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  1. #1
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    Default ... when you first started ....

    a general chit-chat question

    when you first started out researching either your or someone else's family tree did you set yourself any limits as to how many people you would include in the tree ?

    The reason I'm asking this is that a while back I noticed one or two public trees on Ancestry with over 100,000 people in them, and the other day I noticed one with over 300,000 people. This seems to me a remarkable achievement and I guess potentially helpful to many other researchers (I can't really think of any other reason for doing it), however I would think you have to be supremely self-confident in your ability to avoid mistakes and go off on the wrong track, otherwise a huge amount of deleting would need to be done. I think the largest number of people I've deleted is ten, which was bad enough, but the thought of deleting hundreds doesn't bear thinking about !

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    Knowledgeable and helpful peter nicholl's Avatar
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    When I started my aim was to get back to 1800 for all my direct ancestors, potentially 64. Still got some to get, but for others I've got back a lot further.
    Peter Nicholl
    Researching:Nicholl,Boater, Haselgrove & Vaughan

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    Brick wall demolition expert!
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    I don't/ didn't have a limit on numbers either originally or today, but by experience have, for my purposes realised, that there is little point in adding remote branches and twigs just I could.

    In the early days of the internet that is exactly what I did do, until one day I sat there thinking "who are these people?" And "how do I know this is correct?" So I took a decision to prune back to direct lines and their children and those children's spouses only, with one family line's exception which is effectively a one name study, but not an official one.

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    Super Moderator - Completely bonkers and will never change. Pam Downes's Avatar
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    Though I know that it doesn't take that many generations for you to accumulate quite a large number of direct ancestors I'm afraid I'm very sceptical about trees on Ancestry with those sort of numbers in them. Lots of the 'ancestors' are just names, with no proven links.

    If my very quick maths are correct, if you call your parents generation one, say they were born in 1950 and a generation is twenty-five years, then my calculations make it that by 1659 you will have 32768 direct ancestors (16 generations). Add in a few siblings along the way, and yes, you could get to 100,000 people in your tree, but that's assuming you can find every one of your grandparents, great-grandparents, etc, and we all know how easily you can hit a stumbling block with 'no father named', before you even start with missing parish registers. Then you get two people with the same name in the same small village - which one is definitely yours?

    I didn't start out with any 'number' in mind - I just wanted to trace my grandparents' parents and find out a little more about their siblings, etc. Once you start adding siblings then numbers increase quite quickly. Some people I think then take things to extremes because they add in a sibling's spouse (which is reasonable) but then start to add in the family of the spouse. How can you possibly call the parents and siblings (plus their extended families) of the man who married the sister of your 2x great-grandfather an ancestor?? I will include the John Smith who married the sister of my 2x great-grandfather (and possibly his parents) and I will include their children, and their children's children, etc, but that's it. As a general rule, his extended family tree doesn't fit into mine.

    Haven't got a scooby about how many people are currently in my tree, and really don't care about the numbers. All I care about is accuracy, and being able to say with 100% certainty - 'these are my ancestors'.

    Pam
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    those sound very sensible approaches, thanks.

    Once I realised that in the direct male line I wouldn't be able to get further than my great-grandfather, beause of illegitimacy, I then decided to explore his mother's husband's family (from whom I get my surname). I'm obviously not 'related' to them or their ancestors or descendants but they happen to be interesting people and exploring them has taught me quite a lot of fairly obscure nineteenth century history, so I believe it has been worthwhile from that perspective.

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    Super Moderator Lesley Robertson's Avatar
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    I’m with Pam on this. it’s easy to acquire a large number of people when you trawl he net and merge trees that look likely.
    It all depends what you want to do.
    I have never seen any point in targets or limits. I’m interested in the relationships - cousins, siblings of direct ancestors, etc. Mum’s side tended to run to large families, Dad’s fewer, and all of these children would have influenced the lives of my ancestors, so they are interesting. I want to know more than just their names!

    Mind you, the database for my One Place Study is enormous. And none of them are related to me. Watching Scotland’s history happen by following the changes in Parish life is fascinating.

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    I'm distantly related to someone who has one of those massive name collectors' trees online. She's married one of my great-great uncles off to someone, although he died unmarried. The name of the groom's father, which is shown on FamilySearch, is different from that of my great-great uncle's father, who is in the tree. I posted a note about it on the website but it was ignored, so obviously she's not bothered about accuracy

    And before anyone says “You can't take FamilySearch as gospel” - I'm just giving this as an example of how name collectors work. “Oh, there's the same first name. Never mind that the surname's spelled differently and the father's name's completely different. It'll do. That's another to add to my total.”

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    Super Moderator Ladkyis's Avatar
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    I am pretty sure they just see a similar name and add that to their tree.

    I started when my Dad handed me a cardboard box full of papers and said "I'm too old for all this, see if you can find these bl**dy actors"
    Here I am nearly 30 years later still discovering more about them with every passing year and falling deeper in love with them and their deliciously lying, bigamous offspring.
    I only have a small tree on Ancestry to cover the DNA thingy - I have found lots of connections on my maternal side now the results have gone live and three on the actors side that I already knew about.
    Ladkyis

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  9. #9
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    My aim was 5 generations back on both mine and my wife's tree which should keep me in the realm of information from the GRO, a few branches have pushed back a bit further and some are still to be completed, but I am getting there. I have been doing bits on it now for about 7 years I think, but I get quite concerned if I can't robustly prove a paper trail link. I would rather be as confident as I can with information, rather than just gather a huge amount of names. I generally only include siblings of direct ancestors unless I have had to expand a branch to help me confirm my direct line. I am up to about 610 people now.

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    Knowledgeable and helpful stepives's Avatar
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    Ignore all online trees, and don't get sucked in to many that are total fabrications.

    Once your back 3 to 4 generations, and are all fully documented with at least 3 pieces of evidence(birth, marriage and death), and the more the merrier. (You can never have too much).

    There is a tendency to 'chase' the family name, but don't forget the fact that your grandparents double, with each generation. Family name is one thing, your family tree is another thing entirely. They are all your family.

    The number of family members should not be a target, they will reveal themselves in as many that you find.

    I have 2 massive holes in my tree, one is my Paternal 2xGt Grandmother born 1854, with no father to be found, and the second is my Maternal 2xGt Grandfather born 1843, with no father traced, even though I have his name.


    Steve.
    Too many bones, too much sorrow, but until I am dead, there's always tomorrow.

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