Family History Center offers free heritage hunting
The Burnet County Family History Center plans a grand opening from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, April 9, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 200 Via Viejo in Marble Falls. The event is free and will include drinks and popcorn, said center Director Kris Richins, who explained what it is all about.
“We help people find their ancestors,” Richins told DailyTrib.com. “We have seven computers, and we run FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, Find My Past, and My Heritage, the four big ones. If you come into the Family History Center, you can use those all for free.”
Someone will be available at the center to help visitors learn to use the software programs.
“We teach people how to do it, we don’t do it for them,” Richins continued. “We teach them to show them what great heritage they come from.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has collected information on more than 3 billion deceased, the largest collection of family records in the world. The project began in 1984 with the Genealogical Society of Utah but is now run through FamilySearch, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the Mormon Church.
For Mormons, tracing the names of their ancestors is a way to reconnect with them “on the other side of the veil, meaning those of us here on earth and those in heaven,” Richins explained.
The names are taken to the nearest temple to have sacred ordinances performed to baptize each person by name. For the Highland Lakes, the closest temple is San Antonio Texas Temple at 20080 Stone Oak Parkway in San Antonio.
“You are sealed for time and all eternity,” Richins said. “I know when I pass away, I will still have my family on the other side of the veil. We will be families for ever and ever and ever. That’s what the church wants, for everyone to have that same blessing.”
Using the Family History Center does not mean you have to follow Mormon rituals.
“I can’t take your names from your family,” Richins said. “I can’t take anyone you find. We do this with our own ancestors. I can help you find yours, but what you do with that is your choice. But that’s why the church does it.”
Marble Falls Mormons are currently working with St. Frederick’s Baptist Church in Marble Falls to identify unknown graves in the city cemetery. They are also working with the Llano County Historical Museum to digitize more than 6,000 photos. Only around 500 are left to preserve, Richins said.
“It’s so much fun,” she said. “This is an exciting story.”
Anyone wanting to digitize their own historic photos, records, or books can turn to the Family History Center for help. The church will do the work, putting all of the information on a flash drive. The flash drives are being donated by the Llano County Historical Museum.
“Heritage is important to the church to be able to be one family,” Richins said. “We are all one family.”