Monday, September 26, 2016

All the Stories

Lots of opportunities abound to add more stories!
Today I learned about a new family history app, and I thought you might enjoy it as well. It's called All the Stories, and gathers all the stories found linked to your ancestors in FamilySearch. It's really quite neat to have those in one spot. Some day I'll spend more time reading through them, but today I wanted to share the miracle of the plum tree, an experience my great-aunt Olive had a few years after her husband died, as told by my second cousin. Isn't this an awesome miracle?

The Plum Tree

One year, our finances were diminished and times were tough. Around the beginning of the year, Mom called each of us together to pray for the Lord’s assistance, in a way which was different from our usual daily family prayers. Mom had us kneel in a circle and had each of us offer a prayer as we knelt together, each child praying in turn; she would offer the last prayer. This happened around the beginning of the year.

Well, we had a self-pollinating plum tree. It normally blossomed in April and bore fruit in early June. This year was different. This year the plum tree blossomed in late January which was several months before normal. The tree bore a bumper crop bigger than any I had ever seen from that tree. The first fruits were harvested early April and we were able to use them for barter with our neighbors. The fruit was succulent, juicy, sweet/tart and basically AMAZING that year. We would trade a lunch bag filled to the brim for different products such as a quart of milk, a jar of peanut butter, a pound of pasta, pound of popcorn etc. It worked out really well as the neighbors really enjoyed the plums.

The early blossoms and early harvest were amazing in their own right but here the events become even more thrilling. As we picked the fruit in April the tree began to blossom a second time. This also defied the laws of nature as I understood them. Unheard of, this tree actually blossomed a second time and the tree was covered in blossoms along with the ripe fruit we were harvesting.

The second harvest came basically at it’s normal time. I was able to take plums to school in my lunch early June and I always looked forward to that time of year. Oh, how I loved the plums from our tree!!!

This time, as we picked the fruit, much to our joy and amazement, the tree began to blossom a third time. Once again there was another bumper crop of these rich, amazing plums.

I know it was through the example of faith in the Lord that my mother demonstrated that she, along with the faith of us her children, was able to call down the powers of Heaven to deliver us from our financial bondage. This miracle provided what we needed at the time.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eternal Families

Preparing to enter the temple to start their eternal family unit.
This morning I read President Eyring's conference talk from the priesthood session - Eternal Families. Actually, I read it yesterday morning and felt it was so important I needed to devote a bit more time to pondering his message. He reminded us that everything we do should have celestial marriage as its focus and purpose. That reminded me of Elder Nelson's comment that all church meetings and classes and activities are means to the end of an exalted family. (Here are my thoughts on that from a few years ago.)

President Eyring quoted from Elder Bruce R. McConkie's 1970 conference talk - Salvation is a Family Affair. I'm writing this post to remember some of those quotes:

The great work of God our Father was creation. He brought us into being; we were born as members of his family; and by his power the earth and all things thereon came into existence. And God has done his work perfectly.

The great work of Christ was redemption. Through his atoning sacrifice all men are raised in immortality, while those who believe and obey the whole law of the whole gospel are raised unto eternal life. And Christ has done his work perfectly.


The great work of every man is to believe the gospel, to keep the commandments, and to create and perfect an eternal family unit.
And the Latter-day Saints are seeking to do their work as near to perfection as they can.


Every major decision should be made on the basis of the effect it will have on the family unit. Our courtship, schooling, and choice of friends; our employment, hobbies, and place of residence; our social life, the organizations we join, and the service we render mankind; and above all, our obedience or the lack of it to the standards of revealed truth—all these things should be decided on the basis of their effect on the family unit.

There is nothing in this world as important as the creation and perfection of family units of the kind contemplated in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

13 August 2016
I am grateful for my eternal family and look forward to seeing it continue to grow and become stronger as the years pass.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fun Resources

Most of my family history research focuses on census and church/town records. However, every once in a while something new and unusual pops up. Today there were a few. First a Google search led to this e-book which included a list of graduates from Mount Holyoke College:


Abbie J. Woodward is Edith Lydia Woodward's aunt. Maybe the others are related as well, but I haven't found the connection yet. I appreciated having proof of their husband's names.

I found a couple of pictures on ancestry.com; that doesn't happen very often.
Edith Prince with baby Jane (born 1915)
I also discovered a couple of books on ancestry.com that are filled with a wealth of information. Monday's discovery was "The Cone Family in America" and today's was "The Thomas Sanford Family." 

It's so much fun to find different pieces of the puzzle and see how they fit together!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Question

This week in the Deacons/Teachers quorum class, they were discussing the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. 

