How To Grow a Sturdy Family Tree

A sturdy, full-grown family tree can't be purchased at your local nursery or tree farm, nor will a family history "sapling" reach its full height overnight.

The process, however, for getting either to develop into a specimen that can withstand the test of time is much the same: nurturing over many years.

Any horticulturist will tell you there's more than one "right" way to grow a tree to shade your backyard. Variables like location, soil composition, and a gardener's personality and expertise are all factors in success or failure. And so it is with a family tree.

In her hub Start At The End, JKeiser stresses the importance of documenting, documenting, documenting, and always citing a source, even if it was told to you by Great-Aunt Agnes.

Since being bitten by the genealogy bug in 1981, I totally agree.

My quest began with my mother's people, whom I soon found out were experts at keeping secrets by re-writing history, or simply leaving out anything deemed unpleasant altogether. Actually a good thing for me, because after following several false leads they happily provided, I learned early on not to accept any "fact" at face value.

Even so, I'm not terribly diligent about citing sources in my Legacy database. Most of the time I'll simply note the origin of the information in the Notes section for the individual it refers to. Hard copies of censuses, wills and such are in file drawers and 3-ring binders, so if pressed, I can produce the necessary documentation.

But since my goal is not to publish the contents of my database in book form to sell to relatives or be deposited in local libraries, I find no justification for writing citations worthy of the standards of the NGS (National Genealogical Society).

If my children or grandchildren choose to publish them after I'm gone, they're welcome to my copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian, which at the risk of having the Citation Police at my door tomorrow morning, is as pristine as the day I bought it because I rarely open it.

I never ever upload the contents of my database to the web.

Thanks to a nightmarish experience in the early days of the internet, neither do I share it with anyone except one trusted research buddy. We were stung by the same distant cousin who despite seemingly sincere promises to the contrary, uploaded everything we shared with him to every genealogy site he could find that offered free access in exchange for it.

The result being information meant to remain private was spread to the far corners of Cyberspace, as well as the research bud's working notes. Undocumented data. Conjecture. Clues to check out that might or might not prove accurate. Most of which is still out there, because it would've been a full-time job to find all the sites the traitor put it on and then post disclaimers and corrections.

We did try. We did. For no other reason than most newbies to genealogy can't tell fact from fiction, and in no time conjecture is re-posted all over the web as "fact".

My 3rd great-grandfather, Frederick Cupp, Sr., born in 1778 during the Revolutionary War is an example. Google him some time and when a site comes up that shows him with a father, you'll be looking at conjecture became "fact".

Never mind that a decade before the internet, I and other serious Cupp researchers had combed records from RevWar Pennsylvania for Fred's parents and can assure you that no such record exists. None. His line ends at a brick wall that will never be breached, but this doesn't deter those who want to connect him to a Cupp family in West Virginia. (I have the RevWar and bible records of that bunch too, and there's NO connection...)

On to post-menopausal mothers and "dead" men who remarry...

After nearly 30 years nurturing a family tree, one develops a sense for which branches look "healthy" and which don't, no matter how many descendants claim otherwise. For instance, a child supposedly born to a 49-yr-old woman with teenage daughters 15, 16, and 17 is usually a grandchild, and will show up in a later census as such.

Then there are the perfectly healthy husbands in their early twenties who "die" shortly after the birth of the couple's third or fourth child. Not the wife, but the husband . If a "widow" hasn't remarried within a year or so, don't bother scouring local cemeteries for Hubby's grave. Look instead for him, magically resurrected, starting a new branch in the next county or another state.

Forget how things should be... Think outside the box.

A family tree really flourishes if its growth isn't stunted by the mindset that "[whatever] can't possibly have happened". Aside from the biologically impossible, most anything can and does happen. Ancestors, after all, are human , not saints. Be open to the idea that they made many of the same errors in judgment that we do today.

My research bud and I have toppled many a brick wall by playing "What If?". The sillier or more outlandish the scenario, the better the chance the impossible will seem possible.

At the risk of being labeled totally nuts, we also suspect some ancestors resist discovery until the wild imaginings of a couple of descendants force them to drop a clue where we'll find it. There's no other explanation for the urge to drive into a cemetery you didn't know existed and randomly park next to the grave that turns out to be that of an ancestor you thought was buried hundreds of miles away.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~}{~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Despite being a somewhat casual gardener, my tree grows and flourishes.

