Tag Archives: descent

How the Right Genealogical Plan can Lead To the Joy of Discovery

13 Jul

The Joys of Research

The Enthusiasm of Discovery

photo of a woman holding an ipad

Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Every family tree has a root, a home, a person a starting point. From this starting point, the tree fans out with all its branches back into time. Does it not follow “inevitably that every father had a father, and so on. In fact,” said Michael Shaara in Man of Distinction, “when you considered the matter rightly, everyone alive was the direct descendant of untold numbers of fathers, down through the ages, all descending, one after another, father to son. And so backward, unquestionably, into the unrecognizable and perhaps simian fathers of the past.”

“It will not require much space to indicate the main sources of information in genealogical research. Having decided to trace back our own lines, we naturally turn first to the living members of our family. If we have parents living and accessible,—grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, cousins, or others who are likely to know more about the family than we do,—let us consult them, personally if we may, by letter if we must,” begins Frank Allaban when introducing “Concerning Genealogy” and ancestral hunting.

“Special attention is also called to the radically different plans for genealogical works, one tracing the many descendants of a common ancestor, the other tracing the many ancestors of a common descendant. There is a general drift toward the latter, many having discovered the fascination of exploring their direct lines of descent.”

“The moment of first hearing the facts, when the joy of discovery and the satisfaction of making progress are upon us, is the psychological moment for making our notes. It is a positive delight while the fever of enthusiasm is high. As our informant begins his story, let us interrupt with the cry of the enthusiast, “I must jot that down!” Out comes our notebook, conveying to our friend a very distinct impression of the importance of being accurate. He collects himself, and proceeds to give his facts and traditions with the greatest care. As we stop him with questions, or take time to write the facts, his memory is stimulated. With skillful questions the genealogical worker can draw out all the information, taking care to cover every point which may come up later.”

“Furthermore, while we may be able to find our way back from generation to generation with almost ridiculous ease in some cases, such luck is usually too good to last. It is a rare vein which yields family connections at every stroke of the genealogical spade, and one such line may have to console us for a number which we mine slowly and painfully, and for some others which yield no results whatever beyond a certain point.”

“We will suppose that at last the task of investigation has come to an end. We have run our family lines back as far as our plan contemplated, or as far as we were able to do with a reasonable amount of research. Perhaps most of them go back to the original emigrants, but it may be that in a case or two we have had the good fortune to make connection with an old family stem in Europe. In any case, the work is now done. We have made our discoveries, and scored triumphs not a few. But though the excitement of the chase is over, its pleasures are by no means spent. Is there no story to tell, no tale of our difficulties and exploits? Next to the exhilaration of the hunt itself, what can compare with the mellow joy of going over it with a comrade! Least of all can the “inevitable narrative” be spared in a case of ancestry-hunting. It is the logical issue of the search, and failure to weave our facts into a readable story, after having collected them, is almost unthinkable,”

“A truly interesting genealogical work is not a dry compilation of family statistics, but contains striking biographical pen pictures. Let these be made as complete as possible, and the story told with all the interest we can throw into it. We believe that the ideal genealogy is yet to be written, and that it will present facts with the accuracy of a Bancroft, but clothe them with the charm of an Irving. What possibilities there are” are these not the Joys of Research as expounded by Frank Allaban

However to set down the story for future generations the work must contain the proofs of the statements made. An imperative sorting in any historical biography contained in the family tree must need quote the authorities and provide systematic footnotes, and also citations of authorities in the text. The result is that there is no guess as to the opinion or motivation of compiler in giving us the fruit of original research, it is quite well established whether the biography, then, is an extract from another compilation, a part of oral tradition, or a mere conjecture put forward by the collective family memory.

Every leaf in the family tree begins with a name, it is with this moniker that the individual is thus introduced and thus their legend also starts. What whisper, what expression, what libretto will the name reveal? The name is thus a beginning of who they are, like the title of a new adventure story. The family historian has a bird’s eye view from his vantage point in the future to see why this ancestor existed. What role this ancestor played in the family, within the community by their words and by their deeds. The genealogist presenting the family tree to the world at a family reunion or compiled book is tasked with a considerable and significant responsibility. Like the title of a book, the narrative behind the name of each ancestor within the family tree is dependent upon the account and testimony of the genealogist and the validity of the sources relied upon.

