A Genealogy Adventure in SLC

I started this blog to share little snippets I learn that may help others, to share my genealogy journey and to let my family learn more about their family. Little did I expect that my last blog (and only my second blog) would get an amazing response and hopefully has helped lots of people. I have been pondering how to follow it and have decided that I will continue with my original aim. So I am going to talk about my recent genealogy journey.

In January, I travelled over to a home of genealogy (and a location where a lot of my genie friends gather) — Salt Lake City. I headed there to take part in the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) but also to spend time with the wonderful people that also share my passion for genealogy.

The first week in Salt Lake City (while the main week of SLIG took place) I enjoyed time in the Family History Library. My first day included interesting research — finding my 4x great grandfather’s memorial inscription1 was a highlight that also gave me an insight into how he was respected, thanks to the accompanying inscription:

In affectionate memory of GEORGE JONES late of Bellan who departed this life October 5 1879 aged 73 years also SUSANNAH beloved wife of the above who died June 20 1891 aged 86 years.

They are not dead whose memory lives in minds who know their worth.

I also found a will for the brother (John Renshaw2) of my ancestor (Thomas Renshaw — 6x great grandfather). It was special as not only did it reveal many family relationships (he was a bachelor so named all his nieces and nephews), but also gave a clue of the family origins with land in Eckington, Derbyshire (more research is ongoing). The best bit was that he lived in Bleasby, Nottinghamshire which is the village my parents now live in, my sister was married in the church and my Dad regularly mows the churchyard grass!

Although I spent time on these days researching, I also pursued one of my goals of the trip which was to improve my approach to writing up my family history — getting better at sourcing my information (using Referencing for Genealogists: Sources and Citation, by Ian G. McDonald) and getting advice from my genie friends — notably Cyndi Ingle (yes she of Cyndi’s List) who gave me much constructive criticism that I truly valued and Liz Kelley Kerstens, who is my new proof reader. Spending time in the library, I made new friends, helped people with their UK research and discussed ways of advancing the world of genealogy. More importantly we had a good giggle and got to know each other even better than before.

GGT&T Lunch at the Olive Garden – photo by McKell Keeney

I was lucky to attend an open night at the Ancestry ProGenealogists’ offices and meet more people — as well as meet some Facebook friends in person and catch up with the wonderful Angie Bush who I had driven around Norfolk and Suffolk ancestor hunting after Who Do You Think You Are Live back in 2017. I also got my DNA geek on (including meeting the DNAGeek (Leah LaPerle Larkin)) attending the Genetic Genealogy Tips andTechniques Facebook group lunch (big shouts out to Blaine Bettinger, Paula Williams, Angie Bush, and Leah for administrating such a wonderful group on Facebook). This is one of my main sources for learning about the latest developments in DNA for genealogy along with DNA Central. The lunch was so successful we repeated it a week later. Photo thanks to Mckell Keeney who was in our course too — and I still owe some Gloucestershire research advice to her.

On the Saturday night in the middle weekend, I organised a dinner for my friends, new (Amy, Debbie and Teresa) and not quite so new (Cyndi, Cari, Angie, Helen, Jane, Andy, Paula, Liz, Brynne, and Kim), who were in Salt Lake City that weekend. It was a wonderful evening and was topped off by heading into the rehearsal rooms at Ballet West to listen to the very talented Brynne Lizzy Gallup (Angie’s daughter) perform Wieniawski Violin Concerto No.2 Movement 1 and Bach Sonata No.2 in A minor Movement 4. To have a professional quality rendition of beautiful music was an added bonus.

Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Museum

On the Sunday, I escaped Salt Lake City for a few hours to head into the mountains and visit Park City. This was the location of the Winter Olympics in 2002 and we visited the museum seeing the ski jumps and bobsleigh runs as well as watching some future Olympians doing their own jumps on the slopes. We then headed into Park City itself, seeing the set-up of the Sundance Film Festival and finding a bar to watch one of the semi-finals before the Superbowl with another new friend, Debbie. A wonderful break, however I was ready to get back down into the room my friends had hired to all work together on whatever work projects or research was being done while the library was closed. Of course there was more giggling involved!

Amelia with Angie Bush and Blaine Bettinger

Monday morning saw a snow storm but that didn’t stop me making my way to the Hilton ready for day one of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Academy week (tailored towards professionals) where I was taking ‘DNA and the 21st Century Professional’. It was a wonderful week’s course, with lots of practical learning, interesting insights and a very interactive group of people. We all learnt from each other but special thanks goes to Angie Bush (our course leader), Blaine Bettinger (who gave my favourite lecture, ‘Genealogy as a Science’) and to my course buddy Helen Smith from Australia. We don’t really have the concept of institutes for genealogy here in the UK. They are a chance for like-minded individuals to come together and collectively improve our knowledge and practice. It is something that would be a great addition in the UK — the closest thing we have is the Getaway Weeks held by the Society of Genealogists (next one is in May on DNA — and I’ll be on the other side of the classroom teaching on that one!). Overall I left with significantly more knowledge than I arrived with as well as having thoroughly enjoyed the learning process.

Amelia with Angie Bush and Helen Smith

Somewhere in that week, I managed to write my last blog. I also received two new sets of DNA results — an update on my uncle’s Y-DNA test (sadly the Y-111 results neither improved nor diminished the evidence I previously had but did improve my knowledge and understanding), as well as the autosomal results for my uncle on the other side of the family. It’s always when you don’t have time that the interesting results arrive — luckily he is my Dad’s full brother (no misbehaving by Grannie) but his results also gave insights into parts of the family that he inherited more DNA from compared to my Dad. His ethnicity points towards some German ancestry that has not been seen before so some more investigations for me to ponder.

We were lucky on our course to not have homework so I got time to spend time with more genealogy friends in the evenings and a little more time doing research in the library. The week was finished off with a kind invitation from Rick and Pam Sayre to have brunch at their house. Alongside delicious food (helped by Janice Nash’s meatball recipe), it was a chance to learn more about US history via Rick’s impressive historical collection and spend time with respected genealogists (I particularly enjoyed my discussion with Thomas Jones who helped me get perspective on how to be a professional genealogist without necessarily doing paid genealogy work).

My final evening was with my amazing friends Cyndi, Paula and Liz (who luckily I get to keep in touch with via Facebook and hangouts while being on the other side of the Atlantic). I feel truly blessed to have them as friends, to giggle with, support each other, learn from — and most of all they introduced Fireball to me!

I return to the UK with many projects I now want to attack (should I try to become certified, what new DNA tools should I use, what webinars should I watch and journals should I read, how can I share my experiences with others). I have an amazing year of genealogy ahead — Family Tree Live (where I am lecturing and running workshops), the DNA Getaway week at SoG (where again I’m lecturing), the Genealogy Show (where I get to be a punter and spend time with genealogy friends from around the globe), the Unlock the Past cruise around the Mediterranean (where I am lecturing and running workshops (there is a theme building for this year) and finally RootsTech London and the events being run by the SoG at the same time (I will miss a lot of RootsTech as a very important wedding for me is taking place the same weekend but hope to be around for some of it). I am very lucky to have such a wonderful involvement in the genealogy community but hopefully I also add lots back into it too.


1. George and Susannah JONES memorial inscription transcript. Entry E28. Gwernafield Memorial Inscriptions – Holy Trinity Churchyard. Published by Clwyd Family History Society, 2004. Viewed at Family History Library, Salt Lake City, call number 942.935/G2 V3ch.

2. Will. John RENSHAW. 1797. Court of the Peculiar of Southwell. Nottingham Archive Reference PR/SW/173/36 – Page 155. Viewed at Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Film 189846.

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