I’m Sorry Elijah, But I Really Need to Get Some Sleep

Yes, it is 2:21am. See?

But I need to tell you about my evening before I hit the hay.

Tuesday was busy. Things finally started winding down at about 8:00pm. There was nothing on TV, so I grabbed my laptop to see what mischief I could get into.

Instead, I remembered that my new deacon wants to go do baptisms for the dead, and since it is always more fun to do actual family names, I logged into FamilySearch to see what I could find.

Let me make this perfectly clear: I am not a genealogist. I am not a Family Historian. I’m not sure if I can even claim obedience regarding this particular aspect of salvation for the dead.

I know precious little about how it all works, but I figured that if I can spend countless hours online, I might as well see if I can save some souls while doing it.

So I clicked on my family tree thingy, and got that great fan a the top of the post. See how nearly complete it is? I come from well-established Mormon roots who have done a lot of the work already. But not all of it.

As long as I can remember, there has been one guy that has been a complete mystery – an enigma – a ghost. We had almost all decided that he was really just a contrived excuse for a pregnancy or some other family secret.

It was THIS guy who was gumming up the works:

For years he just sat there, a cipher.

So I decided to take a look. After just a few searches, I stumbled across a marriage record for my great-grandmother and HIM – the mystery man. He was real! And I found him!

You wanna know how I found him? Just a few months ago, somewhere in this big old world, some saint sat in front of a computer screen and indexed a whole slew of marriage records.  Yes, it might have been you. It could have been a teenager heeding the call from the prophets. It could have been someone who was just trying to be involved by doing indexing work. Whomever it was, they broke my family logjam when they entered that marriage record into the system, and I salute them.

And it was off to the races.

For the next FIVE hours, I sat in my chair, furiously researching, comparing, typing, submitting, etc. By the time I was to exhausted to do any more, I could barely stand up from lack of movement. The house was dark, and everyone had gone to bed – even my ever-understanding EC.


I have 23 ordinances ready to go for my family to take to the temple. I know that to some of you, 23 is nothing, but to me it is a HUGE accomplishment.  I know there are a lot of ancestors on the other side that are saying, “Seriously? He figured it out?”

There are times when I have felt the Spirit of Elijah nudging me, and I have been timid – for fear of getting into something I don’t really feel I have time for.

Tonight was different. I just let it roll, and take me where I needed to go. It also opened doors to figure out another line that has sat waiting for decades.

It was a blast.

Now I need to go to bed, because I’m exhausted. But it’s a good kind of exhausted.

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  1. Love it!!! I AM an amateur genealogist and love doing research. I still, however, feel that thrill in finding information because “everyone in my family is” NOT “done.” When I have searched for a decade and finally… like you experienced… someone actually indexed their information, I almost do a happy dance! And like you, I always have to say, “I’m Sorry Elijah, But I Really Need to Get Some Sleep.” Here’s to lots of short nights while finding our deceased ancestors so we can take their names to the temple. 🙂

  2. This article is perfect to inspire others to do indexing. One suggestion: Teach your FOMLs to find names themselves! Temple trips will mean more to them if they find them for themselves.
    Descendancy research — starting from one of your ancestors on the outermost edges of the Puzzilla.org tree or beyond, and then working toward the present — is usually full of lots of blank spots such as you illustrated, and it’s a great way to find your “cousins” whom you can submit for temple ordinances if they weren’t born within the last 110 years.
    My grandchildren who are old enough to go to the temple are all finding their own names now. And some of the younger ones (9-12) are adding sources and finding names also. It’s sooooo addictive!

  3. Your post reminds me of recently attending a Family History Class during Sunday School, and the teacher shared that their are times when she has gotten so involved with doing research and it was getting late, that she just says out loud to those spirits in the room, “I know you are waiting on me, but I have to get some rest.”

    1. It is so nice to hear that others have the same problem. I love doing this work and the spirits know I will go the extra mile to link them with family. I;ve used that Elijah phrase nearly every time I’ve taught at a conference or held an impromptu FH class for friends. Thanks for writing.

  4. AuntSue
    My mother started doing genealogy when she had to stay in bed with her third pregnancy. She was shocked to find that some aunts and uncles she remembered had never been to the temple. She has spent her life finding those who never had their work done. She has found lost children and babies, first wives and families, brothers and sisters who didn’t join the church, She usually is working with names in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. She is filling in the families, not worrying about going back in time, but making sure each family is complete. The miracles are numerous, the dreams come often. She has a really bad heart and must rest most of the day. But she gets up at 4 am to turn on her computer. We wonder if our relatives are keeping her alive so they can be found. Others in the family take the names to the temple and do the work there. Unfortunately I am one who have never found a name. Maybe one day that will happen, too.

