Thursday, March 15, 2018

RootsTech 2018 in Review

The following is a press release from FamilySearch:

rootstech_2018_at_a_glance.jpgSalt Lake City, Utah (15 March 2018), The desire to discover and connect with one's family or ancestors brought together tens of thousands of family history enthusiasts from 43 countries and 50 states—and even more online—at RootsTech 2018. Celebrities Brandon Stanton, Scott Hamilton, Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., Natalia Lafourcade, and FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood keynoted each day of the popular 4-day event originating in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cool technology, popular consumer DNA services, and hundreds of how-to classes kept beginner to advanced attendees buzzing.


The 8th annual conference continues to grow in popularity. More than 17,000 guests from every state and 47 countries gathered at the Salt Palace Convention Center, and more than 111,000 watched live using the internet. Keynote sessions were highlighted each day with special announcements from show sponsors, and

In his keynote, FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood suggested that when you discover you are related to someone, you treat him or her differently. Using geo fencing technology and a little engineering wizardry, FamilySearch enabled attendees to use its Family Tree mobile app feature "Relatives Around Me" to make connections with unknown cousins in attendance at the conference, showing how they were related and enabling them to communicate and rendezvous. Astonishingly, over half of the attendees (8,450 people) were connected with other conference goers. The total number of cousin connections found at the conference (from 1st to 10th cousins) were 2,334,110, which makes the average number of relatives discovered at the show per user 276.


The show offered over 300 mostly packed class sessions on a vast range of family history-oriented topics, an expo hall filled with vendors’ displays and products, and enrichment events nightly filling every moment with family activity. It was energetic, lively, exciting, entertaining, inspirational, and educational.

Brandon Stanton, author of the blog and book Humans of New York, shared his story of how his dream job came true through hard work and determination. He said, "Following your dreams is nothing but hard work." He said that we shouldn't get to a place where you don't have to work, but to get to a place where you get to choose your work. His blog, and resulting books, illustrate the importance of all individuals. He says "listening is a scarce commodity" in this age of selfies. Stanton has found that everyone needs to tell someone about themselves, if they can find someone to listen long enough—a key to the success of his bestselling books that depict pictures and intimate and personal stories of people around the world. When asked why people share personal stories with them, he replied, "I ask." He says that the feeling of being validated, the feeling of being heard unlocks something in people that allows them to share.


Scott Hamilton, Gold Olympian, RootsTech 2018 KeynoteScott Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist, is as energetic and affable today as he was during his career run of athletic medals. He shared a touching story about himself as an adopted child, his bouts with different types of cancer, and the help of “family” figures in his life. He captivated the audience with his love of family and how important families are in everyone’s lives. He told about his own family, his wife, and the miracle and blessings that are his two natural children and two adopted children from Haiti.


Dr. Henry Louis Gates, host of PBS' Finding Your Roots, RootsTech 2018 Keynote. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., host of PBS's hit series Finding Your Roots, shared how an obituary of an "estimable" great aunt he read when he was a child planted the seed for his lifelong love for family history, and how knowing their stories can impact future generations. Gates shared how his journey through an Ivy-league education, African American roots, and a DNA test paved the way to a string of genealogy-related television shows that led to his current popular and long-running series on PBS. He introduced the DNA Detective, CeCe Moore, and explained how DNA is breaking down long held family history brick walls, dispelling myths, and blessing the lives of people young and old. He has created an initiative to introduce K-12 children to the joys and benefits of discovering their family histories in a summer camp called Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings.


Natalia Lafourcade, RootsTech 2018Natalia Lafourcade, a Mexican pop-rock singer and songwriter, is one of the best known singers in the pop rock scene in Latin America. She shared the importance of family memories and quipped that family lore says she had French pirate ancestry. FamilySearch revealed a personal genealogy that confirmed her French roots, but could not validate the pirate family legends. She sang songs from her latest album, concluding with the Oscar-winning song “Remember Me” from the Oscar winning animated movie Coco.


The RootsTech 2018 Innovation Showcase, hosted by Extreme Genes'  Scott Fisher, addressed the state of historic records, digital memories and DNA.  Panelists included Judy Russell, legal genealogist, David Rencher, FamilySearch CGO, and Kurt Witcher, director of the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Allen County Public Library, Brewster Kale of Internet Archives, and five popular commercial DNA companies. 


In concert with Brandon Stanton's keynote, RootsTech invited aspiring local photographers and writers to participate in a video-story contest. Over 200 people entered the contest, and the winners were Russell Hathaway, Karen Foster, Amberley Beck, and Cali Church. They received prizes such as a Dell laptop and Canon cameras. The pictures with their stories will be published in the future on RootsTech and social media channels.

