Thursday, May 21, 2015

Milestone Reached!

For the last year I've been going through the family tree, in an attempt to fix a lot of "newbie" mistakes:

  1. First, I relied FAR too much on other users' "family tree" data.   There are so many places where the data is simply wrong.  Sometimes the errors are obvious (children born after their parents, etc.), and while I tried to do SOME filtering, errors definitely crept in;
  2. Tanguay - while an impressive piece of work - is also fraught with errors, and blindly copying data from there into the family tree propagated those errors.
So?  How to proceed?   With over 20,000 entries on the tree, I couldn't bring myself to just start from scratch (given that doesn't really make it possible to copy over PARTS of trees).  Instead I decided that the best course of action was to begin with the direct ancestors on my mother's side of the tree with anyone who was born/lived/died in Québec (or Arcadia), look up their information in Drouin, make screenshots of the available data (baptisms, marriages, and burials), and from there, start going down each generation until I ran out of information.

As of tonight I've finished the first two levels:  the direct ancestors (X,0) and the (Nth grand) great aunts/uncles (X > 4,1).   Whew!

There are 582 nodes with 403 unique people (meaning that 179 people appear in more than one place among the direct ancestors).   I still have to "do" the Arcadians.   This goes back as far as 16 generations, though mostly in the first 13:

Completeness of direct ancestors from Québec

The first drop happens with my 2nd great-grandmother Célina Boulé (1840-1928) as I can't find any record of her family.  She appears to have been adopted by the Boulé family.   The next drop at generation 7 is the strange case of Pierre Gautier and Angélique Boisvert for whom I have absolutely no information whatsoever, other than knowing that they are the parents of my 4th great-grandmother, Thérèse Gautier (1790-1828).  This is probably because in the mid-18th century there are more "holes" in the Drouin records where the original manuscripts were lost early enough that Tanguay doesn't even have information or they're Acadiens and there isn't (or I haven't yet found) the "smoking gun" record.

At generation 10 two things happen:  there's a slight increase (which shouldn't happen) that occurs because some of the ancestors that appear in the tree multiple times do so over different numbers of generations.  If - for example - two children of the same 8th great-grandparents are both direct ancestors, the two branches of the tree might take 9 generations to reach me for one child but 10 generations to reach me on the other[1].   I don't record those designations separately, and only use the "shortest" distance for each ancestor[2].  The larger reason for the drop is that we're getting into the situation where people are the actual immigrants, and these stats only count the people who lived in Québec at some time.

I'm hoping I'll get the chance to do some statistics on this sample: average life span, average age of marriage, etc.

The other major task is that for these  ~400 people I also attempted to register all of the children: the (Nth great) grand uncles/aunts through their baptism (and usually) marriage records[3].   That's 1,673 people (starting with my maternal grandmother).   A new goal.  The time-consuming part will be looking up THEIR children (the first cousins N times removed) - I estimate this next phase should take about 12-18 months and involve about 9,760+ cousins!  (This based on the average number of kids per family (5.8) I calculate in the NEXT post.)

So with any luck I'll have a follow-up posting announcing reaching the next milestone in late 2016!


[1] This happens more frequently when the two "child" ancestors are widely spaced in age, e.g., one is the oldest, and the other is the youngest and they're ~20 years apart, or if on average it just happens that on one branch the successive ancestors are the older siblings, and the other is mostly younger siblings, then over time you sneak in an extra generation (sometimes two!).

[2] I tried to keep track of all the different ways someone was related to me, but it became complicated, especially as you got into the distant cousins because as they married other blood relatives (to me - they didn't have to be related to each other), the different designations kept piling on.   So, say a 10,1 marries an 11,2 - then ALL of their children are both 10,2/11,3.  If one of them marries a 11,2, then all of THEIR children are 10,3/11,3/11,4, etc.   It quickly became apparently that by the time you got even CLOSE to the present day, the trail of designations would be overwhelming, and so I just took the "shortest" path to the common ancestor.   (However, you CAN reconstruct it by looking at the set of ancestors of anyone in the tree --- that might be fun to do if only to see who is the most inter-related (to me) person on the tree!

[3] What about the burial records?   If the child died as a child and the parents were listed on the burial record, that would show up in my search and I'd record it.   For the others (and that's most of the people involved), it'll mean looking them up as individuals, which will happen with successive "phases" of the project (if I live that long!).

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