I am a convert to the Church of 12 years. My father had a great deal of interest in our family history long before I was baptized, as one of our ancestors, John Howland, was one of the Pilgrim band arriving at Plymouth, Mass., in 1620. In fact, my father had republished, with an addenda update, an 1885 volume of genealogy of our family.
As a child, my father was very close to his paternal grandmother, Susan, who was already 73 when my father was born. He did not know, however, anything of her parents. After becoming a member of the Church, I soon became very involved in my family history.I had researched many parts of my family, but this was not one of them, and the years rolled by. I had received a death certificate for Susan several years earlier from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania stating her parents' names and birth place as being Thomas B. Abbott and Tjamsen Faust, and Pennsylvania. Without any more specific information, I left it at that until the Church's new FamilySearch computer program came out.
In 1991, I was living in the Waynesburg (Pa.) Branch. While attending a seminar at the Pittsburgh Stake Center, I was asked to provide a name of someone, just to use as an example to the rest of the group of the capabilities of the new program. I gave the name of Tjamsen Faust.
I really expected nothing to come of it, but to my great surprise, the stake family history director printed a sheet that told me that this great-great-grandmother of mine was born in Llewellyn (now Newton), Schuylkill County, Pa., on Sept. 24, 1817, and that her temple work had been done in 1975 and 1976. What a find!
My work as a field representative in the Church Physical Facilities Department took me to New Bloomfield near Pottsville, county seat of Schuylkill County. I found the library in Pottsville had a thick book on the Faust family, quite a famous name in the county. This book provided information not just on Tjamsen but on five generations of ancestors, including two Revolutionary War patriots and their immigrant forefathers.
My father (who is not a member of the Church) was thrilled with the find.
I feel the Lord provided this time for me to find out more about my ancestors. The Lord often gives us a window of opportunity. We must peer into it by faith, and He will reward us and others with great blessings. - Phil Howland, Frankfurt (Ind.) Ward, LaFayette Indiana Stake