Monday, April 13, 2020

Speed Treeing

Perhaps you've heard of speed dating, that process of enabling singles to quickly meet large numbers of eligible partners. Or its cousin, speed networking, which works on the same meet-and-move-on principle, only for business professionals. When I work through my family history research, I do the genealogist's version of speeding: I speed tree.

I use Speed Treeing for various reasons. Working my way from any given ancestor, down the lines of descent of both my direct line as well as all collateral lines, I can zip through several generations in a matter of a few brief hours. That means—if I am using, for instance—I can accept or reject any new "hints" for each person in my tree, based on the context of that family's situation. After all, I've just reviewed that specific family line while mentally keeping tabs on where the family settled, what time period we are discussing, and what became of each of the family's children.

It also means, given the hint of another researcher's family tree, I can quickly view it and decide whether it is correctly matched to mine, or is—or contains—a mistaken match to avoid. After all, I've just spent the last few hours familiarizing myself with the extended family's situation.

In the flash of an hour, I can see from my speed treeing experience the devastating after-effects of living through a war, or surviving an economic downturn, or suffering through an epidemic. I can even see how a family's generations spin out of control following the untimely death of a parent, regardless of cause for the tragic loss. Or how a family's can-do attitude carries them through hardship, reversing those signs of devastation.

With the rush through the details on each generation in a family line, it seems odd to say this, but I can get a sense of whether that family thrived or struggled. It's almost as if I were getting a chance to know them personally, even though they all are long gone.

For the past four weeks since our state has basically adhered to the shelter-in-place policy, I've been speed treeing through all my family lines, cleaning up details that needed clarification, or further verification, or outright removal of duplicates and other errors. Perhaps it was my need for something mindless to do while in the throes of nervous jitters over the news surrounding us, but I've covered a lot of pedigree ground in that month. Nothing to write about, of course—keep in mind my discovery about similarities between law-making, sausage-making and inappropriate genea-blogging—so I haven't mentioned much about my tour through the family trees.

There was one discovery, though, which warmed my heart leading up to this past Easter week, making me wish I could not only travel, but time travel, as well, to see a home which was not only a haven for family, but for the entire community, as well.

We'll begin exploring that story tomorrow.  

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