Okay, so in the last blog I left you just starting to climb up into your family tree in order to begin poking around a bit and starting to chart your genealogy. Have you gotten far? What I discovered is that you can only get so far before you have to actually make some plans, and I will warn you in advance...it often feels like you are "picking sides" in your genealogy and family tree efforts.
Here's what I mean...I knew all of the names of my siblings, parents, grandparents and great grandparents, but that is where the flow of information came to a stop. That meant I had to make some choices and get a bit organized. How was I going to determine the next step? I had to pick one line to follow. In my case, I decided to follow my mother's genealogy and family tree as far back as I could go. I had been told all sorts of family "myths" about pilgrims and Native Americans, and I wanted to see if any of that was true.
Was that the ONLY reason I opted for this branch of the family tree chart? No, it was also because this was the side that had the most people close by or who could remember the past. I needed and wanted dates, names, places, and all kinds of history for the family tree, and a lot of people were around who could provide me with those "leaves".
This brings up the primary dilemma of the family tree project...sometimes there is no one left living who has the answers. (You won't believe how many times you will slap your forehead and think "why didn't I ask him/her about this before they passed!").
Did I think that favoring the easiest line was indeed favoritism? No, I began to think of it as "bonsai" or creative pruning of the family tree. I was filling out an area that could give the family tree chart a lot of shape and form. I was shaping it with relevant data and using the family tree templates to create very useful records.
So, for this blog, I will tell you that as you begin climbing up into the family tree, look for the branches and clusters of..."nuts"..."fruit"..."leaves" that are the most numerous. What I mean is look for the facts that will make the tree full. This often means stepping back and saying things like..."well, Dad's family is mostly gone and no one really wrote much down...it is going to be easier to tackle all of Mom's relatives because they are all over in the next county!"
Once you begin pruning the tree into a nice and full shape, you'll find that you probably have an abundance of materials...but what if you don't? That's the topic of the next blog.