Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Family History Wrap-Up

(Every day of the week has to have some theme-y thing now, doesn’t it?)

This is my new weekly series, a journal about what I did last night at the stake family history center. Last July, I was given the calling to serve there on Tuesday nights, and I ADORE it. Unless you’re related to me and/or a member of the LDS church, it probably won’t have much relevance – so you can skip this, or read it and go “HUH?”, or you can eat an entire tube of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough for lunch (I once caught Sue L. of CH ward doing this), or you can run screaming through the WinCo parking lot wearing a red mullet wig, or you can… Oh, you choose.

The other thing you need to know, if you’re not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that I am a Mormon, and Mormons do genealogy. Part of the reason why we do it is because we want our deceased family members to receive proxy ordinances – which we believe to be saving ordinances – in our temples. We have other reasons for doing genealogy, but temple work is the most important. The belief is that when a person dies, he is still alive (his body is just not attached at the moment), and still retains his mind, personality, soul, spirit, whatever you want to call it – and having these ordinances performed in his behalf DOES NOT guarantee that he will want or accept them. But if he does want the ordinances, he is happy when they are performed. We do it as a service to our family members, and they might not want that service, and are under no obligation to accept it. It does not “make them Mormon” and we do not count them as members of the Church.

So – down to business. Last night at the local family history center, only one patron showed up (Arleen F., who came with Blaine & Marilyn B. and me), so I had the whole two and a half hours to myself for research. Well, make that 2 hours and twenty minutes… Brother B. likes to leave promptly. Boy, is he prompt. I believe I called him “efficient” last night, which was meant as a compliment but inspired giggling from the rest of the sisters. It’s become a running joke.

As usual, I didn’t try to find anything. OK, that’s not really true – sometimes I have specific goals in mind – but after years of doing genealogy, I’ve learned not to expect anything. Otherwise I’ll be disappointed. Usually, what I do is sit down at a computer, stick my jump drive into the USB port, pull up my PAF’s pedigree chart page, and look at my ancestors. I run the mouse over their names, waiting to see if “BEPSC” pops up for anyone. BEPSC stands for Baptism, Endowment, sealing to Spouse, sealing to Parents, and Children’s work (BEPS) is finished. It is the ultimate, the top of the heap, the … thing you really, really want to see beside your ancestors’ names. (Sorry – my blood sugar must be low.) When I don’t find BEPSC, I concentrate on that family and see what information I’m missing.

Last night I looked at Gran’s family. I normally don’t do a lot with his or Neenaw’s lines because Gran himself did so much, and now Uncle JR is staying on top of it. Normally I concentrate on Grandma & Grandpa Dysart, but I still look at the Smith side every so often because I like to keep my own stuff updated and find little tidbits here and there. And tidbits I did find. William Raymond Fox and Elizabeth Ann Zane joined the BEPSC club last night: I found their son Harold Germaine Fox’s sealing to his spouse, Ella May Davis. Hooray!

Upon finding this, I wondered if John William Smith and Jennie Ella Mobley were BEPSC-ers yet. They aren’t, but I know Uncle JR is working on them. I poked around (our FHC has a paid subscription so we can use it for free – don’t even get me started on what a rip-off I think is), trying to find anything on John & Jennie’s son, Shelby Russell Smith. Let’s just put aside the fact that his last name is SMITH and I will never, ever, ever, ever find anything about him… Yes, I know that. The census records were not helpful, but I did find him in the California Death Index (1940-1997); he died in L.A. Maybe his wife’s death record is there too. Dang – I didn’t think of that.

While poking around in the Elkton, Todd, Kentucky census records, looking for Shelby and his wife Iva Logan Smith, I found other interesting things: lots of MOBLEYS. Gran always said that we were related to Mary Ann Mobley, former Miss America and wife of Gary Collins, the TV guy. Mobley is just too uncommon a name for us not to be related. I found Jennie Ella Mobley Smith (my 2nd great grandmother) living in Elkton as a widow in the 1920 and 1930 censuses. Both times she was living close to a Gillie Mobley (she was “Martha G. Mobley” in 1920, Gillie in 1930). Gillie was also a widow, which means she married into the family. We don’t have a ton of Mobley research completed so all I know is Jennie Ella’s immediate family, but the Mobleys are pretty thick in that area so I imagine if I dug deeper, I’d find more connections. Gillie may have married one of Jennie’s cousins. I wondered if they were good friends – they spent a lot of years close to each other. In 1930, Gillie had her two children, Ed and Ella Mobley, living with her – both were single; Ed was 60 and Ella was 58 and a seamstress.

More finds: a family of a brother and two sisters, all single, living in Elkton in 1920: Ira B., Ruth and Minnie Mobley. They were in their 40s and 50s. Ira, though youngest, was head of the household – just the way they did things back then. What interesting life stories these folks must have. I also discovered Jennie Ella Mobley Smith’s father, William Ellison Mobley and his second wife Nellie O. Hester Mobley, living in Elkton in the 1910 census. Interestingly, William was a minister, but the census taker didn't specify a denomination. William and Nellie were raising William’s two granddaughters by his son James Blanton Mobley. James’ wife, Americus “Mec” Hester Mobley (probably related to Nellie somehow), died when the second daughter was 3 years old. The girls’ names were Mary and Susie Mobley. Mary died a few years after the 1910 census at age 14; Susie grew up and married Robert McCanless and had two children, Mary Margaret and Alden W (saw them in the 1930 census). I found James Blanton Mobley, the girls’ widowed father, living in a neighboring town in Todd County, in 1920 or ‘30. I imagine it was terribly hard for him to leave his daughters with his father and stepmother, but again – just the way they did things back then. James lived until 1945 and to my knowledge, never remarried.