Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall has arrived at the London Temple!

Reds, oranges, and golds - beautiful in the fall!

The Christus Statue at the London Temple Visitors Centre

Well, here we are again. Another week has rolled around. We have now been living on the temple grounds for a month. The Visitors' Centre is up and running and we have had huge crowds for the first three days of our opening. On Saturday, we had 5 Stakes here for their Stake Temple Day so it was a mad house and we had people steadily from 8 am until 5 pm. On Sunday, we held an Open House for all of the Temple Workers. It was very nice and everyone was very impressed. Last night, we held Family Home Evening for a group of about 35 people. We all watched the movie "Joseph Smith- Prophet of the Restoration". If you haven't seen it, you should. It is marvelous! Today, we are working on invitations for our next few open houses scheduled all throughout October, November, and December. It is really quite exciting.

I have told you that I have been using over here and it has been marvelous because we have been able to do lots of temple work for our families. I was feeling quite good about all that we were accomplishing and I was just plowing right through our direct lines of ancestors on my mom's side. Then, one day, I got an email from our son, Brice, and he began to tell me about the Theobald line (my dad's family) that came from the Isle of Wight just off the southern coast of England. We actually went there to visit while Brice, Nicole and the kids were over here in May. The Isle of Wight is where William Theobald lived before he joined the church in the 1850's. There is an old church there called "All Saints Church". We went there and found over 20 gravestones of our relatives in May. Brice tells me that he has been doing some research on that old church and the church itself was built during Saxon times. It was present during the British "Doomesday Survey" of 1086 AD and could have been present up to 300 years prior to that survey. That would place the origins of that church in the 8th Century potentially. That cemetery is the largest cemetery on the Isle of Wight. There are over 4500 people entombed there. It makes it even more amazing that we were able to find our Theobald/Dore/Smith relatives in that huge cemetery.

And then he went on to ask, " Have you been doing any family history work on the family on the Isle of Wight side?" I suddenly realized that the lines where I just assumed that all of the genealogy had been done are badly in need of more current work being done. Much of the Theobald work was done in the 1880's and beyond, but not much has been done since that time. I am finding now all sorts of people who were left out, so I am renewing my efforts on all of the family lines and not just on my mom's side so much.

Behind all of this genealogy work there is such a human story that underlies it all, things that we quite often never think about. It must have been so difficult for many of our ancestors to join the church because many of them had family members that disagreed and often disinherited them. To give you an example" My great-great grandfather William Theobald was from a very wealthy family (the Dores) who were probably the most well-known and well placed family on the island. He joined the church, along with his first wife, Martha Lane, and came to the states in the 1850's. In 1872, he returned home to visit family and friends on the Isle of Wight and to hopefully convert some of them. In his history, he only mentions that he was able to see one older sister, Mary, and some old friends, even though at least 3 of his siblings were still alive as well as his mother and father in law, plus many of his deceased wife's siblings. No one on either
side of the family ever joined the church or even greeted him, it seems, when he returned to England to visit. I can just imagine how difficult that must have been for him. Many sacrifices were made by many people in our families to join the church and establish it in the West. I feel now even more how difficult it must have been for my mom to join with most family members really against her decision. No wonder it took her almost 10 years after she met and married my dad before she made that big decision. I think it will be fascinating one day to meet and talk to our ancestors and be able to hear all of the details of their life stories that are often left out of their written life histories.

We are fine here and enjoying our daily 4 mile walks around the temple grounds. The colors or the leaves are so beautiful and the weather is just perfect for walking. That walking is a stress reliever for us both and we enjoy it a lot. We hope you are all well and happy and enjoying the beautiful fall weather in that part of the world. We love hearing from you. Keep us posted on your news. Our thoughts and prayers are with those of you who are struggling with illness or other challenges at this time. I keep the prayer rolls really full at the temple here.


Ryan said...

Hi! I am a descendant of William and Martha Theobald also! until now, I really didn't know much about them, but did a simple search and found your blog! I would love to see any pictures, or other information you might have on him, his family, or ancestors. Thanks! I also found this in my search: Enjoy! You can contact me at if you'd like. Thanks!