Family history moments: Next-door neighbor

In recent months of searching family records, my wife, Joyce, and I find that temple work is complete on many of our lines as far as they are researched. However, little ordinance work appeared for the John Hamilton Wilson-Alice Elizabeth Benninghoff couple and their five children. Records indicated the parents had died in the early 1980s.

Early in June, we drove to Auburn, Placer County, Calif., hoping to locate part of the family. All we had included names of the five children, birth dates and places, and names of spouses. In Auburn, we found the stake Family History Center, and a worker began a nationwide computer search for John H. Wilson Jr. Seeing this could take days or weeks, I suggested looking for the more uncommon name, Alltucker, one of John's married sisters.Suddenly, Katie Green stepped "out of the woodwork." We hadn't seen her working behind other files. She had overheard us mentioning Wilsons, and when she heard the name Alltucker, she came forward and asked if we were looking for John Wilson. When we confirmed we were, she volunteered, very much to our amazement, "Well he's my next-door neighbor out in Lincoln!"

She then proceeded to list for us all names of the family and their present locations. She again stunned us by informing us that mother Alice E. B. Wilson, now 91, is very much alive. Katie then drew us a detailed map with directions to John Wilson's farm home. I asked this kindly lady about her church affiliation. She said that she was not LDS, which made us even more grateful, considering she was willing to help people of another faith. I had a strong urge to hug her, which, after momentary contemplation, I resisted.

Following Katie's map, we found the Wilson farm and had a wonderful reunion with John Jr. and his daughter Keri. They made corrections and additions on our records of their family.

We wondered en route home how many people would have that much interest and knowledge about a neighbor. We wondered what brought Katie Green to the center at that time. Chance? Luck? Coincidence? No, we knew better.

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