A Week in Salt Lake City – Family Search Library and RootsTech 2023

Recently a friend told me about Landline buses that go from Duluth airport to Minneapolis airport. It would take about three and half hours for the trip, but it also would save a good bit over the cost of airfare from Duluth to Minneapolis. I decided to try it out for my 25 February trip to Salt Lake City. Since the bus left at 11 AM I’d packed a sandwich to have for lunch on the bus.

Duluth Airport. Photo taken from Landline bus.

We arrived at Minneapolis airport and the bus parked in the parking garage. From there it was a short tram right to the main terminal where I checked my suitcase and headed up to security check in, I had several hours before the flight and got an early dinner.

Dinner at Minneapolis airport.

It was a direct flight from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City. I enjoy watching the flight tracker as we got closer to Salt Lake City.

Flight tracker image.

It was Saturday evening when I arrived which gave me a day to settle in, do some errands, and be ready for several days in the Family Search Library before RootsTech began. This year I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which is just across the street from one of the entrances to the Salt Palace where RootsTech was held.

Holiday Inn Express

My room was on the back of the hotel facing south, with lovely views of mountains in the distance.

Two views from my window. Snow on the hotel parking garage in the front of the images.

Besides the hotel being convenient to the Salt Palace and library they offered a complimentary hot buffet breakfast every day.

Hotel complimentary buffet breakfast.

I did some shopping on Sunday. Since I’d been there in 2020 for RootsTech I knew some stores I wanted to visit. First stop was Harmons Grocery where I got a pre-made sandwich for lunch Monday at the library and made a salad from their extensive salad bar. The store is very large and has a mezzanine where you can take your food purchase, sit and enjoy it.

A look at a part of Harmons Grocery.

My second stop was Eva’s Bakery where Leisa Byrne and I had brunch the Sunday of RootsTech 2020. I’d thought of going for brunch, but since I had breakfast at the hotel, I decided to get a piece of quiche to go and have that for dinner Sunday night.

Eva’s Bakery.

FamilySearch Library

For RootsTech week the library extended their hours to 8 AM to 8 PM. I arrived early and started where I left off in 2020 after RootsTech.

FamilySearch Library.

During the pandemic the library did a lot of remodeling as well as digitizing more records. The lunch room was enlarged and caffeinated drinks appeared in the vending machines!

Enlarged lunch room at FamilySearch Library.
Monday lunch with Diet Coke from vending machine.

I spent all day Monday at the library. On my last day in Salt Lake City in 2020 just before the library closed for the day, I’d found where David Coleman, my husband’s third great grandfather, had sold land in Kent County, Michigan, but I’d not found when he had purchased it. Then Covid hit and I had not had a chance to get to a Family History Center since then. Picking up where I’d left off I searched for deeds where he had purchased the land. After going through the records twice with fingertip search it appears that the earlier deeds where he purchased the land were lost in a fire.  Both the online images and a book that had the deed index mentioned the loss of records in a fire.

Daniel Horowitz, genealogy expert at MyHeritage, had a lecture at 6:00 PM at the library about private and public records and how different places classify the records. Totally exhausted I left for my hotel at 7:30 PM. I was very glad I had plenty of food in the room and didn’t have to go out for dinner. Tuesday morning I organized my list of items to scan and moved all the scanned items from my thumb drive to my laptop before going to library. I searched records from Saratoga and Seneca Counties New York hoping to find any records that might list David Coleman, but none of the records did. Then I started on records for Counties Kilkenny, Roscommon and Limerick in Ireland that were locked and only available in the library.

Wednesday was about the same, but unfortunately while copying some pages from a book Wednesday afternoon, the copy machine got into a loop and wouldn’t release my thumb drive. After support couldn’t do anything, I suggested he turn off the copy machine. I know on my computer that it’s safe to remove the thumb drive after the computer is turned off. But when I looked at my thumb drive on my laptop all the files had 0 bytes, It had wiped everything out! I was so glad I’d removed Monday’s and Tuesday’s records to my laptop! But I still lost all of Wednesday morning’s work copying Irish records from the CDs.. After my tech check at the Salt Palace I went back to the library to redo those Ireland records.

Wednesday afternoon was my tech check. I was thrilled that the cable connected directly to my laptop and I didn’t have to use a different computer for my presentation. Since the room wasn’t in use right after that I was able to stay and practice right there in the actual room. The room could hold 260 people and was one of the middle size rooms that RootsTech was using at the Salt Palace.

The room.

RootsTech Opens

Coming into the Salt Palace the RootsTech theme “Uniting” was one of the first things you saw.

Uniting Families, Friends

Next were the maps of the presentation rooms and the Expo.

