Isn’t this an interesting chart!? All credit is due to my clever & persistent mother.
Let’s ask her a few questions about it . . .
Why did you do it?
My idea of family history has two parts. Going backwards to find where we came from, the “roots.” And going forward to see where the “branches” lead. That even sounds like a “Family Tree,” doesn’t it? I wanted to create a visual display for this information. Something pleasing to the eye, simple and easy to follow. That could be printed out on 8.5 X 11 paper. (That leaves very little space to waste.)
What came next?
A “tree” didn’t work for me. I needed to find another theme and decided on just the “roots.” One set of our grandparents and their parentage going back 3 generations. That’s only 30 entries and it lays out well on letter-size paper.
So I had the “roots” of the tree, on to the “branches.” Same set of grandparents, with 3 generations of descendants. Oops! Now I had way more entries! Plus, that would vary a great deal by branch. What to do? I needed a flexible layout. I played with different grids and decided on a circle format, “Ripples in the Pond.” And for a touch of fun I put the entries in order of their birth.
This branch has 46 entries, but my next branch had 58 entries. Way too cluttered in this layout. Back to the drawing board. I changed to a square format, resulting in “The Family Quilt.” I have one branch that has 76 entries! Still haven’t come up with a layout for that one.
Any trouble with, or advice on, researching the descendants?
Tracking down descendants is troublesome, especially after 1940 (no census records). I had to rebuild whole families, from bits and pieces. Painstaking agony, but fun when you’re successful.
Investigating is the process of elimination, explore everything and anything to tie names and places together. Who married whom, how many children did they have, dates and places. All the normal searches, all public records. Anything you remember. Talk to anyone that might remember something. Check old pictures, cards and letters. Obits and funeral cards. Public family trees. I even resorted to people searches and social media.
You made it in Appleworks?
Yes. With the drawing application – that allowed me to move text around. And I made my own geometric grids to help with balance and use of space.
Any tips if someone wanted to make one for themselves?
Colors don’t always print out the way they look on your computer. Print out the color palette (and make it larger, if possible). Use this to choose your colors.
You can change the look of your “creation” a great deal by experimenting with different fonts or different paper. I have one called “The Family Bible” which I print on paper with an antique parchment finish to give it an “old” look.
What I Have Learned Because of this Chart
It is fascinating to me that I think about different things with a different display. I have learned new things about the generations and birth order. It is nifty that you can visualize the legacy of one couple. And if you have these charts for different parts of the family, it is fun to compare.
- My first reaction was that I never knew I had so many cousins! But really I need to be more exact about that. And it is funny because I sort of think of everyone as my cousin since I have learned that a lot of us are related if we just trace back far enough. But I really only knew who my first cousins were and now there are all these names in the outer ring with me – look at all those second cousins!
- When I was little, there was this girl at the big family gatherings who was the same age as me. Everybody kept telling me she wasn’t my first cousin and that confused me a lot. I wish I had this chart back then because it clearly shows that she is the last in the previous generation and I am the first in the next generation and that’s why our birthdays are the same month, but we are not first cousins. (I now know we are first cousins once removed. I still get confused about that terminology, so here is a good place to check that cousin lingo.)
- For Fay Holman & Mabel Vipond, they had a lot more kids in the succeeding generations than other parts of the family (and they weren’t Catholic, so why did they have such big families?)
- For William Laitala & Katri Kempainen, the spread of generations is much shorter than for other parts of the family. The first generation has a spread of 12 years from the first born to the last born. For the next generation, it was 15 years and for the third generation it was 17 years. For other parts of the family, it was more like 13 years-30 years-37 years.
- I knew that I was the first grandchild for both of my sets of grandparents. What I didn’t know was that for Pete Fjerstad & Clara Atchison’s desendants, my grandmother was the first in the next generation and then her oldest son was the first in the next generation and then I was the first in the next generation! That is cool!
Thanks to Mom for all her work on this and sharing this chart and information about her process!
What about you? Have you come up with a unique way to present your genealogy research?