Monday, October 15, 2018

Discover Your Family Heritage

Have you ever thought about your family legacy? Maybe it’s time to discover the stories of your past.

My mother was involved with genealogy and it was something she enjoyed. She wanted to plant a seed in me, the same desire as she had, so she told me about my heritage. I soon became interested in my ancestors. These stories were an influence on my life.

I was intrigued when she told me about my great grandmother who was deaf and how spirited she was. Sarah Eckersley Robinson had to rely on women’s intuition and knew when her baby needed her. She sensed it. At night, she would wake up even before her baby cried. When the neighbors were visiting, they were amazed when Sarah excused herself to get her baby who had just awakened from a nap.

Sarah was an example of fortitude and courage. She always listened to the promptings of the spirit. After returning from town, Sarah sensed the presence of someone in the house. Acting quickly, she grabbed her broom and began searching her home. She had a feeling to check her bedroom, but when she entered the room, no one was in sight. She quietly stepped to her bed and looked under it. There she found an evil and lustful man crouched and waiting for Sarah, but he was not prepared for a strong and determined woman with a weapon in her hands.

With all the strength she had, she started whacking him out from under the bed with the broom. She then hit him over the head again and again. Chasing him from the house, she continued beating him as he ran down the street. Sarah had spirit. This wicked man thought he could take advantage of her since she was deaf, but he did not expect such courage and fled. The man never returned. After telling me several stories about my great grandmother, my mother said I looked like her and gave me one of her thimbles.

(Note: Sarah’s life had an impact on me so I decided to write a historical romance and give many of her experiences to my character in Sarah’s Special Gift: A Bear Lake Family Saga.)

My mother told me about my father’s heritage and how my great grandmother, who was from Wales, had just as much spunk. After settling down in Utah, Frances Davies Clark had a harrowing experience, one she never forgot.

When her husband was gone, a band of Warriors came to her home and began picking her grapes, stripping the vineyard of all its fruit. It upset Frances as she watched them filling their bags full. She had babied those vines and this was her first crop. The first thing she saw was a large bowie knife, but she knew that would not do. Then an idea popped into her mind. She quickly put on her husband’s cavalry uniform, hat, and cape. Grasping his sword with one hand, she strode out onto the porch, waving it in the air in a threatening manner and demanding in a loud voice, “Leave now or perish!” Terrified, the marauders dropped their bags and fled as fast as they could, in fear of their lives. When they had disappeared, Frances gathered up the grapes and made grape jelly.

But that wasn’t all. Her adventures continued. One day a bull gored her neighbor and she went to his aid. His abdomen was torn open. With as much courage as possible, Frances washed away the blood, relocated the man’s protruding intestines, and sewed him up with a violin gut string that she had sterilized and soaked. Afterwards, Frances fixed a liniment of arnica burrs steeped in alcohol and then she applied some sterilized cloths to his wound, which was saturated with the liniment. After she finished, Frances told her neighbor that she would return each day and wash his wound with carbolic water and apply fresh bandages. That man lived for over 20 years after his accident.

(Note: This experience with the bull was so impressive that I gave it to my character in Edith and the Mysterious Stranger: A Bear Lake Family Saga. I love giving true experiences from my ancestors to my characters in this series of books.)

After the passing of my parents, I sat down and wrote their story. I wanted my children and grandchildren to learn about their heritage. One of the stories that I included was how my father closed down the school for a day. He was only thirteen and it wasn’t on purpose, but his friends thought he was a hero.

All summer he had been draining the scent glands of skunks and collecting it in a bottle. The following day he took the skunk oil to school with him to show his classmates. His friends had never seen skunk oil before. With all the excitement and attention he was receiving, he felt the bottle slip from his hands and land on the floor of the schoolroom.

The bottle broke into a million pieces and skunk oil splattered everywhere. It landed on the pant legs of his friends and on his own shoes. As the oil saturated the wooden floor, the room filled with the most putrid, foul, disgusting odor anyone had ever breathed in. The children instantly held their noses with their fingers and ran out the door, stumbling over one another as they ran. Marcus was close behind. And so was the teacher! She excused school for the rest of the day and Marcus didn’t get into trouble. He figured the children were so excited to get out of school that no one told on him.

(Note: This experience was so funny that I gave it to one of my characters in Melinda and the Wild West: A Bear Lake Family Saga. It’s so much fun to add true experiences to my stories.)

My mother told me that it was important to learn about my ancestors. So she gave me a “Book of Remembrance” full of stories about my ancestors that she had typed up. One day I came upon a story that brought tears to my eyes. I had never known such courage as my great, great grandmother had displayed. Could I ever be as brave as Martha Raymer Weaver? 

Martha’s husband, Edward Weaver, died from Pneumonia in 1845 and left Martha with seven children. They were living in Illinois at the time when a mob came to the Weaver home. Gilbert, her twelve-year-old son, described the leader as a “large, burly and murderous demon.”

The leader told Martha if she would denounce her religion, then she would be unmolested and they would not burn down her home. She knew they meant business, but her faith in God could not be denied. Martha faced this wicked man and his mob with dignity. Stomping her foot with defiance, she said, “You may burn it and be damned!”

This took the leader by surprise. Here she was, a helpless woman with no man to protect her, and she was standing up to him. Finally, he said, “I’ll give you twenty minutes to get out.”

What he said surprised her. Most people were not given any time to pack. With the help of her seven children, she gathered the most necessary items and threw them into the wagon. They had no team of horses, just one ox and a cow. So the boys yoked them to the wagon and they drove away. Without hesitation, the mob threw a torch to the roof and burned the house to the ground. As Martha watched their home burn, she remembered a nice fat pig that was in a pen behind the house. After the mob left, she sent her sons back to see if it had been spared, but it was burned to a crisp. 

Was this my heritage? Could I ever be as brave as my ancestors? My mother’s love for genealogy piqued my interest. I thought about my mother’s love for genealogy and decided it was time to do something about it. My children were now raised and I had some time on my hands. Since my husband was interested in his ancestors, as well, we put in our application to serve at the Family Search Center in our hometown. We attended a three-week course and learned how to help people who wanted to find their ancestors. Since we live in an area full of canyons, we get a lot of vacationers who come by to visit. I have helped people from many different religions and other countries.

To join Family Search is free. Just go to and sign up. I hope you can discover your heritage and be proud of who you are!


To learn more about me, visit my websites below.
Sweet Romance & Mystery Blog:
Family Friendly Audiobooks Blog:

1 comment:

Gail Pallotta said...

What an interesting post! I'm glad you have those wonderful people in your heritage to inspire you!