Monday, February 27, 2017

We CAN Remember!

Last month I posted the death certificate of Anton Smihal, which said, “Can Not Remember” when listing the name of his mother. I was very happy to be able to connect the living descendant of this family to their Czechs in the old country a few days later, and of course I started writing a blog post about it. But then RootsTech came up, and life became very busy, so it has taken me a long time to finish this post. But now, with permission, I am publishing the research. It ended up being a tricky otázečka (little problem)!

Anton “Smihal” supposedly emigrated from Časlav? in 1881 on S S Alba, arriving in New York.

Only, on further investigation, the S. S. Alba didn’t carry immigrants from Germany to New York, so it turns out they probably meant the S. S. Elbe. Yet’s search algorithms did not include that ship in a fuzzy sound search, for inexplicable reasons.

:::grumble grumble grumble they need a linguist on their search team:::::

Anton Smihal ended up in Orange, Texas. Here he is in 1900, and here he is in 1910.

His 1919 death record shows that he had an estimated birth of ~1834.

His headstone says 1835.

I spent a bit of time searching for "Elbe" passengers between 1881 and 1892 with no good, conclusive results. Usually you want to start with what you know and then work backwards towards what you don’t know chronologically, but sometimes you are faced with the scenario where the records in the home country are much more easily accessible, legible, and searchable (both with online indexes and in-record indexes). You simply cannot “jump the pond” without a village of origin clue. That would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But in this case, I had a clue to the village of origin on his death record, and I had several corresponding records that agreed his birth was somewhere around 1835. So, I decided to just jump ahead and see if I could find him in the Czech parish registers for Čáslav.

I found no "Smahil"/"Smihal" or variants (lots of Sefčiks, it looks like!), but I found him listed as Zmrhal in the index here.

He was born and baptized on 12 September 1835 in Čáslav 110 to Joseph Zmrhal, son of Thomas Zmrhal and his wife Dorothea of Roznotínek [or Hroznětín?], and his mother Maria daughter of Joseph Patzolt of Časlav 102 and Anna born of Jeržabek[?].

I think this is him for a couple of reasons:

  • First, it matches everything we know about him already, namely his birth date and place from the census, findagrave, and his death record.
  • Second, the spelling discrepancy makes sense; it seems that this name is consistently inconsistent in its spelling!
  • Third, the informant on his death record listed his father as "Anton", but because he didn't know the mother's name, he probably was guessing that Anton was named after his father. It is plausible that he was not.
  • Fourth, there is only one place called Čáslav in the Czech lands. There is also neighboring Časlavská Karlov, but it is unlikely it would have been called "Čáslav" on the death record.
  • Fifth, there's a note in the parish register that says the baptism record was duplicated. He would have needed to have gotten a copy of his baptism record in order to emigrate. This was called the Křestní list. It was necessary in order to secure a passport, which was certainly required in 1880+.

I started to poke around the registers. I wondered if this was Anton’s marriage, but it turns out it was for Antonín Zamazal born the same year in the same place as our Anton who also married a Barbora (on 4 June 1866). But there are too many other discrepancies between this record and the baptism record. They are not the same person.

I double checked the registers to make sure I hadn’t missed something. I hadn’t.

Here is Jan Zmrhal’s marriage, probably Anton’s brother.

So...then I wondered if Anton and Barbora married outside of the parish. I saw that Třebešice 06 is not yet digitized, so I wondered what to do next. I started searching other Čáslav records.

I found a Zmrhel “Emilie” on an index of protestant records here.

Emilie’s birth record in 1868 was here. This is not the same family, but it shows that a Zmrhal family in Čáslav was protestant. So...I thought maybe we should check the protestant registers; so far I was only checking the Catholics. Maybe Anton Zmrhal married a protestant.

When I checked the Čáslav protestant records, I found tons of Zmrhals in the index here.

