Monday, August 28, 2017

Rechecking the Fatherlines

It's time to take an inventory of my paternal lines to check for missing data. Since my surprise discovery last weekend of missing branches on our most recent generation of cousins, I've decided it was time to review every part of our current family—especially the paternal lines for both my own and my husband's family.

While this might seem like research drudgery, there are a few good reasons to periodically repeat this exercise.

For one, every time we switch our tree from one database to another, some individual records may not make the transition. In my case, while in the past I used Family Tree Maker as my primary tool for capturing the information gleaned while researching my relatives, when I switched to my new computer, I also made the jump from a desktop-resident program to The catch was: rather than just use a GEDCOM to make the transition, I spent a lot of time hand-entering each family member to the new format. My reason was to trigger Ancestry's hint mechanism to access support documentation for each step of the way. Of course, that process was not a guarantee of full coverage; I missed some people.

A corollary reason is that, given Ancestry's propensity to add more digitized documentation over time—or whichever other online genealogical program you might choose to use—that creates new hints for relatives already placed on my trees. I want to catch those new additions and link them to the appropriate ancestors, so that means reviewing my tree from time to time.

While most people start their tree with their own data, then move backwards in time to previous generations, there is an opposite process happening in real life, giving me yet another reason to review my paternal trees: the living generations have babies. Then those babies grow up and have children of their own. For those who've done genealogical research for decades, the time can slip by and suddenly, there's a tree missing two generations of data. I've got to retrace my steps and add the details on all those bouncing babies who've now graduated college or celebrated several wedding anniversaries.

Of course, the hope is that, in the process, I'll stumble upon some other clue which will lead me to answers on the brick walls in my paternal trees. I have some research problems which have kept me stumped for years. I keep hoping for a breakthrough, thanks to additional material now digitized and accessible.

In addition to the data, there are some family members who have taken an interest in sharing memories and stories with me, augmenting my own research. Social media has helped spark that interest, for every time I find a fun fact or unexpected documentation, I post it on Facebook and tag our siblings and cousins. That usually prompts a great conversation, the bonus being a few tidbits of further information.

Once this review process is taken care of for our two fathers' lines, it will be on to figure out the previous generations, checking each one until I run into those roadblocks, which are still there, awaiting my attention. 


  1. Yes I have asked my cousins to update their info...not much is happening on that front. No one seems interested...but me and I have so many cousins you would think one would be interested! Your family facebook group sounds like a great idea! :)

    1. Setting up a family Facebook group has worked for some families. Granted, if you can't get your cousins to help out with updating information just because you asked, they may not be tempted to do so, even if it is on Facebook.

      I look at the process as a step by step, one-person-at-a-time effort. I already have one relative who just posted all her kids' birthdays (and middle names!) on her page, so I don't even have to ask, there. And I do have a great-aunt who is always happy to fill me in on all her grandchildren and great-grands, so that speeds up the process.

      Hopefully, you can find something to snag your cousins' interest and get them involved. Something small like middle names or birthdates can be a task suggestion for starters, and move on from there.

      Do you do family reunions? Maybe if they knew it was for a game you're creating for a future event, they might be cajoled into helping...


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