In this series, I am working through each step in the process of finding additional people to add to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree in detail. I am using some of my own research and correction work on the Family Tree to illustrate the process. I suggest that you may want to read the previous posts to understand the complete process. Your own experience with the Family Tree may differ considerably from mine. If you or your recent ancestors joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the last 100 years or so, you may have many more opportunities to find family members with different challenges. But fundamentally, the processes are all the same. Your research challenges may be easier or much greater than my own, but the process of using the Family Tree as an aid in directing your research is also the same.
I left off in the last installment with my Great-great-grandmother, Mary Ann Bryant. She was born in England and died in Utah. She joined the Church in Australia and was married to John Porter in Maitland, West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia. Only part of the Bryant family joined the Church and there are Bryant descendants, my cousins, who live in Australia today. A considerable amount of research has been done on the family. There is a surname book as follows:
Parkinson, Diane, and John Parkinson. Samuel Charles Bryant of Rolvenden: His Roots and His Branches : England, Australia, America : A Biographical History and Genealogical Record of the Family of Samuel Charles and Sarai Stapley Bryant. Austin, Tex.: Published for the Samuel Charles Bryant Family Association by Historical Publications, 1993.
Later, after her conversion, Mary Ann Bryant married my Great-great-grandfather, Thomas Parkinson, either on the ship coming to America from Australia or in California when then arrived. At this point, we can see that there may be some members of either of these families who did not join the Church and either remained in Australia or were still in England. In any event, the lives of both Mary Ann Bryant and her husband, Thomas Parkinson, are well documented.
As you are going back through your family on the Family Tree, it is extremely important to review and understand and evaluate the information already contained in the Family Tree. It is also important to standardize the entries and correct the names, dates and places cited.
I now move back one more generation. The idea here is to get to the point where we reach the first families to join the Church. I can assume at least some of the descendants of the families who joined the Church do not need additional ordinances. This may not always be an accurate assumption, but for the purposes of illustrating the process, I will make that assumption at this level. Mary Ann Bryant's father was Samuel Charles Bryant, the subject of the book cited above.
Samuel Charles Bryant had twelve children. Most of the children died in Utah. This is one way to quickly determine which of the children joined the Church and which didn't. But the real question at this point is whether or not I can move back one more generation and still feel confident that I am considering people who were actually related to me. One consideration is the 110 Year Rule. That is that you must obtain permission from living relatives to do the temple ordinances for anyone born within the last 110 years. See "Reserving ordinances for an ancestor born within the last 110-years."
The reason for the 110 Year concern is that when I begin to look for descendants of an ancestor, it helps to have some time in the 1800s when the most records are available to search for new people. One of Samuel Charles Bryant's children died in 1930 so there will be only two or possibly three generations to search and research. So I look back another generation to John Briant. You might notice the spelling change in the name. As we go back in time, the names were often recorded from the way they sounded rather than relying on any standard spelling. Names recorded before about 1850 can likely have spelling variants.
John Briant (or Bryant) was christened in 1760 and died in 1848 in Rolvenden, Kent, England. Rolvenden is a very small village and at this point in my investigations, I need to focus on the places where these people are reported to have lived. During the 1700s people did not have any transportation options other than horses or walking. Subsequently, they were born, married and died in a very restricted area. My rule is to question anyone who is recorded to have lived more than about ten miles from the identified parish in England as being very suspect.
At this point, I am also looking for documentation. I can see that John Briant is rather extensively documented. As it happens, almost all of this documentation is due to my own research, so I am very confident that I have the right person. This confidence is essential to this entire process. You do not want to spend a lot of time looking at and researching a family just to discover that you are not related. All except for two of John Briant's children died in England. Samuel and Sarah joined the Church and eventually ended up in Utah where they died.
I decided to go back one more generation to another John Bryant christened in 1730 and who died in 1762. He is also adequately documented with reliable sources.
I checked the FamilySearch.org Catalog to see when the earliest records are available for Rolvenden, Kent, England and the nearby village of Tenterden. The earliest parish registers date from 1558 and in Tenterden, they date from 1544. I could still go back quite a ways, but I will stop and begin looking at the descendants of John Bryant, b. 1730. I click on the link to show his part of the Family Tree by putting him in the primary position.
I am now ready to switch to the descendency view and see John Bryant's descendants.
You might think that I am taking a long time to get to this point and you would be correct. It is only by very careful and meticulous evaluation of the records and all of the sources that you can begin to have any confidence in the accuracy of the entries. You do not have to do all the work to verify your ancestors. The entire idea of the Family Tree is that the users (family members or cousins) will work together to do this work of verification and documentation. But as it happens, you may find yourself being the lone person working on these particular family lines.
In the next installment, I will begin by looking at the descendants and doing some research.
Past posts in this series: