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Researching Family History: Researching Family History: Visiting local family history museum campus

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One Saturday in early June, we set out for a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Franklin, Idaho. This was a few weeks before the town was to celebrate its 150th anniversary. One of our daughters, my wife and her parents, an uncle and I went up to the Relic Hall in Franklin. As the day wore on, it was becoming warmer and warmer.

Early settlers to Franklin and outlying areas had surnames such as Hatch, Doney, Perkins, Packer, Mendenhall, Teeples, Marshall, among others. My wife is a descendant of Joseph Thomas Perkins. After coming to Utah with his family from Wales, Joseph Thomas Perkins was sent by Brigham Young to help settle Franklin and then settle an area just outside Franklin called Cub River.

When we arrived, we saw the Relic Hall, the homes of the early Doney and Hatch families as well as the old town hall and jail, which I call "the Family History Museum Campus." The town hall and jail, which was built in 1904, is maintained by the city of Franklin, and the Idaho Historical Society maintains the rest of the campus.

Susan Hawkes and Jill Hobbs are the curators. Susan was our tour guide. Going inside the Relic Hall, we noticed that all four walls were completely covered with pictures of early settlers, including some of the families we were researching. An "un-identifiable" binder had a picture of one of my wife's ancestors in it. During our time there, we were able to help her find names and other information regarding the ancestor.

On the main floor stands an old steam engine used in the operating of the grist mill that was built there. We learned about the gristmill. The settlers grew the wheat and took it to the mill for grinding.

Glass cases in the hall showed diagrams and plaster images of that early settler Franklin Fort. Tools, rifles and other things of historical value filled other glass cases.

Susan guided us to the Lorenzo Hatch home, built in 1872. Display boards showed information and a map of the Montana Stagecoach Trail. My wife's great-grandfather, Thomas Martin Perkins, became a driver for the stagecoach line after his wife passed away. Looking at this was almost like seeing him harness up a team of horses, and while seated atop a stagecoach, making his run all the way to the upper reaches of Montana and back.

We learned much about Lorenzo Hatch and his family and the many things they did. Lorenzo had served as bishop and town mayor for a time. A few artifacts such as a wood plane and other tools he made were situated in the window sill on the east.

Another display board in the Hatch home showed a map of the fort locating each settler's family was situated. We were told that during the day, for the first year, family could go out and work outside the fort, but when nightfall came, it was necessary for them to come in for protection. Things were happening between the settlers and the Shoshone Tribe in the area. Conflict was mounting until the Battle of Bear River. Col. Patrick Connor came from Fort Douglas, Utah, with his troops, and the battle ensued.

After the battle, people were allowed to go in and out of the fort unrestricted. Construction of log cabins and other homes outside the fort took place. This was the first major spread out of the town of Franklin.

We visited the John Doney home next. This home was built in 1864 of adobe on the outside. It had been moved from its original place to where it stands now, near the Relic Hall. There was only the main floor with no upstairs or basement. Our tour was very brief at this home. The home's small size made me wonder how families, especially large ones, were able to survive. I think I would have gotten claustrophobia had I lived a house like that. No wonder so many people did a lot of things outside!

We visited the Franklin town hall next. We saw a small space on the main floor where desks with chairs and bookcases held the record books of peoples' dealings with the city from a business standpoint. We were ushered outside the town hall to the jail underneath, which was locked. As we peered in from outside through the bars of the windows, we could see a pot-belly stove and a bed for prisoners.

We had gone on a great tour through time, and we could feel the spirit of those early settlers throughout. We stood there and looked at the surrounding area of Franklin. It was like stepping back in time and meeting the people! I thought, "Wow! This is magnificent to see how these forbears settled this wild and untamed area. They forged out of sagebrush and pine a community that grew into what is now the present towns of Franklin and Cub River."

Later, on the way home, we topped off our little family history campus trip in Logan with a refreshing treat called "The Bear Lake Raspberry" milkshake. It helped us cool down from the heat of the day.

You can go online and search for the nearest local family history museum, library, etc. Whether you live near or far from one, or if you are planning a trip to Salt Lake City, now is the time to visit these places. The LDS Family History Library and Church Museum are places to put on your list to visit. You may be surprised with what information they may have, maybe even pictures of some of your ancestors! You will find it is well worth the time to visit these places. Talk with the tour guide; find out what they know about such areas and the people who may be your relatives and ancestors. You might also know of a place where you can reward your family with a treat — perhaps a raspberry milkshake.