Rootstech 2016 Giveaway (3-Day Pass)

Yes, I’m about to offer a free pass to the 2016 Rootstech 3-day conference. But first I’d like to tell a little story about my last experience with Rootstech.

I’ve been working on genealogy since I was a teenager. It was right after Personal Ancestral File went from low-tech black screen and white (or green, in some cases) words to “high-tech” blue screen with white words. I was just getting my feet wet when I came across some fascinating tidbits.

First, Benjamin Franklin was my great-great-g-g-g-g-g-whatever grandpa (found out later he was actually a g-g-g-g uncle, but still…), and second, that I had royalty in my family line–namely, Prince Hathaway. It was only after much searching that Prince Hathaway wasn’t a prince at all. Prince was his name, and after further misleadings, I learned that Prince was down a different line than mine–that we’d been following the wrong line.

Anyhow, I’ve learned a lot since then, and have come to discover that every person in my family line is fascinating. They were pioneers, shop owners, parents of a dozen kids, farmers, miners, toothbrush makers, people of faith, people of music, people of industry, people of creativity, people of passion, people of faith. Whatever they made of their life, every tidbit of information has become like gold to me.

My first time attending Rootstech a few years ago, I was doing a presentation on self-publishing your family history. The class went well, but the moment things got really interesting was when a man approached me after class and introduced himself to me. He shared my last name, and as I thought about it, I realized we’d conversed online. Kent and I are something like 3rd cousins twice removed–I haven’t figured it out exactly, but Kent was a gold-mine of information about the branch of my family that includes Prince Hathaway (which, I might add, turns out I probably AM related to–it just keeps getting more exciting as we go along!).

Kent had even done DNA testing, visited the birthplaces of our shared ancestors, and spent literally decades in research on the individuals that leave the most mysterious shadows on my family tree. Never could I have expected that.

We actually spoke several times throughout the conference, and both he and his wife Jaelynne were both fascinating and informative to speak with.

I was also interested in the booths representing the plethora of websites, companies, organizations, guilds, and technologies available to family historians and amatuer genealogists.

The beauty of the whole experience for me was the discovery of how many allies we have to our family history efforts. Sometimes the hours behind screens, old books, and endless wanderings up and down aisles and websites can feel quite lonely, but that’s only an illusion. There are so  many people and resources ready to help. There are even people researching branches of your family history already, and never in history has it been easier to team up with them.

Okay, so you heard my story, now you get the goods. I’m excited to announce that I am a 2016 Rootstech Ambassador, which basically means that in exchange for my helping to get the word out about the conference, I get to offer someone a free 3-day pass to Rootstech 2016. So here are the rules:

  • Share this link on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog, whatever)
  • Comment here, sharing something about an ancestor of yours.

I’m going to trust you on the first rule, so by commenting about an ancestor of yours, I’ll be assuming that you have shared a link to this contest. The commenters will be entered into a drawing to win. That way you can know how good your chances are by counting the number of comments. If you’re the only commenter, you’ll win by default. Seriously, folks, you’ve got nothing to lose–other than three days of your otherwise boring life to an exciting, fulfilling, fun, and incredible family history experience.

Here’s the real clincher. You have ONE week. The comments will be tallied one week from today (September 21), so get sharing and typing!

God’s Favorites. Wait… you mean He has them?

1 Nephi 1:1

“having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days”

Hang on. Did Nephi just say he was favored of the Lord? Isn’t that the same thing as favorite? Does the Lord have favorites, or am I just reading this wrong? What does it mean to be favored of the Lord?

1 Nephi 17:33-36

33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

Interesting. I guess that makes sense. Would the Lord have the Israelites go in and take over the land of Canaan if the native Canaanites had been righteous? Of course not. In fact, the Lord had tried to help them become righteous. He had done all He could for the native Canaanites. But they had rejected all His words, and proven that under no circumstances would they improve their lives. I suppose from the Lord’s point of view, the best chance they had was if He were to destroy them and then work with them on the other side of the veil. Where they stood now, they were getting into deeper and deeper trouble – not to mention forcing their children (by not allowing them to be exposed to the truth) to live lives of iniquity also. That’s hardly fair to the children.

