Family history moment: Aunt Mandy

One of my favorite family stories, which I first heard as a small child at the knee of my Indiana grandmother, was about Aunt Mandy. I was too young to understand the genealogy, but then everyone in my Indiana family called her Aunt Mandy no matter the genealogical connection. When I started recording my family history after converting to the Church, I finally worked out my relationship to her.

She actually was my great-great-aunt, sister of my great-great-grandmother. The stories always started with the death of my great-great-grandmother, Hulda Jane Warren Wood, and three of her children all in the same week in a diphtheria epidemic that struck southern Indiana in 1878. Two daughters survived — Alice Samantha Wood Hansen and Rhoda Kathryn Wood Rhodes, my great-grandmother. Soon after their mother’s death their father, James Wood, disappeared and was never heard from again. Aunt Amanda “Mandy” Warren Youngblood and her husband, Henry Youngblood, “took in” Alice, age 13, and Rhoda, age 6.

In the 65 years since my grandmother told me these stories I have done a great deal of family research, but not much on Aunt Mandy’s family. Finally, I set out to research Aunt Mandy and Uncle Henry to, first, get their temple work done, and, second, to discover more about them than what I knew from family stories.

Since obituaries have great information about the person because they are often written by a family member, I sent for Aunt Mandy’s obituary. I was expecting a nice article about what a Christian woman she had been but was not expecting much more because she had been a farm wife in a rural area. The obituary I received set me back on my heels.

From her obituary I learned that Aunt Mandy and Uncle Henry were childless, “but she took great pride in taking homeless children and caring for them until married.” Aunt Mandy’s obituary listed, by name, seven children that she and Uncle Henry had taken in. My great-grandmother and her sister were the first ones on the list. There was one still living in their home. I also learned that Aunt Mandy had died at my great-grandmother’s house.

Uncle Henry and Aunt Mandy were the perfect examples of the Savior’s description of profitable servants as described in Matthew 25:35-36 which reads, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

— Joyce Baggerly, North Park 2nd Ward, Provo Utah North Park Stake

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