My Mission across the Centuries
September 1987

“My Mission across the Centuries,” Tambuli, Sept. 1987, 27

My Mission across the Centuries

As the patriarch lifted his hands from my head, neither he nor I guessed that a major part of my patriarchal blessing would be fulfilled so soon and in such a surprising manner. The very doctrine that had thrilled me at my conversion two years before—the responsibility of seeking after my kindred dead—had been specifically mentioned three times in my blessing. But when I had joined the Church as the only member in my family, the task of compiling my genealogy had seemed overwhelming.

A few years after I received my patriarchal blessing, I left for my mission in France and Belgium. I hoped to do some genealogy there as well. My father had mistakenly told me that Jaccard was an English spelling of Jacquard, a familiar French name, and I hoped to be able to find some information about my ancestors while I was in France.

Near the end of my mission, my mission president assigned me to help the members in Brussels, Belgium with their genealogical research and temple work. Another missionary gave me a small book titled “What Do I Know about Genealogy?”

As I read through the book for the first time, I came to a list of contributing authors. Standing out among the other names was that of Dr. Joseph T. Jacquart. Here was yet a third spelling of a name that could be pronounced the same as mine! Dr. Jacquart’s address was listed as the Belgian Center of Genealogical and Demographical Studies in Brussels.

I immediately called the center and made an appointment to meet with Dr. Jacquart. When we arrived at the center on the day of the appointment, we were informed that Dr. Jacquart was ill. The president of the center graciously gave us a tour of the building. We asked him what he knew about the Church and if he would like to know more.

His answer surprised me. “Yes!” he said. “Would you come to the next monthly meeting of our society and give a lecture on Mormon genealogy? In the meantime, I will contact Dr. Jacquart and give him your pedigree information.”

My companion and I arrived on the appointed day to find the lecture hall filled with people. As we set up our equipment and visual aids, a white-haired gentleman who turned out to be Dr. Jacquart greeted us. He gave me a genealogical map of France, Belgium, and Switzerland, and explained that Jacquard was French, Jacquart was Belgian, and Jaccard was Swiss. He added that he had written an article on the Swiss Jaccards and had the addresses of several people in that country who were probably my relatives.

A few weeks later I was released from my mission. With addresses in hand, I called at the home of Dr. Robert Jaccard in Bern, Switzerland. He quickly established my connection to him and noted down the pedigree information I had. He recommended that I search the archives in Besancon, France—just across the border from the Swiss village of Sainte-Croix, where the Jaccard name had originated.

In Besancon, I found the link between America and Switzerland in my genealogy. About a month after I informed Dr. Robert Jaccard of my findings, he sent a letter containing all of the names of fathers and mothers in the Jaccard line back to A.D. 1350—all from Sainte-Croix. Since then, I have researched the complete family groups for these ancestors, and have had temple work performed for many of them.

Looking back on this experience, I think that many of my ancestors beyond the veil must have taken an active interest not only in my missionary work, but also in my other mission—to find my genealogy. That “family mission” has covered a length of time far greater than the two and one-half years I served in Europe.

  • Jerry L. Jaccard serves as bishop of the Hartford First Ward, Hartford Connecticut Stake.

Illustrated by Stephen Moore