Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Very Special Chart for a Very Special Young Man

James Taylor (center) and his parents. Photo provided by
and used with express permission of PBS Communications.
Not too long ago we were contacted by Josh Taylor and the producers of the PBS show  Genealogy Roadshow asking us if we would print a chart for a young man being featured on their show.  As the show discussed, this young man's name James Herschel Taylor and he is as sweet as they come.  Of course, we were thrilled to help in any way we could.

James Taylor is the son of Berhonda and James Taylor and he has had a keen interest in his personal genealogy, as well as ancient history.  James has Asperger's Syndome, a form of Autism.  He's a brilliant kid whose interest in his heritage and the world history surrounding his background is inspiring.  Everyone at Genealogy Roadshow fell in love with him and his family and I have to say, we did too.  We have experience with Asperger's in our family and so this story touched very close to home for us.

James is featured on the St. Louis Central Library episode of Genealogy Roadshow (aired January 19th, 2015) and can be found here  the show's website (linked through on  His story starts around the 33:17 minute mark and ends around the 42:43 mark.  You can see our chart though from 41:52 to about 42:14.  The show did a DNA profile on James and asked us to include his DNA map on the chart, to show were his ancestry in located.  Now, where else can you find a chart like that?  Of course, Josh knew exactly where to go for what he was looking for.  We were able to pull together the chart very quickly and get it right out to the producers of the show for them to present to James and his parents.  It was a great experience and of course we all got teary watching he and his family get so emotional about having their ancestry on display for them.

We all enjoyed the experience of creating this chart that meant so much to James and his family.  It was clear that it was important to them to not only have new information about their family, provided by Josh and the producers of the show, but also a tangible reminder of that history.  It's just a great example of one of the reasons why we do this.  There is distinct power and stability in being able to see those who have come before you.  Berhonda, James's mother, said at one point when looking at her ancestry, "You long for someone, and you wish you could meet them."  We have that innate pull and desire to know our ancestors in each of us and charts are such an amazing way to "meet" them and reinforce that connection each day.  This was just another of many highlights for us at Family ChartMasters.  I was so happy Josh came to me to design a chart for James and I look forward to working with Genealogy Roadshow again in the future.  We hope James and his family treasures their chart, in their home, for years to come.

Friday, January 23, 2015

And The Winner Is...

Thank you to those who participated in our Jdawgs Giveaway!  I and my staff all loved reading each of those stories and it was so hard to pick a winner.  But choose we must, so...

Susan Bankhead, congratulations.  You've got yourself lunch for two! Here is the story Susan shared with us:

"'My second great grandfather, Tilton Eastman Smith, served in the NY 33rd Regiment in the Civil War. He recorded his experiences in pencil in a tiny pocket diary. On one Sunday he wrote, "Five of us met in the mud to worship our God. How thankful we are for the opportunity.'
Susan Bankhead"

We chose this story because it was a great example of how something tiny and small--a note written in a small journal, in pencil--gives an example of gratitude in hardships.  We truly learn from the hardships and trials of our ancestors.  And the idea of Susan's ancestor, kneeling in the mud, with gratitude for the opportunity, touched all of us at Family ChartMasters.  All of the stories did, actually.  It really was a difficult choice, but what remained for all of us was how in those two lines, generations were altered by the act and the gratitude for being able to perform the act.

Thank you all who shared with us!  They are amazing stories, each one!  Hopefully we can do more giveaways in the future, because each of those stories was a winner in our books.  Susan, please email us at familychartmaster (at) gmail (dot) com.  We'll get your lunches out to you right away!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How About A Free Lunch?

In honor of all things great to do in Utah, besides genealogy, I've got something new and exciting for all of you wonderful readers!  How about a free lunch?  For two?  Yes, my friends, we're having a giveaway!
Seriously great stuff, right here!

A Utah County Rite of Passage is a meal at Jdawgs.  It's the place to go for the absolute best hot dogs (or, dawgs) in the state.  In honor of all of you amazing folks who will be descending upon my beloved home state for Rootstech (and for the locals, I'm not exclusive), we've teamed up with Jdawgs to give one lucky reader a chance to win lunch for two at Jdawgs.  According to their website, Jdawgs is "The brainchild of a creative, yet broke and somewhat directionless BYU student..."  It started in a tiny shack just on the edge of BYU Provo campus and has now spread to four locations throughout Utah County, with a healthy and thriving catering business.  And for a broke and somewhat directionless student, owner and creator Jayson Edwards, has taken his idea and grown it to a highlight on the Utah County food scene.  Forget what you think you know about hot dogs, because these don't even compare to what you're used to eating off of the backyard grill.
Sabrina cooking up some dawgs.

