Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hearts of the Children Turned to Their Fathers

My mother-in-law has just completed a mission at the Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City. Her service was a great blessing to the patrons of the library, I'm sure, and it was a great blessing to us, as well. For instance, she helped me advance one of my Norwegian lines a few more generations by pointing out to me available online Norwegian church records. She also supplied lots of names for baptisms that my son and daughters could do when they visited the temple, and that my wife and I have been able to do work on, as well.

One of the greatest gifts, however, is more than the tabulation and processing of names for ordinance work (though that, too, has been important and rewarding). She took advantage of the vast resources of the new Church History Library to research and compile individual histories for some of her ancestors. She the developed a number of blogs on which she has included the results of her findings.

In the process, she sought to find "true" stories, not family folklore. She learned, for instance, that Ann Ratcliffe's (her great-great grandmother) story was different from the family fables she'd heard. The family fable said that Ann had married Thomas Karren against her father's will, and had jumped out of a second story window to do it, injuring her leg and walking with a limp for the rest of her life. Very colorful, but not true. Instead (and the story is recorded at Thomas's site, not Ann's), Ann's father died and twelve-year-old Ann (somehow encouraged by her grandmother) hired Thomas Karren (who was six years her senior) to help in the family bakery (he had been working for a competitor in Liverpool at the time). Several years later they determined to marry (against her mother's wishes, but with her grandmother's approval). He joined the church in Liverpool and immigrated to Nauvoo, and she went with him, though she did not join the church until February 1846, just before leaving Nauvoo for the west; she was baptized and endowed on the same day.

My mother-in-law was able to read journals and contemporary accounts of many of these early members, and use their own words in many cases, or accounts of those who knew them personally. She also in the process became aware of similar work being done on her relatives by others and has linked to some of those, as well. And rather than producing books that would have been a prohibitive expense, she compiled the information in a series of blogs that will allow for updates as further information is learned.

What a great gift!


  1. Great post. I love family history. Those people become so close to us.