I recently was contacted by someone who noticed I had submitted information to FamilySearch.org about my third-great-grandfather, George R. Langworthy Sr. This person had an 1841 edition Book of Mormon with my ancestor’s name in the front and a bookmark with his wife’s name inside. He thought I might be interested to know about the book.
This is nothing unusual for many members of the Church, whose ancestors obtained copies of the Book of Mormon. However, my ancestors did not join the Church. My ancestors did not go west. My parents were the first members of their families to be baptized into the Church.
Our family provided temple ordinances for George R. Langworthy in the 1980s at the Washington D.C. Temple. I had researched his family and requested temple ordinances for many of our Langworthy relatives. I had always felt good about this work, and I hoped they accepted the gospel. I certainly never thought they had known about the Book of Mormon during their lives.
The bookmark was in the middle of the book, suggesting that my grandmother had read the book and wanted to refer back to it later. The bookmark was a nice one, with her name embossed on it, suggesting that the book was something she valued.
The printed card in the front had not only my grandfather’s name, but also his location–Middlebury, Addison County, Vermont. It was definitely my ancestor.
My grandfather did not join the Church during his lifetime. We don’t know how he came to have the Book of Mormon, or if he ever attended church. We don’t really know whether he read some or all of the book, but he did have his card in the front, and my grandmother had her personalized bookmark inside.
In all the family history work we have done over the years, we have never received such a specific sign of our ancestors’ interest in the restored gospel. We have done this work out of faith and hope that something precious to us might become precious to our family who went before.
Now it seems that perhaps the gospel was precious to our ancestors before we were even born.
We don’t know all the details–the depth of their interest, the intent of their hearts, the reasons they did not leave Vermont. However, we now have more motivation than ever to seek out all the descendants of the Langworthys, and their cousins, to make sure that they all have the opportunity for the temple blessings we can provide.
-Ralph and Linda Miller
Family History Area Advisors
Reprinted with permission from the March 2013 issue of the Newsletter for Family History Consultants in Northern New England.