The Evolving Family Tree

You would think your family tree was written in stone and would never change – but that’s not the case.

Just this year my tree has transformed tremendously…

I took a DNA test which turned up a bunch of cousins, even a couple first cousins I never knew I had!

So one large branch of the family disappeared when I found out my grandmother’s dad wasn’t the guy from her birth certificate. And now there is a new and larger branch in it’s place.

But that isn’t all DNA brought to the family tree. It turns out there is a 4th cousin hot on the trail of where did our great-great-great-grandpa come from. At the moment it’s looking like we may get to add a few more generations to the tree on that branch too – growing over the border from New England into Quebec.

As cool as DNA is, you can’t ignore the paper trail side of genealogy. We have more records online now than we did 20 years ago (the last time I was seriously trying to build out my family tree).

The 1940 census turned up a missing grandfather right before he died and led to his death certificate, which finally gave the names of his parents. Turns out he was not named after his dad like our family tradition said. And now there are new generations on his branch too.

Your research skills get sharper. My most recent additions came from using the 1830 census and “matching” families with the crazy tick marks. Not to mention transcribing a couple wills to document older families. Each new trick can uncover a few new relatives.

With each new discovery the picture changes a little or a lot and the tree changes size and shape, growing, and sometimes shrinking as we find new leads. This is only the second month of my year of genealogy – I wonder what the tree will look like by the end of the year.

Of course, it works the other way too. When the tree is not passed on then people forget. Facts become myth. Meanwhile, the tree continues to grow as new cousins come into the world and grow up and get married and move away. Families lose touch with their present as well as their past.

You cannot copy content of this page