Family History on the Go

May 11, 2015  - by 

“Hurry up kids! We gotta go if you want to swim!” Thoughts of warm weather and relaxation quicken everyone’s steps as we pile into the car. Our destination: St. George, Utah. Our family loves these quick trips for my son’s baseball tournaments.

As usual, we are determined to get there in time to take a quick dip in the pool before bedtime. Buckled safely in their seats, the kids quietly entertain themselves with electronic devices. As I drive up over the hill approaching the city of Nephi, Utah, my thoughts turn to family history. “Don’t we have ancestors buried in Nephi?”

app-gallery3As we get closer to Nephi, I ask my daughter to look up the Bowles Family on the Find A Grave app. The desire to stop pulls at me, but I push it aside.

Just as we are about the pass the exit, my nine-year-old impatiently informs me he has to use the bathroom.

We pull into the gas station, and I notice a cemetery a couple blocks away. My nine-year-old son hurries inside escorted by his older sister, and I pull out my smartphone. Using the FamilySearch app, I confirm that members of the Bowles family are buried in Nephi, Utah. Our quick stop turns into a lengthy one, and it’s now too late to swim. I wonder now if we were supposed to stop.

Wray-Children-by-HeadstoneWe visit the nearby cemetery, and my children have fun reading the different names engraved on the headstones. I stop to use the Find A Grave app on my phone to search for Thomas Bowles. The results from the app indicate he’s buried in a different cemetery.

The GPS takes us about four blocks down the road to another cemetery. My kids hop out of the car and find what we have been searching for—the headstone of Thomas Bowles. Happy tears well up in my eyes as I realize we are walking on the same soil where our ancestors once stood. I’ve never met them, yet they are here. Through previous discoveries and contributions from others on FamilySearch and other sites, I had learned about their stories and their struggles, and had even seen their faces in photos. Now I could I take in the beauty of my surroundings and catch a glimpse of the red soil on the mountain. I realize that Thomas Bowles and his family may have experienced this same view every day.

Thomas Bowles Family
Thomas Bowles Family

I am grateful that we stopped in Nephi, and I feel like my ancestors wanted me to find them. As we merge back onto the freeway, I ask my daughter to read the history of Thomas Bowles on the FamilySearch Family Tree app as we travel. The kids continue to play their electronics as my daughter reads, and I wonder if they are really listening. Then my nine-year-old asks, “What’s the Black Hawk Indian War, Mom?”

Our family is always on the go. Many of the opportunities we have had to discover our family history would be lost without the tools now available on my smartphone. The following are a few family history activities our family has enjoyed thanks to mobile technology. You may enjoy trying one or more of these recommendations with your family:

  • Visit a cemetery, and let your smartphone lead you to your ancestor’s headstone using the Find A Grave or BillionGraves mobile apps.
  • Find photos and stories of your ancestors using the FamilySearch Family Tree Read these stories while on the go to learn about your family’s heritage.
  • Share family experiences or discoveries through social media websites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Record and upload photos, stories, and audio to using the FamilySearch Family Tree app. Everything you add will be instantly shared with close family and preserved for generations to come. also has a great mobile app, called Shoebox, that allows you to upload photos and information to its website.

Armed with a mini “computer” in my pocket, I am always on the lookout for an opportunity to teach my children about their heritage. I look forward to the discoveries we have yet to make. #familyhistoryadventures

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  1. Wonderful article by my niece. I’ve only met her once, (I live in Alabama) but we’ve become dear friends through Facebook. She has taught our family much about our ancestors on a family Facebook page in the last few years. We are Eternally grateful.
    Thank you Staci, you’re a Keeper!

    1. Thanks LaRue, my dear friend/family. I’m so thankful for the technology that can link our families together. I wouldn’t know you without it.

    1. Love that you have a strong testimony and a witness for family history. As a family member through the Giles and Whitecar lineage, I looked up this article being a family history consultant in Cedar City, Utah. I have always enjoyed working in the St. George baptistery and many years with Youth programs in the Lord’s kingdom here on earth. I am grateful for your very significant comment on how wonderful the Lord is bringing to pass the youth, as well as everyone. To doing the work of the Lord. I and others are realizing how our Savior is getting more sourses and records on our various church apps. Starting with the fam. Search app. So, I believe in the phrase” Every member a missionary”. So many of the prophets, apostles, local leaders have all called us to be like our Redeemer and love and serve all our brothers and sisters living or dead. Yet they are like our Savior, alive! My feelings are we need more help from the youth of our and Jesus Christ’s church and kingdom. It is a time for embers and our youth, a royal generation. I agree David that family history is a divine work. When we are bored or looking for applying our time and talents to those who are awaiting for their work to be done. Thank you for your inspiring comment.