Tag Archives: Mormon

‘Add color to otherwise black and white memories’

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Peninah

“Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”

It’s a quote from Squire Bill Widener, although widely misattributed to Theodore Roosevelt who shared it in his autobiography.

Over the past year, it has kept me moving forward.

Because of my health issues, and the fact that I spend most of my life in bed now, I’ve been trying to focus on what I can do, with what I have, and with where I’m at.

One thing I’ve recently discovered I can do is family history. I mean, I can’t go out and wander around cemeteries. But I’ve got a laptop and the internet.

Growing up, my grandma was very into genealogy. My mom, too, and then my younger sister as well. I had no interest in it whatsoever.

One day last fall, however, trying to figure out what I can do, with what I have, where I’m at, family history popped into my head. And I decided to give it a go.

I’m still learning. And I don’t spend as much time with it as I’d like. But finding my ancestors and learning their stories and making connections that hadn’t yet been discovered by our family has been quite life-changing.

One connection is from my Eckerson family line. America Pulliam jumped out at me because of her patriotic name. She died in 1905 in Sullivan County, MO. The work that had previously been done by my grandma had ended with her. We didn’t know who her parents were so I started digging.

After several weeks of searching and working, I found them. And that opened up several lines, one going back 27 generations to Guillaume DeBray who was born in 1054 in England.

The line from America to Guillaume included other ancestors such as Captain Thomas Warren, born in Kent, England, who came to Virginia in 1640 and purchased land from Thomas Rolfe, the son of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. And 1st Baron Edmund Braye, born in 1484, who was in attendance when King Henry VIII and King Francois I met following the Anglo-French Treaty of 1514.

Another fascinating story for me has been from my husband’s side.

The granddaughter of a Cherokee Indian and a descendant of those who came on the Mayflower, Peninah Cotton was born in 1827 in Illinois. She married Daniel Wood, and because of their Mormon faith, they were driven out of their home by a mob, leaving behind everything they couldn’t carry and journeyed westward to escape persecution. They arrived in Salt Lake in 1848 and Daniel later founded the community of Woods Cross, Utah.

I’ve also found I’m related to several famous people through a fun family history website, RelativeFinder.org. I’m cousins with Walt Disney, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau and Orville and Wilbur Wright as well as several US Presidents including FDR, John Adams, William Howard Taft and a few more.

In just the few short months since I began this new adventure, it’s also been fun to share these stories with my kids.

A study conducted at Emory University and published in 2010 found the more children knew about their family history, the higher their self-esteem and the better able they were to deal with the effects of stress.

“Family stories provide a sense of identity through time and help children understand who they are in the world,” the researchers said.

During RootsTech 2016, a global family history event, blogger Miryelle Resek wrote: “For many of us, the thrill of researching our ancestors comes from learning about their stories. Glimpses of what their everyday life looked like, the challenges they overcame and the hopes and dreams they worked toward add color to otherwise black and white memories.”

Reading from Daniel Wood’s journal and how difficult the journey to Utah was for them helps our family have strength to get through rough times.

Maya Angelou said: “We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men. We are who we are because they were who they were.”

So if I’ve piqued your interest at all in family history, you can get started at familysearch.org and/or ancestry.com.

If your history includes Nodaway County, the historical society is a valuable resource and is open from 1 to 4 pm, Tuesday to Friday, or by appointment. Call 660.582.8176 for more information.

There’s also a Family History Center at the LDS Church in Maryville. Call 660.541.0124 and leave a message.

Several local genealogists are also willing to help including Mandi Brown who can be contacted at brownmandi0911@yahoo.com.

So get out there and start digging. Explore where you came from, link your past to your present and build a bridge to your future. You won’t regret it.

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Surround yourself with good people

By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy column, Nodaway News Leader

 

The first time I met Alex was about a week before classes were to begin my freshman year at BYU.

I knocked on the door of what would be my home for that first year of college, not knowing if anyone had moved in yet.

She opened the door holding a blow dryer and a brush, barefoot but dressed fashionably conservative, and her make-up fully done.

I noticed her lipstick.

I don’t remember what I was wearing, but I’m sure it was something like a T-shirt and basketball shorts and probably even a baseball hat.

I was not wearing lipstick – I didn’t even own lipstick – nor was I wearing any make-up for that matter.

Initial judgment (and not one of my best moments in life): Please don’t let her be my roommate.

