Go Back to the Beginning
April 1999

“Go Back to the Beginning,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 63

Go Back to the Beginning

After many years of family history research, I had been able to do quite a bit of temple ordinance work on my side and on my husband’s side, but I had always lacked the marriage date of my great-grandparents John Pickett and Rosetta Stringer. They had emigrated by ship from England in 1855, and all I knew was that they had been married during that voyage. I felt the answer must be somewhere, but I never expected to find it the way I did.

I was captain of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Elmhurst Camp in Oakland, California, and we met each month to study the pamphlet Treasures of Pioneer History. At four o’clock on the day of one of our meetings, the phone rang and the woman calling told me she was ill and would not be able to make her presentation that night. That left me to do the presentation.

With little time to prepare, I began to study the pamphlet. The first part seemed to go into quite a bit of detail about a boat, so I skipped over that part and started further on. But I had a strong impression I should go back to the beginning. I turned back to the first part, but I was impatient, so I skipped over it again.

A second time I felt impressed to go back. I did, but again it seemed to be too much to cover for the time I had to prepare, so again I skipped ahead. A third time I felt the distinct impression that I should go back and read. So I did.

Soon my eyes fell upon the names of my great-grandparents. Stunned, I read the entry for 17 April 1855, which stated that the Chimborazo had sailed from Liverpool, England, with 432 Latter-day Saints aboard. The text continued: “Three marriages were celebrated on board tonight: John Pickett and Rosetta Stringer, and David Rees and Martha Eynon were united by President E. Stephenson; and David Williams and Ann Walters by President Thomas Jeremy in the Welsh language.”

What I had thought was a tedious account became a treasure to me. Now I knew for sure when my great-grandparents had been married and by whom. I also knew the name of the ship and its departure point. Such information was priceless to me in my desire to make my ancestors’ records accurate.

This experience taught me the value of listening and obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit. My life has been greatly enriched as I’ve recognized the Lord’s concern for me and for my ancestors.

  • Mable Jensen, 94, is a member of the Sacramento Fifth Ward, Sacramento California Stake.

Illustrated by Richard Russell