Family history moments: A long shot

I was raised in the very small town of Peru, Ind., and met my future husband in Florida just months before we were to leave on missions. We were married in the Atlanta Temple a month after Chris returned home.

We had barely arrived at BYU in early 1994 when we each began to feel a desire to research our family history, though it had never held much interest for us before.We decided my husband's great-grandparents, Hirum J. and Jenny May Holman Smith, would be our first priority.

With the Spirit's guidance, I located Jenny May Holman as a child in an 1880 Ohio census. I could hardly contain myself from jumping for joy in the aisles at the Church Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

That census record told us Jenny May's father, Joseph George Ephraim Holman, was born in Indiana. Chris was raised in Massachusetts and his father was raised in Ohio; no one knew the family was ever in Indiana!

We did not know where to look next until I recalled the name of the first school I attended - Holman Elementary. We knew it was a long shot, but it was our only lead. I wrote to my grandmother and asked her to research the person for whom the school had been named. She called us back and said it was a Joseph Holman who had founded the town of Peru in 1829. Our hearts pounded; we both felt that he was our Joseph Holman.

We raced to the family history center on the BYU campus. It was only an hour before it closed, an hour I shall never forget. From my grandmother's information, we found Joseph Holman on a microfiche. He was indeed Chris's ancestor!

A family reunion that November took us to Peru, Ind. At the county museum, Chris rescued from the trash several original documents that had just been copied. In them, he found a photograph of Joseph Holman, stories, maps and a drawing of the original homestead.

We felt honored to perform the temple ordinances for 18 members of the Holman line. I yearn for the day when I can meet the Holmans face to face. At times I gaze into the eyes of my daughter and know I see traces of Jenny May.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed