Monday, January 23, 2017

How Did I Get So Many People In My Tree?

                                                              Baby Coconut trees, Vietnam 2008, Photo Credit: McKay Savage

I received a few comments about my main working tree after posting it in a couple of  Genealogy Facebook groups wondering how I ended up with 97,000 plus people so I thought I would explain how I managed to let this happen. When I began researching my children's family tree I started with collateral research, though at the time I considered it my due diligence in recording each family's history. Then I joined Ancestry and began using FamilySearch to help fill in some of the records I was missing. In 2009, I began adding my information into an online tree at Ancestry. Using my research and chasing down the little leaf hints, adding photos, and stories.

When I first started I had list of who I thought should be included in a family unit. Using myself as an example it goes like this:

  • Name: Dawn M. Williams
  • Parents: Bill and Nina Williams
  • Siblings: Patty, Billy, Kathy and Susie
  • 1st Husband: Private
  • Children: Kenny and David
  • 2nd Husband: Private (Only included because of public records)
  • Children: None
  • 3rd Husband: Tommy Kogutkiewicz
  • Children: None

My first husband and I have children together and it was his family I started researching first. I have both his paternal and maternal lines going back to the late 1600's. I also included his subsequent marriages and children going back 5 generations for all parties whenever possible. As it turns out his current wife and my father are distantly related!

I have included my husband Tommy's family lines because he is the love of my life and also because his paternal grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early 1900's and I am looking forward to tracing his lineage. I have included all of Tommy's siblings and their spouses, their children and grandchildren. I have also included the spouses maternal or paternal lines so that their children have a complete tree too.

I have 4 siblings so I have included their spouses and children. I have also completed their spouses lines so that my nieces and nephews have completed trees to at least 5 generations where I can. When my son, David, announced his engagement I immediately began working on my daughter in law, Cassie's tree and filled it out as far as possible so that my future grandchildren would already have a tree waiting for them.

As you can see my collateral research allowed me to add lines that were not always necessary but showed a more complete picture depending on which family you are looking at. There are some families were siblings from one family married siblings from a different family. Then there are also cousin marriages that make looking at a pedigree chart interesting. Then there are those lovely family members that had lives that fall into the following categories: tragic, interesting, inspiring or legendary.

Finally, there are the Bright Shiny Objects (BSO's) and the rabbit holes I followed to see if I could prove a relationship to a celebrity such as a President, musician or historical figure or try to see if I (or my children) could join a lineage society such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Mayflower Society.

My goal for this project is to prune down the number of "unnecessary" lines I have accumulated in the last 36 years. I mean do I really need that 5th cousin's spouse's line past their parents? Do I even need their parents if I choose to put the parental information in the "notes and/or comments section" of genealogy program? 


Savage, McKay, Wikipedia ( : 2017), "File: Vietnam 08-142-baby coconut trees," Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


  1. Love this! I see nothing wrong with filling in the holes where you can. I do have to run relationship reports myself from time to time, as I find myself with people like "wife of brother-in-law of 4th cousin 3x removed," or even "wife of wife of stepfather of 3rd cousin 5x removed." Lol!

    1. Thank you, Ann! I run the into the same issue and I am always running reports too.