Have you ever started talking with someone about your genealogy or theirs and find out you two have a connection? Last night was the first time this has happened to me, and it was SO cool!
Last night we had some people over at our house for dinner. One of our neighbors who we have lived by for about 15 years was there and her and I started talking about family history. She said she wanted me to help her find some information on some people in her family. I told her about a few websites like Ancestry.com and Footnote.com. I asked her what one of her ancestor's names was to see if we could quickly find something on Ancestry.com. She told me about her great great-grandfather, Charles Peterson.
She knew his name and thought that he had died in Arizona and had lived in Utah. I figured there would be a ton of Charles Petersons who died in Arizona, but I typed that into the search box to see what we would get. Once the search pulled up, on the right hand side it had some member trees that had a pretty good match along with a portrait of him. All the trees had the same portrait so I figured if this happened to be him, there would also be a few contacts for her if she wanted to get in contact with anyone.
We clicked on the first member tree and she immediately said "Yeah! That's him!". I looked at the name because in this member tree it had his middle name as well. His name in this member tree said his name was "Charles Shreeve Peterson". I looked at the name and my first thought was "That sounds really familiar. Where do I know that name from?". I then looked at the birth place which said "Mt. Holly, Burlington, New Jersey". I immediately knew. I turned to my neighbor and started laughing. I asked her if she was joking. She looked at me and said no - it was her uncle. I couldn't believe it. I asked her again if she was sure. She started laughing and again said yes. She then asked if we were related or something. I said to her - "Almost". I then went and pulled up on my computer a history written about my 3rd great-grandfather, Mathew Hayes Ivory.
I explained to her a little bit about my ancestor and how he was one of the first 100 pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers. I then showed her a little journal extract talking about Mathew from a man named "Charles Sreeve Peterson". I told her she NEEDED to read what it said.
Below is the journal entry from Charles Sreeve Peterson:
In the spring, after leaving Mr. Wells, I went to work for a Mr. Powell, new Sreeveville, three miles above Mount Holly, New Jersey. My work was farm work in the summer and in the winter hauling fencing from the cedar swamps and wood and coal for fuel, and fertilizer for the land. This occupied my time from 4 o’clock in the morning until after dark at night. I lived in a house on the farm, rent free, and received cow feed the year around and $13 per month. January 1, 1842, a son, Andrew was born. In the fall of this same year, while hauling coal, I met a man who lived near Burlington, New Jersey, who told me of a strange people whom he had just visited in Illinois. He had become converted to their faith. His name was Mathew Ivory. His rehearsal of the faith and Principles of their Church gave me peculiar feelings that I could not throw off my mind. I did not believe in any of the numerous sects, although my parents were members of the Methodist Church, and were I believe, honest in their convictions; but there was such a difference in the believe of the different sects in regard to the meaning of the writings in the Bible that I had become almost an infidel.
In a short time I passed Mr. Ivory’s again, and he came out from the field and commenced talking again. He said he had some pamphlets he wished me to read. I told him I would be pleased to read them. He said he would have them in the field when I returned with my load of coal. They were locked in his chest and he dared not let his wife see them or know where they were. She was so bitter against those people and their doctrines that she would have burned the pamphlets had she found them When I returned, Mr. Ivory had the pamphlets ready for me. They were headed “The Gospel Reflector” by Benjamin Winchester. I then learned for the first time that this strange and hated people were called Mormons or Latter-day Saints. I took the pamphlets home and in the evening read while my wife sewed. We were so interested that midnight was upon us before we were aware of it. From that day to the present, I have never doubted the truth of the Latter-day work.
I think it was in December I told Mr. Ivory to send the first Latter-day Saint elder he saw to my house, and he said there would be an elder up from Philadelphia in a few days. Accordingly, he sent Elder Joseph H. Newton to my house.
I engaged the schoolhouse in Sreeveville for him to preach in. He delivered two discourses and I told him we were ready and wanted to be baptized, and on the first Sunday in February, my wife and myself and Thomas Leary, a young man, were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a short time there was a branch of the Church organized with forty members, called the Sreeveville Branch.
End of Peterson Story
After reading it we both looked at each other and laughed! We could not believe this connection! We have lived by each other for 15 years and never knew that our ancestors knew each other. We called down her husband and my parents and read the story to them. It was such an awesome experience to find someone who you have connections with that you never knew - and especially when we have lived a stones throw away from each other for so long!
To me, this just shows that you never know how you are connected to people. We always say that it is such a small world, but I think this is such an amazing story and confirms the saying! I think it is stories like these that get people really interested in their family history. Once they can make a connection and spark that interest, many just dive in and start digging up those buried roots.