LDS Church Hosts Family Discovery Day

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - by Phil Smartt
From left, Gloria Smartt, Jim Ison and Jim Barrott
From left, Gloria Smartt, Jim Ison and Jim Barrott

Over 100 participants from the greater Chattanooga area attended Family Discovery Day at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held on Saturday.  Nationally and internationally renowned genealogist Jim Ison was the featured speaker.  Much of Mr. Ison’s research focuses on African American Research so his participation at Family Discovery Day was intended to also be a celebration of Black History Month.   

Mr. Ison was formerly a manager at FamilySearch – the largest genealogy organization in the world.  FamilySearch is “a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  At FamilySearch.org, users may access for free billions of historical records from around the world, including records from the Freedmen’s Bureau Records Project.  According to the National Archives and Records Administration, Freedmen’s Bureau records contain “some of the most valuable records of the black experience in the second half of the 1800s” (archives.org). 

As previously reported by Mrs. Gloria Smartt – family history consultant for the Chattanooga Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – about 19,000 volunteers from the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s nationwide chapters, the Smithsonian, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints partnered in 2015 with the NARA to digitally index the Freedmen’s Bureau Records.  The indexing effort was unprecedented.  

At Family Discovery Day, Mr. Ison spoke about the Freedmen’s Bureau Records Project and also presented Four Key Resources for African-American Research – including Black Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree; Discovering Your African-American Ancestors: Slave Ancestral Research: It’s Something Else; and Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity.   

Mr. Ison also recommended reading His Promised Land – a book about a man named John Parker who was a slave, sold at age eight.  John Parker eventually rescued 440 runaways from Kentucky between 1845-1860.  By 1870, he was one of the wealthiest persons in America.  He owned and operated an Iron foundry.  John Parker’s story is a beautiful story of the resilience and glory of the human spirit. 

“Everyone has a story,” Mrs. Smartt said.  “All of us are children of God.  And, exploring our roots helps us discover who we are, why we are here and what our purpose is in life.  Genealogy connects us.  That’s why at this years RootsTech conference to be held in Salt Lake City, from Wednesday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 3, emphasis will be placed on strengthening our sense of belonging by connecting to our families – both living and deceased.” 

RootsTech is said to be “the largest family history event in the world.  More than 70,000 people from all 50 states and at least 50 countries are expected to attend in person or stream events online,” according to Deseret News (2/26/18).  RootsTech is organized by FamilySearch. 

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard professor and host of the PBS Television program, “Finding Your Roots,” will be a prominent keynote speaker at RootTechs 2018.  According to Mr. Gates, one of the “pivotal” events that led to him becoming the host of “Finding Your Roots” was his own experience at the LDS Church’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  “I feel strong, warm connections to the Family History Library and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for all the amazing work they have done to make possible the study of genealogy,” he said in a recent interview with the Deseret News (“Everything you need to know about RootsTech 2018,” 2/26/18). 

Whether in Chattanooga or Salt Lake City, Utah, anyone can participate in the livestream events offered at RootTechs 2018.  For further information, visit Rootstech.org

“And for anyone interested in learning more or following up after our successful Family Discovery Day in Chattanooga,” Mrs. Smartt continued, “please visit our Chattanooga Tennessee Family History Center located at 3067 Ooltewah Ringgold Road.  Our hours of operation are Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Specialists will be on hand to help you sign up for a free online FamilySearch account.  Visitors will also learn how to save family photos, stories, documents and audio.  We look forward to welcoming you.” 



First-Centenary Among Area Methodist Churches Getting New Pastors

The Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church met earlier this week in Lake Junaluska, N.C., and announced new pastoral appointments.   Among those churches getting new pastors in the newly redrawn Scenic South District that covers Chattanooga is First-Centenary UMC downtown. The Rev. C. Mark Gooden, a graduate of Hixson High, has been named as the new ... (click for more)

Men In Ministry Event At Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist On June 24

The public is invited to Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, 1115 North Moore Road in Chattanooga on June 24 at 10:45 a.m. as they celebrate "Men In Ministry."  The guest speaker will be Dr. Bryan Johnson, Hamilton County School Superintendent. (click for more)

Red Bank Finalizes 20-Cent Property Tax Increase

The Red Bank commissioners voted Tuesday night to adopt the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget that includes a property tax increase. Mayor John Roberts said that along with the increase in both commercial and residential development, comes increased traffic. Infrastructure has not kept up with the growth, including the secondary roads. The cost of paving these roads is $1 million. Money ... (click for more)

Attorney Poston Says Man In Viral Video Seen Fighting Officer Was Trying To Break Up Fight

Attorney McCracken Poston said William Alexander Floyd, the young man seen in the recently published “viral” video who is seemingly engaged in a boxing match with a Chattanooga police officer, started out trying to break up a fight.   The attorney said, "Things are not always as they appear. There is a much more interesting story in the seconds leading up to the events ... (click for more)

The Boss, Claude Ramsey

I try not to overuse the word great, but we lost a great man today, Claude Ramsey. I had the pleasure of serving under him as director of Commercial and Industrial Properties for 14 years while he was the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. He was probably the smartest person I have ever known. He was tough but patient, kind, caring and compassionate. He knew how to get ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Please ‘Connect The Dots’

Get your crayons out and let’s play “connect the dots.” Next Thursday (June 28 th ) the Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition, in partnership with Chattanooga’s publicly-flawed non-profit educational foundation, UnifiEd, will hold its regional meeting at Chattanooga’s Bessie Smith Hall. The coalition was formed to advocate for “students of color” in Tennessee, and among those on ... (click for more)