One of the boys wondered why Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the priesthood before they were baptized, when you need to be baptized first. It's a good question, and the adults were struggling to answer it. Wayne knew he had heard the answer before, and suspected it was from the teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith. We looked it up and he was right. Just in case you're ever in a class when the same question comes up, (or a similar one, like "Why didn't John the Baptist just baptize them?"), here's the answer:

Why Were Joseph and Oliver Commanded to Re-ordain Each Other After Baptism?* 

by Joseph Fielding Smith

[John the Baptist] after conferring the Priesthood, instructed Joseph and Oliver to go down into the water and baptize each other. After which they were to lay hands upon each other and re-confer the Priesthood which he had bestowed upon them. There are two reasons why they should be commanded to do this thing. First, to confer the Priesthood before baptism, is contrary to the order of the organized Church, therefore they were commanded to confer the Priesthood upon each other in the regular way; after they were baptized. Second, the angel did for them that which they could not do for themselves. There was no one living in mortality who held the keys of this Priesthood, therefore it was necessary that this messenger, who held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood in the Dispensation of the Meridian of Time, should be sent to confer this power. It is contrary to the order of heaven for those who have passed beyond the veil to officiate and labor for the living on the earth, only wherein mortal man cannot act, and thereby it becomes necessary for those who have passed through the resurrection to act for them. Otherwise John would have followed the regular order, which is practiced in the Church, and would have first baptized Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and then conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. (Essentials in Church History, 27th ed. [1950], 57–58)

*This wasn't the question asked in class, but the answer is the same.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Stolee Family in the Dakotas

This week I'm researching the Stolee family once again. I found them a few years ago, when a Stolee daughter married my great-uncle. It turns out that they were quite active in the Lutheran church, producing several pastors. This morning I discovered a birth/christening record that I hadn't known about before, and I wanted to document some of the fascinating information I've uncovered.

First, my records show that a few of Brynhjolf and Anna Stolee's children were born in North Dakota, yet today I discovered they were christened in a church in South Dakota. I thought maybe the two towns were just across the border, but when I plugged Spring Creek, South Dakota, and Emmons County, North Dakota into Google Maps, they were several hundred miles away. That just didn't make sense. After a bit of contemplating, I used Pollock, South Dakota, and discovered that's only about 25 miles from Emmons. Apparently Spring Creek is the name of the church and not the town!

Then I was curious as to what some of the words meant. Fortunately, I found some translation help on the internet. Hjemmedøbt means the child was christened at home.

So, here's the record showing Jakob was the son of Brynhjolf and Anna (the last line).

This is a new child to add to my family group sheet. Next up is to find record of his death, which I suspect is before 1900, because that census shows that Anna gave birth to four children, but only three were living at the time. I'm hoping the church records will help, and I'm copying the Table of Contents so I know at which page to start looking.
We'll see if I have success. Off to start looking!

Update: Still haven't found Jakob's death date, but I did find this wonderful picture which is attached to Michael J. Stolee in ancestry.com. Although I these individuals aren't identified, I imagine they're cousins of some sort because Michael is Brynjholf's brother.

Patriarchal Blessings

I flipped through my grandfather's journal the other day and came across a copy of his dad's patriarchal blessing. As I read it, I thought it was pretty neat and had some cool things mentioned. Then I turned the page and read what my grandfather wrote about it. Here's what he had to say:

In the blessing it states that Dad would be called upon a mission to his native land. As Dad was born in Utah, it appears to me that the state of Utah is his native land, even though his parents were born in Denmark and Sweden. At any rate, Dad never filled a mission in the native lands of his parents during his life in mortality.

It also mentioned that Dad's greatest desire would be to work for the dead. One would naturally assume that searching out genealogy and working in the temples for the dead is what is meant. However, Dad never did take the initiative in seeking for the dead, nor did he ever do any temple work for the dead.

A question might be raised as to whether Dad did not take advantage of his opportunities, or if the patriarch became too zealous and promised things which should not have been promised. Then again, were these blessings intended for the time after Dad's departure from this life?

As I think back over the past, it appears to me that these blessings could have been Dad's in this life if he had so desired. As fine and as good a man as he was, he did not put forth any efforts towards accomplishing the work mentioned. This is an example and a lesson for us all. If the blessings and promises given us are to materialize, we must put forth a great deal of effort ourselves so as to bring these things to pass.

Grandfather is so wise. Patriarchal blessings are conditional upon our obedience. We can't just sit around and wait for the blessings and promises to materialize; we need to be actively working towards them. I hope I always remember that lesson!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Motherhood Talks

Mother's Day has just passed. However, I looked up some links to some of my favorite talks on mothers last week, and so I thought I'd put them all in one place to save me time next year! Here they are:

Jeffrey R. Holland: "Because She is A Mother"

Sheri L. Dew: "Are We Not All Mothers?"

Julie B. Beck: "Mothers Who Know"

Ezra Taft Benson: "To the Mothers in Zion"

Douglas L. Callister: "Our Refined Heavenly Home"

Gospel Topics Essays: "Our Mother in Heaven"

This following quote may be about temples, but our homes should be like temples, and that's what I think of - a peaceful, loving refuge - when I think of mothers.

“The moment we step into the house of the Lord, the atmosphere changes from the worldly to the heavenly, where respite from the normal activities of life is found, and where peace of mind and spirit is received. It is a refuge from the ills of life and a protection from the temptations that are contrary to our spiritual well-being.”  Elder David B. Haight


I looked up these talks again because I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting. The "what do I remember about my mother" event that I was drawn to this time was when three of my siblings were sealed to our family. That happened because she yearned to be a mother to more than just those children born to her. It was a beautifully special day, and my mother continues to be a great example to me. I don't have a picture of that particular day, but I did find some to share here - family pictures taken before the first adoption and after the last.