So he had them destroyed so there could again be righteousness on the earth, giving future generations a chance for happiness.

Do you know what this reminds me of? Parenthood. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Two kids are playing. Kid #1 is playing peacefully with a toy. Kid #2 comes and pushes kid #1 to the ground and takes the toy. Parent scolds kid #2 and gives the toy back to kid #1. Kid #2 complains to parent and throws a temper tantrum, earning a time out. Kid #1 goes on playing, and kid #2 spends the next ten minutes writhing in the unfairness of the whole situation. Why doesn’t he get to play with the toy? Why does he have to go in time out? Why is the parent favoring kid #1? He’s not better than me! Why is he treated like a favorite?

Etc, etc.

Or how about when the two are told by the parent that if they finish their homework, they can stay up late. Kid #1 finishes homework, and kid #2 puts it off and doesn’t do the homework. Kicking and screaming, kid #2 goes to bed normal time, and kid #1 gets to stay up late.

Kid #1 is not ruffled. Parent isn’t ruffled. But kid #2 is bouncing on the floor in fury, ready to call the ACLU.

Alma 28:13

13 And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.

I guess it’s not God who’s making things so unfair down here. It’s us – with the help of ol’ scratch, of course. mr. angry-pants just can’t let an opportunity go to feed us with the claim that if there was a god, he would love us all the same and treat us all the same no matter what we did.

Of course God loves us all. He’s just being a good parent.

My New Life

This is one of those videos that just makes you want to keep going…

Life and love really can and should be forever.

The Diary of William H. Freshwater

Here’s the diary of William H. Freshwater that I mentioned in my last post.

. . . May 8, 1862: I, in company with my father, William Freshwater; mother, Martha Freshwater and sister, Valora L. Freshwater, and Hertford, England, my native city and country with several other Latter-day Saints, all en route for Utah, U.S. A. We arrived Watford at 1:30 p.m., went to W. Kaffal and stayed all night. We went in a cart from Hertford to Watford. I am not quite ten years old.

10th. We left Watford at 8 a.m. by railroad. We passed through several tunnels, in one of them Mother fainted. We had a good trip to Liverpool where we arrived at 6 p.m. We took a berth on a sailing ship named William Tapscott which was bound for New York, America. This ship was chartered to carry the Mormon emigration this year.

13th. The ship raised anchor and left the dock with seven hundred and eighty five Mormons on board and went into the River [p.248] Mersey. There were thirty more Saints came on board while we lay there. Two accidents occurred today; one, a boy fell from the main deck to the lower and broke his leg very bad; the other, a woman in coming down the hatchway, slipped and spilled some boiling water on the face of a child. There were twelve more came aboard this morning. The vessel was towed out of the river by steam tug into the Irish Sea. The weather is beautiful and warm.

15th. A few of the passengers are a little seasick. There were two boys found in the hold and Captain Preston is going to make them work their passage across the sea.

June 8th. (Witson Sunday) In the morning, wind very fair but during the day it increased until the sailors had to tie ropes about the ship to hold themselves on. They spiked all the hatchways down and would not let any of the passengers go on deck at all. The captain told us it was the worst storm he had ever witnessed although he had made many trips across the ocean.

9th. A child of three years died on board this morning of consumption.

10th. Wind favorable but foggy. If there had not been any fog we could have seen Newfoundland as it lies but a short distance off.

11th. Very cold and foggy, still on the banks but going all right. We are now 1012 miles from New York. There have been a few grampus seen ― they are a species of the whale about five feet long.

16th. Head winds till noon. We have made, since yesterday noon, 126 miles, being the best run since starting form Liverpool.

17th. Wind good, at noon log shows 176 miles in 24 hours.

18th. Wind dead against us. We are now going through the gulf, a place where three currents meet; the sea is very rough. By the log we have traveled 200 miles since noon yesterday but only twenty-four towards New York.

21st. Wind dead against us. We saw a great many whales today.

22nd. A pilot came aboard. A man died on board today.

23rd. We saw a lot of blackish, the sailors claimed a sure sign of a bad storm. Weather pleasant and had been a dead calm all day. Saw a great many porpoises in the evening. They are a very ugly looking fish, three to five feet long and about as thick.

