Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chasing Those Numbers Ever Higher

Just like those fireworks zooming ever higher in the sky tonightat some point they will have to crest their pinnacle and reverse directionthe count on my family trees seems to be headed ever upward. You know this has got to stop at some point.

Indeed, as I work my way through various lines of the Gordon familydiscovering cousins marrying cousins and other causes for double entriesI've already had to merge or delete entries. You'd think that would have some impact on the overall count, but it doesn'tat least not yet. There are too many others still to add to this extended family tree.

Although I still have my one goal, on my maternal line, of finding the nexus with that mystery cousin who is an exact match on my mtDNA test, in the face of another demanding goaltransferring all my mother-in-law's family records from my database running on a decrepit computerI've had other priorities. That's part of the reason for the focus on the Gordon line, lately. Couple that with our upcoming trip back east, including some family history research, and it stands to reason that there's been a great deal of progress on at least one line in the past half month.

While my mother's tree advanced by forty, and my father-in-law's tree gained sixty seven, thanks to that Gordon frenzy, my mother-in-law's tree zoomed ahead by 821 additional names. The totals on each of those separate trees, at this point, are 8,035 for my mother's tree, 1,022 for my father-in-law's tree, and 7,261 for my mother-in-law's tree. (The fourth tree, that of my own father, is still stuck at 180, and will likely stay that way until a significant breakthrough slaps me in the face.)

While my main effort in the past two weeks has been to transfer, one by one, each of the individuals in the Gordon line from my old computer to my new one, it requires a strenuous follow-through. After all, that database was built back when SASEs ruled the day for documentation requests. Thus, documentation was quite sparse, especially for those cases in which I didn't have access to microfilms or didn't have a trip planned to the locale in question. Even the entries I did have might have been shared with someone who vouched for having found the documentation, like my frequent correspondent and fellow Gordon researcher.

It goes without saying that one reason my progress requires that second step of verification is the lack of access from that old research era. Now, my follow-up is to double check each entry in that database, add all the verification I can find for each individual, and make what corrections that process will inevitably require.

In the meantime, I noticed another set of numbers going upone which I hadn't been tracking. Since I am transferring that data from my (wood burning) Family Tree Maker program to the online tree at, every time I add a name, it seems my total number of hints goes up by ten. While I appreciate the help, it seems the faster I clear all those hints, the faster more appear. (Of course, it doesn't help when a distant family member decides to upload sixty photos to her own family treeand I get to receive the hint notifications!)

Because of thisjust because it seems so overwhelmingI'm going to add one more category to the details I'm tracking. Yes, I know this category can get exponential, and may really be beyond my control. But when I keep clearing "99+" hints from my screen, seemingly every time I look around on Ancestry, it makes me wonder just how many get added, just from the work I'm churning out.

So, the new count will have two categories: overall pending hints count (per family tree) and total number of people (in the tree) who have hints pending.

Even though the tree overviews at Ancestry provide them, I'm choosing to omit the count comparisons for categories like photo hints, story hints, and member tree hints. The photo hint category just drives me ballistic; there is no end to my irritation over people who find it necessary to post photographs on Ancestry of "Nana's Pink Room" (which then, of course, automatically generates a hint to let me know of that precious little addition). While the story hint may sometimes be a helpful reference, I seldom use these as additions to my own trees, so find it useless to count. And though I might take a peek at other members' trees, I never actually add their tree to mine, but instead dismiss them, so counting those hints would be superfluous.

This week's tally will serve as a baseline, as I haven't gleaned these numbers in past weeks. Here's where we stand, right now, for each tree's hints:
  • Davis tree with 14,540 hints for 3,806 people (out of a total of 8,035 in the tree)
  • McCann tree with 121 hints for 45 people (out of a total of 180 in tree)
  • Flowers tree with 13,729 hints for 3,386 people (out of a total of 7,261 in tree)
  • Stevens tree with 922 hints for 372 people (out of a total of 1,022 in tree)

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me, just to take a look at each of these hints and decide whether to dismiss out of hand or add to the tree's documentation. The faster I add relatives to a tree, the faster Ancestry pedals to zing those hints my way. The more I work, the higher the numbers go.

Though my wonderland adventures are much different than his, I have an affinity for that white rabbit once again: the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

Above: Sir John Tenniel's classic image of Lewis Carroll's white rabbit, taken from the 1890 version, "The Nursery Alice"; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Replies
    1. A bit overwhelming to think of, sometimes...

  2. That's a lot of hints!!

    I have about 1000 to look into when I get some time!

    1. Sometimes, it seems like I'm pedaling as fast as I can, but still going backwards. It seems as if, when you look into them, those hints automatically multiply!


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