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Comments 60 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

Now this is just fabulous Jama-- and I can testify to your sleuthing expertise from personal experience-- but you lay it out plain and simple for the novice like me AND best of all, unlike so many family trees and genealogical sagas, it is a pleasure to read:-) Kudos!!!!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks! I have my moments. You of all people know my mission in life is to change the perception of family history from B-O-R-I-N-G to "Oh, wow! Let's go chase dead relatives!" {{{-:

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Enjoyed this one. I don't have the mindset for that type of research, but I'll send a link to my brother who's the family archivist. Lots of useful tips :)

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Paraglider, I'll be looking forward to your brother's link. I'm always open to new things. ;D

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

JamaGenee. A very fascinating piece. My father had always been after me to do ours, but there was no way I had the time. I thought he should do it since he was retired. He started but quickly gave it up. I think a lot of people start and then quit due to the difficulties. Perhaps if they had read your article, they would have been inspired.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Christoph, thank you for the lovely compliment. Alas, family history is an all or nothing passion. One is either totally and completely bitten by the bug or has a natural immunity to it. Sounds like your father was in the latter category.

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EnglishM 6 years ago

JamaGenee, I love reading you, as you know. Another very interesting hub. I have traced my family tree, on my mother's side, from England, over to Ireland, over to France and back to the Germanic territories. On my father's side, from England, over to Normandy, and back to the Germanic territories. I hope to make the connection one day, from Adam and Eve in the opposite direction. So you could say that a family tree is very interesting, but quite meaningless really, because we all descend from Eden, and we all descend from Adam and Eve.

JKeiser profile image

JKeiser 6 years ago from Halstead, KS

JamaGenee, thank you for the quote. Alas, I, too, often just put the reference in a note somewhere. For the first few years, I did not document or cite at all and it is difficult to go back and re-find the information. I have an external hard drive now that holds most of the census images as jpeg files. Someday, I will print them out, but they are really much easier to find and read this way :D Plus, I can just attach them to any relevant file.

Is it possible that the surname of your ancestor was changed, for one reason or another? I'm sure you have checked that possibility, though.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

EnglishM, what was your family's attraction (on both sides!) to the Germanic territories?

JKeiser, I can't wait to get an external hard drive so I can move census images and such off my laptop! And yes, there were several spelling variations of Cupp - around 2 dozen - and I searched them all! For "Kaup" and "Koph", I was very good at switching to a German accent (in my head) when reading indexes printed in German. Made a world of difference in how surnames could be misspelled in English.

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

So Frederick Cupp, Sr., was born in 1778, eh? How wonderful is that? To be able to look at your roots so far back. The furthest I can go back with my dubious family is to my two grandfathers, and then hit that famous brick wall. I had my DNA tested and I still cannot understand how things happened and my roots are completely different from what I expected them to be. :-)

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EnglishM 6 years ago

JamaGenee. All white or light-skinned humans originate from caucasus, a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, hence the word caucasian. You can see from the Genesis area known as Eden (the Euphrates, Turkey, Syria, etc) that any humans wandering north would occupy Russia. Any wandering north-west would occupy Europe and any wandering north-east would occupy Mongolia. Mongolia is the route your indigenous Americans took, crossing the Bering Strait into Alaska. Originally they would have been caucasian, but over hundreds of years they adapted to the sun (hence the word Redskins).

KsCharles 6 years ago

Thank you for this vital and interesting information. From our genie history together and your sleuthing sucesses, I certainly know you "know wherof you speak!" I would like to see more suggestions from time to time!

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JKeiser 6 years ago from Halstead, KS

JamaGenee, during that time frame perhaps his father was Tory, or vice-versa, and they disowned each other. Possibly he took his mother's maiden name, name of a regiment commander, etc.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

De Greek, when you had your DNA tested, did you contact anyone you didn't already know whose markers matched yours? That's one way others get past the 2-grandfathers brick wall.

KsCharles, much of what I know I learned from you! Also, thanks for being willing to think wayyy outside the box when we do "what ifs"!

JKeiser, I've considered the Tory issue, also that his father was an American officer killed in battle, his mother remarried and he and one known brother took the stepfather's name.

Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 6 years ago from USA

Jama, excellent suggestions on this time consuming endeavor. I am in the process of doing this now and thanks, to cousins I have never met, they have given me a lot of impute saving me hours of research time...

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Great tips here some of my ancestors are so hard to track down - I like the think outside the box ideas.

