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MyHeritage LIVE 2019

MyHeritage LIVE 2019

Genealogists from all over the world – get ready to have some fun! MyHeritage has just announced the second annual MyHeritage Live! Conference. A brand new location, new speakers, and the hottest topics on all things family history makes this a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t want to miss. Read on for all the details about the event and how to register. 

Following the resounding success of MyHeritage LIVE 2018, their first-ever user conference, which took place in Oslo, they have decided to host it again in 2019! MyHeritage LIVE 2019 has just been announced and will take place on September 6-8, 2019 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands at the Hilton Amsterdam Hotel. This prime location is south of central Amsterdam, near the museum district, and MyHeritage has arranged a special rate for guests who choose to stay at the hotel.

In addition to a plenary session from MyHeritage Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet, there will be genealogy and DNA lecture tracks, as well as hands-on workshops to walk attendees through MyHeritage tools and features step-by-step. The MyHeritage support team will be on hand throughout the conference to assist with any questions.

Special evening events and lunches will give everyone the chance to meet other MyHeritage users from around the world and mingle with MyHeritage staff and experts.

Here’s a recap of MyHeritage Live! 2018 in Oslo, Norway:

Conference tickets include access to lectures, workshops, coffee breaks, lunches on Saturday and Sunday, a Friday night drink reception, and the famous MyHeritage party on Saturday night, all of which you don’t want to miss!

Early Bird Registration is available through July 31, 2019 and spaces are limited, so book now and mark your calendar!

Click here to visit the event page for all the details and register now!

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

3 Shocking Discoveries I’ve Made While Searching Cemeteries

3 Shocking Discoveries I’ve Made While Searching Cemeteries

There has always been something mysterious about cemeteries. Perhaps the knowledge that those interred took secrets to their grave has resulted in the enigmatic haze that seems to linger over these peaceful resting sites. But it’s not just the dead that hold secrets. Cemeteries themselves are often home to puzzling (and sometimes spooky) features. 

Joy Neighbors, author of the book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide shares three of her most shocking finds while scouring cemeteries for genealogical clues.

Tombstone Tourist

We think of cemeteries as quiet tranquil places. As a “Tombstone Tourist,” I’ve spent years in cemeteries searching for genealogy clues, exquisite artwork, stunning vistas, and that perfect photograph. A trip to the graveyard is never boring. I’ve come back with tales of beauty, delight, and terror. Here are just three shocking discoveries I’ve made while searching in cemeteries.

1. Abandoned Crypts

There’s a cemetery in Kentucky that holds a baffling find; three 19th century mausoleums that have disappeared right in the middle of the grounds.

On a humid July day, I stepped inside a grove of trees to escape the searing heat. Inside that cool dimness stood three stately mausoleums, each with a façade protruding from a hill now enveloped in trees, vines, and shrubs. This thicket had been growing untamed for years.

The mausoleums stood side-by-side. The first was a small brick crypt with a surname above the entry along with a date “1895.” But the tomb had been bricked up for so long, trees grew on top obscuring its existence.

The middle mausoleum was built from pressed concrete with niches and arches along the walls. Again, the doorway and windows were bricked shut against the onslaught of trees and ropy vines that brushed and clung to its surface.

The third mausoleum was constructed of plainer concrete set off in a corner. No names or dates were visible but trees blocked any approach. It was visible only through a tangle of vines and foliage.

Who had these monuments been for?

Why had they been abandoned?

Had the bodies been moved when family members relocated?

Or were they simply forgotten?

Perhaps no one left payment for special care in perpetuity.

Apparently, what has been lost and forgotten shall remain so.

2. The Grave in the Middle of the Road

Having grown up in Indiana, I can assure you that Hoosiers are a practical lot. But there’s one roadside attraction that will cause the most stoic of residents to stop and ponder the audacity and fortitude it took to keep a grave in the middle of the road for close to 200 years.

The story began in 1808 when Nancy Kerlin married William Barnett, the great, great, great grandson of Pocahontas and John Rolfe.

Pocahontas and John Rolfe

Baptism of Pocahontas by John G. Chapman, 1840. (Public Domain Image)

They settled near what would become Amity, Indiana to raise their family.

Nancy died on December 1, 1831 and was buried on top of a small hill overlooking Sugar Creek, one of her favorite spots. Soon others were also buried here and over the years a small county cemetery developed.

But then progress reared its head around the turn of the last century and Johnson County decided that a road needed to be built to connect Amity with other thoroughfares. This meant the grave had to be relocated.

Nancy’s grandson, Daniel G. Doty had a problem with that.

Doty went to the county and voiced his opposition. Nothing changed so he decided to take matters into his own hands. When county work crews arrived they found Doty sitting on his grandmother’s grave – with a loaded shotgun. Again, Doty told the county that his grandmother would stay where she was. If they insisted on trying to move her grave, they would have to deal with him. With that prospect, county workers agreed to let things “rest” where they were.

A concrete slab was placed over the grave in 1912 to protect it.

An historical marker was added in 1982, and Nancy became an anomaly.

But three years ago, after numerous reports of accidents, something had to be done.

In 2016, Nancy’s grave was temporarily moved to widen the road. It was the perfect time for University of Indianapolis archaeologists to see just what was buried there.

Amazingly, they discovered that residents have been driving past not only Nancy’s grave but also the remains of six others – a man, a woman and four children. Was this the Barnett family? No one’s said for sure but the state has now designated this small spot in the middle of the road a family cemetery.

