52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #49 – Paul Norman Allison

Relationship: Husband of 1st great grand niece of wife of 5th great uncle

Just for fun, I thought I would pick an obscure, convoluted relative from my tree.  Paul Norman Allison is the husband of 1st great grand niece of wife of my 5th great uncle. Don’t think about it too hard, it will make your head hurt! And, technically, he’s not really an ancestor but let’s ignore that fact for this post.

This person comes in through my Strait ancestors. Even with the help of the charts function in Family Tree Maker (FTM), it’s a tough one to walk through.Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 1.29.49 PM

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The information for Paul Allison comes from a family descendent report sent to me from a distant cousin through an e-mail exchange. It’s unsourced and I made sure to include that tidbit of information when I created the citation for it.

Which brings up the question that genealogists struggle with: How far out on your family tree do you go? Direct ancestors and their immediate family only? How far out is too far out on a branch?

The answer is: It depends! I know, I know, it’s a wishy-washy answer but it really does depend on the person doing the research.

My decision to add this branch of my tree was more for reference. I’m obviously not going to go out of my way to expand any further on Paul Norman Allison. I’m not going to look for free obituaries, listings in Ancestry.com, or other information to fill out his family. He will get none of my precious genealogy dollars set aside for vital records or donations to historical societies for their offsite research time. He will not be allotted any additional space in my physical or electronic files. He will be used strictly for comparing my family tree with others to see if there is a connection somewhere. Entering this family descendent report from the distant cousin was a conscious, though out decision. It’s not that I have anything against Paul Allison, I have just weighed the benefits of using my limited genealogy research time to further expand this branch.

After an early phase of wanting to put every name I found that was even remotely related to me into my family tree, I took a breath and stepped back from the FTM program; I pulled my hands away from the keyboard. That was when I decided (a few years ago, before the trend on social genealogy sites) to “start over” right from the beginning. It was a tough thing to do but well worth the effort.

I decided I wasn’t going to be a “name collector” anymore. I was going to be a genealogist, a family historian. Before I entered my name to begin a newly-named database in FTM, a few things happened.

I though about:

  • How I wanted my paper files to be organized (same as electronic)
  • How I wanted my electronic files to be organized (same as hard copies)
  • How I wanted to store my electronic files (pdf, jpeg, doc, etc.)
  • How I wanted to enter things only once (sources, citations, people, etc.)
  • How far out on the tree was I willing to go
  • How I would do my citations for each type (census, newspaper, military, etc.)
  • What would get my genealogy dollars
  • What would get my genealogy research time and attention

I spent quite a lot of hours thinking and organizing (outlines, thoughts, files) and it was well worth the time and effort.

The result: I now have a more focused, less scatter shot way to focus on my family tree.

As Paul Norman Allison shows, I’m still doing a bit of name collecting but it is now a conscious decision to add someone complete with the source citations.


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