Heather has the answers.
Then listener Diane Dyatt joins Fisher to talk about what DNA and digitized newspapers revealed to her about her great grandfather.  He was apparently known around town for his unique invention.  Diane will tell you what it is.
Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com will share with you an idea for instanting preserving and backing up your videos and photos taken with your phone!  Phone pix are easily taken, but also easily lost.  You'll love Tom's solution.
That's this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 71

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 71

Fisher: Hello you! And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the show where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And I hope you’ve had some success in recent weeks getting new info on your family. A few weeks ago, I identified and contacted a Missouri woman who was a great niece to a woman who was married to my grandfather’s half brother. Are you following this? [Laughs] Should I break out a chalkboard? It is complicated even to me. Anyway, I knew nothing of my grandfather’s half brother because his name was just too common, until recently I discovered some new documents that helped me sort out which James Moore in New York City, he actually was. So this lady said, “I know who your relative was and I’m going to send you a package that will blow your mind.” Her words! Well, obviously she was wanting to surprise me and I wasn’t going to ruin it for her by begging her to tell me what she was sending me, but my mind was racing. What did she have? Photos of my great grandmother, documents and histories and a stack that will answer all my questions I’ve had about this branch of the family? What does she think will blow my mind? Well, when the box arrived, my brother happened to be visiting and we opened the thing together. It definitely had some heft, it was wrapped in bubble wrap and when we finally pulled out her gift, we learned! It was a wooden toolbox made from an explosive’s crate. See, great uncle James had worked for a gunpowder company and it was something he’d made about 80 years ago. So, while I was disappointed the package didn’t solve the mysteries of the family universe, my craftsman brother immediately saw a possibility, turning the heirloom into the most unique shadow box. So now it’s in his capable hands and I wish him the best with it.

Like forest Gump once said, “You never know what you’re going to get when you pursue family history.” Or something like that. Hey, this week I’ve got two amazing guests who have made some incredible breakthroughs. And, I hardly know where to begin with the first one. She lives in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and was actually sold as a baby. How much she worth on the open market in the 40s? Why was she sold, and how did she finally find her mother’s birth family? Well, we’ve got a lot of questions for Heather Livergood, coming up in just a few minutes. Then, later in the show, we’ll talk Diane Dyatt, a woman who used DNA and digitized newspapers to learn some nuggets about her great grandfather she never could have imagined. She also has a letter from Iowa in the 1880s with his instructions for her great grandmother about something you would never have thought she needed instructing on.  How did these people locate this information and these treasures? Well, we’ll find out from both of them, later in the show. Then Tom Perry our preservation authority returns with ideas on preserving digital information you collect on your phone.

It’s important stuff if you really keep some of those pictures and video, forever. It is time once again for our family histoire news for this week, from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. We start with chapter two of this story of the recovery of a box from the corner stone of the Massachusetts State House, placed there in 1795 by Paul Revere and Governor Samuel Adams. The box was safely removed by preservation experts after seven careful of scraping, last month. This week, in the presence of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the screws were removed from corners of the brass box which measured 5 ½ by 7 ½ by 1 ½, it was a tiny thing and the top was removed. Well, the items were then gently brought out one at a time and in surprisingly good condition. Included were some old Boston newspapers, some twenty three coins, including some from the 19th century, as the box had been examined once before in 1855. One of the coins dated to 1652, a so called pine tree shilling. Also inside, was a copper metal honoring General George Washington, and the prize of all prizes, a silver plate engraved by Paul Revere commemorating the dedication of the State House in 1795. The items took nearly an hour to safely extract and they are expected to be put on display at a Boston museum later this year. And at some point they are likely to be returned to the box and placed again in the corner of the Massachusetts State House. See the images and read more about it at ExtremeGenes.com.

Well, here’s a new service possibly coming to a funeral home near you. In the Pittsburgh area, the Perman Funeral Home has become the first funeral home in Pennsylvania to offer DNA banking. The home will bank your loved ones DNA and preserve it indefinitely, at room temperature, bonded to something like a rock. The DNA can of course later be used for genealogical purposes, which could be particularly helpful if the deceased was from an adoptive line, or for tracking hereditary diseases, finding relatives or breaking down an ethnic background. Some 20 funeral homes in the U.S. and nearly 30 in Canada now offer the service, cost if about $600 for the sample to be preserved by DNA Memorials Secure Facility, or $300 if you want to keep the sample at home. What a concept! And coming up next, meet Heather Livergood of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. She was adopted in the 1940s after being, get this, sold as a baby! Recently, Heather found members of her mother’s birth family and you’re going to want to hear her story and how she got her breakthrough, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 71

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Heather Livergood

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, family history radio ExtremeGenes.com its America’s Family History Show. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and very excited to meet my next guest along with you her name is Heather Livergood, she’s in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. Hi Heather, welcome to the show.

