Rootstech 2013 – which is where I am from now through Sunday — occupies a goodly portion of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, and its 6700 attendees take over a goodly portion of the city’s hotel rooms. The massiveness was more than a bit overwhelming, so after a quick tour of the Expo Hall with all the Rootstech bloggers (of which I am one) at 7:30 this morning, I headed over to the Family History Library for some much-anticipated research.
I had been over-the-moon with excitement when I found that the FHL had microfilmed tax census documents (revizki skazki in Anglicized Russian) for Tiraspol, the ancestral town of my Kishinevsky family. So I headed to the basement, snagged the 4 films, set myself up with a 42x magnifying microfilm reader (my eyes not being what they used to be), attached my digital camera and my bendy tripod to the microfilm lens mounting, and settled in for the long haul. A 6 and a half hour haul, to be exact. That’s how long it took to slog through crabbed 19th century Cyrillic script. Some documents were badly faded, others had been written by clerks who were barely literate. Many were written with pen nibs that were so wide, the ink bled through the foolscap paper of the ledgers, making text on both sides practically illegible. One ledger had been so badly neglected you could see hundreds of mold spots on every page. I found Vasilys, Grigoris, and Gerasims (traditional Russian first names) enough to choke a horse, but only two Jewish first names: Xaim and Moisei. And not a Kishinevsky to be seen! After six and a half hours!
By then my eyes were terminally crossed, but I also wanted to check out what promised to be another interesting source – police records of the murders (and other interesting events – that’s in the title) that took place in Chicago 1911-1920. Why did I want to see these? I had hoped to find the statement made by one Arturo Fabbri, who was of interest in the gunning down of Big Jim Colosimo on May 11, 1920. Fabbri, who had been married to my great-aunt Jeanette, was cleared in the case, but I wanted to see evidence of the police making him sweat. I found the entry, but it was one measly paragraph, starting with “Colosimo, James, age 47, shot at entrance to his café.” No mention of Fabbri at all. Another dead end!
Back at the Salt Palace, I was able to catch Patricia van Skaik’s session “Beyond Home Movies: Youtube Genealogy.” I want to be able to share family stories in a way that will entrance my two kids and my two nieces – if that is at all possible. Patricia’s presentation was just the ticket. There are several items in my notes that will be transferred to my genealogical to-do list when I get home.
Rootstech arranged both a reception for attendees at the Leonardo Museum – a lovely contemporary venue where I met at least a dozen intriguing people. From there, I tagged along with Pall Howes and his lovely wife to a specially-arranged concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The 360-voice choir sounds otherworldly with its embroidered harmonies, and the organ (12th largest in the world) is awe-inspiring. Thanks Rootstech organizers for arranging this musically spiritual experience!