We inherit from our ancestors gifts so often taken for granted. Each of us contains within this inheritance of soul. We are links between the ages, containing past and present expectations, sacred memories and future promise. – Edward Sellner

Note The new provincial Saskatchewan Region Gen Web is online at https://saskgenweb.site123.me the original Saskatchewan Region Gen Web site is under maintenance by Ancestry/Rootsweb.com. Check periodically for progress on the historical site http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk in the meanwhile please check out https://saskgenweb.site123.me/

Boost your research!

29 Jun

How does the genealogist go about locating historical information?

 How do they conduct their research?

The genealogist can, indeed, provide the family with a sense of identity, purpose, and understanding of how their family and ancestors grew shaped their community.  Genealogists may wish to record the family’s evolution and record their achievements.

The genealogist will receive both written and unwritten stories and sources.  They will necessarily be part historian and part biographer, since they must be able to explain how the family set down roots, developed their character, and chose the roads and trails which they did.  The genealogist must explore how the ancestral family earned their livelihood, while at the same time explore how the family played, learned, developed, changed and grew through their art, education, religion, ethnic society, etc.  The genealogist needs to embrace the historical aspect of the era, the impact of the rail line on a local community, or the force of the industrial revolution with cars, combines, trucks and roads.  Finally the genealogist must also be a sociologist as they reconstruct the life and society in the local community of the ancestral family.

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall
Revitalize your genealogical fieldwork.  (Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com)  Invigorate your ancestral tree inquiry

Exploring these factors will allow available sources to systematically unfold before the genealogist,  The family member origins, growth, and decisions all play a vital role during the evolution of a family in the context of the past, and similarly help the genealogist complete a family tree with unique aspects.

As the genealogist compiles a timeline of the ancestral family, various events occur to shape the character of each individual in history.  By contemplating this timeline decisions can be made as to whether to pursue a census record for further clarification, or perhaps a military record might show light on another individual.  By delving into the personality of the individual it can be ascertained if their achievements may have been recorded in the local newspaper, or archived in municipal or court records.

Thus, genealogical research receives a boost when the researcher supports the birth, marriage and death certificates with a picture of the ancestor and their personal sense of purpose, and desires.  The ancestor comes to light when their decision to immigrate shows up in passenger lists.  Delving into travel on that particular passenger ship they travelled upon gives further clarification of the kind of trip they experienced.  Exploring the weather in various seasons helps to understand how travel may have been enhanced or been a challenge if the trip was taken in a winter or summer month.  Use your own imagination and Imagine how they felt, and it may provide a stepping stone to another direction in the genealogical quest.  Would it be perhaps fortuitous to explore hospital records if the trip was taken to remediate an illness?  When the passenger ship arrived, how did the next leg of the journey begin to arrive at the set destination?  How did they cross North America if the passenger ship arrived in New York?  Would ancestors arriving Pier 21 Halifax, Nova Scotia have a different journey to arrive at their destination?  If they arrived in winter time to the “Last Best West” where did they live?  Were there hotels in that era?

Ask questions about the ancestral life apart from when and where your great great uncle was born, and died.  Contemplate the role of your great great great grandmother, look up the history of the land, the weather patterns, local events that happened the year she got married.  Continue to ask questions which will lead to more answers and more sources of information.  What facilities and support did she have to give birth?  Describe what you have learned to fellow researchers and explore information in archives, libraries, museums, local history books, and newspapers.  By growing the biographical timeline of your ancestral, you will boost your genealogical research capability.

Note The new Saskatchewan Region Gen Web is online at https://saskgenweb.site123.me the original Saskatchewan Region Gen Web site is under maintenance by Ancestry/Rootsweb.com. Check periodically for progress on the historical site at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk while waiting please check out https://saskgenweb.site123.me/

Should Genealogy Research be Conducted Scientifcally?

22 Jun

Inside these brick walls

How do we observe our family history?

Genealogy comes from two roots; Logy to speak, or to pick out words when speaking for a treatise, discourse, science or doctrine.  The second root of Genealogy has root in the  Latin genealogia meaning “tracing of a family and the Greek genealogia; “the making of a pedigree.”  Genealogy; therefore is speaking out about the family history.

Science, on the other hand, is a word which comes from the Latin root scientia from scire “to know.” It is important to examine how we, as genealogists, “know.”

