Research

2017

Osmond Family Research

In early 2017, the Osmond Family Organization (OFO) conducted extensive research into the early Osmond's of Devon, England. The pedigree chart shown below lists some of these individuals--including Thomas Osmond (listed at the top of the pedigree chart) who was born about 1491 and was of Stag Mill, Uplowman, Devon, England. Many descendants of Thomas Osmond have now been identified and included in the OFO online database: Osmond and Davis Genealogies.

2016

Research on the Relationships of the

Osmans of Burford, England, to the

Osmonds of Utah, USA

Vanishing Names

A family history research story

In only a few decades the names and dates had become almost unreadable. Unless an effort was made to photograph and decipher what had once been written in stone, valuable information would be lost to future generations.

Jimmy Osmond knew what he had to do. As the youngest member of the famous Osmond family singers of Utah, Jimmy was performing at venues in southern England during October 2016 when he felt he needed to take the time to find and photograph the gravestones of some of his distant cousins in Burford, Oxfordshire.

Jimmy knew that his Osmond ancestry extended back hundreds of years to Burford, but he had never personally visited its church, St. John the Baptist, where his ninth great-grandfather, John Osmund, had lived during the 1500’s.

Jimmy’s parents, George and Olive Osmond, had established the Osmond Family Organization in 1954 and served a mission to England in the mid-1980’s. During this time they conducted research on George’s direct English ancestors, but they never had the time, unfortunately, to investigate many of George’s extended “cousin” lines in and near Burford.

In 1985, George Osmond stated the following to an English news reporter: “When Olive and I married forty years ago, right away we started tracing our roots. …Here in London we are working at the information center [of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]…and spend every spare minute searching [our family ancestry]. Genealogy has become the number one hobby in the United States now, but it’s also an important part of our church’s teaching to track down our roots. …There’s no end to it. We just keep on digging. We believe our ancestors are very much alive and we want to find out all we can about them.”

When word reached Jimmy that the gravestone inscriptions of Jane Osman (1766-1855)--who was Jimmy’s “fifth cousin five-times removed”--and her husband Henry Titcomb were deteriorating or “vanishing off the face of the stone,” and that a number of gravestones of their descendants were still visible in the churchyard, Jimmy contacted Anglican church officials in Burford who then helped him locate, document and photograph the gravestones of his deceased cousins.

Although valuable information about these descendants was already available in the parish records of St. John the Baptist, the dates and relationships still visible on the gravestones produced new facts about some of these Osmond cousins.

According to Jimmy, “It was wonderful to be able to find and record the names and dates that were on the gravestones. I know that my distant cousins were aware that I was taking an interest in their lives and now their information can be entered into FamilySearch Tree.”

(Written by Clayton and Ethel Brough, January 2017)

2015

Donny Osmond at RootsTech 2015:

Family history - 'Anyone can do it'

by Ginny Romney, Deseret News newspaper

Published: Sunday, Feb. 15 2015 9:00 a.m. MST

Donny Osmond at RootsTech: Family history - 'Anyone can do it'

Donny Osmond, a 50-year veteran of the show business industry since making his TV debut at 5 years old, talked at the RootsTech conference Saturday morning about the importance of recording family stories and discovering more about their ancestors.

"The truth is, I'm not an expert like many of you, but that's what I love about family history - anyone can do it," Osmond said.

When Osmond was touring with Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in the mid-1990s, genealogy became one of his favorite hobbies. While he was on the road, away from his family, he became serious about family history using the 40 years of research his mother turned over to him, he said.

"Once I began and I got focused, it was like building a huge jigsaw puzzle," he said. "The more you do, the more pieces you put together, the more fun it becomes and this whole picture starts to become a reality."

Technology like the resources on FamilySearch.org has made it easier to collaborate and connect the pieces, he said.

"Like a puzzle, it doesn't get bigger and bigger, it gets smaller and smaller," he said. "Sometimes, when you hit that dead end and move to another branch, by the time you revisit that previous branch, someone else has also started researching that same branch and brought that missing piece to the puzzle … which now allows you to continue."

Doing family history opens genealogists to learning more about not just their ancestors, but also themselves, Osmond said.

"It's all about stories and realizing that when you discover more about your ancestors, the more you discover about yourself," he said.

