I was just at my parents and ran into someone that traced their line WAY back…. And to admit it I have a tree that has that too.  I know what I need to do to my tree and what’s wrong with it….. It needs SOURCES! and in reality to go back that far the odds of finding sources are pretty near impossible.  Though how far really is that back, how many generations?  If you think that each generation probably got married younger as you go farther back – up to a point – my grandmother Richter got married at 14 I think…. But I would say an average of 20 to 25 years old.  So taking the year 2000 minus the year 600 and an average mother’s age of 25…. You get 56 generations back!  Looking at the chart below I suppose by the time you get that far back you pretty much have most of a country (or all of a country) in your family tree…..  My tree does go back and I know I need to work on my sources.  I have a few places that I need to shore up my documentation definitely.

What do you use for documentation once you get back a certain number of generations?  The census and other government records are great here in the US to document back to 1850, but going beyond that you run into what to use?  For one side of my family we have a family bible.  Family bibles can be a great source of information!  There are also newspapers that have some information, church records, and military records.  I’ve found probate records for wills that have also helped.

Going back beyond the 1800s though becomes tougher.  For some members of my family that are well known there are books that I can find where others have taken the time to trace the tree.  I’ve collected all I can find as these books get harder to find as time passes.  For regular family lines it gets almost impossible though.  Add to that the records being oversees and frequently not in English and the search gets tougher.  I’ve slowly been working through my records to add sources, but wondered about everyone else’s trees.  I’m also ordering the DNA kit. I thought I may as well give it a try.

I think the biggest mess in family trees on ancestry comes from the family tree merge…. I know when I first started out and saw it…. I made that rookie mistake and am still trying to clean it up.  Ancestry allows you to merge other peoples trees to your tree.  I also started tracking my family tree when I was about 14… Commodore 64 and paper time, and was just questioning relatives.  I didn’t document anything and relied on my memory for some.  I do have the paper copies of what I wrote, but my wonderful relatives from the time are all gone.  Between family member sources that aren’t documented and merged trees with unreliable sources, I am now using my tree as a source of hints that need researched.  I don’t have my tree set to public knowing there is information out there  that shouldn’t be relied on.  I do have a lot of great information and I have documented almost all of my direct line as well as a lot of other great pictures and documentation, but ughhh!  cleaning up a tree with thousands of people is a mess.  I never merge family trees now. I will turn on that feature and look when I want new hints, but I won’t link the information…..

What do you use for hints?  Sources?  How far back does your tree go?


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