Family history moments: Loaves and fishes

Meager fare. Or so I felt when considering my limited family history information on my father's line: Bible notations and an extract of an 1850 Pennsylvania census record.

On my father's line, mine is the first generation in the Church. At age 19, during the World War II years, I was able to perform temple work for my paternal grandparents and their deceased children.Years passed, but no genealogical progress developed. Then, I took a class taught by Howard S. Bennion of our ward. He encouraged us to search out wills, deeds and probate records relating to locations where ancestors probably lived.

I followed this advice and was overjoyed when I found the will of George Washington Shaffer in Somerset County, Pa., naming my grandfather, Jonathan Shaffer, as a beneficiary. With that connection, I could further the research into my father's line.

This discovery - plus assistance at stake family history centers - has opened other doors, and led to meetings and correspondence with genealogists in California, Pennsylvania and Delaware, and in Bonn, Germany.

The result is that I now have identified four extensive volumes, microfilm records and German abstracts listing several thousand people, many of whom probably are ancestors and relatives. I also have entered into correspondence with several distant cousins of various religious affiliations who are accomplished genealogists in research fields on my father's lines.

From this research, I, my wife, Alice, our five children, their spouses, and other relatives are doing temple work for a number of these families in the Salt Lake, Dallas and Los Angeles temples. Even our three grandchildren are involved in vicarious baptismal work.

We have been astounded at the literal treasure trove of family names that has come to our family.

The blessings that have flowed from my initially limited information reminds me of the incident recounted in Luke 9:13-17 about 5,000 being fed from five loaves and two fishes.

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