17 Únor 1867
ženích: Antonín Zmehal, mísťan z Čáslawi č: 110 v okresa a kraji tehjm: syn Josefe Zmehala, mísťani v Čáslavi č : 110, a jeho manželky Marye roz:[ené] Pacelkovy z Čáslavi č: 109 všickni evangel. h. v.
Čáslav č[íslo] 110
1835 d: 11. záři [born 11 September 1835]

nevěsta: Barbora, evangel. h.w. dcera Jana Vyšaky, obývatele a rolníka v Čáslavi č: 126 a jeho manželky Doroty roz: Lancovy z Kamenných mostů č: 10 okres Čáslawsky
Čáslav č 126
3 července 1845 [born 3 July 1845]

Notice that her place of birth is: Markovice č 91. How likely is it that this town was in the same protestant parish as Čáslav? Probably very likely, since there were more Catholics at this point than protestants.

Later, I was reminded that before 1835, protestants were recorded in the Catholic registers. So, this means that you might find your protestant Czechs in both registers, or perhaps just the Catholic register.

This is the right marriage record because:
  • Anton is from Čáslav 110, which matches the birth record, which matches everything we know about him in the new world.
  • Anton’s birth date matches very, very closely. The birth record says he was born on 12 September 1835, the marriage record says he was born 11 September 1835. They are off by one day.

JUST KIDDING, he really was born on 11 September 1835 according to his protestant birth record here. This is our guy! And not only was he protestant, but so were his parents and grandparents - specifically, they were protestants of the Augsburg confession.

My conclusion: it is very important that we remember the past.

Remembering the past helps individuals: I can only imagine how excited my friend was when we were able to connect her Czechs to their village of origin. She will have her hands full for the next, oh, perhaps lifetime? The Czech records are that amazing.

Remembering the past helps us do better research: It is too easy for all of us, including me, to forget about the protestant Czechs. If I had done a better job of remembering, I would have saved myself about an hour of useless searches in the matriky.  

Remembering the past helps us understand ourselves: What does it mean to “be Czech”? What is this part of our identity? How can we define it? How can we understand it? Because of who our ancestors had been yesterday, who are we today? How does our perception of “Czechness” change when we remember to include groups whose stories are today very often marginalized, like Czech protestants and Czech Jews?

I feel really lucky to be Czech. Maybe you feel this way, too.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I cesta může být cíl

September, 1965

Willard, Utah

The present trend in our church and in the country seems to be, “Where did I come from” and genealogy is being stressed as a most important part of our church and family activity. This is rather hard on my  generation, as we have only started to have time to look backward, and the things which we have been pushing aside to wait, while we were so busy with life ever present; have to be faced and analyzed, considered, and probed, as to cause and effect, and the influences of times and people and events and decisions right or wrong made, and 70 years of living, each day and year, now to be woven into a story sequence to be open to the criticisms and scrutiny of the generation which we helped to form and have tried to lead into maturity of thought and actions.

My mother used to say, “You don’t know how much you have to know, in order to know how little you know.” How true! And how long it takes to realize that truth, until you sit down and try to put it down on paper.

This was written by Loraine Jeppson Baird, my second great aunt. While I was at RootsTech 2017, I was able to visit her daughter Loraine Jeppson Law, who is my grandma’s cousin (and best friend). She is 96 years old, and her house is a repository of genealogy records for my mom’s side of the family. It was an experience I will never forget.

I know that this blog is not about my Utah and Idaho Mormon ancestors; it's about my Czechs! But this was a piece of writing which I found to be extremely moving and personal, and it affected how I viewed genealogy in general, so I want to share it.

It was in Loraine’s own handwriting. She was born in 1896, the granddaughter of Mary Reeder Hurren who crossed the plains as a young girl in the infamous Willie Handcart Company. She knew the original Utah pioneers. Actually, Loraine (who I met) also knew Mary Reeder Hurren, and was old enough to remember her. So, I spoke to a person who knew an original Utah pioneer, which is completely mind-blowing to think about.

