Posts tagged family

family legacy

The Legacy of Shirts – Family Legacy


Taking the opportunity to define the family legacy of your parents and grandparents.

family legacyWhen I look back upon my life, and the impact my father has had on who I am and how everything in the world is to me, my thoughts drift to a defining moment in my life. Shirts. Yes, that’s right. Shirts.

As a child, I always felt I had everything. I had plenty of toys, and books, and sports equipment. As a budding artist I had pencils and crayons, and stacks of paper to work with. And I had sufficient clothes to be presentable at school, at work, at play, and in Church.

As I grew into a young man, the clothes grew with me. But then an interesting thing happened. At some point I found myself “borrowing” my father’s shirts. I was advised on how to hang the shirts; how the collar was folded; and how to keep the shirts neat in Dad’s closet.

Then one day, the collars were too small, and the sleeves became too short. I no longer had an endless supply of clothing. I didn’t understand it – until one day, many years later, I did.

Looking Up to Me

My father was someone I had always looked up to, both physically and emotionally. But now, physically, he was looking up to me. That had an impact on me, because if he was looking up to me, in my mind, it meant he was also expecting big things of me. It applied to my work, to my education, to my Church service, and to my relationships. This is a concept I have kept in my heart through out my adult life. If my Father is looking up to me, he is expecting big things of me.

Several months ago, my wife and I had the opportunity of listening to a talk by the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey, in which he outlined his concept of “First Things First: To Live, To Love, To Learn, To Leave A Legacy.” Stephen R. Covey is an amazing writer and speaker, and this presentation turned a light on in our minds.

My parents are in their eighties, and are experiencing the difficulties of growing older. They manage well in their quiet existence, but our family has seen our father begin to fret about his life and worry to the point of discouragement, as he has struggled to accomplish important goals.

He is such an amazing man, and as a much-beloved physician, he has had the opportunity of touching and improving the lives of countless numbers of people. It hurt us to see him punishing himself over his perceived weaknesses. But when we listened to Stephen Covey’s ideas about the importance of leaving a legacy, we both felt the rush of inspiration. Our parents needed to know what a wonderful legacy they have provided to others.

Preserving a Legacy

We proceeded to contact my brother and three sisters with the idea of preparing a family legacy book as a Christmas Gift to our parents. We encouraged them and their families to “share with Mom and Dad, G’Pa and G’Ma, what they have given us all: It’s a wonderful life we have because of them. Because they have lived, and loved, and learned, they have left a legacy for us all.” This was to be a volume containing the written thoughts, feelings, and memories of each member of our family, from the oldest child down to the youngest grandchild, regarding the topic “Mom and Dad’s Legacy to their Family.”

Over the space of the next several months, members of the family composed stories and remembrances of their lives and experiences with our parents and grandparents. They gathered favorite pictures, and the youngsters prepared drawings and outlined their hands and fingers for posterity’s sake. It was a process that took much longer than the expected few short weeks of the holiday season.

When the book was finally completed and compiled, we selected a special night when we could bring in dinner – Valentine’s Day. After a pleasant evening of good food and conversation we presented the binder to them; and then sat with them and read all of the selections, beginning with “Shirts.” It was a very moving experience to share these testimonies, and see our parents through the eyes of other members of the family.

Several of the children remembered “Mr. Carrots,” a patient of my father’s who brought fresh carrots from his farm as a token of his appreciation. We also remembered going out at night with Dad when he would make visits to the homes of patients who were unable to come to his office.

Grandchildren wrote of their love for the man who had shared his love of the scriptures with them and changed lives. As we read, we were reminded of his dedicated service to his family, his profession, his community and his God.

Mom was equally remembered for giant gingerbread cookies that made her a real hit at our school and among our friends. Our children drew pictures of her love for them and wrote of the ever-present special “pink milk” always found in her fridge. She was also wonderfully talented in arts and crafts, and shared her skills with dozens of homemaking classes. And like Dad, she too, lovingly served us and our neighbors and those they met as they traveled the world in their later years while serving professionally and as missionaries.

A New Outlook

The evening was a complete success, and our parents were in tears as we left. A few weeks later, my father phoned, and told me that he and Mom had been reading the book each day. Mom couldn’t remember the stories from one day to another, and each reading brought fresh tears of joy to her. He stated that this had given him a new outlook on what he had accomplished in his life. With tears in his voice he thanked me again and again for what we had done.

What had we done? Not a great deal. We hadn’t spent dollars, and we hadn’t accomplished great feats, but the hearts of the children were turned to their fathers, and we had expressed our love to our parents in a powerful way.

Stephen Covey has said:

There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.’ The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution. 

In this gift of writing our parents’ legacy, we discovered they gave us all this and more. We have big shirts to fill. We learned they are someone we can always look up to and emulate; they expect big things of us.

We encourage you to learn the same. Take the opportunity this year in your family to gather your thoughts and memories to define the legacy of your parents and grandparents, or whoever is important in your life. They need to know the legacy they have established. You need it as well. It is a thrilling, spiritual experience that will help bind your family and inspire you to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.

Looking for help with hard to find records or genealogical questions? Contact Heirlines Family History and Genealogy, breaking through family history walls for almost 40 years. We professionally identify and document ancestry and kinship relationships and verify and certify the family tree with Certified Family Trees™ and Certified Forensic Genealogy Solutions™. We’re ready when you’re ready!

Give us a call toll free 1-800-570-4049 and speak with one of our professional genealogists today or visit us at

genealogical records

Righting Wrong Genealogical Records


Genealogical Records – A Genealogist’s Crusade

A Research Conundrum

genealogical recordsEveryone who has conducted research experiences at one time or another, the disappointment and the frustration felt when the genealogical records they are using do not provide the desired information.