  5. Thank you soooo much for taking the time to “write this experience down” !!! I just read it out loud to my returned missionary(son). I have been talking to my husband(of just 8 years) for the past few weeks, about getting started on his family history. One of his brothers-in-law has been working on his and his wife’s history for years – one of those cases where people say, “I don’t need to do it, someone else in my family is already doing it”. WRONG !!! We all need to be doing it. It will take every one of us to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. We will be picking up our new computer in the next day or two and I am so excited to get all of us busy in “Hastening the Work of The Lord”. Yay !!!

  6. How did you create the graphic at the top of the post? I took a look at FamilySearch a few days after you posted this, but for the life of me I can’t find that particular view. All I get is the fan with three generations.

    1. It’s called Puzilla. Look below the main menu where it says “Finding Our Cousins.”

  7. This is awesome! Congrats on breaking through your brick wall! I’ll bet even though you’re extra tired today, you’re excited to do more research and find more ancestors, right? It’s very exciting that your son will get to do temple baptisms for his own family members.

  8. You inspired me to try, but it looks like the earliest hole in my fan is 8 generations back, and there appears to be nothing for any of the people I tried to find. I feel bad for my children who will likely not ever feel the joy of doing the work for their ancestors since somebody out there is aggressively doing it all for us…

    1. Bryan…there are many other ways to do Family History.Help your children to know their ancestors…. Find and add photos and stories to already existing ancestors. Search sidelines and find cousins. We are all part of the family of Adam and there is plenty of work to do before the Lord pronounces the work complete.

    2. Ohhhhh don’t give up….there’s someone out there for you to find….remember “when a door shuts there’s usually a crack letting light in..” in other words……..DON’T STOP LOOKING FOR YOUR ANCESTORS!!!!!!

    3. Try using puzzilla.org. Go to an ancestor and then look at their descendants. If you go back down the tree to your cousins you and your children will be amazed with all the people they will find. I thought all my family work was done until I tried puzzilla.org and now all of my family is doing their own research and finding many people. Good luck!

    4. Once you go back so many generations, start moving forward. Find the inlaws, and their parents and siblings. One of the most sublime spiritual experiences in the Temple was with a family that married into mine. You may be their only link!

  9. My family history/ indexing journey began about 5 years ago (has it really been that long?) when my husband and I attended a Stake Conference Meeting. We were challenged to find just one name to take to the Temple before our next Stake Conference. I thought “I can do just one name…” My family are converts and I knew my parents had not done much work on any of their lines. Well, here I am, 5 years later and it has been a miraculous and amazing journey. My parents lived in Colorado and my Mom hated it when people moved into our Ward from Utah and would talk about their “Pioneer Ancestors”. She would tell people “Well, if my ancestors hadn’t come over on the Mayflower, your ancestors wouldn’t have had anywhere to go!” Little did she know that we do have a lot of ancestors that came, not on the Mayflower, but soon after. And I have also discovered that if you put a pin in Nauvoo and drew a circle 500 miles in circumference, most of my ancestors lived within that circle. I have seen miracles unfold in so many ways, from a small nudge to a random email to a picture posted upside down on Ancestry.com…..they truly want to be found! I love Family History!

  10. Twenty-three?!?? Astounding!!! SO excited for you! Have you discovered puzilla.org yet? Helps find your direct ancestors’ cousins. Great for when your direct line is jammed up. Just did ordinances for my grandma’s 1st cousin and one of her 1/2 sisters.

  11. Ain’t it the truth!! After virtually the same experience working with my wife’s family – who’s work has “all been done” we have had a great time…. We said we’ll just do this for 1 hour, starting at 8pm. At 1am, I tell her “dear I really have to go to bed, I have to go to work today…. you can have a nap, but I have to work today- good night!” It has been a great experience- She said… it feels different when it’s your own family…. yes it does.

  12. Just so you know, not all indexers are LDS. And sometimes entire collections of transcribed and indexed records are given to the church by other organizations. The Spirit of Elijah is an equal-opportunity blessing-spreader, and very, very busy these days!
    Within my own family history work, I have recently found several names/people for whom I’ve searched 40 yrs. When that happens, first I cry tears of joy, and then I bless the indexers.

  13. Thank you for sharing this! I was just called to serve as our ward’s Indexing Director and I’m trying to figure out how to inspire others to join the effort. It’s great to hear an example of the fruits of the labor.

  14. My father is a convert with Eastern European roots. My mother’s side tracks the first baptisms in the church to 1830 and nearly all from Western European roots. Couple that with my father’s family not being overly close and he being my last surviving ancestor, I have very little information on my father’s pedigree. My children’s pedigree chart looked like 1/2 a fan.

    When the church started the online indexing, I jumped in with both feet just to constribute to others being able to do their work. When the New Family search was beta tested in S. Utah a few years ago, I got on and took about 15 minutes to go back 5 generations on my father’s side!!!! I was able to get everything I needed to track back to every immigrant to the US to include the ships that brought them here. The biggest challenge was that some of the indexing wasn’t completely accurate due to the need to decipher hand writting.

    then I was stuck for a couple of years. About 2 months ago I started working on my 4th G- grandfather again, and discovered that he was listed as a son in a family that went back another 5 generations! All I had to do was tie them together.
    It’s a great feeling to get something done and take all of the FOML and their EC’s to the temple to spend a morning doing all of the work. It was even better to visit Europe and take a few names with us and do the work in the language of my ancestors.