But the real reason I want to share this piece of writing is because it deeply changed the way I think about my ancestors. Some, perhaps most, of these people had very difficult lives. I continue to try to piece together dates and facts from their lives in an effort to draw a picture of their story. Sometimes it feels frustrating that I do not have a better understanding of their personalities, their likes, their fears, their hopes, their dreams. But can I really fault them for not writing down their history? I know that not everybody loves to write, but I had never really considered the kind of pain writing has the potential to unleash on the soul. It seems that Loraine had some very negative feelings about being urged to write her history, and they were tied up in ideas like, “Can I write this in a way that will be understood by a generation that did not go through what I am going through?” “How can I face some of the less than ideal facts and events in my life which I have pushed aside for so long now that they are merely distant memories?” “How can I explain my feelings about choices that now, in hindsight, I see were wrong?” “What more will I be required to give to this next generation - they want me to willingly subject my soul to the possibility of criticism and betrayal?”

I have so few stories of my Czech ancestors. It is a huge hole. I know that the only real way for me to come to know them is by learning Czech. Maybe, just maybe, I will find that they did write their history - and of course it would be in Czech!

I can do a lot of things without fluency in Czech, such as find names, dates, and places. But to really come to know the culture and history of this place will certainly, without a doubt, require me to speak (and especially read) Czech. Culture is so tightly wound around its medium of communication, and culture is the backbone of stories. If I want to truly understand a person, I know that I need to try to immerse myself in their culture, therefore in their language.

I realize that even if I tried as hard as I could, and put in every possible effort to learn this beautiful and very difficult language (which...I am doing…), I would still fall short. But if perfection is the standard, then we should all just give up on all of our dreams and aspirations. Obviously, something somewhat less than perfect will have to suffice. Anyway, it’s the journey towards understanding that I crave, not really reaching the goal itself. Is it possible to ever "completely" know another person, ever? Isn't there always more to learn?

I cesta může být cíl.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

RootsTech 2017: DAY FOUR, or some final thoughts

Today was another really successful and awesome day at RootsTech 2017.

But I have to wake up in 3 hours to catch my plane, so this will have to be extremely short.

The Cake Boss guy, Buddy Valastro, spoke in the morning. He was pretty long-winded and arrogant, in my opinion. But the guy sitting next to me in one of the classes (from Norfolk, England originally) was really inspired by him, and found the previous day’s African American history focus to be “over the top”, which was totally not my own experience or perception. To each his own. I watched every single episode of Cake Boss when I was breastfeeding kid #3; I like the Cake Boss. But he didn’t talk nearly enough about his family.

In the morning I learned a little bit more about the weirdness that is US Copyright Law. I also learned about how to set up google alerts for genealogy - most of that class was pretty intuitive, but there were some things I really would not have learned if I hadn’t been there. Like, really - because I would have tuned out to the rebroadcast, or been doing something else on another screen. Or laundry. I think that was the best “technical” class that I attended, in terms of what it will (or has the potential to) do for my future research.

I heard President Nelson and his wife speak. It was very scripted. Somehow, though, the message came through and was very inspiring to me. It was a good, uplifting message that was centered on Christ and the power that comes through doing temple and family history work. Of course I love this message. It is the key element of my own personal faith and spirituality.

I walked around the expo hall, bought way too much stuff, posed in a photo with all the other geneabloggers, and that is where I met another fellow Czech. I didn’t expect to meet any this trip. I met 3, plus one of the speakers used my great great grandma’s surname Brosch/Brosh in her presentation, so we got hooked up.

The really exciting thing happened after the conference, when I did some really important hands-on genealogy work. I went to visit my grandma’s cousin Lorraine. She is 96 years old. She was the nicest woman I have ever met. She has dedicated her life to temple and family history work. Of course, times have changed dramatically. It was illustrated right before my eyes just exactly how much. I will have to write about this later, though, because I’m very, very tired.

