I have a soft spot for certain family members in my tree. They're the ones that no one seems to know anything about. They probably never married. No kids. No descendants to look them up and learn about them generations down the line. All too often even genealogists who might list them for completion's sake, don't really do the due diligence they might to someone with children who might lead them to a living distant cousin. I can't say the reason, or perhaps it just seems that way to me. In any case, I try a little bit harder to find out about these relatives. They were people and deserve to be remembered. I have started calling them my Adopted Ancestors. They're not really my direct ancestors, but I try to honor them the same way.
But I haven't caught up on my 1940 census records! Bah! Well, the 1950 census records have been released and once again I looked up my dad's record first. Well, at least I have another 10 years to prepare for the 1960 records... not that I'll use them wisely of course.
So recently I made a slight modification to my SOP. In the past, if I had two "in-laws" (anyone married to a blood relative, not necessarily a standard in-law), I would add their parents and other siblings. This has ended. My new SOP is as follows...
A) If a person is a blood relative (no matter how distant) I will add them to my database.
B) If a person is married to someone in group A, I will add them to my database.
I recently purged all other entries. I am much happier about this. Again, I could add my sister-in-laws parents and grandparents and cousins and brothers and their in-laws and then I have 300,000 people in my database and well, that's really weird in my opinion. I'll stick to my family and their spouses. That way I can continue to offer more quality research over quantity.
When I started working on this, I never thought I'd get 5,000 people in this tree. Now, not only have I just reached 5,000, but 10,000 is not unimaginable, as I have really barely scratched the surface of my some of my families.
The long awaited redesign of the site is DONE and LIVE. (You are here!) C'mon in! The water's fine! If you have any comments, concerns, or snarky comments, please let me know via the contact page. Also, if you find something broken, PLEASE tell me!
I now have two statistical pages that may be of interest to at least one of the two people that read this. I created the Federal Census Stats page some time ago, and now I have finished the Individual Stats Page.
The Federal Census Stats page shows some data on how many census records I have by year and location. It was no surprise to me that Iowa and Wisconsin numbers crush every other in the system.
The Individual Stats page shows four graphs - all based on DOB by decade, Lifespan, Age at First Marriage, Number of Children, and Age at First and Last Child.
Both of these are linked from the About Page. Enjoy!
With the growing number of in-laws, I've come across a number of them that are related to each other. In the case where they are siblings, I used to add the parents and other siblings. No more. Now they will go on my new In-Laws page.
I started this because many of my Wisconsin in-laws are related to each other. The Kerkmans, the Eppings, the Ketterhagens to name a few. I was keeping track of some of these, but I decided to go whole hog and drop them onto a (partial) descendants view to show their relations. If they're on the in-laws page, there will be a link in their NOTES section. For now, if you'd like to see, I have the following surnames...enjoy.
What is your genealogy skill level? Are you a beginner? A pro? Somewhere in-between? Yeah...me too. I think I'm somewhere in-between. But I've been around long enough I think I can safely add this "pro tip" for everyone out there. Here it is. PLEASE avoid genealogy mob mentality. What is it? I'll tell you and why it is (in my opinion) the single biggest problem with modern genealogy.
The mob mentality works like this...
Many people start their research by looking at others' research. Perhaps it's not pure, but an easy way to get started on a particular family line. Now, when looking at Ancestry.com or rootsweb or any number of other sites that allow users to make their family tree public, you will often find many trees on many users' sites. Now, for instance, let's say there's 15 user trees that have information on this family. 14 are EXACTLY THE SAME. So, 14-1? I'm going with the 14...right? WRONG! More times than not I find (in cases like this) that the 14 are wrong and the 1 is correct. Here's why...
Chances are that ONE person did due diligence and researched this family. And perhaps they made some mistakes along the way. It happens. But they put the tree out to the public and left it for some time. They probably came back to it some time later and realized some mistakes and fixed them. However, in the mean time, someone copied the wrong information. Someone else copied that wrong information. And 12 more people copied that wrong information. So now we have 15 "bad" trees online when person 1 realizes their mistakes and fixes them. This is how you end up with 14 copies of wrong information and only 1 correct one.
Now, whether it "good practice" or not, I almost always start research on a new family by checking out what's out there already. Trust me when I say that when I come across a 14-1 scenario like this, I always start fact-checking the 1...not the 14. Like I said, more often than not, that's the one that's correct.
Regardless of what you're looking at, you MUST ALWAYS (always, always ALWAYS!) do your own research. I've come to know (via emails or just familiarity) hundreds of people on Ancestry. There's ONE and only one that I would trust to be right 100% of the time. But I still check her work out for myself. Not only is it the right way to do my research, but also I'm DYING to find a mistake in her work so I can consider myself as good as she is.
There have been countless discussions by Tree Bloggers of every shape and virtual size about the animosity of
name collectors amateur genealogists geno-ragers and how contacting them with a friendly "Hey! we share an ancestor, but we have different data. Would you like to compare notes?" will result in a flame-based, scathing reply that makes you wish you never bothered. It has happened to me...a lot. It will happen to me again...a lot. Maybe it's happened to you. Well fear not! If you find an error, mistake, bungle, bongle, mis-step, or even a misplaced comma, please tell me. I will not respond with a anger, rage, patronization, sarcasm, or just plain snarkiness. I believe the information on this site to be correct. At the same time, I know it's not all 100% accurate. I'm currently holding 3000+ people in here. There's NO WAY I got everything right. That would be some kind of record. Some of the people have supporting documentation, some do not, and some do not yet. So, if you want to compare notes, let me know! Don't let people like the one I've included below scare you off.
Actual reply from a rootsweb user with 300,000+ names in their database...
>>Hey there! I was looking at your tree on rootsweb and noticed your entry for Joe [real name omitted][url omitted]. Joe is my gr-grandfathers cousin. I was wondering if you wanted to compare notes as I have some different information than you on him. Hope to hear from you soon! -R<<
Unless you have some names I'm missing, don't bother giving me your inaccurate information. I've been doing this for 6 years and my information is 100% accurate. Perhaps you should do some more research before accusing others of being wrong!
I've taken to reading a few genealogy blogs lately and I always seem to find myself stopping at the same one time and time again. Clue Wagon. Check it out because it's funny, helpful, and really funny.