Family History Moment: Found in an Oven behind a Wall

Contributed By Richard Eugene Braegger Jr., Church News contributor

  • 10 May 2016

The Braithwaite family discovered a small, old book filled with family history records, similar to this, on their trip to England. 

“The discovery of a small book inside an old oven that had been covered up by a wall is now proving to be a blessing to many people on both sides of the veil.” Richard Eugene Braegger Jr., Willard Utah Stake

The metal box had been sitting inside an old oven that had been covered up by a wall. Inside the box was a small book containing the genealogy of our ancestors that extended back hundreds of years.

In 2008, members of the Braithwaite Family Organization of Utah went to visit some of their ancestral sites in northern England. While there, they decided to visit “The Old House” in Ambleside, Westmorland (now Cumbria), which the Braithwaite family once owned several hundred years ago.

A member later recorded what took place: “We happened to be there at the same time as the owner’s wife, and she invited us in. Seems the house was on the National Register. The owners … had bought the house and, with an architect, had restored it to as nearly the original as they could. In so doing, they removed a wall that had the old fireplace and oven behind it.“

“In the oven was a metal box with some old documents in it, among which were old coins, a seventeen [hundred] Bible, … and a book of the Braithwaite’s written … by G.E. Braithwaite. [The owners were] kind enough to send me a copy of the book after we returned from England.”

As it turned out, the book in the metal box was about 40 pages long and entitled in Latin, Generoso Germine Gemmo. It had been written by Lieutenant Colonel Garnett Edward Braithwaite (1904–1982) in 1965 and “privately printed” in Kendal, Westmorland. Apparently only a few copies of the discovered book were printed, and most of those went to close family members.

Although the copy of the book found in the oven lacked its title page, the body of the monograph contained valuable information and pedigree charts that displayed the ancestry and kin of the Braithwaite family back to the 1400s.

In early 2016, information from the discovered book was combined with historical details from available parish and civil records, and the early Braithwaite families of northern England were connected to their Mormon pioneer descendants in Utah. These early Braithwaite families are now being documented and added to FamilySearch, and when this project is completed it will result in numerous Braithwaite relatives linked together in the Church’s system. Fortunately, the discovery of a small book inside an old oven that had been covered up by a wall is now proving to be a blessing to many people on both sides of the veil.

—Richard Eugene Braegger Jr., Willard Utah Stake