2020 RootsTech – My Cousin Discovery

RootsTech 2020 was an amazing experience. I’m especially thankful for the interactions I was able to have and the connections I made now that all of us are relying more on virtual socializing.

Want to know one of my favorite reasons for going to RootsTech in person?

It’s finding the living cousins I never knew I had!

Cousins are a funny thing. Many get confused when it comes to cousin relationships. How do cousins fit in the tree? What should they properly be called?  Here is a link to a great article that explains what everything you need to know about “cousins”.

With the use of the relative around me technology found on my FamilySearch app, I was able to locate and find these cousins at the RootsTech 2020 event. I knew this year was going to be epic!

This year brought the 10-year anniversary celebration and I got to be a first-time ambassador for the event. Ambassadors are those who have been invited to share our experiences at the event on our social media. 

My RootsTech 2020 Road Trip

To really appreciate and understand all the lessons learned from this experience, I need to take a step back and start 2 weeks before the event.

It was a Sunday and I got a call from my Bishop. He asked if he could meet in my home, and I said sure.

At this meeting my Bishop began with, “Amy you’ve been prepared for this and I’m calling you to be our new Ward Relief Society President.”

For some reason without hesitation I said, “yes”.

The very next day my husband and I packed our bags and we began a two-week road trip. We started in Phoenix and drove to New Mexico, Colorado, Seattle, and then down to Utah for RootsTech. We had meetings in multiple cities in every state. As we visited clients and friends, we shook hands and hugged as we met new people, had dinners, and enjoyed our trip. 

I had many thoughts and feelings as I pondered how I was going to manage my job at familyhistorytechcoach.com and the new Relief Society calling.

As I arrived at RootsTech, I was met by enthusiastic people who really wanted me to be there and share their message on my social media. It was fun and exciting, and I had an opportunity to try the new attractions before the crowds even began to arrive. I had an opportunity to meet the leaders of RootsTech and interview them. I felt welcomed as a new ambassador and it made my time there a bit easier.

Meeting My Cousins

On the first day I was excited to see that I had been contacted by many cousins who wanted to meet me. There was one in particular that I was very interested to connect with from my McDonald line.

This line connected my cousins to me through my mother who passed away years ago. I have never met many of my mother’s relatives, so this was intriguing.

We decided to meet in the lobby of the hotel across the street from the Conference Center.

Me and my beautiful cousins.

I knew them immediately. Two beautiful women were waiting for me, Deborah and her sister Ronda. We had an instant connection, hugged, and found a quiet place to meet.

As we looked at each other’s features we saw similar cheekbones and eyes. It was fun to see the DNA shining through!

As we began talking, we realized we had many more similarities. Our physical traits were obvious, but I found our spiritual traits even more aligned. Deborah had served as a Relief Society President in the past. She was able to share with me many insights and tips that calmed my troubled heart. I was so grateful for her willingness to share and allow me to ask questions.

Our Common Ancestry

As we talked more, we discovered that our common ancestor was a man named Hugh McDonald, my 7th great grandfather, born in Scotland in 1680.

Our common ancestor.

Deborah sent me some wonderful documents and stories after the event.

Here is what she sent:

“As I suspected, your connection to me on the McDonald line is the Mary McDonald who was kidnapped by Cherokee Indians in 1761, along with her siblings. Her parents, John McDonald and Elizabeth Ramsey were killed at time of her kidnapping.  John is the brother of my 5th great-grandfather Hugh McDonald.

This connection between Hugh and John, and John’s demise, seems to be based on a report in the book Mrs. Ellet’s Women of the Revolution, published in 1850. ( I have a reproduction of the book in my possession, along with a copy of the book shown in the above attachments.) I have not found any stronger evidence to support Hugh and John’s relationship, as yet. So a DNA connection between you and me would be helpful.”

The best news?

We both have DNA profiles on Ancestry.com!

I’ll share more on our DNA in my next post. Stay tuned!

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