So what makes Jdawgs so special that you are going to want these free meal tickets?  Just about everything.  The hot dogs themselves are 100% beef (they come in Polish and Regular), the buns are brought in daily from a local bakery and have just the right balance between soft and chewy, the topping choices are amazing, and their special Jdawgs Sauce is straight up divine.  And if all of that isn't enough, Jdawgs grills their dawgs in a unique way.  They are masters of the cross-cut and it is beyond genius.  When we asked Sebastian, manager of the Thanksgiving Point location, why they cross-cut the dawgs before grilling them, his answer was multi-pointed: first, they cook faster and more evenly; second, it makes the dawgs "bloom," giving a more appealing product; third (and most importantly), it holds all of the toppings better than it otherwise would.  I told you, genius.  Michelle decided to take home a couple of dawgs to get her family's opinions and while the Polish is Jdawgs biggest seller, the Beef dawg was the winner in her house.  The difference was mainly spice.  The Polish dawg has a stronger, more peppery flavor (but not too much heat) while the Beef was a bit tamer and more to her children's' preferences.  And even cutting up the dawgs into portions for her kids, two was more than enough for the four of them (they are huge!) and the toppings all stayed nicely on the dawg/in the bun instead of all over her kitchen floor. She was a happy camper.

The Thanksgiving Pointe Jdawgs crew:
Miranda, Sebastian, Zoe, and Sabrina.
All in all, you need to try these!  When we reached out to Jdawgs to ask if they'd be willing to sponsor a giveaway for my blog, they didn't even hesitate.  They are huge supporters of local charities, schools, and businesses.  We worked with Tom and Sebastian (as well as Sebastian's crew) and everyone was so amazing.  They were excited at the thought of doing the giveaway for anyone who wanted to try their restaurant.  I can't say enough great things about Jdawgs as a tasty restaurant and as a community supporter.  They really embody the Utah State of Mind.

So what do you need to do to get a chance to win two free meals?  Easy.  Leave me a comment below telling me about one of these two things:

A time when you found a personal hero or an inspiring story in your ancestry.

Easy peasy, lemony squeezy.  My team and I will all read through the comments and choose a winner.  You have until Thursday (midnight) to leave a comment and we'll announce the winner on Friday.  You've got nothing to lose and two free meals to win, so get to commenting!  And tell your friends.  The more the merrier.  I can't wait to read your stories and thoughts!

*Disclaimer stuff: Jdawgs generously offered two gift cards for these free meals (each good for one hot dog, bag of chips, and a drink) as part of a social media partnership with them.  Neither I, nor anyone on my staff, have received any compensation for this giveaway.  And Michelle provided her own lunch that day. :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Outside The Box--Rootstech Version

Rootstech is around the corner and that can only mean one thing for the vendor hall: Outside the Box.  That's right, Alison Dolan from Family Tree Magazine, Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, Lisa Louise Cooke from Genealogy Gems, and I are together again for the Exhibit Hall at Rootstech.  And if you've been around us at past conferences, you know it's a party.  We've got it all happening in our corner, and we hope you'll come see us.

We have free Outside the Box Sessions, games, prizes, and consultations running each day.  The Exhibit Hall opens at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday and we're hitting the ground running.  Stop by first thing, at 10:30, for our first game and a chance to win prizes.  I'll be hosting a Genealogy Game Show and Pedigree Challenge.  It's a hoot and a great way to start your time at Rootstech.  And, did I mention, PRIZES!  We'll be playing games throughout the entire conference though at our Family ChartMasters booth, so be sure to pop by often.  I'll also be ending the conference on Saturday with the game show and prizes too.  You won't want to miss it.

Maureen, Lisa, Allison and I all have our areas of expertise and we've designed our personal Outside the Box Sessions around each of those.  You'll be able to get some fabulous help for your genealogical problems right there in the Exhibit Hall.  In fact, Maureen is available for you to schedule consultations for help with your family history photos.  If you have an unidentified ancestor in a photo, bring it to her and she'll be able to help you track that person down.  You can schedule a time to meet with her here.

