We have a winner! RootsTech 2020 Free Pass Giveaway

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Congratulations to Julie Wood who won my free 4-day RootsTech pass giveaway, and thank you to everyone who entered.

There are still plenty of contests running so if you didn’t win here, head over to Conference Keeper and enter. At last count, there were 31 giveaways running!

 

Telling the Story of You

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You are part of the story

For many family historians, the excitement of the chase means that we are necessarily focused on the past. We try to locate everything we can on our ancestors, and sometimes, when we feel satisfied with what we have on them, we move on to the next ancestor. RootsTech 2020’s theme, The Story of You, reminds me that we can gain a whole lot more when we look a little deeper at our ancestors and at what they can teach us about ourselves.

Find yourself in the stories of your ancestors

As we discover who our ancestors are, as we add flesh to their bones by seeking out their stories, we add to the story of who we are. Do your ancestor’s stories echo any of your own? My own immigration story, moving from South Africa to the United States, echoes the journeys of my third great grandfather from Scotland to South Africa, and those of both my great grandfather’s, one from Ireland to South Africa and the other from County Durham, England to Kimberley, South Africa. In discovering their immigration stories, I see similarities in what I experienced. Did they feel the excitement as well as the anxiety of moving across the world to a different country? Did they feel the sadness at leaving behind family? I’m sure they did. In discovering their story and remembering how I felt, it helps me feel like I know them just a little better.

Telling the story of you

In order to tell our story, we need to listen to what the lives of our ancestors are telling us. Our ancestors experienced difficult times and hard trials, as well as happy moments and joyful experiences. What can those experiences tell us about them and about our own lives? Do we see ourselves in some of the characteristics of those who went before us? Can their perseverance in the midst of difficult circumstances help us when we’re faced with something similar?

I don’t think it matters how you decide to tell the story of you, just that you tell it. When we tell our story, it creates connection, and can be a powerful tool for healing, fostering a sense of belonging and helping us to know we are part of a bigger picture.

You matter. Your story matters.

Will you be joining me at RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2020? I’m looking forward to learning more about how to tell The Story of You from the over 300 classes available at RootsTech. Take a peek at this video from Jen Allen, RootsTech Event Director, on the ‘why’ behind the 2020 theme, The Story of You.

How will you tell The Story of YOU in 2020?

Win a complementary 4-day pass to RootsTech 2020!

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It’s hard to believe but RootsTech 2020 will be here in just over 3 months! And it’s a big year … the TENTH anniversary! Will you be joining me there to celebrate The Story of YOU? I love this theme for 2020. By learning about our ancestors, by telling their story, we tell the story of ourselves. There is such power in that. To know who they were, we begin to know who we are. I firmly believe we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.

I am back as a RootsTech ambassador again in 2020 which I am so excited about. It means that I have the opportunity to give away ONE complimentary RootsTech 2020 4-day pass, valued at $299. This pass includes the following:

  • Over 300 classes (take a look at the incredible line up of classes here)
  • Keynote / General sessions (RootsTech just announced the first keynote speaker, it’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning photographer, David Kennerly!)
  • Expo Hall (my favorite place to network, learn, and just feel the buzz that is RootsTech!)
  • Evening events (there are always great cultural events in the evenings that are fun to attend)

Please note: It does not include any paid lunches or paid labs, hotel or travel expenses.

If you’ve already paid for your pass, no problem as you can get a refund should you win!

Enter to win here

The giveaway ends on 6 December, 2019.

Finding Harry

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Harry Joshua Davis was a seemingly complicated man. I never knew him, but the records he left often describe a man with many complexities. Living family members knew little of him, except rumors and hushed opinions as to where he had ended up.

His birth in Lancashire, England in 1879, was innocuous enough. The oldest son of a plumber and his German born wife, Harry spent his younger years at school and at age 21 joined the British Army. In 1901 he was sent to South Africa, fighting there in the Boer War. Something must have appealed to Harry, as he returned to South Africa a year later, signing up with the British South Africa Police (BSAP) service in 1902.

He went on to marry in 1908 and had four children. He became a Detective with the BSAP, his official paperwork containing both commendations for excellent work and bribery allegations against him.  His career in the BSAP came to an end in Cape Town in 1923 when it was disbanded. Harry was 44 years old. This was the last time that my great grandfather, Harry Joshua Davis, appeared in any records. Family members weren’t sure if he had separated or divorced my great grandmother, Adelaide. It was rumored that he started a plumbing business, perhaps following in his father’s footsteps, but that his partner absconded with all the money. Other extended family thought he may have started a bakery business, following in the footsteps of his grandmother, who had worked as a confectioner in Lancashire. However, no one really knew what happened to Harry after 1923.