Map of Presentation rooms.
Expo Map.

Presentations begin at 8:00 AM and the Expo opened at 9:00 AM. When the Expo first opened the hall was crowded and every booth I saw had several people talking to representatives of the companies.

Entrance to the Expo hall.

The FamilySearch booth was right in the front by the main entrance.

FamilySearch booth.

MyHeritage booth was also in the front row, as was the Ancestry booth.

MyHeritage Booth.
Ancestry Booth.

I spent part of Thursday walking around the Expo. It was so wonderful to be there in person, to see friends from 2020 RootsTech again and to make new friends. I also attended a presentation by Katherine Schober about seven German language tips for genealogy. It was a good review of my German from high school. I need to start digging into records for my German ancestors soon.

Thursday afternoon was my presentation. I’d expected to be a nervous wreck, but I wasn’t at all, which made things a lot easier. From the Expo hall you just needed to follow the signs to room 155A.

My presentation was in room 155A.

Outside the room there was a sign announcing what presentation would be there each day.

Sign outside room announcing Thursday’s presentations.

By the time my presentation started there were 150 – 200 people in the room for it. I had a great time and could tell that people were following along with me. I think many were even following the step-by-step visual phasing in the Coleman part of the talk. Several people had questions at the end, and I got good feedback on the presentation.

The presenter contact information at the end of the presentation. Photo taken by Jonny Perl.

The speaker reception was Thursday evening. I met David Rencher, who taught the GRIP Ireland classes that I’d taken in 2021 and 2022. With everything those two years being virtual we’d not met in person. I also met Brian Donovan of FindMyPast. Brian snapped a photo to send to his wife, Fiona Fitzsimmons. During the pandemic Fiona had run ‘Live at Five’ Irish time on Fridays from the Irish Family History Centre. I had attended many of those sessions where I learned valuable hints on Irish research.

Friday I attended the Research Planning presentation by Diane Elder and picked up a few hints to improve my process. At noon there was a ProGen meet-up. It was great to meet others who had completed ProGen. Many of them are running businesses. We also talked about our research interests. Next I attended Gilad Japhet, CEO of MyHeritage, presentation about the new features in MyHeritage as well as some coming ones.

Friday evening when looking over the schedule of presentations for Saturday I noticed one on using tax records in genealogy research. And a light bulb went off!! Since I couldn’t find deed records for David Coleman in Kent County, perhaps I could find tax records for him in Washtenaw County. When he stopped paying taxes in Washtenaw would give me a good idea of when he moved to Kent County. Looking on FamilySearch I found that they had Washtenaw tax records on microfilm at the Library. I’d planned to go to the library Saturday for a presentation on Google maps so I’d just take my computer with me and then go through those tax records!

Saturday was the only day I got up real early to attend an 8:00 AM class. “Becoming a Professional Genealogist: From Passion to Profits” was taught by Laura Hedgecock, Peggy Clemens Lauritzen and Cheri Hudson Passey. They had many valuable suggestions for running a genealogy business. After that I walked over to the library for the Google Maps presentation by Lianne Krüger. She explained how to find where your ancestors lived and put them onto your Google Map. Particularly useful to me was learning how to go from plat maps to latitude and longitude to locate those on my map.

Next I checked those Washtenaw County tax records. David Coleman was listed in Lyndon, Washtenaw county in the 1845 Michigan Census, and then in Kent County with a 200 acre farm in the 1850 Federal Census. He paid taxes in Lyndon, Washtenaw county from 1840 through 1845, but not in 1846 nor 1847. It appears that he moved after 1845! I also checked the Ann Arbor tax records for his son, James, but did not find him listed.

RootsTech was running a shuttle between the Salt Palace and the library. This was a faster way to get back to the rest of the conference. It was a windy day and the golf cart even had lap blankets to keep us warm on the ride.

Our driver posed for a photo.

One of my favorite restaurants in Salt Lake City is the Blue Iguana. I definitely wanted to have a meal there.

Chimichanga meal at Blue Iguana.

Saturday was the last day of the conference, and the Expo closed at 3:00 PM. I spent the rest of my time in the Expo. More visiting with friends and chatting with more of the exhibitors. Of course, I ended up at the DNA Painter booth.

At the DNA Painter booth with Jonny Perl. Photos by James Nunn.

Sunday I flew back to Minneapolis and then got the Landline bus back to Duluth where Dave picked me up for the ride home.

Minneapolis airport where the Landline bus arrives.

It was a wonderful trip, and I still have some notes and records that I’d scanned to go through in more detail. Now I have a RootsTech bear to watch me work along with Baby Cat.

RootsTech bear and Baby Cat watching me work.

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