Family history moments: ‘All we can do’

In 1980 my husband was diagnosed with a rare disease and given two years to live. With the strain of farm life, three growing teenagers and two babies, plus the care that he needed, I had to give up my 10-year family history research effort on my mother's side of the family.

I made one last trip to the Genealogical Library (now the Family History Library) in Salt Lake City.

One particular ancestor named Sarah Francis McDow had eluded me during those 10 years. She was my great-great-grandmother, and from the very first I had felt a special bond toward her. But no matter how I pursued and searched records trying to find the date and place of her birth and her family, nothing turned up in the state where written family records claimed she was born.

In the last half hour of my work at the library, I turned to another of my mother's lines. I really don't know why, with so little time, I went to the bins and withdrew seven or eight rolls of microfilm, as this brief time would only allow me to search one. But this is what I did.

As I sat in front of my machine, I gazed at the stack of film before me and asked Father in Heaven which one I should choose. I selected a film from the middle and put it on the machine.

I reasoned that the name I was seeking would be near the end of the film, so I began quickly winding it. After a few minutes of this, my arm tired, and I stopped to rest. As I was about to resume, I glanced at the microfilmed writing on the screen. There was her name, Sarah Francis McDow, recorded as being born in a different state than I had been led to believe, with her birth date and the members of her family!

I jumped out of my chair, danced up and down, and wished that I could shout in triumph. But just then, I felt something. I sensed that my great-great-grandmother had come to help me. Tears filled my eyes as I whispered aloud, "Thank you! Oh, thank you Sarah Francis McDow."

Later, when I took her name through the temple, I reflected back on the miracle of that day. Blessings do come after the trial of our faith (and works), and sometimes at the last minute after all we can do. — Judith Fry Long, Springville Ward, Cedar Mills Oregon Stake

Illustration by John Clark