“Nice to meet y’all,” she said in a very charming Southern way.

So this is the Texas roommate. Well, I do love her accent.

I lived in an on-campus apartment-style dorm my first year with five other girls. We had all written letters to each other before moving in to introduce ourselves. There were two from Utah, one from California, one from Kentucky, one from Texas and me from Missouri.

Alexandria Wagley from Gladewater, TX, was about as opposite of me as one could be. We ended up sharing a bedroom in that apartment, and despite my initial ridiculous first impression of her, we quickly became best friends.

We were roommates for two more years before I moved to California. And we had some amazing experiences together. Most of my memories from college involve her in some way. Football games, religion class, late-night Taco Bell runs, listening to music and singing when we should’ve been studying, watching “Friends” and “Seinfeld” and “ER,” driving up into the mountains, talking about guys and so much more.

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After I got married and started a family, we didn’t get to see each other much, living 1,200 or so miles away from each other. But we kept in touch as much as we could, in the days before texting and Facebook. When we did get together, though, it was as if we’d never been apart.

But our friendship in this life was cut short. Ten years ago last week, Alex died after a brief but brutal battle with cancer at the age of 29.

I miss her terribly. But she taught me so much in such a short amount of time that I feel she is with me every day. And I could go on and on about all of the things she taught me but I could fill a book.

What I loved most about her was that she was genuinely happy and genuinely good. And her Texas ways always made everything more fun.

In the years since Alex’s death, I’ve kept in touch with her mom. She once wrote me: “Alexandria always continued on and endured cheerfully. She had so many disappointments, but she always came up smiling. She was such an example for me. She was THE force for good in our family.”

It’s been said that you become like the five people you spend the most time with, so choose carefully. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, with the anniversary of her death.

I love this quote by Quentin L. Cook: “People have so much to offer us if we are willing to learn from them. That is why it is important to surround yourself with good people.”

So that is my challenge for all of us. Choose your friends wisely – surround yourself with good people. We can learn a lot from them if we are willing, just like I did from Alex, who continues to bless my life in countless ways.


KC Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid talks family, faith and football

That they might have joy column, NNL, by Jacki Wood

I have admittedly never been a Kansas City Chiefs fan.

But that changed a bit last year when they hired Andy Reid as head coach, who played football at Brigham Young University. And you know how much I love my alma mater, especially BYU football.

So I was thrilled when I was invited to attend a special event with Coach Reid and his wife, Tammy, this past weekend at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Platte City.

It was promoted as an evening of “Family, Faith and Football.” And the Reids did not disappoint to the approximately 800 people in attendance with plenty of laughs and stories from their lives and his coaching career.

Tammy started by sharing their family history. They met in a tennis class at BYU and began dating. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; he was not. They both returned to their homes that summer, Tammy to Arizona and Andy to California, where he began learning more about her church and was eventually baptized.

They both returned to BYU, and a year later, they were married. They have five children, born in five different states due to his various coaching stints, and one grandchild.

She talked about ways their faith has helped their family over the years including the death of their son, Garrett, who died of an accidental heroine overdose a year and a half ago.

“We know that we came from a loving Heavenly Father who sent us to this earth to be tested…and we know we will one day see him again,” she said. “That’s what got us through that really huge trial in our lives.”

Then Coach Reid shared a PowerPoint he presented to his players last week to get ready for the upcoming season.

“We are the Chiefs,” he said. “And we’re going to be a little bit different.”

He continued: “There’s a small margin of victory in the NFL. What are we going to do differently to go win the trophy?”

He talked to his players about practical, simple principles that will help them be a little different, to get to the Super Bowl and to “get that ring” this year.

He told the audience that those same principles he shared with his players are similar to what is taught in his faith and are applicable to everyone.

“Football is a microcosm of life,” he said.

Some of the principles included sacrifice, training, trust and working to win.

Sacrifice: Every team is talented; you have to give up something to get a lot, on and off the field.

Training: Conditioning and knowledge can help you dominate.

Trust: Working hard as a team brings mutual respect for one another. Trust = wins. Players come in as teammates and leave as family.

Work to win: Give your best every day.

Coach Reid concluded by saying: “Surround yourself with greatness. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by great people and I love every minute of it. I jump out of bed early in the morning and I am ready to rock and roll.”

I love that. How many of us are jumping out of bed every morning, excited to tackle to day.

We have to be a little different. And we have to be willing to give up a little to get a lot.