Some of the main take aways from this conference:
  • As a newbie, I felt somewhat like an outsider. I had not been expecting to feel that way. But this is why: genealogy work, like any work, really, is more about relationships than it is about skill and head knowledge. Perhaps slightly less about relationships than other fields, since we get to work with dead people. I am so glad that Sondra came with me. It would have been very lonely without her. This trip makes me want to reach out into the community more and work on building strong relationships. You know, as long as it’s with people interested in Czech stuff.
  • ...but on the other hand, some of the snobbery was over the top. It made me think about how I want to be when I am a more seasoned genealogist. I don’t want to walk around acting like I own the world. I want to encourage learning, participation, and especially the love of family history. I had a recent experience that solidifies my desire to make “genealogical humility” be one of my core values. I don’t want my head knowledge to get in the way of helping people access their history and ancestors. I really care about and value this work; it’s not at all about being “the best” or proving my skills. I admit, it is really easy to get sucked into genealogical pride. But it’s a trap, and it comes at a terrible cost, as I am learning through a painful miscommunication with some of my ward members.
  • DNA is totally weird. And interesting, but also...weird. I don’t know what I think. But I’m going to find out, I guess.
  • The best possible way for me to increase my access to Czech genealogy is by learning Czech. This was confirmed over and over again to me in the various messages of the speakers. It is worth all of my time and effort.
  • I have the world’s kindest sister in law. I owe her deeply for her sacrifices this week.

RootsTech 2017: DAY THREE, or Catholics and Mormons have a LOT in common

Today was both the first day that we made it to the keynote speaker (extremely inspiring and emotional! Of course the tears were flowing freely!) and also the first day I had a real, filling, substantial, delicious meal! You cannot get good Mexican food in my corner of Iowa; I miss real Mexican food from out west.

That reminds me of one of the speakers I heard today. He was talking about going back to your ancestral hometown (in Germany - but the same applies to other countries, too!). One of his pieces of advice was to try to remember that you are more interested in your ancestors than the people who you will be visiting, and so to try to be sensitive when you are having a conversation, to not be overbearing, to not assume that people in one region are the same as people in another etc. etc. (of course! Common sense!) But then, as a side comment, he said, “But you Americans are really, really good at doing this anyway, because you have a lot of experience interacting with people from many different states; you do this almost automatically. But it’s something for which Germans need to be explicitly reminded.”

I hadn’t thought about that at all before: how the massiveness and the mobility of my country possibly would impact the way that I communicate with and relate to other people. It was a really thought provoking comment, actually.

He spent a lot of time talking about the pre-trip preparation (plan the logistics) because (and he said this about 50 times in his presentation) when you go there, you will be doing a lot of emotional work.

That is so true. At least it was for me. It was so good that I had Danny there with me, to help me process all the emotions I was feeling.

It was such an overload of emotions, I’m still blogging about them 7 months later, haha.

I went to a class about how to create an effective research plan. It felt really boring, but then later when I was in the FHL collaborating with my 4th cousin (my age, and super enthusiastic about genealogy! It was so cool to meet her!) on our common Swedish line, I realized just how important this basic information is. It seems so basic. SO INTUITIVE. SO LOGICAL. But without a clear understanding of what we really wanted, we basically were wasting our time. Fortunately, we actually did find three really great “puzzle pieces.” What we found: our 5th great grandpa Niels Pehrsson traveled in the [John] Murdock Pioneer Company of 1863 (previously unknown!) and listed 6 people in the Perpetual Emigration Fund. He was excommunicated in either 1866 or 1867. We’re not sure which Niels Pehrsson is “ours” - there are two, and one was ex’ed in December of 1866, the other in January of 1867. The other thing we found was that *maybe* he was living in Omaha in 1870, very near to his son Lars and wife Hanna. I share these - but they are not solid conclusions yet. I think if we work to create a solid research plan, we will be able to figure out more about our grandfather and his reverse-immigration/apostasy story, and fit the pieces of the puzzle together better. I really think that the plan will be essential to making sure we don’t overlook any potential clues to whatever it is we are exactly trying to solve. Which, at the moment, neither my cousin nor I really know yet. Is it to find collateral lines to try to find people eligible for temple work? Is it to try to understand our grandfather’s story? Is it to understand our polygamist ancestors? Is it to connect to living people in Sweden? That last goal certainly sounds the most fun, and my cousin promised me that she fully intends to  go over, and that we should go together because it would just be so awesome. Sweden, huh? I have room in my heart for two European countries? Especially one that so brutally devastated the other in the thirty year’s war?

