LDS Elders helping people trace their roots



Elder Estes (from left), Elder White and Betty Guy, who is one of the Family History consultants in the Vinton Library.

Family history is of utmost importance to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). You will find “Family History Centers” worldwide in the LDS Church. The church encourages its members to have at least a four-generation chart. Many have their ancestors traced back for several generations.

LDS has a Family History Library at its Salem Chapel where anyone can do research. FamilySearch or is free of charge while in the Family History Library. Through connections with the main facility, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, there is access to the largest genealogical collection in the world.

The LDS missionaries in the Vinton area are excited about these facts. At the Vinton Library every other Tuesday, they teach a class from 6 to 7 p.m. Elder White and Elder Estes have computers set aside for their class to use. “Anyone who wants to attend are encouraged to bring as much information about their family as possible to begin to build their family tree. If they have names of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents that is very helpful in finding records on individual family members who have passed away,” Elder Estes said.

There is a sign-up board for the Family History class in Vinton. Elder White and Elder Estes teach the basics of how to set up an account. They teach anyone who attends how to find the resources to build a profile on their ancestors. Once a person knows the basics then the Elders can tutor them as they work at their own pace.

One woman who attended the class became very excited when she traced her family back to Roman ancestry. The Elders helped her look up the time period of her ancestors to see what her ancestors’ world would be like and what they would be doing at that time period. “She was very excited” Elder White said.

When those in the class gets to the point they need more help, Elder White and Elder Estes will meet them at the Family History Center in Salem where many records available. Director Sue Williams said, “The library has microfilm from many records in Europe. Microfilmers and researchers were able to go into former East Bloc countries to obtain materials that were not available prior to 1990.”

Records are available from the United States including Ellis Island and other ports immigrants came through. There are also records from Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Williams has been so wrapped up in tracing the roots of her own family that she spends hours each week in the Family History Center, not only doing her research but helping others. “It’s addictive and fun,” Williams stated. “I’ve taken the Woodlief side of my family back to 900 AD in England.”

Elder White and Elder Estes are prepared with many great resources to get you started on your own Family History in Vinton. The Vinton Public Library is located at 800 East Washington Avenue. The phone number is 857-5043.

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