RootsTech 2019 – Day 2

Connect. Belong.

There are lots of fun signs and decorative works celebrating RootsTech this year. Attendees can choose pieces of yarn to pick adjectives that describe themselves, wrapping the yard around pins that might say things like left handed or brown hair, with all the others who chose the same adjectives wrapping their yarn, too. The final effect is a complex yarn design with lots of wraps around single pins visually displaying ways we are all connected. Fun idea!

The Power Hour sessions began at 8 for the early birds. The hallway was fairly quiet and I think many might have slept in after a busy day yesterday. The session I had chosen turned out to be a sponsored talk by a company and, too often, it is more about selling the product than it is about research techniques.

Rather than run to another class already going, I took the opportunity to take some photos to post. First, the Ask Me staff is fabulous. They are everywhere, literally every few feet offering help and asking questions. Signage is everywhere, too.

For those arriving today, there was a pleasant surprise waiting. Not a registration line in sight. If the attendee had their badges mailed, all that was left to do was take a lanyard and pick up a MyHeritage bag.

I sat down in the room for my second session before the first one in the room had ended and listened to some entertaining family stories that the speaker was sharing.

Class #2 was Finding 17th Century English Ancestors Problems and Solutions by Else Churchill, Society of Genealogists. As my British roots were all established in the colonies by 1675, this session was way up on my “to do” list.

Her talk was centered around the immigration chronology of the 1600s. From there, she delved into resources and collections that might extend knowledge of our ancestors and their origins.

This class was recommended for advanced researchers – it was – and I loved it. I learned about all sorts of new record sets that might contain information about my ancestors, The ancestral town of origin needs to have first been identified, but I know of more than 100 of my own towns and villages.

Else Churchill did a terrific job teaching the ins and outs of 17th century English records.

My first afternoon session was by Tim Jansen on Maximizing Your Use of GEDmatch.

Most of the audience, who filled the ballroom, already use GEDmatch. An overview of Genesis was provided, with the basic, free, tools discussed. Premium features were also covered.   While I use Genesis now and then, I am more of a dabbler. The speaker went into enough detail so that I could keep up and understand what he was explaining. However, I did learn more about its features.

The session was well organized and seemed to be at an appropriate level of difficulty based on audience reaction and interaction.

I made it to one afternoon session, returning to hear Else Churchill once again – Under-used English Records – Quarter Sessions. This session was, like the morning session, filled with details about new-to-me resources.

I hoped to make one or two more sessions, but instead spent my time speaking with vendors about new products and services. Look for more on that next week when I post the Expo Hall visits next week.

I’m ready for Day 3 tomorrow, but time is flying by.

RootsTech 2019 – Day 1

It’s Time!!!

Yesterday, I spent most of the day in the Family History Library, where things started to hop. It was a much busier place than on Monday. In the afternoon, there were a few people waiting for computers and, of course, help from some of the fabulous library staff.

However, the FHL really was open again until 11 last night.

I love every minute I get to spend in the Family History Library – I wouldn’t mind at all if I got locked in overnight. 🙂

However, this week the big draw is RootsTech 2019 and the conference fun has begun. Although rain is predicted, it is supposed to happen while we are all in the convention center and be finished before dinner. Thank you, Mother Nature.

The first session I attended this morning was presented by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. Ballroom J was just about full. The classrooms are all much bigger this year, which is great because many were shut out of sessions last year, as the rooms filled quickly.

Deeper Analysis: Techniques for Successful Problem Solving began right on time with a welcome to RootsTech. Elissa Scalise Powell led the audience through a robust process based on the BCG genealogical standards to define goals, work through the process and determine conclusions. She also shared a number of examples and stories illustrating successes and mistakes from which to learn.

I have heard Elissa speak at other conferences. She is an excellent speaker, clear, concise and easy to follow.

My second session choice was geared towards genealogy business, even though my blog isn’t a business, it is just my baby.:)

Amy Johnson Crow was the presenter and she spoke about Social Media Tools for Your Genealogy Business. She shared many good tips about the various media forms, setting our goals and choosing appropriate platforms.

Amy’s presentation was excellent for those who have a genealogy business, but was also relevant to bloggers who simply want to increase the numbers of regular readers.

Next up was lunchtime. It was wonderful. Free boxed lunches were available all over the convention center. Choices were ham, turkey or roast beef and there were lots of areas in which to sit and relax. The RootsTech team really listened to last year’s feedback. Thank you, RootsTech. 🙂

My first afternoon session was by a new-to-me speaker, Katherine Schober, whose session was titled The Magic of German Church Records. Germany has been a bit late getting into the genealogy game, aside from early records being filmed by FamilySearch years ago. With all of the German branches in the Stufflebean family tree, I need to keep up with all the new resources.

Beginning with a quick overview of how and why vital records began, the talk quickly turned to church records. This session was aimed towards beginners working in German Records. It was well organized, full of details and resources to help and clearly presented.

The room was packed and many were taking notes, although an updated syllabus link was provided.

The last regular session for Day 1 is one that I looked forward to, as Kenyatta Berry of Genealogy Roadshow fame, was presenting Slave Traders, Speculators and the Slave Trade. I wasn’t able to get a photo of Ms. Berry.

