Why you should add data to other branches of the family tree.

Why should I add information to my tree when it is not even my family branch?

That is a good question and I will try to answer it with a few examples. (See update at very bottom)


The first example we will look at is the family tree of Ardath L Monroe.

Ardath Monroe 001

In 1921 her parents and sister were killed so she was left alone.

If we do not add the relatives of her mother we will miss a big part of her life story

Ardath Monroe 002

By having her mother’s side of the family on the tree we will be able to see what happened to her once she was alone.

Ardath Monroe 003

In 1926 we find her listed in a city directory living at 318 W Frank. Since we know that her parents were killed in 1921 we want to find out who she is living with, so we check the listing by address section of the city directory for 318 W Frank. We see that a Clarence Wright lives at 318 W Frank.

We then look at the “W’s” to find Clarence Wright and find a Clarence C Wright with spouse Rebecca. If we did not have Ardath mother’s relatives on the tree and had not collected records for those family members (additional information) we would not know that “Nancy R” is “Rebecca”; she is listed as Nancy on some records and Rebecca on others. Without the additional people and records we would have a hard time making the connection between Monroe and Wright.


The second example is the family of John Harbison.

Baird n McKibben - Family Tree - Sep2014 1

If we just following John Harbison to his daughter Nancy to her son James Baird we will miss a vital part of the family tree.

Baird n McKibben - Family Tree - Sep2014 2

By adding just a few more people to the tree we will be able to have a more complete history of the family.

Baird n McKibben - Family Tree - Sep2014 3

Nancy’s son Henry Baird married Lucetta McKibben.

Baird n McKibben - Family Tree - Sep2014 4

Lucetta McKibben’s mother is Nancy Harbison’s sister, making Henry and Lucetta first cousins.


The third and final example is the family of Maurice W E De Bunsen.

Maurice - Family Tree - Sep2014 1

If we just followed his line we would not know where he was as a child, since his father was a British diplomat and he and his wife traveled all over the world without the children. The father and mother show up in census records but the children are not with them. Where are the children? If we don’t have additional branches on the tree then we may never find them.

Maurice - Family Tree - Sep2014 2

Maurice shows up in 1861 as Moriety on the census record living with his uncle’s family. By having additional family members on the tree we will be able to find records for those family members and sometimes those records will contain the names of other people such as Moriety William De Bunsen which is Maurice’s childhood name. Without additional information we would know that Moriety and Maurice are the same person. We would also miss the connection because the uncles’ name is Barclay not De Bunsen.


Update – Oct 2018: Here is another example of a different named person living with a family,  I have not solved this mystery, yet. – “Who Is Sylvia Gard?” – https://newspaperproject2012.wordpress.com/2018/09/16/who-is-sylvia-gard/


So now you see why it is important to include other branches of the family on your tree. It may be a little bit more work and take a little bit more time but in the end it can be time well spent.

Thank you.

Jose from Clarkston, Michigan

By Jose A Munoz

Retired General Motors designer who now works on subjects dealing with genealogy. I create trees using items I find in old Google News Archive newspapers and I contact other tree owners notifying them about the news item concerning their relative and send them a link to the tree I created. I post a screen print of the news item on the tree for others to copy, so that my work will benefit others. Occasionally, I will post about the tree I created or the item that I found, always with a "how to" in-bedded in the post. I want my blog posts to help others with their family trees or with their genealogy experiences.

7 comments

  1. Jose, this makes a really good point. I too have found information out by making sure I collect information from other family members. I don’t really understand when people say they are only interested in the information on their blood family members and not spouses, etc. It seems silly and we miss a lot of info that way, as you say, and a lot of good stories too.

    1. I agree. It is so frustrating to go into a family tree and see that they have not picked up important branches. The tree I am working on today has four or five places where the relatives are living with siblings yet most of the trees missed the relationship.

      1. That is really frustrating. On a different but related note, I am finding that people in my family didn’t seem to send their kids to family. Now I am wondering about that and might write a post.

  2. I follow so many branches! I get carried away and just keep looking at inlaws and cousins. Especially when I have photographs and want to know what happened to, say, my grandparent’s friend.

    1. Kristin,

      It is always tricky knowing when to stop. I stop when I get bored with a tree (or branch). The nice thing about the family tree work that you have done is that it will always be there for you or others to continue up or down the branch. Someone once asked me why I work so hard on other people’s tree when I am not even part of the family. I guess the same question is asked of you “why do you follow that far off branch when it is not part of your line?” My reply was “It is like building a snow man. I have fun doing it.” There are no rules on what branch you should follow, just do the work because you enjoy it. Two years from now, heck twenty years from now, someone will come across the work you did and will be thankful that you followed your 3rd cousin twice removed wife’s line because that is where she/he found great-great-grandma. Keep following your heart and those far off branches but above all “keep having fun doing it.”

      Take Care and thanks for reading my posting.
      Jose from Clarkston, Michigan

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