Family History Moment: A secret drawer

The phone call came from a lady in Atlanta, Georgia, who we didn’t even know. She said she had discovered some pictures while cleaning out an old desk her mother had purchased from an antique store and that had been stored in an attic after her mother died. While going through the desk she had discovered a “secret drawer” which contained a number of black-and-white pictures.

When the lady phoned Richard Brough of Kaysville, Utah, she mentioned that one of the pictures contained the autographed name of “Jimmy Brough, 1929,” but that there were no other clues as to who he was or why the photos were placed in a hidden compartment in the desk. She asked Richard, who was an officer of the Brough Family Organization of Utah, if he or family researchers could help her find out who were in the pictures and where they came from. Following her phone call the lady sent Richard a package containing high-quality photocopies of all the pictures that had been placed in the desk.

After several days of scouring the Internet, family researchers determined that the well-preserved photographs from Georgia were actually those of James (Jim or Jimmy) Wasdale Brough (1903-1986) of Silloth, England, and some of his associates. Jim Brough — who was respectfully called “Gentleman Jim” — was a famous rugby union player and professional rugby league footballer of the 1920s and 1930s. He played for England at the representative level and won caps for England against Wales, France, Australia and New Zealand. Jim gained a reputation for being one of the finest and innovative fullbacks of his time and was an inspirational leader. In 1958, Jim became the first coach ever appointed to a Great Britain touring team. In 2005, in honor of Jim’s character and contributions to the sport of rugby, the Silloth RUFC renamed its ground The Jim Brough Rugby Park.

With the help of online databases and other records available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, it was soon determined that most of Jim Brough’s ancestry had never been adequately researched. Over the next several months Brough family members in Utah and England successfully identified and documented Jim’s ancestry back to the mid-1600s in Cumberland, England.

Today, historical information about Jim Brough and some of the pictures of him that were once held in a “secret drawer” can be found on FamilySearch Tree; and many of Jim Brough’s ancestors have now been given the opportunity of enjoying the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ through vicarious ordinances performed in the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

— R. Clayton Brough, West Jordan Utah Park Stake

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