Find My Ancestor Blog

Skeletons in Your Genealogical Closet – M. Bridget Cook

As mentioned in my earlier post about the St. George Family History Expo, which can be found here St. George FHExpo 2011 - Day 1 I mentioned briefly about the Friday evening event with author and speaker M. Bridget Cook. In this post I would like to go in a little further about this amazing night and some of the things Bridget talked about.

Handling and Healing the Skeletons in Your Genealogical Closet

During Bridget's speech she talked about her recent book she co-authored, Shattered Silence, the Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter as well as her other co-authored book, Skinhead Confessions: From Hate to Hope. Each of these books talk about real-life individuals that have had life changing effects because of the power of forgiveness, love and hope.

One of the main points from Bridget's speech is the point that we all have skeletons in our genealogical closet. We all have at least one ancestor that when we are researching we find a document or find an event that made our ancestor a criminal, infamous or something else that our first instincts wants to hide. She explains how these ancestors and the events in their lives are important for us to learn and are chances for growth and learning. As we learn and grow, hopefully our descendants will learn and grow too.

Do you keep a journal? Are you honest when writing in your journal? Do you only write about the good days you have and the fun events in your life? Bridget emphasized the importance of writing about all aspects of your life. The ups and downs make your life interesting. If you were to read a journal of an ancestor and all it contained were their accomplishments, good days and happy times, it might seem like they were "perfect" or it might seem to you like you could never "live the life they did".

By including the trials and heartache in your own history, along with how you were able to overcome them will give hope to your descendants. Maybe one of your descendants will suffer from the same physical, mental or emotional challenges you have to overcome everyday. Your words and testimony can be a great benefit for thousands of people. Write what you know, what you don't know, how you feel, your accomplishments, your shortfalls and everything in between.

Friday night was such an amazing experience to be able to hear from Bridget and how she herself has overcome challenges and trials in her life. She gave much hope and encouragement for us to do the same. I highly recommend reading more about Bridget and her books. The stories told in these books are very motivating and personal. You can learn more about Bridget by visiting her website

M. Bridget Cook is an author, speaker, and life coach who has been writing stories of transformation since she was young. Always curious and awed by the extremes of human behavior, she co-authored Shattered Silence, the Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter(Sweetwater Books, Cedar Fort 2009) with Melissa G. Moore, daughter of the infamous Happy Face serial murderer. She also co-authored Skinhead Confessions: From Hate to Hope(Sweetwater Books, Cedar Fort 2009) with former high-ranking white power leader TJ Leyden. In her writing, Bridget loves to inspire and be inspired by people from all walks of life.


5 Generations of Wedding Photos

This past weekend I was at the house of one of the leaders in my Ward (Church group). As we were having dinner someone asked about the photos on the wall. His wife told us that each of those photos was a wedding picture, equalling 5 generations! I was so intrigued by this I asked her if I could take some pictures and write about it on my blog. This is one of those stories that I read on other people's blog and enjoy so much so I wanted to share it with all of you.  The very bottom picture is their daughter. The one up and to the right is Karin. The one next to it is her mom. The one above Karin is her grandmother and the one next to that is Karin's great-grandmother. It isn't very often that you see 5 generation photos like this, especially when they are all wedding photos. Now, the part that I think is the most amazing is the fact that in all of the photos, all the women are wearing the same necklace!

Isn't this such a fun tradition? I think it is amazing that they have a necklace that has been passed down for generations and that each of them wore it on their wedding day. What kind of family traditions do you have in your family? Do you have an heirloom that has been passed down and it now in your possession? Possibly you know of an heirloom that you would love to have. Share with us by leaving a comment below!


Neighbor Connections

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 and I asked her what one of her ancestor's names was to see if we could quickly find something on 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.


It’s a Small World After All

I just had an AMAZING discovery with one of my neighbors!! I don't have time to write it all out tonight, but I wanted to do a little post to let everyone know I have such an awesome story that I am going to be writing about soon. Keep your eyes open for this story you don't want to miss out on!