Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How helped to find a missionary

Last night at the Brigham Young University Family History Library I helped a patron with an interesting family history challenge. I will refrain from using any names, but the methodology is what is important anyway.

The patron's family had a traditional story that back in the 1800s his Great-great-grandfather and family had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while in the Southern part of the United States. They had been converted by a missionary who then invited them to move to Utah. Ultimately, the missionary ended up marrying one of the daughters in the family and the missionary's sister ended up marrying one of the sons in the family. The patron was interested in finding the missionary's family and history to verify the story. The patron's question was whether or not there were records that could verify the details of the story and particularly to find out about the missionary.

We began the search by looking at the Family Tree program to get some basic information about the ancestral family. His ancestors had settled in the Salt Lake Valley. In fact, he knew exactly where the house had been located. We found a U.S. Census record for the ancestral family that showed they lived in the Midvale area, but the question was whether or not there was way to tell what LDS Ward they lived in. The idea was to search the Church records for information about the missionary and his family to see if we could find a record of his mission and verify the marriage to the daughter and other facts from the story.

I suggested that we needed to find a source that mentioned their Ward. The first one that came to my mind would be an obituary telling where the funeral was to be held. This is a very common part of any Utah or other LDS members' obituaries. We searched the Utah Digital Newspapers, but had no success in finding the information or any reference to an obituary. I asked him if he had an account with He said he had signed up but hadn't looked at it. I suggested that with all the records in the fastest way to find the families' Ward was to use

In a very few minutes, the patron signed in and we had entered the pertinent information into to start the search. Almost instantly started supplying Record Matches for the ancestral family. After adding a few records to the family, up popped a reference to his Great-grandmother's obituary. It was more of a death notice than a full blown obituary, but it told the Ward where the funeral was to be held - a Ward in Sandy, Utah.

This is an important point. When you are doing family history research, you need to be aware of the contents of records and think outside of the box. I knew two things. Obituaries in Utah often contain information about the Ward where the funeral is to be held and that had a huge collection of newspapers. Putting those two together helped to find the Ward.

We subsequently found that the BYU Family History Library had extensive microfilm copies of the Ward records and after spending an hour or so searching the microfilm, we found a record of the missionary's family and Church activity including the fact that he served as Bishop of the Ward. The records confirmed many of the details of the family story. We ran out of time and I left the patron still looking for the mission record. But we found how to do that on a page in the Research Wiki entitled, "LDS Missionaries."

Thanks to for finding a valuable record so quickly.

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