Saturday, January 6, 2024

Ancestor #12:
Family Trees of the Rich and Famous


Nah, just kidding. This won't be about those rich and famous. Besides, there's already a program for that. A far less exotic set of people is involved in the project I've recently launched: building the family trees of the settlers who arrived in my county after we achieved statehood, some of whose descendants gained recognition locally for their own name and achievements.

Face it: finding suitable subjects for this year's Twelve Most Wanted—my attempt at organizing my genealogy research for each upcoming year—has become more challenging. Not that I've "finished" my family tree—there is always just one more generation to find—but a good fifty percent of the ancestors I'm seeking lie cloaked in the shroud of international intrigue. 

Well, let's say I'm intrigued. And the ancestors do involve a search across borders. The problem is that American genealogical organizations seem to focus most on the records at hand in their own country—then, perhaps, the rest of the same continent. Then, too, what can be said for wars and other dastardly destruction of records, not to mention all the other signs of life? Problem is, I'm having trouble digging any deeper on the two men in my annual quest for ancestors: my dad and my father-in-law.

In the meantime, I've been involved in a "First Families" project with my local genealogical society, partnered with our county's historical society. We are building an archived resource for those researching the early settlers in our county—not really a daunting task, since we only achieved statehood in 1850.

As I work through the applications sent by descendants of those early settlers, I realized something. It is far easier for me to visualize the data required if I sketch it out on my preferred database management system (and if you can't guess from prior posts, it's Rather than hunting and pecking through Ancestry's vast collection of documents to confirm or deny an application sketched out on paper, I found it far easier to just set up the applicant's tree online in a private, unsearchable mode, and do my work from there.

Meanwhile, realizing we could make it far easier for future applicants to participate in the project if they found a toe-hold to start their application, I wanted to set up a shareable database of those ancestors whose records have already been entered into our program. 

That, of course, takes work—far more than just one person can handle. While I am organizing the project behind the scenes already, hopefully more of our genealogical society's members will volunteer to work on the "tree" soon. And by the end of the year—and that twelfth month, which would normally be time to review Ancestor #12 of my Most Wanted—I'll have some stories to share of the intrepid settlers who chose to make their home in our central California county.


  1. That sounds like quite a project!

    1. Oh, this will be a multi-year project, I'm sure, Miss Merry! But volunteers will help. It should be fascinating, at least for those of us who live locally or had roots here.


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