I am continually surprised at the lack of interest I find in participating in the process of finding ancestral names to take to the temples. You would think with all the emphasis put on searching out our kindred dead that people would be anxious to learn how to do this. But the opposite is generally the results of my offers to help. Most of those I approach acknowledge that it might be a good idea, but converting that "good idea" into some action seems to be almost nonexistent. OK, so there is my comment for the day for what its worth.
In this installment, I have finished examining the existing entries in one of my ancestral lines in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree back to an ancestor who was not a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When this is possible, the ancestor should also be reasonably identified and well documented. The image above shows the Descendancy View for John Briant, b. 1730, d. 1762. Even with this remote date, we have 15 sources for this person. I suspect that there are some missing children or perhaps his wife died and he remarried, but these possible issues are only speculation. As I noted, there are still many years' worth of records to search in both Rolvenden, Kent, England and the nearby parish of Tenterden.
The traditional tendency among family history researchers is to try to extend family lines. The main challenge is that the records have not been readily available and few researchers have the skills to accurately evaluate the entries that do exist. This family has a common issue with very common surnames and equally as common given names. It is tempting at this juncture to try to match the family to similar names that appear in adjoining or even geographically distant parishes. But the simple fact of life in this time period was that these people did not move around much unless there was an overriding external cause such as a war or other such disturbance. It is inevitable that at some time in the past, the records will stop and the lines will end, but as long as entries can be found and documented, the lines can continue to be extended.
For this example, I chose to stop pursuing the line into the past with his John Briant born in 1730. The date gives me adequate room to do descendency research before running into the 110-year limitation. The next step is to review the overall accuracy of the descendants of this particular ancestor. I click on the generations link to extend the descendency list to two generations, then three and then four. This gives me an overall view of where there might be problems already recorded in the Family Tree.
With a four generation extension, I only find two red exclamation point issues. This is, by the way, a reflection of the careful research that has heretofore gone into this particular line. In most cases, there are either very few entries or there are an overwhelming number of red warning icons. Here are the two red warning entries.
In this case, the child listed as William Bryant born in 1840 is supposedly born when the mother was 57 years old. Also, there is a ten-year gap between this William and the previously recorded child. It is very likely that research will show that this particular child is not a child of the recorded marriage or couple.
This next warning indicates that the dates recorded are wrong and that more research is needed. I also note that there are no green temple icons in this view. There are a few dark blue temple icons indicating that someone (perhaps me) has already reserved some of the ordinance work that was available previously. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find green temple icons and get, in a sense, a free ordinance card. This does not mean that there aren't a lot of opportunities, it just means that anyone looking at this particular line will have to do some serious research to find additional entries.
Where do I go to look? I have three main criteria to find additional areas in which to do immediate research:
- People who show a birth date, no marriage, and no death date
- People who show a marriage and no children
- People who are married but have only one or two children listed
Usually, if any one of these conditions is present, there is a substantial opportunity to do research and find additional, previously unrecorded, individuals, in the families. There is one other possible avenue for expanding the family lines and that is to resolve the red warning icons. Usually, additional research in these families will disclose other, more serious, issues with the existing research and correcting the families usually produces additional temple opportunities.
At this point, there is a serious issue. anyone approaching this situation must have a basic understanding of doing genealogical research in England. If you get to this point and are not familiar with parish registers, the England and Wales Census records and so forth, it is time to take a break and start learning. I suggest you go to The Family History Guide at thefhguide.com and start learning about English research. You can also ask for some help at your local Family History Center or watch one or more of our online videos on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.
Beginning English Research: Introduction to the Records - James Tanner
Here is where the tire hits the road. You really do have to know something to do genealogy. What a surprise.
Back to the descendency list, I have been working on this family line for a while and have already done a bit of research with positive results. In looking down the four generation descendency list, I see a lot of blue icons indicating Research Hints from FamilySearch. These are usually quite accurate and helpful. I could spend some profitable time adding Research Hints, but for this particular example, I will focus on a family. Here was my first choice:
The blue icons indicate Research Hints and the two purple icons indicate a possible missing child and that no sources are attached to Emma Turner. These people are supposedly my cousins. I say "supposedly" because, without further research, I cannot really be sure the information in the Family Tree is accurate. If you are facing this type of situation, you should realize that the information already contained in the Family Tree may or may not be accurate. My next step is to open the detail page for Anne Bryant and look at each of the entries for this family in detail. I have already worked on this family a bit and so I can already say that
I will come back to this family in my next installment.
Past posts in this series: