Family history moments: To tell their tale

As a working adult, I went back to night school for my master's degree. With only one more course to take, I became anxious about a topic for my thesis. I prayed about it, and one day as I was preparing lunch, the name Vinegar Hill popped into my head. I remembered my grandfather's death certificate listed Vinegar Hill in England as his birthplace, but the town no longer existed. Nevertheless, I mentioned it to my adviser. He became surprisingly excited, talking about the Galena lead district, about which I knew nothing.

I decided to pursue it further. I learned a great deal about lead mining and the area surrounding Vinegar Hill, but very little about Vinegar Hill itself. As I searched the Web, things for which I was not searching began to fall into my lap. I learned about a lead strike in the town in England where my great-grandfather was born. Nearly every day for months, I found new pieces of information which, when put together, told a very interesting story about a mining strike that resulted in the banishment of about 100 miners, a group of which came to this country in 1849 on the ship Guy Mannering. My great-grandfather, Christopher Ward, was one of them. I later discovered that most of a total of 56 men, women and children on board were related to him, and therefore me.

As a result of one tiny bit of inspiration, I was guided not only to more than enough information to write my thesis, but also to hundreds of names that I am taking to the temple. Throughout the experience, it was as though I could feel the excitement and joy of these lead miners on the other side of the veil, as they helped me with my research and I helped them with their temple ordinances. Wonderful things happened over and over, leaving no doubt that the veil becomes very thin when simultaneously approached from both sides. It continues to be a wonderful experience for me and has run over into my ward and a little into the stake as people help me take all these names to the temple.

One interesting thing I discovered was a poem written about them on their departure which said, "We'll tell our tale in other lands." It was prophetic. As a direct descendant of several of them, I was granted the opportunity to tell their tale. — Wendy E. Ward, Wilmette, Ill.

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