Heather: How are you today?

Fisher: Awesome. You know it is so nice to have you on. There are many people who love to research their past, as you certainly done and it’s not unusual to have blocks back there because of adoptions or illegitimacies, all kinds of challenges in our research, but typically that’s something we find from somebody way back. It’s not us ourselves. And that was the case though for you, you didn’t know who your mother was, your father was, your birth parents, you’ve had a lifetime of not knowing about that. How has that affected your life?

Heather: Well you know, I think the question is, “Who do I look like? And where do I come from?” And I wanted to know my roots. Even though I came from a great home, those are just questions that always bugged me so that’s why I started the search. And to be honest with you, if my adopted mom would have lived and my dad lived longer, I probably wouldn’t have searched. But my adopted mom died when I was three and my dad died when I was thirty four. So that’s when I started looking really seriously. When I was pregnant, I thought “Oh my gosh! I wonder what this baby is going to look like?” So that’s when I got my birth certificate, you could get in it Montana then if you were over eighteen, the sealed birth certificate, and that’s what I did.

Fisher: How long have you been doing this?

Heather: Oh I’ve been looking probably close to forty years.

Fisher: Wow! That is amazing. And you had recent success and we do want to get in to that, but I think one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen was the headline of this story that was running in your area that said you were sold as a baby in Butte, Montana. I’ve never run in to that one before. How much were you sold for? What were you worth there by the way Heather? [Laughs]

Heather: I was worth a hundred dollars and I think I gave him a hundred dollars worth.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Heather: [Laughs] But you know, back in the 40s that was a lot of money. My dad at the time, I think, I remember, probably I was ten or twelve then, but we sold doughnuts for a nickel. So probably when I was born I bet he was selling doughnuts for a couple of cents apiece. So even at a nickel my dad would have had to sell two thousand doughnuts, and that’s a lot of doughnuts.

Fisher: To get the baby. Let’s talk about that. If somebody is being sold that must mean there’s a seller somewhere. Who was the seller? What was the circumstance behind this that you’ve learned in your research?

Heather: Well, the seller was a lady by the name of Gertrude Pitkanen, and she wasn’t a doctor. But she thought she was. Her husband passed away and she took over his business. She was a chiropractor. So she sold babies. She did abortions. She had some of her patients pass away. She went to court. She was never brought up on any charges because I think she had the scoop on everyone in the city of Butte. So she sold babies for…I have to think now… for twenty years.

Fisher: Now, as an abortionist, did this mean that some of the babies were born alive and maybe the mothers didn’t know it and then she took them and sold them?

Heather: Well, actually some of the mothers passed away, and some of the babies, she did tell the mothers that the babies died and then she sold them.

Fisher: Oh my gosh! And you found out about this through what research?

Heather: You know, my dad always told me where he got me from. My mom and dad, my adopted mom and dad, they had adopted an older brother through the legal channels, and my mom wanted a girl and my dad said babies were very hard to find. And of course he was born and raised in Butte so he knew everyone and he is the one that found this Pitkanen, and that’s how they got me. But I was just glad I wasn’t placed with her because we talked to one of the children she kept, and she said all she could remember from Pitkanen was her beating her.

Fisher: Ugh!

Heather: So she was not a nice lady.

Fisher: No, clearly not. And from this situation you wound up in your adoptive family and obviously it worked out very well for you, despite the fact you lost your adoptive mother at three.  

Heather: Correct.

Fisher: You had a great dad and a great upbringing and now you wanted to fill this hole in your life, this “where do I come from?” thing, that I think is so fundamental and universal to all of mankind, and off to work you went and you obviously came up with quite a bit of information you developed. What did you know about your birth mother and your birth father?  

Heather: I knew about my birth mom, how old she was when I was born and that another sibling was also born to her, and my dad did tell me that I was born in a motel room. When he picked me up he said there was a little boy outside. He said, “I don’t know if he’s your full brother or half brother but you have a brother out there. And that has always stuck with me that I knew I had a brother whether it was a half sibling or a full sibling. Now, the man that was with my birth mom, my dad at the time he said, “I do not believe that man that was with your mom was your father.”