Harry became one of my brick walls. I spent years trying to find out more about him, including where he died. Thinking he may have returned to England, I followed men of the same name but nothing panned out. Adelaide passed away in 1964, her son, the informant on her death notice, stated she was a widow. That could mean Harry died previous to 1964, but without further proof, that was only a guess.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, 10 August 2019 to be exact. I was in South Africa to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday. One evening, as we sat around chatting after dinner, the conversation turned to Harry. We again wondered if we would ever find out what had happened to him. Since the early 2000s I had been combing through South African records, excited and hopeful as each new record set was digitized by FamilySearch and made available online. Over the years, I had also gone through the available documents on the South African Archive website, without success. I became an indexer on the South African Completion Team for FamilySearch. Who knows, maybe I’d find Harry that way. Every few months I would check all the online genealogy sites for any mention of Harry. Nothing. Until I was in South Africa a few weeks ago. My mom, feeling a renewed sense of hope after our conversation, decided to do a quick search on FamilySearch, not really expecting anything.  Her excited and somewhat shocked voice echoed from the other room, “I found him”.

You can imagine the excitement we felt. My mom had done a simple search and up came a death notice. Had we really found Harry after all of these years? Would we finally know what happened to him, where he had gone after his retirement from the BSAP in 1923? Would we find out when he died?

Both of us peered at the document. And both of us took a breath and let it out slowly. Oh. It was definitely our Harry. The address given as his residence was my great great grandmother’s. The age was off by a bit but it was Harry. But oh. Typed in bold at the top of his death notice was the stark sentence, “Inquest No. 435/45. Death due to asphyxia due to hanging. Suicide.”

Genealogy can be emotional. It’s naturally that way because we care about our ancestors. All of them. The good, the bad and the ugly. And this way of dying, it was ugly. It was shocking and terribly sad. The death notice gave little else to go on. At the time of his death in 1945, Harry was working as a barman in a hotel. He was actually 66 years old, not 60 as stated on the death notice. His place of death was not the same as his usual place of residence, which makes one wonder if he was perhaps not living with his wife and children at the time. More questions.

But for now, we have found Harry. After over 16 years of searching, there is a sense of closure in finally finding him, albeit tinged with sadness at the manner of his death. I wondered if perhaps I had to be in South Africa to find him?

I hope Harry is at rest now, knowing that his descendants cared enough to want to find him and remember him.

Harry Joshua Davis
7 June 1879, Gorton West, Lancashire, England – 5 June 1945, Johannesburg, South Africa.

RootsTech London 3-day Pass Winner!

RT-Logo-WinnerI’m happy to report that we have a winner! Congratulations to Kelly Cornwell who will be attending RootsTech London with a free 3-day registration! Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway. For those who didn’t win…don’t give up…there are plenty of other giveaways happening right now! Check out http://conferencekeeper.org/genealogy-contests/ where I count 13 current giveaways running! Good luck!

Win a COMPLIMENTARY 3-day pass to RootsTech London 2019!

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Serving as a RootsTech London 2019 Ambassador means that I have ONE complimentary 3-day pass to RootsTech London to give away! The pass is valued at £149.

Thinking about attending but not quite sure yet? Head over here to find the many reasons that you should! Learn more about the schedule with over 150 classes to choose from, and read about the exciting keynote speakers already announced!

What could be more fun than 3 days spent with thousands of other genealogists and family historians! RootsTech London will run 24-26 October, 2019.

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What does the COMPLIMENTARY 3-day pass include?

  • Over 150 classes
  • Keynote/General Sessions
  • Exhibition Hall
  • Evening Event

It does not include any airfare, train fare, hotel, or any additional expenses. If the winner has already purchases a RootsTech pass, they will get a full refund.

This giveaway ends July 23, 2019. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter, here on my blog, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Click here to enter the Giveaway!  Good luck!

 

 

 

RootsTech London 2019 is coming!

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Where will you be on October 24? Hopefully in London, enjoying the experience that is RootsTech! There is nothing like it. It’s the best of all worlds…informative classes presented by experienced genealogists, an Exhibition hall featuring over 100 stands devoted to everything genealogy, and world-famous keynote speakers who will bring their passion for family history to the stage, each in their own unique way. You will walk away feeling inspired, uplifted and eager to put all your newly learned information into practice.

Take a peek at the recently released schedule (subject to change) and you’ll see an excellent variety of classes to choose from, covering all aspects of genealogy:

London Schedule

RootsTech London has a variety of passes, one of which is sure to fit your schedule. Right now you can take advantage of early bird pricing for the popular 3-day pass at £99 (which allows access to ALL the sessions in the registration price), and for the 1-day pass at £49.

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If you just can’t make it to London, don’t despair! RootsTech will offer a variety of classes which will be recorded and made available as part of a virtual pass. Stay tuned as those will be announced in the next few weeks. The beauty of the virtual pass is being able to watch at home in your pajamas if you like, and still experience the magic that is RootsTech!

If you’ve never heard of RootsTech and wonder what all the hype is about, you can watch some of the sessions recorded at RootsTech in Salt Lake City earlier this year. They are freely available to watch, just be sure you have enough time as you’ll want to watch them all! You can also read about my own experience at RootsTech Salt Lake City 2019 here.

As an official RootsTech London ambassador I will have a complimentary RootsTech London pass worth £149 to give away. Stay tuned for more info on that!

Come and discover your family story at RootsTech London 2019!

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