Branching off into family history
by Donald Conkey
September 05, 2013 02:02 AM | 1607 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Because of the success of the local Family History Conference held a year ago here in Cherokee County, an event organized by Steven Schaumleffel and sponsored by the Allatoona Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a second Family History Conference will be on Sept. 28 at the Allatoona Ward chapel located at 2205 Bascomb Carmel Road in Woodstock.

Pre-registration is available on line at The event begins at 8 a.m. and runs through 6 p.m. and is open to the public, with no registration fees.

This year’s keynote speaker, Susan Sloan, is well known to Georgia’s genealogical organizations, having taught family history classes throughout the metro area, including at several of the state’s higher education schools. She has been the featured speaker at many metro genealogical and historical organizations.

She will teach a class at this conference titled “Genealogical Proof Standards: Harnessing the Power of Indirect Evidence.”

Other classes include: Building your Family Tree; using ‘’ more effectively; Family History Centers; African American Family History; DNA: Using Genetics to Help Your Genealogy, plus Susan Sloan’s above mentioned class. Spanish translations will be available in all classes.

Today nearly every family in America usually has at least one person who is involved in searching out and recording their family history. In my family that person is me, now assisted by several children and grandchildren.

I began searching out my family history in 1963 when David O. McKay, then president of my church, challenged all members to submit a four-generation family group sheet submission to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I complied.

But in 1963 I knew very little about my ancestral family. Today, thanks to modern technology, I go back to the early 1600s on nearly all family lines. My wife’s family line goes back to the 1200s. I took to searching out and recording my family history like a duck takes to water.

I loved doing it then, I continue to love doing it 50 years later. Doing this family history connected me to my mother as nothing else could. Mother knew ever branch and twig on our Walker, Livingston and McLachlan family lines.

From Mother I learned how my Grandmother Walker, after her husband died in 1930, began this great work by creating a three-page family scroll. That three page scroll has now become thousands of pages published in four books, books that are available to family members worldwide.

Even more important, doing my family history provided me with a purpose - a purpose that has kept me alive and active since my retirement 21 years ago. It has provided for me something very important to do.

Retired residents know that surviving retirement years requires more than just sitting on the couch and watching TV. My first 30 years was spent gathering data, the last 20 years was spent publishing that data in several family history books and assisting in the publication of several other books, all of which are available for review at the local LDS Family History Library.

Each year, I receive inquiries from distant family members nationwide who find my name on line or in my books.

Not only has this hobby helped keep my mind active, with something useful to do, it has helped me to more fully comprehend the words of Malachi 4:5-6 in the Old Testament, words that read “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

Also the words found in 1 Peter 4:5-6 that read “Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

But doing family history is not just a retired person’s hobby; it is being actively pursued by people of all ages, like my children and grandchildren.

Those, young or old, who are looking for something to keep their minds active and want to search out their family history but know not where to start, this Family History Conference will provide them an opportunity to learn how to become involved and where and how to start.

Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.
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