Jennie May Woodbury Lee Genealogy Experiences
related by James H. Lee Jr., Son
Date: Tuesday, May 18, 1999
Mom shared a number of different experiences with me about she and Dad doing research at different libraries. One such experience was when they were in , and had gone into the library, looking for a particular ancestor's history or anything related to them. After spending the whole day searching through books and library shelves, they came up with nothing. Then the Librarian announced that the library was closing. As they put the books back on the shelves, they were coming out of one section, and there on a cart were several books. On top of the books there was one opened up, and Mom took a quick look at the large print at the heading, and right there was the name of the person they had both been looking for all day. She hurried and scanned through it, and sure enough, it was what they needed. They wrote down the name of the book, and the page number, and then left, as they were locking up the doors. They were so excited that they could hardly wait to get back the next day to write it all down. In those days they did not have copy machines. It had to all be written out by longhand, and that was very time consuming.
Another genealogy moment she related to me was when she went to visit Aunt Lida Prince who was a very dear friend, and a great help. Aunt Lida told her of an incident which happened to her some time before, when she went to visit her. She said that she was sitting at the kitchen table with her genealogy books out, and struggling with trying to find out who the parents of Keziah Keturah Van Benthuysen were, but had not found anything. She had worked on that line for months. As she sat there by herself, suddenly she heard a noise in her basement. It sounded like wooden shoes. Then clop clop clop up the basement stairs, and then the door opened into the kitchen, and out came two girls dressed in Dutch costumes, and wearing wooden shoes. They danced around the kitchen table which was in the center of the kitchen, and then stopped in front of Aunt Lida. One of the girls smiled at her and then Aunt Lida said, "I know who you are, You're Keziah Keturah Van Benthuysen." And the girl said "You're right. And I know who you are looking for. You are looking for my father and mother. You have been looking in the wrong places. Go to the library and take out this record, and you will find what you are looking for to link us all together."
Then they made one more loop around the table, smiled, and disappeared down the stairs the way they had come, and were gone. Though she went down the stairs looking for them they were gone. Aunt Lida went right to the library, and got out the record that she was told to get out, and sure enough, there was the information she had looked for so long. The mystery was solved.
Another experience Mom related to me was about a time when they lived in McGill, Nevada, and had come to Utah to visit some relatives. When they came into , mom suggested they go to the temple that day. Dad agree, and so they went in and got dressed in their temple clothes, and went on an endowment session. At the close of the session, the officiator came into the room and asked for a certain family being sealed that day, to come with him to the veil so that they could proceed, and complete their endowment, then on to the sealing room to be sealed as a family. It was one of Dad's Uncles as I remember. Dad looked at Mom and they nodded, and got up and went with the sealing group that was there with him. After going through the veil into the Celestial room, they followed the group into the Sealing room, and Dad went up to his Uncle, and spoke to him. Even though his uncle was blind, he knew Dad's voice immediately, and said "Is that you, Horald?" And Dad told him it was. He told Dad that they had finally gotten active in the church and got their kids ready to go to the temple to be sealed together as a family. And Dad told him how happy he was to be there with them.
As they knelt around the altar, the Sealer began the ceremony, and stopped. Then he asked them if that was all their children. The said yes, so he began again. Then he stopped again, and asked once more if they were sure that was all of their children. Then the wife said that they had a couple of daughters that had been born dead, or so they thought, and had not put them on the family group sheet. The Sealer said, "I thought so. They are sitting here in the room now, crying, because they want to be sealed to your family, too." So they stopped the ceremony and went out and obtained a couple of women to come in and stand in as their proxies, so they could be sealed to their parents. After he had completed the sealing, they smiled and disappeared from the room. He was the only one who saw them, but they were there. Mom and Dad were so happy to have made the decision to go to the temple that day, even though they had no idea that such a wonderful miracle would take place in the temple while they were there.
While we were stationed in Fort Devens Massachusetts, Mom gave me some names to look up since some of our ancestors lived in that very area, and we were there. So we started going to the local libraries, and looking in the births, marriages, and death records, and other vital records, and found a lot of names which we copied down in our notebooks. Then we went to another town, and discovered that the same family we had been tracing, had moved to that town, and had a son born to them there. On the sheet Mom sent to us that child was missing. So we included it on the sheet. We had found a lot of names in Massachusetts, and it was sort of difficult as some of the libraries were only open one day a week, and then only for one evening. But we made arrangements to get there.