When I was pregnant with our second child, my son Dan, I was extremely anxious that I would not love him, or that I would not love him as much as our daughter, Jane. I remember constantly worrying about whether or not I would have enough room in my heart for both kids, and my husband just laughed. When Dan was born, I suddenly understood that it really is possible to love two different kids with all of your heart.

I’m sure it’s the same way with countries.

In other news, Find My Past made a huge announcement today: Catholic Records.

Actually, my friend and I had just been discussing this the day before. In a country like the United States which has no state religion, and in fact, whose very existence is linked to its lack of state religion! - in this setting, acquiring religious records is challenging. “Maybe there are some advantages to being a country of godless heathens.”

Catholic records are an incredible treasure trove of genealogical information. They are wonderful, wonderful records. And they are severely underutilized in the United States for several reasons. The presenter at the Find My Past booth put it diplomatically but bluntly like this:
  • Catholic records are first and foremost records of Sacraments, which are contracts between a person and God.
  • Canon law (which supersedes secular law for Catholics) has some ambiguous information about people’s right to privacy. Ambiguous because it is unclear if it includes dead people or not. This is interpreted differently by different Catholic leaders, and the Catholic church is not as hierarchically organized as it might appear, so dioceses can have very different interpretations from one another.
  • Catholic records can be very embarrassing for the Catholic church.
  • Although the Catholic church and the LDS church do a lot of excellent humanitarian aid partnership work, they have a really bad relationship when it comes to genealogy records. In the words of the Find My Past presenter, “These are based on irrational misunderstandings that have nothing to do with record accessibility and more to do with theological differences.”
  • He then talked about how different Christian religions generally accept each others’ baptisms, but none of them accept Mormon baptisms. I hadn’t really thought about that before. From a Mormon perspective, the concept of accepting other denominations’ baptisms is totally foreign and incomprehensible.
  • In 2008, the Catholic church forbade the LDS church to film any more Catholic records. I remember this. It was a terrible tragedy, from my perspective.
  • BUT...Find My Past is a great middle ground solution. Somehow, they were able to gain the trust and access to some (not all) Catholic dioceses in the United States, and so this year, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York Catholic records will be made available and searchable on Find My Past for free! The Catholic collection will also include all of the Scotland Catholic records, several dioceses in England, and ALLLLLLLLLLLL the Irish records!

That is incredible.

Why it’s incredible is because, to a large extent, the Catholic story has been omitted from the national narrative of America. I have found that this is definitely true. When I research my Catholics, they are in the margins. There was a lot of solidarity amongst Texas Czech Catholics, and they did a good job of preserving their own story, but in terms how they are preserved in the broader narrative of Texas, the Catholics are just a neglected minority that is kind of embarrassing.

And do you know what that reminds me of? Those crazy Swedish Mormons in Box Elder Ward, Brigham City, Utah.

The similarities are actually quite numerous. For example, those church records my cousin and I were looking at on microfilm today in the FHL exist in book form in the Church History Library. And we would not be allowed to read them. Why?

LDS tithing and excommunication records are completely closed to the public. There isn’t a time limit. They are closed forever. I know. I tried to look one up for one of my ancestors. The lady at the desk was allowed to tell me if they were a full tithe payer or not, but NOT how much they paid, and NOT what they paid (like, if it was in kind, or in dollars, or the amount). And excommunications are always closed.

