Who were your great-grandmother’s sister’s children? Why does it matter?

Why on earth would I want to know my great-grandmother’s sister’s children’s names? They just clutter up my tree. I don’t have time to research the whole family! They don’t have any connection to me.

Yes, I have heard all of the above.

And then there are the responses when they’ve actually seen the names.
“Oh, I grew up with them. I didn’t know we were related.”
“Maybe they can tell me more about my ancestors.”
“I’ve wanted to try DNA testing. Maybe they can help.”

In a January post, I mentioned the value of the “FAN Club” approach in solving brick walls.

The comments I’ve received recently tell me how much more a FAN club approach can offer. Sometimes it’s the joy of familiarity, when it turns out friends had a greater connection to you than anticipated. In many cases, I’ve helped reach out to the descendants of those children and grandchildren. Some know nothing about their tree. Others have a wealth of information, including letters, journals, diaries, and “missing” family Bibles.

Yes, it’s time consuming to do this research, and it can make your tree messy. Plan for an extended tree on a public website so that family members can reach out to you. You could also keep a main tree for your direct line and create smaller trees every time you want to study an ancestor individually. If you truly don’t have time to sort and organize, consider hiring. This extended tree research is one of my favorite parts of client work.

In fact, it’s time to go back to it… Early 20th century Boston, anyone???????

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