Towards the end of the last blog it suddenly dawned on me that I was COMPLAINING about an embarrassment of riches in terms of information, facts, and the need to get things in order where your family tree and genealogy research was concerned, but what about the families that didn't have all of these details readily available?
That got me thinking, and I decided to take a bit of time to explore tactics for those moments when I came up with nothing myself! What would I do if I was shaking the branches of the family tree and it seemed like nothing was there? Technically, I knew that it was impossible for there to be no one in a family tree...it just cannot work that way. There are times, however, when there are family feuds, a few individuals who wander off into the world, and so on. Sometimes these folks are not mentioned for delicate reasons, and so it can be tricky for the people a few generations later to track them down, or at least find out what happened to them.
After all we keep asking "what is a family tree" and if we are honest about it, it is full of all kinds of people. This is why genealogy and family tree making is such a popular pursuit!
So, here's what I discovered really "worked" for me when I began to develop some solutions to the dilemma of seemingly empty branches:
- Use the Reunion - you know I advocate family reunions (after all there I have another blog dedicated to the fine art of the reunion), but these are the ideal times for "think tank" activities too. You can even make a group project out of a particular mystery - i.e. "where in the world is Uncle Joe's son Bob?". Bring notepads and folders for everyone who works on the project and even make recordings for those genealogy and family tree buffs a few generations from now.
- Start with the Census data - these are records that list everyone in the household. So, if Uncle Ezra (the family "cad" who you know wandered off into Europe in the 1920s) was not listed in 1920 or 1930, you can go all of the way back to the 1870s to see if there is any mention of him over the decades in the Census data and begin filling in the family tree chart! Then check the Social Security Death Index to see if there are any listings as well.
- Hit the road - if your family relocated decades ago, and you face some gaps in the family tree or genealogy, by all means return to the point of origin! County records, cemeteries, churches, old newspapers...these are treasure troves for you!
- Message in a bottle - I don't mean a real message in a bottle, but the modern equivalent - using the Internet to ask questions, post on forums, and join genealogy and family tree groups to find answers!
Doing this is going to give you a ton of information, and that means our next blog is about organizing all of it!
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