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I Hope We Meet Someday

July 16, 2010

This morning I was reading a blog and someone was talking about their family history. It made me start thinking about mine. I had a little time so I thought I would go play around on Family Search for a while just for fun. Well, that started almost an entire day of researching and putting together my family pedigree chart. I was having so much fun I couldn’t stop!

I found out a lot of interesting things. A ton of the work was already done on Family Search so I was just copying a lot of the information into my PAF. But it was fun to learn about the pioneer heritage on my mom’s side. At some point the family left the church so my mom was a convert, but she has many pioneer ancestors. The story that most interested me was about a woman named Sariah Jane Shirts. I’ll just tell you a little of what I found out.

Her parents lived in St. Clair, Ohio. Her father was German and his name was Schertz but when the family came to the United States it was changed to Shirts. I don’t know, but if it was me, I’d much rather have the last name Schertz than Shirts. Anyway, her parents were baptized by the brother of Brigham Young, and they moved to Kirtland. Later they moved to Missouri, where Sariah Jane was born, and then on to Nauvoo. When they made the trek to Utah, Sariah was eleven.

Also in the same company was William McDonald, a 16 year-old Irish young man. Later, after settling in Utah, William and Sariah were married. She was 15 years old. A few years later, he married her younger sister Elizabeth Ann Shirts. Between those two wives, William McDonald had 32 children! 32! And 20 of those were Sariah’s. Her oldest, Jane McDonald, is my great-great-great grandma. I decided to count out how many of Sariah’s 20 children never made it past their infancy. The answer is 9. Almost half of her children died at a year or younger, and the majority of them in her later years. She was giving birth from age 15 to 47! Two of those 20 were twins, Lucy and Robert, who both died at just a few months old.

I know her story is pretty normal for her time and situation. But to me it is still a little shocking. I cannot imagine giving birth to 20 children. I’m grateful for birth control and the modern age, and the fact that (hopefully) Michael isn’t going to be marrying one of my little sisters. I really look forward to meeting this great woman someday and hearing all the stories she must have to tell.

Sariah Jane Shirts McDonald

I found this picture of Sariah online here. She is the one on the left with the white apron. What an amazing lady.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 9:00 pm

    It’s always fun to learn about your ancestors. I can not believe she gave birth to 20 children! I think in those days that was even a lot. She’s got a lot of strength.

  2. JoAnn McLean permalink
    July 17, 2010 7:54 pm

    What a strong lady she was and I’m sure she still is. What courage she also had.

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