Thursday, June 13, 2013

Whhhhhaaaaaaat're yoooouuuuuu doing here?

What is my job and what is our purpose in Nebraska?

Well, I am a research assistant for the Winter Quarters Project. is the place to go [see link on the side]. Here is a short description taken from the website:

The Winter Quarters Project is based at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. This is an ongoing effort to gather information about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lived in the Winter Quarters area between the years of 1846 and 1853. We are also researching the settlements created by the pioneers and the causes of death among the Saints at that time.

This part is kinda precious:

I was hired at the beginning of May and was asked to go to Nebraska one week later. So before I was asked to go, I was assigned to find out more about Walnut Creek, a newly discovered settlement during the pioneer time. Right when I thought I was getting some answers, Dr. A.Y. invited me to go to Nebraska and gave me a new project: Springville. I was given a list of names of people who were known to live there, and I needed to find out as much information as I could. So I’ve been using and to find their records. I also love! It’s pretty explanatory—it helps you find tombstones and cemeteries of your ancestors. All the links should be on the side :) I have a huge spreadsheet with tons of information on these Springville, IA residents. Their birthdates, marriage dates, death dates, parents’ names, children’s names, company that they traveled with to the valley, and a list of sources. So that is my job, and I love it!

A picture of pioneers when they arrived in Salt Lake City

Now, what are we doing out in Nebraska and Iowa? No, we don’t have shovels—we are not digging up graves. Apparently that’s illegal. We are meeting with people who may know more information about where people may be buried, but it’s not marked. They are most likely forgotten. So what’s the point of finding the graves, but not digging them up to get the DNA?

“We gather the history of the Latter-day Saints at the Missouri River. We work to understand the people, places, and events that happened between 1846 and 1853. We gather information about the descendents of pioneers to help them connect their family lines. When the people in the area are aware that there is a cemetery, something changes in the area. The Spirit of Elijah is touching the residents of the area, and pushing them to find out who their ancestors are and where they are.” – Sis. Lately.

“To gather information about settlements that have been populated by early saints that are no longer there, and find cemeteries that go with those settlements.” – Dr. A.Y.

This was very unkept and very few people know that it exists. It was out in the middle of nowhere!
 These people know that they could use this land to farm it, but they don’t. It’s a sacred land. So this is a sacred mission and I LOVE IT!! I’m learning way too much history for my brain to hold. My next posts will be catching up on all these other days we’ve spent out here. I hope I explained everything well enough :)

Look - I found a Bassett! Possible ancestor for my relatives!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monday, Monday, Monday

June 10, 2013: We met up at the trail center at 9am. I talked to the Sister Missionaries – 17 new sisters were added to the mission last transfer! We left on followed Bob in his van– the master grave finder. We got to Potter’s Camp. It was my job to record the coordinates: 41 degrees 15 minutes 6 seconds N 95 degrees 51 minutes 16 seconds W. OKAY. We met Richard, his brother Dennis and their friend Duncan. They said, "We're not Mormon but we're SUPER interested in genealogy and figuring out the history behind where we live." 
He drove us out to where a road used to be that the pioneers used. 

You could see how the ground had been walked and wheeled upon. It was cool to know that I was walking where pioneers had walked and had trekked in their wagons and handcarts. I thought we were going to tip over in his truck because it was so muddy and slippery everywhere. 

This is Dennis, he is really cool. 

Then we went to where we believed we’d find graves, right along the Mormon trail. We got out the copper rods and Bob started walking along and the rods moved! Anytime they moved it meant there was a disturbance in the electro-magnetic fields (of the earth?). It proves that the ground had been dug up for one reason or another. I think I got the video to work! This technique is called dousing. 
Bob is holding 2 copper rods straight out . 

This is me, and as you can see, the rods are crossed. All of the little flags show spots where there were disturbances.

So we all tried it, and sure enough there were quite a few spots that were arranged just like a cemetery is usually arranged. I learned that people are usually buried in the right direction so that when they all resurrectthey will be facing the East, like Angel Moroni on the temples – cool huh? So we are hoping that next year we can get the ground penetrating radar out to Potter’s camp because that can actually tell whether or not there’s a grave or a just a hole from a fence or animal. And the GPR costs like $3,000 each time we use it so it’s not so easy to just pull it on out to a place. 