As genealogists we are on a continual search for documented truths about who we are by learning who our ancestors were.

We spend many long hours studying long lists of names on census records, or reading through old registers written in a seemingly ancient style of handwriting (almost all handwriting in today’s age of computers and iPods seems ancient.)It is even more difficult to comprehend doing research in an environment where records are inaccurate, incorrect, or even false.

This is a challenge that all genealogists face, righting wrong records. Forty years ago, a cousin of mine, Karen Denhalter, and I tackled such a research conundrum to find the truth about our common ancestor, William Henry Wright, and his true parentage.

The ancestry of William Henry Wright was dead ended for over 150 years after his arrival in Utah in the 1850’s. William, his brother Joseph, and a sister Jane all joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1840’s, and together claimed to be the children of Edward Wright and Esther Wilson, leaving us with a brickwall in our genealogy.

Extensive research during that century failed to correctly identify and document their parents until it was discovered that the account they gave was false to protect their social pride within their religious community. When all of the genealogy was sorted out, it was found that it contained many inaccurate and even fabricated statements by both the original immigrant ancestors and subsequent generations of well-meaning genealogist grandchildren.

The Brummie’s Story

William was a “Brummie”, a native of Birmingham, Warwickshire, England; born in 1827 and christened at St. Martin’s Parish Church in downtown Birmingham. In the early 1840’s William, his brother Joseph, and a sister Jane Wright heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached by missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and were baptized as members of this new religion.

At the Mormon services held on Bishopgate Street, William met another young convert, Jane Taylor, and they were married. No legal record exists of this marriage that was likely performed in secret because of her parents’ opposition to her membership in the Mormon Church, and association with William.

But a record does exist. William wrote of his marriage and the trials he and Jane experienced in a Missionary Journal kept during his 1882 LDS Missionary Service to his homeland. He spoke of visiting the place on Bishopgate Street where “I and my dear wife were married.” And then mentioned a visit to Handsworth Parish, where “I and my dear wife were married” referring to a second marriage.

Careful research uncovered the fact that Bishopgate Street was the place where the Mormon Elders conducted their services and married William and Jane in 1845. English law at that time required the Non-conformist Church (any religion outside of the Anglican Church including LDS) to obtain a license, and the marrying couple to follow Banns, or be married by License of the Anglican Church. However, these legal requirements were often not followed; thus the only record we have for this first marriage is William’s journal.

A year later in 1846, when it became evident that Jane was expecting a baby, the Taylor family insisted that she and William Wright be “legally” married in the Anglican Parish Church at Handsworth, Staffordshire, England, just outside of Birmingham. Consequently William Henry Wright and Jane Taylor were married twice. Their daughter Julia was born just a few months later.

Eventually, William and Jane Wright, along with his brother Joseph Wright, sister Jane, and their respective spouses, immigrated to America, and settled in Utah where the Latter-day Saints had gathered. With this move, the truth about the Wright Ancestry was left in England and Edward Wright and Esther Wilson would become the family story. A seemingly insurmountable brickwall went up when this genealogy myth crossed the pond. It would take years of research for family genealogists to unscramble the truth with correct documentation.

The Truth

Karen and I learned through in-depth research into parish and civil records, that William, Joseph, and Jane were born out of wedlock in Birmingham along with several other siblings.

Their Mother, Esther Wright, daughter of Samuel Wright and Catherine Wilson, moved to there with her parents from Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, England. The family lived within the boundaries of St. Phillip’s Parish in Birmingham, but possibly due to the social discomfort of their daughter having children out of wedlock, each child was christened in a different parish church in the Birmingham area.

The records indicate that often Esther was accompanied by her Father, Samuel Wright, who stood in during the christening service, as though he was the father of the child.

This practice continued for Esther Wright until 1836, when she finally married a local silversmith, by the name of William Camm. He may have been the father of some of her children prior to their marriage, and he and Esther had additional children following their marriage.

While William, Joseph, and Jane Wright, and their siblings grew up in the William Camm home, and learned the art and craft of silversmithing from him, when they immigrated to America for their new life in Utah they agreed to a pact, to tell another story about their ancestry.

All of their individual Church records reflect this story, giving their parents’ names as Edward Wright and Esther Wilson; but their 19th Century Birmingham records clearly show that Esther Wright (not Wilson) was a single woman when her children were born. There was no Edward Wright. With this new information, our records have been corrected, and temple work completed for our Wright ancestry.

John 8:32

When you do genealogy, you must always keep in mind the scripture, John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. We were able to right the wrong in our genealogy by not being afraid of the truth and by being willing to work through the brickwalls, questions and doubts. We loved our ancestors more than holding to the myth of a socially acceptable background.

Our goal in genealogy is to prepare a family history record that will be deemed “acceptable” to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This requires us to seriously and boldly search out the truth about our ancestors. Our responsibility is to provide saving ordinances for our loved ones and to stand as witnesses for the truth. When we all gather together before Him at the time of Judgment we want to be able to celebrate with our Fathers. This can only be done by righting the wrong records and creating a true record of our ancestry.

Looking for help with hard to find records or genealogical questions? Contact Heirlines Family History and Genealogy, breaking through family history walls for almost 40 years. We professionally identify and document ancestry and kinship relationships and verify and certify the family tree with Certified Family Trees™ and Certified Forensic Genealogy Solutions™. We’re ready when you’re ready!

Give us a call and speak with one of our professional genealogists today.

Call toll free 1-800-570-4049 or visit us at

James W. Petty, AG, CG, is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally, Since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. (, the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing US and International genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.


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