This article is being written in a hotel room in St. George, Utah, adjacent to the Dixie Convention Center. I am about to head for the airport and see if I can get home today in the big blizzard that is covering the northeastern United States. The two-day Genealogy and Family Heritage Jamboree finished last night and was a great success. I know it must have been a success because I am exhausted! (That's my yardstick used for measurement of conference successes.)
My Ancestors, Inc. and the volunteers from the Washington County PAF User's Group staged a first-class genealogy conference with lots of presentations from some of the leading genealogy experts of today. The vendors' hall was full of exhibitors and often was full of attendees.
You can see some of my photos of the conference at http://blog.eogn.com/photos/stgeorge2006. That will show a page of "thumbnail" images; you can double-click on any photo to see a larger picture.
I would especially invite you to look at the images of David Woods' Maine Stagecoach. I had heard of this coach before, but this is the first time that I have had a chance to see it. This is a beautifully restored and priceless Concord stagecoach. The Concord coaches are the ones that were famous throughout the American west. However, they were used all over the North American continent.
Thousands of these stagecoaches were manufactured in Concord, New Hampshire, but very few of them remain. This particular coach is one of the best examples still in existence, if not THE best. One of the pictures shows David Woods standing in front of his pride and joy.
This stagecoach was found in a barn many years ago, was removed, and then was painstakingly restored to its original condition. Over the years of its use, it had been painted time and time again. During restoration, each layer of paint was removed by hand. No power sanders or other power tools have ever touched this stagecoach. The paint on it today is the original paint, touched up as needed by hand, using paints hand-mixed in the same manner as paints of the mid-1800s.
Over the years, this coach traveled a variety of routes. Most of the routes originated in or near Bangor, Maine, and passed through destinations along the coast. Many of the destinations were near the New Brunswick border. I am particularly excited about this particular coach as my great-grandfather lived in Bangor while this coach was in operation and his father, my great-great-grandfather, lived just a few miles north of Bangor. I have no idea if they or other family members ever rode on this coach, but undoubtedly they knew of it and saw it occasionally.
I sat briefly in the coach and must say that it is tiny. I can hardly imagine bouncing over dirt roads in a crowded stagecoach in inclement weather. Seeing this restored bit of Americana is far more educational than reading a dozen textbooks.
There were a number of other interesting exhibits, as well as a couple of new products on display. I expect to write about them in the next few weeks.
So, for now, I am off to the airport in bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid-seventies. I expect to get home this evening to find a foot and a half of new snow.
I must say that this two-day genealogy conference in the southwest corner of Utah was worth the trip!
Later update: Well, it seems that I did not get home to see the snowstorm. All flights to the northeast were canceled so I am stuck for the next two days before I can get a reservation. Of course, if you are going to be stuck in a strange city, there are worse places than where I am sitting right now in Las Vegas!
This newsletter is being sent from "on the strip" in Las Vegas.