All of us have been guilty of complaining when there is little we can find on a “brick wall” ancestor. When the opposite occurs—we have so many search results that we hardly can come up, gasping, for air—we make nary a peep.
And no wonder. We’re tap dancing as fast as we can, leaving records, notes, books, files, and other extraneous material strewn in our path as we chase the no-longer-elusive ancestor straight back to the lair where his or her full genealogical records are stashed.
I’ve had a lot of that good fortune this past fall and winter. From the looks of the disheveled stacks of notes left in the wake of this sprint toward genealogical serendipity, it’s high time I cleaned things up. That, however, is becoming part of this catch-all week’s domain: go back and see what was found but not followed through yet.
A reminder came in the form of an email yesterday, gently broaching the subject. In this particular case, in my tear across Ireland, then Canada, and finally trailing our Tully ancestors into the United States, a few possible distant cousins’ burial plots were located, thanks to Iggy, who, in addition to being a regular reader here, also happens to be one of the many volunteers who make Find A Grave the useful resource that it is.
It’s time for me to go back and round up the many memorials he set up on my behalf, and take them over as a volunteer, myself. This I’m tentatively beginning to do.
In addition, since I’m not yet certain about how—or if—some of these Tully people fit in our family’s bigger picture, I’ve decided to go back and construct an official family tree to connect the right ones with their own families. The best way to do this, I’ve concluded, is to set up a private family tree on Ancestry.com.
My thinking on this is relatively straightforward: I know how the parents and the children—and maybe a few siblings—connect, but I don’t know how they all plug into the bigger Tully picture, so why perpetrate errors? If I construct my phantom tree under cover of a “private tree” at Ancestry.com—where I’m already a subscriber—then my work won’t be out there for anyone to come by and snatch away, before I have the chance to warn my fellow researcher that, hey, I’m not entirely sure what I’ve posted is correct.
Perhaps this is no more efficient than leaving notes scribbled to myself on the back of scratch paper. But at least I’ll have all those notes gathered together in one place, and in a form that makes more sense—and maybe even gains some documentation, as well. The only place that would leave a mess, now, would be in a private file that only I can see—and the few brave passers-by who, as Ancestry suggests, ask me nicely for permission to gain access.
These two tasks alone may seem trifling, but when you consider all the photographs my husband has snapped of headstones in Ireland, coupled with Find A Grave entries set up for those Ontario and Michigan Tullys we’ve since found, that can add up to a sizeable chunk of work. Not that I’m going to get that all done in this brief hiatus between Christmas and New Year, either. But this is the lull between holidays when I can think these things over. And believe me, there is a lot of thinking to do to gather the many loose ends I’ve strewn all over the blogosphere in the last few months.
I like to think of this exercise as my way of preventing myself, in the future, from reinventing my genealogical wheel—at least on this family line. Perhaps it will also be the device that keeps others from having to reinvent their research wheel, as well.