    1. Its wonderful that you were able to go back that far for your family. As an indexer I have a marvelous time reading all the info. I’ve had some wonderful “finds” for other people. One of my recent finds was an obit for a man name Robert Livingston. It turns out his grandfather, also named Robert Livingston, was a Chancellor. Not just any ole guy but the man that sworn in President George Washington! I’ve found others such as President Buchanan’s daughter and Paul F Cooper, the son of James Fenimore Cooper (author of The Last of the Mohicans).
      Through indexing I’ve been able to find burial lists for counties in Iowa, and now those people are account for in their home state. My love is working on military stuff so I’m enthralled by the WWI and WWII draft cards…..indexing is under my skin…and I know that other families out there will be able to find someone I added.

  15. I know what you mean- I need a serious chunk of time (which almost never happens as RS Pres and pregnant mom of 4) when I sit down because I JUST WANT TO KEEP GOING! And what makes it even better is that next month, 2 days after his 12th birthday, my oldest will get to go on a youth baptismal trip and do the baptisms and confirmations for the family members I recently discovered! (And I get to do my own grandma’s work!!) Part of his daily responsibilities (like piano practice and chore, etc.) now also includes indexing- that’s his favorite part- and I like to do the English parish records, in hopes of someday running into some of my own family on paper.

  16. Sweet! My brother had an experience like that recently, and is now up to nearly 100 names that need ordinances on a branch everyone thought was “done.”

  17. Wonderful! I had the same thing happen just this week. Indexers are truly blessing the world of family history!!!

  18. I recently had a similar experience, although it wasn’t a direct ancestor. It was the wife of the grandson of the guy we’re stuck on (I keep working on him, but so far not much is happening). “Bertha,” it said. And no ordinance work had been done for her. “We can do better than ‘Bertha,'” I thought, and have spent every free moment (and some that weren’t so free) since then working on Bertha (who turned out to be Annie Bertha Carr) and everyone she’s ever been related to, and a whole buncha others besides. I used to be addicted to indexing, but now I’m addicted to family history research. Two sides of the same coin. I gotta get back to indexing too. Thanks for this story. And I hope your late nights don’t stack up too quickly!

  19. About once a year I feel the uncontrollable urge to do family history research. In sucks me in for hours on end, and then after a few days I stop til the next time.

  20. I re-discovered Family History about 5 years ago. As a convert, there are many folks that were waiting for their work to be done.

    At the temple — just before I enter the endowment room, the brother that welcomes us to the temple, reminds us that we are indeed doing work for those that cannot do it for themselves — they truly need us.

    This is also true for family history work. It is without a doubt one of the most unselfih things we can do while it is our time here on this earth. We may become their willing servants. As much as we frequently get both insights and answers to prawers from our visits to the temple. . . . those names that we bear on the slips of paper (that we have been given) is indeed a “saving grace” for those on the other side. I remind others (as a FHC consultant) that as they start (or re-investigate) their trees, they indeed hold lineage “keys” that will open the veil — as they are individually tailored specifically for them — from individuals on the other side. Do NOT ignore or dismiss those promptings.

    This work has kept me fulfilled in my recent retirement years. It truly is a blessing.

  21. Someday I might be able to voice how incredible this is for me, but for now I will just say thank you. I made a commitment to a 5 generation chart when I gave my lesson Sunday, and I feel like this is written directly to me

  22. That is very cool. I keep hoping some day that will happen for a “log jam” on my father’s side. Every once in a while I get online and try to listen for instruction and dig around, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  23. Oh my gosh! I’m so excited for you! Congratulations!! As someone whose logjam begins immediately following my grandparents, I am simultaneously thrilled for you and jealous. You go, man!! Extra chocolate for you! 🙂

  24. I have one of those. My grandfather. Several of my nine children are now working on finding him also. Actually, we know him – we just never have found his parents, etc. He died when I was sixteen and I joined the church with my husband at 19. We’ll never give up. So very happy you found yours.

  25. There are many times where I am doing indexing just so other people might be able to find that missing person. It’s so nice to read about someone who actually did! Wonderful!

  26. Yep, you start doing family history/genealogy and you get hooked big time. The world wide web is just a big records depository to get tangled up in, in a good way.

  27. I have indexed well over 100,000 records and it’s always great to hear that someone is helped by efforts such as mine!

      1. MM….what a wonder way to get exhausted. From time to time, those beyond are jumping in and out of your mind…they created your restlessness and possible sang with joy that you heard them. They were your guides and will remain so until you meet on the other side. Please don’t stop with these 23….as many of us know our family histories are more like that never ending puzzle….just when you think it is all together, that no more pieces are on the table….oops there’s one hiding over in the corner….Enjoy your blessings and I hope you had a peaceful rest that night and everyone since.

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