Thursday, April 27, 2017

What Is the Plan?

Like others, there are four main branches of my family tree, all immigrants from other countries.

My Dad's side, Fred James Wilkinson:
  • The Wilkinson branch (my grandfather) -- These ancestors hail from the Yorkshire and Lancashire, England, areas, mostly, though there appears to be significant movement among my late-19th Century ancestors.
  • The Batty branch (my grandmother) -- Most of these are from the same area in England.
There appears to be a lot of interplay between the Wilkinson and Batty names in the West Riding section of Yorkshire in old England. Whether this played into my lineage before their arrival at Ellis Island in the early 20th Century with millions of immigrants, I do not know.

My Mom's side, Beverly Lorraine Burke:
  • The Burke branch (my grandfather) -- The main non-USA origins of this side of the family is not quite clear yet, though certainly Ireland is a big part; I just have not learned when yet. As far as I know so far, this branch has the deepest roots in the United States of all; I might have ancestors as far back as the U.S. Civil War, but I have not validated that yet. It is this branch on which I discovered my Utah/Nevada recent relatives, the first I have discovered outside New England.
  • The Thompson branch (my grandmother) -- Most of them are from Quebec, Canada, and probably from Scotland before that, though I have not seriously started that search yet.
One of the significant brick walls on the Wilkinson branch is learning the name of my great-grandfather, my Grampy Fred's father. Recall that I have no documents and no photographs of any kind from his side of the family. I have the memory of only one oral family story - I recall my grandfather telling me his (unnamed) brother was a very good, self-taught barroom piano player with extremely strong hands.

But that is all I know. No names of relatives or significant dates to help my quest to fill in the blanks, so to speak. My Wilkinson-branch grandparents were loathe to talk about anything in their pre-USA lives. They left it all behind as they came here to get away from what they were, to start a new, better, more secure life.

Everything I know about them I have figured out with what a court would call circumstantial evidence. That is not always the best evidence to prove a case.

Learning my great-grandfather's name is an essential early step in my journey. I think it is Samuel, but without some other corroborating evidence, I am not convinced of what I think I know. Considering that what I thought I knew as a child growing up turned out to be wrong, validating my knowledge is important.

So what is the plan? It is to figure out how to learn what I do not know.

Simple enough, eh?

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