We can learn a lot making a family tree from those who have come before us. Whether about mistakes that have been made or triumphs of spirit and determination. Finding out how your family has migrated, or if they have been in the same place for hundreds of years, will give you a perspective on the future that you may have never considered. How will your grandchildren and great grandchildren know about the choices and sacrifices you and your family have made? Will they be able to find out more if they are intrigued by their family’s past? One way to learn more for yourself, as well as to give something to future generations, is to start a family tree.
Making a family tree can be a fun way to visually connect all the members of your family, past and present. Don’t be concerned that you must start as far back as you can go. Instead, start your family tree with the simplest and easiest place to start and work your way outward. Be methodical so that you don’t skip anyone. Start with yourself, which is a very natural place to start, and go generation by generation. (Don’t worry if you can go back one or two generations right now. You will find more as you build your tree). Include your nuclear family, whether that means your spouse and children, or your parents and siblings. Record the nuclear families of people in your generation, in other words, your siblings. Then move back in time and record your parents’ siblings’ families.
As you go along, remember to stop and think about how far you want to go. If you have a great aunt who is married and has no children, will you explore the members of your great uncle’s family? Some people decide how far to go based on blood relations for example, if that great uncle is not related by blood and has no children which you are related to by blood, then he is included but his family is not. Other people prefer to look at their family based on who they are close to. If that great uncle is a good role model, you enjoy his company, and his unmarried siblings come to family gatherings, perhaps it will be fun to include them in the family tree. Creating a family tree can be a precise science or it can be somewhat flexible. The most important part is that you are accurate.
To get the details for making a family tree, it is likely that you will need to ask some of your older relatives for names, birthdays, and the specific connections between your 2nd great grandparents and their nuclear families. Once you get back as far as everyone remembers, then you’ll probably have to do some more serious digging. Take the time to really talk to your grandparents, or even your parents, about their families. Find out where they lived and what they were involved in.
by Leonard Smith