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EnglishM 6 years ago

JamaGenee. My ancestors weren't attracted to the Germanic area, that's where they came from, via France and Ireland.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Sorry. I stand corrected. ;D

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO

Thanks so much for this information. I know my partner is very interested in the geneology of her family and I wouldn't mind learning more about mine. I am glad to know its possible. I appreciate the advice and tips!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

rgarnett, you (and your partner) are most welcome! Good luck on your climb up the family tree, and don't forget to enjoy the trip!

writtenbyshawn 6 years ago

Excellent article on family history. I have been researching my family since the 80's. I have learned a lot about my history through the search. Thanks for sharing your information.

Healing Touch profile image

Healing Touch 6 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

Great hub. Thanks for the info.

Healing touch

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Great information, JamaGenee. One of my cousins began a family tree several years ago. I've been trying to update and complete the fourth and fifth generations with help from other cousins. Also, I've been trying to track down the birth date of my grandfather, Shamus O'Brien, an Irish boxing champion who came to Yonkers, N.Y., in 1906 and fought professionally as a lightweight until 1922. It's a very difficult enterprise because I was too young to ask enough questions when my forebears were still around.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Bill, if your gf's real name was Michael Joseph Hogan, then according to his 15 June 1917 WWI Draft Registration card, he was b. Aug 6th, 1890 in (Dungarian?), Waterford County, Ireland. At the time of draft reg, he was an unemployed steam fitter's helper; listed as dependents a wife and 3 children. The scan is rather fuzzy, but I can make out his hair and eyes were brown. Is this your gf?

jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What an informative hub!

I have an uncle who is the "genealogist" in our family. I never really paid much attention to what he is doing. With your hub, I just learned to appreciate what he has been doing all these years.

Thanks very much for sharing JG!

God bless!

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Wow, JamaGenee,that's fantastic! Yes, that's my grandfather. I never realized that he had registered for the draft. Thanks for the great information. He was born in Dungarvan, Ireland. In fact the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan has included him in their new Sports Exhibition with a framed reproduction of one of his fight posters. I'm still struggling with documents that are in conflict over his day and year of birth. I'm trying to resolve them now because we are planning a memorial to him in the near future. I'm certain that the occupation you've indicated for him is correct. Thank you very much for providing us with the new information.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Bill, you're most welcome. I didn't look at the censuses to see if he ever became a Naturalized Citize, but if so, his application for citizenship would have to show his actual date and place of birth, and supporting documents would have been required. I'd think such documents would certainly clear up any discrepancy.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

My friend, Eddie Cantwell, who is president of the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, sent me a copy the census report of March 1901 (as reported by the family) which declares his age to be 11 but without a birth date.If he was 11 on March of 1901 and his birthday was Aug. 5 or 6 he would have had to be born in 1889. But I have other documents that give his birth date at 1890 or 1891. It's all very confusing. I am celebrating Shamus O'Brien's birthday today!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Bill, you have to remember census takers didn't get to every house on March 1st. In the U.S., enumerators were to get the names of those whose "principal abode" was at that address on a certain date (i.e. March 1st or June 1st). In the UK it, was March 1st. But if the enumerator didn't get to an address until months later, people generally gave the age of each family member at the time the enumerator knocked on their door. So Shamus may well have already turned 11 when the 1901 census was taken. Happy Birthday, Shamus (Michael Joseph)!

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

Your hub is fascinating. I thought of my younger brother, who, though never having graduated from high school, did on-the-spot research on one side of our family tree.

Btw, when you wrote your hub on Hawkeye and BJ, what category did you put it under? I have written 3 hubs on "humor in the workplace," but cannot find the proper category.

Drood profile image

Drood 6 years ago

excellent. get it before they're gone. revisionist history is always difficult to correct. i got lucky and found an old shoebox with original letters from old relatives. what a find!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Alan, I'm thrilled to hear you caught your grandfather's enthusiasm for family history! AND that you had the presence of mind to take notes - you sound like the sort who'll put them to good use. Alas, I'm still waiting for my children to stop rolling their eyes at the words "family history" and "ancestor". Never mind three have children and are therefore ancestors themselves. ;D

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

I really enjoyed reading this and found it very useful. Thank you. Bookmarked for future reference.

