Family History Moment: Lost and Found Letter Leads to Sealing

Contributed By Sherry McMullin, Church News contributor

  • 30 March 2017

Letters from the past can help lead to family history discoveries.

Article Highlights

  • A letter written years ago led to finding the name of a child who needed to be sealed to her parents.

On the afternoon of May 13, 1967, Florence Pink of Schenectady, New York, traveled south with her husband and sister to visit her nephew in Fort Montgomery, Highland Falls, New York. The nephew's wife told them there was an old cemetery in their backyard and invited them to go see it. Taking pencil and paper, they went to explore.

The following excerpt is taken from the letter she later sent in June of 1969 to the Genealogical Society:

“We did copy what we could see on the stones, which were very old. [On] this one stone all we could make out was the name Frances, nothing more. The stone was blank. We did try everything to bring out the writing. We tried wet leaves, chalk, to no avail. My niece suggested we give up for the time being as she had to make supper.

“Many hours later, three of us went back. My sister Lola reached the cemetery first and we could hardly believe what we saw. The headstone of Frances was as bright as the noonday sun and every one of the dates and her parents’ names stood out as plain as if someone had come there while we were gone and [written] it for us.

“My sister, Lola Werner, who is not a Mormon, said to me [that] it must be an omen of some kind. I told her it wasn’t. ‘It’s the Lord who showed us the way because this child must want to be sealed to her parents.’ We were both astonished at what had taken place. This is what we found on the headstone when it shone so brightly lighted.

“Frances A. Brooks

“Died May 11, 1852

“Age 1 year, 3 months, 2 days

“Daughter of Nathan and Roberta Brooks.”

Two teenaged girls came up and told them about another old cemetery two miles down the road where they were able to find the names of three others.

In the late ’60s, it was not possible to do anything with this information. Sister Pink’s letter was passed around from desk to desk several times and finally ended up with my husband, who was working with branch libraries at the time. Cleaning out files for a move, 49 years later, my husband recently found it. I was able to easily submit the work for those Sister Pink had found, including the sealing of baby Frances to her parents. It was a privilege and brought me much joy.

—Sister McMullin is from the Wandamere Ward, South Salt Lake Stake.