Saturday, February 25, 2023

R@RT: A Weekend Divertissement


Before you know it, the time will come for yet another RootsTech extravaganza. Don't count on me being in Salt Lake City after this weekend; too big a crowd for me. I'll watch from my own cozy hideaway.

Even though the big event doesn't occur for another five days (it begins March 2), there are a few preparatory items to take care of beforehand. First, of course, is to register to attend online. Then, to scope out the online offerings and plan which ones to attend right away and which can't-miss opportunities can be viewed later.

Top of my list, once I've taken care of those other details, is to check out this year's Relatives at RootsTech—or, for a short take on that name, R@RT. Yes, I know, I know: apps like that are only as good as the input which fuels the fun connections. But I'll keep an eye on those false matches, I promise.

Last year, I had a chance to connect with a McClellan cousin via R@RT, right before my trip back to Florida to show my sister the old family home there. It was fun to connect with this distant cousin. After all, we may have thousands of distant cousins, thanks to all the ancestors we've researched, but that doesn't mean they all share our deep enthusiasm about genealogy. Finding a cousin via R@RT means using the app to sift through all those other relatives in our tree to find the ones who share our love of family history.

This year, my cousin count has improved. I'm not necessarily keen on how many cousins are on my readout for R@RT. More important to me is finding closer cousins. Fifth or sixth cousins may be mildly interesting, but I much prefer to find those third or fourth cousins.

Why? One simple reason: DNA testing. Yep, I'm looking for genealogical cousins who also show up as genetic cousin matches at any of the places where I've tested—or, who would be willing to take a DNA test. While it may be possible to find a fifth or sixth cousin match through DNA, it is highly unlikely to detect such matches. The third cousin level is far more reliable, and fourth cousins can come shining through fairly reliably, as well. Those are the cousins I want to message so we can keep in contact. And since the readout for participants in R@RT is only available for about one month, it's time to get busy now.

Since the R@RT system allows participants to search their readout by different keys—location, specific ancestor, or family line—I tried looking specifically for Broyles and Taliaferro cousins. After all, those are the two lines I've been researching this year. It turns out there are two fourth cousins who have those surnames in their ancestry—not many, agreed, but maybe two fellow researchers who are interested in delving into our mutual lines. Collaboration can be a great way to tackle research problems.

I've still got a few more days this month to devote to my Taliaferro research, but for this weekend, time invested in sorting the R@RT cousins—and getting in touch with family I didn't know I had—will be well worth the effort.  

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