Is Your Real Ancestor Hidden Beneath the Debris?

At long last it is Spring–Today according to the calendar. Yesterday according to the weather. Last week according to my bloomless daffodils! I’ll explain.

For Mother’s Day, several years ago, my son planted a bed of daffodil bulbs in a planter along the wall of my house where it is exposed to the sun all day long. So when the Spring sun shines warm on that flower bed, the daffodils awaken.

There is a problem: no flowers. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

Each Spring, the green leaves grow 14 inches high, filling the planter with greenery, but no yellow blooms. Each year we laugh about no blossoms.

This year, the mint and chives that share the planter later in the summer, have left dry brown debris covering the whole bed and spilling over and down the sides. As I started to remove this unsightly mess, I discovered beneath the debris narcissus and tulip and other bulbs coming through the ground in addition to the daffodil leaves. Very carefully I will remove last year’s deadness, so that these newly-breathing plants will emerge all the way into Spring without bruises.  And reveal their rainbow of colors:  blue, pink, red, and green–but no yellow

Is your real ancestor hidden beneath last year’s genealogy debris? Bottomed-under the pages and pages of information you have copied each trip to the library and each foray on the internet?

If you had just $10.00 for every ancestor you will discover behind or beneath, buried or bottomed-under researcher’s speculation, persons copied from the wrong years, children attached to the wrong set of parents, today’s place names assigned to events that occurred in another place entirely, death dates copied from documents that do not apply without benefit of math, in short–genealogy debris piled on your pedigree and allowed to turn brown and dry. Genealogy debris that hides your real ancestor. You’d be rich–in ancestors who belong to you.

Break your losing streak! Push the debris aside so carefully that no ancestor is bruised each one can emerge from the bank with their identities secure.

Here’s my “discovery formula.” Genealogists have almost fought duels to acquire this formula. And here I am, giving it to you free of charge. All it will cost you is some due diligence.

  1. Take your documents, one by one, and read what they say.
  2. Extract the genealogical evidence from each document onto a separate genealogy form–by writing the data with a #2 graphite pencil or a black pen. Or by typing the data onto a separate genealogy form in your favorite genealogy program.
  3. You can use family group format or pedigree format if you have more than one generation in that record.
  4. Sort your genealogy forms, and you will have a pile of them, by surname, then given name, then date.
  5. Compare the data for each person. Do the dates match? Do the spellings of the names and places agree? Do the place names match the correct names for the date of the record? Do you have multiple persons of the same name?  In short, do you have ghosts or real persons?
  6. Resolve quickly, unimportant and trivial conflicts in your data.  John spelled Jno, Jon, Johann, Johannes, Johnny, etc. Dates written all in numbers or with a combination of numbers and months.
  7. Prepare a summary sheet for each distinct person. Add notes–where the discrepancies cannot be resolved without further research.
  8. Make a search list for each person: missing data, follow-up searches in records already looked at–where you might have missed a page or where you cut off part of the copy or where you forgot to cite where the information comes from or a footnote recommending another source be checked.
  9. Put your search list with your research bag or briefcase or box. You are ready to go to the library or to log onto the internet whenever you have the chance at research time.

When you keep your evidence separated as you go, you have the greatest chance at positive results. You prevent the genealogy debris from piling up. It cannot hide your ancestors–any of them.  Your favorite genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle

PS  Remember to check my speaking schedule frequently–this weekend, Afton and I will be at the Family History EXPO at the Eccles Center, Utah State University, Logan Utah.  Opening Session is 8:00am.  The Exhibit Hall opens after this session and it is FREE.  You have to pay to attend the classes, but the vendors–including me at Booth 402–you can visit for FREE.  Why not attend, you will be so glad you did!  Afton is an expert on Native American and Tennessee research–you can talk to her in the vendor’s hall FREE.

PPS  And for those of you who want to become professional genealogists (or already are professionals at work), watch this Genealogy News Sheet.  I plan to discuss a number of significant items that you will appreciate a lot.

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