Day 2 – Thursday Opening of FGS-RootsTech 2015

Celebrating Families Across Generations

This morning at 7:15, a large group of genealogy bloggers met RootsTech 2015 coordinator Paul Nauta, who gave us a VIP tour of the Exhibit Hall.

Celebrating Families Across Generations is the theme of this year’s conference, which numbers 20,000 plus thousands more children and families for Family Day on Saturday.  The Exhibit Hall is set up very differently this year with big sponsors and the media hub in one area and meandering paths rather than traditional straight rows hosting vendors.  We were told that this is the largest genealogy vendor hall in the world and I believe it, as the hall is bigger than a football field.  Technology abounds, with computers and scanners available for paid and free activities, products and events.  Not surprisingly, the 170 vendors include  start ups and new companies offering genealogical products.

After a group photo with the FGS ambassadors, I decided on an early lunch to avoid the very long lines that would form by noon.  Lunch done, I headed to an interesting sounding session: Infamy in the Family: Online Tools to Help Identify Family Members of Ill Repute.  The speaker was a gentleman who I had not heard speak before, B. Douglas Conley from New York is a genealogist and cultural researcher whose focus has been the Northern Neck Of Virginia.

Mr. Conley separated out celebrity infamy from finding records about infamous members of our own families.  Statistics about family black sheep will revolve around many 50 other people, while an international infamous celebrity might touch a billion people around the world.  How can records be found about one solitary familial member who might be considered infamous?  Often, it takes a lot of time and effort to find tidbits about the person who one might be researching.  A main source of information would be court records.  Mr. Conley shared case study work that he has completed on infamous people, who lived in Virginia and who worked as slave overseers.  A second case study involved a man named David Lyne, who migrated from Virginia to Missouri and who was murdered.  Only his surname was known until he used the FAN principle to fill in family records.

To search for infamous relatives, it is necessary to seek out court records and use the FAN principle (friends, associates and neighbors) to piece together clues that will give the complete picture.
My second afternoon choice was hearing Thomas Jones present Problem Solving with Probate.  Dr. Jones is the author of best seller Mastering Genealogical Proof.  Almost anything an ancestor owned could be probated- anything from land, which had to be accounted for in one way or another, to clothing, animals and spectacles.  One important item to note is that the type of courts handling probate varies significantly from state to state.  Also important to know is that loose papers not bound in books were often not microfilmed as books were and usually remain in local court houses rather than being transferred to an archives.  Probate files, as opposed to wills, often include many more details about the deceased, his/her heirs and property. It is worth taking the time to dig for those probate files that may be recorded in multiple books, due to court procedures.
Another update tomorrow, with Former First Lady Laura Bush and daughter, Jenna Bush Hager as keynote speakers and sessions in full swing.

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