Saturday, August 31, 2013

Family History Spotlight: The Fleetwoods

My great great great great grandfather was Thomas Robinson Fleetwood, the son of James Fleetwood and Selina Stork. He was born in Cheshire near Northwich. T.R. Fleetwood came over to New Brunswick sometime between 1854 and 1856 and settled in Saint John.

I don't know where the "Robinson" part of his name came from, since no one in the family was Robinson, and the name doesn't show up until after he moved to Canada, but coincidentally he did have a brother-in-law named Thomas Robinson who married his sister Ellen. Robinson may have been an adopted middle name out of friendship or respect. Who knows.

Ellen Jane Fleetwood Bissett
Thomas Robinson Fleetwood moved to Staffordshire as a young adult where he married my gggggrandmother, Elizabeth Millward in 1845 at Tipton, Staffordshire. They had four children in England:  Ellen, Sarah Eliza, John, and James, born in Yorkshire and Kent before they finally immigrated to Canada.

The oldest, Ellen Jane, married my ggggrandfather, George Whittaker James Bissett, a handsome sea captain from Saint John.

After moving to Canada, Thomas R and Elizabeth had three more
Mary Lodge. (Photo compliments
of Kathy Sheehan)
daughters, Elizabeth, Emma Louise, and Clara Flavilla. Four years after their youngest daughter was born, Elizabeth died in 1866, leaving Thomas Robinson a widower with six children to take care of. He remarried Mary Lodge in 1868 and they had two more children together, Annie Ledia in 1872 and Edward Jewett in 1873. The family moved from Saint John to Moncton, NB sometime before 1881. Census indicates the family was Methodist and Thomas Robinson was a machinist/engineer.

I worked on the family of James Fleetwood and Selina Stork, Thomas Robinson's parents, and was very surprised to trace family members living in Lethbridge, Alberta in the 1880s. Yes, Lethbridge of all places, where I live. A surprise to me since the Bissetts and Fleetwoods were all in New Brunswick until my great grandfather Aubrey Allison Bissett came over to Alberta working on the trains in the early 1920s.

Original Fleetwood school in Lethbridge
Before it was torn down in 1970
John Henry (Harry) Fleetwood, a nephew to Thomas Robinson Fleetwood and a few times removed cousin to me, came over to Lethbridge in 1885ish (his father James, my great uncle came later as well) to work with coal, and he ended up becoming very involved in civic affairs, especially establishing schools in town. I believe he was superintendent of education or something like that. I need to go over to the Galt Museum and learn more about him, but I do know that he was known as "the father of Lethbridge Schools" (see here) and the old Fleetwood school, established in 1911 (which has since been rebuilt and now currently known as Fleetwood-Bawden), was named after him.

Funny thing is? My own grandfather attended that school, not ever knowing that it was named after his cousin, or that there were ever any Bissett relatives living in the city. So the moral of the story, kids, is to do your genealogy! Your school may have been named after your cousin.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated,

The Atonement of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh is the crucial foundation upon which all Christian doctrine rests and the greatest expression of divine love this world has ever been given. Its importance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be overstated. Every other principle, commandment, and virtue of the restored gospel draws its significance from this pivotal event.” (The Atonement of Jesus Christ, March 2008 Ensign)

When the atonement is emphasized first, then all other pieces of testimony should find correct context and function properly. In the words of Joseph Smith,

“the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and the Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith)

A person can fixate on some appendage or another in the gospel, an arm or a leg or finger, but without exercising faith in the Savior’s grace, such appendages become only lifeless, disconnected limbs used to fumble around in the dark with. When our understanding of the gospel is in proper context with the grace of Jesus Christ, every limb and finger work together to form a powerful and complete organism of faith.

In the Book of Mormon, the brother of Jared came to the Lord for him to touch stones so that they could give light on his voyage across the sea, and he saw the finger of the Lord and "fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear...and the Lord said unto him:  Arise, why hast thou fallen?
"And he said unto the Lord:  I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.
"And the Lord said unto him...Sawest thou more than this?
"And he answered:  Nay, Lord, show thyself unto me." (Ether 3:6-10)
On our dark voyage to the promised land, we bring our dull and lifeless stones of faith to Christ and ask him to touch them and give them light. It is not just the finger that lights the stones, some appendage of the gospel, but Christ, all of him; his atonement and his power. When we exercise faith in the atonement of Christ, our stones will shine brightly. Christ will illuminate our road of doubt, and we shall one day receive Christ, all of him, not just his finger, and we will "behold him within the veil" (Ether 3:19) and will finally be home.

The atonement is not just a principle to be understood, but a power to be used. We choose for ourselves how much, or to what degree, we will partake in Christ’s sacrifice. We accept and use the atonement when we live his teachings. There are many alternatives for how we may lightly use the gift of the atonement, but there is only one path to receive it fully, for "strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein" (3 Ne. 27:33).

In the end, we can only become true latter-day “saints through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mos. 3:19).