Monday, July 2, 2012

Potts Family Cemetery

I wrote awhile ago about the Potts family cemetery that I found and I had mentioned that I wanted to clean it up.  Here's the link to Part 1 of this article.  After mentioning my idea to some people in my family history class at church, we put together a service project where the youth from my church, kids from 12 to 18 years old, would get together and in one morning clear out the cemetery.  I was so excited and grateful to have help!  I knew this was not a one woman job.  Here is a before and after shot of the cemetery with a picture of these awesome kids!



Monday, December 5, 2011

Family History in Africa

Here is an excerpt from my parent's mission blog, they are serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Welfare Missionaries. These are her thoughts as she was preparing for a Conference. I thought it was appropriate to share it here on my family history site.

"I was very close to my Grandma Lewis, my mother’s mother.
She lived with us when I was a little girl so I knew her well, served her daily and loved her dearly. It was a sad day, indeed, when death robbed me of our cheery mornings, laughing days and quilting nights together. Knowing of my love for beloved Sarah Jane, I was given her well-worn, tooled leather wallet. It contained a one dollar silver certificate, her mid-wife business card and a faded, folded paper. Some time ago, I scanned the paper and filed it under “Employment.” I thought nothing of it at the time. During my conference preparation, I ran across the copy of the nearly three-quarters of a century old, faded, folded paper and discovered it to be a Welfare/Employment form not too unlike some used today. It provided a heart-warming tie to my beloved grandmother as I realized that she did what I’m doing even before I was born. She identified those in need of work and connected them with those needing workers and endeavored to give them hope. She valued her stewardship enough to always carry her paper with her so that she would be prepared to gather information at any opportunity to do so. May I be so prepared to be of service to help those in need! Thanks to grandma for being an example of faith, charity, love, service and joy. Remembering her and her devoted service to mankind was an unexpected blessing of the Couples Conference. Now the task of implementing new insights becomes the responsibility of those who were blessed to be enlightened by this enjoyable and memorable occasion." - Sister Basso

I hope we can all remember those that have left their footprints in our lives and learn from both the positive and the negative so that we might build a better future. One of my favorite quotes is from President Hinckley when he said, "All of us need to be reminded of the past. It is from history that we gain knowledge which can save us from repeating mistakes and on which we can build for the future (“Reach with a Rescuing Hand,” New Era, July 1997). - Melia

Sunday, October 16, 2011

So what do you do if you are the namesake of a Korean War hero?

People often ask me where my name came from since "Melia" is not very common, but if you were to visit some of the beautiful islands of the Pacific, I would not be surprised if you heard that name spoken. It is part of a much long middle name and means the plumeria found upon the islands and many other places in the world. When I was visiting my family in Hawaii last year, I took a picture of the flower I was named after.

So much is carried in a name. The importance of the name we are given helps identify who we are and where we came from. Through the great legacy that was left for us to follow we can piece together the faces of the past and help us create an eternal view of the future.

As I have pondered the meaning of my name and the rich heritage of my Hawaiian ancestors, I have felt a tug on my heart to find them. My father's mother was a beautiful Hawaiian named Abigail Pililaau. She died when I was a child which left me with no memories of her.

I have often heard about my grandmother's brother, Herbert Pililaau, who died during the Korean War. He was the first Hawaiian to receive the Medal of Honor and in 2000, a Military Sealift Command cargo ship, the USNS Pililaau was named after him. The article that is attached to USNS Pililaau talks about those on board the ship and it poses the question, "So what do you do if you are the namesake of a Korean War hero?"

Here is a description about this war hero that just happens to be part of my family tree.

Pfc. Pililaau, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. The enemy sent wave after wave of fanatical troops against his platoon which held a key terrain feature on "Heartbreak Ridge." Valiantly defending its position, the unit repulsed each attack until ammunition became practically exhausted and it was ordered to withdraw to a new position. Voluntarily remaining behind to cover the withdrawal, Pfc. Pililaau fired his automatic weapon into the ranks of the assailants, threw all his grenades and, with ammunition exhausted, closed with the foe in hand-to-hand combat, courageously fighting with his trench knife and bare fists until finally overcome and mortally wounded. When the position was subsequently retaken, more than 40 enemy dead were counted in the area he had so valiantly defended. His heroic devotion to duty, indomitable fighting spirit, and gallant self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself, the infantry, and the U.S. Army.

As I reflect upon the short life that he lived, I am in awe of the legacy of devotion, patriotism and sacrifice that he emulated. Uncle Herbert set the ultimate example of brotherly love.

One of the great blessings of the internet, is the amount of information stored and ready to be found with a click of the mouse. As I "googled" online to find some more information on the Pililaau family, I found this image of my great grandparents who met President Truman in Washington D.C. when they honored their son, Herbert Pililaau, with the Metal of Honor making him the first Hawaiian to receive this recognition.

