Monday, September 24, 2007

Help will come

Serendipity in Genealogy

It happens to individuals of all religious, cultural and intellectual persuasions. Almost all long-time genealogists have experienced it in one form or another. It can be as simple as a thought or feeling. Many times it is manifest as extraordinary luck or fortuitous coincidence. Genealogists have experienced guidance as simple as facts popping into their heads or as dramatically as post-mortal visitations. Explanations are as varied as those that experience the events, but their prevalence testifies of their reality.

In about 1986, my mother took a genealogy sheet to a store in Logan, Utah, to have 25 copies made for a family reunion we were having the next month. When she picked them up, she found there were 26 sheets. As she looked through, she found a mostly blank page that contained the words M Lindblad, the name of my great-grandmother. Researchers had not been able to find anything beyond her name on that line.

Mother went back into the store and asked about the sheet with the name on it. People in the store told her they knew nothing about it.

Click to enlarge on Featurepics
"Search the
parishes in Sweden"
© Tony McAulay

She wrote a letter to the person who had been hired to work on that line and told him about the sheet. He had been unsuccessful before, but took another look at the records. On one, he found a penciled note indicating there were some other records and where they were. He searched and found the parents of one set of grandparents of Margaretha Jonasdatter, which was her maiden name. He said he couldn't find any more information on one of the names, Jonas Larsson, and suggested searching records of the parishes in Sweden adjacent to the one where the records were found.

These records were sent to my mother; I found them after she died. When my wife and I were called as Family History missionaries in 2002, I decided to see if I could find additional information. For nearly a year, I searched more than 80 parishes. I finally said in my prayers one night just two weeks before our mission was over: "If I am going to find Jonas, I am going to need his help, as time is running out."

Photo of researchers at microfilm readers
Photo credit: NARA

The next day, with five minutes left in my shift, I inserted a microfilm into the reader and scanned down to 1774, the year Jonas was born. There he was, with his parents, six brothers and sisters and grandparents. When I searched the remaining parishes in the microfilm batch, I found nothing. I feel that when you need His help and ask for it, that help will come.

Source: Dee R. Hansen, "Family history moments: Help will come," LDS Church News, 21-July-2007, p. 16.

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