Do it yourself
Thinking of doing it yourself ? So How did I get to this stage ?
Have a quick scan through the census records, if your surname has less than 5000-8000 names its probably worth it (of course remembering that a person could have 3 entries (birth-marriage-death) The extreme example is smith - forget it !!!!
To put this into perspective I searched for my mothers mother and there were more of her one single name in ONE COUNTY than the whole of the chattaways around the world from 1600s to now !!! So give yourself a rough idea of the task ahead.
Firstly open an excel spreadsheet and learn how to sort numbers and letters by columns and lines -(its very easy using the sort fuction)
This is critical as you will have to sort and search hundreds of times with either dates or names etc.
Then set up a template with all the criteria headings you need -on mine there are 21 criteria that covered everything I needed to know.
A. This I called ref. any paperwork number it physically, and put the number in column A. next to the appropriate person on the database. any queries can easily be looked up in seconds.
B. This is a M/F sorter I just called males 1 females 2 as sometimes you have to sort by sex
C. This is a 'family' sorter column when I put families together on A4 sheets of paper I coloured those lines pink on the computer to show I wasnt duplicating data, and added a P in the C column - again to sort and see which families I had together and which I didnt
D. In this column I would put DEL (dead -end of line) for infant death or under 18 death where the line never continued (this was useful on many occasions where there were 2 identical names and one family -at a glance you can see it wasnt the del one
E.Is for mini trees I nominated a number for trees I was sent, this made it easier to fit families to families.
H. F M W H Initial for Female Male Wife Husband
I. C B M D Initial for Christening Marriage Birth Death
N. marriage month
O. marriage year
P. marriage place
Q Wifes maiden name
R. Death month
S. death year
T. Death loacation/ age
U. Information line (critical !! ) put every scrap of information on a person in this line makes it so much easier to build the families
Contiuosly save or set your computer to save every few minutes - I learned the hard way and lost 2 weeks work because I accidently deleted it all.
Clues ive learnt for tree builders to track and link names :-
1. Names are often time and place specific. - For example 'time specifc' it would be as rare to name a baby girl ada or ethel these days as it would be to find a wendy or kirtsy in the 1700s- 'Place specific' as ive already said "willam' (chattaways) are 95% exclusive to the midlands, yet hardly register in london where 'benjamin' was favoured. A lot of this effect can be put down to naming after parentage but not all.
2.The naming of the first child after the parents, or granparents or the middle name of said parents -there is a healthy percentage of this obviously as they are proud and want the name to carry on.
3. Again the middle name which can cary on after many generations because of a good deed or the spouses name was involved good examples are the 'eagle' chataways and 'drinkwater' middle names that have carried on from the 1800s to now in the UK and Australia
4. A very rough rule of thumb but sometimes doesnt work, is to count 12 years from marriage and that is the limit of childbirths for that partnership(but not all ! ) Ive scratched my head a few times and found the father was in his 50s and 60s after remarrying a much younger lady.
5. Dont re-invent the wheel !!! Do searches on your surname, a pound to a penny someone has already done part or all of it, somewhere.
6. Get the 'feel' of names and the people involved a family of 5 for example with children called thomas william elizabeth and ann definitely will not have a fifth child called Manuel T Orantes the third !! a little extreme example, but this happens in most cases, children with middle names have bothers and sisters with middle names.
7. Remember the Julian calendar was replaced by the gregorian calendar in Britain in 1752 so dates could be a year out.
8. Right up to the middle of the beggining/middle of the 1900s getting married because a baby was on the way was so common.It did suprise me a little how high the percentage was at a finger in the air stab, about 50/60%