19 April 2014

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and my Gurwells

Researching my family tree has brought two things to light regarding religion, the first I did know, the second I did not.

Neither of my parents were particularly religious, so we did not attend regularly, but when we did we went to the local branch of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  These are the followers of Joseph Smith whom after his death, followed his son and other members of the immediate family into northern Illinois then Missouri, instead of following Brigham Young to Utah.  The R.L.D.S. church is now officially known as The Community of Christ.  The R.L.D.S. church is the predominant religion of my mom's ancestors, it is behind both her parents. This is why what my maternal grandmother had always told us growing up was that "the R.L.D.S. is our family religion."

What I didn't know was the predominant church traditions behind my Dad.  Scatterings of Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists.  But after you get behind my paternal grandparents, there is a huge population of Quakers!  About seventy percent.  This explains why the strong tradition of abolitionism, among other things.

Being a devout Christian myself, I am going to enjoy researching the religious side of my ancestors.  Here are the R.L.D.S. church membership records for my gg-grandparents James G. Gurwell (1834-1926) and his wife Emily Gurwell (nee. Jones, 1847-1935).  You will note James was married first to Mary Hobaugh.  They were living in Doniphan County, Kansas, and attending the Fanning branch of the R.L.D.S. church --

-- The Community of Christ archivist at their headquarters was very amiable and helpful.  She even included records that she thought were relevant although I had not requested them.  The cost was $15 an hour and 20-cents a copy, but almost never does a charge ever go over $20.  Rules are research is only done for records of members who have been deceased for eighteen years.  Requests can be by email, and remittance of payment is on the honor system.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

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