MIAMI COUNTY — The Horticulture Hall isn’t the only place you can find roots this year at the Miami County Fair. Now you can also search for your family origins.
At their booth near the entrance of the merchants’ building, Tom and Rene Millhouse will show you how you can do genealogy research online using the FamilySearch.org website, which is similar to Ancestry.com, except that it’s free of charge.
“The program itself has a very unique search engine,” Millhouse said. “It allows you to find out who your ancestors were. It’s really interesting once you get into it.”
In addition to an instructional video about the website, the Millhouses offer how-to handouts, family tree charts — including easy-to-use charts for children — and more.
The couple agreed to man the booth at the fair for the first time at the suggestion of friend Amie Tennant. All are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Piqua and Sidney ward, which strongly promotes family history projects.
“Rene and I both served a one-year mission where we answered telephone calls from people who had questions about family searches,” Millhouse said, adding that they received queries from as far as England, Sweden and South Africa.
FamilySearch.org also features a function called “Family Tree” that allows users to upload files and photos for others to view, Tennant noted. “It gives you the option to connect with people who have photos that you don’t have in your family,” she said.
“One of the really nice things about FamilySearch is that people can do genealogy research and find actual documents instead of having to go to a specific county or state to get them,” Tennant said.
Growing interest in family history — as evidenced by the popularity of such TV shows as TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” — makes websites like FamilySearch.org a handy tool to have at one’s fingertips. “It helps us know who we are and where we come from,” Rene Millhouse said. “We believe families are forever and it helps you to know who you’re connected to.”
The Millhouses will be on hand from 1-9 p.m. every day of the fair except Sunday to demonstrate the website and help those interested in doing family searches.
On a related note, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will sponsor a Family History Fair on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Piqua church, located at 475 W. Loy Road.
Free and open to the public, the fair will offer three sessions with a choice of two classes per session. Classes include: Beginning Genealogy, Learning How to Use Family Search, Finding Immigrant Ancestors, and DNA Research, among others. Courses are subject to change without notice. A help session also will be offered during the fair, and Ohio Senator Bill Beagle is slated to speak on Ohio’s adoption policies.
Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. the day of the event, followed by a welcome at 8:45 a.m., and the first session at 9 a.m. The final session ends at 12:35 p.m.
“This is our first (fair), so it’s very beginner genealogist-friendly,” Tennant said.