BUILDING YOUR FAMILY TREE
Part II. RESEARCHING PARISH RECORDS
Points to Consider:
Yesterday, a non-member asked for tips for his projected family tree search. Iâm awfully sure my rundown was disjointed, per usual, so hopefully his own questions and my answers to them helped clear loose ends. Anyway, I thought Iâd share some points we took up with you.
As starter, I asked him to draw up an outline of his family tree starting from him, down to his children first. Thereâs a point to going down first because there are less levels and individuals there, and so itâs your base. But funny thing, Iâve interviewed so many of my parientes I donât get surprised anymore of parents not remembering their childrenâs birthdays. Itâs more the mother takes the dates to heart.
Anyway, from children and a couple grandchildren, he went back up to his parents. He then thought of taking on his fatherâs siblings but I asked him to put that on hold, because anyway those facts are at the back of his head, so theyâre not a problem to remember.
Actually, lateral data do not move the search any faster as it takes up time with things that really can be taken up later on. The more important thing at this point is the ancestral line because you want to get the dates, the primary purpose being to determine which books you need to look up in your research.
And later, when you have already ordered the books or films and are just waiting for them, now you have the spare time to input your own siblings and their descendants, and then the siblings of your father, as you had thought of doing first.
Part II. RESEARCHING PARISH RECORDS, 2.
Calculating the Dates
Do you remember your grandfatherâs parents? He didnât. As few people actually do, especially if the parents had moved to another town, or province, and the children had few or no contact with the folks back home.
Okay. Since he didnât, I asked him for the date of birth of his grandfather. Good, that he knew, but the formula would have applied to the same problem.
Grandfather born 1900. What was the order of your grandfather in his family. He was fourth. Okay, I told him, from his year of birth, move back about 2 years per sibling. So the eldest presumably was born 1894, and the parentsâ marriage would be about 1893, give or take 3-5 years.
The crucial part was we know exactly in what order was the grandparent in his family. When the tree builder assume wrongly, the dates of marriage goes off tangent. If the family had thought their grandfather was the eldest, the marriage would then be placed circa 1899. It is from this error that many family trees go askew.
From the marriage date, the age of the great-grandfather in turn can be calculated as between 18-22 years, or let us say on the average, 20. Thus, we can make a guess of his birth at 1873. The 1899 calculation would have placed the birth year at 1879. And with this different figure, as you go further up to the great-great-grandparents, the discrepancy would go bigger and bigger, especially if another wrong assumption in the childrenâs order is again made. The big discrepancies cause you to search up the wrong books, and then not finding any result may discourage you from going on. On the other hand, you cannot imagine the uplift at finding a record in your search.
- This part should have come before the previous two posts (Part II) on Building Your Family Tree. But it was on another filename and I couldn't find it until this morning. Anyway, all's well that starts well...
Part I. STARTING YOUR DATA GATHERING
Involving the whole family
When I was just starting to build my fatherâs Barili family tree in 2004, I tried to get my hands on all sorts of genealogy tips. One of those considered as more important was: Do not to give out your compiled tree--not before the family member with whom you are corresponding has contributed his own branch.
The reason given was that your cousinâs own branch is just right there, what, three generations? He can always whip it up in half an hour if he had a mind to. But if you give him the family ancestral lines, he wonât feel any pressing need to update the general tree with his data anymore.
I did'nt heed the dictum because I thought, anyway the family tree was for everybody in the family. But it was true: Once theyâd received the general, bigger tree, youâd have to prod (kulit is the word) them to hell to input their own branch.
And with my Barili project, the warning did materialize. People procrastinated and the family tree construction in general suffered. You can try all sorts of urging, but theyâd come back at you with all sorts of reasons. I even told them in all honesty that I felt all urgency because I can just croak anytime, but theyâd just appease you with the simple: Iâm just waiting for some other memberâs reply.
[There really is no valid reasonâ"save for being ICUâd yourself. I started the Yap data gathering in my hospital bed back in 1989, and thatâs when the family tree bug bit me.
If it is just to write down oneâs immediate family of two or three generations, as I said--30 minutes, tops. How many individuals does the branch involveâ"50 at most? By the end of my stay in the hospital I had completed 7 branches of the Yap family, out of its 11 married siblings and 70 first cousins.]
Back to the Barili family. Now, with one sub-branch I had to resort to comparing them with each other, which may have worked on their egos. But it was true, a siblingâs line, living in Barili, scattered as they were in the town and at some Barili barrio, without much fanfare and with only one computer literate member, after I informed them of the project, just buckled down to work and finished their tree in a weekâ"7 days!
Meanwhile the other brotherâs line, whom I had approached through email first--all in the States and Canada and by their own proclaimed resumÃ©s, professionals and proud to be computer geeksâ"was already taking about 3 months to do theirs. In their case, even more so that there was no valid reason. Every household of that line had all sorts of phones, computers, fax machines at their disposal. But again, all sorts of alibis. As if all of us do not have the same alibis. They very simply did not feel any urgency. Even though the original promises I'd received had been bombastic.
It was only when I put across to them the irony that their barrio cousins accomplished recording 60 individuals in 7 days what their own 60 needed 3 months (and counting) to do. They knew all too well that in Barili, the data gathering entailed walking some distances just to interview the family members. But for the stateside folks, all it would take them was a phone call or email. Being compared must have provoked them obviously, and favorably, that voilÃ , two days later their report came. See?