Fisher: All right. So it’s a little complicated and you had to work through this. Obviously, thirty, forty years ago when you started this search there weren’t the tools that we have available today. What kind of records did you use when you started?

Heather: I just went off that birth certificate, and come to find out that I don’t even know if that birth dad’s name on there is correct. And the only name I had from my mother is her first name which was Violet. She did not have a last name or a maiden name on that birth certificate. So I was actually looking for the dad’s name.

Fisher: So you had one name at least on the mother. Did it give any places where they were from? Were they from the Montana area?

Heather: No, they said they were from General Delivery Seattle, Washington.

Fisher: All right. So let’s go through the process. Obviously it was a stop and go thing. You’d probably go for many years without finding anything new.

Heather: That’s right.

Fisher: And ultimately we came across the holy grail of genealogical research these last ten-fifteen years and that’s DNA and digitized newspapers. Were you able to use both of those?

Heather: I actually did submit my DNA and I can be honest with you, if it wasn’t for DNA I don’t think I would have ever found her, because I wasn’t even looking in the right spot.

Fisher: That makes sense. Was she still living?

Heather: No she was not. She passed away in 2003.

Fisher: All right, so you did the DNA, you did a test and you posted it generally out there to see if there were any matches in the databases?

Heather: Well it comes back. Once you put your DNA, it gives you a list of matches. So at that point, I just started from the top because it gives you the closes match and then work your way down.

Fisher: Right, of course.

Heather: So I kept writing and I finally hit a third cousin and she responded to me. And bless her heart, she took it upon herself and she is the one that did all the research for me and it took her five months to nail down the family.

Fisher: Wow! And was she tied to this family? Did she know them?

Heather: She does not know them but she is tied to them, yes.

Fisher: Okay. And so what type of research did she do to find how you guys tied together?

Heather: Well, she took all the people that we were related to and it was a process of elimination at the common name that kept coming through.

Fisher: Okay.

Heather: And then also, I had about the approximate age of a boy, once she looked at one family, she’s see if they had children and look at the ages of the boy. As you can see that’s a long process.

Fisher: Yeah.

Heather: To go through families and look at their siblings and then the ages.

Fisher: But you had the name Violet.

Heather: I did have the name Violet, but guess what? Violet was a very popular name in that time.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s true. But you’re looking for a Violet in a certain time period in a certain family line, with an older child, an older boy. So there were a lot of things to help you narrow it down. Is that how it ultimately came about?

Heather: And that’s true, yes, and that is what came about you know, looking for a mother with a sibling, yes.

Fisher: And so she kind of narrowed it down to this family, and that meant now that you were in a position where you could actually reach out and see if somebody might respond.

Heather: That’s correct. So once we figured out she had the correct family, the boy fit in right. The mother’s name was Violet, and I also had how old she was when I was born.

Fisher: Okay.

Heather: And her birth date fit in perfect.

Fisher: So was she able to track down any living members of this core family for you then?

Heather: Yes, she tracked down the brother. He was alive.

Fisher: The older brother.

Heather: He had another brother.

Fisher: Is that right. Okay, so she tracked him down, did she make the first contact or did you?

Heather: I did. I wrote to this Bob, his name is Bob Stanford and I wrote a letter to him telling him I was adopted. I said, “Well you know, I’m just looking for relatives. I’m trying to find some roots, and would you do a DNA test?” And he agreed.

Fisher: Wow.

Heather: Well, a couple weeks went by and I never heard. So I finally tried to call him and I never could get a hold of him. Then he left me a message and said he decided not to do the DNA test, which I was devastated. I thought, what am I going to do now?

Fisher: Of course, right.

Heather: So I called him back, I left him a message, I said, “The reason I want you to do a DNA test is because I think your mother is my mother.” Well that got his attention [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

Heather: So of course he’s still sceptical. He doesn’t know who I am. And submitting your DNA, that’s something you have to think about. We’ve had articles and People magazines and in the local paper, so I sent him those articles just so he knew I was very upfront at this point.

Fisher: Sure.

Heather: I figured I don’t have anything to lose. So after he got the newspaper clippings he sent the DNA test in, and when we got that test back, we were 99% close relation!

Fisher: Wow! How did he take that? Because it’s obviously something he didn’t know about and he was the older sibling.