But for some weird reason, the LDS church microfilmed this specific set of records. Maybe because there were tons of baptism and confirmation records interspersed with the excommunications and tithing records? It was a HORRIBLE document to read on microfilm. It seemed like somebody dropped the book and the pages all fell out, and then were reassembled in some kind of mostly random order. We could tell it was for our people, because they kept showing up again and again, was terrible. It was 1850-1870 LDS church records. So ironic and funny to me that these exact records would be off limits to me for the same reasons that many Catholic records are off limits. Yet there was a work around: in this case, they were filmed in 1953, so...they’re viewable. And we could read all the really interesting and terrible things that people did to be excommunicated in all their fascinating detail (seduce a neighbor’s wife, steal somebody else’s horses, lie about somebody else doing or not doing something that was really important and significant, general “apostasy” for our ancestor -  whatever that means!?).

I am so happy about the news that at least some Catholic dioceses were able to come to a workable solution and partner with Find My Past. And you know what, this works really well for Mormons, too, because guess what? As an LDS person, I get a Find My Past account!

But FMP is making all the Catholic records available for free. I just hope that they will be able to partner with the Texas Catholics, so that I will have access to my beloved Texas Czech (AND VERY CATHOLIC) story.

It’s really late, and so here are the other things that happened today really briefly:
  • I learned some things about being a better Family History Consultant in my ward
  • I learned some things about FamilySearch Family Tree that I didn’t know before, mostly some tricks about merging people, viewing history, and rearranging your workspace so that it is how you want (so THAT is what the gear button does...haha I had never actually clicked on it before!)
  • I made some connections with some other Czechs. That was cool.
  • ...and a lot more stuff happened but I can’t remember because I’m too tired.  

Tomorrow looks like it will be another awesome day!

Friday, February 10, 2017

RootsTech 2017: DAY TWO

Today was awesome!

We got up late and missed the keynote speaker because...well...I may have stayed up until 2 am talking with my sister in law. She has this magical gift of getting people to open up to her. She is an aesthetician/hair stylist, after all.

Not like I am that short on words, anyway...haha

So we got there just as the expo center was opening up. The first thing I did was go to the MyHeritage booth and try to find somebody to listen to me gently suggest that some changes could really benefit Czech genealogy. I don’t have a very high level of confidence that my pleas will be heard, but I gave the people a list of some specific suggestions, with my contact info, and so that is a start.

I thought this was funny.

Actually, I didn’t even bother at the Ancestry booth because it was swarming with people. Later, I realized it was because of the $49 DNA kits. That is a really crazy good deal. My last experience with Ancestry DNA was really negative (granted, this was in 2009, so...a lot has changed since then). But that is the best price I have ever seen on DNA anything. It’s still not worth even that much if all they’re going to do is say, “Yeah, you’re R1B1 - WESTERN EUROPEAN.”

Anyway, I talked to like 6 different people from familysearch, and I have a slightly higher confidence level that maybe they will listen. Because seriously, the Slovak record issues really have got to be fixed. Although, there actually is a really clever workaround, which I shall certainly blog about in the future.

Actually, I spoke with Ron Tanner after his presentation (it was packed). He is the FamilySearch Family Tree Product Manager, and his presentations are always really funny. He told me that “waypoints” in FamilySearch are really hard to change, but he also promised me that if I emailed him, he would respond. But he gets like, 400 emails a day. I am really hoping to make an honest man out of him. I will probably wait until after this crazy conference is over to do it, though.

While in line to talk to him, I met one of the back end developers for FS, and I gave him my list, and got his email. It is really nice to know that there are real people behind these faceless giants.

