Filling in the Gaps

My mom has been working on our family’s genealogy pretty much my entire life, so in some respects, it seems like there’s not a lot for me to do. I won’t be enjoying the achievement of tracking down the names of all 16 of my great-great-grandparents because that was done long ago. Heck, in most of the lines the first real holes don’t appear until my 64 fourth-great-grandparents.

So what exactly am I doing here?

Right now I’m mostly learning. I’m not a complete novice, but there’s plenty I don’t know. My mom has been telling me about the people in my family tree forever, but usually when this happened my eyes would eventually glaze over because I couldn’t visualize who she was talking about or how they were related to me. So to begin with, I’ve created a notebook for each grandparent’s line that has a page for each person for five generations past that grandparent (that’s all that will fit in these particular notebooks). I’m recording basic information for each person and what documents we have to back that info up, which is helping me learn the names and how they relate.

While I’m working on these notebooks, I can’t help but notice the gaps in information, things like not having all the applicable census records or not knowing a particular date. In some cases, the information just might not have been easily available the last time my mom searched for it.

For example, the other day I noticed that for ancestor Benjamin Buckland (b. 1812, North Perrott, Somerset, England), we don’t have good information about his wives beyond their first names, including not being sure which one is the correct mother for his daughter who is our ancestor. I checked Ancestry to see if anything has popped up since whenever the last time my mom checked, and while I didn’t find any of the information I was seeking, I did run across some probate information that included his actual date of death, rather than the three-month range we previously had. Perhaps the actual date isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things, but it was exciting to me to find it! And really, isn’t that all that matters?

In other cases of gaps in information, Mom has the “missing” documents, but they aren’t recorded or linked in Family Tree Maker. Now another thing I’m starting to work on is organizing things better, which just happens to be one of my favorite things to do.

So for now, it seems I’m sort of a fact checker, working to help fill in the gaps.



  1. Jan said,

    May 21, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    Good ol’ fact checker… organize to your heart’s content, daughter!! 🙂 Mom Jan

  2. Judy Webster said,

    May 22, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    Congratulations – I like your attitude! If only more family historians were enthusiastic Fact Checkers! And on the subject of organising… I’ve just discovered a 40-page e-book Guide to Organizing Your Genealogical Research Using Archival Principles. I’ve only had time to read a few pages and glance at the remainder, but my initial impression is that it is absolutely brilliant.

  3. Kristie said,

    May 22, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Thanks, Judy! And thanks for the recommendation — I’ll check it out!

  4. May 23, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Well, it is a bummer to not be able to start from the beginning, but perhaps your focuse should be finding some of the deeper stories…the things not found on civil records. Check out newspapers and local histories, see if you can’t add some interesting meat to the bones. Or maybe you should just start from scratch and do your own exploring!

  5. Kristie said,

    May 23, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Thanks, Heather! In a sense I’m starting from scratch, because I’m verifying everything Mom has to make sure there’s documentation for her conclusions. But besides that, there’s plenty to figure out even if it won’t be all new people. The mysteries — like where was so-and-so for 30 years after he disappeared during the Civil War, only to turn back up basically on his deathbed in 1910? — fascinate me.

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