Technology Solves Decades-Old Family History Mystery
Contributed By Regina Orchard, Church News contributor
- German military records were found online.
- Technology brings immense blessings while hastening the work.
- A mystery was finally solved through Ancestry.com
“I now know and have come to appreciate the value of modern technology for family history research even more. I see it as a marvelous blessing.” —Regina Orchard, Sugar House Ward, Salt Lake Sugar House Stake
Recently, we had a Relief Society lesson on the use of modern technology to do our family history research. Our teacher commented several times that “we have ancestors in the spirit world waiting to have their temple work done for them.” The statement brought to mind a recent experience I had. I’ve been receiving, almost on a weekly basis, emails from Ancestry.com. On one such email I noticed an offer to search out German military records.
In 1976 I had compiled all of my parents’ family group sheets, and it was then that I discovered that my dad’s grandfather, listed as Friedrich Wiehle, only showed a year of birth of 1870 and place of birth as Pasewalk, Prussia, Germany. There was no death date nor place of death. In comparison, my dad’s great-grandfather’s information was all complete. This was very puzzling to me. I asked my mom about this, as she was the one who had done most of the family history research during the 1960s on both side of our families. She informed me that she had written to the Pasewalk Parish for more information on Friedrich Wiehle, but received a response back saying that all the records had been destroyed during World War II for the time period she requested.
So for the last 40 years I’ve tried to research out other possibilities. I just kept feeling like there had to be some other place where there was more information on my dad’s grandfather, and never once had it occurred to me to check out German military records.
A month ago I decided to check out the email from Ancestry.com further. I opened up the link to the German military records for the area I needed. I put in my great-grandfather’s name in the requested name boxes and started to search through the pages that opened up for me. To my surprise I came upon three entries of Friedrich Wiehle. I suddenly felt like a door had finally opened up to the past.
I now know and have come to appreciate the value of modern technology for family history research even more. I see it as a marvelous blessing that our Heavenly Father has given us in these latter days. We have many opportunities to get closer to our ancestors and fulfill our obligation to do the work for our dead. My testimony has grown through this experience, and I know that some of our ancestors can and do help guide us in the direction we need to go to find their records.