It’s really late and I’m really tired. So I will sum up by listing some of the interesting things I learned:

  • I’m doing the right thing by focusing so much time, effort, sweat, blood, tears, etc. on learning Czech. The presenter in the Scandinavian research class I went to (which was excellent) pointed out something that I already know to be true: the single biggest limiting factor to finding stories about your European ancestors is the language. I have got to learn Czech.
  • There’s a really interesting European History genealogy start up that looks like it might have some Polish records, and a really neat UI. I forgot what it’s called - more about that later.
  • The Iowa Genealogical Society really needs to join the International German Genealogical Partnership. I don’t have German ancestors. But almost every single family history consultation I have done in my ward for people with Iowa ancestors somehow touches Germans.
  • I really, really loved hearing the German perspective on us crazy Americans, especially as it relates to genealogy. It caused me to think a lot, and I can’t do those thoughts justice right now - so I will have to blog about them later.
  • Tom Jones has a really logical research plan that is brilliant and simple to help overcome record loss. This will be really useful with some of my own research struggles, especially if we can’t find the dumb Polish records.
  • I met another Czech American guy, and that was really fun.
  • I ran into Jana McClain in the FHL, who is the current Katy Family History Center Director. It was really fun and nice to see her.   
  • I found some books in the FHL that I didn’t have, and that aren’t available elsewhere. I downloaded the digital ones, and took pictures of the county history. Oh yeah...and I think that it said in that book that my great great grandfather Bedrich Michna was the postmaster for Taiton, TX?! So, that is new information to me. He died from alcoholism at age 36. So, it was really cool to find that in that book.
  • The booths were so interesting. I found Danny’s potential Christmas present this year. I don’t know if $300 for a 2TB server compares to other prices. I do know that it would be a lot easier to get to function as a server than our old sketchy “retired” computer. I think their selling point is the software end for non-tech people, which we don’t really need, since Danny is our in-house computer support staff, haha.
  • There’s a rumor (being spread by wordpress, so consider the source) that google is going to phase out blogger. That actually would not surprise me, since google seems to love to do that. But if they do, that would be sad for me; I really hate the web design aspect of blogging. I just want to produce the content. I literally spent 3 hours trying to figure out this one thing that took my husband 15 minutes and 4 lines of code to solve, and that just makes me want to cry!
  • I met this French guy who wrote some really interesting transcription software. It looks like it might be fun to at least check out. Maybe when Lukáš and I disagree on a letter, we can pinpoint it slightly more easily.
  • I met the people at the Geni booth. They were really nice and knew my friend Tomáš. I can see some immense benefits to loading my data on their site, so I think that is something that I eventually hope to do - which is really saying something. I didn’t realize that Geni is owned by MyHeritage, and that MyHeritage is an Israeli company. That was interesting. They were a little bit hilariously possessive about the “cleanliness” of their shared tree, as compared with FamilySearch Family Tree. I learned that FSFT is about an order of magnitude bigger. I think Geni said they have some number in the millions (of individual records in the tree). From Ron Tanner’s presentation on FSFT, the number was 1.1 billion. That is down from last year, when it was 1.2 billion - due to merging. I think FSFT, although certainly much, much, much messier, is still also much, much, much bigger, even if you merged all the duplicates. Mormons are a whale in the proverbial genealogical ocean.
  • Mormons are also really weird (I have a personal testimony of this, hahaha) - but the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (including my mom’s cousin, who sings in it) is not. It was awesome. I have been to the Conference Center for general conference before, and of course I watch it twice a year (the Sundays of the year! We get to “go to church” in our pajamas in front of the TV and hear really, really spiritually uplifting talks!), and MoTab always performs there. But I’ve never attended a secular MoTab concert. It was so great. Andy Hammerstein, the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein, talked about his family history, and they sang a bunch of the best Hammerstein songs: Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, the King and I, Sound of Music...I knew all the words. It was a really uplifting, feel good experience.

I know this is a terrible photo, but I was also really anxious that the usher next to me would get pissed about me taking it at all, so...

Very crowded conference center.

Me and my genealogy buddy Sondra.
Tomorrow I hope to go to a bunch more really great classes and especially to work my way through all of the vendors.

So, basically, like both yesterday and today, tomorrow I will starve. Because there just isn’t time to eat.