Genealogists seek by careful and deliberate reasoning determine quantitative data, and come to know an ancestor’s time of birth, marriage and death, place they were born, worked, moved to, lived and died, whom they married, how many children they raised, and how large a family they descended from.  Names, places and times are all quantitative data which can be found scientifically in primary source documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates, wills, obituaries, etc.

Genealogists must know how to separate scientific facts from historical observations, attributes and social phenomena.  Is qualitative data  also a vital component of social research?  Qualitative data forms the basis for social and ethical research and procedure.

Recording names, dates, and places brings together a family unit rather as a census enumerator fills in the census questionnaire.  However, the family genealogist must be aware of deductive theories which may arise from oral history and provide an amazing discovery of an event or about a person verifiable in archival documentation.

And yet on the other hand, an inductive theory is using a specific observation and forming a general pattern or deduction.  Observing the birth dates in a family and comparing these to marriage dates is a specific observation.  Would deductions and conclusions inferred from these date comparisons be based on societal norms in the contemporary era, or would these deductions and conclusions be the same from the context of history in the explanation of events.  Would inductive theories lead the genealogist astray, or help the researcher to further sources of knowledge?  Ethical situations arise – historical ancestor hand in hand with the genealogist-when it comes to skeletons found in the family tree.  Perhaps the brick wall went up in the face of the genealogist’s research because of facts the ancestral family tried to leave hidden or at best “not spoken about.”

As times and eras change, those events not spoken about in previous generations are not embarrassing social attributes in this day of age as society has evolved and accepted those events in contemporary discourse.  However, each family reacts differently to the presentations made by the family genealogist.

Genealogy has two main purposes therefore, describing and explaining the family tree.  It is wise to discern facts from variables, generalized accounts and theories.  Genealogists need to step back and examine their motivation to delve into family research, is it to make sense of the past, and the family legacy, or is it to gain knowledge and grow the family tree descendant chart as far back in lineage as is possible?  The genealogist who speaks out for the family ancestry at the next reunion may wish to bring the knowledge they have acquired and make a positive difference and impact on the current and future generations.

Note The new Saskatchewan Region Gen Web is online at https://saskgenweb.site123.me the original Saskatchewan Region Gen Web site is under maintenance by Ancestry/Rootsweb.com. Check periodically for progress on the historical site at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk while waiting please check out https://saskgenweb.site123.me/

7 Big Things Genealogists Must Know to Succeed

15 Jun

Why are some family memories remembered through the ages and not other events?

How will your genealogical research introduce your ancestral family?

woman sitting on sofa while looking at phone with laptop on lap

Genealogy Research, family ancestry. (Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com)

