IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - October is family history month and now you have the chance to get free help from genealogy experts to trace your ancestry. Saturday, October 21 at the LDS Church on Sunnyside and Holmes volunteers can help connect you to websites that just might trace your ancestry back a thousand years.
Local News 8 Chief Meteorologist Michael Coats was able to do just that. Michael was teamed up with Steve Hiltbrand, one of the volunteers at the Family History Library on Elva in Idaho Falls. A few days earlier Michael had given Hiltbrand the names and birthdays of his parents, and with that information, Steve got to work.
"Here's a chart with five generations. It starts with you," Hiltbrand told Michael as he handed him a chart. Using various web sites and census data Hiltbrand also presented Michael with a narrative about his ancestors several generations back.
"I'm getting goosebumps right now because I'm seeing names now that I've heard might be family members but I didn't know," Michael said. "Just for example this name, we had a long standing joke in
the family that there was a Bunyun in the family and we could never figure out if it was true or not."
Michael got to learn all about Bunyun. He got logged on to the Family Search website.
Going further and further back on the computer in the family tree Hiltbrand explained what the computer was showing.
"You're back to 1681 on this one and it's still going back. 1602, John Milton, the poet. 1133, there's King Henry the first."
On another site Michael learned he was a distant cousin of Philo T. Farnsworth, from Rigby who was the inventor of television. He also found he was related to other famous people.
"Buffalo Bill, Henry David Thoreau, Elvis, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson," Michael read.
Helping Michael and other people trace their ancestry is rewarding for Hiltbrand.
"Things like this when you help somebody find their relatives. It's exciting to me to find my relatives."
And for Michael it was a remarkable experience.
"Quite amazing to see how far back. I had no idea I could go back to 1100 A.D. , or even earlier than that to royalty on my father's side of the family."
The Family Discovery Day is Saturday, October 21 and the LDS Church on Sunnyside and Holmes. It runs from 10 am to 3 pm. It's free.