Lee Ann Setzer


Sariah McDuff Gets Some Ancestors

Chapter 1: Pioneers

“Hey, guys, settle down! Something cool is coming up!”

We settled down, because if Brother Erkenbrack says it’s something cool, it’s usually something cool. He was holding some papers.

“What’s that, Brother Erkenbrack?”

He shrugged. “I’ll show you when it’s quiet.”

We settled down. Parley Parkin settled down on the windowsill, as usual. Haynie and Shaynie settled down next to each other, as usual. I settled down as close as I could to Brother Erkenbrack and tried to peek under his paper.

“Just wait a minute, Sariah.”

I sighed and waited a minute.

He turned around his papers. There was a picture of a giant sailing ship.

“A pirate ship! Cool!” yelled Parley.

Brother Erkenbrack smiled. “Told you it was cool. But it’s not a pirate ship.”

“Sure it is! It just needs a black flag, and some pirates, and cannons...”

“And some other ships, getting hit by the cannons!” I added. Parley and I like to draw in Primary.

“Nope,” said Brother Erkenbrack. “It’s an immigration ship.” He said that hard word nice and slow. “Like the one the Mormon pioneers took.”

Shaynie’s hand shot up. “Brother Erkenbrack, pioneers rode in wagons, not ships. That’s because there’s hardly any water on the plains.”

Brother Erkenbrack nodded, as if he hadn’t known that already. “You’re right, Shaynie. They took wagons to the West. But pioneers on the other side of the ocean had to get to the East before they could start going west.”

He looked at Shaynie, but she was already giggling with Haynie about something. Brother Erkenbrack passed out the papers. Parley, who always has his pen, got right to work making the ship into a pirate ship.

“This paper tells about the stake Family History Fair next month. They’re going to make the stake center into an old-time sailing ship.”

Suddenly, everyone was looking at him.

“Really?” said Haynie, at the same time Parley yelled,

“Cool! I get to steer the steering wheel!” at the same time Shaynie shrieked,

“Brother Erkenbrack, they can’t make a building into a ship, because how would they drag it to the ocean?” at the same time I asked,

        “What about pirates?”

Brother Erkenbrack held two fingers in the air. He was a Cub Scout leader for eight and a half years, and he says he may never recover. We all held two fingers in the air and stopped talking.

“Guys, it’s a pretend sailing ship, ok?”

We all stared at that man. “Nuts,” said Parley, speaking for all of us.

Brother Erkenbrack looked at his paper. “But, look! They’ll have a room like one in an old-time sailing ship, and you can pretend to be a passenger...”

“Not a captain?” asked Parley.

“I don’t think so. But then you get to go to immigration and find out what it was like to come to America for the first time.” He looked at us. “It wasn’t wonderful, I understand.” He kept reading. “There will be international snacks, and movies, and the adults can do their family history. The kids will do a multimedia mural.”

“Multimedia?” I cried. “With DVDs and CDs and music videos?”

“Sorry, Sariah. More like paint and chalk and markers and crayons. Now, did everyone bring some pioneer ancestors to share today?”

Everyone had. Of course Parley Parkin told how he was related to the original Parley P. Pratt, and how his whole name is Parley Parker Pratt Parkin. Haynie had a grandma that walked all the way from Nauvoo to Utah and didn’t get to ride in the wagon one single time. Shaynie had a Pilgrim for an ancestor. I squirmed in my chair. I did not want to show everyone the pioneer ancestor I’d brought.

        “What about you, Sariah?”

        I squirmed some more, then I took out the picture my mom had given me.

        “Who’s that?” Parley asked.

        “It’s my mom the day she got baptized.”

        “That’s not a very old picture,” said Shaynie.

“My mom says she’s a pioneer, because she’s the first one in her family that got baptized,” I explained, feeling squirmier and squirmier inside. “My dad’s family has lots of pioneers, but Grandma hasn’t sent them yet.”

        “All families have pioneers...” started Brother Erkenbrack.

“So, Parley’s ancestor is the famous-est, Haynie’s is the pioneer-est, mine is the oldest, and Sariah’s is the boring-est!” interrupted Shaynie.

I jumped out of my chair. “Shaynie Hilton, my mother’s name was Smith before she got married. Like in Joseph Smith! Think about that!”