Heather: Yes he was. And he does not remember even travelling to Butte, or waiting outside, he has no recollection of that. You know, bless his heart, they took it quite well that they had a sister. He said he was disappointed in his mom that she would do that. And I told him I don’t want them to think that way because you don’t know the circumstances that she was in.

Fisher: No.

Heather: And I didn’t want them thinking less of their mother.

Fisher: Absolutely. We’re never going to understand all the things that were going on with our people back in the day and what the reasons were. It’s just what it is!

Heather: It is what it is. And that’s what I told him, just be thankful that I have found you and we’ll probably never know the reasons. But you know, his dad and my birth mother, they stayed together. They had another child about a year and a half younger than me, it was another boy. I mean, I guess I’m surprised that they stayed married, but you know as well as I do, people in those days did not get divorced.

Fisher: Not very easily. That’s right. Well Heather, tell us about now your relationship with this older brother and I guess a younger one as well. What’s going on with that? Have you met?

Heather: Yes, we flew down in September, my husband and I, and we met both of the brothers. And we met one of the brothers, he has four kids and we met three of the four kids. And they took us out and we had a picnic out in the woods. And you know it went very well. I didn’t really know what to expect. After all these years you’re meeting blood relatives but you’re also meeting strangers.

Fisher: That’s right. Did you see resemblance?

Heather: No, not very much, maybe more towards the younger brother. They’re very tall, they’re like 6’1” and 6’3” and I’m 5’4” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] You never know, do you?!

Heather: No, but you know, we always wondered because our youngest daughter is 5’10” and we always wondered where she got her height from. So now we know.

Fisher: Unbelievable. She’s Heather Livergood from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She was sold as a baby for a hundred dollars, and has found her birth family! Heather thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s unbelievable.

Heather: Well, and thank you for calling and you know, I hope it gives hope to other people that are looking. I would strongly say put in your DNA and start searching.

Fisher: Good luck to you. Thanks so much Heather.

Heather: You betcha and you have a good day.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to be talking to a woman who found an ancestor who built a musical broom! What was that all about? And what has she found on this guy? We’ll find out next on Extreme Genes, family history radio, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 71

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diane Dyatt

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, family history radio, America's Family History Show. And this is one of my favorite parts of doing this program is sharing people's success stories, and some of the unusual and weird stuff and interesting and hard to find things that people come up with. And one of our listeners, Diane Dyatt, is on the line with us right now. Hi Diane, you've been successful lately!

Diane: Yes. I have been researching my paternal great grandfather and he had quite an interesting history.

Fisher: And where was he from?

Diane: He was from Muscatine, Iowa.

Fisher: Okay.

Diane: And he was a restaurant owner, following in his father's footsteps at a young age. And during that interim I was doing some research online on newspapers and came across a Muscatine journal article, reminisces of long ago, which was 30 years ago, about something he had invented.

Fisher: Okay.

Diane: It says “Alfred Keith of the popular restaurant had invented a musical broom.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diane: He razed the broom handle nearly to the brush through an oyster can which has a round hole cut out on one side, puts in a key at the end of the handle, and with a little bridge placed on the can he put in a common light guitar string, and with a violin bow proceeds to invoke Home Sweet Home, Swanee River and other melodies. So I thought that was quite interesting.

Fisher: No, that's awesome. The question is if you've been able to recreate his fantastic invention.

Diane: No, I thought that I would leave that left in the past. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Leave it back there. Now when was this guy born?

Diane: He was born about 1860 and lived 'til about 1940.

Fisher: Okay.

Diane: And in his 30s he actually switched his occupation and became a carpenter, in fact, he must have had interest previously because he made a wooden carved Valentine for his future wife. They were married on Christmas day in 1881.

Fisher: So did you get that?

Diane: I do have that. And he also, I have some of their love letters, and they were quite interesting because she was only of the tender age of 15 and he was 21. She was in Ossian, Indiana and he was in Muscatine, Iowa. So one of the letters I have was quite amusing, I felt. It says "My darling Julia, I am so lonely without you today. I am at home today in my little bed. I came up at about 11 and went to sleep. All at once I woke up, jumped out of bed, ran around the room like some old rooster on one leg, ran up against the door, knocked over chairs and tumbled halfway down the stairs, and for all this hurry thinking that it was after 4 'o clock and it was only half after 12. Well, after I got quieted down I went downtown and got me a pint of ice cream and 15 cents worth of cakes and blocked myself in the pillows and ate, thinking all the while of you. So I concluded to write if I didn't have the chance to speak to you."