24th. Fair wind all morning. Only fifty more miles to New York. For the first time since we left Liverpool we heard thunder. At three o’clock the wind sprang up in the right direction and we soon left the fog behind us. We arrived in the mouth of the Hudson River at four o’clock and dropped anchor at five. This is a very beautiful port. Far excels Liverpool.

25th. We were all up at the first peep of day and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the examining doctor who came at 8 a.m. and pronounced us all well except two who remained on board the ship, the last we heard of them. The steam tug took us to Castle [p.249] Garden, the New York emigrant landing where one can stay for ten days only.

26th. Today is Father’s birthday; he started in the new world in a new year to him. Uncle George, Father’s brother, came to Castle Garden early and we were glad to see him. He came to this country last year. We hired a dray and took our trunks, etc., through New York and over the East River on a ferry boat to Brooklyn where George lived. We did not have much time with George for he left today on the 6 p.m. train to go west. We had to stay in New York because we didn’t have sufficient means to come on to Utah this year. Father hired the same house that George left.

28th. We moved to 136 North 2nd Street, Williamsburg. We stayed there about a month then we moved to Conselea Street, Williamsburg, where we stayed eleven months until we left for Utah during which time Father worked for a plumber by the name of William Cozer of Williamsburg.

June 26, 1863. In company with my father, mother and sister, Valora, I left Williamsburg, New York with a company of Mormon emigrants for Great Salt Lake City, Utah. Just before we arrived in St. Joseph, Missouri, the rebels, or bushwhackers, fired two cannon balls through our train, one shot went through the passenger car exactly eight inches above the peoples’ heads and the other through a baggage car destroying a great amount of baggage. We stayed in St. Joseph three or four days, afraid to go on because of the rebel soldiers being all throughout the country. While we were there, some fifteen rebel soldiers were taken prisoner, right from among our company, by the northern soldiers. Two companies of Union soldiers surrounded the depot and made the rebels surrender or they would have killed them. I can truly say I saw a little of the war between the North and the South. We went from St. Joseph to Florence (Nebraska) by steamboat up the Missouri River. We stayed at Florence (which was three miles above Omaha). Omaha had six houses and Florence, seven, all of which were trading posts.

July 9th: We started across the plains with a train of fifty wagons drawn by three to five yoke of cattle, some of them were trail wagons. The captain of this company was W. B. Preston who was from Cache Valley. The Platte River was very high. We had considerable trouble in crossing several streams. We had several heavy storms, one I remember was near Chimney Rock, a lot of lightning and thunder. Our cattle stampeded and started running away. The teamsters unyoked them as best they could ― some of them two and three yoked together. Three of the oxen were dragged to death. That night, herders went after them on horses. Devil’s Gate was quite a scenic place. The train went around and up a canyon but most of the passengers went over the mountain. When we got over and into the valley on the west, the sagebrush was as large as fence poles and eight to ten feet high. [p.250]

We arrived in Great Salt Lake City Thursday, September 15th, 1863, just as the peaches were ripe. We stayed in Salt Lake thee days and visited all the main places. The temple was then about four feet high. We left Salt Lake for Provo with a man by the name of Ira Tiffany who lived in Provo. We traveled in an ox wagon, the same kind we crossed the plains in. We arrived in Provo, Utah County, where George Freshwater lived. Stayed with him a few days when Father hired a house of Joh E. Booth were is now First West and Fifth North. We lived in Provo four years, then moved to Spanish Fork where we stayed about four months. We did not like the place; terrible winds down Spanish Fork Canyon, so we moved back to Provo.

June 19, 1867. The army of grasshoppers lit in Provo this afternoon by the millions. Everything in the way of vegetation was eaten and destroyed before night. We had several large tobacco plants growing and they were covered with hoppers in a few minutes. Father cut them and ran into the house and saved most of his tobacco. We also saved some other of our stuff by taking it in the house and shutting the doors. Our chickens ate so many hoppers they could hardly move. We saved our green corn which was in good roasting ears.

