Who Is in the Shortest Branch of Your Family Tree?

The goal for every family historian is to fill in as many branches of the family tree that he or she can. In spite of our best research efforts, though, some branches stubbornly refuse to blossom and grow.

Which branch of your family tree is the shortest? How many generations back does it extend? Will you be able to push it back any more generations or are you at a permanent brick wall?

I have 25 of my branches – the 4X great grandparents – tied for being the shortest branches on my own family tree. I have names for seven of the 32 ancestors on the paternal side of my family – the Slovak side where records only go back to about 1800 in the villages.

In reality, I really have all 32 of those 4X great grandparents missing because although I can identify Joohn Fucsik, John and Elizabeth Haluska, Andrej Patorai, Maria Janoskova, John Szurgent and Anna Gmitrisinova, I know nothing else about them – there is not a single birth, marriage or death date to be found.

DNA won’t help in this case, either, because these ancestors were all illiterate peasant farmers who owned nothing. The only evidence of their existence would be in the church registers, which either weren’t kept before the beginning of the 19th century or else they have been lost.

I do actually have a number of DNA matches to Slovak cousins, but we can’t figure out how we are related other than our families lived in the same villages.

Unless church registers are miraculously discovered, there is absolutely no chance to take these lines back any further in time.

What about your shortest branch? Do you have a better chance of research success than I do?

Please leave a comment. 🙂

One thought on “Who Is in the Shortest Branch of Your Family Tree?”

  1. My shortest branch and one that will likely not be solved any time soon is the father of my great-grandfather, Thomas Doran. I know his mother was Nancy Doran, a single mother that gave birth to him some time in the 1850s, probably about 1853. He took his mother’s maiden name as his last name. He was probably born in New York City but I have not found his birth or baptismal record yet. There are no male line yDNA descendants so that won’t help us narrow it down any. In addition, I have not been able to pin down any of my Irish ancestors, including his mother’s parents and his wife’s parents, back to Ireland. I have a lot of Irish DNA relations but I haven’t been able to figure out who is related to which branch. Unfortunately, I just have not been able to find any information about his father and it seems I never will.

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