Genealogy: pet peeves & musings of the day


Homberg, Hessen, Germany in 1840. A branch of the family came from here pre-1770s. They were linen weavers (after reading up on this occupation, it sounds like long hours of doing the same thing, over and over.

Genealogical pet peeves

I’ve been getting back into doing a little genealogy. I began about twenty-five years ago while researching the family history of one of my characters in the novel I was working on at the time. After doing his genealogy, I decided I wanted to do my own, since I’ve always wondered where I came from. Who can’t help but wonder this every once in a while? It was bothering me (as it still does at times), about how they lived, why they moved, when or where they were from originally. Why move somewhere more… boring?

Now, I don’t understand why people start this time-consuming, extremely slow hobby so late in life because, to be honest, they are going to be dead before they get too many generations back in time. I’ve made some progress, but also, I started young, and was lucky to find some distant cousins who had more information than I, and were willing to share. I also had a few generations started from my aunt who had started the genealogy, of which I continued.

Genealogy is a slow process and one of my pet peeves while looking for information and family trees online is that some people confuse the baptismal date with the birth date. These are not the same, and most times, they aren’t even close. This is especially true when the families lived in the middle of no where with no access to ministers or churches for years. Back then in those areas, they had circuit riders or ministers, who rode around from town to town to marry people, baptize people, preach a little, then they moved on. A single church building (when there was one) could be Presbyterian one Sunday, or Methodist the next or later on the same day, and most times the same minister performed all services!

Before I get too far off topic, let me return to my pet peeve. Sometimes there is never any birthdate to be found and there’s only a baptismal date. To solve this problem, personally I just indicate that the birthdate is before the baptism date, but I never use the baptism date as the birthdate. There can be a 3-20 year difference! (Or more!). Grrr.

Another pet peeve I have with doing genealogy is when people will claim to be all finished with their genealogy. OK, what? That is absolutely impossible. Genealogy is a living organism, it is always changing: someone dies, someone is born, someone is married, someone is divorced. I don’t understand their logic. Unless they can trace every single sibling (with spouses and their families), and every single branch back to Adam & Eve, they are not all finished. This also includes filling in all information for all listed above: birth dates, baptismal dates, marriage dates, death dates, places born, places died, places buried, places married, etc. Grrrr.

Pet peeve again: marriage dates. People will tend to guess that the marriage date is always one year prior to the first born child. Ah, no. This is incorrect. In most cases the birthdate of the first child (and even the first five children), especially in the wilderness areas, is prior to the marriage date. Sometimes, there is never an official marriage date. Many marriages are common law. Also, the children aren’t automatically conceived on the “honeymoon.” This is craziness. When I don’t know the true marriage date I don’t put one down. There might not be one anyway. Grrr.

And yet another pet peeve when doing genealogy (and I was told this when I first started by experts and people doing genealogy professionally, and they are absolutely WRONG) is to subtract 20-25 years when estimating the date of the parents of a line you are working on when you don’t have the dates. Wrong, wrong, wrong! It’s so easy to miss an entire generation this way, (or more!!). I don’t know if everyone else on the planet has more normal dates for parents and grandparents in older generations than I do, but in my family, I change that “20-25” years when estimating to: father = 20 years, mother = 14 years. Realistically, it’s closer to: father = 24 to 28 years, mother = 14 to 20 years. Whenever I don’t know the date of my next generation, I use the first calculation (20/14). Of course, there are plenty of father = 42, mother = 18, & even the father = 24, mother = 34, etc. Subtracting 20 or 25 years from the first born child’s age will never work out correctly when guessing the age of the parents of the next generation, and makes it too difficult to find the next generation’s true ages/birth dates. Also, frequently there could be several children born prior to the known “first born” child who were nameless, who died at birth or a close to that. If not several, it seems there are usually one or two unnamed children, which would again will throw off the parents’ approximate birth dates. Grrr.

If people who follow these rules: use baptism date as what it is and not as the birthdate; use father born 20 years older than known child and mother 14 years older than known child in their public trees, this will really solve many problems and make it easier for the rest of us.

I have yet another pet peeve and this pertains to the Victorian genealogies (what weren’t those people into, seriously? They sure had a lot of hobbies!) It seems it was popular back then to research family histories, but what wasn’t so important was accuracy. They frequently traced back families, grabbing any ol’ people who lived in the same town or castle, for parents of the next generation and even frequently (by using the 20-25 year estimates) missed whole generations! By the way, most Victorian genealogies originated from Lords and Ladies in the mid-1400s to 1600s and lived in castles, LOL. Grrr.

We’re all related here, so let’s help each other out a little with posting correct information.


Photo borrowed from

Somewhat related genealogical musings

Recently, I’ve come across something interesting. The Irish High Kings (of which I’m related, as are millions and millions of other people) were originally from Galicia (Spain). This also includes the Goths, Celts, the Picts, the Scots (The true Scots were Roman, originally apparently—also need to double check this), and some of the Germans, and a few French. Now, the interesting stuff is that at least two of these Irish High Kings (when living in Galicia) ended up marrying “a daughter of a pharaoh.” Now, it doesn’t say who the daughter is, or who the pharaohs are. I plan on reading up on this, because this sort of thing really intrigues me. Another interesting thing, is when this particular line meets up with Noah and his sons. This particular Irish line (line mentioned above, and not the rest of the Europeans) is from Noah’s son, Japheth, and his wife, ‘Adataneses(??). (I need to check on this to be certain, so don’t quote me on this. I only found one source and I need to double check this in the Bible). The weird thing about this is ‘Adataneses (who supposedly had black hair and pale skin) was supposedly descended from the nephilim. The strange thing about this is that I had thought that was one of the reasons for the flood—to destroy the sinful nephilim’s descendants. She must have been one of the only Godly ones. I wonder if her being what she was has anything to do with the Irish and Picts’ etc, later venture into mysticism (Druidism, the standing stones, etc). Someone should check into this. Are the true psychics out there today, also descended from Japheth and his nephilim wife? Hmmm…