About half the grasshoppers raised in a cloud and went off in the southwest direction. Our garden looks almost as bare as it does in winter. About the only thing the hoppers didn’t clean was rhubarb. They ate part of that. Mother put up quite a lot.

August 24th, Saturday. The Provo meeting house, located at the corner of University Avenue and Center Street was dedicated today. The building is eighty-one feet by forty seven feet with a tower eighty feet high.

May 27, 1870. In the fore part of this summer a few companies of United States troops were sent to Provo to establish a camp. After considerable trouble a site was located immediately north of Provo River and just below Provo bench, being about one and a half miles northwest of Provo City. My father and Thomas Clark had contracts for building chimneys, bake ovens, and so forth, for the soldiers. The first troops cam from Camp Douglas under Colonel Hugh and only a little while when they were replaced by several companies from the East under major Osborn. The soldiers appeared peaceable for some time when the citizens and soldiers had several disputes and trouble appeared in the wind.

September 22nd. The soldiers (or part of them) from Camp Rawlins intended having a big supper and dance in town tonight which ended in a row and can better be described as follows.

Telegram sent to Salt Lake City:

Provo, September 23, 1870 A company of about forty U.S. troops from Camp Rawlins made a raid on our city last night between twelve and one o’clock and before the police could rally and check their progress they broke into the residence of Alderman William Miller, firing several shots into his bedroom, smashed in his doors and windows and took him prisoner and marched him about an hour or so. Thence passing up Center Street (7th) they stove in the doors and windows of the Co-op Boot and Shoe store (the old McKinsey building) and tore down the sign and stoned the doors of the Co-op store. They surrounded the residence of Councilor McDonald, who was away from home, and completely demolished every outside door and window on the first floor and scatted the furniture over the yard and sidewalk.  Alderman E. F. Sheets’ residence shared nearly the same fate. Their progress was here partially interrupted. They, however, proceeded to the meetinghouse, broke in the shutters of one window attempting to fire the building. The raiders were armed with U.S. needle guns with bayonets and revolvers, and during their foray they captured several citizens, parading them through the streets, some of whom were severely beaten and bayoneted before they could get away.  [p.251]

William Henry Freshwater died in Provo, Utah, January 27, 1937. His wife, Sarah Ann, passed away January 11, 1924, in Provo.

– Beulah Freshwater Spencer

Freshwater, William H., Diary, Our Pioneer Heritage, comp. By Kate B. Carter, vol. 7 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1964) pp. 248-52. (L)

Most of this excerpt can be found at: Mormon Migration

Google Alerts: A Powerful Family History Tool

I set up Google alerts to tell me when Google finds anything on the web containing the names of my ancestors. It picks up a lot of spam sites, but probably 2-3 times a month it comes up with something good. Last Sunday I checked my alerts and it had a link to a BYU record of LDS immigrants in the pioneer days. To make a long story short, I found excerpts from a diary of my great great grandpa, William Henry Freshwater.  I didn’t even know he kept a diary.

The reference quoted on the site was to a book I knew I’d seen once at the local library, so I checked it out and found an even longer excerpt of his journal. If anyone out there knows where the rest of his journal can be found, PLEASE TELL ME!!! If you know of a site, send me a link. If you have access to actual hand-written books, I’ll bring my digital camera, and in 20 minutes make a full digital copy of it. I’ll even give you a CD of the digitized version so you can share it with others if you want.

Anyway, I’ll post the excerpt of his journal right after this entry and call it, The Diary of William H. Freshwater.

Gotta love modern technology. It is completely reshaping our approach to family history!

By the way, if anyone would like to learn how to set up a similar Google Alert system for your own ancestors, I’ll be glad to post a simple step-by-step tutorial. Just let me know!

The LDSF Society

While it’s true that I belong to the LDS church, some weeks, with the kids crawling on the bench, and the floor, and each other, and me, and the baby,  I feel more like a member of the LDSF society. Not to be confused with the fundementalist church, this is the Latter-day Sunday Fiasco society. In the LDS church, the family gathers for sacrament meeting and all listen and enjoy the spirit in the meeting. But in the LDSF society, kids jump on benches, and parents do sweet sixteens up and down the chapel, racing kids in and out of the meeting, wails drowning out any and all audio reception.