RootsTech 2018's Family Discovery Day welcomed more than 26,000 attendees—mostly families with children. President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Sister Kristen M. Oaks, showed how they share their family history with their posterity. Their grandchildren and great grandchildren participated, sharing how they have been able to personally connect with ancestors through written histories, photographs, and stories.

Also participating in Family Discovery Day were Hank Smith and Jason Hewitt, and singers Evie Clair, Kenya Clark, and Alex Melecio.


Find this announcement and additional photos online in the FamilySearch Newsroom.

About RootsTech

RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

An Exciting Discovery - What's in the Box?

While going through some of my mom's things at her house, I found this box. I'd never seen it before.

I opened it up and look what I found!

A stack of photos! What an exciting discovery! Unfortunately, many of the photos are not marked on the back. But, I recognize some of the people in some of the photos. I'll be scanning them and sharing at least some of them here on my blog.

While looking through some of my mom's things, I also found this stack of business cards.

Warren D. Webster, D.D.S. was my maternal grandfather. He was a dentist and changed his name from Debs Warren Webster to Warren D. Webster after immigrating to the United States from Brazil.

More to come about this discovery in future posts.

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2018 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 5, 2018

Fun New Feature on FamilySearch ~ Compare-a-Face

There's a fun new feature on FamilySearch. It's called Compare-a-Face. And it's really cool. It compares photos of you with photos of your ancestors.

Here's what the feature looks like on my FamilySearch home page.

Simply click on "Try Compare-a-Face"

and you will see the next screen where you can upload your photo, or photos. As you can see, I uploaded several different photos of myself.

Here are some of my results with two of the photos I uploaded:

Comparing photos with my maternal great-grandmother, Esther Matus Villatoro.

Comparing photos with my paternal grandmother, Ingrid Anna Gillberg.

Comparing photos with my maternal grandmother, Sarah Vasques Madeira.

Comparing photos with my Mom.

Comparing photos with my Dad, Jan Albert Iverson.

See the ancestor photos at the top of the page? To compare with another ancestor, just click on one of their photos.

This shows my photo compared with the photo of my 3rd great-grandmother, Amanda Melvina Carlisle.

See where it says "List" with the arrow at the top left of the page? Click on that and it takes you to a list of your matches.

You can also upload more photos.

It was fun and interesting to compare photos of myself with photos of my ancestors. If you'd like to give this fun new feature a try, click on the link below.

FamilySearch Compare-a-Face

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2018 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 16, 2018

An Exciting Discovery! Could This Felicito Villatoro Be My 2nd Great-Granduncle?

While doing research on my Mexican ancestral lines, I found a very interesting death registration record. Or perhaps I should say I found it again, because I had saved it to My Shoebox in some time ago. I was doing research in when I found this record again.

What record did I find? A death registration record for Felicito Villatoro.

My maternal 3rd great-grandparents were Demetrio Villatoro and Isabel Vasques. I don't know much about them. What I do know so far is that Demetrio passed away sometime before 1902 and Isabel passed away sometime between 1902 and 1925.

My records indicate that Demetrio and Isabel had six children:
  1. Raymunda Villatoro Vasques (Abt 1863-1923) My 2nd Great-Grandmother
  2. Francisca Villatoro Vasques (Abt 1866-?)
  3. Camilo Villatoro Vasques (1868-1934)
  4. Felicita Villatoro Vasques (1874-1902)
  5. Elpidia Villatoro Vasques (Abt 1875-?)
  6. Zenon Villatoro Vasques (1879-1944)
The death registration record I found could mean that there is a 7th child we didn't know about. Here's the record.1

Here's a close-up of two highlighted portions in the record.

Since I don't speak Spanish, I turned to Google Translate for help. The translation isn't perfect, but it provides me with some important clues.
Google Translation:
"Camilo Villatoro of 29 twenty-nine years old married natural farmer of the Jalisco farm of this understanding and saw that in compliance with the law news that in his house he died today at eleven o'clock in the morning with the intestines, Mr. Felicito Villatoro at the age of 26 twenty-six years ? natural laborer and neighbor of estates Jalisco estate. That he was the second son of the late Demetrio Villatoro and Mrs. Ysabel Velasquez, 55, fifty-five years old, a natural widow of the Soldedad and Vicina farm in Jalisco."
So, could this Felicito be a previously unknown son of my 3rd great-grandparents, Demetrio Villatoro and Isabel Vasques?