Osmond said that along with having family connections through stories and traditions, scientific studies have proven that traits and attitudes are genetic and give family members an opportunity to discover some of the reasons "we are who we are, we have the looks that we do, the character traits and the attributes that we possess."

The strength from his "tough, tenacious" predecessors, especially his father, has inspired him throughout his life, he said. His father endured hardships, especially as a teenager, and he "prevailed over it - over so much adversity."

"He's the source of my strength," he said. "I honor that man. I thank God everyday that I come from his DNA."

In an interview with the Deseret News, Osmond said he was also able to find connections to ancestors through finding common interests, especially when he visited Wales and the gravesite of his great-great grandfather. Welsh people are known "for their voices," he said, and a choral group sang to him during his visit.

"It was a special moment, that I'm coming back home and they're singing to me," he said.

Donny Osmond Speaks at

2015 RootsTech Conference

by Ryan Morganegg, LDS Church News, Deseret News newspaper

Published: February 14, 2015, and the week of February 22, 2015

Donny Osmond Speaks at 2015 RootsTech Conference

...The final speaker at the Saturday morning session was entertainer Donny Osmond who flew in from Las Vegas that morning to present at RootsTech. He was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd who cheered as he entered.

After showing several video clips and sharing stories about his life and the lives of his family, Brother Osmond explained the importance of documenting a person’s life. “Has your life been documented? If not, why not? The legacy you leave behind is just as significant as anyone else, including me,” he said.

Sharing his music talent with the enthusiastic audience, he sang several songs including “Puppy Love,” “Moon River,” and “The Gift of Love.” In the annals of pop music history, Donald Clark Osmond will probably always be known as the guy who sang that song about a puppy, he said.

“When you explore your family history, you end up learning more about yourself,” said Brother Osmond. He shared stories about his pioneer ancestor Elizabeth Williams and the life of his dad, George Virl Osmond. These ancestors taught him the importance of being strong and overcoming adversity. At times when he needs motivation, Brother Osmond’s thoughts often turn to his father. “He had a harder life than anyone can imagine in his teens. He prevailed over so much adversity, so he’s the source of my strength.”

When the opportunity came to be a part of the television show “Dancing with the Stars,” Brother Osmond reflected on his ancestors and their tough and tenacious attributes. At the time he was performing in Las Vegas and adding more to his already demanding schedule was very difficult. Reflecting on what his ancestors had overcome in the past helped him gather the strength to meet the challenges of the present. He went on to win the entire competition for the ninth season of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Brother Osmond also shared a personal family history experience while traveling for six years performing in the musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” During his spare time he would work on his family history and developed a love for it because it was like figuring out a puzzle. About hitting roadblocks doing family history, he said, “I feel the presence of my ancestors all the time helping me. Miracles happen all the time.”

To finish his comments at the conference, Brother Osmond said that if audience members remembered only one thing it should be, “Give your loved ones and your friends your time. Things don’t matter. It’s the love that lasts. Stories last. Your reputation lasts. Who you are lasts.”

When asked why he decided to present at RootsTech he told the Church News, “I love computer technology and I’ve loved to see how FamilySearch has advanced over the years. ... I love how everyone is contributing and coming together to work in the same database.”

2014

Shown below in the red circle is Donny Osmond, pictured on a large wall pedigree chart that existed from 2008 to 2014 inside the main floor area of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Information about this chart was published by Lee Benson in the Deseret News newspaper of 15 June 2008 under the title of "Offspring of a great dad alter world."

A Christmas Wish Comes True

Donny Osmond's message to his older brother, Alan, was brief but specific: "Before the end of the year I wish we could find a close cousin of our Welch ancestor [John Martin] who still lives in the United Kingdom." Unknown to Donny was that inspiration, time, and technology were quickly coming together to make his Christmas wish come true.

John Martin (1846-1900) is Donny and Alan's great-great-grandfather (through their mother's lineage). John was a coal miner in Wales and married Anna Jenkins in 1866. They immigrated to Utah in 1868, eventually settling in Samaria, Idaho, where John farmed and he and his wife raised ten children. Interestingly, John played the violin and organ, and he and Anna taught their children how to sing four part harmony. This musical tradition was later passed down and magnified by their famous descendants--the Osmond family singers of Utah.