When we came home, we brought our research papers with us, and Mom was at our home visiting. I got her the papers and notebooks we had kept, and she looked at them and told me she needed to go home and check them out. A little while later she called very excitedly and told me "You found him! You found him!"
I asked who I had found, and she said "The missing link. I have five hundred sheets which I have copied of that family line, but I needed to tie them into our line, and was sure it was our line, but couldn't find the missing link. You found it, now I can turn those sheets in and have the work done for them. I am so excited I could just cry." I was very happy, too. If I had not been in the Army, we would never have been in Massachusetts. The Lord had sent us there to find that missing link, and a few others as well.
All the missionary experiences in Korea and in , where we were privileged to baptize 9 people into the church, and all the genealogy research we were able to do there would never have happened if I had stayed out of the army after my first enlistment. Mom wrote to her father, Grandpa Woodbury, and told him that she was disappointed in my reinlisting in the army after 89 days out of it. She said she didn't think I had the ability to maintain a job as a civilian. I know that, because we were at Grandpa Woodbury's home to have him give Betty a blessing so that she could get pregnant, and while there the letter came. He read it to us. At the time, I was hurt. But I soon got over it, I think. Just the sharing of that experience with you brings tears to my eyes, so maybe I am really not over it. Anyway, the end result was worth the eight years I spent in the Army. I felt in my heart that my Mission was not over yet, and I could not accomplish it out of the Army. I needed to be there, because there were people whose lives I needed to touch, and work I needed to do which I could not do otherwise.
I am so thankful that I was privileged to help Mom find the missing links in her research. It was exciting and fun. She truly left a legacy of love, not only in our hearts, but in the lives of the thousands of people whose work she performed in the fifty or more years she was involved in doing genealogy and temple work. Betty and I spent many times on sealing sessions with her and Dad in the , and loved every minute of it. I know that it is a very important work, and want to share a poem about it.
This poem came to me while I was at an LDS Bookseller's convention here in Salt Lake City. I had some of my little Heart Thoughts books there to share with people, and while there was a lull, I decided to visit some nearby booths. As I was doing so, I met a couple from Oregon. The husband said for me to ask his wife what her favorite slogan was. I walked over to her, and asked her, and she said, "Temple work is heaven's work with out of this world pay." I told her I liked that. Then I left, and since it was slow, I went in to the snack bar and got a sandwich to eat.
As I was sitting at the table I took out my spiral notebook and began writing the thoughts of my heart about this neat slogan she had shared with me. Here it is:
Temple work is Heaven's work
With "Out of this world" pay
Awaiting for God's children
Who'll live with Him some day.
He could not perform it all
So He restored the keys
And Holy powers
From the eternities,
To men of humble birthing,
Who dwell upon the earth,
To bring about salvation,
And bring our souls great worth.
The work performed in temples
For those who've gone before,
Is only the beginning,
It opens up the door
To further light and knowledge,
And great eternal worth,
For those who are our kindred dead,
Who dwelt upon this earth.
In heaven they are learning
The gospel from the Lord,
And all His missionaries,
Who've found a great reward
In serving Heavenly Father,
By teaching Heaven's way,
And sharing light eternal,
So they, too, may obey
The principles of heaven,
And earn the right to be
With parents, friends and children
For all eternity.
Yes, TEMPLE WORK IS HEAVEN'S WORK
WITH OUT OF THIS WORLD PAY
For they who do perform it,
In their own humble way.
My dear sister cried when I went back and shared this poem with her. She said, "How did you know what was in my heart and mind which I didn't share with you. Everything I was thinking of is right here in this poem. She gave me a big hug and said "Thank You."
I told her, "I didn't know, but He who gave me the message knew, and He it was who shared that poem with me. Then we both cried.
I know that this work that takes place in the temples is the work of God, and that He has given us an opportunity to become Saviors on Mount Zion. It is as much a missionary work as any work could ever be. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
James H. Lee Jr.