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My Family Tree

Researching my ancestry and family tree has been my most passionate and primary hobby for many years.  As a result of having a website since the onset of my research, I’ve dialogued with dozens of distant cousins, and some have even provided me with photographs of my ancestors that my family had never seen.  Though I do not descend from anyone that is even close to being remotely famous, it does not change the fact that I find it fascinating to research my family tree.  There are “skeletons in the closet” of every family tree, and I’ve learned many interesting, scandalous, and crazy stories about my ancestors and relatives. 

 

Though I am not a professional or certified genealogist, I have diligently learned to apply the same type of recognized principles and standards of proof to my research methods.  This page includes information on how to find and access my family tree database, as well as details on the approach and methodologies that I apply in my research.  Also listed further below is a personalized list of links to research sources which I regularly utilize or have applied to my research.  The photo shown above was sourced here, and is from Neil Bromley, who offers professional calligraphy services and prints for sale.

Family Tree Database

 

Listed below are links to access and view my family tree database.  My chosen methodology for compiling my family tree is using Family Tree Maker (FTM) software, which syncs my tree with the Ancestry website.  One clear advantage of the Ancestry website is the ability to link each individual to source records, as well as uploading and sharing countless photos and documents.  One major flaw of the Ancestry website is that it does not display any notes (i.e. research notes) from Family Tree Maker, and this is something that I find immensely frustrating as I record extensive chronological research notes for every person in my database.  For the purpose of sharing my research notes, I also have my database available on the RootsFinder website, which displayed at the bottom of the profile page for each person via an expand button.  If you are curious of my relation to a specific individual, simply ask. 

 

Ancestry Family Tree Database

My family tree database is publicly available on the Ancestry website, and includes source information and any photographs that I have gathered in my research.

RootsFinder Family Tree Database

My family tree database is publicly available on the RootsFinder website, and contains my detailed research notes at the bottom of the profile page of each person.

 

Research Methodology and Sources


This section contains a categorized list of the methodology and approach of my family tree research, as well as a detailed list of the resources which I utilize and apply to my research.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive list for family tree research in general, and instead is a highly personalized list to my family tree and my research methodology.  This list will be continually updated and expanded.  Click on each toggle to expand it and show further details.

 

Genealogical Standards of Proof



Many frequently begin their family tree research by copying from other family trees. This approach does not present much of a concern with personally known and recognized relatives, such as with people knowing the names of their grandparents. Continuing this practice of copying family trees beyond close relatives can lead to significant issues. For example, inexperienced researchers frequently overlook the fact that there can be multiple people with the same name living at the same time in the same vicinity. Copying from potentially erroneous family trees can lead to identifying incorrect ancestors and relatives, wasted time and effort, disappointment, and the propagation of error.

Almost all inexperienced family tree researchers make this mistake of copying from other family trees, which includes myself when I began my research. The way to help prevent building an erroneous family tree is by learning actual research principles and methods. While I am not a professional or certified genealogist, I have diligently learned to apply the same type of recognized principles and standards of proof to my research. The most pervasively known methodology is the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), which includes these five research elements. 1. Reasonably exhaustive research 2. Complete and accurate source citations 3. Thorough analysis and correlation 4. Resolution of conflicting evidence 5. Soundly written conclusion based on the strongest evidence
The best analogy to describe how I have personally absorbed and applied this methodology to my research would be a "court room" approach. The mindset that I take is that of a prosecutor and a defense attorney in front of a judge, and whether I can demonstrate any findings beyond any reasonable doubt through interlocking records and documentation. This "court room" approach is reflected by my chronological research notes, which contain transcriptions of every document and record. Some indivdiuals or branches in my tree may be a hypothesis or a working theory, and this will be clearly specified in my research notes, and any associated gaps will be clearly specified.




Chronological Research Notes


Many amateur family tree researchers build simplistic family trees of names and dates, and might attach links to some selected source citations. Attributes of research using recognized genealogical standards of proof include maintaining complete and accurate source citations and soundly written conclusions, which helps minimize the potential for erroneous family trees.

My chosen research methodology might considered extreme by some, and may even go further than what some professional and certified genealogists perform. With each individual in my family tree, I record detailed chronological research notes. The notes consist of transcribing every possible record, including birth records, marriage records, census records, newspaper articles, death records, last will and testaments, etc.

Obviously, there is a significant time burden involved with transcribing all source material, but this effort pays back in dividends. First, it enables generating reports with the research notes, which then can be easily read and are useful for sharing research with others. Second, it is extremely valuable in the long term, as all information for each individual can be viewed simultaneously, and does not require looking back at any source images. For example, there might be something that you don't notice or recognize today, but might in the future! Below is an example screen shot of how my research notes are structured for each individual, and would continue with further records up to their death and burial. My research notes are easily viewable with my famly tree database on the RootsFinder website. Under the "Research Standard Applied" section, I include a brief summary on how descent and the family structure were concluded using the recognized genealogical standards of proof, which are summarized in the prior toggle.




General Sources


This section contains a summary of the general resources which I utilize in the research of my family tree. This includes primary documentation sources for records, such as birth, marriage, death, and census, as well as secondary documentation souchs, such as books and newspaper articles.

