Family history moments: 'Who's buried there?'

For 31 years before I became a Church member I spent a great deal of time researching my Shutts ancestors in New York and surrounding states. I experienced many frustrating disappointments and could go no further back than my great-grandfather, Frederick Shutts, who was born in 1788.

Following my baptism in 1977, I began submitting names for temple ordinances. I was called to be a librarian in our family history center and never lost my longing to find more on my elusive Shutts forebears.On July 14 of this year, on our way home after attending the Hill Cumorah pageant, my daughter and I decided to visit the site commemorating the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood in Oakland, Pa. Formerly known as Harmony, it is located about six miles east of I-81 on the banks of the Susquehanna River, just over the border from New York. After asking directions we arrived at the site as it started to rain. My daughter hurriedly took pictures of the statue of John the Baptist conferring the priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and of the explanatory bronze plaques.

We noticed two young women walking toward their car and saw they were coming from a small cemetery adjoining the site. They told us they had seen the graves of Emma Smith's parents, Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, and also Joseph and Emma Smith's infant son.

Now it was raining harder, it was hot and humid, and tiny black gnats swarmed around us. How easy it would have been to leave. We had already seen what we came to see. But we didn't leave.

We found the graves and took pictures of the headstones.

As I turned to walk toward my car I saw my daughter sitting on the pedestal of a large tombstone about 20 paces from the Smith stones. Noticing her grin, I asked, "Who's buried there?"

She stood up to reveal the name Shutts on the headstone. It was the grave of Morgan Shutts, who was born Oct. 1, 1808. As he was only two years younger than the Prophet Joseph and living in the same small community, I feel they must have known each other.

Additional Shutts graves provided information to complete seven family group sheets! I know the Lord directed us to that place. Submitting those family names for temple ordinances will be a joyful experience.

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