Thursday, July 15, 2021

Attending to Unfinished Business


I often hear talk of genealogy "do overs." Perhaps I just don't get that concept because I am always making adjustments to my family trees. 

Now that I am revisiting a brick wall ancestor who had previously kept me locked in check mate, I am again discovering several spots needing further attention. Catherine Kelly Stevens may have departed this life early, but her siblings' entries in my newly-combined family tree still need attention.

That problem occurred back in January, though of course I never noticed the defect until now. It all came about when I realized the best way to handle our new world of genetic genealogy was to abandon my former tree-keeping design of a separate tree for each of my child's grandparents. Instead of keeping one tree for my mother-in-law and yet another one for my father-in-law, I decided to merge the two trees into one.

That decision, however, presented a problem of its own. While I could now attach my husband's DNA test to one specific tree—and better handle the identities of each of his DNA matches on that same unified tree—I couldn't simply take the one tree and merge it with the other.

Well, technically, I could. But I don't want to.

Why? I'm a stickler for what I call the "footnote" column on each relative's profile in If I simply add information from another tree—whether it is a tree I've built myself or someone else's work—all I'll see on the "footnote" column is a tag identifying the source as another Ancestry tree. Of course, I don't want that; I want the footnote column to include, well, footnotes. I want to see a link to the document where I found each line item of that ancestor's life details.

So yes, that meant ever since January, I've been slogging through those thousands of names and adding each census record, each death record, and each additional genealogically significant item, line by line, to the correct ancestor on the new, combined tree.

The easiest way to do this was to add my father-in-law's tree to my mother-in-law's tree. After all, hers is the disproportionately huge one which was approaching twenty thousand entries already. Why make things any harder on me?

In the process, inadvertently there were some Stevens line ancestors left out of the the very family I'm trying to work on right now. So, just consider this month my own personal genealogy do-over of sorts, rebuilding the tree for all of Catherine Kelly Stevens' siblings, their spouses and, for those who had children, all those lines of descent as well.

On the positive side, any time we review our work with those fresh eyes, not only do we discover incomplete work, but we can discover newly digitized documents which can add to the story. Using, for instance, I've now added several other details to this extended family line, by virtue of marriage and obituary entries which were not available to me, the last time I passed this way.

Tedious? Yes. But while I haven't yet stumbled upon any new facts to help point me in the right direction concerning these Irish immigrants, at least I'm getting a clearer picture of what life was like for the Kelly family, once they settled in their new world in Lafayette, Indiana, back in the 1850s.

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