PRIMARY SEARCH ENGINES: As part of my research, the following websites are my primary sources for finding records and documentation. These are the sources that I begin with when researching any individual and seeking records and documentation, such as birth, marriage, death, census, etc.

  • Ancestry - This subscription based website offers extensive records, family tree tools, and DNA testing. Ancestry is my primary source, and where my family tree is viewable, which I sync from Family Tree Maker (FTM).
  • FamilySearch - This free website offers extensive records, and typically is the second source which I consult. The website is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The website available to anyone, including those who are not LDS members, such as myself. Note that I do not actively particpate any type of crowd sourced family trees, such as FamilySearch Family Tree.
BOOK SEARCH ENGINES: As part of my research, I utilize the following websites to find books which are no longer under copyright, and can be freely downloaded. There are a variety of books on these sites which pertain to my family tree, and might include histories of specific families or places where they may have lived. Those individual books will be listed under the other toggles for Places and Names.
  • Google Books - This website provides many free books which are no longer under copyright. The "Full View" filter can be applied to view those books which are publicly available.
  • Internet Archive - This website provides many free books which are no longer under copyright.
  • FamilySearch Books - This website provides many free books which are no longer under copyright. The "Access Level" filter can be appliied to view those books which are publicly available.




Places


Place names and geographic locations can be challenging and confusing for beginners of family tree research. For example, your ancestors may have come from countries that no longer exist, they may have settled in colonies, and there were frequent boundary changes as new states and counties were formed. The question then becomes as what location should be listed for a given record or event, and whether you should use the location listed on the record or the present day location. There is no right or wrong answer, and it comes down to personal choice. The key recommendation from professional genealogists and subject matter experts is to pick a method and be consistent, as described in this helpful video from Crista Cowan from Ancestry. My chosen methodology is to always use the present day place name, as this eliminates any question as to where the location is today, and makes consistency of residence more obvious. If the location at the time of the given record or event is different than the present day location, it is something that I account for in my research notes. For example, I would state that the person was born "in what would be present day Rutland, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA. At the time of her birth, Rutland was part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, which was a colony of England." This gives me the flexibility to articulate historical context and add further historical information. USA STATE AND COUNTY BOUNDARIES: Boundaries changed regularly as new states and counties were formed, which can be confusing without the tools to realize the changes. For example, one set of my ancestors lived on the same land and the county that it was located within changed four times. The following websites are useful for understanding historical boundary changes and determining the location on specific date.




Dates


Dates are relatively easy to deal with from a genealogy perspective, except for when it comes to changes associated with Julian and Gregorian calendars. From a date formatting perspective, the key recommendation from professional genealogists and subject matter experts is to be consistent, as described in this helpful video from Crista Cowan from Ancestry. My chosen methodology is to list all dates in a formal style of month, day, and years, such as January 1, 1900. The following websites are helpful for understanding historical calendars and dates. HISTORICAL CALENDARS AND DATE CALCULATORS: When researching events, sometimes it might be useful to know the day the week of the event. Additionally, sometimes a record might list the age of a person or the date of the event in terms of years, months, and days. For these situations, the following website is extremely useful.

  • timeanddate.com - this extremely useful website contains historical calendars, date to date calculators, and calculators for adding or subtracting years, months, and days.
JULIAN AND GREGORIAN CALENDARS: When researching events, some may be confused by changes associated with Julian and Gregorian calendars. The Julian calendar was normally used in England and the colonies to report ecclesiastical and legal events until 1752, which is when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. The new year did not begin until March 25th on a Julian calendar. As a result, dates between January 1st and March 24th are often recorded using a technique called double dating or dual dating, where the Julian year is listed first, and the Gregorian year is listed second. For example, the recognized way of recording a date would January 1, 1733/34. One advantage of Family Tree Maker is that it will prompt you if a date is subject to double dating. The calendar changes vary by country and are outlined in the following website.




Personal Perspective


Everyone has wide ranging viewpoints when it comes to their ancestry, which can trigger significant emotions in some. I'm the polar opposite, and my personal perspective is that of complete detachment from my ancestry, which makes my research approach very matter of fact. All of the findings on my ancestry were previously unknown to me, so I don't believe that it changes me in any way, nor explains anything about "who I am." As result, I don't have any sense of pride for any accomplishments of my ancestors, or shame over anything they may have done. My detachment might be more extreme than most, which I fully recognize, and am careful about topics that might be potentially sensitive to some.

It would be fair to say that I get a thrill from performing actual research, especially when it comes to identifying and researching branches which have never been touched by anyone previously. For example, I had some minor interest in computer gaming in years gone by, and that interest was complete eliminated by the challenge of genealogical research.




Names


This section contains resources and documentation that I have used to research specific surnames and families in my family tree, and includes books.
GIBBS: My nearest Gibbs ancestor is my third great grandmother Polly Gibbs (1820-1902).


HOLLON: My nearest Hollon ancestor is my maternal grandmother Marion Muriel Hollon (1921-1987)




DNA


Coming soon...





    

    

© Copyright  -  Timothy J. Barron  -  This page was updated September 6, 2021