It was so neat to watch Richard the whole time – he was so excited!! He kept saying, “WOW!” and “Well, is that right!” and things like that. It’s clear to us that the Lord has prepared him for this. If he hadn’t come to the tabernacle himself, explaining his interest for family history, then we wouldn’t have been able to go to Potter’s camp and learn all of this information. And HE wouldn’t have been able to learn more about HIS history and how his family got to where they were, and where he is today. He will hopefully be coming to the conference on Saturday at the Visitor’s Center :) So then he told us all this other info about Cutler’s Camp so now we have another place to search out! He also showed us this cool website that has maps and stuff. 
Then we ate! I’m learning a lot about getting along with “people older than me.” Like, there isn’t a young person in sight unless I want to go hang out with the sister missionaries haaa. I’m learning how to understand “old people jokes” a little bit better. So then we got back home and I got the dirt and bugs off of me and headed to the trail center/visitor’s center. This Sister Missionary took me on the tour. It’s so interesting to see how different my mission was compared to hers, yet we both had/have the same goal. She was very nice and I learned lots and went back through to take pictures. That’s when I found William Clayton! Thanks to him Drew and Mandy are alive today. The Spirit was really strong there, it was neat. Then I walked to the Temple grounds and just looked at it, then went to the Winter Quarters cemetery right behind it. I really am walking where pioneers walked—where it all started (after Nauvoo of course). 

Then we went to dinner and the Schoffs came and also 2 of Dr. A.Y.’s friends. One was her mentor through grad school in Washington or something, and the other was the friend of the mentor. But they’ve all become great friends through the years. We stayed there for two…..hours….. How do people do that? Well I guess you can when you’re on vacation! It was nice, and I was able to engage in yet some more adult conversation. They all keep calling me smart because I know Russian and I know how to research stuff and write about stuff. Maybe it’s good that I’m doing all these things—it can surely lead me to a career of some sort. They’re all very lovely and sweet. Then after stuffing my face at this pizza/pasta buffet, I went for a run (Brittani would be proud!). I was planning on running til I died, which was going to be like 5 minutes max, but I just kept going, and going, and going. I think it really helps to be at such a low altitude and to be in a humid climate. It was so easy to breathe and the weather was just perfect. But once I stopped, humidity became my enemy and I was just dripping in sweat, or maybe just water because the air was so full of it. Then I went and did crossfit in the backyard and all the ladies wanted to watch me because they were amazed, and probably thought I was cray cray. It was sometime during this Monday that I decided to make a blog. So here it begins...

I'm making a blog because...why?

Becauseeee I'm on an adventure right now that I've never been on before. I think it's worth recording! My love for family history and genealogy work is growing, and I want to share it. I also think that I should continue journaling my life as I grow up - it might be worth something to somebody someday.

For a whole week I'm out here in Omaha, Nebraska. We drive out to Iowa every day trying to solve mysteries! I often think that I'm a myth buster, even though I'm not really doing the same thing at all. I just feel like one, maybe because of my clothing attire:
From top to bottom:
- Hat: $1.50 from the DI
- Ribbon around the hat: free from Marzipan (the sister)
- White, bug-catching blouse: $5 from the DI
- BYU shirt: free at a football game
- Jeans: purchased before the mission, so I have no idea
- Pink, polka-dotted boots: $13 from Plato's Closet (and I plan on selling them back) (and Kelsey and Melodie, don't think that I chose pink - they were the only option!)

Spending $20 for one week. Yayyy!

Whenever we went anywhere, especially in the airport, people questioned our mission.
This is what Ed ^ likes to tell people when they ask us what the donk we are doing, and they get really creeped out I'm sure.

We arrived in Omaha Saturday night and ate at KFC...only the beginning on the whole eating out thing. Goodness I haven't been hungry yet. When we were about to leave, the sky decided to pour rain, like really pour. We were waiting behind the doors as Ed was backing up the car closer to us when a man came inside the doors. I couldn't really understand much that he was saying. But I recognized the smell...why did I recognize it...OH YEAH! I lived in Russia for 15 months, and I smelt the smell of alcohol kazhdi dyen. So my protective, on-the-alert, tough Russian girl instincts kicked in a little bit. But I felt safe - he was not dangerous. He actually decided on the plan that he would open the door while we ran out into the car. He was very nice, and he waved goodbye to us as we drove off. Then we got to the Schoff's house! He is the Winter Quarters Temple President, and his wife is the Matron, obviously. They are the sweetest, funniest people ever! We went to church on Sunday in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I kept a program, because really? History! Pioneers! I think I'm more excited about the fact that I'm excited about it...I've never really liked history or understood it. And now I'm starting to get it. It's klasno.