A TRIP TO SALT LAKE: My History Search

Our Research Group

Last year my girlfriend and I decided to take a trip together to the Genealogy Library in Salt Lake to see if we could answer some of our dead end questions. I have to admit that I let Jan do all the planning though it was basically just signing up and sending in our money for our reservations with Family Search Researchers. I saved for over a year to be able to take this trip. It was a once in a lifetime dream come true for me. I had been to the Library before like years ago and didn’t have enough time to really do anything and had no clue as to what to do first. Now with the internet the game has changed and most of what you can do there you can do at home, however there are still records there that you will not be able to find online. Some records are stored on microfilm and the books that are in the library are some you will not yet find online, however, I was told while I was there that they are working on that. With joy in my heart I will share with you my history search.

I have never been a fan of Family Search as it just did not seem user friendly to me. I wasted a lot of time getting to dead ends there, so therefore I pretty much stick to the use of Ancestry.com. Family Search has most of the same records, though they have some that Ancestry does not and vice a versa.

My reservation was for Monday the 10th of September, and from my home in Kansas it was a 14 hour drive to Salt Lake, so I took off on the 8th and headed west. I stayed my first night in Laramie, Wyoming, at a Super 8…which was only 54.00 for the night. I do love the freedom of traveling alone! I made it to Salt Lake on the evening of the 9th where Jan was waiting for me, though my drive through the mountains gave warning that there was a problem with the brakes on my car. I was up and ready early on Monday morning. Registration and dinner wasn’t until 4. This gave me time to get my car into the shop and feel more confident about the safety of my vehicle before the end of the week when I would take off on the second half of my trip. (will write about that in my next post)

At 4 that afternoon, Jan and I went to the meeting room on the first floor of our hotel, signed in, and had a meet and greet with the other researchers in our groups.Some of them were on their 12th year with the group! I’m feeling a bit out of my league!  We were then escorted across the street to the Joseph Smith Memorial, where a wonderful meal had been prepared for us. After dinner we were introduced to our researchers who gave a little info on their expertise.  We were then excused to our own devices until 9 am on Tuesday when we would be given a little walk through of how to use the library and then onto the library where we would begin our search.

Jan and I used this free time to take a private tour of the Joseph Smith building which at one time had been the Hotel Utah, now named in memory of Joseph Smith,  the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. It is located on the corner of Main Street and South Temple in Salt Lake City. It is an absolutely beautiful building with a great view from the upper levels. I highly recommend you take the time to see it if you ever get to Salt Lake. There is a restaurant on the first level and one on the top level. The restaurant on the upper level has a glass roof that actually opens up during special occasions.  It is one of the most ornate buildings I’ve ever experienced!

Tuesday morning came and my excitement grew.  I thought that I was going to FINALLY find Daniel Johnson,

Robert Green, and Samuel Hays!  I had this idea that I would give what information I had to the researchers and they would know exactly what to do and where to look for these dead ends of mine.  I was confident in my belief that by the end of the day the mystery to these aliens would be solved and I could spend the rest of the week searching for other information.

Jan and I, both having Irish Ancestors, decided that we would sit in on the Finding your Irish Ancestors Class before we started the search.

After the class we were encouraged to visit the researcher for help in the lower

level of the library if we were stumped.  We then headed up to the 3rd floor of the

library to get an hour of research in before we broke for lunch. I met with my researcher and explained to her that my first quest was to find Robert Green. She gave me a quick overview of how to use the Family Search site and several areas to look and went on to help the next person in line.

I sit there at that computer all morning punching in guesses and looking for clues to no avail. I am now suffering from a high level of anxiety over my frustration. At noon we broke for lunch and Jan and I went a crossed the street and walked through Temple Square to the building where they offer up a smorgasbord  of food at cost. The food was amazing and they had everything you could think of to pick from. The usual ‘my eyes are bigger than my stomach’ set in and we both ate too much.

We returned back to the library at 2 continued the search. By 3 in the afternoon I was done!!! Overwhelmed and getting NO WHERE really fast, and a headache setting in….I announced to Jan that I was going to go back to the room for a bit to regroup.

