Family History Moments: Scattering the Haze of Darkness

Contributed By Charles Stoddard, Church News contributor

  • 7 February 2017

Just like reading about our ancestors can inspire us, our own personal history can inspire others.

Article Highlights

  • Reading the life stories of your ancestors will make a difference in your life.
  • Writing your own personal history can inspire your future posterity.

Feeling the Spirit of the Lord about my ancestors, I was curious about my grandfather George Eckersley Stoddard. He died in 1917, when my father, Howard Stoddard, was only 16. Fortunately, my father wrote a 15-page life story about my grandfather in 1924.

In my father’s own words, “This book may serve to scatter the haze of darkness and to aid our preparation for future days of joy when personal contact will be restored.”

Thus, this short book is one of my most precious possessions; it contains the only information I know about my grandfather.

George Stoddard’s life story was remarkable. Born in Wellsville, Utah, in 1865, he was one of 12 children. He grew up having little formal education. Instead he spent long hours working in a primitive sawmill “edging shingles.” Although baptized into the Church, he was indifferent to religion, preferring to work or watch baseball on Sundays.

In 1901, there was a turning point in George’s life. He contracted a serious illness. Unfortunately, the doctor was unable to determine the cause. Medication did not ease the intense pain. My grandmother Ellen Stoddard, a quiet yet faithful member of the Church, called upon the elders for a blessing.

He was miraculously healed and became active in the Church. According to my father’s biography, “it was as if a veil had been removed from his eyes and his practical judgment saw the wonderful beauties embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He was shocked to later be called as bishop of the LaGrande (Oregon) Ward. He died while serving as president of the Union Oregon Stake in 1917 at age 52.

Not wanting to leave a “haze of darkness” about my life for my posterity, I wrote my own life story. It was an enjoyable experience, causing much reflection. I realized how richly blessed I have been by what my ancestors, particularly my parents, have done for me.

The spirit of Elijah is alive and well today. Reading and pondering the life stories of your ancestors will make a difference in your life. Likewise, writing your own life story with its successes and failures will inspire your posterity.

—Charles Stoddard is from the Hastings Ward, Grand Rapids Michigan Stake.