Making unexpected connections at RootsTech 2018

While I was covering RootsTech at the Salt Palace Convention Center last week, I made some unexpected yet awesome connections.

The first one came with the help of technology on Thursday, March 1. Going into the conference, FamilySearch engineers created a new feature on the Family Tree App that allowed users to click a button and see a list of cousins. When I logged on, I had a long list that included FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood as an 8th cousin. I noticed another FamilySearch employee but that was it for names I recognized.

I set out a few messages to some of the second and third cousins and one responded back. His name is Richard Kroff, of Tooele. He responded and brought his three brothers, Paul, Joel and Robert, to meet me. Our common ancestors are Benjamin Clegg and Grace McIntyre, a daughter of the Scottish convert, Peter McIntrye. So their family has been in Tooele for a few generations. It was really neat to meet and visit with the four brothers Kroff. When they saw me, they all agreed:

“Looks like all the tall genes ended up in another branch of the family tree.”

Me and the four Kroff brothers at RootsTech 2018.

Even so, I thought we could be the starting five at Tooele High or something.

The second connection came the next day, Friday, March 2. Tyler Thorsted and his uncle, Steve Thorsted, appeared from nowhere and asked to see me in the media hub. I had communicated with Tyler by email but never met him until that day. The Thorsteds are descendants of Alfred Cordon, a man who served an LDS mission to England in the late 1840s where he taught and baptized my ancestors, John and Emma Toone. We know this because Cordon wrote about John Toone in his journal, among other evidence. I have written previous blogs about Cordon and John Toone.

Me in the middle with Tyler Thorsted, left, and his uncle Steve Thorsted, right.

Meeting the Thorsteds was really awesome. Learning something like that has a magical ways of transforming strangers into brothers and kindred spirits. I will forever be grateful to Elder Alfred Cordon for bringing the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to my ancestor, which has now blessed hundreds of Toones, along with those who have come into the church because of Toones.

In case you are interested here are links to the four articles I wrote about RootsTech:

  1. Everything you need to know about RootsTech 2018
  2. ‘Discover, gather, connect’: LDS general authorities discuss RootsTech and new approach to family history work
  3. What Scott Hamilton told RootsTech about his family and who he inspired a fan during a battle with a tumor
  4. 5 questions with FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood



Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

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