Fisher: Wow!

Diane: [Laughs] And on the top of that letter he was instructing her to put her stamp on the right hand corner.

Fisher: Oh, she didn't know that stamps go on the right hand corner?

Diane: Well, apparently not.

Fisher: [Laughs] She was young.

Diane: [Laughs] She was very young, yes. But there's another twist to this story is that in the historian censuses and they were not only in the US censuses but also Iowa had state censuses.

Fisher: Right.

Diane: So there are a number of censuses. I started finding that they were listed, it looked like as mulatto.

Fisher: Different races, huh?

Diane: Yes. And in some of the censuses they were listed as white. Some of the censuses they were listed as colored. And some of the censuses they were listed as black. But in later life he actually was listed as white. And his two daughters, he had two daughters and a son, and they were also listed as black, and one of them being my grandmother.

Fisher: Now I'm assuming that you come from what is believed to be a Caucasian family, right?

Diane: That is correct.

Fisher: Okay.

Diane: And so I found this to be very interesting, and I pursued this more and I have pictures of all these people, and my grandmother was very fair, blue eyed blonde, as was her sister. However, when I was doing some research later on, a couple of years ago for a class I was going to teach, I was checking out a source and found a digital book on African Americans in Muscatine county, actually, the book was about Muscatine county, and they had a section in there, and my great grandfather was listed and talked about his restaurant. So that was quite interesting. But then I went ahead and took it one step further, and about a year ago I did an autosomal DNA test and got my results, and I have 4% African.

Fisher: So that kind of proves it.

Diane: Right. And my son actually has 2%. And so just to be clear that this was actually on my father's side, I had my mother do an autosomal test as well, and she came out 100% European. So clearly this was from this particular line.

Fisher: Right. You eliminated mom's side by having her do it.

Diane: Right.

Fisher: Which was a great technique, by the way.

Diane: Yes, and so I do not know where this entered the line, and both Alfred Keith and his father whose name was Ribbon Keith, which is kind of an unusual name, but they were both married to Caucasian women, so I am not sure exactly where the history will lead me.

Fisher: Right. So you're still working on this, trying to push it back. Well, of course, Iowa and Indiana had a lot of people who came in there from the south, from Kentucky and Tennessee and areas like that, so I wouldn't be surprised if you wound up in that direction eventually.

Diane: According to what I've found thus far, Ribbon Keith was actually born in Pennsylvania and I'm not sure exactly where, so I'm still following that lead.

Fisher: So, Diane, are there any oral traditions in the family about the different racial components of your dad's side?

Diane: I'm not sure about the racial components. My dad passed away in 2008, and he did remember this grandfather, and he used to go over to his house as a child, and he was quite interested to hear some of the findings I had come across. And I didn't have a definitive thing down, but, because I hadn’t done the DNA test.

Fisher: Right.

Diane: However, he used to talk about going to his house and he had all these homemade display cabinets that he had all sorts of different curios and things he had collected, and I have some of those. He had a little yellow iron that didn't even look like it was big enough to iron anything that you could hold, and it had a tag on it that said "Bought off a Chinaman." I don't know where he got it, I don't know that he travelled extensively, but some way he got all these different collectables, and I think he had an intestine of some pig or some animal I cannot recall what it was.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diane: But my dad used to take that out, he thought it was fascinating as a child to go over there to see all these different things he had in his display cabinets. But I don't think he was aware of any other ethnicity.

Fisher: Wasn't that interesting? Because, you know, the United States has always been called the Melting Pot, and I think more and more were seeing this, where more and more people are discovering "Oh," you know "We do come from lots of different places around the world,"  especially the further back you go.

Diane: That's absolutely correct.

Fisher: Well Diane, thanks so much for talking with us today and congrats on all the discoveries. It's just amazing, the stories that are out there and waiting for us just to discover at some point.

Diane: Well, thank you Scott. It's been a pleasure.

Fisher: Well, keep up the good work and let us know if you get it any further.

Diane: Thanks. I will.

