Monday, August 30, 2010

The Blooming Tree

When we start out doing genealogy, most of us concentrate on just our direct line of ancestors. We get ourselves and our children listed, then our grandparents and their parents. Hopefully as you go along, you are also including all the children born of each of those generations as they are important to be added to your tree. The tree grows, with the parents and the children of that union and you continue your quest until you just can't find any more information.

Many people stop at this point which I truly find amazing! I personally want to find out as much as I can about each and every member of the family as I possibly can. So as I go through each generation, I expand my searching. With each of the siblings of my direct line ancestor, I attempt to find out who their brothers and sisters married and then develop that line just as if it were a direct line ancestor. Often I have found that brothers will marry sisters in another family and vise verse. What is really fun is to find that a set of twins marries another set of twins! Don't forget to develop the spouse's side of the family as well. You learn lots of interesting things and often find that families crisscrossed back and forth, marrying into each others family at different generations.

By also developing the lines of siblings, you can often break through a brick wall. There is often different information listed on vital records, such as birth, marriage and death records, as will as death notices or obituaries. Be sure to also check out the census records for each of the siblings as they go off and get married. Different years when census reports were taken, requested different information to be recorded. You may stumble across something that will help you with your research.

Something else that I learned the hard way, was to be sure to also check cemeteries closely. Run all surnames that are linked together by marriage in any given cemetery listing. Many cemeteries are now listed on state and/or county genealogy websites as well as being listed at find a grave, which I also like. There are a few differences in the way that these entries are made though which you need to be made aware of. At find a grave graves will be listed alphabetically. Most of the time, although not always, when you find them on a state or county genealogy website, they will be listed according to their actual location by rows in the cemetery. This can be very helpful to you when you are looking for possible connections to another family, since they often bought plots next to each other in the cemetery. At find a grave, whoever posted the grave site, will often indicate on each one, spouses and children who are also buried there in that cemetery. You can also go back and click on the cemetery name and just type in the last name and it will bring up everyone in that cemetery with that surname.

By developing these other lines, you might find out that you are related to some very famous people. I know that to be true in my own lineage. Who knew I was related to Abraham Lincoln and Tom Hanks through a marriage of one of my ancestors to a Hanks woman!

I love having "shirt-tail relatives"!  I've found that I am related to several Presidents and Vice Presidents, famous writers like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Congressmen and Senators, actors and actresses. Of course you may come across some "black sheep" in the family as well!

I think one of the thrills of doing genealogy is finding answers to oddities that you find. Like, you find a statement such as they changed their surname to...... or a child all of a sudden appears with a strange first name that just doesn't fit into the naming patterns from previous generations or didn't show up on previous census reports like they should have. Where did that child come from?  Is it actually a relatives child? What happened to their parents?  I know in several instances in my own genealogy, there were children who's parents died either by Indian attacks on their villages, the mother died in child birth and the father had the children go live with relatives because he couldn't care for them, there were children who were adopted from other families who weren't relatives when their parents died. If I didn't have those notations already in the work that had been done on our family history, I would never have known and had to spend hours searching records to put the pieces together.

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