Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Family history moments: Meeting on the trail

Published: Saturday, May 25, 2013

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Recently I was reading some of the journal entries of Miner G. Atwood, my third-great-grandfather on my father's side. He was the captain of a group of saints crossing the plains in 1865 on their way to Salt Lake City.

He wrote that just before leaving Nebraska and entering Wyoming, they encountered a Thomas Wise, his wife, Phoebe Hatton, and their son who were in need of a ride to Salt Lake City. Miner Atwood made arrangements for them to come along with the group, and Thomas Wise paid him $6 for their provisions.

My brother-in-law, the husband of my wife's twin sister, is named Bryan Wise, so out of curiosity I looked him up on FamilySearch Family Tree to see if there was a connection. Sure enough, Thomas Wise is Bryan's third-great-grandfather!

My brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly in 2010, which made finding this connection extra special to me.

About a year before his passing I carpooled with Bryan; I did the driving, due to some of his health issues. I think I gained more from this experience than he did. We grew close and shared some fun stories while we commuted. I smiled when I thought of the comparison of how I would give Bryan a ride to and from work and how years ago my ancestor gave his ancestor a ride, so to speak.

How blessed we are to live at a time when technology helps us to find connections like this and reminds us that as we involve ourselves with family history work that it is for real people and not just names and dates.

Here, verbatim, is the journal entry referred to above:

Wednesday, August 16. Last evening the cattle were very restless, some straying away, but they were all found. Started at 9 a.m.; traveled five miles and camped on Beaver Creek, one and a half miles from Nebraska. (The southern boundary of the State of Nebraska.) Here a sister came to meet me and begged to be taken on to the Valley with her husband and son; I had room for them in different wagons and brought them along. Brother Thos. Wise, the husband, gave me six dollars towards their provisions. At 3 p.m. we started again and had a very pleasant drive of seven miles. We passed two long houses on our right and we are constantly meeting mule and ox teams returning from different places. We camped this evening at sundown, and at 9 o'clock we assembled ourselves for singing and prayers (Atwood, Miner G., [Journal] in Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 8 Nov. 1865, 8-22). — Calvin Knight, Kaysville, Utah