Saturday, November 19, 2011

Should you always trace extended families?

At what point should you stop going sideways? This is a question I've been struggling with a lot lately. I have certain areas where I love doing research. (Connecticut is one, of course!) My problem is as follows. I'm actually starting to run out of direct line ancestors to research. Soon I'll have to explore a new area -or I can keep going sideways.

Thus far, tracing sideways has actually served a purpose. I had a few family members that I could only place by tracing the generation. I also have several spouses that shared a last name, even though they were not closely related. Only by tracing their full families was I able to figure out why this occurred. In these cases and in others like them, tracking down the whole family makes sense to me.

My fear is that I'll keep going sideways just for easy research. Is there any reason for me to know my third great-grandfather's cousin?


  1. Can't answer your question about your third great grandfather's cousin, but I can sure relate! Researching the entire family has certainly paid off for me when I've reached dead ends on my direct ancestor. In addition, I find it fascinating, learning about the lives of their siblings and extended family. My current research has been especially rewarding as I've observed generations of ministers, lawyers and physicians in the family. It really puts them in perspective, and demonstrates their commitment to education in a time when most families were simply trying to feed themselves. Glad to find your blog, and good luck in your research!

    Lauren Rogers Mahieu

  2. Usually gong sideways helps with the inevitable brick walls. Keep those distant cousins in your research.
    Regards, Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  3. Tempting, tempting... Especially because I'm related to most of one of Connecticut's towns. This might end up being a fun project!