Me personally, I only make it to the west coast once a year for RootsTech… Next year I’m hoping to make it twice and in later years possibly more (fingers crossed). Unfortunately, one of the events only held on the west coast that I have to miss is the Jamboree hosted by the Southern California Genealogical Society.
The question of the day was, “what’s in the box…” Well the short answer is…” I HONESTLY DON’T REMEMBER…” Today a 26 pound box arrived to my house from Salt Lake City that I sent to myself at the end of RootsTech, with all the jet lag and daylight savings time I completely forgot, so of course per request I had to do an unboxing video of the “RootsTech Mystery Box”.
It was Day One of the NGS conference and I was so excited. I was completely ready for the day, I had my backpack packed and I even recall checking twice to make sure that I still had my badge on. I strategically planned to dawn my newest pair of family tree earrings along with my “Thompson, Bryant, Choates” family reunion t-shirt. I wanted to make sure that I had my N.C. surnames in view for all to see.
The Plan: Attending the 2017 National Genealogy Society Conference for #NGS2017.
Starting Point: Edgewood, Maryland… Destination: Raleigh, North Carolina….
So I had originally planned on starting my drive at 4am. That as you probably could have guessed did not happen, I was so excited about the trip that I just couldn’t get to sleep. Sleep was a necessity for this road trip so after I rested a bit, I hit the road running around 7am for a 5 and a half hour drive to the Raleigh Marriott and Convention Center. My first two hours of travel flew by quickly. I spent it engrossed in a genealogy conversation with my genealogy sister and conference buddy Karice Luck.
Before I knew it I had crossed state lines and was entering my 2nd home ~ Virginia ~
Traffic was a little hectic at times, but that was made much easier by my 15 year old son who insisted on keeping me in good spirits by providing me with constant entertainment along my journey…
I passed by several familiar landmarks…
(Here’s a different angle… my car camera
skills are really taking shape).
MY most familiar and favorite landmark “TO ME” however was this exit sign…
The exit to Williamsburg caused me a bit of stress because I wanted more than anything to take it so that I could go and visit my in-laws and childhood neighborhoods. It felt wrong to drive past it but I couldn’t detour, I had a mission to get to North Carolina!
After driving along for what felt like FOREVER, I eventually made it to the North Carolina state line… what a relief…
I normally don’t stop when I’m traveling alone for safety reasons, but on this trip I was “DRIVEN” (a little road trip humor) to pull into the North Carolina welcome center; and I’m so glad that I did!
The inside of the building was beautiful (I didn’t take any pictures because there were a lot of people inside). I signed their digital guest book and spoke with the lovely ladies behind the help desk. They were giving away free maps of North Carolina and I just had to have one; hopefully one day I can use it to aide me in my research…
Outside they had a tribute to the Armed Forces….
They displayed a large art piece. “Saw Dog” on loan from the Vollis Simpson Whirlgig Park & Museum in Wilson, NC.
And a park bench featuring the state of North Carolina…. (I wonder if every state welcome center has one of these? Note to self: stop at more welcome centers)
I couldn’t resist taking a selfie with it! (The first of MANY during my trip)
I entered the city of Raleigh and made my way to what would be my home for the next five days. The Raleigh Marriott City Center… conveniently located across the street from the Raleigh conference center.
While on the road I called the hotel for an early check in but the front desk wasn’t certain that I would receive one so I decided to leave my bags in the car just in case. I wasn’t aware at the time just how closely the conference center and hotel were connected. So you can imagine my surprise mixed with a little confusion as I walked inside the building from the parking garage straight into the conference center…
I now know, that the conference center and the hotel are connected underground through a series of long escalators and elevators. Since I was already there it made sense to go ahead and hop into the almost non existent line for registration. Because I hyphenate my name when it best suits my needs I couldn’t remember which letter of the alphabet I belonged in but I took a guess for “K” and fortunately for me I was right (“Choates-Kellow” filled under Kellow.) Registration took all of 2 minutes, I hoped in the adjacent line to purchase a syllabus, and then I was on my way up the many escalators to the actual hotel.
I took in the scenery of the lobby, the Starbucks and the RYE restaurant/bar while checking in. Then as I glanced to my left, I came upon a familiar face. So familiar to me in fact that I let out a semi loud yell
“Oh my gosh it’s Judy Russell!”…
I couldn’t control my excitement to see her and this childish uncontrollable blushing and giggling ensued. After my initial shock wore off there was a bit of embarrassment on my part and I apologized for being what I imagined in her mind; a crazed fan bothering her in the lobby. Thankfully I had my conference badge on so I’m sure she realized that I wasn’t crazy. I was just in awe that I was literally watching her talks from RootsTech less than 24 hours before and there she was standing in front of me. We were friends on Facebook but had never met in person. She was very nice and even allowed me to take a picture with her.
I headed up the room and unpacked, took a look at my conference goodies and make an attempt at scheduling the sessions that I planned on attending the next day. This proved to be pointless because I ended up changing my schedule around so many times.
I only spent a few minutes working on that and then I headed right back out the door to catch an Uber. I was headed to the NC State Archives building…
The building itself was massive in comparison to the archives building that I have back home in Maryland. I had watched almost all of the NCGS videos about the archives before I got there so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I decided to go to the library first because there was a specific article that I was looking for. It was a biographical tribute for a great uncle Alex written by the family. I had once been given a packet of information about my family and the article was included but there was no information to go with it. I had no idea where it came from. (The importance of citations lol) I wanted to find the article and see the entire article as well as any other information that I could find. I was assisted by a lovely young lady named Andrea. She helped me to navigate the NC website to find what I was looking for and then I headed over to the microfilm machine to get started looking.
Time was winding down and closing time was approaching; it felt like I was playing a game of “Beat the Clock”. I hadn’t found what I was looking for but I wasn’t giving up…
“The library will be closing in 20 minutes”
That statement pretty much forced me to put things into overdrive and I started to scroll a little faster on the microfilm machine. That’s when I found it, the article that I came for. In the copy that I already had, the article appeared to be in the middle of the newspaper page, it wasn’t. It was actually on the right hand corner… The article was faded (as expected) but I just wanted to see it for myself (AND CITE IT).
A successful day of research if I do say so myself. My search led me to finding not only the article that I was searching for originally, but ANOTHER article about my great uncle Alex that had been in an issue of the same paper two weeks prior. (Closer to his death date) This small article could have easily gone un-noticed but I feel like I was led right to it. It gave me more detailed information regarding his passing.
“AGED COLORED MAN DIES AT CRUMPLER”
Last rites for Alexander Edwards, 94-year old Ashe county colored resident who succumbed at his home at Crumpler Friday night after a long illness, will be held at 2 o’clock this afternoon at Cox’s church. Interment will follow in the Coxe cemetery.
He is survived by four daughters, Jesse Bower, of Oxford, Pa,; Bessie Callahan, of Johnson City, Tenn; Velim McMillan, of Wilmington; Deal; Beulah Edwards, of Crumpler; one son Everett Edwards, of Gary, W. Va.; two brothers, Wiley and Isom Edwards, both of Churchville, Md.; and one grandson, Glenn Poe.
Up to that point I didn’t know the exact relationship between “Uncle Alex” and myself. Thanks to this second article that I found, I can confirm that relationship and put a title to it. He is my 2x Great Grand Uncle! His brother, Wiley Edwards is my 2x great grandfather. (Insert Happy Dance HERE)
I looked at a few books and copied a few pages to take a look at later but the library was closing and I had to go. I had planned to meet up with a cousin of mine for dinner but I couldn’t catch up to them, so I figured I’d just wait in the lobby and do a little reading until we could connect.
That’s when I looked up and saw this guy coming off of the elevator…. I had to check my conference app to make sure that it was who I thought it was… (J Paul Hawthorne). We had chatted back and forth through Facebook in anticipation for the conference and we knew that we would more than likely run into each other but I didn’t know it would be so soon.
We chatted for a bit (if you haven’t met him he’s hilarious) and then entered his friends stage right… I was introduced to them and as most genealogists tend to do we all became good fast friends!
They invited me to join them for pizza and I would have gone but I was still waiting on my cousin… Soon after they left however, I found out that they weren’t coming today… I wasn’t sure which pizza place they had gone to but it was okay, I’m a free spirit kind of person so I decided that I would find a place to eat and do a little bit of sight seeing…
The city was decorated with signage to welcome the NGS conference attendees to Raleigh, it reminded me of when I attended RootsTech earlier this year. I picked a place to eat and followed my phones gps on what I felt was a never ending extended sightseeing version of colorful directions filled with detours and recalculations. I later found that there was a MUCH easier way to get there… I just had to walk in the opposite direction first.
I had decided to settle on “Beasley’s Chicken and Honey”, a highly rated restaurant that features a community table in the center and a chalk board menu on the walls of the restaurant. Just so that you know, my social anxiety doesn’t bode well with “community tables” it is literally one of my worst nightmares lol. I decided to sit by myself so that I could read while I waited for my food. I went for the chicken and waffles and Mac and cheese… everyone else had it and looked delicious. Aside from that I was STARVING… I didn’t eat breakfast that morning and I spent my lunch time at the library (well worth it of course). I felt like I could eat a miniature pony, (a horse is really just too much).
The food was absolutely AMAZING!!! I couldn’t finish it all but I really gave it my all… I tried so hard but in this battle of Woman Vs Food… the food won…. I was stuffed….
I was so full in face, that I couldn’t move… but I had to or I would have ended up in a food coma and missed the opening session the next morning.
On my way back I did get a great shot of the colorful downtown area outside of the hotel.
I got back to hotel room and realized that I had packed more books than clothes and decided to use what little time I had before drifting off to sleep to do some research…
I knew my dad was in Raleigh often (he calls it his 2nd home) so it came as no surprise to find that not only was he in the area but that he was coming over to my hotel to visit. We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while (he lives in NC) and it would be nice to catch up… It also gave me a chance to handle a very important genealogical point of business…
Administering his DNA kit of course… I brought one down the road with me with the explicit intent of getting my paternal line pegged down with DNA. During our conversation I found out that I had a living great great uncle. (My paternal grandmothers, fathers, brother) That meant I had to purchase another DNA test at the exhibit hall the next day….
By the time he left there was no time for further research, tv, or even a phone call home… it was after 12 and I had to get up early to start the official day one of #NGS2017GEN.
My Official day one began with a breakfast of genealogy champion… with a side of research…
I walked across the street with all of the other Rootstech attendees. I had to pause at the front door because the entrance was singing, literally. There were wind chimes surrounding the entrance. It sounded so beautiful, I had to stop and capture the moment.
Traveling down the escalator and walking into the grand hall was a surreal experience, the entire setup was massive there were three of the largest screens and more people than I had ever seen in one place in my entire life…
My Heritage showed an emotion driven video that had half of the crowd in tears, me especially me…
Drew and Jonathan Scott ( The property brothers) came out and shared their stories of growing up and the importance of family.
Here is the intro that they played for the Property Brothers…
Overall the opening session was really interesting. A lot more than I expected… not like I had much to compare it to. Below are some photos from the opening…
Straight from the opening session we followed in parade fashion to the massive EXPO HALL… there were people everywhere! Booths everywhere with amazing deals…
I ran into my genea-friends Danielle Pritchett and Karice Luck and we decided to tour as much as we could.
I got to fan out a bit when I met (my now good friend) Ancestry.com’s Barefoot Genealogist, Christa Cowan for the first time.
I got a chance to see the media hub… A place that I envision myself making it into one day. (sooner than later I hope)
There was a My Heritage luncheon that my friend Danielle and I had signed up for. The food was good (even though I’m not really a lasagna fan) the lemonade had absolutely no sugar in it whatsoever (that was to be expected). I made a new friend in my seat mate Joel Conte. During the luncheon we listened to all of the new innovative advances that were soon to come to the my heritage website, including the photo discoveries and consistency checker.
Traveling back through the exhibit hall with my friends I had an opportunity to attempt to take it all in. We had some time before the our session began and found a kiosk that had the most AMAZING lemonade and funnel cake. The funnel cake was huge! It was way too much for me to eat by myself.
Then I ran into this guy…
Amazingly enough he made his own costume! I had to take a photo with him and shortly after everyone walking by wanted one too!
We headed to Bernice Bennett’s session on “Exploring the Testimonies of Former Slaves in the Southern Claims Commission Records”
After which we thought it would be a great idea to travel to the Family History Library. We were in Salt Lake City after all. If you ever get a chance to visit SLC, for RootsTech or any other reason, please make me a promise and visit the FHL.
The night ended with dinner at the hotel restaurant, Elevations with friends…
All in all I have to say that this first official day was one worth remembering…
This time two weeks ago I was nervously boarding a plane to Chicago, but that wasn’t my final destination… it was just the first step… An hour layover and a two hour delay on the tarmac and I was on my way… to where you ask? To Salt Lake City, Utah of course. I was going to RootsTech!!!