Some interesting clues jump out at me. Camilo, who appears to be the informant, is one of the sons of Demetrio and Isabel. It would make sense for him to be the informant for his brother. Camilo's age doesn't match what I have though. In this record it says he's 29, which puts his birth year at 1875. The birth year I have for him was calculated from his death record. Perhaps the informant for his death wasn't correct.

In this record Felicito's parents are listed as Demetrio Villatoro and Ysabel Velasquez. Vasques and Velasquez are kind of similar. There are three different variations of Isabel's last name in three of her children's death records. In Raymunda's death record, Isabel's last name is listed as Vasquez. In Felicita's record, Isabel's last name is listed as Basques. And in Zenon's death record, Isabel's last name is listed as Vazquez. So is Felicito's record just another variation?

Also, the record states that Felicito Villatoro was the second son of Demetrio Villatoro and Ysabel Velasquez. The fact that he was the "second son" fits with my Demetrio and Isabel Villatoro family. Camilo was the first son. And Zenon was the last son and was born in 1879. Felicito could have been the second son since his calculated birth date is 1878.

Some information that we can glean from this death registration record:

Decedent's Name: Felicito Villatoro
Death Date: 6 November 1904
Decedent's Age at Death: 26
Estimated Birth Year: 1878
Father's Name: Demetrio Villatoro (deceased)
Mother's Name and Age: Ysabel Velasquez, 55 years old
Informant: Camilo Villatoro

I definitely need to do more research to verify if this Felicito Villatoro is the second son of my 3rd great-grandparents, Demetrio Villatoro and Isabel Vasques. But, this death registration record is a very exciting find.

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2018 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

1 "México, Chiapas, Registro Civil, 1861-1990," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 January 2018), Arriaga > Nacimientos, matrimonios, defunciones 1897-1937 > image 2201 of 2930; Archivo General del Registro Civil del Estado Chiapas (Chiapas Civil Registry State Archives), Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Accessed 6 February 2018

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

RootsTech 2018 Announces Lineup of Keynote Speakers

RootsTech 2018 Announces Lineup of Keynote Speakers

The following is a press release from FamilySearch:

RootsTech 2018 Keynote SpeakersSALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (January 31, 2018), RootsTech 2018, the world’s largest family history conference hosted by FamilySearch International, announced its full lineup of keynote speakers, including Brandon StantonScott HamiltonHenry Louis Gates, Jr., and Natalia Lafourcade. Fueled by the popularity of DNA genealogy, social platforms, and related mobile apps, RootsTech had over 50,000 in-person and online attendees in 2017. The conference is held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 28 through March 3, and select content is broadcast live daily online.

Keynote Speakers

RootsTech 2018 kicks off Wednesday, February 28, with the latest in DNA genealogy classes and other popular topics and a keynote by Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International. Brandon Stanton, a world-renowned photographer and storyteller, will then take the stage March 1 to share his remarkable gift of photographing and sharing people’s stories on his website, Humans of New York. Stanton’s art focuses on everyday people—illustrating that every life has an important story. The website and associated TwitterFacebook, and Instagram posts led to his two New York Times bestselling books.

Scott Hamilton, hailed as one of the greatest male figure skaters of all time, will address the crowd on Friday, March 2. His skating prowess won Hamilton an Olympic Gold Medal, World and US Championships, and induction into both the United States Olympic and World Figure Skating Halls of Fame. Hamilton is a cancer survivor, career TV broadcaster, author, motivational speaker, and—most importantly to him—husband and father.

Saturday, March 3, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will share his experiences in documenting genealogical and anthropological finds on film and African-American research. Gates is perhaps best known for his current role as host of Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series on PBS. This Emmy Award-winning filmmaker has created 18 documentaries, PBS productions, African American Lives 1 and 2, and documents the lineage of more than a dozen African Americans using genealogy and DNA; Faces of America, a four-part genealogical series, explores family histories of twelve diverse North Americans; and his six-part, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, won multiple prestigious awards.

Natalia Lafourcade, internationally recognized singer, songwriter, and one of the most successful singers in the Latin America pop rock genre, will also keynote on Saturday, March 3. She is perhaps most known recently as the voice in the closing credits of the hit Disney movie Coco singing the popular song “Remember Me.” Lafourcade, who has captured hearts all over Mexico and in countries around the world, will share her musical talent and love for family on the RootsTech stage.


RootsTech 2018 offers more than 300 classes and activities for families and individuals with varying interests and skillsets. Select classes will be broadcast live. Learn more or register at
Find this announcement online in the FamilySearch Newsroom

About RootsTech

RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,921 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah



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