My RootsTech Presentations

RootsTech Speaker

RootsTech is now less than 2 weeks away, and I’m really excited. I’ve wrapped up the details on my 3rd presentation and I’ll be rehearsing for it tomorrow.

Here’s a rundown of my presentations. I’m really excited about all three presentations. The Kickstarter presentation is new for this conference. I’ve given the Mac presentation at two previous conferences, and it has always been well received. The finding stories on Google Books is perhaps my favorite presentation, because this is what got me hooked on family history.

Discover the Future on KickStarter
Friday 1:00 pm – Ballroom C

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Technology is a popular category with many exciting projects underway. This presentation will explore 2-3 successfully funded projects and the impact that they could make on the future of genealogy.

Just a hint, I’ll be talking about programmable flying robots, 3D technologies, and possibly a drum set made out of apples.

Mac Users: Tricks to Save You Time
Friday 4:00 pm – Ballroom G

Save time every day with these tricks. Find important files faster than ever. Slice, merge, and create PDFs with ease. Make old photos look clean and new. Snatch and annotate screenshots. Find FamilySearch records with a few keystrokes.

Finding Stories on Google Books
Saturday 4:00 pm – Ballroom C

Google has made millions of books searchable through Google Books. Learn tips for performing effective searches, obtaining transcriptions, clipping pages, finding books if the full version isn’t available, and sharing discovered stories and photos on

This presentation has ghost stories, dinosaurs, and an attempted burglary that ends with a gunshot.

This is my first RootsTech where I will be presenting content to a non-programmer crowd. This will be the best RootsTech yet. I’m not sure how it will be topped. The conference gets better every year.

Why I Love Working for FamilySearch

I have my dream job working for FamilySearch. Here’s why I think it is the best:

1. Within the genealogy and family history space, there are so many difficult problems to solve technologically. This keeps things very interesting.

2. I get to work with great people within the FamilySearch organization. Most of the people who work at FamilySearch work at FamilySearch because they have a personal conviction of preserving and connecting to their families. I love that.

3. I get to work with brilliant people from all over the world who are building the future of genealogy systems.

4. I love genealogy and family history. As I continue to research, I keep finding more and more interesting things about my ancestors. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface and my goal is to become a proficient researcher.

5. The world of genealogy is changing. It is awesome being part of a workforce that is connecting diverse systems, transferring big data, and helping people break through genealogical brick walls.

6. I get an amazing view of Temple Square from my office window. I took the featured image picture with my iPhone 5 from my window.

I Love This Indexing Video

Tonight, I took my boy scout troop over to the Riverton Family History Library for an indexing session. As part of the orientation, we watched this video. I love how simply it communicates the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish.

Indexing is Vital for Research

Marshall P Felch’s Dinosaurs

As I’ve been researching Marshall P Felch (FamilySearch: L7PD-KY3), one of my most surprising discoveries was that he discovered dinosaur bones while living in Colorado! There are several resources that discuss his dinosaur quarry.

Marshall’s ghost stories would have made him a very interesting ancestor by themselves, but add the fact that he was a dinosaur fossil hunter on top of that makes him a fascinating individual.

Innovator Summit: 5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Attend

RootsTech is coming and this year’s focus is on the entrepreneur. Here is why this year’s RootsTech will be the best ever and why entrepreneurs shouldn’t miss it.

1. Innovator Summit Kick-off
This year, a pre-conference day, Feb 5, will be designated as the Innovator Summit Kick-off. A luncheon will be provided, which will give the opportunity to mingle with other entrepreneurs and developers in the family history space. Chris Dancey will be giving a way cool keynote presentation.

There will be no expo hall during the Innovator Summit Kick-off day. This allows exhibitors to participate in the conversations around how to solve existing problems in the genealogy space.

2. Business Opportunities Galore
Many sessions will be focused on business opportunities. Check out the following sessions:

* 4 Industry Gaps…
* FamilySearch is Open For Business!
* Business Opportunity: Photos and Stories
* FamilySearch Town Hall
* MyHeritage Matching API

3. Exploration of the Industry
The expo hall will be bigger than in past years. This presents opportunities to explore who is doing what in the family history space. Meet potential partners and competitors and view early versions of new software.

4. Announcements from Big Players
Expect some big announcements from the big players: Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage. These organizations influence a large share of the the family history space, and RootsTech will be a place where announcements are made.

5. Developers and Customers
If you are looking for developers who have experience in and passion for the family history space, you will find them at RootsTech in the developer classes. Expect to find web developers, mobile developers, systems architects, and database gurus.

If you are looking for potential customers, they will be at the conference in abundance. Take time meet your future customers and let them give you insights on the problems they are hoping someone will solve.

Promo Code
Wednesday (1-day) pass: $59
Full Access (4-day) pass: $139
Promo code: IS59JZ1

Wednesday (1-day) pass: $19
Full Access (4-day) pass: $39

I’m not sure how long the promo code will remain active, so use it soon.

Marshall P. Felch and Ghost Stories

My great-great grandfather, Marshall P. Felch, has a lot of interesting life stories. One of the most interesting of his stories is a ghost story that my grandfather captured in his auto-biography titled “Canyon of Ghosts”. I’ve found a few other variations of the story here:

These all pretty much reference the same characters:

  • “Captain” Marshall P Felch – though I’ve found no evidence that Marshall ever held the rank of Captain in the Union Army.
  • Oliver Kimball – the poor fellow who was murdered.
  • Gertrude Osborn – the fiancé of Oliver who had bad dreams that something horrible had happened to Oliver and had sent letters to Marshall’s wife.
  • David Griffin – the man who murdered Oliver Kimball and left his knife with the initials D.G. in the back of Oliver as it was left in the canyon.

I decided to do some looking for the other characters in the story to see if I could find them in census, or other vital records. So far I haven’t found any luck. It was said that Marshall reported this story to a Colorado newspaper, and that would match the story that my grandfather recorded in his auto-biography. So, I began looking for mentions of Marshall in the Colorado Newspaper Archives. The website is free and allows you to search papers back in the 1800s to early 1900s.

I found no mention of the ghost story, but I did find this:

Marshall P Felch Death Announcement

I was quite surprised to find this information as I had seen no mention anywhere that Marshall had committed suicide. He sure had an interesting life of adventure, and I’m sure he suffered from all sorts of mental conditions that wouldn’t have been understood back in the day. I really feel sorry for him. Hopefully, I will get to meet him in the next life and listen to some of his stories.