Finding All Our Ancestors?

It is said that genealogy is one project you can never finish, because you can never locate all your ancestors. Yes, we all have trouble locating a great uncle, a second cousin or a great grand aunt. Those individuals would be your extended family, not your direct lineage. If you look solely at those ancestors who were your parents—grandparents–great grandparents—great great grandparents, etc. on both your mother’s and father’s sides, that alone are quite a few relatives. They would be your direct lineage.

Look at the numbers. With two parents, you also have four grandparents (a set of parents for your mother and a different set for your father), that makes then eight great grandparents, then sixteen great great grandparents, and so on. Take it out to your fifth great grand parents and there are 256 people. Go to the seventh great grandparents (or tenth generation starting with your parents) and the number is now 1,024 individuals. The numbers are doubling each generation. By the 14th generation back there are 8,192 ancestors. However, once you do get to the 5th and 6th generations and beyond, not only does it become more difficult to trace ancestors, but many intermarried with cousins because there was not as great a population for selection. So you can see how it would be very hard to gather information on all your direct lineage ancestors.

Just for fun, you should see how many of direct lineage you have located. These are some of my family lineage:

Kershaw – 3rd great grandfather (early 1800s) and 4th great grandmother (1780s)

Briggs – 6th great grandparents (1690s)

Everhart – 8th great grandparents (1650s)

Bixler – 10th grandfather (1560s)

If you have genealogical software on your computer with your family lineage or on your family pedigree chart you should be be able to start with your parents and see that you have an ancestor for each set of grandparents and each generation back. You count those you have at least a given name for. On one Briggs side I had completed eight generations and the other I had six generations, with names.

After you have worked awhile on your family history you will be pleased having located and named your grandparents, great grandparents and even 2nd great grandparents (16 of them) which generally takes you to their birth around the 1820s. Once you start with the 3rd great grandparents, some 32 ancestors, there will be more unknowns, especially on the female side.

However, never give up. There are always new resources becoming available, hidden records surfacing from courthouses, museums and archives all the time. It is like putting together a puzzle, one piece at a time.


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