Focus, Focus, Focus

When working on genealogy, sometimes its hard to stay focused on a single ancestor or project, especially if you are in or on the internet.  One online database can send  you down the proverbial rabbit hole. You “wake” up hours later in some obscure place with a distant memory of whatever goal you original started with.  My friend Kate calls this “genealogical ADD”.

I have found a few ways to keep my own sometimes fragmented approach to research under control. It is usually a combination of my next travel plan and/or project and then creating a timeline and research plan for a specific ancestor or family group.   When I knew that I would be in Rochester, New York for my daughter’s birthday and wedding this year, I created a project focusing on my relatives that had lived in Buffalo from 1850’s to 1915.

I created timelines with sources for Bernard Knorr, his daughter Mary Knorr, John C. Mattson and his son Ellis Mattson. I then pulled all of that information into a research plan for each one to fill in gaps.

In the example below for Ellis Matson, I believed he married Mary Knorr, but needed proof of a marriage.  I also needed to find out when Ellis died.  I suspected it was just prior to 1880, as I couldn’t find him in any census after that, but there is a one year old child with the name Ellis Mattson living with her grandfather and mother in the 1880 census.

Example: Ellis Mattson- Timeline & Research Questions 

Through this process I was able to then create a research log and document the results of new information that was/was not found.

Example: Ellis Mattson – Research Calendar

Eureka! I was able to confirm the marriage of Ellis and Mary Knorr in a book at the Seattle Public Library. And when I made the trip to Buffalo, I was able to find a record for Ellis Mattson dying in 1879. I looked up the notice in the newspaper and found out it was by drowning.  The research plan helped me find the marriage record and the death record and to finally make sense of a very short life and to make the connections to another generation.

So what is next?  I really do need a project to help me stop meandering through my family tree and not making much progress.  I have decided to focus on creating a coffee table book on my Bucks County Revolutionary War ancestors to give to my family for the holidays.  So time to start working on the timeline for William Keith, James McNair and James McMasters, read Revolutionary War history, watch documentaries etc.  My friend Val and I are even trying to see if we can fit in a trip to Pennsylvania by the end of the year!  I really do thrive with a project.

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5 Responses to Focus, Focus, Focus

  1. Kathleen says:

    I have the perfect project for you! 😉

  2. Val says:

    This is so helpful to see a research plan and the research calendar. I too need to be project oriented or I am down the rabbit hole and off on some person that isn’t even in my tree! Thanks for sharing. I look forward to the Buck’s County Coffee Table Book.

  3. joyinthewind says:

    Those rabbit holes can be doozies with the McCrary’s since so many are intermarried with siblings of their brother or sister’s spouse. I am using the focus group of surnames to location since each county tends to be flooded with relations and intermarriages, I try to focus on an all encompassing list of surnames that might be related within that county. I had to learn early on that if I did not do that I could make 50-100 trips to the same location for things I’d missed the first time. Both sides of my families are very large and at present there’s a 5 county radius that are predominantly family. Most had 8+ children. I have one family that had 18 kids, they actually left 3 married children in Missouri when they came to Texas.

    By the way, I am from the Joseph McCrary/Cassandra Adair line through Joseph > Efford > John > Robert.

    • Rachelle says:

      Oh so true about having to revisit the same libraries after you discover you didn’t get everything you needed. This is very inconvenient when it 2,000 miles away! I am delighted that you are are a McCrary/Adair cousin! I am living in Tennessee now and about to start doing research on the Adair’s in South Carolina. Love to compare notes on that line if you have done any work on them?

      • joyinthewind says:

        Once I reached the Adair line, I met another researcher who had done quite a bit of work on this line that I accepted his work, and gave him what he was missing of mine. I believe his name is Winston Adair. He was a professor at a college at the time. I haven’t done much there since. Life happens and distractions abound. He is a very thorough researcher. I need to get back into my research but I am at a place in my life where I can’t do that just yet. I suffered a major stroke in January that caused significant disability. I have been gradually recovering ever since. I am just getting to where what I type actually makes sense without too many typos and I have learned to walk again but not for long periods of time yet, and my vision is still quirky. Lost control of my right eye that I am struggling with. I have to use a magnifying glass for most things. I learned to use my phone fairly well but the using my laptop makes my eye go wonky. Like there’s too much real estate and it doesn’t know what to focus on. Makes me feel drunk and dizzy after a while. I need more stamina and greater balance but I still have a 70% blockage in the right side of my brain just above and behind my ear. One MRI saw a small anuerysm while a later test did not. I have struggled the first part of the year without insurance and I have been denied disability saying that my husband makes too much money and I have a small 401k that must be dissolved before I can reapply or appeal the decision. Ugh but my brain has lost most of the information pertaining to that money and my former employer moved the account. I am still struggling to wrestle that down. I had to move in the process and lost connections through my devices. I hadn’t realized that cell service did not extend to the entire state of Texas. But I have recently changed providers but I still have some difficulty with internet connections. Fun. Sorry, I had not seen your replies to my comments before now. I have just learned today that my wordpress account has a place for those notifications. Hard to believe it has been a little over a year since these comments were made. It feels so much longer to me.

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