After the excitement of Wednesday, Thursday was going to be more of the same, albeit with a slightly later start. The Keynote was to start at 8:30am. At 8:15am there was a loooooooooong line of many hundreds of people still waiting to get their name tags and paraphernalia from the Registration Booth.

The keynote started off with a senior vice-president from Family Search making some introductions. Then the faces of “Genealogy Roadshow” – FGS President Josh Taylor, Kenyatta Berry and Mary Tedesco appeared on stage to talk about Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Preserve the Pensions project, which Josh proudly announced has now reached 50% of the $3,200,000 needed to complete this project.

Dennis Brimhall from FamilySearch then gave a presentation on some of the exciting new things that FamilySearch are doing, and demonstrated the “Museum of Me” which uses a lot of new technology to help people be interested in researching their families. This is well summarised in this article.

The highlight of the keynote was undoubtedly the presentation by Tan Le – a co-founder of the company Emotiv Systems – an Australian electronics company developing brain–computer interfaces based on electroencephalography (EEG) technology. She didn’t talk much about this, but instead told the completely spellbinding tale of her escape from Vietnam as a girl aged 5 years in 1982 with her younger sister, their mother and grandmother, the perils of the journey in a small boat, and eventual arrival in Melbourne, Australia where she grew up and went on to become Young Australian of the Year in 1988 – just wow!!!!!

My first class of the day was Maureen Taylor’s “Is That Uncle Harry or Jesse James: Facial Recognition Tools for the Genealogist”. As expected from The Photo Detective, she had a great array of old photos to show, and also gave me a “shout out” for the screen shots I’d given her showing how iPhoto (on Mac OS X) works with Faces to find and help you identify the same people in different photos. There was some interesting stuff, including other products and services I’d not heard of before, and some interesting failures, like her example where she was photographed in front of a wall covered in flowery wallpaper, and when she asked Google Image Search to find similar pictures, it focussed on the flowers, not the person in the foreground.

Lisa has been working hard at the Family History Library on research for her own families, and families of some of our friends, but she broke from that to come over and have lunch with me in the Expo Hall.

After lunch I wandered the Expo Hall, finding familiar faces from the past and looking at new offerings and services. One that caught my eye was RootsBid. From their website “an online genealogy marketplace that helps you find records of your ancestors by connecting you with people around the world who live in your ancestral homelands. You just request help and attach your desired budget, check your bids, and hire your preferred bidder. Its that easy!!” So it’s somewhat like Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, but it’s monetised with people paying for services. This might encourage more people to help out. There’s a feedback system like Ebay uses so you can get an idea of the value and helpfulness of a person who might bid to do your  work for you before you accept and pay them. I was intrigued by this, and it will be interesting to see how this develops.

For the 3rd session of the day, I was again an FGS Volunteer Room Monitor – this time for Maureen Taylor during her presentation “Stetsons, Chaps, Prairie Bonnets and Levi’s: Western Dress Clues”. Again a great collection of historical photos to demonstrate her points and quite interesting how what we today think of as “western dress” developed.

After this it was a bit more time in the Expo Hall, before meeting up with Drew Smith, Luther Tychonievich, and Greg Lamberson for a FHISO (Family History Information Standards Organisation) Board informal meeting. This was the first time any of us had met Greg who up until now had participated by loooong distance from his job in Egypt.

The day ended up with the FGS Opening Social – a musical event that featured the One Voice Children’s Choir, Alex Boyé, and included a performance of the YouTube hit (61,000,000 views on YouTube) of “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen” feature Alex Boyé and Lexi Walker.

Fish and Chips for Dinner. Below is a photogallery of some of the things seen today.


Dateline Wednesday 11  February 2015…

Our 5th day in Salt Lake City (counting the Saturday we arrived), FGS Society Day, and the day before FGS 2015 / RootsTech gets underway.

Up earlier than normal today since I had to get to the Salt Palace in time to check in as an FGS Volunteer, and then be ready to attend the opening session “Focus on Societies Day Opening Session: Successfully Embracing the Future” at 8a.m. That was all accomplished and I took my place in Room 355E with several hundred others to hear what Curt Witcher, Deena Coutant, and Jen Baldwin had to say about ideas for societies. Prior to the speakers, there was an introduction from Josh Taylor and then the presentation of some FGS Awards. There were awards to a number of the people who have put on previous FGS conferences as well as to Illinois and Indiana genealogical societies for their contributions to the War of 1812 Pensions Project and to a couple of groups from New York – the German and Italian genealogy societies. Then a very nice surprise – an award for Me!!! A “Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society”.

