JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
LLANO — A conversation and a need for more space prompted librarian Tommi Myers to ask Timmie DeBusk and Fred “Elder” Zirkle to help Llano area residents find their family roots.
The result is the “Find Your Ancestors” seminar at 5:30 p.m. May 28 in the Llano County Library, 102 E. Haynie.
DeBusk is a longtime Llano resident, while Zirkle moved to the area with his wife about two months ago. They learned how to do family ancestry research thanks to being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The church is considered to be at the forefront of family ancestry research, Myers said.
“That’s where all the family searches originated,” she said. “They are willing to actually do those classes here.”
Part of the reason, Zirkle said, is because the church has more than 4,600 family centers in 132 countries available to anyone who has an interest in this kind of research.
“We believe that we are all family and are all children of our Father in heaven,” he said. “We believe the most important unit in God’s kingdom … is the family. We try to provide every opportunity possible for families to strengthen their bonds.”
DeBusk and Zirkle will teach the introductory seminar May 28 during which they will discuss FamilySearch, an online program considered to have the world’s largest collection of free family trees, genealogy records and resources. Zirkle said FamilySearch has more than 23 million contributors.
“They’ll talk you through it,” Myers said.
Toward the end of the session, Zirkle said the instructors will show attendees how they are related to at least 90 percent of Llano County.
“It could be they’re 10th cousins three times removed,” he said with a smile.
Myers got to know the Zirkles after they moved to the area. She had genealogical periodicals in an area in the library that weren’t getting used, and she needed the space. So she asked the couple if the local congregation would accept a donation of the periodicals from the library.
“We started talking about family searches and how about if we started giving classes here and working with people,” she said. “We don’t have anyone in the family area to do that.”
DeBusk and the Zirkles agreed to share their knowledge with others.
Zirkle said people conducting their own family ancestry research has grown 60 percent since the 1960s.
The hope is to continue having genealogical classes, the librarian said, and the instructors are open to scheduling one-on-one sessions if there’s a request.
The desire to know one’s family history has exploded as digital information has become available and easier to access, Myers said. Now people don’t have to travel, go to cemeteries or record oral histories as much as they used to, she added.
Zirkle said attendees should bring as much of their available family history as possible such as birth places, marriage licenses, birth and death certificates and other official paperwork that will help participants narrow their searches. In addition, attendees should bring laptops if they can, though the library’s computer lab is available, he said.
“We encourage them to come with as much information they have on themselves,” he said.
Zirkle said he is available to Highland Lakes residents. Contact him at email@example.com or at (801) 231-1589 to set up an appointment.
“This has become a great experience for us,” he said. “It’s a joy for us to be able to offer this service.”