Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Never perfect, but good enough

Such a long time since I’ve added a post! Bear with me -- there is much to report. Besides working on a narrative about my Cain ancestors, I’ve spent a week in Salt Lake City, done some traveling, and dealt with various at-home projects that just don’t seem to end. In other words, life intervened.

The Cain story is ready for the printer, if I don’t find one more minute piece of information to add, or notice another comma out of place. What do they say? “Perfection is the enemy of good.” Just as no family history is ever complete, this small sliver of mine is only tentatively “done”  (and I can never claim perfection). But at this point I really need to say “enough” because there are other lines I’d really like to return to!

What have I learned from doing this? For one thing, trying to write something down as a story instead of just a string of charts and notes really makes me look much more carefully at what I’ve gathered. New information comes online every day, and some of my earliest research was done well before the existence of FindaGrave, Ancestry, or that online treasure, FamilySearch. New sources for obituaries, in particular, have provided a wealth of fascinating data. And I learned a particular lesson: if, for whatever reason, you cannot find an obit for a particular individual, try to find one for a spouse, child, or sibling.

Another lesson: when one puts something iike this together, patterns emerge that may have been hidden before. Looking at a person singly, or just with his/her immediate family, is what I often do when entering new data. But writing about that same person as part of an extended group makes certain information stand out. Sisters who married men sharing occupation, siblings who left home and ended up in the same place elsewhere, relatives who died within days or weeks of one another -- that sort of thing invites further examination.

It’s been a rewarding effort, and one I hope to reprise with other ancestral lines in due time.

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