BETA

Family history moments: 'Go back'

In 1979 I had to undergo surgery and was off work for several weeks. What a wonderful opportunity to work on my family history! I was inspired to begin with my grandfather's Harper family, with whom we had lost contact.

Somehow I knew that my grandfather's youngest sister was still living, so I went to the small town where she lived, Palmer, Texas, only about 110 miles away from my home in Bailey, Texas. The town sits about a mile back from a major highway. There are about four stores in the town, including a small convenience store.

Not knowing anyone or what else to do, I went to the convenience store and asked if they knew my great-aunt. Yes, they knew her. She was in her 90s, but was working in another small town some distance away and would not be at home. They gave me her address, and I went by and left a note saying I had been by to visit and would return at another time.

Thinking my work was done there, I started driving back to the highway, when a voice said, "Go back!"

Of course, I was shaken, but I obeyed the Spirit and turned around to go back. I did not know what more I could do. Discovering a small, one-story building that served as their city hall, I went inside and borrowed a phone book. I wrote down all the Harpers listed, with their addresses and phone numbers, in hopes of contacting them later.

Again I started back to the highway. The voice said again, "Go back!" Again, I obeyed. I did not know what more to do. But then I noticed a small sign above one of the stores that read, "Harper Hardware."

I went inside and told the man behind the counter, "I am Russell John Harper's granddaughter, and I am looking for my family." He answered, "You're Uncle Russ's granddaughter?"

They had lost contact with our branch of the family as well, and he was thrilled that I had come to find them. He took me to the homestead that my great-grandfather had built in the early 1800s. There, he produced pictures, handwritten documents and my genealogy dating back to the 1600s.

Without the Spirit's guidance, I could have driven out of that town and never found that portion of my family. — Sister Vida Pittman, family history missionary, Salt Lake City