DEEP WILL YOU DIG ???
A very common
question asked by a typical Italian genealogist whether just beginning or with
a long history of research under their belt is, “Which ancestors do I pursue
and how many do I try to locate?” That
question is, indeed, a very valid inquiry. Which is the right way and which is
the wrong way? The answer is.....whatever floats your barca (boat).
There is no set rule.
genealogists whose computer data base contains thousands of ancestors. I know
others who merely follow the paternal and maternal family blood lines.
Most of us settle for the common ground somewhere in between the
maximum and the minimum.
While it is true
that “pedigree” refers only to those connected to us by common blood, it
is more interesting (but time consuming) to explore the whereabouts of anyone
who at one time in history had an affect upon our family tree because of
marriage. In other words, there are those relatives who are interconnected to
us due to their marriage into the family.
There are some
genealogists whose sole mission is to outnumber other researchers by
attempting to identify as many dead relatives as possible. They secretly wish
to cause the branches of their family tree to bend nearly to the breaking
point. They almost seem to be in
competition with the world’s fellow hobbyists by playing the numbers game.
This is not wrong, but it sure is extreme.
The entire matter
of which road to follow opens many doors all of which require your careful
consideration. Some of your
options include; are you conducting your genealogical quest electronically, on
paper, or both; is your computer’s memory sufficient to maintain all the
data you are feeding it; do you desire to print out a family tree or have one
produced; is the sky the limit or do you have reasonable guidelines and cut
off points; how much time and money do you possess in order to accomplish your
Let’s check out
an example, a reasonable one, of a typical researcher’s goals. They conduct
initial research which includes not only their grandparents but the siblings
of their grandparents along with their spouses and offspring.
They then proceed to the next generation on the family tree which is
their great grandparents. Do they wish to identify the siblings of those ancestors and
their spouses and children also? This
presents a sticky question concerning of all of those “indirect” relatives
who married into the family’s blood lines. If you answer affirmatively, what
about their parents and siblings? Where does it all end as you proceed
generation by generation?
As mentioned so
many times over the past years as this column has unfolded month by month,
remember that each new generation researched doubles the number of the previous
one, and that’s direct blood line ancestors only.
By the time you reach back to the 5th great grandparents, the
number of names to unearth is 256 in that generation alone, plus 128, 64, 32,
16, 8 and 4 from the previous generations.
If my math is correct when you add all those generations together
beginning with your four grandparents and ending with those 256 fifth great
grandparents, you have accumulated 508 ancestral names, date and places.
For many of us,
that number is so staggering, it’s sufficient enough.
Now imagine adding
to that 508 the siblings of those
ancestors plus their spouses and children.....and one can quickly perceive how
the number of relatives, direct and indirect, blood line and non blood line,
will catapult into the thousands.
One school of
thought suggests a genealogist does less non blood line research with each
generation they revert back. Another
scenario suggests one does not pursue the families of multiple marriage
partners, unless they produced offspring. Still
another disregards the distant females who marry since their blood surnames are
lost. As you can see, the choices
are many and I only scratched the surface of nearly endless possibilities.
who claim to be the purists, that is, those who are concerned only with the
surnames of their father and mother will devote their complete lifetime, if
necessary, to reach back into the depths of history researching those precious
surnames only. Others consider the
four family surnames, both paternal and maternal, the objective of their
dedication. Finally, genealogists like me will take whatever they can get from
those parchment pages of ancient ledgers. In
my view, whatever you gather is all worth the effort.
To summarize, as
you contemplate the course of direction you choose to pursue, do not lose sight
of your mission and your goal, therefore, be sure to have one. Whether it’s
only specific lines of ancestors you’re pursuing or the whole gamut of
relatives to fill up all the branches of your family tree, the bottom line is
you do what you enjoy and what gives you satisfaction, fulfillment and
gratification. If you choose the latter, some day in the future, when your great
grandchild shakes your family tree..... even I might fall off.
© PIP Chapter 1, 2003 ~ Webmaster: LPRoots@yahoo.com ~ page last updated on Tuesday, April 22, 2003