Sunday, September 4, 2022

A Little Bit a Day Can Add Up


Add a little bit here, a little bit there, and pretty soon we're talking about some real numbers. Going the slow but steady route does wake us up to the fact that consistency can make a big difference over time.

That's the way it's been around here, working a little bit each day on the two family trees I've been building: one for my family, one for my husband's family. I focus on one research goal per month, rotating through the various branches of our families so that I spend equal time working on each side. Checking progress every two weeks brings that encouraging realization that the progress which feels hopelessly slow actually does amount to worthwhile results.

Of course, a little nibble on cousin bait helps prod me into action, and the unexpected Tilson connections on my maternal side lately have been an inspiration for a side project. So it was no surprise today to discover that that inspiration added up to an additional 327 names in my family tree over the past two weeks. The tree now has 29,339 documented individuals in total.

Even more exciting was crossing the 30,000 mark for my in-laws' tree. For the past two months, I've been working on planned research goals concerning my father-in-law's family, but progress there didn't seem so sturdy. After all, in the last two weeks, I only added eighty new names. But it was encouraging to see the total count nudge up to a count of 30,004 documented family members in that tree.

While I still have doubts that exploration of John Stevens' related family lines will reveal anything further about this Irish immigrant who was my husband's second great-grandfather, it has certainly been a learning experience. Yes, I have still to complete the exploration of reading material and documents. And of course, I'll also explore what DNA test results can reveal about this Stevens line. But there is really more to this research issue.

Sometimes, it's fun to see numbers rocketing upwards. Other times, I know that the most helpful route in research is to delve into the background information that will endow us with deeper understanding of our ancestors' experiences. I'm not sure this makes it a matter of choosing a "best" option; perhaps both routes are needed to reach back through time to thoroughly grasp the family stories of past generations. To connect and comprehend may be beyond our grasp, but I'm trying my best to come as close as possible to such an ideal.

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