Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lost - Now Found

This year I decided to research the lineage of our sons-in-law for their birthday presents. The effort has been a big hit with them and their extended families.

During their holiday family gatherings, they shared their lineal information and in some cases the wall charts they'd had printed at BYU with their families. Everyone was delighted to see the information. In fact, exploration of the data took over the conversation.

As they poured over the data, different family members found that I had missed some of their lineage. In one case, the chief of a large Indian Nation was missed along with four generations of his descendants. In another case, another Native American branch was missing.

I didn't find this information because it wasn't listed in the resource documents and websites that I use for research. The lineages probably would have remained blank except for the knowledge of different members of each of these families. In one case, a brother said, "Part of this line is missing! Mom, do you remember that old book you have in storage? It lists our Indian ancestry!" They found the book, dusted it off and indeed, the missing lineage was listed on the pages.

The assembled work and charts had fulfilled my expectations. Entire families became interested in their lineage. They quickly organized themselves to continue their ancestral quest. Missing data, known only to one member of the group was 'found' again, even though it had long been in the possession of the family.

Such is the power of organized family research, be it an organization of siblings and parents or an organization of extended cousins. Collective research results always exceed the efforts of any single individual. Collectively viewing the information for accuracy, missing data and 'mining' of the group memory almost always results in brick walls being pulled down and light shining on family members long since lost to history.

If you haven't formed a family organization yet, now is the time to make it your New Years resolution.

An organization will help bring concentrated focus to missing individual and family records. Like concentrated rays from the sun through a magnifying glass, the concentrated efforts of members in the organization will be equally effective in burning through the thrash and clutter that hide the facts. It will expose the gems of truth that have 'always been there awaiting discovery' --- Lost - Now Found.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

From Blocks to Electrons

It is Christmas time again. This week, I thought about the types of toys I received as a child and then compared them to the high tech toys our grandchildren will receive this Christmas. The wee tots blocks and dolls are basically the same design, although most are made in China now, however, the 'big' kids toys are radically different.

As a youngster, I thought a toy train, chemistry set or erector set were the ultimate gifts. They are a huge technological step away from the video games, computers, robots, interactive dolls and electronics books of today.

I can't say that I've not embraced the technological jump though. Embraced it? I revel in it when it is applied to family history research and associated tools. We are lucky to be alive when these tools are available.

My siblings were youngsters during the great depression. I have copies of photos showing
them standing on the front porch of a tiny log cabin in Fort Canyon above Alpine, Utah where my parents moved after my father lost his job in Park City when the mines closed. They are holding handmade cutout cars and trucks and a homemade doll that Santa left for them under the Christmas tree.

The old cabin was so full of cracks and gaps that it didn't make much shade when my folks arrived on the scene. Filling them in with creek mud and straw was first on the agenda , then came patching the many holes in the shingles.

The interior walls were covered with newspapers to help provide a little isolation against the cold. My mother said she covered the walls of the bedroom with newspaper comics so the kids would have something 'cheery' to see.

My father lead a posse tracking the deer poacher who frequented the mountains above the cabin. He carefully lead the posse all over the mountain following faint tracks for hours while my mother canned the meat from the deer so their family would have something to eat that winter. He was a good tracker but never could lead the posse to a capture of the 'villain' for some reason.

When you get your new family history software, computers and recorders this Christmas, make sure you take the time to write and record the stories of your families. Without you capturing them both digitally and on hard copy, they will disappear and be lost from the heritage treasure of your descendants. Include the photos of Christmases and memories past. If you don't record these stories, your children and grandchildren won't have any reference points into the Joy of Christmas that their ancestors enjoyed.