“They Walk with Me,” Ensign, January 2017
Half of my 16 great-great-grandparents crossed the plains with wagons and handcarts. All but two were members of the Church living in Utah well before the 20th century. My family has been doing family history for over 100 years. It is done. No more to do.
So, over the years I’ve been enjoying the histories written by my many relatives. They are inspiring! I especially love the photographs. One of my favorites is the portrait of Annabelle, the beloved sister of my great-great-grandfather.
When I unpacked my great-grandmother’s book of remembrance hoping to find a previously overlooked photograph, I thumbed through several pages of pedigree charts and thought I should double-check these dates in FamilySearch. Guess what I discovered. Annabelle was never sealed to her husband, John. In fact, her husband and his family were nowhere to be found in Church records. And here I thought we were done.
I knew Annabelle’s husband’s name from my great-grandmother’s records. Then, thanks to modern technology, indexers, and FamilySearch partner sites, I found this couple in census records, as well as other records that were available. I verified John’s important dates, input them into FamilySearch, and reserved the ordinances—all in a few hours! I was also able to find records of his parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
I found myself longing for a photograph of John, and then it occurred to me to search for his name on the Internet. What a discovery! He was a notable political economist, professor, activist, and politician. An online used bookstore had scanned the cover of one of his books—a cover with his photograph. I like to think of Internet search engines as a modern-day miracle, but I believe it is the Spirit that inspires people everywhere to scan, upload, and index various documents, histories, books, and records.
I have now reserved more than 200 ordinances in my supposed “It Is Done, No More to Do” family tree. Discovering my long-gone family members has been a life-changing event. In the past, significant transformations in my life have come through painful personal trials. But this has been different. My life has changed through love, connection, and inspiration. I have seen a glimpse of eternity. I want to be connected to these people. I love them. They inspire me. They walk with me.