Family History Miracle: Jane and Caroline

I want to share the story of a family history miracle that I experienced last week.  But first, it will make more sense if you have read a few of the posts I’ve written in the past.

Post one: full details or simplified version

Post two

 

Ok, so now that you know that backstory, let’s continue on…

A couple weeks ago, I sat down to work on family history.  I started with a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to guide me to find what/who He wanted me to find.

I felt that I should start on Jane’s line again so I decided to see if I could find her son’s wife and family.

I got sidetracked and ended up looking at some unindexed records and that led me to finding the street name of the church where Jane and Alfred’s children were christened. From that, I was able to google the church and find some photos of the exterior and interior. That was really neat! 

All of that got me thinking about Jane and Alfred again and about how badly I still want to see a photo of her and learn more about her life.

I decided to try again (for at least the 3rd time over the past few years) to message anyone and everyone that I could find that would have a possible connection to her and possibly some more information. … anyone that had Jane on their family tree (on ancestry.com and myheritage.com).

Like I mentioned, I’ve tried this in the past, but either I’ve gotten no response from people, or the response that they’ve given me has been somewhere along the lines of “she’s a distant relative of mine. I don’t know anything else about her.”

So I messaged somewhere around 10-20 people that day and just copied over the same message that I’ve sent in the past…

“Hi! I have been researching Jane Elizabeth Clayton, who is my 2nd Cousin, 3 times removed. Anyway, I noticed that you have her on your family tree and I was wondering if you know any more information about her? Do you happen to have any photos of her or journals or anything? Or do you know of any relative of hers that I could contact? I would love any info that you have. I feel a special connection to her. Thanks for your help!”

That night, I got a reply from someone but they just said “I am only distantly related and do not have any information on the family”

Lame. Oh well. I’m used to that response.

 

But then, the next morning, I had a reply from another person. And this is what she said…

“Hello, well your message was a surprise, I have not done any real genealogy for quiet a few years. May I ask who you are? Where you are? How you are connected to Jane Elizabeth Clayton (the lineage), and also, if possible, why you feel a special connection to Jane Elizabeth Clayton? Interesting as I feel a special connection to one of my ancestors (from the 18th century) but on the other side of the family who I had not heard of before, strange isn’t it.

If we are talking about the same Elizabeth Jane Clayton she was my Great Grandmother (my Grand Fathers Mother, on my Mother’s side). I have not really researched that side of the family much so do not know a lot but do have some items, some you can access from Ancestry, also Pictures of Jane Elizabeth Clayton with her husband Alfred Evans, their marriage certificate and Alfreds Birth certificate (which you might not interest you). I have a number of cousins (same generation as myself, she is also their GG) around the world who are also on Ancestry who have the same information (I shared) so you may already have all this information, let me know before I start digging things out, copying etc. Nice to be in contact with you, Caroline. PS. I am in England – locked in due to Covid – 19, how about you?”

When I read this message, I was shocked! I’ve been searching for a close living relative of Jane’s for almost 4 years! I’ve been hoping to learn more information about her life and see a photo of her for almost 4 years!!

I’ve run into so many dead ends.  I thought it was a lost cause.

Yet now, here was a message from her great-granddaughter! This was an answer to my prayers.

When I got her message, I just started crying and thanked Heavenly Father for this precious and personal gift.

I wrote her back, thanked her so much for her message and answered her questions about how I am related to Jane and why I feel connected to her.

What’s interesting is that when I finished up my family history time the day before, I thought “well, I didn’t find anyone this week, so it wasn’t that productive, but oh well.” …but then it actually resulted in this message from Caroline!

It reminds me of a scripture that I read that morning…

“And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.” (Words of Mormon 1:7)

Even though I didn’t really feel like I was getting anywhere in my search that day, I guess the spirit really was whispering to me and working through me to go in the direction that I needed to go.

 

The next day, Caroline wrote me back.  She told me that she doesn’t think she’s ever been the answer to someone’s prayers before.  I was glad that she got to be an answer to mine. 

She mentioned a few other things about Jane’s family, asked if this makes us cousins and then said she would send me the photo the next day.  

This does make us cousins… 5th cousins since we share the same 4th great grandparents, which is really neat. Also, she’s 70 years old and lives in England.

The next morning, I had another email from her.  The subject just said “Are you ready – picture attached” 

 

And inside the e-mail was this photo…

 

Jane and Alfred.

To see their faces at last made me emotional.  It is such a neat thing to be able to finally put faces to names. I’ve been waiting almost 4 years to see a photo of Jane (and Alfred)… I love Alfred too. 🙂

Interestingly, Jane actually looks kind of familiar to me… like someone that I have seen before in real life.

