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Ancestors are the People of HistoryT: The Charles Daniel Sides Story – Do Not Forget the Glorious News
By James W. Petty, AG, CG

Charles Daniel Sides (1831- 1865)

We have been thrilled to receive wonderful stories from Meridian readers about their ancestors for the Ancestors are the People of History series. We appreciate the time and effort so many of you have made to share these fascinating ancestral accounts with APH so we can continue publishing the lessons of their lives, their contribution to history and the important work of family history. We look forward to hearing from many more of you – every ancestor has a place in history waiting to be told.

Our story today is contributed by Christine Robinson Christensen about her husband’s ancestor Charles Daniel Sides.  As a ward family history consultant and staff member at her local Family History Center, she challenges us all to not forget the glorious news of the gospel that is realized through family history work.  She is an avid genealogist desiring to create a record “worthy of all acceptation”; she has provided us with notes and sources for her writing that will help and encourage others to move ahead on their own genealogy research and to not forget those who have gone on before.

Do Not Forget – Charles Daniel Sides (1831-1865)
Contributed by Christine Robinson Christensen
Thatcher Penrose 1st Ward, Tremonton Utah South Stake

Joseph Smith and the Glorious News

The fall of 1842 was a difficult time for the prophet Joseph Smith.  He was anxious for work to continue on the Nauvoo Temple, and he desired to spend time with the saints to teach them more truths essential for their eternal salvation.  But mobbers from Missouri refused to leave him in peace; they threatened his liberty and his life by trying to capture him to return him to Missouri to face untrue accusations.  In order to thwart their evil plans, he was forced into hiding, finding refuge in houses of loyal friends in and around Nauvoo.  Because he was unable to leave his hiding places to teach the saints openly, he wrote them letters about the doctrines most pressing on his mind. 

One of these letters is found in our Doctrine and Covenants as section 128.  Verse 22 has always been one of my favorites:

“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?  Go forward and not backward.  Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!  Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.  Let the earth break forth into singing.”

And then his praising continues in verse 23:

“Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King!  And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness.  Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy!  And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together and let all the sons of God shout for joy!  And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever!  And again, I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities and powers!”

What was it that caused Joseph Smith, even in this difficult time of uncertainty and unrest to offer words filled with such praise and joy?  The last sentence of verse 22 holds the key:

“Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.”

For Joseph Smith, the glorious news and the comfort, protection, and hope of temple covenants, including the opportunity to perform baptisms, endowments and sealings for departed family members, brought him joy in a time of trial.

Reality of the Comfort of Temple Covenants

Our family learned the reality of this comfort we can receive from temple covenants this past winter.  On January 7, 2009 our 21 year old nephew, who had just returned home from his mission the previous October, was killed in a car accident.  Three weeks later my mom’s cousin, who was more like an aunt to our family, was also in a serious car accident and passed away one week later.  We learned the reality of those temple covenants which bind us as families and which offer comfort and peace in the midst of our deep sorrow. 

The most difficult moment at my nephew’s funeral, for me, was seeing the grief of his friends, some who were not members of the church and some who were but were not active, and comparing their grief with the sorrow of his family and missionary companions who understood and had a testimony and felt the power of the eternal nature of families.  I watched as my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and their children literally wrapped their loving arms around these young people in an effort to physically and spiritually pass their peace on to these bereft young men and women.  I marveled at the power of testimony so obviously displayed.  I was grateful for the temple covenants that seal us as an eternal family.

During these difficult months I was prompted to search for more information about my husband’s great-great grandmother Margaret Melissa Campbell, born in 1845 in North Carolina.  I discovered that her great grandfather was born in Argyll, Scotland.  I learned all about the Campbells:  their part in the history of Scotland; their castles; their bagpipe song calling the warriors to battle; their tartan; and I learned the Campbell motto, which has guided them for hundreds of years:  “Ne Obliviscaris”  (NAY ob lee vis KAR iss) which is Latin for “Do Not Forget.”

I have since wondered: What is it that my husband’s ancestors, the Campbells from Scotland, the Booths from England, the Mooses from Germany and the Christensens from Denmark. . . what is it that my ancestors, the Richins and Robinsons, the Staples and Deardens, all from England, would want me to remember as these words echo down through the centuries:  Do Not Forget.

The Power of Family History Work

President Boyd K Packer said,

“Family history work has the power to do something for the dead. It has an equal power to do something to the living. Family history work of Church members has a refining, spiritualizing, tempering influence on those who are engaged in it. They understand that they are tying their family together, their living family here with those who have gone before.”

We felt a little of that a few months ago in the Ogden Temple as all of my husband’s siblings and their spouses and his mother took turns kneeling around a sacred alter in a sealing room and performed priesthood ordinances which sealed 22 husbands and wives in the marriage covenant, and 74 children to their parents, creating or completing 42 new eternal families.

I felt the quiet whisper of these words in my heart as my husband and I served as proxies for his great-great grandmother’s sister Alice Catherine Campbell and her husband Lewis Hampton Lytton, “Thank you for not forgetting us.”

I heard the testimony of my sister-in-law, who tearfully thanked us for the love and peace she felt in that sealing room.  She said, “I want you all to know that I know my son is very aware of our family.  I felt that in the temple.”  I wondered if my nephew and his grandfather are serving as missionary companions in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to these beloved ancestors and many others in the spirit world.

