Family history moments: ‘Turning the hearts’

When Mike O’Loughlin was 8 years old and his brother 10, his father left and moved to New Orleans, La. Mike’s father died two years later. When he was 17, Mike joined the Church. He developed an interest in family history work later on in life.

He began piecing together information about his extended family on his father’s side but was still left with a void about his father. He only had a few pictures and a couple of memories.

He was unsure of where his father was buried, thinking that it had to be somewhere in Louisiana. After some failed attempts to locate death and birth certificates on the Internet, he found himself sharing the problem he had with the teachers of his family history class in his ward. He gave them the name, birth/death dates and New Orleans as the assumed place of death. Later that afternoon, he received an email with a link to Louisiana death records and an entry for his father with a matching death date. The name had been misspelled resulting in no luck with searching online. He sent in a written request with the required fee and was holding his father’s death certificate within 10 days.

The certificate had been signed by his father’s second wife, Mae, which made Brother O’Loughlin wonder if they had any children. He went searching for the obituary and had no luck with the funeral home but was sent to search at the local newspaper that kept bound volumes of obituaries. Being thousands of miles away, he contacted the local ward and received some help with his search. The newspaper was missing the volume for the year his father had passed away, so he decided to contact the cemetery where he was buried. After a few phone calls he found out that his father and Mae were both buried in the cemetery in Picayune, Miss.

A man named Kenny called the next day explaining he heard of Brother O’Loughlin’s search and that Mae was his mother. Kenny’s half-sister was the daughter of Brother O’Loughlin’s father and Mae. Within a few hours, he was speaking to her on the phone. A few weeks after that call, they met and he shared stories with her about their father. She was only 6 months old when he passed away and had been in search of details about him. Through this experience, defined best by the scripture in Malachi 4:6, “turn[ing] the hearts of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers,” Brother O’Loughlin was able to learn more about his father and share what he had found.

— Samantha DeLaCerda