Thursday, February 13, 2020

Meanwhile, Chattering Away
in the Background

After this genealogy guinea pig bared her soul and confessed her more-than-disorganized research shortcomings yesterday, a few thoughts popped up and demanded a postscript. Today, they will have their moment in court.

No matter how organized a researcher hopes to be, the truth of the matter is that the minutiae of organization seldom makes for exciting scripts. First-I-did-this-and-then-I-did-that can be mind-numbing in its exquisite organization. For the most part, I spare you that detail. I am, after all, focused on the story, not the snooze.

However, much like the teletype machine in the old-fashioned newsroom, my research is chattering away in the background. Only rarely does the bell go "ding" to alert everyone of a breaking story. Meanwhile, center stage holds the unfolding of another story's account—while the real work is getting done behind the scenes.

That is the type of drudgery I mentioned yesterday: that relentless fine-tooth-comb cleaning process, with every step calculated to miss not a speck of misplaced conclusions. While that is necessary, it makes for boring copy. But if I don't keep at it—in the background, of course—I never get the chance to stumble across an interesting aberration which will alert me to that next fascinating family history story.

So, this week, while leading up to the story of how two Georges—and not the ones you had been thinking—might have been the namesakes for Georgetown in the Washington, D.C., area, behind the scenes, I've been methodically combing through the entire Gordon family tree.

I'm far from done with this process, of course. There were too many Gordons per generation to make this an easy exercise. But thanks to this periodic review, I do discover branches that were entirely omitted the last time I passed this way, or which now can be joined to the freshly-digitized historical records added to the online collections I frequent. Often, these updates lead me to new details, some of which even include a story or two.

Now that the Gordon story has led me back yet another generation, I'll add documentation to my mother-in-law's tree to connect John Gordon to his father George. Not that the story is now completed—finding George only dredges up further questions in my mind, of course—but it will take its place in the ebb and flow of research. At some point, I'll set it aside and let it rest until more can be found to bring me back even farther—to Scotland, perhaps. But I'm a firm believer in not banging my head against a wall; when the trail goes cold, it's time to switch tracks and pursue a more profitable course along another surname's line.

And for our current plans, that is exactly what we'll be doing. I mentioned one of the reasons I was delighted to find the Tenmile Country book is that it included some other surnames which intertwined with my mother-in-law's Gordon line. One of those lines was that of a family—or maybe more than one family—named Rinehart. Thankfully, the Rinehart line is mentioned in that same Tenmile Country book, and will be the family history we will turn our attention to, next week.

Meanwhile, like that teletype machine, you can be sure my check-the-records routine will continue to chatter away in the background while, on center stage, we roll out another family story.

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