FGS Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

FGS Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

Then Deena, Jen and Curt made their presentations about the health and growing of societies with some very interesting points made (which currently are several pages of chicken scratch in my notebook).

There were 5 sessions during the day. For the first 2 I was an FGS Volunteer Room Monitor, and I attended the last 3 chosen because they sounded interesting.

Session 1: Sponsored by – “Using Cemeteries to Uncover Forgotten Histories”
The room was jammed to hear Billion Graves expound their vision for how cemeteries can be photographed and indexed using their app on smart phones to walk through a cemetery, taking a photo of each marker which the phone (hopefully precisely) geotags with its latitude and longitude position. The “societies hook” on this was that societies can adopt up to 10 cemeteries in their local area and get them all photographed, and then benefit from a share of the revenue made when the Billion Graves database is then used to for example allow people to use the app on their phone, or the website to order flowers to be delivered to a specific grave. The delivery agent will be able to exactly find the headstone, deliver the flowers there, take a photo which is then immediately transmitted to the person who ordered the flowers. Early in the session they made great use of some live polling via text message that let the audience respond to questions that were put up on the screen, and then within seconds we could watch as those familiar with texting sent in their responses.

Session 2: – Cyndi Ingle “Find the Silver Lining In the Cloud”.
A great roundup of the various ways societies (and individuals) can and do make use of “the cloud” for their computing needs, whether is collaborative documents on Google docs, or shared projects by DropBox, backup by CrashPlan or BackBlaze, online photo storage by a whole range of companies. etc etc etc

Session 3 – Judy G Russell “The Ethical Genealogist”.
An outstanding presentation by Judy G Russell outlining how individuals and societies can be ethical in what they do. Summed up in to as few words as possible, it came down to those 3 admonitions you received as a child

  1. Tell the Truth
  2. Play Nice with Others
  3. Don’t Tell Tales Out of School

Judy referenced the codes of conduct of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for Certification of Genealogist a number of times and gave many great examples of situations where one should behave ethically – and even admitted to having been more than a little tempted to take a copy of a document when the archive had 2, and clearly only needed one (she didn’t!!!!).

Session 4 – CeCe Moore “Bringing Your Society Into the 21st Century with a DNA Interest Group”.
This was a very interesting presentation, and discussion since CeCe bought some of the audience in with questions and comments, about setting up a DNA Interest Group – DIG – for your society. The recent rapid growth of DNA testing for genealogy has put great pressure on Genetic Genealogists to assist with understanding the results, so it’s a good thing if societies set up Special Interest Groups where members can help each other, and the group can learn more, bring in speakers and in some cases already been a factor for growth in a society. All of the testing companies have affiliate programmes whereby a society can earn a share of the money from the test sold, as well as letting society members buy the tests at a discounted price. This was all great food for thought.

Session 5 – Donna Moughty “Printed vs. Online Publishing for Societies”
A discussion of the various ways societies might want to embrace online publishing for some or all of their publications, and the various options for doing so once it’s been decided to use online publishing.

The end of the day – my brain was full!!!!!! And there are still 3 more days to go, jam-packed with sessions and a giant vendor hall to visit.

Lisa and I were able to attend the “FGS 2015 Opening Social – Behind the Scenes: Family History & Television” as last minute attendees – thanks to Kim Harrison and Josh Taylor! This was an interesting event where we got to see some selected clips from previous episodes of “Finding Your Roots”, “Genealogy Roadshow” and “Who Do You Think You Are”, and then a clip from an upcoming episode of “Genealogy Roadshow”. This was followed by a panel discussion, Question and Answer session with participants from each of the 3 shows – CeCe Moore who works as DNA researcher on Finding Your Roots, Kenyatta Berry and Josh Taylor from Genealogy Roadshow, and George Ott and Jenny Utley who do research for Who Do You Think You Are. A very interesting look into some of what goes into these shows.


I’m here in Salt Lake City for the combined FGS 2015 / RootsTech with Lisa (and many hundreds of our closest friends). We arrived a few days early so that we could do some sightseeing, and spend time researching at the Family History Library.

