A few days ago I really felt impressed to focus on gathering my family history. It has been a meaningful hobby for me in the past, and I really enjoy doing it, so it was easy for me to say “OK!”. Today I decided to really spend some time on it. I remember discussing on my mission the powerful role that prayer plays in this work. These aren’t just names and dates and information that we’re searching for, these are real people! They really lived! They STILL exist, and this work is about connecting families. So I knelt down and asked that as I searched, I would be able to draw nearer to them, and they to me. I prayed that we would know each other better.
This has been one of the most incredible experiences doing family history research that I have EVER had! I found a record hint for a WWII draft registration card, filled out by my great grandfather, Joseph Hinshaw. I started comparing dates and names and then the dates caught my eye. Joseph Hinshaw was born in 1882. The draft registration card was dated 1942. I was stunned. There had to be a mistake. I opened the image for the file and read the names, places, and then the age–59.
My heart swelled and tears filled my eyes. He registered for the draft at 59? The reality of true war was brought to my mind, stories from the Book of Mormon when every man and child, and sometimes woman, who is able to wield a weapon is needed. I started thinking of his family and what it would have meant for them had he actually been called to fight.
(I had a pretty good chuckle over this line, by the way)
I noticed on the draft registration card a line that asked for a “person who will always know your address”. “Ernest Frack” was chosen. Joseph and his wife Cora Mae Frack had a son named Ernest Hinshaw… I wondered if Ernest Frack was Cora’s father? I checked her family information and saw that she had a brother, 7 years younger, named Ernest Frack. Again I was struck by the spirit and my heart swelled! How close must she have been to her younger brother to name their FIRST son after him?
As I looked at Cora’s family, I realized that she had been married previously. Curiosity drew me to the dates. Her first husband, Ivan Earl Dickey, died November 11, 1916. I saw they had a son together, William Earl Dickey. I calculated the dates. Ivan Dickey, born 1888… he was 28 when he died, my age. Actually, I just did the math and he was 8 days older than I am today. Ivan and Cora were married in 1910. Six years? That’s it? They had six years together? My heart ached for them. Their son William was 4 years old when his father died. 8 months later, Cora married my great grandfather, Joseph.
I can’t describe what picturing all of this did for me! Seeing this whole story play out in my mind. A widowed mother of a 4 year old son, a man willing to love and raise him, and 6 more children together. I wish you could feel what I felt then and what I’m feeling now. My prayer was answered! That simply, that quickly, and with that much power. These weren’t the only experiences I had today. I laughed, I cried, I smiled, I felt SO MUCH a part of their lives, and I felt a connection back. I am so grateful for this experience, and I can’t wait to do it again!