Family history moments: Tender mercy

Our family traveled to the Tomstown, Pa., area (north of Waynesboro) in October 2009 to visit the ancestral cemetery of John Hess (1767-1819).

The cemetery is a 30-by-40-foot corner of what used to be John Hess’ property. John’s headstone is the only one still standing.

It was in the Tomstown area that John’s son, Jacob Hess, met and married Elizabeth Foutz. Jacob and Elizabeth Foutz Hess migrated with other Foutz family members, Jacob and Margaret Mann Foutz and Solomon and Mary Foutz Secrist, to Richland County, Ohio, in pursuit of land. While there, they learned of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were baptized in 1834.

Jacob and Elizabeth Foutz Hess are the parents of John W. Hess, bishop of the ward where the first Primary was organized. I was thrilled to be able to visit this ancestral area with my children and had hoped to learn more about our family there.

Two weeks later, my husband, Dr. Robert Clark, and I were traveling in Thailand, en route to Laos on a humanitarian assignment for the Church. Our assignment was to train 90 Laotian doctors in neonatal resuscitation with two other doctors, Dr. Chris Robison of Minnesota and Dr. Brent Lind of Orem, Utah, and a nurse, Kirie Brown of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

During our travels, I asked Dr. Robison where and when his ancestors came into the Church. Promptly he said, “Hezekiah Robison was living in Tomstown, Pa., when a Jacob Foutz and Daniel Garn came there on a mission in 1842 and taught him the gospel. Jacob Foutz taught and baptized my ancestor.” Then Dr. Robison asked if I knew where Tomstown was!

I excitedly explained to him that I was in Toms-town just two weeks earlier, visiting the ancestral area of my Hess and Foutz ancestors. What a tender mercy I had received from the Lord!

I was thrilled to learn that my second-great-uncle, Jacob Foutz, was instrumental in bringing the Robison family into the Church when he was serving a mission there in 1842 and to learn of their continued faithfulness. It was witnessed to me again that the Lord knows who I am, where I am, and is aware of the desires of my heart, as I was pursuing further understanding of my ancestral family. — Anne Hess Clark, Salem 4th Ward, Salem Utah Stake