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wmpbrown@comcast.net
I am interested in accuracy and verifiable information not a claim to fame or the famous. I don’t need to have a connection to those with great historical significance, whether their impact on history was good or bad. I need to where I and my own descendants came from.

I must say that most of my information was obtained through the web site http://www.ancestry.com. With all honesty, had it not been for this website I would not have been able to find the past of my family.

I analyze statistics and data for a living, and then I slice and dice the data and send it on to the various departments of my employer. So for me, analyzing raw data is not a problem. So with the attitude I have at work, “I can guarantee the accuracy of my analysis and calculations, not the data that went into the finished work.”. I say this because to my dismay I discovered that not everyone is interested in accurate information.

When I first started my search, I got overzealous with adding people to the family tree as I found them from other users of the web site. So with caution thrown to the wind, I added people by the hundreds. Eventually I had a count of 12,000 plus individuals. One day I decided to organize the tree, get information and documentation. 

While retrieving “GEDCOM” data files, I had inadvertently duplicated close to half of the people in my tree. So after an unknown number of hours I got the names consolidated. Then came the part where I try to get the right descendants connected to the right ancestors.  That’s where the fun and the frustration start to come into the process. I do mean it is fun, after several months I’m still enjoying the process. The frustration begins when I saw that with the data I retrieved looked somewhat suspicious.
I discovered that, either with the intention to make a connection to fame or as result of carelessness, descendant and ancestral connections with family groups included children born 500 years before their parents. European ancestors born in the US and Canada even before the Vikings arrived in Greenland. Some alleged ancestors lived for as long as two-hundred years and in one case, five hundred years. That one was amusing; he was born in the 1300’s and died in the late 1800’s.

So with great excitement I went headlong into my examination of the data I obtained.
I found a “direct” line of ancestry to Nero, yes the Nero that burned Rome and blamed the Christians, was in my family tree. So was Attila the Hun, several, if not all of the Kings of England and their royal lineages. Trust me when I tell you that my wife and I got great laughs out of some of my discoveries.

So, to make sure I had the right people I started my search with historically accurate websites. I went to web sites that had reliable information. Britain has a great interest in history regarding its origins and later it’s independence from the Roman Empire.
With information from the many British historical societies I discovered a great deal about modern people – some people are so desperate to be related to British Royalty, Roman Emperors, people of fame; good, bad or otherwise, they will create family lineages without regard to historical accuracy. Now to add to frustration, I have become irritated.

I searched information from educational institutions, online encyclopedias - albeit with caution, and in some cases information as it is sponsored by governments and their organizations and private organizations dedicated to one cause. There are lots of historical societies within each of the states, especially when these apply to settlement and founding’s. Family historical groups as well, for my family tree this includes the Axtell’s, Tull’s, Douglas(s)’, Hodges and others.

After about three months of that I was able to cull from the family tree Nero, Attila, all but one or two Kings of Britain and other countries. It’s not that I don’t want to be related to these people; it’s that I want to have the most accurate and verifiable information I can find.

It was at this point when I started to get really excited. I had reduced the family tree population to just under one-thousand people. These persons were real, in that they belonged in the tree and I had the data and documentation to substantiate most claims of heritage.

I have found, for a good half of the family names and groups lots of historical information. In some cases these references were from self appointed family historians. Many of these kept a history of “direct” lineage, in that only those who were in a straight line backwards, these connections would include siblings, but not the spouse or children. In very rare cases, every known person in the family from the first person found to the last known birth would be included in the histories and narratives.
These histories have proved to very valuable in my hunt for the past.

I determined that I would go back in history no more than 20 generations before me. I would find all of the persons I could who were in my direct ancestry. To that I would include their siblings and the spouses of the siblings.

Now, given that in the early history of the United States, the population was not as great or as diverse as it is today. Individuals more often than not remained within the same town or county as their parents. Until the Western Frontiers - and that is by perspective, were “tamed” and then opened for settlement. With this in mind it was not uncommon for 2nd, third and fourth cousins to marry. As the ”west” opened up for settlement, people, usually the household group was still intact absent the children who were grown and on their own, would then move to these new regions.
These people were frequently from different towns and cities within the same state of the new habitable lands. Others were from, though not as many, from states that bordered the new territories. This then helped to reduce the chances of marrying a second cousin, etc. As this occurred there came then more marriage opportunities and diversity.

From the mid 1500’s through the end of the 1800’s Population increased with a steady rate of growth. However, as the Pacific side of the continent opened up, the diversity of family lineage became limited again, until the middle of the 1800’s.

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