Family history moments: Treasure in tombstones

I could not believe my eyes. All the tombstones in the cemetery had my family name. I had found a treasure: a family cemetery with an entire hill full of at least 150 tombstones.

I have been doing genealogy work for 10 years and know that temple work is very important. One summer, my family and I had the opportunity to visit the city in Japan where my ancestors came from. In search of family records, we went to the courthouse and library and even visited cemeteries around the area but could not find any information about them. My husband and I were very disappointed since we had come all the way from America.

I asked my husband to take me home. It was getting late, and the sun was just going down. What occurred next was the beginning of a miracle.

When we left the cemetery, we headed for the freeway to return to my parents' home, but traffic hindered us from entering it. My husband got frustrated and decided to take a different route. As he made several right turns, we came upon a cemetery we had not previously visited.

My husband asked whether I wanted to stop. I suggested that he just go slow enough for us to see the tombstone names. As we were passing, I saw my grandmother's surname on a tombstone. I quickly asked him to stop the car. As we got out, I was stunned to see my grandmother's family name on each stone.

Some of them were very new and easy to read; some were covered by moss and dark spots so that I couldn't read the names. On the side of each marker, all the information about their children was given: birth date, death date, marriage date, spouse's name.

Since my husband and children couldn't read Japanese, I had to do all the writing. My family would go ahead of me and wash off the tombstones. Some of them were covered by tall grass which we cut down to find lovely tombstones that nobody had been taking care of.

As I began copying the names, I felt that truly we had been guided to this place. We had met with discouragement and disappointment on our trip. Yet I somehow felt like the people who were waiting for us to do their temple work had led us to this cemetery in Japan so that their ordinances could be performed in sacred temples. — Keiko Teshima Fuller, Rancho Reata Ward, Kennewick Washington Stake

Another in a series of "Family History Moments." Illustration by John Clark