Monday, June 11, 2012

Finding Family Through Family History

At the beginning of this year, my wife and I started a family history class that my in-laws taught. Because of a few scheduling conflicts, the class finally ended this past week.

I'd like to share with you an experience I had while taking this class.

While the LDS Church geared up for releasing a family tree database online, it asked its members to review records and verify their accuracy. One of our classes was on the review website database.

Well, shortly before this class started, I got the opportunity to meet my friend Daniel at the SLC family history library and go through records. During this, I discovered my great-grandfather (Max) had a brother named Harry. When Harry died (supposedly, Max was told that Harry had gone missing), Max took on Harry's name as a middle name. This was prevalent in Max's 1920 and 1930 census records.

So, imagine my surprise when Max and Harry were combined in this family tree database. I thought, well, Harry's missing. They aren't the same man. The only person I knew who had touched that database was my older brother. After silently accusing him of not checking his facts, I noticed the name of the person who put those in. This person had the same last name as my grandmother's maiden name.

When I looked deeper, I realized this person must have been a member of the LDS church and was definitely not my brother, but somehow a distant relative.

This would be the first time anyone in my family would find a relative of my dad's that was LDS. So I did some googling. I had a last name and first and middle initials based on this site. It's FREAKING scary what you can find out online. Unfortunately, I could not locate an email address to see if this guy I'd "e-stalked" was really my relative.

Well, I did discover where he worked. I told this to my friend Daniel, who had a friend at the same place. An email was then located in this chain of friends and passed on to me. Did I have any idea what to say in such an email? Nope. So I just winged it and hoped the Spirit would guide my thoughts to not sound rude in the email. I felt prompted that I should put my cell phone number in the email.

Less than 15 minutes later I received a phone call. Ordinarily, if I don't know the number, I ignore it. This time, I didn't, and I was glad I didn't. For the following 45 minutes, I had a great conversation with my dad's 2nd cousin. (That makes he and I 2nd cousins, once removed, for those that are wondering what the term is.)

Honestly, it was such an amazing experience. Not only was I able to locate a semi-distant relative in this process, I discovered I had family in Utah.

This became even cooler as a few weeks ago, I got to bless my new daughter. Since my dad was able to be there, I thought it'd be cool if this 2nd cousin came too, so my wife and I invited him. And guess what, he came. I didn't get to talk to him that much, but he spent most the time chatting with my dad. That was more important for me.

Sorry, no photos today. I could put some random pic up that has absolutely no bearing on this topic, but in the end, I felt that words were more important.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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