Google “where did my ancestors live” and there will be about 3,920,000 results (in 0.51 seconds no less!) with suggestions from where to find records to how to interpret plot maps. Can we say that this amount of information can be a tad overwhelming? The Family History Guide lists a link on the Youth Activities Page to a lesson plan produced by the National Endowment for Humanities to help anyone hoping to give “hands-on” help to the younger generation to find countries that are part of their family history (see Y4-04: Trace your origins). I blogged about Integrating The Family History Guide “Countries” Section with Google Earth, to share how combining these two resources can help you research ancestral homelands, towns, and cities, and even more specific details of where your ancestors once lived or traveled. You can also zero in on places living family members dwell or have traveled anywhere in the world. This activity is so much fun that it made the “top ten favorite family history activities” list at the Anderson home! An amazingly fun and helpful app found in the FamilySearch.org App Gallery is making its way to the top of our list, also, and just may make it to the top of your list of favorites, too. The app Kinmapper uses data provided by your FamilySearch family tree to map the locations where your ancestors lived and traveled. You can easily see or visualize locations on a world map and also search for people by name once you sign in. I was able to search 8 generations of my family including 427 people! Available birth and death dates and locations, and a link to each person’s FamilySearch profile (for those who are not living) are included. Researching can be so exciting, enlightening, and inspiring!
Using Kinmapper, I was able to get a satellite view of Ham’s Fork, Wyoming – a sacred place to our family. For the first time in my life, I saw how far from civilization it is (even to this day), and the stories of my great, great, great-grandparents, John Ellison and Sarah Elizabeth Baker Maxfield traveling from Prince Edward Island, Canada, to the Territory of Utah became more real. The Overland Pioneer records show that they traveled with the Abraham Day Company from Council Bluffs, Nebraska, after walking about 475 miles from Chicago where they had arrived by ship. John Ellison Maxfield (50), Sarah Elizabeth Baker Maxfield (40), and eight children (ages 4 to 20). The record also states, simply, that Henry Adheimer was an infant – added to the record after being born September 1st, 1851 in Wyoming.
There is so much more to the story. Sarah and John had already lost two children within days of each other when camping for the winter in Nebraska. They continued their journey the next spring, and Sarah was nearing her time to deliver Henry, her eleventh child when the company reached Hams Fork near the Sweetwater River in Wyoming. She became so ill when they arrived that everyone (including her husband) gave up all hope of her living. The company had waited two days and it was getting late so they decided to go on. John Ellison Maxfield and his heartbroken family had to make the decision of whether to stay with Sarah or go on to the Valley with the company. She was finally left in the care or a man and his wife. So sure were they that she would die that preparation was made for her burial. But Sarah Elizabeth didn’t die! She gave birth to my great, great grandfather, Henry Adheimer Maxfield!
Though we have no idea of the details, we know that a small company of Saints who were traveling much faster than the Day company picked them up and brought them to the Valley. Without knowing, they by-passed the Day company and arrived in the Valley ahead of them – a distance of over 900 miles! Can you imagine the joy of that family when they saw their mother alive – holding her brand new baby?! As I viewed Ham’s Fork on the Kinmapper app, I could not stop the tears from flowing. It is in the middle of nowhere! But there Sarah Elizabeth was left to die but instead, gave birth in a wagon bed and lived! How I love this woman! I hope to meet her in heaven and thank her for her fortitude. I talk as if I could find the words and I don’t think it will be possible. I hope she will understand what I want to say.
Note: The Family History Guide FamilySearch Memories makes it easy to find out how to add your family history stories to FamilySearch so that they can inspire generations to come. Project 2 Goal 10 gives step-by-step instructions for using the Memories audio app to record stories. See this blog post for more ideas including using the app All The Stories (all the stories on your FamilySearch Family Tree in one place – including how each ancestor whose story you read is related to you!).
Also, Kinmapper will now let you share your maps on Facebook! Log in to www.kinmapper.com and click the “Share on Facebook” button to share where your family has lived or traveled!