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. 🙂