Donny's wish soon became known to other family members within the Osmond Family Organization of Utah. Two of them contacted Mark Gardner, a British consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, who voluntarily helped them track down John Martin's "first cousin twice removed": Charles Edward Capel Martin (1913-1998)--who had served in the British Royal Navy during World War II and was a well-known sports car racer. Feeling inspired, family researchers then contacted Simon Collier, Donny's fourth cousin who lives in England, and asked him to try and find a distant family relative living in the United Kingdom who might have information about Charles descendants. A short time later, Simon found the relative who informed him that Charles had a grandson who was "alive and well" and living in Europe.

Within a few days after receiving Simon's information, family researchers in Utah located Charles grandson: Charles Richard Lloyd Martin, who lives in England and is a fifth cousin to Donny and Alan Osmond. Upon hearing that he was related to the Osmond's, Charles said, "I must admit this is the weirdest thing to think that we are in some way related to Donny and Marie Osmond. As soon as my first [child] was born I became interested in my roots and worked on [my Martin] family tree…which now contains nearly 700 persons dating back to 1540." When Donny heard about Charles being found in England, he texted family members, saying, "It's so great to see how everything can come together today to help us quickly find family and relatives. Thanks everyone for making a Christmas wish come true."

Alan Osmond has summarized the discovery of finding his Martin cousin this way: "Finding cousins like Charles Martin would have been very difficult a few decades ago. My mother and father, George and Olive Osmond, spent years trying to find living Martin cousins in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, but met with little success. Today, using inspiration and the tools of technology which the Lord has blessed us with-such as FamilySearch, online indexes and sources, and social media sites--we can more quickly find our deceased and living relatives and thereby 'hasten the work'."

by R. Clayton Brough, OFO Family Genealogist, December 2014

2011 - 2013

2010

Famous Family Focuses on Finding Families

On December 11, 2010, the LDS Church News of the Deseret News newspaper published the following account of the Osmonds family and their family history work. This newspaper article (quoted below) was entitled "Family history moments: Family's focus", but was known as "Famous Family Focuses on Finding Families".

Church News article, Deseret News, December 11, 2010

(Text and photo of article is shown below)

For decades the Osmonds have sung and performed for people around the world. In July 2008, all nine siblings of the famous Osmond family — Virl, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy — performed together with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during two evenings of Pioneer Day celebrations in the LDS Conference Center. However, even when performing in different parts of the world, this large family has always taken time to focus on families, including trying to locate distant cousins and performing temple work for their deceased ancestors and relatives.

The Osmonds' love of family history and temple work was instilled in them when they were young. Their parents, George and Olive Osmond, contributed countless hours toward genealogy and temple work, and involved their children in this "eternal work" as much as possible. As the mother of the world-famous singing family, Olive Osmond was constantly on the go. Yet, wherever she went she was continually answering and sending family history letters, compiling and directing genealogical research work, devising and suggesting new ways to enter family data into computer programs, and constantly encouraging relatives and her worldwide audience to become more involved in genealogy and family history.

As Alan Osmond has said, "My mother taught her children how to do family research, and we published our family history in several magazines and on various websites." In 2008 the Osmonds traveled around the world on their 50th Anniversary World Tour, and according to Alan, "We would greet the audiences from the stage as, 'Hi, Cousin! How Are We Related?'"

Donny Osmond has likewise stated, "I inherited the love of genealogy from my mother and have fond memories of doing research with her and sharing our 'finds' together. I know that my mother has now been united with those ancestors she became familiar with while doing her genealogy work."

Today, Donny supports a worldwide Osmond Research and Extraction Project, while Alan oversees Osmond-related temple work and maintains a family history website, [www.osmondfamily.org]. And recently, Jimmy Osmond — while performing in England — took the time to dedicate the grave of his great-great-grandfather, George Osmond Sr.

Indeed, it can be said that the dedication of the Osmond siblings to family history and temple work started when they were very young, for they were taught by their parents the importance and blessings that come from being involved in such "eternal work."

-----[Written by] Clayton and Ethel Brough, Osmond family history representatives, West Jordan, Utah