We've always enjoyed teaming up and providing these free Outside the Box sessions at various conferences.  We love seeing old friends and making new ones and we hope you will come by often during your time at Rootstech.  And before you come, don't forget to download your free Salt Lake City Travel Guide from Family ChartMasters.  We've got you covered for a great Rootstech experience and we can't wait to see you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chart Chick Insider's Guide to Salt Lake City--Updated!

A couple of years ago, my friend Thomas MacEntee, encouraged me to put together a local's guide to Salt Lake City.  Seeing as Salt Lake City is the Genealogy Mecca, eventually most folks researching their family history end up here.  Either for conferences or to spend a few days in the Family History Library, it's kind of the place to be.  I have spent a good deal of my life here in Utah and I really love it.  Some genealogists choose to live in Salt Lake City because of all of the great genealogical resources, but I love it for many reasons beyond that great perk.  First and foremost, you cannot beat the scenery.  The mountain vistas are breathtaking.  And I love the clean lifestyle here too.  Clean streets, air, and water.  It very fresh and refreshing to be a resident here with wonderful access to all of nature's grand showcases.

You also cannot beat the people.  Hands down, Utah is one of the friendliest places I have ever lived.  In fact, at the 2002 Olympics, people from all over the world marveled at the friendly and helpful nature of Utah's locals.  Even a few years ago, on one of the American Idol search tours, the judges were bowled over by the friendly nature of our residents.  American Idol did a montage of over a dozen hopeful contestants saying "thank you" for the opportunity to be rejected (and the actual rejection itself).  At one point, I think it was Paula Abdul who made a comment to the general effect of "What's in the water and can I get some of it?"  Which, while completely hilarious, I can assure you: people really are just that nice around here.  And I love it!  Hopefully in your travels out our way, you get to experience that welcome attitude.  Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation while you are out and about--you'll make a new friend in no time flat.  I just really love it here.  And I want you to enjoy yourself when you come and visit.  So for that reason I wanted to make sure you have the insider track on the best visit possible.  There is nothing worse than hitting a new town and not knowing where to stay or eat or play.  Problem solved.

So with the opening of the APG Professional Management Conference today, and with the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy starting next week, and with RootsTech just around the corner, I thought now would be the time to update my Salt Lake Guide. If you are planning a trip to Salt Lake City any time soon, be sure to download Family ChartMasters's free Salt Lake City travel guide.  I have included over 150 links to the best places to stay and eat, sights to see, shopping guides, genealogical and library resources, transportation options, and more.  The .pdf is twenty three pages of great information all geared to the genealogist's experience.  And you can purchase a hard copy to pick up at our booth at RootsTech (or be shipped to you).  It's newly updated with all of the best spots and their information.  And did I mention it's free?  A city guide, from a local, with tried and true resources.  You honestly can't beat it.  And once you download it and try out a few of my suggestions, be sure to let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Of New Years and Resolutions

Happy New Year! 2015 is upon on us and it's a great time to create new habits and work on some new goals. That's a really positive way to say "We're all eating carrots and hummus for lunch today," isn't it? :) While that may or may not be the case for you, I do think it is pretty safe to say that at this time of year, it's a pretty natural reaction for us each to reflect on ourselves and where we are personally and to renew some efforts we put into self-improvement.

That said, it's also a time that we, as a company, have decided to act on a goal we've talked about quite a bit for the last half of 2014. And there is no better time than the change of a calendar to Carpe Diem! ourselves into the execution of that goal. We want to work on asking for, receiving, and then implementing customer feedback this year. We do want to be the best we can be and provide our customers with the best service we can. So, even if the feedback pinches a bit, we're ready and willing to listen--and change. We're asking, so here's your chance to let us know how we are doing!

Here is a link to quick online survey, asking about your experience with Family ChartMasters. We've made it as fast and painless as possible (really... we all tried it ourselves and it only takes about 2 minutes). In addition to trying to make it a simple and fast process, we're also making it a worthwhile process. Here's your chance to not only help us, but help others too. For every online survey response we receive, Family ChartMasters will donate $1 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. So you'll actually be doing two helpful things, all in a matter of a few minutes. You can count it as two good deeds for your day!

Please be on the lookout for our newsletter with a link to take the survey or better yet, click this link to get started now. And thank you, in advance, for your participation. It really does help us to improve and grow.