Mormon Genealogy Search
How to Search for the Genealogy of Your Mormon Ancestors
Those of you who have Mormon ancestors have perhaps an advantage when it comes to searching their genealogy. For decades the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have been requesting members to submit genealogy for the purpose of performing proxy temple ordinances. After awhile, people who were not members also began submitting their family histories.
Because of this emphasis on genealogy and temple work, the Church has compiled numerous sources of information, both primary and secondary. They have been a "record-keeping people", and we have free online access to much of it at www.familysearch.org. Secondary sources of Mormon genealogy to search include Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index and Pedigree Resource File. These sources of Mormon genealogy to search include as much information as was submitted and may or not be accurate or complete. Sometimes people are simply given as individuals and sometimes they are attached to parents, siblings, spouse and children.
For historical purposes, it is important to note that Mormons who went to Utah between 1847 and 1869 are called pioneers. Once the transatlantic railroad was completed in 1869, it was much easier for people to migrate from the east, so the designation "pioneer" applies only to those who arrived in Utah before 1869.
One of the best sources to search for Mormon genealogy is Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah by Frank Esshom. This book is out of print but is readily available at many Family History Centers. Originally two volumes, photocopies are often compiled into one volume today. Part of the book will include the names of all men who were pioneers in Utah at some point in time, even if they later went to Idaho, Arizona or elsewhere, or who were prominent in the settlement of Utah. When searching for your Mormon genealogy in this source, you will find, among other things, information on the man's and siblings' names, his spouse and her information, marriage date and place, and information on their children. You may also find personal information such as occupation, military data, places of settlement and church positions.
For example, on page 1032, we learn that Christopher Merkley was the son of Jacob Merkley and Elizabeth Stata of Williamsburg, Dundas County, Ontario, Canada. Christopher was born 18 Dec 1808 at Williamsburg, and came to Utah in 1849 with the Enoch Reese company. He married Sarah Davis in Feb 1828 (she was the daughter of Nathaniel Davis and Sarah Jacobs), Minerva Stowell in 1845, Karissa Fairbanks in 1858. He had one child by his first wife, none by his second, and 8 by his third wife. Christopher served eight missions, was a veteran of the Indian wars, and helped to build the Nauvoo, Salt Lake and Logan temples.
The second part of Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah provides pictures of many of the men. It is interesting to see family traits passed down from father to son. This source is a great place to search for your Mormon genealogy.
Other sources to search for your Mormon genealogy include Early Church Information File, Mormons and Their Neighbors, Membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1830-1848), Early Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (1901-1936), Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies, and Journal History of the Church. Also available on microfilm are LDS Church Records of Membership (1837-1948), Index of Deceased Membership Records (1848-present), Membership Card Index, Scandinavian LDS Mission Index (1854-1953), Missionary Records, Bishop's Report of 1852 and Church Census Records (1914-1960).
The Family History Library has also gathered many books for you to search your Mormon genealogy. While they have family history books that don't include any Mormons, most of their books are the result of research done by descendants of Church converts. One example of this is the History of David Brinton ~Utah Pioneer~ and His Descendants published by the Brinton Family Organization. The first generation in this book is not the Mormon convert but the immigrant couple from England in the 1600s!