Great Blessings for all

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we know that Elijah the Prophet appeared in the dispensation of the fullness of times at the Kirtland Temple to the Prophet Joseph Smith on April 3, 1836 (Doctrine & Covenants 110:13–16). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, when a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, commented at General Conference April 6, 1948: “Elijah restored to this Church and, if they would receive it, to the world, the keys of the sealing power;  He restored these priesthood keys to the Prophet Joseph and began planting in the hearts of the children the promises made to The Fathers.  

A seed was planted and the hearts of the children began to turn to Their Fathers (Doctrine & Covenants 2).  The need to connect to the Family Tree of Man became important and with turning hearts, descendants worldwide began searching for their ancestors. We know that great blessings come from doing genealogy and family history; spiritual experiences and help from beyond the veil in the here and now.  And they are available to all of us, if we will but participate, recognize, and receive them.  

The world calls these blessings “serendipity” or the “sixth sense”; those chance coincidences of good fortune in family history research, those sparks of light that happen out of nowhere at the most opportune time when we are in the midst of our genealogy search. A voice speaks, arms encircle, a door opens, a name appears on a roll of film, an unknown relative telephones, strangers on the bus mention common ties, we stumble over THE tombstone, and a brick wall comes tumbling down.  

For those of us with the knowledge of the gospel, these are not random coincidences.  We know the veil is very thin; and with the hearts of the fathers turned to the children, as those children turn their hearts to Their fathers, that help from the other side does happen, not by serendipity, but by design.

While helping a friend Anne Bradshaw with her new book True Miracles with Genealogy, my wife Mary and I spent considerable time this past month reflecting on these blessings and the truth of what world calls the 6th sense of family history.  Considering our own experiences, we came across this inspiring journal entry by Mary’s Grandmother Wilda Wimmer McRae.  It shares Grandma’s testimony of this reality while on a genealogy trip with her husband, Grandpa Jerry to his home in Missouri nearly 50 years ago. It is something we all can have, “if we will but receive it”.

A Special Day: June 16, 1966

“This was a special day for Jerry and me.  We spent the day looking for Jerry’s ancestors and I know that our Father in Heaven was helping us.  We went to all the same places that Ellen (Jerry’s sister Ellen Groh) and I went to yesterday.  Only it was much more fun with Jerry.  We saw the Old Basket Farm, the Mark Twain Park and Cave.  We saw the old house where his mother (Beulah Tozier McRae) lived.  We saw the old Thrasher cemetery.  And Mt Olivet Cemetery, where Jerry went to church and to school.  And other things, but we did something very special.  We went to Palmyra Missouri which was the county seat of Marion County, and went through the land records, marriage records, the old wills.  In the land records we found the grant for the land where the Old Basket Farm is now located, and it was given to our great, great grand father William McRae.  And the paper was signed and the government seal was put on the document by John Quincy Adams, President of the United States.  And another paper where he had another piece of land that was thirty acres.  I am sure we could have found more, but there were other things we wanted to do.

Jerry was going through the marriage records and he found an entry for the marriage of James Franklin McRae and Ellen Huskey, so now we knoew that our grandfather was not just Frank McRae, but JAMES FRANKLIN McRae.  And that was why we could not find him in other records.  Jerry was so excited after that, he didn’t complain about how much money I spent on research.

Exciting News

Next we got into wills and that was really exciting.  We found our great great grandfather’s will (William McRae).


 

  And I am sure if we had looked longer we could have much more but we were so excited to read it, we could hardly wait to get outside so we could find out what it said.  

The writing was beautiful, but it was so small we could not read it.  All we could tell was he had listed a lot of people and gave their birth dates.  I said bless Grandpa he has given the names and dates of his children’s birth.  So we went over across the street and bought a magnifying glass.  And came back and started reading.  

Grandpa had named his children alright, but the ones with the birthdates were his slaves.  He had nineteen of them, thirteen women and six males.  We weren’t too excited about that at the time.  But in the will he divided them up among his children and said that if they started to sell or give them away they would be automatically freed.  And he said that by the time each one of them reached the age of forty they would be freed.  The will was probated about 1848 so that was 20 years before the slaves were freed.  So I think he was a wonderful person.  He was kind and compassionate. And because of his record I was later able to complete the temple work for his family.  I think that was one of the most special and spiritual experiences I had while working in the temple.  So I was very thankful to Grandfather for putting the names and dates in his will.

A “Chance” Meeting

We then went to Shelbina to see if we could find anything about the half brother of my husband’s father (Ora Granville McRae).  His name was Roma McRae.

It was after five when we got there so Jerry said for me to go to the court house and he would go to the mortuary.  So I went to the court house.  Everyone had gone home except the district judge and he said that it was closed.  But when I told him we would not be able to come back, because we had to be in St. Louis the next day, he got the book of marriages out and it was cross referenced and he showed me how to use it.  He was so nice in helping me and didn’t seem to mind that he had to stay over.  But we didn’t find the marriage record of Roma so I thanked him and went back to the car.  

Jerry said that the mortuary was closed too, but when he came down the stairs there was a little old man standing there and Jerry asked him if he had ever heard of a Roma McRae.  He said “I sure did.  I worked with him for twenty years.”  And just like that, of all the people in the world he just happened to be standing on that side walk at that particular time.  When Jerry came down the stairs.  He told us that he knew of a man who lived next door to Roma and his mother.  He told us how to find the place.  

When we got there, the man invited us in and we visited for a long time and then he took us to the cemetery and showed us were  Roma was buried.  There was a double tombstone with his name on one side and his wife on the other.  We got the information we needed for him and then because his wife was still alive and lived in Kansas City, I was able to write to her and received some lovely letters.  This was just another experience that increased my testimony that when we are doing the Lords work that he is right there to help us.”

You too, can be blessed

A wonderful new book by Anne Bradshaw True Miracles with Genealogy is coming out by General Conference 2010 that will share more such stories.  Ordinary people will inspire you with the extraordinary spiritual experiences beyond the veil.  They have participated in, recognized, and received the blessings of family history work. You too, by seeking out your kindred dead can be blessed through the sealing powers of the priesthood and know the reality of God’s plan for us all in his Eternal Family.

There is a new website at www.


truemiracleswithgenealogy.com. This is for updated information about the book True Miracles with Genealogy, and a place where readers can send their inspiring family history stories for the enlightenment of us all.

James W. Petty, AG, CG is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally Since 1969”.  President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. , the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.

For Heirlines-Quality professional services, resources, and products including free genealogy and family history advice or to learn expert answers to commonly asked  ancestry questions visit Jim’s website for free consultations and his blog.