Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making a chronology of your family

One of the important ways I have found recently to understand your ancestors is to put their lives down on a piece of paper in the form of a timeline. By putting their known life events down on a piece of paper it better helps us understand new paths of research to fill in the gaps. In a previous post I had talked about writing a biography on your relatives, but this is different in that it only sticks to the facts. The main information is the milestone dates in their lives. Starting with birth and including all the important events that took place in their lives. This not only helps you understand how they fit into the lives of other members in your life, but helps you in understanding the effects of local and national events that make effect the decisions that they have made in their lives. A major pitfall is to think that all the decisions or influences in our ancestors lives were as a result of events withing their immediate families. The opening of the Erie Canal in the 1820's was a major stimulus that caused families to move further west. This is a major reason why folks started to come to Ohio or Michigan during this time period in much higher numbers. Another example would be the opening up of the Black Swamp in Northwest Ohio in the 1840's that caused people to move into that area and up into Michigan. Prior to the draining of the area you had a major block of bug and animal infested swamp. This was a major road block to westward migration. If you follow the average family coming to from the east coast it was why people stopped in the middle of Ohio for long periods of time. It was not until after the 1840 time frame that they were able to easily move further. The opening of the Wabash Erie Canal in the 1840's allowed easy travel from Cincinnati into the area of Defiance on the Maumee River. Looking at a map of the path of the canal will help you understand why your family may of come to a certain area and understand how the canal helped with this process. Understanding the events and history that were going on in the lives of our family will help us in better understanding their lives. Make sure to document all their life events and fit them in with the events that occur around them. Fit them with other family members and see if you can find patterns. Good luck with your search.
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