Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Posted by Carolyn J. Christensen

I was eight years old when Grandma Kirkham introduced me to the joys of Family History or Genealogical Research. I still remember carefully filling in blanks on group sheets and looking through books in the Idaho Falls Genealogical Library and in our Stake Building Genealogical Library. The smell of ink eradicator would probably send me into a nostalgic coma even now. And I still treasure some family group sheets that I completed that Grandma sent to the temple for temple work that were returned with the glued-on extension indicating who had stood as proxy.

Another memory is Grandma Kirkham telling me about my extended relatives. I would listen by the hour – because I loved her. Too bad I didn’t remember more details. But I did remember the love, and it flowed into my being, and I still feel it. I remember how excited I was when I received my Picture Pedigree from Grandma Kirkham along with my Book of Remembrance when I turned eight. I studied those pictures a great deal over the years. After all, one lady, although very strange looking in her picture, was my 5th great-grandmother.

When my Grandma died, as a family, we all spent time together wandering through her house to decide which of her items we wanted to keep as memorabilia. I WANTED THE GENEALOGY. Grandma had promised me the Genealogy. Did everyone understand that clearly? I wasn’t going to take any chances, so I stood by the Genealogy Cupboard and guarded my heritage from Grandma so that not one slip of paper would be removed from the collection. Grandma & Grandpa Kirkham, parents of my mother, represented the English half of me. I had at least 17 ancestors that emigrated from England.

But there was another half. Swedish. My father’s parents emigrated from Sweden, and we had no living relatives before them in the United States in the Johnson Family. So compared to the English Heritage, our family was small. But not really. Grandma and Grandpa Johnson had been very serious about completing the temple work for their ancestors, and had hired a professional researcher to research hundreds of records – providing them with thousands of names for temple work. In fact, in my Grandmother’s Patriarchal Blessing, she was told that her great life work would be to save her dead. This she did, leaving record books behind, along with Grandpa. Maybe because my Dad lived in the home where these books were, maybe because he was the youngest, maybe because I was in the family and my ancestors knew I would be one of the grandchildren to do research, we ended up with the Temple Record Books. Eventually I “Xeroxed” these books, and passed them to Aldon Johnson. Later, a neighbor came to me and explained that she had a computer program on which to input genealogy, and she felt inspired to ask me to come and input my Johnson genealogy for my use. What a blessing.

Over the years, I have spent countless hours in Genealogical Society Buildings, Family History Centers, and in England doing English and Swedish Research. I was fortunate that a Swedish Researcher took me under his wing when I was a single young woman working at the Old Genealogical Society at the Montgomery Ward Building in Salt Lake, and taught me how to do Swedish research.

I want to tell an incident that helped create my philosophy and understanding about our responsibility to know our ancestors. I was young, working under Robert Gunderson at the Genealogical Society. I had been doing a lot of research. I had even been to England to look for records. Surely I deserved a miracle or two so I could open up closed lines of research. I made that complaint to Bob – indicating that I felt my ancestors should be more visible, and help me in more miraculous ways to find lost records. Bob looked at me and asked, “Are you going to quit researching if they don’t?”. No, I said. “Well then, you don’t need a miracle. Accept the help you are getting even though it is quiet inspiration.”

As I continue this Blog, over the weeks, I intent to indicate in more detail the research methods and accomplishments I am involved in. I do this in order to reduce duplicate research, and provide sources. I have a huge collection of records in my home, but being very outdated because of the computer, I want to express what has been done so that future generations will know, and my collection will not be a burden due to the advent of computer Family History & Genealogy Work.

Research has changed a great deal. All of the birth, marriage and death records of England have been filmed, and temple work has been completed. Therefore, because of the work of Grandma Kirkham, and availability of records, all that is needed is to connect distant collateral family records. This can usually be done on the new program for the computer of the LDS Church.

All of the Birth, Marriage and Death records of Sweden appear on a computer website called Genline. What Grandma and Grandpa Johnson had to pay to have a researcher look for, is now available in a few clicks on the computer for anyone to see. Swedish records are being indexed. Again, because of the efforts of Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, distant collateral research is what is necessary.

The only other necessary research is for each individual to get to know all these ancestors personally from the records our ancestors left behind. I am trying to add all the pertinent information I have on the Johnson and Kirkham families to the respective blog sites. I am hoping if anyone else has information, they will make it available. Of course, the LDS Family History Site at or has all the basic records, but our ancestor’s personalities come alive through our efforts. Our ancestors are wonderful, exciting, interesting people. Let’s help each other get to know them.

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