Family History Moments: Tender Mercies Follow Disaster
article, Deseret News newspaper , November 9, 2014
(Text and photo of article shown below)
The email read, "I don't
know much about my family tree [and] any information would be really helpful."
Those words resulted in a surprising string of discoveries and circumstances
that can be considered "tender mercies."
Chris Brough of Essex, England, wanted to
know his ancestry. He knew his heritage back to his grandparents but desired
to know more about his family history. British census reports and other
records of the late 1800's and early 1900's showed his great-great-grandmother,
Mary Ann Procter, had married two different men with the same last name.
In 1884 she married a John Brough--who was born in Stoke Upon Trent, Staffordshire
and worked as a coal miner and by whom she had six children. Then in 1899,
Mary Ann married a William Brough who was born in London and who also
worked as a coal miner and by whom she had one child. But why did she
marry twice? And were John Brough and William Brough somehow related--even
though their birth places were nearly 160 miles apart?
While pondering what might have happened
to John Brough, a researcher for the Brough Family Organization in Utah
felt inspired to check the family's Internet account and found an unexpected
email had just arrived from a relative in England, who had written: "I
have just been given a small booklet entitled 'The Diglake Colliery Disaster'
[near Audley, Staffordshire]. There was a disaster in the [Diglake] coal
pit on 14 January 1895 and over six dozen men and boys were killed. One
of them was John Brough, age 30. Hope this is of interest to you."
The Diglake underground coal mine disaster happened when "water from
an old pit, augmented from inclement weather, spewed into the lower regions
of the mine, carrying and drowning everything in its path." Most
of the bodies of the men and boys who drowned in the disaster were never
recovered. It quickly became apparent that the John Brough who died in
the Diglake mine disaster was the same man who married Mary Ann Procter
in 1884, and that he was also the great-great-grandfather of Chris Brough
and my ninth cousin three-times removed.
However, another question still remained:
Was John Brough related to Mary Ann's second husband, William Brough?
Within a few days of discovering what had happened to John, more information
arrived from England which confirmed that John and William were first
cousins, and that William, who was a bachelor prior to marrying Mary Ann,
was a caring stepfather to John's six children.
Today, the families of John Brough and William
Brough have been added to LDS FamilySearch Family Tree. While some people
may assume that such findings and events are mere coincidences, others
who are involved in family history research can see the hand of Lord at
work in such discoveries and "tender mercies." [Note: Elder
David A. Bednar spoke about "The
Tender Mercies of the Lord" in April 2005 LDS General Conference.]
--[by] R. Clayton Brough, West Jordan Utah