As I hold the temple cards in my hands, I remember all the blessings I have received in searching for these husbands and wives, these moms and dads, these sons and daughters.  I have felt them close to me at times.  I have felt the inspiration to turn to another page in the census or to look at a certain line in a will.  And I have felt the tears come to my eyes as I have realized the treasures this inspiration has brought me:  a baby who died shortly after birth who is not listed in a census – who could only be found on the cemetery headstone;  a mother whose maiden name was only recorded on one son’s death certificate;  a child whose only link to a father was a brief mention in a will; a wife who died shortly after the birth of her child and who could only be found in a small county history. . .  Small miracles which all testify of our Heavenly Father’s love for all of His children; not just those who have been able to receive temple ordinances in their lifetime.

I hear their voices echoing, “Do not forget our baby.  Do not forget my brother.  Do not forget my wife.  Do not forget my parents. Do not forget my cousin.  Do not forget my sister’s children.  Do not forget me.”

Do Not Forget Charles Daniel Sides

Charles Daniel Sides is one of these voices.  He is my husband’s great-great grandfather’s cousin.  He was born September 7, 1831 in Cabarrus, North Carolina, to Daniel Sides and Esther Dry Sides.  He had 6 brothers and 5 sisters.  In 1858 he married Matilda Lewis who he lovingly called Tilly.  They were the parents of two children:  Lawrence – called Rance, born in 1859, and Mary – called Molly, born in 1861.  Charles was a farmer who loved his wife and children. 

The Civil War had been raging for over a year before Charles was forced to join the Confederate forces in August of 1862 against his wishes.   A few years ago one of his descendants sent me copies of letters Charles wrote during his time in the Confederate Army.  I share with you a few of his own words.

On February 10, 1863 Charles wrote, “It will just be six months tomorrow since I left you and pressed them hands of yours for the last time till I shall see you again.  Oh that that happy day would hasten on that I and you shall meet again.  Well do I recollect poor little Rance and Molly.  How serious Rance looked when I bid him goodby.”

On March 9, 1864 Charles wrote, “I hate that I can’t be there and see you and gallant you to the kitchen.  I think it would be a happy gallant, but alas!  Alas!  I am so far away from you it hurts me to think about my awful condition and the times to come.  Oh what would I give to be at home once more.  I would give anything in this world to see you, my dearest on earth, and Rance and Molly.”

On April 21, 1864 he wrote, “It is again I am presented to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still in existence, well and hearty.  I have had fine health.  I’m in good spirits by saying just think what a good wife and pretty children I have.  I know that if I never get to see them anymore, I have a good wife.  I remain as ever your affectionate husband.”

And then he added a poem he had written,

“Yes, these are words of thine,
They burn within my memory yet
They touched some chord I lack
That thrilled and trembled I’ll never forget
And hear the news: 
That there is, Tilla,
A sweet spot in heart where
 thy sweet name will lie forever.
Goodbye, Tilla”

Charles was captured by Union soldiers following the battle of Spotsylvania three weeks later on May 18, 1864 and sent to Elmira Prison camp in New York. He never saw his much beloved wife and children in this life.  He died of smallpox Feb 8, 1865, just two months before Lee surrendered and the Civil War ended.

We were privileged to perform some of the sealing ordinances for this family.

Our Family are Real People

Elder Henry B. Eyring said,

“Remember that the names which will be so difficult to find are of real people to whom you owe your existence in this world and whom you will meet again in the spirit world.  In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment.  Their hearts are bound to you.  Their hope is in your hands.  You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor to find them.”

Do Not Forget.  These are not just names faintly written in dusty books.  They are real people.  Real men and women who lived and worked and laughed and cried.   Real men and women who loved their spouses, and their children, and their parents, and their brothers and sisters.   I know that they are waiting for us, and that they will help us as we strive to find them and offer them the blessings of temple covenants which will bind them to us throughout eternity.

My Testimony

I have such a testimony of Family History work and the blessings it provides in our lives. .the Lord isn’t asking us to be genealogy experts.   He is only asking us to start.  When we make that commitment to begin this sacred work, not knowing for sure how or where to look for our family members, He leads us by the hand and gives us answers to our prayers.  I know that even though I often don’t know where to find the information about these people, Heavenly Father does, and when we just exercise faith in Him, he will guide us as we strive to unite our families. What a miracle it is!

I know that because of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ these things are true.  I know that Heavenly Father loves us and he loves our ancestors.

Again from Doctrine & Covenants 128, verses 22 & 24:

“Brethren (and sisters), shall we not go on in so great a cause?  Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!  Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.

 ” .  . Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.”

That we will hear the voices of our ancestors whispering, “Do Not Forget” is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Notes and Sources:

1.  Charles Daniel Sides, b. 7 September 1831, Iredell, North Carolina (source:  family records, including census information in possession of Christine R. Christensen)
d. 8 Feb 1865, Elmira Confederate Prison, Elmira, Chemung, New York.  Burial at Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, Chemung, New York. (source:  Register of Confederate Soldiers, Sailors, and Citizens who Died in Federal Prisons and Military Hospitals in the North, 1861-1865, roll M918_1)