A sneak peak from four RootsTech presenters behind “Grandma’s Syrup” (Deseret News)

“I loved what this group of ladies, Allison Kimball, Risa Baker, Crystal Farish and Rhonna Farrer, had to say. The central theme of their message is that family history can be incorporated into a family’s routine activities.”

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Rootstech 2017 kicks off today! Wondering what is in store? Check this out!

And see Twila Van Leer’s full article at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865672735/A-sneak-peak-from-4-RootsTech-presenters-behind-Grandmas-Syrup.html



RootsTech 2017, a family history conference, will be in full swing Feb. 8-11, with the Salt Palace overflowing with family history-minded folks from all over the country, and I am happy to announce that I got in on the action ahead of the crowd.

Recently, I learned from a friend at the Humanitarian Center that “Grandma’s Syrup,” a quartet of FamilySearch missionaries (and popular bloggers and website owners, respectively) who are on the Roots Tech agenda for Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and Saturday’s Family Discovery Day at 3:30 p.m., were doing a presentation for the Centerville 3rd Ward Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that very night.

What could I do but sneak in for a little early taste of what the big genealogy bash is offering this year? So while the rest of you were anticipating, I was participating. I’d say “Nanner, nanner, nanner,” but that wouldn’t be nice, now, would it?

I loved what this group of ladies, Allison Kimball, Risa Baker, Crystal Farish and Rhonna Farrer, had to say. The central theme of their message is that family history can be incorporated into a family’s routine activities. There are important opportunities that go beyond long hours with pedigree charts, dusty volulmes and infinite searching. In a nutshell (or four nutshells), here’s what they had to say:

Allison Kimball: Family history begins with a story — a conversation — not with a fan chart. Her grandmother, not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time, began compiling the family’s history. By the time she had succumbed to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, more than 25,000 people had been blessed with proxy temple ordinances. Another source of family history was a 72-page journal her grandfather wrote. A son, Benjamin, valued the journal so much that he carried it with him wherever he went.

“It’s important to record our stories,” said Kimball, whose website is allisonkimball.com. “It gives our children a sense of identity and stability. Half of the children in the world have no record of their lives.”

Through such simple things as blogs, newsletters, audio recordings, shared recipes, etc., individuals can expand the scope of their genealogical treasures.

Risa Baker: “My fan chart was full. I didn’t know what to do and I was frustrated,” said Baker, whose blog is restlessrisa.com. “Then I attended RootsTech and was inspired.”

The answer was to get to know better all those people whose data was in the chart. She began looking for “a story a week” to share with her children. Some of her ancestors had lived in Star Valley, Wyoming, where they “survived and thrived.”

In 1916, they moved to Driggs, Idaho, where one of their children died. A movie house they owned burned and they worked as a family to rebuild it.

“I ask my kids what they can learn from such incidences,” she said. In this case, the lesson was that while the riches of the world come and go, family can be eternal.

She learned that Scottish ancestors who joined the church made their living for a time tapping maple trees. “Maple syrup became a connection.” A family breakfast with pancakes and syrup is a springboard for stories. “Life must be understood backward,” she said. “I compare it to the crystals that are inside a geode. You have to crack it open to see what’s inside.”

Crystal Farish: “Foods can be a tangible connection to the past,” said Farish, who blogs at crystalfarish.com. Family dinners every Sunday, with special cole slaw served with a spoon that belonged to an ancestor, Jane Pendleton, during the Civil War, opens the door to conversations about those who went before. Gathered around the table, her family shares not only the standard menu but also traditions as well.

“With Grandmother included in the cooking, it opens up windows to the past,” she said. Words matter, write them down. “Share your testimony and your love of the Savior. It will matter to your posterity.”

A family cookbook that includes the “Carlson Cole Slaw” has been digitized and is available online to inspire today’s cooks.

“What a time to live,” she said. “What marvelous resources are at our disposal.”

Rhonna Farrer: One of the family treasures was a 475-page memoir written by her Great-Grandmother Minnie Myrtle. But Farrer, who blogs at rhonnadesigns.com, had “never opened it until recently.” She found in her great-grandmother’s words the stories of the women in her life. “It was a spiritual experience,” Farrer said.

One of the stories concerned a baby who died while its father was away serving a mission. The spirit of the baby appeared to the father to soften the blow of the news and give him comfort.

“I wanted to share that with my family,” Farrer said.

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Using the resources of the Riverton Family History Center, she digitized Minnie Myrtle’s writings into a PDF file that was printed so it is available to all family members. Sharing responsibility for gathering family history is beneficial. At a gathering, each of the participating families was assigned a name from the pedigree chart and challenged to find out more about that ancestor.

“It changed the nature of our family gatherings,” she said.

Enjoy your RootsTech experience and look for the simple ways to make family history more rewarding. See RootsTech.org for registration and information and about the free Family Discovery Day on Saturday.

Sessions from Family Discovery Day will also be streamed on lds.org and deseretnews.com.

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