Click here to sign up for Meridian’s FREE email updates

Ancestors are the People of HistoryT
The Rest of the Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies

By James W. Petty, AG, CG and Natalie Lloyd

I met Sheldon Miller when I was about eight. He was just a year older than I was, when he and his family moved into our Provo, Utah neighborhood in 1956, to the house across a corner park from my home. His younger sister Mary Ann and baby brother Scott were the same age as two of my siblings, and we all became fast friends and playmates right away. We spent as much time at their house as they did in ours. They remember the cookies my mother used to make, and I’ve always remembered the heavenly fresh bread that Sister Miller produced from her oven. But something was missing; Someone wasn’t there.

Sheldon didn’t have a father; at least I never knew him. And as a child, to me it seemed strange. I remember a picture of a soldier in their home, but I could never put a name to that member of his family. I recalled hearing that Sheldon’s dad had served in World War II, and had survived the Bataan Death March. Sheldon told me stories about his father, and showed me artifacts handed down from him. But I was little, and didn’t comprehend what “Bataan” was.

As I grew and studied history and learned about the events of the past, Bataan took on special meaning for me because of Sheldon’s father. He wasn’t my ancestor, but because of the affection I felt for Sheldon and his family, my view of that historical event and its consequences forever influenced my understanding of that time in history. The men and women who lived and died during that horrific experience and those who survived it, were all heroes; and the living returned to their homes and families and gave them a legacy of what it means to endure to the end. The stories of these ancestors that have been recorded and preserved and shared are now the history and inspiration for generations to come. The story of Sheldon’s ancestor will always be with me.

On the World’s Timeline: Ancestors are the People of HistoryT

Ancestors are the People of HistoryT. Do you know who your ancestors are? Have you collected their stories and shared them with your family? Do your children and grandchildren know the wonderful people they descend from? When we know our family’s place in history, we can draw upon the strength of their lives and bring history home for us, the next generation, and for future generations to come. As we come to know our ancestors and their stories, we touch history and it becomes ours.

People of History are found everywhere. Their lives and stories are all along the World Timeline.. Immigrating on ships such as the Mayflower, Martha Washington or Cavour and thousands of others; or making history as sailors aboard Old Ironsides, the Arizona at Pearl Harbor, or the Titanic. Families suffering in the Depression, on the Plantations, or by dry watering Liberty Jail, Winter’s Quarters, Martin’s Cove, and Crossing the Sweetwater.