Columns Events

Relatives at RootsTech

RootsTech is still the biggest genealogy event in the world. For the second year this event is completely virtual and for free. In a few days – 3/5 March 2022 – we can watch hundreds of presentations about genealogy and family history. RootsTech also offers videos about food, music and culture.

One of the many fun parts of the website is a tool which links you to other attendees, called ‘Relatives at RootsTech’. It helps you find (very?) distant cousins among the registrants. A great way to find others who have been working on the same family as you have for the last few decades! Once you know them, you can share genealogical bits and bites, images and stories.

Find relatives

How does it work? You go to the page and log in with your FamilySearch account. Did you register for RootsTech? You will then see the number of relatives that have joined as well. At this moment, I have 82 registered relatives. Wow, 82?! (Oh believe me, there are attendees with thousands of relatives. Less than 100 is nothing!)
It is wonderful to see so many people who share at least one set of ancestors with me. Especially because all of my ancestors are from the Netherlands/Belgium area. But – yes there is a but – do they really share my ancestors, are they really my cousins? I took a look at these 82 profiles and especially at the family tree they have on FamilySearch.

One way to find out whether they are truly relatives, is to change the order of profiles ‘by ancestor’. In my case, there are 63 RootsTech participants that are a descendant of Wouter Peter Jan Brock and Elisabeth Thijssen. Here is the shocking news: they are not! All their lines go back to a Frances Bock (not Brock!) who was born in Virginia in about 1685. This Frances is – supposedly – the daughter of said couple Brock-Thijssen. However, Wouter and his wife Elisabeth lived in the south of the Netherlands. They never, ever, set foot on American soil. Conclusion: Frances was once linked to the wrong parents. And yes, this means that every descendant of Frances Bock, is now – incorrect – a descendant of ‘my’ Wouter and Elisabeth. Conclusion: exit 63 Relatives at RootsTech!


Seven attendees say they are a descendant of Joannes Roosen through the Vrients family. I need to do a little bit more research on that line, but at least it seems plausible. Most other ancestors in the list only have one descendant, who is attending the show. The exception is Jan Joosten and his wife Jenneken Aert Riemslagers. Three other RootsTech registrants can say they share these ancestors with me. One of them is my friend and fellow genealogist Yvette Hoitink. We already found out before that we are related through another line. This line was new!

Final words

The Relatives at RootsTech tool is a great way to explore the families of other attendees. As always in genealogy, do not trust everything (or anything?) you find online. Have a look at the trees of your ‘cousins’ and then decide for yourself if they show the correct couples. Or are they fake relatives in disguise?

You can still attend RootsTech Connect 2022. Go to this website and register today!