Love and peace


rmr profile image

rmr 6 years ago from Livonia, MI

Wow there's some good info here! I dabbled in this for a while, but I quickly learned that this is not a hobby that's conducive to dabbling. I made made it as far back as the 1800's though, where I learned I was related to some relatively famous outlaws that rode with Frank and Jesse James and William Quantrill. I guess your assertion that ancestors are not necessarily saint is true!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

rmr, you're right that genealogy isn't for dabblers. It takes an incredible amount of time and energy to climb very far up the family tree. But I am glad you stayed with it long enough to discover a connection to Quantrill and the James brothers. It's the less than saintly ancestors that give texture to an otherwise boring family history!

Kevin Peter profile image

Kevin Peter 6 years ago from Global Citizen

Jamagenne you are writing so much interesting hub and today you write on building family tree gives me a fantastic idea to gift my dad.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thank you, Kevin. Anything involving your family history would indeed be a fantastic gift for your dad (or other family member)! ;D

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Really well written; really interesting; really enjoyable.

Fascinating hobby and some great thoughts on it.

My family tree is on the Internet and I know that some people have taken conjecture ~ mine or their own ~ and published it, online, as fact.

That's life, I suppose, and it is a reminder that we must always double-check every piece of information that we find.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, Trish! Back in the days before the internet, erroneous genealogical information was distributed via snail-mail, historical societies' newsletters, and self-published books. So putting "bad" information on the internet is nothing new, just easier to spread ad nauseum. Every now and then I'll spend a day or so visiting genie sites that might contain information about my ancestors, and post corrections where possible. Much like trying to hold back the sea by sticking one's finger in the dam, but I've actually been contacted by people who read the corrections and want documentation, which I'm always happy to provide.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Yes, I tend to try that, too. :)

John Holden profile image

John Holden 5 years ago

Some years ago, a family historian acquaintance of mine getting rather fed up with all the false information splashed all over the internet wrote a very deliberate and obvious spoof tree (it was at Christmas) "proving" his descent from Adam and Eve.

Alas, it backfired and parts of it started to turn up in the trees of those only too happy that somebody else had done the work and proved their descent!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Obviously, it wasn't quite as obvious a spoof as he thought! Which only proves there are too many people with access to the internet who are unwilling to do the legwork personally or too dumb to recognize manufactured information...or both. ;D

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Thanks for this one, I will pass it on to my partner who is in the process of tracing his.

Thanks for sharing and I now look forward to reading many more of your hubs.

Take care


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Eiddwen, you're welcome, and good luck to your partner as he climbs his family tree!

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SilverGenes 5 years ago

You know, I never thought about someone grabbing a family tree and using it for nefarious purposes! Thank you for the warning. I've found really strange information about my own grandmother online including her name spelled wrong! In my case, I am fortunate to have a lot of photos and notes from past generations but as you point out, not everything is as it seems. Sweeping things under the rug was a common practice back in the day (today, too) and I've found more questions than answers sometimes. Those brick walls can be maddening! Thank you for a terrific hub!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Yes, SilverGenes, brick walls can be maddening! That's why it's good to go back over those photos and notes and such every now and then. You may have come across new information that puts them in a different light, or something will pop out that you didn't notice before that will knock a hole in that wall. It happens.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, every time I go to find a long lost relative, they remain long lost! the trouble with my family, especially on my dads side, is that they have so many skeletons in the cupboard you could start an army! lol my grandads dad was supposedly Canadian, came over in the army, back at the turn of the last century, my grandad didn't know this until he was older, he thought his gran was him mum, and his mum was his sister! confused? yep, me too! ha ha

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Nell, the sister-who's-really-the-mum was (and still is in some places) a common practice to cover up a teenage daughter having an illegitimate child. Sometimes, as in the case of your granddad, the deception is discovered, sometimes it never is. In fact, my research indicates that the relative I've always known as an aunt is actually my half-sister. Alas, she's now in her 80's and suffering from Alzheimer's. The only hope now of learning the truth would be a DNA test that can detect whether her mother and mine were one and the same. She's rather a crotchety old woman, so the chances she would submit to such a test are rather slim.