Fisher: And coming up for you next, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he's our Preservation Authority. You know, so many of us are taking videos and storing things on our smart phones, he's got some great ideas on automatic backup and other tools you can use, next on Extreme Genes, family history radio, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 71

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, everything is changing, and that's what we've got to talk about with preservation today. Hi, welcome back, Extreme Genes, family history radio, America's Family History Show. Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. And Tom, you know, change always makes folks nervous who've been doing things one way forever, and now they have to adjust. And one of the things that's happening right now, smart phones! And there's so much preservation we can do of interviews and recordings. But what happens once it’s in the phone? That seems to be a problem for a lot of people.

Tom: Oh it is. It’s not only smart phones. It’s also the dumb phones that are camera phones as well. It has just totally changed the whole landscape of everything. Like everything that we have, it’s a two edged sword, there's good and there's bad. Having a smart phone, it means it’s awesome! You can grab things you never got before. You see something really, really cute, you know, you don't want to get out your camera and shoot it. I've seen my kid take their first step. When you're on your eighth kid, it’s no big deal anymore. With a smart phone, it’s easy to pull it up and shoot it. In fact, the other day I was just driving down the road and saw this amazing sunrise! And I don't have my camera with me, but, "Oh hey, I have a camera in my pocket!" I pull it out, shoot it, absolutely amazing. Now I've got it on my phone, now what do I do with it?

Fisher: And that's the question a lot of people have. And the thing is, digital recordings are a little bit scary, it’s a little dicey. It’s not like holding a piece of film or something physical anymore.

Tom: Oh absolutely. So many times I've done something on my iPhone or my iPad, and then it’s gone. It’s like, "I know I didn't erase it. Where is it?" It might be in the bowels of it someplace that some four year old could find it for me, but, you know, I have no clue where it is or how to find it.

Fisher: So what do we do?

Tom: The best thing to do, what I like doing is, I have an iCloud account and I also have a Dropbox account. And so with these things, whenever I take a picture, as soon as I'm at a wifi spot, it automatically uploads them. So I've got a backup in two places, on the cloud through iCloud and also on my Dropbox. It automatically does that every time I take a picture, it puts them up there. And every once in a while, I go through and throw out the ones I don't want, but that way, I've got a backup. And then once they're on iCloud, or Dropbox is even better as far as I'm concerned. You can send anybody a link to your Dropbox specific picture. They don't have access to all your Dropbox stuff. You just send them a link to one folder or whatever you want, then they can go and get them and download them if they want to, or you can get some things for the butt end of your camera that plugs in the same place you put your charger. And it allows you to plug an SD card into it. So if you have iPhone that doesn't have a removable SD card, get one of these adapters. You can find them on Amazon.com for your phone. Put them on the SD card. Once it’s on the SD card, immediately, like I've said millions of times before, get it on your computer, because SD cards and thumb drives are volatile memory.

Fisher: Exactly.

Tom: So you want to put it there. The more places you spread it out, put it on your Facebook page, because a lot of people actually use Facebook to store stuff. You can put together an album that you can, not let anybody see, or just let specific friends see. And that's a good way to kind of store stuff for free, which is a backup in case you have the flood, the fire, the hurricane, the tornado or whatever. So you want to get this stuff spread out as many places as you can, so you've got the backups. But these iPhones and these camera phones, it’s just amazing how it'll let you capture things, whether it’s a police thing gone wrong or whether it’s somebody cutting you off on the road that's doing road rage, you could prevent a death.

Fisher: What are the costs for this automatic upload?

Tom: Dropbox is actually free, because it’s all based on how much you upload. And the basic service which would take care of probably most of the people, especially us old people that don't do a lot of this stuff. And it’s free. And then you can say, "Okay, I want to buy this much more memory." And it’s pretty cheap. I have a ton of it and I pay less than a $100 a year. And I have a lot of storage!

Fisher: That sounds like a great way to go.

Tom: Yeah, and all it is, is a programming feature on your phone that you can say, "Hey, I want this tied to my Dropbox, so whenever I take a picture, as soon as I get in a wifi zone. So basically when I get home, I don't even have to touch anything. It automatically uploads." In fact, I have it programmed so it sends me a little note on my computer, saying, "I have uploaded twenty five more pictures." or "Eighty pictures." or whatever. And every once in a while, if you start getting close to your maximum limit, go through and throw away some of the photos, because sometimes you're going to take bad photos as you're going to accidently hit the button.

Fisher: And I think another way to go would be to take your best ones and order online a shutter fly book.

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: And, because a physical book is a lot harder to delete. [Laughs]

Tom: Exactly! It’s almost impossible!

Fisher: Exactly! All right, we're going to take a break, and when we return, what are we going to be talking about?

