Summertime is supposed to mean the lazy, crazy days of summer. This summer for me has been that, minus the lazy part. My genealogy research has exploded into a maze of discoveries and even deeper mysteries. Let me try to fill you in!
The summer began with trips to visit living relatives. This is always a good time, catching up on happenings, good food, and great fun. And lots of photos. We’ve also had some relatives drop in. More catching up, and more good food.
In between I was researching, it seemed, the same family lines over and over. If I just worked a little harder, looked a little deeper, visited more online sites, stayed up a little later at night, I was sure to make a break-through, or so I thought.
One of the things I’ve discovered along my genealogy journey is I’m a visual learner. Things enter my brain a lot easier through my eyes, and if they’re busy, or pretty, all the better. I mentioned this before in my post, Using Popplet in Genealogy. I decided to create a family tree, the kind you hang on a wall. Not just black lines with black text, something pretty. I used a website called Family Tree Kids, in particular, this family tree form.
I downloaded the form, and started filling in names. It wasn’t long before I realized, HEY, there’s an empty branch in this tree. This should have been evident to me in Ancestry. But like I said, I had gotten into a rut of looking at the same family lines because I was frustrated and wanted to find something. Sometimes it’s good to take away the magnifying glass and look at your whole tree.
This maternal branch ended at grandmother. To be fair, I must add a disclaimer. This particular tree in Ancestry hadn’t been worked on probably since 2006. I’m odd, my relatives are divided up into different trees–I know, I know, not the best scenario. But it was the way I was raised, therefore it’s the way they got entered into Ancestry. Some day I’ll fix that….
Only one clue came up in her shaking leaves on Ancestry: the 1940 Census. So we knew where she was in 1935, and 1940, and very little else. When Ancestry and Family Search yield no results, I go back to Ancestry and click on the “Search The Web” link at the bottom of the right column in the profile page.
Nothing interested appeared in her search, so I switched over to her husband. The first two search pages contained little relevant information. But on page three an interesting item popped up: A DNA Surname Project called The Gibson DNA Project Patriarch Page. At first I thought it wasn’t the right person because I didn’t recognize any of the names, but the farther down I went, the younger the people. And finally one matched.
I was surprised to find this. DNA is on the outer fringes of my genealogy world — waaay outer fringes. Even more surprising to me was an email contact for this line, the Gipsons. I quickly jotted off a note, explaining how my relative was related to the people in the DNA study. Didn’t take long to figure out we were 2nd cousins, but knew nothing about each other’s lines. As we began to relay information back and forth, a whole new world opened up.
I’ve found more people through this one little link on the internet than I have in the last year in this tree. The hints, and information, and photos are coming faster than I can enter into Ancestry! Yesterday I almost had a genealogical breakdown because we connected with another person who has some overlapping relatives. They are not blood relatives, but we know some of their relatives, and they know some of our relatives. Turns out he has a photo of our biological grandmother (with his biological grandfather) hanging on his wall. What a fantastic find!
So that’s the condensed version of my summer, and why I haven’t been posting much. After I sort out all the sources and stories and photos, more posts will follow.
In the meantime, my advice is: Explore every possible alternative instead of sticking with the same ones. Don’t get yourself into a genealogy rut like I did.