Researching a family tree needs to be undertaken with great care. There's no sense building a family tree that you are not 100% certain is accurate. We have been very conservative and cautious in our approach.
Our effort to research, record and publish our family history is guided by three ambitions:
We want to establish a record of our family. We value family. The knowledge of who we are, where we came from and what we stand for has been an important part of our family for generations. We want to protect, preserve and share this knowledge through a record that reflects the value we place on family.
We want to know more about our ancestors. We want to understand their lives and appreciate the sacrifices that they made to help our family survive and thrive in subsequent generations.
We want to expand of our family tree. By publishing our family record and documents discovered along our journey, we hope that other people researching their family trees might find missing links to their family or provide us with new information about our family that bring us closer together in history or present times.
Unearthing our family history is an ongoing project.However, we are following a five-step methodology probably followed by most other families researching their family trees:
- We start with the most current generation and work upwards until records cannot be found or do not permit any further reliable connections to older generations.
- We initially focus on the principal paternal line to establish the main ‘trunk’ of our family tree.
- We subsequently focus on other branches of the main line and maternal lines. For these lines, we work downwards from the oldest known ancestors to put ‘leaves’ on other branches of our family tree.
- Once we established a basic tree, we search for additional information about individuals beyond their names and key information. We seek records that give us insights into their personalities and context of the places where they lived, worshipped or worked during their lives.
- We research the time periods and locations where our ancestors lived to get a sense of their lives from living conditions and community events.
To construct our family tree, we relied only on primary sources of information. We did not use any secondary sources of information. We generally avoided information available on the web as such information often takes you down a rabbit hole and leads you astray. If we discovered any information through secondary sources that might help our efforts, we followed up with a search of primary records to determine the veracity or relevance of such data.
We avoided making any assumptions. Too many family trees flounder (knowingly or unknowingly) because someone added a person to the family tree who appeared to have the right name, birth, death, age, parents, children or lived in the right area to connect to another person. We avoided that pitfall at all costs. While we had the opportunity to extend our family tree back as far as the 3rdcentury and to a noble house, we declined to take those opportunities because such linealogy relied on assumptions which could not be confirmed through additional sources. Indeed, the paucity of information on older records (particularly parish records) discouraged us from tainting our tree with even a single assumption (even if a sound assumption). Just like our current family, we are confidant that every generation of our family tree is built upon a solid foundation.
In undertaking this process, we benefitted from the services of several professional genealogists. The most important contribution came from Dr. Stephen W. Taylor, BA, PhD, FSG, FGRA and former Chairman of the Association of Genealogists & Researchers in Archives. His assistance is very much appreciated and shall benefit many future generations through their ability to understand that they are part of a bigger and enduring community.