The Grave in the Middle of the Road

3. The Tree of the Dead

In Terre Haute, Indiana there stands the most massively disfigured cemetery tree I’ve ever encountered. Though its genus is no longer identifiable, it stretches at odd angles as if reaching out in despair.

It was a frigid January day when I encountered what I have since called  “The Tree of the Dead.”

I’d been taking photos when my husband waved me over to see his find. Over the years I have seen hundreds of ominous cemetery trees, but none like this. This tree was surely waiting for the headless horseman to plunge through that opening with a rush of fetid air as he continued searching for his head.

Stepping closer, I attempted to take a photo, but the tree was having none of it. My camera shut down immediately. There are several explanations for this common cemetery occurrence; the batteries are too cold, connections are corroded, post seals are damaged, or spirits are sapping energy attempting to manifest. Yes, well … but after changing the batteries two more times, I had yet to get one picture.

My husband thrust his camera into my hands and I was able to get two photos before the batteries died. One shows the tree in all of its appalling façade with twisted limbs reaching akimbo to the sky. (Notice the limb with a dragon’s head at the end?)

The second shot shows the opening in the middle of the tree: a bizarre heart shape. And the mishmash of tombstones scattered around the plot date to the late 1800s but names are indecipherable.

Who is buried here?

What happened to give the tree such an appearance?

Could it be caused by a decades-old drought?

Maybe arsenic used to embalm bodies back in the 19th century slowly leaching its way up into the tree?

Or could it be … something else?

A visual reminder of how perilously close fact and fiction are entwined in the graveyard.

 

Cemetery Secrets

Cemeteries hold a vast amount of secrets, most of which we may never know. But the genealogist’s pursuit of answers means we’ll never stop exploring and asking the questions, and perhaps one day, those secrets taken to the grave may be revealed.

Cemeteries are crucial for any genealogist’s search, and The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide by Joy Neighbors will show you how to search for and analyze your ancestors’ graves.

Discover tools for locating tombstones, tips for traipsing through cemeteries, an at-a-glance guide to frequently used gravestone icons, and practical strategies for on-the-ground research. And once you’ve returned home, learn how to incorporate gravestone information into your research, as well as how to upload grave locations to BillionGraves and record your findings in memorial pages on Find A Grave. 

Click here to order your copy today!

Learn more about using Billion Graves:

(Click on player to unmute sound)

About the Author: Joy Neighbors is a national speaker, author, freelance writer, blogger, and avowed Tombstone Tourist.  Her book, The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide focuses on how to locate cemetery records, what to do when you get to the cemetery and how to understand the silent language of the stones. She also shares a few stunning family secrets along the way. Joy also writes the weekly cemetery culture blog, A Grave.

Joy Neighbors

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

RootsTech 2019 Announces Lineup of Keynote Speakers and Entertainers

RootsTech 2019 Announces Lineup of Keynote Speakers and Entertainers

Rootstech speaker 2019Rootstech is just around the corner. Learn more about where you can visit with Lisa Louise Cooke and Genealogy Gems HERE.  Then keep reading below for details on the keynotes and class schedule.

Salt Lake City, Utah (13 February 2019), RootsTech 2019, the world’s largest family history conference, announced its full lineup of keynote speakers and entertainers, including Saroo BrierleyPatricia HeatonDerek HoughJake Shimabukuro, and Steve Rockwood. Fueled by the popularity of DNA genealogy, social networking platforms, and related mobile apps, RootsTech 2018 had over 50,000 in-person and online attendees. Hosted by FamilySearch International, the conference will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 27 through March 2, and select content is broadcast live online.

Keynote Speakers

RootsTech 2019 kicks off on Wednesday, February 27, with classes on topics such as DNA research, photo preservation, and using social media to preserve family legacies. Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, will be the featured keynote speaker on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. mountain standard time.

Rootstech keynote speakers

Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton takes the stage on Thursday to share stories of faith and family. Heaton is most recognized for her role as Deborah Barone on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005) and more recently as Frankie Heck on The Middle (2009–2018). Heaton is also the author of two books. Her most recent, a recipe book, is Patricia Heaton’s Food for Family and Friends: 100 Favorite Recipes for a Busy, Happy Life, and her humorous collection of essays about life and family, published in 2003, is Motherhood and Hollywood: How to Get a Job Like Mine.

Saroo Brierley, whose story is recounted in the international bestselling autobiography A Long Way Home, will be the featured keynote speaker on Friday, March 1. Brierley’s remarkable family reunification story was depicted in the 2016 film Lion.

On Saturday, March 2, world-renowned ukulele musician and composer Jake Shimabukuro will take the stage. Shimabukuro’s records have repeatedly topped Billboard world music charts. Shimabukuro will speak about his efforts to honor his heritage through music and will perform live for the RootsTech audience.

Derek Hough, professional ballroom dancer and choreographer, will perform during the Friday evening event, Connecting through Music and Dance. Hough is widely recognized for his work on the ABC dance-competition series Dancing with the Stars, where he has won a record six seasons.

Classes

RootsTech 2019 offers more than 300 classes and activities for families and individuals with varying interests and skills. Select classes will be broadcast live. RootsTech also offers a Virtual Pass, which provides access to additional online recorded sessions from the conference. Learn more or register for the event at RootsTech.org.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

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