The fear of failure and finding my 4x great grandparents

3 Oct

I have been slowly working through my tree trying to identify all my 4x great grandparents, but I think I have reached a point now where there is very little I can do without a visit to a couple of archives, and spending a serious amount of time searching.

So far I have identified 52 out of 64 of my 4x great grandparents to a varying degree. Some of the women haven’t got a maiden name yet, some I have only the briefest of details for, but most have more than just a name. Some have more detail if they were alive during the census years.

Filling in the gaps is going to be my goal for November, although I may start early. What is really worrying me is the missing 12 individuals, and the realisation that I might never find out who they all are.

There are some who I just need to get to the right archive. For instance the MITCHELLs and POCOCKs from Hampshire will probably require a visit to Winchester and the Hampshire Record Office, or maybe the London Family History Centre.

Then there are the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS who may or may not have married William GEERING. From the census I have a clue where she came from but without a marriage record giving me her father’s name it is going to be hard to say for certain that I have found the right person.

Many months ago I wrote about Henry WRIGHT and his wife (or partner possibly) Sarah Ann, who appear not to have married either. I have not looked at their data for a while, because it was doing my head in.

Part of me thinks that if I never find all these 12 people I will have failed, I will never know completely who my ancestors were and it is not worth continuing, so I should stop now.

I need to accept that whether it is this generation, the next one or four generations further back I will inevitably run into a dead end that is never going to be solved no matter how much time and money I throw at it.

But now is not time to give up, perhaps it is a time to focus on something else for a while, but I have given myself October to identify all my 4x great grandparents, so I still have time to complete it (ultimately I want to find all my ancestors back to my 4x great grandparents so I can produce a printed tree to share with the family at Christmas).

I have one weeks holiday coming up soon which will enable me to get out and get some research done. So the next step will be to draw up a research plan for each of these 12 individuals to make sure I make the most of my research time. With the other 52 I need to identify any obvious gaps, such as missing maiden names so I can fill in those as well whilst I am out researching.

Most of all I need to stop worrying and accept that one day I will have a brick wall that cannot be destroyed no matter how hard I try, and that I will not have failed when that does happen. It will just make my tree look a bit odd, with one branch shorter than the others!

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4 Responses to “The fear of failure and finding my 4x great grandparents”

  1. evelynyvonnetheriault October 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    I find it fascinating that you actually set specific deadlines to solve “problems”.
    I’m rather an organic researcher myself – often taking off on a tangent and most especially when I find historically or culturally interesting topics. At one point I spent about 3 months on one offshoot of my mother’s maternal lineage, because it brought me to Jersey (Channel Islands) of which I knew nothing. I delved quite a bit into Quebec and N.B. Jersey Channel Islanders and had a lot of fun but my other research stalled!
    Wounds like I need some John Gasson discipline!
    Evelyn in Montreal

  2. evelynyvonnetheriault October 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    Oops – wounds should be sounds!

  3. John Gasson October 3, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    Hi Evelyn,
    I have to force myself to be disciplined at times, otherwise like you I find myself shooting of at a tangent and having so many unfinished projects on the go at any one time.
    Sorting out my paper filing has proved this to me, as I am finding lots of stuff that never really got finished off properly.
    This particular project to find all my 4x great grandparents is so I can get a family tree (without any gaps) printed to share with my family over Christmas, so that is where the deadline comes into it, otherwise I wouldn’t normally actually impose a time scale.
    I am worried by the part of me that needs the chart to be complete without any gaps, and with all the data neatly lined up and probably in equal sized boxes!

  4. beingmaisie October 5, 2009 at 9:32 am #

    Hi John,
    I know how you feel about wanting to fill in the gaps, i only have 8 out of my 64 so you have done very well indeed.
    There are records being opened all the time, just as i think i cant look for anything else another batch of goodies opens up for me to research.
    I wish you well with your chart, im sure you’ll get there.
    gill

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