RootsTech 2018 – Opening Day

Opening Day of RootsTech 2018

This year’s RootsTech schedule is a bit different than in previous years. Registration began yesterday at noon and this morning jumped right into the class sessions at 9:30. The keynote with Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, wasn’t until 4:30 this afternoon. The Innovation Showcase followed his keynote.

The Expo Hall debuted tonight from 6-8. There are 197 vendors at RootsTech this year – which is heaven for anyone looking for anything genealogical – plus there are 60 (yes, 60!) new companies at RootsTech for the first time.

Day 1 – It was exciting to see that a number of my class choices were with speakers that I’ve never heard before. Because the keynote speech was at 4:30, there were four session slots that began earlier than usual.

9:30 – The Search for Anna Hansen: Finding German Records presented by Daniel Jones, MA, AG, caught my interest because I decided it was time to look back at my husband’s German lines. I’ve also heard that Germany is entering the genealogy world and records are becoming available on subscription sites.

This session was packed full of tips, tricks, history and methods of genealogical research in Germany. The room was large with two big screens to accommodate everyone and I’d be very surprised if each attendee didn’t learn a lot about German Research. Daniel Jones was a superb speaker.

11:00 – This slot had four sessions that caught my eye – Missing – Presumed Dead: A Case Study of Civil War Records with Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, Translation and Transcription Tools for Genealogy with Thomas MacEntee, The Ancestors Await: Finding Your Ancestors Through Archival Research with Toni Carrier and the session I finally decided to attend – Genealogy Tools and Technology Roundup with David Mann, who is CTO and co-founder of Heirloom Software.

However, his talk was not centered on his company. Instead, David gave a broad overview of various technological tools and how to make appropriate choices that work for individual needs. I picked u several new tips. It was a worthwhile session as I am not the most techy person around by far!

1:30 – My choice here was clear – Curt Witcher is a name I’ve known for a long time, but have never had the opportunity to hear him speak. Beyond Hatched, Matched and Dispatched: More Stories was terrific.

The need to do thorough research was stressed in order to tell the stories of our ancestors’ lives. I really enjoyed his speaking style with some humor thrown in and he covered a lot of ground in one hour. A great summary of his talk is found in his closing words: Fill the Gaps. Find the Stories.

3:00 – The final class of the afternoon was another choice between two for me. Which Hans Jensen Is Mine? Navigating Patronymics in Scandinavian Research with Jenny Hansen and Finding Elusive Records at Family Search with Robert Kehrer both had something to offer.

I know that there are gems in the FamilySearch catalog, but in the end Jenny Hansen’s Scandinavian records was the winner. There is more work to be done on my Danish and Swedish lines and I need all the help I can get!

I feel badly that I didn’t get a photo of Jenny Hansen. The room was packed and I was seated in the last row.

She covered multiple record types and examples of following patronymic naming patterns in one hour. Her examples included Danish, Swedish and Norwegian records. Another session where I picked up some new pointers.

In summary, the speakers today were all top-notch1

After the close of the last session, the semi-finalists and winner of the Innovation Showcase were announced, but I will write about that event in a separate post.

The Expo Hall opened from 6-8 tonight. Many people had gone home, so although it was busy, it was a calm kind of busy, which made for fun browsing.

I made a quick sweep around the hall, which is huge. There are 60 new vendors on the floor this year, so my vendor review next week will have information on many new companies.

That’s it for Day 1. More to come tomorrow on Day 2!




Gearing Up for RootsTech 2018 – Registration Day

It is definitely winter in Salt Lake City, but even though it doesn’t look warm and sunny, the temperature isn’t too bad.

My Friend, Judy, at the Door to the FHL

Yesterday morning was the start of Family History Library research time and I made good use of the shortened hours, as the library closes at 5:00 on Mondays. That left plenty of time for some retail therapy at Nordstrom.

RootsTech 2018 registration opened at noon today. The lure was to miss the long lines and register early.

That didn’t quite happen. The line snaked in rows up to the check in counter and from where I stood, it was an hour and ten minutes of chatting with friends until we reached the counter.

This, however, was nothing compared to the line behind us that eventually reached all the way down to the opposite end of the convention center!

There were hundreds of people still registering in the evening.

Since I am blogging from Salt Lake, the posts for the next few days will all go live later in the evening. Early next week, I will post my annual vendor information. This year there are SIXTY new companies in the Expo Hall.

This year’s RootsTech is going to be great!




More Thorny Thorntons of Colonial Rhode Island

WARNING: Undocumented Clues

A couple of days ago, I wrote about my problem ancestors, Israel Thornton and his wife, Joanna, allegedly Joanna Wilkinson, living in Rhode Island in the early 18th century.

Today, I’ll outline the several Thornton generations before Israel, back to the immigrant ancestor, John Thornton, who died after 1695 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island. He married Sarah, maiden name unproven, before 1648, probably in Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, as listed in Clarence Torrey’s New England Marriages Before 1700. The same source reports that Sarah died after 1692.

  1. John and Sarah reportedly had a number of children for whom no birth records have been found. If they married by about 1647/48, then their children reasonably could have been born from about 1650 to 1670:


My supposed line is through the reportedly youngest child, son Benjamin, who married an unknown wife. Benjamin would have been born c1670.

2. Benjamin and his wife reportedly had children:

Benjamin, born c1698; died 5 October 1761, Glocester, Providence, Rhode Island
Joseph, born c1700
Titus, born c1702; reportedly died 1757, Glocester, Providence, Rhode Island; married Mercy/Mary
David, married Alice (MNU)
Sarah, married Stephen Paine
Mary, married Mr. Vallett

3. Titus who married Mercy/Mary and is said to have died in 1757 is my ancestral line. Their children were:


Titus’s son, Israel, is my Israel who then scampered off to New Brunswick, Canada.

Has anyone noticed one, or two, or three (or more) problems here?

This is all heresay with no documentation found, at least not online by me. There are no Thornton vital records in the 1600s recorded in Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, the AmericanAncestors website has very little on early Thorntons and, while there are a fair number of family trees online, none of them has any attached sources. Probate records show nothing for Thorntons before 1713, when there is a probate entered for Solomon Thornton. None of the later probates seem to be for any of my direct line and only the index date is online, not the records themselves.

I have found various exact dates of birth, claims of a 1757 will for Titus Thornton and spouses named for many of these people, but no primary sources to go with them.

Are there any Thornton descendants out there who have actually researched this family themselves? (and maybe even live in or near Rhode Island and visited an archives in person?)

I would love, love, love to hear from you if you are also a cousin of these thorny Thorntons!