Monday, August 18, 2008

What About Collateral Branches?

Recently I was asked how far out do I spread my research; and when do I stop researching?

My answer was vague, I am sure. I said something to the effect that the questioner should do as much, or as little, as he or she wanted. But that I personally go gung-ho into the project and get all the information I can!

In yesterday's "The Ancestry Weekly Journal" was a wonderful article written by Paula Stuart Warren, CG. I am going to try to give you the "meat" of this article, without paraphrasing too much, or breaking copyright laws! So please bear with me. But I do believe this is an article that can cover alot for those with similar questions.

Paula wrote: "If I hadn't researched one great-grandfather's brother, I may never have found the place they left in Scotland (Arbroath) and would have missed the death and burial place for my great-great-grandparents."

She goes on to say that if she had not researched her grandfather's siblings, she might not have known about the relatives still living Ireland - and thus, all of those collateral relatives that had immigrated to the US.

She goes on to talk about several other instances where searching out collateral lines have opened up her closer lines as well.

Paula states: "Don't enter just the direct line folks into your Family Tree Maker software. Enter all siblings, aunts, uncles, and even their spouses."

Good ideas are also to check for obituaries and death certificates for those collaterals - you just might find other information you need for your direct line as well! Such as a "maiden name".

Research names found in the obituaries, gift registries [such as wedding albums and baby books]. You just might find the name[s] of more relatives!

"As you make contact with other relatives, ask them if they have memories and contact information for other family members. Ask them if anyone has a family Bible."

Gather all of the information on collateral branches as you can. Information from military records for the males can be especially helpful.

Check probates for distant cousins. Check out marriage records, while many states only list the bride and groom's names, others list the names of their parents as well.

Read old newspapers. There you will get the local news for the times. [This is one of my husband's specialties! He is full of little known facts about San Antonio for the period of about 1860-1900. He loves those old papers!]

Paula writes: "Is all this work really worth it? You betcha!"

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is a professional genealogist, consultant, writer, and lecturer who is frequently on the road. She coordinates the American Records Course at the annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She writes for several periodicals including "Ancestry" Magazine.


I hope this has helped for those of you who can't decide whether to pursue those collateral branches or not!

Let us know your comments!


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