Welcome back to our series about Finding Names for the Temple! In the last step, we talked about how to start finding names for the temple by building a strong foundation of accurate links from child to parent. View all the steps in the series here:
Part 1: Review the Accuracy of Your Tree
Part 2: Analyze Your Pedigree
Part 3: Analyze Descendancy Trees
Part 6: Reserve Temple Ordinances
To view all the articles detailing each step, click here: Find Names for the Temple Articles.
Now that we have reviewed the sources for parent-child relationship and have an accurate family tree to build on, we are going to analyze our pedigree chart in order to find a person to research and create a research question.
So, ask yourself: “Who is missing from your family tree?” You need to determine what you do and don’t know. You’ll find gaps in your family tree that can lead to finding new relatives. If you have a partial tree, the gaps will be obvious. You might have a great-grandfather whose parents are unknown. Maybe you don’t have the name of your great-great grandmother. If you have a full tree, you may not see where the gaps are. It will take more effort to find branches that are missing, especially if you have many early Mormon ancestors.
That’s why I have outlined different steps for those with partial trees, full trees, and full trees with LDS ancestors, in the flowchart below. This chart is similar to a guide created created by FamilySearch called “Find Your Family Names,” and is partly inspired by them. Here is a link to it. I wanted to make mine more detailed for those with full trees, and include the basic genealogy research steps.
Please feel free to download and print this flowchart. I have included some PDFs below to help with this:
Find Names for the Temple Flowchart – color
Find Names for the Temple Flowchart – black and white
Two per page:
Find Names for the Temple Flowchart – color, two per page
Find Names for the Temple Flowchart – black and white, two per page
Which kind of tree do you have? Partial or Full? Follow the steps below. They will help guide you to the research question part. If you have a full tree, you’ll need to complete the next part in the series before you get to the research question.
A partial family tree is missing some or all the direct ancestors within the first four generations. If you have a partial tree, then choosing someone to focus on in a is simple. Look at your fan chart and make a list of each ancestor who is missing parents.
You may also want to make a list of ancestors whose siblings are missing. Finding the siblings of your ancestors is a wonderful way to find names for the temple.
Look at your lists and prayerfully choose an ancestor to focus on. After you have chosen an ancestor to start with, create a research question. For example, “Who are the parents of George Welch?” Now you are ready to proceed to Part Four, “Research.”
A full family tree is filled out with at least four generations or more. You have found all the ancestors that you can, including their siblings. Now you are stuck. When the research to find new ancestors is difficult, it is time to begin descendancy research.
Descendancy research is the process of choosing an ancestral couple and finding their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so forth. In this method, you are searching for your distant cousins who need temple ordinances.
Before beginning descendancy research, you will make a list of ancestors who lived long enough ago to be good starting points for descendancy research. Be sure that you have reviewed the accuracy of your tree and that the relationship between you and each ancestor is confirmed through original records. If you have many early Mormon ancestors and most of the people in your tree were LDS during their life, skip to the next section about choosing a non-LDS branch to research.
List Ancestors for Descendancy Research
If your family tree is full and most of your ancestors were not LDS, the next step is to make a list of ancestors who are good starting points for descendancy research. An ancestor is a good starting point if they were born long enough ago that they will have descendants to discover that are eligible for temple ordinances. These descendants must have been born more than 110 years ago to be eligible for temple ordinances without permission from their closest living relative. For example, in the year 2018, you must choose an ancestor born in 1908 or before to reserve their temple work without permission.
Because of this 110-year rule, the descendancy research process will work best when you choose an ancestor born before 1820 as the starting point. They will have more descendants to research who were born before 1908 or whatever year is the current cutoff.
Take a systematic approach to creating your list of ancestors for descendancy research. Start with your paternal grandfather’s ancestors, then your paternal grandmother’s, and so on.
My Grandpa Shults was the first person in his family to join the LDS Church. None of his ancestors were LDS. When I first started doing family history research about fifteen years ago, his family tree was partial. Now that my mother and I have filled out his tree more, it is getting full, and to find names for the temple on his side of the family, I need to do descendancy research. I created the table shown below to list his ancestors who were born before 1820 to keep track of which descendancy trees I have researched.
The great thing about making a list like this is that it helps you remember what to do the next time you need to find names for the temple. Getting organized from the beginning is such a kind thing to do for your future self!
