Sunday, July 28, 2019

Time for a Genealogy Reduction

That does it! Time to put my family trees on a diet!

Normally, building a pedigree chart takes the genealogist on a predictable pattern of growth: for every child, there are two parents, four grandparents, eight greats, and so on. In my mother-in-law's tree, however, I run into the occasional pedigree collapse. It's not exactly a case of endogamy, but what I prefer to dub "endogamy lite"—lots of cousins (but not too many) marrying each other throughout the generations.

That would seem to leave me with a family tree with less than the expected number of ancestors. However, since I'm building this tree from my mother-in-law and working backwards from her family, I don't necessarily realize the duplication of names as I work through the generations.

Let's just say her family tree looks more like a tapestry, with its many interwoven threads of relationships, than the typical branching pedigree diagram. And then, suddenly, I get that deja vu feeling: Hey, I've seen that name before! Haven't I???

Right now, her tree sits at 16,587 names. Thanks to the discovery of an obituary of a distant cousin last week, I ended up adding 171 more names to her tree. This is a tree which is easy to build, because every family in that good, multiplying Catholic line seemed to stay in the same place—Perry County, Ohio—for generations. That process, however, ends up creating more work for me when I realize I've just snuck up on the back end of yet another display of pedigree collapse. I've got the same couple—and all their children—listed on another branch of her tree. Or two. Or three.

Thus, the need to go back and weed through all those names, checking for duplicates. It's time to do that again, a process I started this weekend (or my count would have been even higher).

Meanwhile, that progress I keep intending to maintain on my mother's southern roots—especially considering I'll be taking another SLIG class to bolster my efforts on Virginia ancestors—has slowed in the meantime. Yes, I've increased the count of names on her tree to 19,034—gaining 290 names in the past two weeks—but it could have been even more, if I hadn't let myself get distracted by the web of relatives I found duplicated in my mother-in-law's tree.

I suppose I can't have it my way in every case. And, as far as the men's trees in my family, I didn't. There was zero progress made on my father-in-law's tree and my own dad's tree—although that count is somewhat deceptive. Remember, on account of several DNA matches which have recently appeared—I got another close match just this past week—I've started a hidden tree to build out the line of a certain Michalski family of Milwaukee, which apparently is somehow connected to my paternal grandfather's ancestors. This, on its own, is good news for me, since my grandfather was reticent about telling his descendants anything about his past, but on paper, it doesn't look like I've made much progress figuring out the nexus between those Milwaukee folks and my own dad's New York line. However, even there, I now have 97 names in that tree, though I still haven't found any documents to verify the connection.

So, for the next two week's research plan, I'll be putting my mother-in-law's tree on a genealogy diet, weeding out the duplicate entries among her ancestors. But at the same time, thanks to some DNA matches coming my way lately, I'll be feverishly at work, seeking any connection between my ancestors and those DNA matches on my father's line and also on my father-in-law's tree. The urge to connect—and the emails flying between the continents in this pursuit—is demanding focus.  


  1. Replies
    1. I'm sure cheering! You know what they say...when it rains, it pours. After waiting all these years, suddenly all these matches are showing up.


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