In October 1991, my family went to Utah to visit relatives and, as is my practice anytime I go to Salt Lake City, I spend some time at the Family History Library. My prayerful purpose this time was to find the birthplace of my fifth great-grandfather, Peter Andreas Askenberg.
I knew Peter was married in the town of Harlingten, Netherlands, so I started searching records of the Evangelical Lutheran Chruch, where he was married. I found a record which had a "Petter Askenberg from Engelholm" listed as having recently moved into the parish. The record was made by a traveling priest who had come in to help catch up on work that was backlogged due to the illness of the local priest. The name was close, and I was getting excited. I searched through the library catalog and maps to find Engelholm, without success."That's because it's spelled with an A, not an E, it's in Sweden," said a man at the reference counter in response to my inquiry.
With time running out, I decided to try my luck reading Swedish records. Nothing! Frustrated and at the point of giving up, I saw my friend and Dutch research expert Suzanne Grundvig. She repeated a suggestion she had given me earlier that I check a microfilm of records from a Reformed Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands. I had prevuiously ignored it because I thought Peter was married in an Evangelical Lutheran Church.
As I scoured the film, I noticed a section of miscellaneous documents. My eyes fell on the name Petter Askenberg in a document apparently in Swedish. After translation, it turned out to be a letter written over 200 years ago about my ancestor. When he left Sweden, there was an accident on the boat and he lost his Priest Certificate. This letter was to tell the local priest that Peter was a good Christian man and should be allowed to marry in his church. With the letter, I was finally able to trace Peter Askenberg to his birthplace, Landskrona, Sweden.
I marveled at the chain of events, the traveling priest correcting the parish record, Suzanne sending me back to the film, and the letter being kept 200 years in a parish record. I know the Lord was answering my prayers to make it possible for my ancestor's temple work to be completed.–Douglas P. Weitzel, Thetford Ward, Norwich England Stake.
Another in a series of "Family History Moments," Illustration by Deseret News artist John Clark.