As for your long lost relatives that remain "lost", email me sometime with what you know. At the risk of sounding immodest, I happen to be rather good at tracking down elusive ancestors. ;D

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danfresnourban 5 years ago from Fresno, CA


I became interested in my family tree after my grandfather passed away. I was basically raised by my grandfather. Now that he is gone, I kick myself for not asking him more questions about his family. I urge everyone, regardless of your circumstances to talk to your parents, grandparents, or in the event you have neither of these as is the case for me, start your research as soon as possible. Too often, you cannot go back and get the information you need.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Great advice, Dan! Sorry you had to learn the lesson the hard way, but hope you've been able to fill in the blanks in your tree by other methods. If not, I'll be glad to help. ;D

tyeslater6 profile image

tyeslater6 5 years ago from MN

Enjoyed your HUB, I've been trying to work on my family tree for a few years now. every few months I work on it then get stuck and stop for a bit. I can't find anything on my dad's family. I dont even know his birth mothers last name (either does he). it can be very frustating

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

tyselater6, getting stuck periodically is the downside of climbing a family tree. Very frustrating when it happens. There's no one solution. Sometimes I just keep pounding away at the brick wall and (sheerly by accident, I think) I finally find the piece of information I need. Other times, I set that line aside and work on another for awhile. Doing so causes me to re-examine all that I learned before and spot clues I overlooked previously.

As for your dad's family, not having the birth mother's last name makes going further on that line makes things difficult, but not impossible. Someone has the answers, or the information is in a file somewhere. You just have to figure out who knows or where that file is and how to get it. ;D

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

I found your hub very enlightening. I was forced to build a family tree when my Aunt passed away. The reason why it became a necessity is that probate was denied by the court unless I could prove that there were no blood related relatives alive that were not in her will.

Sounds silly but that's how it goes when a will is poorly written. So I got involved with a well-known online genealogy tree-building site.

Your hub has enlightened me to realize the issues with doing this on the web. But in my case I guess there was no other way as I needed the resources of the web to try to find missing links in our family tree. Needless to say, people do need to be careful when using these sites. Your story is very important for people to read.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Glenn, thank you for that glowing recommendation! Searching for possible blood relatives during probate is how many become interested in family history, but the probate documents such a search produces can be a treasure trove of information. When one of my dad's uncles died intestate (without a will) in California in 1945, in order to distribute the proceeds from the sale of his house, his widowed sister-in-law had to list the names, addresses and relationships of every living relative. The L.A. court system being something of a black hole in the case of old probate files, I've never been able to get a copy of that document. Forty years later (and before the internet), a paid researcher said locating it in the labyrinth of storage facilities would cost a small fortune...unless I could come to L.A. and do the search myself. Which I couldn't, so the only other option was to start from Square One and identify the nine siblings and their descendants from censuses and newspaper microfilms. What an adventure that was! ;D

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA

Great points about genealogy. I too don't worry too much about the formatting of my sources, although I do try to include as much information as possible so I can find the source again. My family too are "experts at keeping secrets by re-writing history, or simply leaving out anything deemed unpleasant altogether."

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

MT, it's my experience secretive families or those who re-write history are usually the most interesting (and fun!) to research. Plus, they've kept (and continue to keep) thousands of shrinks in business. ;D

CZCZCZ profile image

CZCZCZ 4 years ago from Oregon

Great hub as we are looking at things in my own family's past it was a good read.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

CZCZCZ, thanks so much for the words of praise! Good luck in your journey into your family's past. Such "trips" can be quite exciting and rewarding. Never know what you'll find, which is what makes it worthwhile (and hopefully fun!).

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Love this hub. I'm into genealogy, but my kids could care less. They don't even like me talking about it.

You are so right about husband living in another county. I was once told by family members that a relative's husband had died and left her with small children. He didn't die he lived just doors away from her with another woman. I guess she told the story of death rather than he ran off and left her. To this day the family still believed her story.

I have seen my genealogy go far and wide and I didn't want it to do that. I do this for me and I'm not always sure how right I am.

I have a cousin that put down our great-great-grandmother and she has the wrong person. She insisted to the family she was right. She wasn't right. I know she wasn't.

She said: "I visited their graves." I said: "Than you visited someone else's family, they aren't ours."

Voted Up.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

moonlake, you and I must have the same bunch of relatives! My shirttail cousin Glenda and I know a couple of women like your cousin who never let FACTS alter their thinking. One, a distant cousin of both of us in Oregon has been trying to schedule a visit for years. We never go quite so far as "Sorry, that's the weekend I'll be washing [my hair...the dog...the car]", but we have managed to thwart her plans. Just don't have time to listen to her argue OUR research is wrong, not hers.

Beats me why women would lie about a young husband leaving and say he died instead, but it happened all the time back in the day.

Oh, and when my kids were still at home, the easiest way to clear the room when I wanted a little peace and quiet was simply to say "genealogy" or "your ancestors", and they were in their rooms, doors closed, in a New York minute! ;D

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