Sunday, January 01, 2017

Hail and Farewell

Dear Reader,
As you know, I haven't been writing much here in recent months. It's not that I've lost interest in genealogy — far from it! But I need to put my efforts into creating narratives for family members — pieces that are longer and more detailed than what works within the confines of this fomat.

So, this is a farewell to the Family Lines blog. If anyone is interested in communicating with me about subjects or family names* I've written about in the past, I can still be reached at

It was always my intention not only to share personal research discoveries but also to offer a few tips that might help readers in their efforts. Here are some of them again:

1. In genealogical research, the first rule is to work back in time from the present. But don't stop there. Move laterally to include spouses (and their parents), siblings, and children of your ancestors' siblings. Sometimes their stories are the most interesting of all, and in any case, their lives will often give clues to help you trace your direct line.

2. Remember the public libraries in your areas of interest. Many of them have online catalogs these days and may hold unique items such as local newspapers, indexes, photographs and other genealogical treasures. I have found their reference staffs unfailingly helpful.

3. Look for genealogical and/or historical societies in those locales. Join up and submit queries to their newsletters. Membership lists will often include surnames being searched. They, too, are often repositories of special material you may not be able to find anywhere else.

4. Don't set unrealistic goals that can just discourage and overwhelm you. Choose a line to work on, and then a single generation of that line. Break it down further — say, all the folks who lived in one county, or the young men of an age to have served in the Civil War.

5. Never, ever, expect your family's history to be "done." You may choose to wind up a particular project at some point, but there will always be more for someone else to work on. On the other hand, don't let its open-ended nature keep you from writing about it. Go with what you have — you, or somone else, can always add more later.

6. Remember that showing where you got your information is absolutely vital. If Grandma said it was so and that's all you know, put that down (with Grandma's full name). If you read it in a book, list the book's title, author, publisher and date of publication. If your source is a copy of a copy of a pirated family tree (you know who you are) list as much as you can about the tree's authorship, and where it is posted. Then the next person to pick the threads will know where she or he stands.  Treat ALL undocumented statements as clues, not fact, and try to confirm them.

Those are some tenets I try to follow. I hope they help you. 

So long.

*My lines, briefly, are:

Cain, descending from Thomas Cain (d 1795), mostly in Delaware and Indiana. From there the family spread out to various parts: New Jersey, Tennessee, Kentucky and California.

Howard, descending from Frederick Howard (1795-1853) who apparently was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, but moved first to Kentucky and then settled in Indiana.

Tanner/Blount/Waldron with roots in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

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