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Family Home Evening with Pedigree Fun!
By James W. Petty, AG, CG

This coming Monday night, grab your family tree and let’s have some fun!  Sit the kids down around the table with your chart and hold a Family Home Evening of pedigree fun! 

Picture the Scene:

“Jim, you’re the eldest child. How many of your ancestors were living when you were born in 1973?  What do you know about them?  Do we have any pictures or know their place in history? Let’s see: Mama and I were there for the big event and we’re still here.  And on my side of the chart, Grandpa Bob and Grandma “Nu” were also at your birth and are still alive.  But all of your Petty and Winter great grand parents died before you were born.  So that makes 4 ancestors living at your birth from the Petty side of your pedigree.

In Mama’s family, her parents were also alive in 1973 and are both still living today.  Of their parents, your Great Grandfather H.L. Gleason, he died in the 1940’s, but his wife, Great Grandma Mabel was still here and knew you as a child.  Great Grandparents Jerry and Wilda McRae were also living, but Mama’s G’Pa Jerry died just two weeks after you were born.  We all went to California for the funeral and you were the hit of the party because you were the first grandchild.  So counting me and Mama that means nine of your ancestors were living when you were added to our family pedigree chart! 

And if we look further, we can see that when I was born only seven of my ancestors were alive, while Mama had eight living when she arrived half-way through the 20th Century.”  You had the most ancestors alive when you were born!

More Fun around the Table

“Willie, do you see your name on this pedigree chart? You were named after your great, great, grandfather “Willie” (William Henry Petty, DDS), and your great grandfather Lewis George Winter, making your name William Lewis Winter Petty.  When Grandma Nu’s only brother, Raymond Winter, died in the WWII the “Winter” name would have disappeared in our family had we not shared it with you.  You have seven ancestors named William who joined the Church in the 1800’s.  It’s a name to be proud of.”

We then got out a map and with our kids help and after further study of the pedigree chart, put stickers on each state where an ancestor had been born.  Using the data found on the family tree, we talked about the historical context of our ancestors’ lives, the historical events that touched them, and shared family history and stories with our children. 

The pedigree chart also showed that some of our ancestors were born out of this country, so we got a map of the world for everyone to see where our heritage came from and label with more stickers.  Then we talked about these ancestral immigrants, and how they came to America.  On the Internet we taught our kids how to find immigration records for these ancestors; and sometimes, even pictures were found of their ships.  Because some of our family members had been able to travel and had seen the ancestral homes where our ancestors lived, we were able to share their stories and pictures with our children as we studied our family tree. You can see how much fun it is to use a pedigree chart in Family Home Evening!

Fun Using a Pedigree Chart

In addition to having fun counting how many ancestors were alive when you were born, there are so many exciting things to do with a pedigree chart: you can learn who your ancestors were and their place in history.  Names, dates, places, events, social status and historical context can all be learned from a family tree.  By studying it, you will find that your pedigree chart is more than just a simple index to your family Book of Remembrance, where you keep records about your ancestors.  It is the gateway to discovery.
Your pedigree chart directs and guides you and your family when conducting research on your ancestors and their lives.  Because each ancestor has a story that is waiting to be told, a pedigree chart becomes a valuable guide.  With help from relatives, onsite research, libraries, and by traveling to your ancestors’ homes, you can discovery and determine the truth about your ancestors’ place in history.  You can learn who in your past provided patriotic service in the military, and did their part to help keep America strong and free; or  how they participated in the English Civil War, the French Revolution, or even lived during the time of William Wallace, Scotland’s legendary “Braveheart”. 

On Internet sites like,, and, you can find historical and genealogical records such as the census or military pensions, civil records or newspapers to document your ancestors lives and give evidence about their place in history, their jobs and occupations or even the social events they attended.  You can summarize the information you find and prepare historical sketches to be added to your Book of Remembrance.   And with your children, write their stories and bring history home.

Making the Most of Your Family Tree

Fun with a pedigree chart is a wonderful thing to share with your family, but it is just a starting point.  It is a tool to bring the names of our ancestors to mind.  When you place your family pedigree chart in front of your children during Family Home Evening, start with a prayer asking Heavenly Father to inspire your family with the Spirit of Elijah.  Also ask that the spirits of your ancestors be present, that their testimonies might be shared with you and your family.  As you study the names and information about your ancestors, communications will pass through that heavenly veil that separates us from them, and promptings felt that will lead to wonderful experiences and saving ordinances.  Your children need to know about such feelings while they are young, so as they mature they can pursue an interest in their ancestors and become saviors on Mt Zion. 

The family pedigree chart can also be shared with many other people; it isn’t limited to just your children.  Brothers and sisters can get together; uncles, aunts, and cousins can also sit down together and review the names from their past.  Last week I met with cousins on my Beers family line; we are working together in New FamilySearch to create a record worthy of all acceptation of our ancestry.  We sat around the table, turned on a computer pedigree chart, and began studying the names of our ancestors.  Research on these Pioneer lines hadn’t been conducted in an organized manner in many years, and we knew, with the advances that have been made in genealogy technology and the growth in availability of records, that there must be new things that could be done to discover our family’s past, and prepare the way for temple ordinance work.  Names brought smiles to our faces, and stories were shared that touched our hearts. 

We discussed what we could do, and made assignments among the cousins who were there with the goal of gathering together again in a couple of months to see what had been accomplished.  The Spirit of our Heavenly Father was with us, and we thrilled with the possibilities that were provided.  Our pedigree chart is out where we can see it, and answers are already being given on this wonderful work.

By knowing who and what is on your family tree, you can make the names, dates, places and history come alive. And your heart will turn to your fathers as your ancestors become real to you and your family.  And as you share this love with your children, their hearts will turn to their fathers. So sit your family down for Family Home Evening with your ancestors this coming Monday night.  Bring out the pedigree chart, and include pictures, stories, and testimonies of your ancestors.  Add some punch and cookies, or maybe a banana split and root beer floats, and let the fun begin!

Family Home Evening Questions to Ask about Your Family Pedigree Chart

  1. Who are my ancestors on this Pedigree Chart?

  2. How am I related to these ancestors?

  3. Who was alive when I was born and how many?

  4. Who did I get to meet and know?

  5. What memories do I have of my ancestors?

  6. Who was dead when I was born?

  7. Where are my ancestors from?

  8. What is my ancestors’ place in history?

  9. What is the historical context of my ancestors’ lives?

  10. What Nationality are my ancestors?

  11. Where did my ancestors live when they were born?

  12. Where did my ancestors die?

  13. Who was an Immigrant and where did they immigrate from?

  14. What family stories do I know about my ancestors?  Are they true?
    Are they documented?

  15. Where are pictures of my Ancestors? Do we have any family pictures?

  16. Are they labeled?

  17. Who has traveled to our ancestral homes?

  18. Where are the histories about our ancestors?

  19. Who has a personal history written about them?

  20. What documentation or evidence or records do we have of my ancestors?

  21. Who has had their temple work done?

  22. Who of my ancestors still needs their temple work?

  23. When can I do temple work for my ancestors?
    All rights reserved. 2009, Heirlines Family History & Genealogy, Inc.  All rights reserved.


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