That evening we were taken on a tour of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Conference Center. I had little to no experience

with the Mormon faith other than letting the missionaries come in and talk with me when they came to the door, so was not at all in expectation of what we would find here.  We were greeted by a delightful guide who took us through the building and explained in detail what the building was used for and a bit of the history of  Salt Lake City.

The conference center is basically the main meeting place for events revolving around the LDS. It was HUGE! The 21,000-seat Conference Center replaced the traditional use of the nearby

Salt Lake Tabernacle, built in 1868, for semi-annual LDS Church general conferences and major church gatherings, devotionals, and other events. It is believed to be the largest theater-style auditorium ever built. The sound system was amazing!

Through out the building are commissioned works of art that mesmerize one. The color and the light in the paintings were so life like.  In the center is a large fountain and the  roof top is a garden all it’s own where you can

LDS Conference Center

see the city from above. Darkness fell on us before the tour was finished and it was just a short walk back to the room.

 

I approached Wednesday morning with new hope. Today was the day I was going to search for and FIND Daniel Johnson. I was going to let Robert Green rest for a bit and come back to him later. I made a new friend who was an expertin using the library and she gave me a bit of guidance. The researchers camearound every now and then to check on me and see how I was progressing,and then they were on there way to help someone else. Towards the end of thesearch day even they were getting upset with Daniel! How could there be no records of him ANYWHERE!!! At 5 o’clock Jan and I called it a day and went for a bite and then met the group foa tour of the gardens in Temple Square. Oh my goodness!

There was planted every kind of flower and plant one could imagine and the gardens are scattered with statues. Most of the planting is done by volunteer groups of children and there are thirty gardeners that tend the grounds.

Large flowered baskets hang from every pole. Simply amazing!

Thursday morning, a bit less enthusiastic but a little more familiar with the method…I set out on my search again for Robert. Another day to no avail. By now the researchers are starting to get nervous.

They don’t want you to go home with nothing. One took on Robert and one took on

Daniel and we spent the day searching every clue and scenario we could think of.

What if Robert Green wasn’t even his real name? Maybe he was in trouble somewhere

and just picked a name? How is it that he has no parents, no property, to record at

all to give us a clue. No obituary, no cemetery record, no gravestone.  NOTHING!  And Daniel was just as evasive with the exception that I was able to locate a few land records that could perhaps give me another place to look for clues.

We took rest that evening by sitting in on the practice of the Tabernacle Choir. If you aren’t familiar with them you should get acquainted. They were wonderful even in practice.

Friday the researchers didn’t come in until 2…so Jan and I went to the library for awhile in the morning and then took some time to walk the downtown mall area and have some lunch.  That afternoon I had three researchers team up with me and we worked until 5 to no avail. These guys are definitely aliens.  I was so tired when I got back to the room I laid down on the bed and fell asleep exhausted. It really hurts to use the brain that much.

Saturday came and went and I experienced more of the same. The researchers too were disappointed that we came up empty.

Through it all it was a wonderful trip and I so enjoyed it. I learned so much, had a wonderful week with one of my besties, and made some new friends along the way. Would I do it again? Probably not…as most of what I do I can do at home, but YES I would visit the library again. I felt in the end that I had done my due diligence as a professional wasn’t able to come up with as much as I had. I would however recommend the week to a new researcher that needs the extra help in their search. It was worth every penny in the end. 

Sunday morning I took off early and met one of my new found friends in Winnemucca, Nevada for an evening of drinks, dinner, and slots. The following morning I left early and made my way through the mountains of southern Oregon and found myself in Eugene at dusk where waiting for me was my son and his family. Hugs and kisses were abundant as were the laughs and giggles.

Thanks for taking the journey with me! AND if you know where Robert Green and Daniel Johnson are hiding…send me a clue! I’ve been hunting them for 40 years!

Please leave a comment if you enjoyed my trip as much as I did! Or if ya just want to say howdy!

As Always

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

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