It was an intense holiday season with all of the bazaars I was at. Then of course the family celebrations. So I took a break for a week. Some family conversations around genealogy on Facebook started me down a path looking for ancestors.
For more than a week, I've spent every free moment on ancestry.com building my family tree. It's been a fascinating journey. What I've learned is that ancestry.com has a huge number of family trees that you can copy your relatives and their relatives from and you can build a gigantic family tree. However, who knows if the tree you build matches your tree or not.
People are all over the world adding their versions of their tree and they make mistakes. I've ended up with relatives giving birth to themselves, or I find two different birthdays for a person, and then you find out that someone's tree had combined two people. It can be a tangled mess sometimes.
I had a good idea of my predecessors back several generations, but then I hit a wall when I was trying to validate the information I got from someone else's tree. The US census has great information after the civil war, but before then, only the head of household is on the census. Everyone else, elderly parents, wife, children, servants, and slaves are just tick marks. Unless you have cemetery, church, or local records, you can't firmly establish a person's birthplace and year and you probably can't establish their marriage either.
Interestingly, I have more information on my immigrant (1800's) relatives than I do on my american relatives in the early 1800's. Almost all of these show up in Illinois after the civil war. But I can't find birth records for them. Other family trees link one of my 2nd great grandmothers to a doctor in Illinois. But other family trees of that doctor show that he didn't have a child named Mercy, but had a "Mary" by his first wife. They have slightly different middle initial/names, birth, and death years. So I can't be sure if they are the same person. So, I either have a dead end, or if she's the same, those family trees let me trace her (without many sources) to England in the early 1630's and 1640's.
Another interesting thing with these early american folks is a brush with the mayflower via a descendant that married my 3rd great grandfather and then died before my 3 great grandmother married him (if the previous paragraph is valid). Speaking of the mayflower, someone's tree took my 3rd great grandfather's great grandmother and combined her with Miles Standish's wife. But when you look at what's published about his wife, she couldn't possibly be the same person. I think someone was too excited and made the connection since their names were similar.
Now that I've come up for air, I'm getting back to my jewelry. However, next week I plan to get ancestry's international records for a month and try to find my international ancestors. Oh boy, that's going to be intense. Am I addicted? Do I need an Ancestry Anonymous meeting?
And the moral of the story is, who knows whether any of this ancient history is really correct. I'd have to pay a genealogist to sort it all out. Henry Louis Gates Jr, are you willing? I have a string of Gates' as possible relatives! Maybe we're related?