Don’t Neglect the Living

I call it “forward-thinking genealogy”, my term for bringing a known line forward in search of living descendants.  Now why would you do this?

I’ve been very fortunate in past client genealogies when searching for living descendants.  My reason for doing this is simple… I seek out photos, documents, and miscellaneous information that may have passed to another line of the same family.

Let me give you one of my favorite examples.

When a client contacted me to find what had happened to a Great Aunt she never expected me to find the treasure trove of information I did.  I brought a couple lines forward to find living cousins, cousins who just so happened to have the original photo album of the Great Aunt!  The cousins were just as surprised to learn of the Great Aunt as my client because information pertaining to the Great Aunt had been lost to time.  She had died young with three small children.  The father remarried and the memory of the Great Aunt died with the children.

This is just one example.

In my own personal genealogy I have used forward-thinking genealogy to hunt down possible fathers of a brick wall descendant.  Born in 1765 my ancestor’s father was unknown.  Looking through church records of that era I was able to deduce possible father’s.  I brought one man’s lineage forward to discover that it died off in the 1800s.  I backtraced to the man’s father and brought a brother’s lineage forward.  We were then able to find a living descendant who we contacted.  He agreed to undergo a simple DNA test.  Results were conclusive: he was not a match.

There are many other uses for forward-thinking genealogy.  You might wish to find living cousins to interview for missing information.  Or you might choose to find living descendants to discover what family heirlooms were passed forward through that line.  I have been able to find Civil War Diaries, Family Bibles, and handwritten genealogies in this manner.

So the point I am making is simple.  Don’t neglect the living when researching the past.  You never know who you will meet and what you may find.

I have found cousins all over the world… people who are just as interested in my family history as I am.  Together we have tackled problems, brainstormed how to navigate around brick walls, and conducted group research into our common family bond.

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