I have been looking into his parents family and trying to find some missing ancestors. I went to the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, two weeks ago and I found a census report that said that Herbert's father, William Pililaau (pictured to the right of the President) was a brother to 12 other kids. Wow, I was surprised since there are about 5 missing children from my pedigree. As I began to dig into the past, I was able to find a child, Ululani Pililaau, that died the same year she was born. I can't imagine the heartache it must of been to have lost a sweet little girl. It is during these times that I am truly grateful to understand that the family relationships that we have here on earth will continue in heaven. One day I will be able to meet my grandmother and all my ancestors that came before me and renew those relationships with them. It is such a blessing to be a part of a family. I hope to carry on the spirit of those that have passed on and hold in honor their names as I continue to search out my kindred dead and find my own answers to "what do you do if you are the namesake of a Korean War hero?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Philadelphia Temple Groundbreaking

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of being a part of the most amazing event for the city of Philadelphia and it's surrounding areas. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be building a Temple near Logan Square and Saturday was the Groundbreaking Ceremonies. President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency for the church, presided over the meeting and gave the dedicatory prayer. Mayor Nutter as well as other local leaders were in attendance as we celebrated the blessing of having a temple close by.

It is hard for me to put into words the feelings I have for the temple. For within it's walls, families can be sealed for eternity and feel of the peace and love that our Father in Heaven has for us. It truly is a House of God.

I find that this blog, which is dedicated to my family history research, was the perfect place to share with you a short video about the event. For the work I do in searching out my ancestors, is not only to help me link the past to the present and understand those whose footsteps I am now following, but to bind my ancestors to me so that I can have a family forever. In these sacred walls that will soon be built, we are able to make it possible so that our family ties in this life will continue throughout the eternities.

I'm blessed to work with the children at my church. In commemorating the building of the temple, we initiated a challenge called "A Page A Day, Helps the Spirit Stay!" We are reading the scriptures in our home as a family for 100 Days. We will finish on December 25th, the day we celebrate the birth of the Savior. As we “feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3) as a family, that it will prepare our hearts and homes for the blessings of the temple.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections from the Past

As we reflect upon this day 10 years ago and how it has effected all of our lives, I am grateful for those that I hold dear to my heart. My family and the memories I build with them truly bring the greatest joy. When I went to Hawaii last year to visit some relatives and work on some family history, I was sad to realize that there was nothing written of my grandmother's life. She died when I was just a baby so I have no memories of her. How I wish I had even just a letter of her thoughts that I could treasure and share with my children. It is so important for us to not only find our ties to the past, but to preserve the history of our own lives for the future. Here is a great article from ancestry that I found today. May we each take a moment to reflect on what truly matters most and write down our feelings this day. We never know what tomorrow will bring.

From the article, "This morning I took my breakfast out to the back porch to enjoy a crystal blue sky and a beautiful early September morning. With the September 11th anniversary upon us, I couldn’t help but remember that on the morning of 9/11 the air had a very similar feel to it. Crisp, clear, and with no hint of what was to come. My daughter was in Kindergarten and I remember running to school to pick her up, wondering how to explain to her what had happened. The other day I asked her about it, because I wondered what the memories would be like from her perspective. It was interesting to hear the things she remembered and what stood out to her... (read full article here)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pottstown Historical Society on FB

I am excited to be one of the newest board members of the Pottstown Historical Society along with a distant cousin that I found through my Potts ancestors. How exciting to be with other great members as we work together towards a common goal. I also just started a Facebook Fan Page for the Historical Society so check it out and spread the word. Click here to go to the Facebook Page.

It is so exciting to find new relatives and try to piece together the family puzzle. Just today I went to a couple cemeteries in the area with my three kids. I was at the Oak Grove Cemetery and as soon as we got there the skies opened up and it poured buckets. I decided to leave the kids in the car and just look at the ones closest to the car so that I could watch them. I grabbed my umbrella and left my camera in the car. (I have already had one terrible experience with digital cameras swimming in water!) As I walked through the rain, the rain picked up and the lightning started. Let's just say it wasn't as an eventful day as usual. I'll be heading back to take a look again to find more Potts relatives when the weather clears up. That's Pennsylvania for you, one minute it is nice and sunny and the next it is raining cats and dogs!

Here's one image from of a family with the surname "Ewing" that I have been trying to piece together into the Potts puzzle. Happy Hunting!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FamilySearch coming to Pottstown

I am super excited to share with you that FamilySearch will be coming to Pottstown in July to image the records at the Pottstown Historical Society! Yahoo!!!! Many of you might know of the journey that I have been on to get FamilySearch and the Pottstown records together and I am so excited to see it finally happen. I am also excited to be one of the newest members of the Board of Directors for the Society as well. I had a great opportunity to speak to the Historical Society and then to the Rotary Club about Family History and the records that will be recorded at the society. There are so many treasures found there like original deeds from early 1700s that will now be accessible online through this project! Can you tell how excited I am? I spoke to a small group of men and women in Milford and shared with them about how to discover their family history as well. I love sharing with others the way to search and find their ancestors and through the process I believe is how we find ourselves as well.

Get ready for some serious indexing classes coming soon both at the Historical Society as well as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even if you are not from the area you can help us index these priceless records and give to the world a service of love as we knit our hearts together as one.

As President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "All of us need to be reminded of the past. It is from history that we gain knowledge which can save us from repeating mistakes and on which we can build for the future."