Researching Family History: The key that unlocks our genealogical treasure

Published: Tuesday, April 19 2011 6:30 a.m. MDT

Some time ago, I locked my keys in the car. I called a locksmith, and eventually he arrived. From a short distance, I observed what he was doing. He fit an uncut key blank into the lock and pulled it out. Then he cut the jogs in the blank exactly where the “tumblers” on the inside of the lock were located. Pulling the blank out, he did a little more cutting of jogs. After he stuck it into the lock cylinder and turned it, he pulled it out again, smoothing the rough edges on the jogs of the key with a wire brush. Finally, he put the key back into the lock and turned it. Then came the "click!" The car door unlocked and I retrieved my old set of keys.

Sound familiar? I am sure it is for many of us. This is similar to our genealogy. We see that certain pieces of information on our family tree may work like the cut “jogs” on the “key” and opening the “lock” to our genealogical treasure.

Our family tree may be missing a name or perhaps many names of ancestors. Some birth dates or marriage locations may be lacking on the tree.

Perhaps a trip to the LDS Family History Library or one of its centers would be in order. The people there can help you get started and know where to look.

Or maybe its time to call in the professionals. A few months ago, one client came to me with his line. He was baffled, and his frustration had peaked. He was unable to find information on one section of his pedigree, and it has remained that way for 40 years. A letter in the family years before supplied the names of the ancestors and showed a birthplace for most of them.

Since retiring, the client followed one son and his family along with a brother in the records. Other than this, nothing was found on other siblings and the parents. No records were available to verify the rest of the family. He was facing a wall and he felt locked out.

I found the records needed were not in the United States. Access to them required hiring another researcher overseas.

Now the real benefit is his feeling of peace because some things are being done on his line. There is now hope, a plan and some work. We are starting to see good results, where before there had been despair and frustration.

With the coming out of the new FamilySearch, and current research results, he now has an advantage he has never had before. I venture to say that in time we will see this trickle of information from people and places he never dreamed of. Then BAM! The information will slam up against the head gates. Eventually, it will build up at such a rate it will be almost unbelievable. I don’t know why it works that way completely; I only know that is the way it works. I have seen this happen time and time again.

We cut the “jogs” (research) that matches up with the “tumblers” (fills in missing names and information). We turn the key in the lock. The tumbler moves with the jogs of the key and “click,” the lock open,s and we access the treasure. “Sounds fast and easy,” you say. It’s not. It takes time, work and prayer.

Is it worth it? Absolutely!

Remember, our Savior, Jesus Christ, said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (see Luke 12:34). You see, our ancestors are our treasured souls to keep.

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