A template for this table is included in the appendix of Find Names for the Temple, or you can use my template available on Google Drive Here: List of Ancestors for Descendancy Research Template. Just copy and paste the table into a word document or make a copy of the file and add to your own Google Drive by clicking “File,” “make a copy.”
Now that you have a list of starting points for descendancy research, you’re ready for the next step – descendancy tree analysis – to continue filling out your table. Once you have completed this table, you will have a list of candidates to research and find spouses and children who are missing from the family tree, and you’ll be ready to choose a research question.
List Non-LDS Ancestors for Descendancy Research
Those with many early Mormon ancestors in their family tree may find it difficult to find a starting place for descendancy research. For example, if you choose an LDS ancestor as a starting point for descendancy research, you may find that many of their children and grandchildren were LDS and do not need temple ordinances. So, in this section, you will learn how to find a non-LDS branch of your family tree to research.
The first step is to determine who in your family tree was LDS, and who was not. Then, you’ll make a list of all the non-LDS branches or family lines in your family tree.
To help you keep track of these family lines, create a list in a table or spreadsheet. You can use the table in the appendix or create your own. If you want to use my free template, click here: List of Non-LDS Ancestors for Descendancy Research Template
I suggest creating a separate list for each grandparent. Three of my grandparents have early Mormon ancestors, so I created a list for each of them, so I can easily remember which side of the family I’m researching.
Print a fan chart of each of your grandparents’ ancestors. Annotating these fan charts will help you keep track of where you are as you determine which ancestors were LDS and which were not.
Starting with your paternal grandfather’s chart, put dots next to everyone who you know was an LDS church member. When you get to someone you’re not sure about, use the clues below to determine if he or she joined the LDS church or not. Go back in your family tree until you reach the first ancestor who was not LDS. Circle their name on the printed fan chart and add them to your list. Include their FamilySearch ID number and in the column for notes, list the names of their children who did join the LDS Church. You will need this later, especially if more than one child joined the church.
Clue: Birth and Death Places
Check the place of birth and death. Most early Mormons migrated away from their birthplace and died in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, or Nevada (the Intermountain West) in the 1800s. Some early Mormons also died along the pioneer trail (Wyoming, Nebraska, etc.) or in other early Mormon settlements (Winter Quarters, Nauvoo, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, etc.).
Ancestors who did not join the LDS Church stayed closer to their birthplace. Their birth and death places will probably be in Europe or the Eastern United States. Perhaps they migrated to states other than the Intermountain West.
Clue: Baptism and Confirmation Date
For further evidence about whether a person joined the LDS Church or not, check their LDS ordinance information. If the baptism occurred during their life, then they joined the LDS Church during their life. If the baptism date is after their death date, then their baptism was performed in a temple by proxy, and it’s almost certain they were not a member during their life.
Sometimes proxy baptisms were unknowingly repeated for early Mormons after their death. FamilySearch should show the original baptism date, but if that original date of baptism has been lost, a proxy baptism date is shown.
Check the confirmation date and initiatory/endowment dates as well. Some ordinances for the dead were done in the endowment house before a temple was complete in Utah. The endowment house was operational from 1855-1889.
If you suspect an ancestor joined the church during their life but their baptism date on FamilySearch appears to be after their death, check the memories section. Stories and biographies about early Mormon ancestors will often contain details about their conversion to the LDS Church.
Here is a video about analyzing your pedigree with a tutorial for finding non-LDS ancestors to use as starting points for descendancy research. How can you determine if an ancestor was LDS or not? I’ll show you in the video:
Phew! You can do this. I know it’s a lot of analysis and tables at first, but once you have this done, you’ll be so glad. You’ll know exactly where to start each time you need to find names for the temple. Won’t that be amazing?
In the next part of this series, you will create descendancy trees for each person in your list and continue filling out the table with research targets and candidates for further research. You can do this!
Would you like to have all the steps in one handy guide? Check out our book, Find Names for the Temple: A Step-by-Step Method for Success on Amazon in either eBook format or paperback. If you have any questions about how to find names for the temple, I would love to hear from you in the comments or by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we can help get you started on a research project, check our our professional genealogy services. We can analyze your tree and create a research plan for you.
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