Editor's note: This week Mormon Times shares stories from staffers' and contributors' family history — whether one from an ancestor or their search to fill out their family tree — that educate, entertain, inspire or uplift.
We are encouraged by prophets and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to find the names of our deceased ancestors, and technology like new.familysearch.org, the church's latest genealogy website, can help. You can also use websites to find living relatives. Here is the story of how I found, with the help of others, some of my close living relatives who had been missing for 60 years.
I never knew or met my maternal grandparents. I knew little about them, even after asking questions to various family members.
In 1932, my grandparents were living in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, with four of their five children. The oldest child was grown up and had left home. My grandparents' marriage broke up, and the family was split up. Two of the children lived with their father, one child lived with her mother and one child was adopted. The good news is, when all of the children were grown, they were able to find their adopted sister. None of the children ever had contact with their father again after leaving home. My grandmother, Gertrude Alice Barham, died in 1943 of cancer in Ipswich and is buried there. My grandfather, Albert Bertram Frampton, was never heard from again.
About 1968, my family was having dinner at home. My brother, my sister and I were teenagers at the time. My mother told us that her father had married again and had some more children. We had never heard this story before, and we were very surprised. My siblings and I dropped our silverware in disbelief.
Still, I rarely thought about the other family. In 1998 when I became interested in family history, I thought about trying to find the children of my grandfather's second marraige. I knew my grandfather would be deceased. However, since I didn't even know the names of the children or had a location to search, I thought the task would be impossible.
In 2010, I finally started to look for information about my grandfather on my own. Since their first child, Lyall Bertram Frampton, was born on July 1, 1914, perhaps my grandparents were married about a year before the birth. I was able to find their marriage record. The record stated that my grandfather was born either in 1887 or 1888. I searched English birth records and English census records. There was only one Albert Bertram Frampton who fit the information that I had found. He was born in 1887 in Poole, Dorset, England. I asked my mother if Poole had any connection to her family, and she said she once lived there as a child. I knew I had found the correct Albert Bertram Frampton.
I searched for Albert Frampton on new.familysearch.org. I was the only descendant of my grandfather who was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so I did not expect to find him on the website. However, he was in the records. Someone living in the western United States had submitted his information. I contacted this person, and it turned out she was a distant relative of mine.
When I returned home from attending general conference in October 2010, there was an email message for me. I hesitated to open it because I did not recognize the name of the sender. However, I was curious because she mentioned family history in her subject. The woman stated she was my mother's sister from my grandfather's second marriage. She mentioned some of my family members and told stories only another family member would know. I knew she was my aunt.
She was born in 1950 in Poole, making her only four years older than me. She lived in Poole and had two children, one of whom lives in Australia. She said she had a brother who also lives in southern England and has seven children, all living in England. Her brother was only five years older than me.
I gave her the telephone numbers of her four new sisters. Two of the sisters live in Ontario, Canada; one sister lives in Port Charlotte, Fla.; and the other sister lives in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England. At the time, the sisters were in age 79, 85, 89 and 91. Lyall Frampton had died in 2002 at the age of 87. His ashes were scattered over the English Channel by one of his sisters and his brother-in-law. My grandfather had remained in Poole for the rest of his life. He died in Poole in 1974 and is buried there.
After a few weeks, the two sisters and brother met in England and have been meeting ever since. In 2011, my new aunt came to Canada and the United States to meet her three sisters. She stayed at my house. She resembles my other aunt in England, has a similar voice, even the same laugh. I have a first cousin in Wokingham, Berkshire, England, who is 10 years younger than my new uncle. They look like identical twins.
I was extremely happy to find my new relatives. However, it's a great shock to know that my family had doubled in size.
My distant relative in the western United States was looking on Facebook for someone in her branch of the family who had the same name as my new uncle. My distant relative contacted my new uncle, unsure if it was the person she was looking for. She thought he was part of another branch of the family, namely mine. I don't believe it was an accident that my new uncle and my distant relative found each other on Facebook. Somehow, they figured out that my new uncle and I were related.
I'm extremely thankful for the Internet and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because I was able to find my mother's brother and sister.