John Hales, now 88, has been a patron at the London Family History Centre for many years. His visits were initially to Exhibition Road, but now he comes to The National Archives at Kew where the centre is housed. About a year ago, centre staff became aware that John had no electronic records, just the proverbial shoeboxes full of his research. He had no real way to share his findings with his children and grandchildren. Missionaries working in the centre knew they could help.
Sister Hildred Cobia was first to work with John. She reported, “When we began the project he brought a packet of documents and a beautiful handmade pedigree. He told me the names and then gently took from the pile of papers, the documents and pictures that matched the person we were talking about. He had a story about every person.” Twice a week, John rolled out his family. His research, most of it done before internet resources were available, had traced the direct lines for his himself as well as his late wife Kathleen.
When Elder and Sister Cobia returned home, Elder and Sister Crumley took over. Sister Crumley scanned the pictures and certificates and attached them to the appropriate person in a commercial software program. Elder and Sister Crumley spent their evenings and weekends pouring over censuses, filling in brothers and sisters, spouses and children. John was delighted, but paid careful attention to localities and details. One session, he quickly pointed out, “No, this is not my family. That area is too far from where the family lived.” Between his knowledge and the missionary help, John’s family tree grew to over 1,200 names. The media attached included his large collection of birth, death and marriage certificates; along with pictures of family, cemeteries and parish churches totaling 847 items, plus 800 links to website sources. His daughters have been given a flash drive containing the whole tree.
As the project progressed, Sister Crumley was inspired to ask John if he would like his family entered into Family Tree on the FamilySearch website. She then explained the sealing of families in the temple. As John began to understand this principle, although not a member, his love for those who came before grew and he signed a permission letter to have these blessings performed for his ancestors.
The names were entered into Family Tree and 776 eligible names were submitted to be shared with temples throughout the world. John continues to work with missionaries on his tree, and has attended two sacrament meetings.
Note: As of 2019 the centre is no longer located at Kew. To find your local Family History Centre please visit https://www.familysearch.org/en/ to find out more.