Sunday, January 15, 2017

My family tree - and why and how I do this

This is the kick-off entry to my new Wilkinson Family-related blog. I want to give you, my reader, some background and an sense of where I hope to take this.

First, me. I am neither a professional nor a trained genealogist. Like many others, I am interested in my own family's history. As I age, where I "came from" becomes more important and because my parents and grandparents left no written records of their own past - no family Holy Books, for example - I am left to my own devices on how to discover my past.

I come from two immigrant families, Burke/Thompson (my maternal line) and Wilkinson/Batty (my paternal line). From early childhood, I believed all four of my grandparents emigrated to the USA during the early part of the 20th Century, a time when millions of Europeans came here to settle and work. My grandparents came from England, Scotland, and Ireland and like many others, settled in Hillsborough County in southern New Hampshire in basically the Wilton-Peterborough-Lyndeborough town area to work in various mills and factories there.

My purpose is to describe what I have done so far and explain the steps, stops, stumbles, and roadblocks I, like every other person, have and will experience on my trek up my family tree. I have learned interesting facts that support and conflict with what I "knew" about them as I grew up. I will share those in later posts. I hope to inspire other beginner-level genealogists and anyone wanting to learn a bit more about their own history. I hope to trace my journey in some detail but there will have to be some parts left out. I will not clearly identify my children or grandchildren and will do what I can to protect the identity of any living person. That should be easy enough to do because most genealogy sites do not provide identifying details about any living person for obvious security reasons. Going back, however, I will be specific as to names, places, and details I learn. I am open to hearing from more experienced genealogists of all levels, professional or not. If you have tips, recommendations, corrections or other input on my posts, the Comment section is available for your use. I will read each one.

These details become critically important to validate anything one learns. After a 30-year career as a federal investigator, I know "facts" must be verified before they assume any credibility. As online access to genealogy records becomes more widespread, more people create family trees and begin populating them. Some are private and hidden. Some, like mine, are public and visible. The problem comes when a public, visible tree gets populated with inaccurate, unverified information and links. That inaccurate information then possibly gets shared with other family trees, thus spreading erroneous genealogical information. I have experienced that and hope to minimize my own sharing by validating what I can to the best of my ability and within the limits of my resources.

Climbing ones family tree is time-consuming and can be expensive. Depending on all sorts of external factors, the expense and time can be quite burdensome. I am retired and on fixed income, so I am not able to do what I really want to do: travel to Ireland and England to search records and places in person. My expenses come from paying for membership in genealogical record repositories and, from time to time, sending off for copies of documents the details of which are not included in online records I find.

For me, this exercise has become quite addictive. After having done this for a couple of years, I have a much better, though far from clear, picture of my grandparents. As I mentioned, my own ancestors left no records of their immigration and lives and I have precious few photographs. Following the clues to their journey has been frustrating, slow, and always exciting. In my own way, I hope to leave a trail for my own offspring to follow as they age. Hopefully, the trail of breadcrumbs I leave will stay in place and available for many years.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to reading your blog. Two of my granddaughters and their father are Wilkinson. Their family currently live in Caraway, AR. I don't know anything about their history.