Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing Your Family History

Turning research into an interesting and readable format is possibly the most difficult part of the process for genealogists.  At a Connecticut Society of Genealogists seminar in North Haven, CT on Oct. 16, we had the opportunity to hear Leslie Albrecht Huber speak on just that. Leslie’s new book, The Journey Takers is an enjoyable read. Leslie is a gifted writer and determined researcher.  We encourage you to visit her website,

By nature I am a very organized person. But, when it comes to genealogy, keeping information and family lines organized has been the biggest challenge. I now keep my information in three formats: a three ring binder that has all my family lines that have been researched and written up; a binder for each family line, with research material in plastic sleeves for easy on-the-go research trips for that particular line, and then names and dates in the Apple Reunion database file.  I have always felt that genealogy was much more than names and dates. You will never hear me exclaim that I have this many names in my database. That is not important to me. What is important is to fully flesh out my ancestors to learn more about them and what their lives were like. And this is where the Fulton County History website has been so important. By reading newspapers of our ancestors' time, researchers can find out the social and political history that impacted their lives.

I begin each family line with a descendant chart, giving parents names and birth dates, followed by the children with their birth and death dates as known. My direct ancestor is indicated in bold. Each family member is featured with as much information as I can gather for where they lived, who they married, their occupation, etc.
For one line of the Hardenbrook family it looks like this:

Descendants of John Hardenbrook b: 1820 (NY) and Anna E. Crisfield Hardenbrook b: 1824; m: 19 June 1847
Washington Hardenbrook b: 1848 (Lodi, NY) d: 14 Jan 1904 (Willard, NY)
Enoch H. Hardenbrook b: 4 May 1852; d: 2 December 1905[1]
Frank Hardenbrook b: 1853; d: 1932 
John Hardenbrook was a farmer, whose property bordered the Crisfields in the Town of Lodi, Seneca County, New York, and is how he met Anna E. Crisfield. They married on June 19, 1847 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Ovid, NY by Reverend John Liddell.  Their witnesses were Mr. and Mrs. Hunt.[2] John and Anna Hardenbrook had three sons, Washington, Enoch, and Frank.[3] 

[1] For purposes of this genealogy, I will use the name “Enoch’ born 1851 and will call his son,” Enos,” born 1882.  Death date from Interlaken Index compiled by Diane Nelson.
[2] Ulysses Historical Society
[3] 1860 and 1870 Census of Seneca County, NY.  (HeritageQuest)

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