 

A couple of days later, I got another e-mail from Caroline.

She mentioned a few things and then said that she had included copies of all she has regarding Jane & Alfred.  This information and photos came from her cousin.

One of the attachments on the e-mail was this note, from Caroline’s cousin.

“This photo is from one found in a round locket. Joyce Trimmer thought it was grandfather Smith. I think it might be Alfred Evans. Here is why. Mom wrote that Henry Evans wore the diamond locket and that the woman on the left is Edith Evans, our Grandmother. The photo on the right is Henry’s mother Jane. Jane is wearing what looks like the round locket. One photo with the round locket is this man. The other man resembles Jane Clayton. Did granddad wear his wife and mother because his mother wore her husband and father? This man I thought could be a young Alfred Evans. The other could be Charles Clayton, Jane’s younger brother, or Edward Clayton, Jane’s father. Sorry, at this point I cannot a) get the photos out, b) get the round one to open wide enough to copy”

 

I love the story about the lockets.  I think it’s so neat that because Jane Jane wore a locket with her husband and father’s photos in it, her son Henry then did the same thing and wore a locket with his wife and mother’s photos in it and that.  I love that. It gives me a peek into their lives and how much they loved each other.

I’m now on a quest to find a similar looking locket (the round one).  I think it’d be neat to wear a locket with Jane’s photo in it and remember her that way.  Bonus if it comes from England since that’s where Jane is from. 

zoomed in on the photo of Jane in the locket. You can see that it looks like she’s wearing the round locket necklace in this photo.

 

Here are the other photos that Caroline included…

We’re thinking that this is a young Alfred
another photo of Jane and Alfred

 

She signed off on the e-mail with   “Stay safe, stay well, cousin Caroline.”  Cousin Caroline.  I love that. :). I love how family history can change strangers into family in an instant.

 

I mentioned in my last post that it feels as if the “Hawkins Family History” torch has been passed onto me.  I also wrote (2 years ago) that so far, I hadn’t done a ton of research and temple work on that line, but had done some (for Jane, Alfred, and their children).

I was curious the other day to see how much I’ve done now, 3 1/2 years after discovering Jane and Alfred (and starting work on the the Hawkins line).  I’ve kept all of the ordinance cards from doing temple work because I like to have a visual record, but I haven’t really gone back through them and written everything down.

This is what I discovered…

So far, I’ve been able to find/do temple work for 50 individuals that are related to Jane (counting Jane herself).  50! Because I have done (with help from Jershon and some of my siblings) multiple ordinances for many of these individuals, we’ve been able to complete 130 temple ordinances for Jane’s family so far.

These individuals belong to Jane’s immediate family, and her extended family.

And in the past couple weeks of doing research again (which I hadn’t done in quite a while), I’ve already found more of Jane’s family members and I’ll be able to do their temple work once the temples open back up again when this Covid-19 thing is over.

I feel privileged to be able to find so many members of Jane’s family (and mine…as I’m related to them too). 

I’m more and more convinced that throughout my pregnancies, Jane really was calling out to me.  She wanted me to find her and her family.  I feel blessed that Heavenly Father has helped me to do that for her.

3 Responses
  1. Hi Shelly~ I came across your blog this morning and want you to know that I appreciate what you’ve shared. I’ve read only a few of your posts but it’s clear that a lot of care went into them, and they were inspiring to me when I was feeling weighed down this morning by the same package of fears and regrets that has dogged me for decades. I’m older than you, about to turn 60, widowed with two great young adult children who’ve turned out well, a resident of the Washington DC stake, and the owner of a small business which my own insecurities keep me from promoting well enough — part of what I’m trying to overcome. I have great respect for your systematic approach to overcoming personal limitations (shyness, for example) and for the obvious diligence mixed with fun that you apply to your family life. I want to make sure that you know how good this blog is and that it’s probably benefiting a lot of people. I’m going to give your morning plan a try. Thank you, sweetie.

    1. Shelly

      Elizabeth! Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment. It means the world to me to hear that what I share is having a positive impact on your life. Sometimes I don’t know if anyone ever even reads what I write so it’s always nice to hear that I’m not just “talking” into thin air. :). My sister used to live in the Washington D.C. area, on the Virginia side. And I have a cousin that lives in Washington D.C. I know it’s a big place, so you may not know her, but just in case, her name is Clara Ewell.

  2. Estelle

    Wow, Shelly I got such chills reading this! I just just imagine how emotional and excited it must have felt to finally be able to see photos of Jane and Albert. I think that the years you’ve been yearning to and all the attempts you have made previously made this an even more special moment for you. You’ve inspired me so much to keep going with my own attempts to find photos of my family.

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