Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Labor of Love

It's a glorious Sunday, cold but sunny, and I've appreciated it mostly through the windows. A couple of days ago I got new genealogy software in the mail, so today I sat down to copy the data on 7,900-plus close and distant kin from one program to another. So far it looks like everybody made the journey unscathed.

I made the switch in preparation for posting our family tree online, something I didn't foresee when I started gathering information twenty-four years ago. Because I expected to keep everything private, I felt free to cut and paste notes from all over the web, sometimes making notations about sources, sometimes not. Oops. I guess we learn as we go.

A couple of members of my extended family have already started online family trees, but I think they're doing it the hard way, entering a few people at a time. I'm hoping to be able to upload the whole shebang at once. (Don't worry, family; doesn't publish any details about living people, not even their names.) Before I can do that, there's some clean-up to be done.

Today I worked on eliminating duplications that the new software brought to my attention. That happens when John Doe marries Jane Smith, who, unbeknownst to either of them, is his fourth cousin. (Or maybe they did know it; I'm not one to judge.) If I enter John's family history, going back generation by generation, then do the same for Jane's, sooner or later, bingo! We have a duplication. The same thing happens when siblings of one family marry siblings of another, possibly their nearest neighbors on the same side of the mountain. Or the bayou. It's going to take me a few days to straighten it all out, but it'll be nice to have it done.

Of course, no genealogist can complete a lengthy family-history task without taking a break to do a quick search in the hope that some new nugget of information will pop up to be admired and savored. Today's nugget was this photo I'd never seen before:

The couple at the far left of the photo are Martha and James Barclay, my great-grandparents.  They had twelve children over a span of twenty-seven years, my grandfather being third from the youngest. Martha passed away in 1915 at only fifty-six years old. I'm not surprised. Click on the picture and see how tired she looked.

And so it goes. I find them, catalog them, and send them a little love with every keystroke. I don't know who will pick up this torch when I'm ready to pass it, but I work with confidence that someone, somewhere, will be as happy to know about these people as I am. It's just a matter of time until somebody else gets hooked.

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