Just today I woke up about halfway through the meeting (yes woke up – It was a long morning for the parents of said munchkins), I woke and discovered marker markings on my hands. What the?!

That’s when I noticed my kids coloring with markers and eating cereal next to me. Where did they get markers? We don’t even allow those in our house, let alone at church! And cereal? We had oatmeal for breakfast because we’re out of cereal!

Then the culprits revealed themselves as the kids belonging to the family sitting next to us on the bench. Ah. Well, they’re a great family, so I guess it was okay, but it did help me realize the importance of staying awake at church… especially as I remembered the marker markings and got self conscious about my face…

I only had to take Tootles out once – well, I guess you could say it was twice, since we had to go back in after he calmed down in order to fetch the diaper bag, since his foyer tantrum had released an ominous unpleasant smell. I would have had Jenni fetch it for me, but by then, she was out with another kid.

Why I Still Don’t Support Gay Marriage

Of all the entries I’ve done on this site, I think none have evoked such differing opinions as Why I Do Not Support Gay Marriage. I wasn’t surprised, especially since I posted it in the middle of the whole prop 8 campaign. New comments pop up every once in a while, and the most recent came up this morning. Actually, the commenter posted three comments. You’ll have to view the original post to see his comments, since they’re too long to post on this entry, but they can be read at

Anyway, I thought I’d blog my response to his comments. I’m glad conversation is taking place on the subject. It needs to be addressed.


I understand what you are saying, and I don’t expect you to simply believe what I’ve said. I’m not making a political argument, though the gay marriage issue has become quite political. I am making a spiritual statement – sharing what I believe, and why I believe it. I do not believe gay marriage is right, and I believe that those who engage in homosexual behavior will one day come to regret it, whether in this life or the next. I don’t say this to convince you, but simply to tell you why I feel the way I do.

I also understand why you would say that I can believe what I want and that I should let others believe as they want. That makes sense. But from my point of view, watching a person take a glass of water which I know to be poisoned will still prompt me to act, even if the person doesn’t know me and believes they are acting in complete safety. Nor do I expect the person to automatically believe me that there really is poison in the water – especially if they are terribly thirsty.

If I were to believe what I do, and not speak out, I would be a hypocrite. Incidentally, I am just as concerned about the problems in straight marriages. The divorce rates reflect a great deal of trouble in the world. I am not one who would want divorce to be unavailable, but some of the problems that are leading to divorce are serious, and can’t be lightly ignored. Adultery, abuse, pornography, and cruelty are all major problems, and will lead to regret just as surely as homosexuality.

You are right in saying that living the law of Moses is no longer expected of us. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and gave us a higher law. But even with the few verses in the New Testament that speak out against homosexuality, the real source of what God wants of us today comes through modern revelation, given to living prophets, and confirmed in the hearts of individuals world-wide. Again, I don’t expect everyone who reads this to automatically believe what I’m saying, but I know that God speaks to living prophets, and the prophets have made it unmistakeably clear that homosexuality is wrong, and that marriage can only be right if it is between a man and a woman.

The prophets are not putting words in Gods mouth. God has commanded His living prophets to teach these things. I am sharing what the prophets have said, and what I know to be true. I realize that many people will be offended by what I say. That’s okay. But I can’t let it go unsaid. I can’t stop people from drinking poison, but I’ll do all I can to warn them. I will also vote to keep the poison illegal, but ultimately people have their own choices.

It’s okay that we disagree on the issue. I understand your point of view, and I hope you can understand mine.

– Chas

Making Moments: Biathlon

Today I was in my room, working on a Sunday project, and I could hear Tootles reeking a bit of havoc in the other room, so I went out and scooped him up and brought him into my room. I cleared the bed of blankets and pillows and started bouncing him on it.

Jumping on Mama and Baba’s bed is one of his very favorite activities, though we usually try to discourage it. Well, he went straight from frustrated anger to excited laughter. I wrestled him, and even got out the video camera.

I suppose stopping him from one inappropriate activity and getting him doing another slightly inappropriate activity probably isn’t the best approach in terms of discipline, but it brought a big smile to his face – and mine.