I heard on the TV the other day that the No. 1 hobby for Americans is gardening and that the No. 2 hobby is now genealogy. My wife just signed up to Ancestry.com two weeks ago to hunt down family history and hasn't come up for air except to yell, "Wow" and "OMG!" She didn't have much family chatter in her past about relatives past her grandparents on one side of her tree, and now she's finding out about Russians and possible spellings of her maiden name that might connect her to more history. You get a free month of tempting data and then you pay to play. But, hey, they have over a billion records to look over—from death certificates, newspaper archives, marriage records and, of course, birth records. If you find that your Great Uncle Shishkebob came over on the Good Ship Lollypop they will most likely have a photo of that boat, too.
For $100, Ancestry.com will send you a swab kit, which you return to Sandy, Utah, and you'll shortly find out some secrets to your ethnic DNA makeup. Their sales pitch is "more people tested means more ways to connect," but a spokesperson shared with TV viewers that people search because they want to know what famous person they are related to, past or present. Who knows who they sell this and other data to, but it's possibly more lucrative than the data mined on Facebook every second.
Most people believe that the company is owned by the LDS Church. Facts: 1. started by Paul Allen (a Mormon) in Provo back in the 1980s when they began offering info on floppy discs to clients interested in genealogy; 2. the company is not a subsidiary of the LDS Church but has partnered with them in buying some of its libraries. And, wow, does it make money for its investors under the public NASDAQ: ACOM. Their mobile app reached 1 million downloads in 2011, they sponsor TLC's Who Do You Think You Are? and purchased Find a Grave, Inc. in 2013. They also own MyFamily.com, LongLostPeople.com, Genealogy.com, Fold3, Ancestry24, Ancestry Academy, RoosWeb and ProGenealogists.
To bring this all back home, the largest cemetery in the state is in the Avenues of Salt Lake City. There are only 800 plots left in this 120-acre green space and people are now putting their heads together as to what to do with it when it's full. There are birds to watch, 9.5 miles of roads to jog and 124,000 or so headstones to read. The sextant is running out of ways to make money (plot sales) and a gift shop has been tossed around as a money maker in the future. Public hearings are being held and the next one is sometime this fall.