Into the second day of research at the Family History Library at Salt Lake City, and things hadn’t been going too well. I had set one mission for this research – to try and prove or disprove Grandma’s assertion that her brother John Robert Dewar “married Gladys Kathleen Plunkett, a relative of a former Governor-General of New Zealand“. Previous research had determined that John Robert Dewar had married Gladys Kathleen Plunkett in Tasmania, Australia in 1911, Gladys’ parents were Robert James Plunkett and Ellen Rogers, who had married in Hobart, Tasmania in 1879. Attempts to find the parents of Robert James Plunkett had been unsuccessful in the past.

The books in the 994.6 section of the Family History Library about Tasmania contained a lot of indexes and listings of records, but nothing helped. Online searches revealed a death date for James Robert Plunkett of 24 March 1931, and I was able to find an indication of his burial in cemetery and undertaker records, but still any hint of his parents remained elusive. They were not named on his marriage certificate or the burial records.

Jenny Joyce of Australia suggested looking at since they had digitised some of the vital records from Australia, and sure enough there was a database for “Tasmania Deaths 1803-1933“. But it didn’t turn up the death of Robert James Plunkett. There were death records for 11 people called “Plunk*” (to cover Plunket, Plunkett, Plunkit etc), but none of them were after 1900.

11 Plunket(t)s shown in the Tasmanian Deaths 1803-1933 database. The highlighted line shows the pay dirt line.

11 Plunket(t)s shown in the Tasmanian Deaths 1803-1933 database. The highlighted line shows the pay dirt line.

So I took a look at the entries for these 11 people to see what other information, aside from their name and age might be included – e.g. who was the informant. Starting at the top of the list, the first 5 showed that the informant was the Undertaker (and this was very comm – and this was common on the multiple records on the page. But the 6th image revealed the answer I had been seeking – the death of Jane Plunkett, born 1828, died 1898 was “Robert James Plunkett – Son”. Whoo Hoo!!!!!!!


The highlighted entry shows the death of 70 year old Jane Plunkett in 1898. The informant on her death was her son Robert James Plunkett

Robert James Plunkett - Son, Informant

Robert James Plunkett – Son, Lisdillon (a place in Tasmania, Australia).

Image from “Tasmania Deaths 1803-1933″

So this adds a generation to what was known. Jane Plunkett is almost certainly Jane Pritchard, who with Robert Plunkett had 3 children:

  1. Eveline Plunkett born 19 Jun 1850
  2. Robert James Plunkett born 10 Mar 1853
  3. Ada Cora Plunkett born 29 Feb 1856

I’ll update the database with details and sources when I get a chance.

The Death Entry shows Jane was born in Liverpool, England in 1828. Now to find out who and from where Robert Plunkett came from.

Whoo Hoo!!!!


Dear WordPress Blog

Well it’s been a while since we had a new roof put on our house in October 2012!!! For much of the past several years my “blogging” has been carried out on Facebook where it’s so easy to write a quick status, link up a couple of photos and post it, or to create a photo album in iPhoto and then post that directly to Facebook.

Saturday 7 Feb 2015 saw us on what is becoming a familiar drive – the 3 hours to Chicago O’Hare airport to fly away somewhere – it’s much cheaper to do this than to fly out of Grand Rapids. This time we’re off to Salt Lake City for research in the Family History Library and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2015 conference being held in association with RootsTech put on by Family Search (the genealogy and family history part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

Having left home with about 12″ of snow covering the ground, it was somewhat surprising to see much of the middle of the country devoid of snow – even the mountains around Salt Lake City only have snow on their upper reaches – not a good scene if they were trying to run a Winter Olympics here right now.

Upon arrival, picked up a rental car so we’d have a car for Sunday to be “bloody tourists” and headed off to the Radisson Hotel. Got checked in there and met up with Australian genealogist and blogger Jill Ball and headed out for dinner. The Red Iguana gets great reviews so we walked the mile or so (downhill) to there only to find it was standing room only out on the footpath of people waiting to get in – wait time at least an hour. So we caught the Trax back into town and went to the Blue Lemon for a delicious very reasonably priced meal.

Next up is Sunday. We’re going in the aforementioned rental car to head out of town, on a couple of trips – up in to the mountains to the south to the Timpaganos Caves area and then to Antelope Island – the “island” you can drive to that’s out in the Salt Lake. Stay Tuned!


