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- A Genealogical Sojourn -



Lessons Learned...bringing you up to date

Intro: The other two sections were written in Jan. 1998 and cover the period from the 1970's through 1997. I talk about how I first became interested in genealogy and many of the joys and frustrations I encountered along the way. I would like to use this last section to bring you up to date with a series of lessons that I've learned, both about my line and myself.

Lesson 1: Back up your data - I used data that I'd collected in the 70's to enter my line into FTM in 1997. I published that information on the web in Jan. 1998. I got a lot of feedback and offers of help. I was sent GEDCOM files from a few cousins I'd made contact with online. I merged those files with mine and published the results on the website. A few years later I had a hard disc crash and lost all the data, both mine and what was sent to me. The published data was still on the web, but making updates was very difficult. I could update existing family members, but adding new records was very hard as it required manually creating and changing many linked web pages. So, few changes were made which was very frustrating. My backup plan is to have the data on Ancestry.com. I also put a copy on a thumb drive in both FTM format and as a GEDCOM file.

Lesson 2: Give credit where due - When I published the combined files it never occurred to me to give credit to the researchers whose data I used. In all other cases on the web site, I did give credit and that is still the case today. So, when I lost the data, I was reluctant to ask for it again as I felt that I'd been a poor and thankless steward. It wasn't until this past year that I recreated the file using census reference documents on Ancestry.com. My original data was basically the line of Jeptha Middleton, my gr.-gr.-grandfater. I was given much data on the other four brothers' lines and would like to now thank Deborah A. Bass-Frazier for that help! She had put a lot of time and effort into the material and should have been recognized. I promise you the slight was not intentional!

Lesson 3: Don't take on too much - I first started the site in January 1998. Not long after I found out about a new project offered by Family Tree DNA, or FTDNA. I started a Middleton group and became the moderator. At the time FTDNA referred to their "service" as a "Family Tree DNA Reconstuction Project." Not sure if I am dreaming that, as it is not mentioned on their website today. I really had high hopes for this project. Well, as project members were tested or their tests were upgraded, I would update the DNA page and post an analysis of what was shown by the test results. This wasn't a problem at first when we had 10 to 20 members, but when the count hit 70 it became a chore rather than fun.

In another section I talked about loosing my hard drive and not being able to update the site. Well, I could update it, but I had to do it all by hand. Making changes wasn't too bad, but it was very difficult to add new people with all the linking that was involved. Plus, anything I added or changed was NOT part of a file that I could use later. These issues were costing me a lot of time and effort. That would not have been too bad, but I was not making any progress on my family line. I had once again hit a "brick wall!" So, after 10 years of running the site I lost my motivation.

Lesson 4: Get a life - When I started this project I was working at a job that had me traveling nearly 100% of the time. I was only allowed to fly home every other weekend. So, I had a lot of time to work on stuff in either corporate apartments or hotel rooms. To save money they changed the way we ran projects and had me working from home and only traveling to sites a few times during the life of the project. Then they gave me 8 projects to run. I was putting in 70-80 hours a week. I'd get up at 5:30 AM and head to the computer in my PJs, often not coming back downstairs until after 6:00 PM. Add to it pressure I felt from Lesson 3 and it was a rough time for me.

Lesson 5: I am not a researcher - Well, I don't enjoy sitting in a library going through books with the hopes of finding a link. I have never been diagosed, but I think I have a mild form of deslexia. This makes it very hard for me to scan a list of names and I am a slow reader. I also wear bifocal glasses and after a period of researching, I see spots before my eyes. What I do enjoy is my COMPUTER and most things computer related! I am pretty good at researching with the computer. I use <ctrl>-f if I need to find something on a page, rather than scanning it manually. I can cut and paste data that I want to keep. I much prefer creating this web site to find the missing link, than going out and doing the research myself. I guess like a lot of people, I like instant gratification. Genealogy does NOT provide that. The computer can, just not with genealogy. But, I can create a web page and see how it looks as soon as I'm done.

Lesson 6: -under construction...


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