Life Returns to a Tree from the Bottom Up

Even before Spring officially arrives in our Utah climate, life returns to the trees from the bottom up.  Each branch takes on the color unique to that tree.  As the buds begin to form (and some awake as early as mid-January), you can see the precise shape of the tree and each branch, outlined against the sky.  Their color and shape identify the specific tree.

I invite you to walk outside your usual environment and take a look around.  Look specifically at the trees along the creek bed, at the edge of the driveway, at the ledge on the foothills, as well as in your backyard.  Wherever you live, examine the trees.

My Mom was allergic to the buds and her eyes began to itch almost before I noticed the changes in the trees.  Time to get the allergy medicine and eye-wash to relieve her symptoms.

How Does this Relate to your Genealogy?

I recommend that you prove your ancestors from the evidence in the documents–from the bottom up.  Genealogy researchers often work with an hypothesis.   Then evidence is gathered that either supports or disproves this pre-conceived conclusion.

Instead, take your last proven ancestor and go into the evidence.  Does any record identify the next generation?  Are there clues, however subtle, that provide a base for more research?  If you have a locality, search the records for that place during the time you ancestor would have lived there. Examine the records on anyone who carries your ancestor’s surname–be careful not to restrict your view to just those persons you recognize.

Plucking the Daisy… 

It is my belief that placing restrictions on your evidence is like plucking the daisy:  this one could be my ancestor, this is not my ancestor, this one may be my ancestor, this one is not my ancestor, etc.

Instead, gather the evidence.  Spread it out around you–on the floor, on the table, on two computer screens, wherever you can grab a few minutes of concentration.  Who do you have that fits your clues?  Examine these persons more closely, first.  Determine what else you need to look at,  and go take a look.  Gather additional evidence until you have the actual, real document that matches.

Be careful of the computer key that says, “make it fit!”  Give your evidence some careful scrutiny.  Make your notes–on post-its, or on the documents themselves,  or with your computer program notes.  Then take a breather–go look at the trees for a while.  At least for a day.

When you return to your project, you will have a new perspective.  You can see where the make it fit key as distorted the lineage.  Believe me, you can see where the distortions are.  Then go back to your evidence again.  Do you have a different possibility?

This is working from the “bottom up.”  And I guarantee that if you proceed in this manner, you will compile your genealogy with fewer errors.  Not only will your genealogy be more correct, all the genealogies based on yours will be more correct–and we will all call you blessed!

A real-life genealogy, like a living tree, is a work of time.  Break your losing streak!  Your favorite genealogy expert of choice, Arlene Eakle

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