My ancestors came to the United States because of a stolen horse. It sounds odd, but this misfortune paved the way for my ancestors to settle in a country where they could live their new religious beliefs without persecution.
After the family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denmark in the 1860s, they wanted to live near other members of their faith in the United States. Financial setbacks prevented the whole family from emigrating together, so they initially sent two of their children, Peter and Sena, and worked so the rest of the family could hopefully join them soon. These two children settled next to the Hyde family in Utah.
When the mother of the Hyde family became ill, one of her sons came to visit.
This son was a known member of Butch Cassidy’s gang, so the when word got around that he was in town, the sheriff came to arrest him. Out of respect for the Hyde family, the sheriff waited outside the home for the outlaw son.
Unbeknownst to the sheriff, the outlaw son slipped out the back, and in his escape, he “permanently borrowed” Peter’s horse and saddle.
In their place, the outlaw left a significant amount of money. This money was enough for Peter to buy a farm and to finance his family’s immigration to the United States.
I heard this story many times growing up, and it has always reminded me that our trials can turn into blessings.
While we may not always understand why things happen, we can learn from them and turn them to our good.
What can you learn from your ancestors? Pursuing our personal histories can lead to fascinating stories, but more than that, it gives a larger sense of who we are and where we came from. And once we understand that history, it can give us a sense of direction for our own lives.
Of connecting with our ancestors, Dallin Oaks recently said, “We bond with them as we understand the circumstances and personal values that shaped them. They are real people to whom we owe our existence in this world and whom we will meet again in the hereafter.
We learn better who we are, where we come from, and are blessed with a clearer vision of where we are going.”
Do you want to know more about your own family history? Help is available! Try one of these resources to search for your ancestors today:
- Casper Family History Center (Local center with people to help and answer questions. Free to the public.)
3931 W. 45th Street
Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4 p.m., 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to noon
- Natrona County Genealogical Society (Local genealogy resources. $15 per year to join society.)
- FamilySearch.org (Free genealogy site with millions of searchable records. Free account and free access to all records.)
- RootsTech.org (Largest yearly genealogy conference. Free videos available from most recent conference.)