Tom: We're talking about some more places like Heritage Collectors, a great way to store books. We're going to go and talk into some specific ways that you can take better photos with your iPhone or your camera phone or your smart phone.

Fisher: When we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 71

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Tom, I was going through some old photographs and trying to get everything organized, and realized its starting around 2002, there's just a big gap of printed photos, they're just not there anymore, because we started this big switch over to the digital side. Welcome back by the way, its Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. That's Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority. And this has created really a whole new world for us in terms of separating things out, what we want to preserve and what we don't. And we were just talking moments ago about shutter fly books.

Tom: You were just telling me off air some stuff about one of your kids or something?

Fisher: Yeah. One of my daughters went to China. She was teaching English over there. And she would send us emails and photographs throughout her six months. She gets off the plane, and our other daughter handed her a shutter fly book with her photos in it and descriptions of what they were about, in her own words. So she got right off the plane and was handed a book and a full memory of her six months experience.

Tom: I mean, talk about instant gratification! That is absolutely incredible that we have the technology to do stuff like that. She gets home, the book's already done.

Fisher: And, the other side of it is, you want to order more copies in the future, its sitting on the shutter fly site, so you have preservation going on right there as well.

Tom: Oh exactly! In fact, a lot of places, like I know Heritage Makers will let you go and take your book and put it on your Facebook page and it still turns just like a regular book does. So a lot of these different people have these opportunities that just let you preserve it, pass it on, spread it around, make copies, it’s just incredible! In fact, some of them you can actually send your book to somebody else, they can take your book, put it into like Heritage Makers and they can go in and add onto it, so it’s a continuous book, or go in and take some things that they really like that they did with you and put it in their book, so you don't have to recreate the will, so to speak.

Fisher: So it’s almost like Wikipedia for family history.

Tom: Exactly! It is! And it’s probably a lot more accurate, too. Now one thing, since we're using these iPhones and smart phones and such to take pictures, you want to still remember the very basic things, even through its quicker and faster, ugly angles, poor lighting, things like that are going to make your pictures look bad. Just remember, plan your shoots, so you kind of know what you're going to do. Some stuff you're going to do on the fly, and that's fine. However, you can go on Amazon and buy these little, teeny tripods for like iPhones and Androids and they're like twenty dollars. And they fit in your pocket. They fold up. Just throw one of those in your car or in your bag, and if you see, "Hey, this is a beautiful sunset! Or "Hey, I got some family members doing something cool." Set your tripod down, screw your camera on it. Your pictures are going to look so much better. And something that people don't think about that's really easy, almost everybody has one of those headlights that you wear on your forehead when you're riding your bicycle or working under your car.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Keep one of those in your bag, too, because something as simple as that, putting on a headlight and shooting somebody so they have a little bit more light on their face will set them apart from the background and make your picture look so much better. Everybody will think you're a better photographer than you really are.

Fisher: Well that is true, because each phone, whether it’s an Android or an iPhone is a little bit different in how it records and what kinds of pictures it takes. Some are better than actual cameras.

Tom: Oh absolutely! The megapixels on some will just absolutely blow your mind! You can even get adapters now on Amazon that you can put on your iPhone or your Android that are telephoto lenses, that are wide angle lenses that just pop right over the existing lens, it’s incredible!

Fisher: And iPhones now have a way to take your photos and turn them into tintype looks.

Tom: Wow, that's amazing!

Fisher: And I'm going to have to get into that at some point down the line, because I'm still looking into it. And I want to try it before I talk about it. But wouldn't that be fun! To have pictures of yourself or your family looking like your ancestors in the 19th century.

Tom: Cool! Totally cool! It’s a lot more than doing the old sepia tones.

Fisher: Yes! [Laughs]

Tom: It’s really cool. And there's a really neat app, but I'm going to have to look up the name of it and tell you probably next week. But there's an app you can get for an iPhone, and I'm sure they make it for Androids. You can set your phone down on its butt, so its standing straight up, and this will sit there and make the phone take a 360 degree angle picture. It will go all the way around. It'll stitch all the pictures together. And you have something that is mind boggling. It’s like a two dollar app!

Fisher: Unbelievable! We'll have to take a look at that and find out more about it and talk about it. Hey, we're out of time! Thanks for joining us. Thanks to our guests, Heather and Diane for their incredible stories. If you want to catch them again, listen to the podcast, go to our website, ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you next week next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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