SALT LAKE CITY — Twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, known on HGTV as "Property Brothers," entertained a large RootsTech crowd Thursday morning at the Salt Palace with family photos and stories of their Scottish heritage and work.
"We are really passionate and excited to learn about our family heritage," Jonathan Scott said, working as a tag-team with his twin brother, Drew. "It's something our parents instilled in us."
The Scott brothers, along with FamilySearch International president and CEO Steve Rockwood, were the opening keynote speakers at RootsTech 2017, the largest family history conference in the world.
The Scott brothers began by dispelling the myth that families can't go into business together. The brothers went into business together more than 30 years ago when they were around 7 years old with a decorative hanger coat business. They used crayons to create a business card that promised customers: "We take care of your hang-ups."
"I came up with that slogan," Jonathan Scott said.
They said the business was successful and earned thousands of dollars, which came in handy on a trip to Scotland when their father's credit card was denied, Jonathan Scott said.
"We floated our parents for four days until the credit card problem was fixed," Jonathan Scott said.
The brothers spent most of an hour displaying photos on a large screen and recounting fun and humorous tales of their family, their travels and careers.
The Scott brothers talked about growing up on a ranch, hiring out as clowns and their grandfather Tom King, a boxer. They traced their roots back to Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland, and told about visiting Scotland on several occasions, often searching for hidden doors in castles. They have collected coins, armor and swords, including a 7-foot replica of William Wallace's "Braveheart" sword.
The brothers showed a video of Jonathan Scott playing the bagpipes. The crowd cheered when they displayed photos of them wearing traditional Scottish kilts and wild hair styles from over the years. The brothers joked their hair DNA may have come from their mother.
"Kids want to know their family history," Jonathan Scott said. "You can't appreciate where you are going until you know where you are from."
When renovating a home, the brothers like to learn about the family buying the house and work something about their heritage into the design, Drew Scott said.
Jenny Perry, a family history consultant in her ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in West Jordan, came away impressed by their presentation.
"They have such a strong heritage and they wanted to learn more about it," Perry said. "They are such go-getters and have figured out ways to get what they want and have worked hard."
Before the Scott brothers came out, FamilySearch International President and CEO Steve Rockwood welcomed the crowd and an estimated online audience of 100,000.
With a replica living room and kitchen as part of the stage, Rockwood said everything people learn this week will come with an invitation to "try this at home."
Sitting at the kitchen table, Rockwood recalled a few of his own family food traditions passed down from his grandparents as he sipped a glass of root beer and showed the audience a tin of rocky road fudge.
"We will make sure those traditions continue. ... The kitchen is a fabulous place where families gather," Rockwood said. "What's your A&W? What's your rocky road? Is there a certain family tradition in your family? ... While there are many ways for you as heart specialists to touch the hearts of your family members, one of the easiest and most universal is food. Let's gather our families around food and our family trees and watch the magic happen."
Rockwood said patrons can go on FamilySearch.org/recipes and upload recipes, photos and the story behind it so it can be preserved.
Rockwood also compared a family tree to a pando of aspen trees, considered to be a singular organism given life underground by an extensive connected root system.1 comment on this story
"We at FamilySearch look at all family trees as a part of a single worldwide living organism or worldwide collaborative tree," Rockwood said. "Here in Utah at RootsTech, we are cultivating, in a sense, a family history pando. The need to become one work with interconnected efforts and trees has driven how we approach serving you."
RootsTech continues through Saturday and several sessions are being streamed online at RootsTech.org. Saturday's Family Discovery Day, for members of the LDS Church, will be streamed on DeseretNews.com.