Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How's your family tree?

Pic by Ol' Myrt from the 2008 fall colors hike up Provo Canyon.

The audio version of this blog entry is located at:

This past weekend Ol' Myrt here took a hike with a friend up Provo Canyon to take pics of the fall leaves. Gosh, the reds and golds contrasted sharply with the varying shades of green in the few evergreens and low growing sage brush indigenous to our area. Some of the trees were still holding on to their green leaves, perhaps to begin changing within the next week or so. A few trees sported nearly bare branches, and the shades of dark brown provide a striking contrast to the pallet of russets and yellows in neighboring tree limbs. As we ate our noon meal, a gentle breeze would shower tiny yellow leaves on the freshly mown grass around our picnic table. A perfect day.

But as always, Ol' Myrt here seems to liken everything to family history.

So I am wondering -- how is your family tree coming along?

With only three months left to the year, have you accomplished most of your organizational and research goals for 2008?

Is your family tree looking a little dull and lifeless? Maybe you need a few more documents that might prove those shaky lineage assumptions? Why not finish that scanning project to digitize ancestral photos and pertinent "proof" documents, attaching each to all ancestors mentioned herein.

Do some of the barren limbs need to be trimmed? Use your genealogy management software to spotlight possible duplicates and identify typos, etc. Be sure to standardize spelling of states. (Half of my entries have abbreviated state names, and other entries sport the newer practice of spelling everything out, now that hard drive space is no longer at a premium.) Be sure to insert counties based on the county boundaries at the time your ancestor lived there, not according to the 2008 AAA Atlas.

Though Mother nature puts her trees through a dormant season, you don't have to stop working on your family tree. In fact, now that the kids are back in school, this is a perfect time to visit a distant courthouse to view records that haven't yet been microfilmed.

Don't put off grafting until spring. This is a great time to add newly discovered adoptive or
blood relations to your known ancestors, and type in the info about newly discovered siblings and their families, so your genealogy management software will have more details to share with others.

The generous use of fertilizer is good for real life gardens, but not for compiled family histories. Make sure you back up each fact of birth, marriage, burial, military service, etc. with copies of surviving documents. No more jumping to conclusions, no more "family stories' unless they are well labeled as such.

Sharing is the hallmark both good gardeners AND good genealogists. There was a lot of sharing of Calilily roots and cuttings from the lavender and sage growing prolifically in our parent's garden when we closed up the house after our parents passed away. Someone even transplanted the ancient Japanese split leaf red maple that had gracefully hovered on the west side of the waterfall out back. (Ol' Myrt here hopes it survives the shock of being moved.) Sharing our family tree, old photos and interesting source documents is a lot easier these days:

  • Use RootsMagic to create a Sharable CD (where the recipient doesn't have to have a copy of the program to view your pedigree charts and family sheets and attached multi-media files.)

  • Send an email a week, with one ancestral photo attached -- an ancestor spotlight of sorts.

  • Make postings on RootsWeb surname message boards, telling other researchers about your recent finds. You never know who'll respond to your query. You may have great-grampa's photo, but they may have inherited the family bible.

  • Print out high-quality copies of ancestral photos, and frame them nicely and give to your siblings or children for a present during the upcoming holidays.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


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© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved. This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to
. Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.