A few weeks ago, I mentioned that far back I am descended from Conan the Barbarian (this still makes me chuckle). My husband, in a more recent history of his family, has a witch, burned for her crimes; and closer than that, we have a common ancestor who lived in Plymouth Colony. I find all these, and the many in between, fascinating. And considering my maiden name, and his mother’s maiden name, is the same, it amuses me that we are 14th cousins before we are actually related (other than through marriage—ha ha).
If you have ever felt intrigue to know your ancestors, who they were, where they lived, and how they thought, then you have probably contemplated, if not actively begun, doing your own genealogical research. And everyone who has done so, knows that sooner or later, you’ll reach a dead end. A place where the names simply end.
This last week I had the opportunity to read a uniquely enjoyable book, True Miracles with Genealogy: Help from Beyond the Veil compiled by Anne Bradshaw. It is filled with stories of faith about people who were miraculously guided past those dead ends. These stories give hope and the courage to keep trying.
“When my friend put the microfilm on the machine, she was disappointed because it was written in Old Danish, which she didn’t understand. We sat there, dejected, for a few minutes. Then another worker came in from the next room and asked what was wrong. We explained the problem, and she remembered a lady who recently died had donated quite a few books to the library. One pamphlet was entitled, How to Read Old Danish Parish Records. Wow! Who knew such a thing existed? Within a few minutes, my friend began translating, and I recorded the words as she spoke.”
True Miracles also contains stories of ancestors connecting just to help write a play (Anne refers to this story below) to express their gratitude, or just enthusiasm at being found.
“One day, while in the Salt Lake City Family History building, while searching through the film drawers for family names, I felt impressed to pull out a drawer for which I didn’t have a number. I put the film on the reel and searched through it. I was amazed to see family names toward the end. It was then I heard a male voice say, “She has found us!” The voice was full of emotion. I could feel the presence of several people . . . I looked around—there was no one else in my aisle. I was alone.”
I asked Anne if she had a story of her own and she reminded me of the one in the Introduction. “At one time, I could not find one family on my father’s side. According to my dad, his father’s father (my great-grandfather), Alfred Tozer, born 1844, London, England, had seven children. I found details for six, but despite much searching, clues about Alfred and Sarah’s daughter Lillie Tozer did not seem to exist.” She then relates an amazing story of improbable connections that led to finding Lillie.
This book would make a perfect gift for anyone for Christmas. For those involved in the fascinating process, it gives encouragement to keep going, for those who have only considered it, it offers incentive that the work is worth doing.
Somewhere we all descend from kings, barbarians, priests, witches, patriots and thieves. Perhaps even a hero or two. Learning their stories is amazing, but part of the adventure is finding them. Read this book and then begin the journey to locating yours.
I asked Anne what led her to writing True Miracles with Genealogy. “I wanted to write a book that was reassuring to readers and increased their faith in the afterlife and in God, our Heavenly Father, and at the same time inspired them to seek after their ancestors. Since I’ve always loved reading amazing family history research stories, it seemed like a good idea to compile a book full of them.
“Not every ancestor wants to be found, of course, and will remain a mystery for now, but thousands more are ready if we can find the time to reach out and search. It makes me sad to think that many genealogy stories are lost because they aren’t recorded and shared.”
“Soon after I began gathering the stories, it became obvious that in addition to the many remarkable accounts of discovering information, there was also a wonderful feeling of excitement about discovering ancestors’ individual characteristics. This was perhaps most evident in the story from Daris Howard (playwright and Math professor at BYU Idaho) on page 19.
Anne also shared about the process involved with publishing this book on her own.“I decided to fly solo this time, and self-publish True Miracles with Genealogy both as a paperback and electronically, since many national authors are now taking this road. I soon learned what a lot of hard work and time goes into the complete publication process. It was fun though—a steep learning curve. The work’s not finished yet, as marketing always takes huge chunks of time.
“I used Amazon’s CreateSpace and learned how to compile books from beginning to end. Another local author, Rachael Renee Anderson designed the cover, then I assembled everything on CreateSpace. I enjoyed the overall creativity involved. The high quality results are impressive. I hired Precision Editing Group to edit the book, to ensure my own edits of the stories were of the standard necessary for national and international readers. I think all the hard work and extra care produced a good product.
“I didn’t know what to expect when introducing the electronic version of True Miracles with Genealogy. I deliberately kept the price low ($2.99) so more people could have access to the amazing stories, but I’m still surprised by the number of eBook readers out there who are downloading. I can see now why national predictions for the future of this format are so explosive. According to Forrester Research, it’s estimated that by the end of 2010, ten point three million U.S. homes will have an e-reader.”