After more than 20 years, the roof on our house was getting a bit tired – the shingles had lost much of the gravel on them, and for some time there had been a few mysterious leaks that I could never completely find. So we bit the bullet and have had the olde shingles torn off and a new roof – with 50 year non-prorated warranty – put up. Day 1 saw well more than half the job done. I set up my two Canon digital cameras with the CHDK software on them to enable the Intervalometer and had them each taking a photo every 60 seconds during the day. I put these together with “Time Lapse Assembler” in to two time-lapse movies at 4 frames per second, so the videos are going at 240 times actual speed. Here they are:





The deadline is approaching – on 30 June 2012 Apple is closing down the MobileMe service, including any webpages you have published at

Below are listed the steps I’ve figured out to allow you to move your whole website to another server and have it continue working as it has until now with the same designs and themes. This follows on from an earlier post  – describing how to keep them working after Apple made the Pictures folder go away. Hopefully the following steps are in time to help someone else:

  1. Open your iDisk folder on your Mac. This will help you plan what needs to be done.

    iDisk Folder Contents

    Contents of iDisk Folder

  2. Continue reading »

Today amidst massive hoopla, overly optimistic expectations, and totally unimagined demand, the 1940 US Federal Census was made available online.

I’m doing my part towards this by helping out FamilySearch Indexing with getting this indexed. I’ve indexed 1 batch so far, and arbitrated 3 batches – first note:

Make sure the “Highlights” are lined up correctly on the page so that they fall on the proper field to be indexed each time.

One of the pages I arbitrated was because Indexer A correctly indexed the 3rd column “Number of Household” while Indexer B incorrectly indexed the 2nd column “House Number” – possibly caused by the “Highlights” grid not being correctly aligned.

Examples of  of this are shown here – click the images to open a larger view

You can adjust this grid by clicking on the View menu and choosing Adjust highlights. This puts a grid over the image and you can grab each of the 4 corners of the grid to get it correctly positioned.

Have Fun!!!


24 March 2012 was the West Michigan Science Olympiad at Grand Valley State University. As we had done in previous years (see this post from 2008 for example) Lisa and Roger went with others from the Wyoming General Motors plant to run the bottle rocket competition.

Some rules changes from previous years:

  1. the rockets could not change shape in flight – ie they could not deploy any system to lower the rocket to the ground more slowly. The rockets had to go up and come back down without use of things like parachutes
  2. the bottles could be no more than 1 litre now – in previous years they had been allowed to use 2 litre bottles
  3. each team could launch 2 rockets and the combined time of both rockets was added together, along with participation points to arrive at their final score.
Blast Off - Just lifted off

Just lifted off – a lucky press of the shutter button.

Below is a gallery of pictures showing some of the goings on during the day (click one of the thumbs to open a slide show). Below that again is a gallery of images of blast off. Continue reading »


Just in time for RootsTech 2012 and the imminent release of TNG Version 9 I’ve (finally I hope) completed an update to that includes a new theme – Suffusion – and the incorporation of TNG into the WordPress theme using the tng.php plugin for WordPress.

So the kind of dated will be going away – replaced with what can now be seen on the Page

Another Page will be about genealogy blogging, and includes in the left sidebar a “feed” from the TNG database showing some statistics and other features.

So enjoy the new look :-)


According to a post by Thomas MacEntee the sessions to be streamed live from RootsTech 2012 have been announced. I’ve consolidated them here into a single easy to view list…

RootsTech 2012 Streaming Schedule
Thursday 2 Feb Friday 3 Feb Saturday 4 Feb
8:30 -10:00 Keynote – Inventing the Future, as a Community – Jay Verkler 8:30- 9:30 Keynote – Exabyte Social Clouds and other Monstrosities – Josh Coates 8:30 – 9:30 Keynote – Making the most of technology to further the family history industry – Tim Sullivan
9:45 – 10:45 Publish Your Genealogy Online – Laura Prescott 9:45 – 10:45 Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101 – Lisa Louise Cooke
11:00 – 12:00 Do I Trust the Cloud? – D. Joshua Taylor 11:00 – 12:00 Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines – Robert Gardner 11:00 – 12:00 Future of FamilySearch Family Tree – Ron Tanner
1:45 – 2:45 Effective Database Search Tactics – Kory Meyerink 1:45 – 2:45 Genealogists “Go Mobile” – Sandra Crowley 1:45 – 2:45 Privacy in a Collaborative Environment – Noah Tutak
3:00 – 4:00 Twitter – It’s Not Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Anymore – Thomas MacEntee 3:00 – 4:00 Google’s Toolbar and Genealogy – David Barney
4:15 – 5:15 Eleven Layers of Online Searches – Barbara Rennick


I know I’ll be tuning in to listen to a number of these – how about you??