Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
September 2, 2014

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference was held in San Antonio last week and DAR was well represented by our Director of Genealogy, Darryn Lickliter, and many Texas DAR volunteers including Nancy Brennan, local conference co-chair.

Darryn drove from D.C. to Houston where we met with Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA, and toured their headquarters and lab on Monday morning.  Mr. Greenspan talked about using DNA in genealogical research during our Celebrate America night at Congress.  Family Tree DNA is the company which NSDAR recommends for DNA tests and I appreciated Mr. Greenspan’s help in deciphering some of the test results for my family.  Mr. Greenspan shared with us his desire to collect DNA samples for the direct relatives of each American President in order to prove how closely related we all are.  He has samples for 12 of our Presidents so far, so please contact him if you know of a close male descendant of a President or his immediate family.

We then visited Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research in Houston where Assistant Director and DAR member Melissa Hayes gave Darryn a tour of their collections. Afterwards, we drove to our ranch for the evening where he tried a bit of Bluebell ice cream.

Tuesday morning we drove to Austin for a red carpet tour of the General Land Office, where we were greeted by Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.  The General Land Office has many responsibilities but we were most impressed by their extensive archives.  In addition to a collection of thousands of maps, they also have all of the original land grants for Texas, along with muster rolls of the Republic of Texas and German immigration records.  Of primary interest is the register of Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas, which was digitized and conserved by Texas DAR as part of Joy Hagg’s State Regent’s project.  The vast collection is available on their website as a fascinating history and research tool. 

 Tuesday afternoon we toured the Alamo and learned a great deal about the battle from Sherri Driscoll, Education Director.  Entertainer Phil Collins has just donated his entire collection of Alamo artifacts which will be a huge addition to the Museum.  It was only fitting we eat Tex-Mex food that evening.

The conference was held at the Convention Center along the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  Darryn set up the booth on Wednesday and then we visited with FGS President, D. Joshua Taylor, who is also the head genealogist for Find My Past and the genealogist featured with Rob Lowe in the Who Do You Think You Are? episode filmed at NSDAR Headquarters.

The FGS conference officially opened Thursday with dozens of vendors and genealogy societies with booths.  Classes were held on a variety of topics for all levels of genealogical expertise.

NSDAR sponsored a lunch on Texas Cattle in the American Revolution and I spoke on the role Texas played under the leadership of Bernardo de Galvez.  It was an honor to recognize Judge Robert Thonoff who wrote the book, The Texas Connection, which is an accepted source of documentation for a DAR patriot.  Judge Thonhoff was surprised to see I still had the autographed copy he signed for me in 1984. The Texas DAR generously donated Celebrate America activity books and brochures about Bernardo de Galvez and the cattle drives, which gave Texas its connection to the Revolutionary War.

DAR members from all over the country stopped by our booth to pick up their “DAR member” ribbons.  I am deeply grateful for the many Texas Society members who volunteered at the conference, as well as at the DAR booth, answering questions and assisting prospective members.  I sure hope they remember to enter their volunteer hours for Celebrate America!

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