        “Brother Erkenbrack, Sariah said she’s related to Joseph Smith!” tattled Shaynie.

“And her mom’s name was Smith, before she got married Smith, too. My mom said so, and that’s a lot of Smiths.”

“But your mom also said she just barely got baptized.” Shaynie folded her arms, as if that proved it.

“Shaynie, twenty years ago is not exactly ‘just baptized,” I said. Shaynie just sniffed, so I had to keep going. “It’s just that...she’s related to Joseph Smith’s uncle. His name was...Bill Smith! And right before Joseph got the gold plates he went lion hunting in Africa. And he got lost. And he wandered and wandered around in Africa. And his family didn’t come out until a little before my mom took the missionary discussions, and...”

“Sariah McDuff, there wasn’t any such thing as Africa back then.”

        “Was so!”

“Whoa, everyone, no one asked about my ancestors yet!” Brother Erkenbrack has a nice, big voice. Before anyone else could say anything, he got up and threw open the door. His son Doug was standing out there, dressed up like...I didn’t know what he was dressed up like. He had on a plaid skirt, and a furry purse, and knee socks, and he was holding this huge thing with pokeys sticking up all over.

“Hey, he’s wearing a dress!” yelled Parley. All us kids giggled.

Brother Erkenbrack grinned, and so did Doug. “It’s called a kilt, Parley. Let’s go outside so he can play his bagpipes for you.”

“Play with what?” asked Haynie.

Doug punched a plaid bag on the pokey thing. It kind of groaned, and we all jumped. “In Scotland, my ancestors just called these the ‘pipes.’”

“He looks funny, Brother Erkenbrack,” whispered Shaynie.

“You know what people thought a thousand years ago in Scotland?” whispered Brother Erkenbrack. We all inched forward to hear him. “Hundreds of guys dressed like him would come marching over the hill, and a lot of them had swords and axes instead of bagpipes. People thought they looked really, really scary!”

        We all jumped. Doug laughed.

Outside, Doug played three different songs for us, but they didn’t sound very much like music to me. People peeked out the church windows. They were probably wishing their teachers had such interesting ancestors. Brother Erkenbrack told us about his ancestors that all died in this battle or that war. Then he passed around a silver pin with a cat on it.

“That belonged to my ancestor Hugh MacGillivray.”

“Did he die in a big battle, too?” asked Parley. Parley had decided to be a Scottish warrior when he grew up.

“No, he was a shoemaker, and he moved to Canada,” said Brother Erkenbrack.

“Oh. Too bad.” Parley handed back the pin.

Brother Erkenbrack shrugged. “Not too bad for the people in Canada. It’s cold there if you don’t have shoes.” He leaned toward us. “Doug here got baptized in the temple for Hugh last week. I think Hugh was glad.”

“But, what if he wasn’t glad?” asked Parley. “What if you made a mistake?”

“I promise you I didn’t make a mistake for taking Hugh’s name to the temple,” said Brother Erkenbrack. “Hugh can decide whether he wants to accept his baptism. But I think I felt him there.”

“Did he bring his bagpipes with him?” asked Shaynie. “I bet they’re not allowed in the temple.”

Doug laughed. “Maybe not—but I’m guessing they’re allowed in heaven.”

I’m guessing Shaynie had more to say about bagpipes, because her mouth was opening again when my mother walked up.

“Sister McDuff,” Shaynie cried out, “are you really related to Joseph Smith’s uncle Bill Smith? Did he really get lost in Africa hunting lions?”

“Er...no,” Mom said. She gave me an archy eyebrows look. “Not that I know of, anyway.” She sat down with us. “You see, on my father’s side, the Smiths came from Connecticut...”

I kind of stuck my elbow in Mom’s side. “Mom!” I whispered, trying to talk with my mouth closed, “don’t tell them about all those Smiths!”

Mom frowned at me, and she kept talking and talking about Smiths. “...and they helped settle this area of Pennsylvania. Four different Smith families could be called pioneers in this county. On my mother’s side, the Smiths came from New Jersey. In fact, I have two different Smith great-grandmothers who both married into the same Smith family...”

Shaynie hopped up. “I see my mother, Brother Erkenbrack.” Then she leaned over and whispered, “Told you you had the boring-est ancestors!”

        My mother and I both glared at that girl’s pigtails as she left.