The talk began with an overview of the slave trade and the growth of slave populations. There were many, many facts shared that painted a clear (grim) picture of the history of the slave trade. Quite a few resources to help with enslaved persons research were shared, too. Attendees had an opportunity to have questions answered at the end.

For those researching enslaved ancestors, many new ideas for tackling the research process were sparked.

Later in the afternoon, Steve Rockwood gave the first keynote speech of the conference, giving an update on FamilySearch.

That was followed by the opening of the Expo Hall and ended with many tired, but happy conference attendees.

More to come tomorrow!



Will of James Waters of Amelia County, Virginia 1753; Was James WATERS the Father of Rhoda (MNU) Butler, wife of William Butler?

A few days ago, I shared the will of William Butler, dated 5 March 1812 and proved on 27 January 1814 in Amelia County Court, Virginia.

With the scarcity of the Butler surname in Amelia County and marriage records found their for each of his children, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that his daughter Betsey was the wife of Revolutionary War soldier Moses Woosley.

I also speculated as to whether or not it could be proved that William Butler’s wife, Rhoda, was a Walters by birth.

Given that the family lived in Amelia County and records there date back to 1734, I looked for land deeds and probate records for any Walters people I could find. There were absolutely NO men with the Walters surname found. However, I did find WATERS, which is certainly very close in sound and spelling to WALTERS.

I didn’t find any early land records here for many Waters, which I was hoping to find, but when I looked at some of those early deeds for Nicholas Waters, I noticed that his name was sometimes spelled as WATTERS and that, at times, the clerk put loops in the letter T and crossed them, so it certainly would be easy to think that WATTERS was actually WALTERS.

A quick search of probate records for Amelia County did turn up a will for one James Waters, who was fairly young when he died, as he had unmarried daughters. Based on tentative birth years for his children, I believe he was likely born c1705.

Amelia County, Virginia WB 1:99
Source: FamilySearch

Some of the ink has faded, making it almost impossible to read the bottom portion of the page:

In the Name of God Amen, I James Waters of Nottoway parish & county of Amelia Being in perfect Sense & Memory do make Constitute and ordain this to be my Last Will and Testament

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Whitworth one Shilling Sterling and no more She haveing already Received that part of my Estate which I intended for her

Item, I give and Bequeath to my Son John Waters one Shilling Sterling and no more he having already received that part of my Estate which I intended for him

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Ann Hughes one Shilling Sterling and no more She having already received that part of my Estate which I intended for her.

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Catherine Morris one Shilling Sterling and no more She having received that part of my Estate which I intended for her

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Rhoda Waters one Featherbed & the furniture to her and her Heirs for Ever

Item, I give and bequeath to my Son William Waters, one shilling sterling and no more having Received already that part of my Estate which I intended for him

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mourning Waters fourty Shillings current Money to her and her Heirs

Item I give and bequeath to my Wife (?) after all my just Debts are paid, all the rest (?) and remainder of (. . . .) what (. . . .) quality (?) to her my Said Wife and (. . . . . . . .) rest to be appraised (?) my Ex. . . (?) to give Security (. . . . . . .) and to be my whole and Sole Executrix(. . . . . . . . . . . . . ) I have hereunto Set my hand and fixed my Seal xxi day of June MDCCLIII

Signed sealed published and
(?) to be his last will & Testament in the (?) of us

Gideon Johnson
Saml Goode

At a Court held for Amelia County the 27th Day of September 1753 This Will and Testament of James Waters was presented in Court by the Executrix therein named whom (?) Oath thereto and was also proved by the Oath of Samuel Good one of the witnesses thereto which is admitted to Record

From this will and knowing that Moses Woosley was born in 1758 and his wife, Elizabeth, probably around 1760 and working back to estimate a birth year of c1736 for Rhoda Waters, we can create a prospective family group for James Waters. Because of the mix of sons and daughters listed in James’s will, I think they might be in birth order.

Also, given that the last child is named Mourning, a name often given when the mother died in childbirth, it seems likely that the wife who survived James might be the stepmother of these children.


1. Mary, born c1728; married Mr. Whitworth, before 1753
2. John, born c1730; died after 1753
3. Mary Ann, born c1732; married Mr. Hughes, before 1753
4. Catherine, born c1734; married Mr. Morris, before 1753
5. Rhoda, born c1736; married William Butler, before 1760
6. William, born c1738; died after 1753
7. Mourning, born c1740; died after 1753

Abraham Whitworth, born c1728, with a wife Judith, gave supplies to the troops during the Revolutionary War, as did Moses Morris, born before 1728, wife unknown. These men are potential husbands for Mary Whitworth and Catherine Morris.

Abraham Whitworth and Moses Morris are both on the 1782 census substitute for Amelia County, Virginia, along with one John Hughs Jr. and William Butler, all appearing on Christopher Ford’s list, so they lived in close proximity to each other.

This certainly isn’t definitive proof that Rhoda (MNU) Butler was Rhoda Waters, not Walters, but I think it seems very, very likely given the less common nature of Rhoda as a female name and Waters/Walters sounding so similar.

Perhaps further research into Abraham Whitworth, Moses Morris and John Hughs will yield more information about the Waters family.