It's pretty depressing to search fruitlessly for new gems week after week, month after month. Those brickwalls loom over the entire horizon like a threatening storm. Surely there is something out there that I haven't explored! I spend wakeful periods in the wee hours trying to come up with a strategy that will break me out of the norm. - and I think I may have found a new direction.
When I was attending the Connecticut Genealogical Society conference a few weeks ago, Laura Prescott presented a talk on creating timelines to document genealogical data. Her talk was fast-paced and full of information and - fortunately - came with a really good handout with all the sources and websites she was referring to. I was intrigued because I had started timelines for a couple of the families that included world history facts. I was having difficulty staying on track; I kept getting involved in the quest for more historical knowledge, rather than on my family members.
In fact, that was one of the key points Laura had to offer. Know what you want the timeline focused on. Set the parameters before you start so there can be a logical progression of your chart, and an end to your project.
So, armed with that one hint, I started a new timeline of the Mack family. I just wanted to see who was around at the same time. I started with John Mack - the oldest known Mack in the US - he was born in 1653 in Scotland - rumor has it. I listed all the children born to him and his wife, Sarah Bagley, then followed the direct line family members and added their children down to 2012. It's a very long spreadsheet, and very colorful too.
Looking at the chart it is easy to see who was alive in any given year. This prompted so many new questions - Did Samuel know his grandparents? How many children were at home when his father died?
Not content to leave the chart alone and because it is so easy to copy and paste or delete in Excel, I added in my Stoddard side starting with Solomon Stoddard in 1643 for comparison. This time I added in the wives, but only the couples - no children other than the direct line ancestor. There were a lot of "huh" moments, but it will take more studying to get the most out this chart.
I want to make a separate timeline based on the Mack timeline comparison and add the people I know were around at the time that Samuel lived in East Haddam, going by names of men who sold property to Samuel, or who his neighbors were. I have so many more questions! If Samuel was indentured as a young boy, who took him in? Who would he have relied on when his wife died leaving two very young girls twenty years later? What were other members of Samuel's family doing when Samuel was thinking about moving away? What was the reason that made him move to Nova Scotia? Maybe there is a clue in someone else's family that I haven't found in my own?
It is interesting to work with one family - to become intimate with the family members, see how close their relatives were, who their neighbors were. To see the interaction of different families. Oh, yes, I've been digging into the neighbor's family trees. I am intrigued to see how intermarried families became over the years. I don't think that happens much anymore.
My next endeavor will be looking for all I can about Haddam/ East Haddam Connecticut to get a feel for what it was like back in the time before and leading up to the revolutionary war. I have a good start in the "Abstracts from the New London Gazette Covering Southeastern Connecticut 1763- 1769" by Richard B. Marrin.
And when I am done with that.... the Mehlmans will get their own chart!