  1. Start with what is known and work towards the unknown!  It is very easy to begin genealogical research interviewing family members with a well thought out questionnaire seeking names, places, dates and any ancedotes or history.  Further research into primary and secondary source documents provides further direction, filling out the outline started in the family interviews.  As the genealogist delves deep into the past, it is still mandatory to look at what is known, and seek the documentation about that which is known, hoping that a birth certificate provides the heretofore unknown parental names, birth place, and time of birth, an interment record provides the previously unknown relationship and next of kin arranging the burial, or perhaps a marriage certificate besides providing the names of both spouse and groom, the date and place of marriage also registers the parent names.  As each document is located, another opening is made in the brick wall, and research continues.
  2. Organize your data very well, including what paths, and sources you have already had communication with, both successfully and unsuccessfully finding fruit in the research.  Using the Saskatchewan Gen Web internet resources or the assistance of a genealogy society will prove very fruitful if the genealogy researcher can provide a good synopsis of the branch of the family tree.  For example, if your oral interviews or an historic letter have placed your grandfather as a teacher in a one room school in Saskatchewan, pass on all the relevant information pertinent to Saskatchewan to enable your contact to make further progress.  Include with the ancestor name any known nick names, before and after marriage name changes, or spelling differences found thus far in the surname.  Providing a date of birth helps to determine the era of teaching, and saves time not searching records for a teacher who would have only been five years old at the time.  Any historic place names, whether one room school house district names, village, towns or Rural Municipality names help to locate further sources and references which may offer up clues.
  3. Think outside the box.  Not all early pioneers registered births, deaths and marriages, particularly before 1920.  Obituaries, so very handy in contemporary times, were also not as popularly used when pioneers were proving up homesteads, or hunters were chasing down buffalo.  Would other records have further clues to work on?  Family bible records, church records, land records, school yearbooks, funeral home registers, naturalization records may also present the genealogist with more information.
  4. Focus in on the date and era your ancestor would have been living. Research the history of the place they were living at the time.  Pay attention to correlations between historical events which happened in the lifespan of your ancestor.  For example, would they have been the right age to serve in World War I (1914 –1918), World War II (1939 –1945) or any other miliitary event?  Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior for the Dominion of Canada started a massive immigration programme to the “Last Best West” encouraging over three million people to arrive in Canada between 1891–1914.  Would have your ancestor been part of this immigration scheme? And have immigration, naturalization, land settlement records been searched?  Metis/Half Breed families were offered Scrip as compensation for aboriginal rights which were the catalyst of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.  Have the National Archives records been investigated?
  5. Where did your ancestor set down roots when starting their family?   If the family lived in one locale for an extended period of time earning a living, attending school, and partaking in social events, there may be a plethora of records to investigate.  1955 school Jubilee record books may list the pupils of the school and their family. 75th provincial anniversary local history books compiled in 1981 may show the involvement of the family as they settled in Saskatchewan.  Church groups, legions and ethnic societies are other potential sources of information.  Universities have archives holding records about those in attendance, municipalities likewise retain holdings of persons in office for towns, villages and rural municipalites.
  6. Consider the accent of your ancestor.  Before 1920, many of those enumerated on the census could not read or write English.  The enumerator entered the name phonetically as best they could from what they heard spoken before them.  Consider how you would spell the name. Search the entire census district if family was sure the ancestor lived in that area, but the name is not coming up.  Perhaps the given names of the entire family and their ages will help to determine if a surname spelling variation is a match for your records and information thus far.
  7. Contemplate the current occupation of family members and ancestral occupations.  Quite often sons will follow in the occupations undertaken by their fathers.  The Henderson’s directories record resident names, addresses and their occupations in a specific location.  Brand books are other directories of cattle owners who registered their cattle brands in the province.  Both the early Hendersons’ directories and historic brand books are coming online.  Homesteaders who proved up their land successfully, may still have ancestors farming on the “century farm”.  Land records can be searched for those immigrants who applied for a land patent through the Saskatchewan land titles office, and letters of patent are land records for the successful farmer who proved up their land.  Letters of patent for land ownership were issued by the Dominion government of Canada.

Good luck with your family research!  The internet can indeed prove to be a help in locating long lost cousins, and transcribed, scanned or photographed documentation.  If you have found fruitful information document your source, in case it may be handy in tracing another family member at a later date in your family research.  A great way to document information from the internet is in a bibliographic style.  Author name Last, F. M. (Year, Month Date Published). Article title.  Web site name. Retrieved from URL.  Date retrieved.  Please don’t assume that if an historic document is scanned online, that makes the digital copy in the public domain.  The original paper document may have been published years ago placing the paper document in the public domain, however the digital documentation starts its date of publication when the digital version came online unless the publishers expressly state otherwise.  If you place public domain information online yourself, include supporting documentation and corresponding bibliographies for both copyright and paraphrased source materials.  Protect the rights of the living, and don’t break privacy laws when sharing your family tree information.

Be willing to think creatively, and discover the history, heritage, and ethnic background of your ancestors beyond their name, dates, and place of living.  Your family tree has the capability to develop into an exciting and rewarding experience with a preservation of the constitution and character of your family with rich ancedotes and colour.  Genealogists have different motivations to get started in family tree research. Ofttimes the family historian takes on the preparation of a family tree for a reunion, or perhaps to preserve the story before the family legacy is gone and forgotten about.  The genealogist is not just a data entry clerk focusing solely on those all important facts -names, years, places-, a genealogist also understands history, and the interactions of family members and the society where they lived, worked and played.  By asking the right questions, the genealogist provides the ancestral family with achievements, milestones, and a unique character and identity.

Note The new provincial Saskatchewan Region Gen Web is online at https://saskgenweb.site123.me the original Saskatchewan Region Gen Web site is under maintenance by Ancestry/Rootsweb.com. Check periodically for progress on the historical site http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk in the meanwhile please check out https://saskgenweb.site123.me/

%d bloggers like this: