Friday, March 7, 2014

Serendipity at #RootsTech 2014

Boy "Unknown1" was David Franklin RawlinsI’ve already mentioned Judy Russell had a serendipitous meeting at RootsTech.1 (Read her account, “The Cousin Who Isn’t.”)

She was not alone.

I experienced one myself. I have several photographs from a great aunt with people I haven’t been able to identify. One of a cute, freckled faced young boy proved useful in my “Do It Yourself Photo Restoration” class. Cleaning light dust specks and dark dust specks from a digital photograph takes two steps. For a complete tutorial, I needed a photograph that suffered from both problems. After looking through numerous digital photographs, I found one that fit the bill: the photograph of the cute young boy. The photograph became a part of both my live presentation and the lengthy syllabus accompanying it.

When I arrived in the hall (pictured in a previous article) for my presentation, a kind-looking lady excitedly approached me.

“We must be related!” she said excitedly. “You have a picture of my father in your syllabus!” She showed me the photograph. It was the young, unidentified boy. We spoke for a moment, exploring our connections. I learned the name of my unidentified little boy: David Franklin Rawlins.

That’s serendipity in genealogy.

The third story comes from an article in the LDS Church News by Rayn Morgenegg. The complete, original story is on their website.2

Just weeks before RootsTech, Hayley Elizabeth Heineken started doing genealogy. She wanted to go to RootsTech, but just couldn’t afford to. Then she just happened to be scheduled to fly through Salt Lake on business. By chance she just happened to meet a woman who gave her a place to stay. The woman just happened to mention Hayley to her niece who just happened to start working for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a few months earlier.

Just days before RootsTech, someone scheduled to help in three of the four training sessions for new family history consultants just happened to come down with pneumonia. The niece just happened to ask Hayley to fill in.

Just hours before, a person helping in the fourth session just happened to cancel. They just happened to ask Hayley to fill in.

During the session, they just happened to display Hayley’s fan chart on the large projection screen.

That’s when someone in the large hall stood and yelled, “We are related!”

The two met after the session. They hugged. They talked genealogy. They exchanged contact information.

We call that, serendipity in genealogy.


     1.  Judy G. Russell, “The Cousin Who Isn’t,” The Legal Genealogist, 8 February 2014 ( : accessed 1 March 2014).
     2.  Ryan Morgenegg, “RootsTech 2014: Family History Miracle,” Deseret News: LDS Church News, 2 March 2014; online edition ( : accessed 1 March 2014).

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.