Family history moments: ‘Out of nowhere’

Many years ago, being converts to the Church, we were very excited about starting research on our families.

When it came time to make a trip to Delaware from our home in Alaska, it was a big adventure, and our main focus was to gather as much information as possible and bring it home to sort out. We spent almost two weeks at Nancy's aunt's home and called and visited everyone that might have even a little bit of information.

One of my jobs was to make copies of everything and to take as many photographs as possible. I gathered a tripod, camera, different lenses and rolls of film.

We would be at libraries, courthouses and other buildings when they opened and waiting on the steps when they would return from lunch. We would leave when they would leave for the evening. We were after everything we could get, and they knew and helped every way they could.

As we were preparing to travel to Salt Lake City to finish our research, we realized that we were missing a main link. Nancy had her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather. Then, there was a blank space.

While I was taking some last photographs on a lawn, I happened to see out of the corner of my eye an older piece of yellow legal paper on the ground. Thinking I would need to pick it up, I continued turning pages and taking photographs. As I finished and picked up the paper, I was absolutely stunned to realize that I had in my hand a handwritten document that was at least 50 years old, written in ink without a smudge on it, that listed Nancy's great-great grandfather, his parents, his wife's family and continuing back even further with parents, husbands, wives and children, with dates, places, etc.

With this one piece of paper that appeared out of nowhere, on a farm lawn in Delaware, after searching for two weeks, Nancy was able to tie her direct line into a family line that has gone back past the 1100s. No one knew about it, no one claimed it and we still have it as a sweet, spiritual testimony that there are loving, anxious relatives who can help us progress, which in turn helps them receive those blessings needed to allow them to excel and progress on their mission towards eternal life. — Steve Lealos, Great Falls, Montana