Sunday, July 17, 2016

Family History Can Change Lives and Perspectives

I have had the goal of sharing a family history story per week with my family, ever since attending Roots Tech in February. We have been pretty successful. Last month, we had a family history barbecue night, and I invited my parents and siblings, as well as my niece Emily who doesn't live with her dad (my brother). 

This is a photo of our gathering from my Instagram account:

We finished up eating, and I shared the story of Alexander Hill Jr, who is a grandfather, who was born in Scotland, and was a sailor from a very early age. He sailed in, The Battle of the Nile, and The Battle of Aboukir, under Admiral Nelson, who is also a cousin on my dad's side, and a famous naval leader in Europe. We talked about how Alexander Hill Jr. and his family were given land to colonize in Canada, and were maple syrup farmers. They then joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and immigrated to the United States, first to Nauvoo, then walked the plains to Utah. Alexander took a shot in his leg during one of the battles, and walked with a limp his whole life, even as he crossed the plains.

Every time we share a family history story, I get out our giant fan charts, so I can show everyone how we are related to the person in the story. This night was no different. After we finished the story, my cute niece asked if she could take a closer look at the fan chart. She was very interested, and we spent a while talking about it, and the names of our ancestors listed on it. I told Emily I would like to get her a fan chart of her own, but didn't exactly know how to go about it.

About a week later, I got this message from Emily's Grandma Debbie, who is married to Lis' (Emily's mom) dad;

"Emily keeps talking about a relative from Sweden named Alexander Hill. Telling us a story about his leg. Could you maybe send me a copy of that part of the history, and a chart as to where he fits in the family line for Emily?"

I was bad, and totally dropped the ball on sending the story because I am usually just on my phone, and the story was on my computer. So today, I decided I would send the story.

Earlier toady, Emily's mom, Lis, posted a really cool video on Facebook, showing people finding out the countries from which their ancestral dna originates. I loved it, and shared the video as well. Lis and I were commenting back and forth. She told me that her sister, and dad both got their dna tested. She told me both her mom and dad were adopted, and they had no info at all in regards to her dad's ancestors, and she had only two names for her mom's birth relatives, the name of her Great Aunt Alice Hardman, who was a daughter to Thelma, and that was it. She had no idea of the year she would have been born, or of her grandmother's name. I offered to help find them if I could, and typed the names into I had no idea what would pull up, if anything, being that I knew so little, but I did know Lis' mom was born in 1959, so her grandmother would likely need to be born in the 1930's or 1940's. 

This is what I typed in:

Who was Levinah? The name was familiar to Lis.

I pulled up the census record. Here is Aunt Alice.

There she is again. If Alice was the Aunt, and Adelouise and Joy both died as babies, the only possibilities were Naomi and Levinah. Lis' grandma died when her mom was maybe 5-6 years old, so Levinah had to be the grandma! It was getting so exciting! I was Facebook messaging Eryn, Lis' sister, as well, trying to figure out how to make sense of it all.

Eryn confirmed that Levinah was indeed her mom's birth mom. I pulled up the profile for Levinah, and went into her family tree. Can you imagine my surprise, when I saw that the very Grandpa Emily was excitedly talking about on her dad's side of the family was also a grandpa on her mom's side of the family? I got chills. This happens all the time in family history, people being born to parents that are related. My husband and I are related in two ways, through both sets of parents. The thing I thought was amazing, is that this same grandpa that Lis and I are both related to happened to be the same grandpa whose life we had discussed at our family gathering, and in whom Emily was so interested. It wasn't some other relative that I could have shared a story about that day, it was Alexander. I believe in miracles, and that everything happens for a reason. This was one of those miracles. It was not a random happening. These grandparents are looking down on us, and they love us. 

I started sending photos to Eryn, and she told me her mom had never seen a photo of her birth mom, and I would imagine that if her mom hadn't seen one, she hadn't either. Thanks to Family Search, these daughters and grand daughters would get a glimpse of their genetic past. Isn't Levinah lovely?

Family Search contains numerous photos and stories that, I am sure, are all new to my niece and her mom and aunt. Faces looking back at them, hopefully making them feel connected. 

I got a little teary. I don't know how it feels to be adopted, or to place a baby for adoption. I don't know how it feels to not know the names of your birth parents or even your grandparents. I am sure emotions are mixed when you are faced with new information. All I know is I have felt, with assuredness, that my ancestors on the other side love and care for me. I know they are looking down on me and mine, and that they care. Yours are too. They are cheering us on, they want us to succeed. If one of my great grand daughters placed for adoption, I would still love that baby, no matter what. If I had placed a child, I would still love that child, for eternity. Our ancestors love extends through the corridors of time, to warm our hearts, and give us a sense of belonging.

Now for the question: 

How is this information readily available?
How can I help others find out who their ancestors are?

This information is made available by people who have the info on hand (like family histories, etc.), and have entered it themselves, and also by volunteers who Index. You and I can help by indexing. Indexing is entering information from various sources, like censuses, and other informational sources about people and significant dates and times, across the world. Once the info is loaded up to the internet, people like you and I, and my niece and her mom and aunt can access information about their past ancestors, and get a small glimpse into their lives, and learn how we are all connected. You can index for a few minutes or a few hours. You get into the indexing tool, by going to, and clicking on the indexing tab. It will walk you through the process.

Thanks for visiting today. These Family History miracles keep happening. They keep giving me chills, and they keep making my heart beat a little faster. They keep making me tear up. Sometimes they even take my breath away. I am thrilled to be a part of them. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a Happy and Creative day,


1 comment:

stacy julian said...


I pulled up your blog, the day I saw your post on FB and it's taken me until today to read this story. Wow! This is so cool and I'm so delighted you shared it, so I could stumble across it.

Hopefully, we'll see each other again at RootsTech?!

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