Genealogy 'bug' bites in old Nauvoo

Kevin Robins

Kevin Robins and his wife, of Centerville, Utah, serve as family history indexing directors in their stake. His wife also is the family history consultant in their ward. But Kevin wasn't always so interested in family history work. It took a visit to Nauvoo, Illinois, for the bug to bite.

"My wife has been doing family history for 10 or 15 years," he explained. "A few years ago she dragged me kicking and screaming to Nauvoo. Our son was in BYU's Young Ambassadors and they were performing there.

"It was June, hot, humid, very uncomfortable. We were going through the different sites, and I finally said, 'Let's go to the old burial grounds and see what's there.'" At the Old Nauvoo Burial Grounds, "we were looking at the kiosk where there is a list of people buried there, and I recognized some of the names as my family members," Kevin said. "John Pincock and Mary Marsden."

He and his wife were the only people at the burial grounds that day. "For half an hour I couldn't find anything—there were very few headstones. Then in a corner I happened to find a monument for John Pincock and Mary Marsden. I got so excited about finding somebody who was my ancestor in Nauvoo, I took a picture of the headstone and called my mom—it was her birthday."

He also started looking for information about them. He learned that both husband and wife were from England. He learned that their son-in-law James Bennett had worked on the Nauvoo Temple as a sawyer.

"They (John and Mary) were some of those who did their endowments and left Nauvoo the next day," Kevin said. "But James stayed three more years, building wagons. He was one of those Brigham Young asked to go help the Martin and Willie handcart companies. He said he would go, but that he didn't have enough feed for his horses. Brigham Young promised him the Lord would provide, and James actually had leftover feed when he returned."

Through his experience in Nauvoo, Kevin, an eighth-generation Mormon, has developed a much greater appreciation for his heritage.

"These people had tremendous faith. Ever since, I have had this desire to live up to that. These are real people. It just means so much more when you know who these people are."

His appreciation for family history and genealogy work, including indexing, has also grown.

"To me it's an amazing work. We have so much to do, it's overwhelming—but there are so many tools. I started coming home every night and indexing for an hour. I feel guilty, when my ancestors have done so much, if I can't at least do this. If I can't index 20,000 names in a year . . . . When I am indexing I like to read the whole record, to get more of a sense that these are real people and they had real lives.

"Our focus as a stake is to invite everyone to do something in family history. Once you get onto this it tends to be very addicting. It must be that spirit of Elijah saying 'This is important—keep doing it.' If you just get started, it'll start leading you where you should go."

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