'Line upon line, Here a Little, There a Little'
Sara Bird, of Springville, Utah, has been doing family history work for nearly half her life, but she hasn’t yet had an experience where an ancestor intervened to help her find records, or the book she needed just fell off the shelf into her hands.
That doesn’t bother her a bit.
“No, I’ve never had that,” she said. “It seems like the discoveries that I make are line upon line, here a little, there a little. And then all of a sudden it adds up to something big, like, I can’t believe I have this now!”
Sara’s love for family history began when she was just out of Young Women.
“It was a calling,” she said. “I was 18, 20, around there. I got a calling to be a family history consultant. It was my second calling ever–I was the Sunbeam teacher before that. And I had no idea how to be in a calling. But along the way you always meet people, so I forged some really good friendships. And everybody teaches everybody else in family history–it’s just something that you do. It’s a great community. They also called me at that time to work at the Springville Family History Center,” where she has been volunteering for 15 years now.
“I think the coolest thing that happened was when I first started” to do family history, she said. “I had a lot of records just come to me. When people started finding out I was doing it, my uncle had records I didn’t know he had–like a 16- by 24-inch copy of my grandparents’ marriage certificate. It was awesome, and it was in perfect condition. We found their sealing certificate, the temple recommends they used when they did that–just these records that you don’t usually find when you’re just in the library. And I think it’s awesome just to help somebody discover something about their family. I try to help people (at the library) discover their ancestors.”
Her own ancestors are a split between longtime LDS and more recent.
“My dad’s family were pioneers. And my mom’s–when she was eight, her whole family joined. So I have both sides of the spectrum,” Sara said. “Mom is from California, and her parents are from Kansas and Nebraska. And my mom’s side goes back to the Mayflower. A lot of people work on my dad’s line because they’re pioneers, so on my dad’s side I just dabble. But I do work on my mom’s quite a bit–and there’s always more records to find. I’m at a brick wall on the Jeffers side, so I’m kind of picking away at that. I’ve got them back to Ohio, Athens County. My brother served his mission there, and we didn’t know at the time he was on his mission that that’s where they would end up. We keep talking about how we have to go back. There’s a Jeffers Cemetery there. It would be awesome to just visit there.”
While Sara knows that miracles happen in family history work, she also has a strong testimony of hard work.
“Sometimes it’s good to know that it takes hard work, and you get here a little and there a little. It took me 15 years to find the parents of my ancestor Caleb Jeffers. If I started today it would take me 15 minutes–it’s now on FamilySearch. But I think that through the journey you learn something, and if I’d found that in 15 minutes I might not have learned what I did in those 15 years.”
She tells the patrons at the family history center, “Keep at it. Keep at it. Most of my research is just here a little, there a little. I always search by families. The Jeffers line I’m stuck on. I’m at probably the immigrant ancestor and he’s probably from England, but I’m not sure. (In Ohio) they were in the Hocking Valley–they were one of the first families in the Hocking Valley. There’s a family lore that I have to figure out if it’s true or not that there were two Jeffers brothers in England and the father died, and their stepmother didn’t want them to inherit the money so she sent them to America. So I have to figure out if that’s true or not. That is a cool story if it’s true!”