With all the spare time I have on my hands this summer, I’ve started to delve a little bit into family history work. Now, when I was younger, I always thought that family history work was meant for grandmas/empty-nesters who needed some way to spend all of their free time (that is, when they weren’t doting on grandchildren).
Also, I rationalized that “all of my family history had been done already” (my mom and grandma are both family history buffs), so I avoided the ancestral boat for a long time.
However, I have felt my interest growing slowly but surely the more I get into it.
I decided that to spark an interest in your own family’s past, you need something to light the fire–something that connects you to someone gone on long before.
That spark, for me, was “meeting” my great-great-grandmother Naomi Chase Lane through her self-written personal history while looking for something to share during a lesson I was giving in church.
As I read through her history, I felt my heart jump in me as she talked about living not only just in Logan–which is where we’re currently stationed–but that she used to live in the part of Logan named The Island (which is precisely where we’re currently stationed). I eagerly flipped to the back of the history to see where she’d been buried and, sure enough, there she was listed as being buried less than a mile from our apartment.
So Matt and I set out last Sunday night with the full intention of searching and combing through the whole Logan Cemetery until we found where she was.
However, after two sweaty hours, we decided that we needed to search a little smarter.
We went home, looked at a map of the cemetery, and found the rough spot where her tombstone was located.
Then we went back the next night, sure that we would find it within minutes.
But, after an hour and a half, we’d had no luck. I was so frustrated–I’d prayed many times that we would be able to find it, we’d done our research, so why weren’t we finding it?
Finally, Matt said, “Let’s head back home. We’ll try again later.”
I sadly turned towards the car, then Matt added, “How about we look at some of the bigger headstones around here and use them as a reference point next time? Like all these Nebeker graves.”
My heart leapt–Nebeker was the name of one of the people buried by Naomi. I looked down, and not five feet from me, there it was: the headstone for Naomi Chase Lane, my great-great-grandmother.
I wanted to cry, I was so happy.
We came back and I read excerpts from her life story. As we read together, it was as if I could feel her faith and her spirit with me.
This is already a long post, but I just wanted to end with some of her own words:
“I should much prefer to be more comfortably situated, [b]ut the main point with me was to learn the gospel in all its bearings [Naomi left everything she had to travel West with the Mormon pioneers in the mid-1800s]. I wanted to get a thorough knowledge of my religion and then to live up to its principles, and this I have tried to do all the way through. However much I may in my weakness have come short, I believe that I shall be judged according to my most earnest desires in this matter . . .
“After getting a little means that was yet due in Laketown, I cheerfully returned to Logan to make ready for my Temple work . . . I have officiated for 225 of names I have on record . . .This part of my life’s work, that of performing Ordinance Work for and in behalf of my dead relatives, affords me much satisfaction. It is to my mind the most important part of it.
“To be sure I have raised a good family which too affords me much comfort and I am really proud of them, while the looking after of the interests of my dead relatives I look upon as the mission for which I have been preserved throughout my entire life and may it be accepted in the same spirit in which it was performed.”
If I will be able to say the same upon my own deathbed, I will have lived well indeed.
Can’t wait to meet you on the other side, Naomi!