Any tips for finding a connection to the global tree?

+12 votes
After a month of searching I am about to give up. What started as trying to find a connection for Eliza Jane and William J Hamilton to the global tree has grown to a sizable number of unconnected people. Here is what I have done:

*Taken each of the parents as far back as I can

*Taken each of the siblings and their children as far as I can

*Looked at their spouses and even some of the parents of the spouses

*To save time I have started pre-checking the wikitree database to see if a spouse, parent, child are connected before adding them in the profile.

*Used my ancestry account to get leads and also searched FamilySearch for the overseas connections since my Ancestry account is only for the U.S.

*Typed into the Wikitree search engine the names of towns in the area the family is from to see if I can find someone to connect to. Here I found it to be either feast or famine. For example, Smith, yields way too many choices and Katzmire gives no results.

*I have posed three questions to G2G. This is number 4 and most likely the final one.

So far no one I have checked out is on the global tree, so I am stumped. I really hate to orphan all these people as was suggested. I am looking for some serious tips that you have found successful for really difficult people. I might add that I try to be thorough about my profiles so I don't just add a person and one source and move on. I like to try to tell the person's story with as much information as I can find. These are not people in my family tree, but they are interesting and I have enjoyed "getting to know them." Now I want to connect them and move on to other things.

Thanks in advance.

Nikki Byer
WikiTree profile: Robert McLaughlin
in Genealogy Help by Nikki Byer G2G6 (9.3k points)

Good question my explanation was that I have most my family roots in Sweden... maybe the connection to Bacon-2568 or Windsor-1 could give a clue.... where the DNA connection breaks?!?!?! is a wild guess....

Did you achieve a connection after the 4th time of asking for help. I am trying to work out the best method for myself.

6 Answers

+8 votes
Sometimes it might just be ok to let things rest for a while. Maybe somebody will come along with a connection you have not yet found.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (614k points)
Thanks for that suggestion. I too had thought that maybe if I give it some time someone else will come to me asking to make a connection. And since my DNA results came in today, I will have something else to keep me busy.


+7 votes

It won't help with your McLaughlins, but probably your Hamiltons.  I work a line back, as you have, through available census data.  Sometimes I have to use International Genealogical Index (IGI) or Ancestral Files on the more elusive families.

Then I go to FindAGrave and start looking for family memorials.  

Hopefully, buy this stage, I am back to the American Revolutionary war era.  I then go to the Daughters of the American Revolution database and search for a DAR ancestor, or more often, a DAR descendant.  If I get lucky, I will find an ancestor or descendant with ancestor name.  If you click on the link and go into the ancestor's record, you will see each of the member files associated with that record.  Each child's name and spouse are listed in the record.  If you click on the little D for descendant list, you can see the line for that particular member's family connection.  Each D can have different descendant lines, so check each one.

I hope this helps.  I was going to work on your Hamilton line, but I don't know which William Hamilton you are researching.  

by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (655k points)
Thanks Kitty, That sounds like a good plan to try. I think these particular Hamiltons are more recent immigrants. Although I have not found the Hamilton father for Eliza Jane and William J Hamilton (Hamilton-3906) (  It is my theory that their mother was married before she married Thomas McLaughlin because in the 1880 Census, it says that they are his step children. Thomas and Mary Jane Demphey aka Fleming aka Hamilton were married in 1875 in Summit Hill, PA. But the Hamilton children disappear from the house and any other censuses.  Feel free to take a look at them. I gave the links.

I appreciate the process that you outlined and will put it into practice if I take on anymore Connector jobs.


I didn't find much either.  There is a Ancestral File that says Mary Jane married Philip Hamilton, but no sources for that info. Those coal miners and hill folk didn't keep great records. There is an outside chance that they were part of the Moravian faith in the area, but that is just a distant guess.

Look at this FindAGrave list to see if any of the names are familiar.  

Thanks for trying Kitty. I looked the FAG list over and nothing stood out, but I am sure many are related to this family...but are they in the Global Family Tree? Several of the families both in England and Tamaqua were of the Primitive Methodist faith. I might try putting that in the search engine on Wikitree to see if anyone matches besides the people I already put in. I appreciate your taking a look. It makes me feel better if someone else can't find a link either.


+7 votes

"Looked at their spouses and even some of the parents of the spouses"

This is how I make most of my connections. If I get stuck, I find the ancestors of someone's spouse. If I get stuck again, I find the ancestors of another person's spouse. Sometimes I have to go sideways many times until I find someone from a family that has been in America for a long time, and once that happens it is easy to find a connection.

by Jamie Nelson G2G6 Pilot (648k points)
Thanks Jamie, I have been doing that as I build the tree. They are now connected to themselves, but not the Global Tree. Thanks for the good suggestion, though.

+4 votes
Hey Nikki, this flows along the same thinking as trying out your connections at the bottom of your page. Take a break and just for fun start following descendant lists. Then you will find all kinds of things.  Pick random people or kings , queens , presidents whomever.  I have found connections to people already on wikitree just floating off out yonder and ending up connecting about six families.
by Anonymous Roach G2G6 Pilot (200k points)
Thanks Trudy. I enjoy clicking the connection buttons to see how I'm connected to the famous people like Kevin Bacon. however with this family I always get the Sorry message.
+5 votes

Recycling some content that I originally posted in another context:

It took me forever to build out my tree until I got my first connection with the wider family tree. And I see a bunch of people in the forum who are clearly frustrated that they haven't been able to link up their own families yet. Plus, I see plenty of evidence (since I've been working on orphaned profiles) of people who entered what they knew, still couldn't make a connection to the wider family tree, got frustrated, and quit. 

So I got curious as to just what percentage of the people in our "target" date range (1 AD to 2003, excluding those under 13) are on WikiTree. Here's what I found out:

First, I needed an estimate of the people in the target range. I found a page on the Population Reference Bureau site called "How Many People Have Ever Lived On Earth?" From that, I extracted an estimate of 60,439,585,668 people who have been born since 1 AD. As of a few minutes ago, there were 11,200,619 profiles on WikiTree. That means that, currently, there are WikiTree profiles for approximately 0.02% (0.185319255%, as long as I didn't forget to carry a 2 or anything...) of the people in the target range. Or, to put it another way, there is one WikiTree profile for every 5,000+ people in the target range (5,396).

Now, granted, we don't see unconnected trees with thousands of people, but I assume that that is partly due to the fact that the vast majority of profiles date from the last 200 years, which happens to be where most newbies are going to be putting in information for parents, grandparents, and so on. But even so, the odds of finding a match already on WikiTree are pretty small, and I assume that most people, like me, have to get their tree up to a couple of hundred people before they can make a connection. No wonder they get frustrated.

I still haven't managed to find a connection by working backwards, even though that's what everybody tells me to do. Nor did starting from past notables with the same last name and working forward give me any connections (even though it was kind of interesting).

What works for me is working "sideways" within what I call the "golden age for genealogists": from 1841 (when the first censuses were made -- in Canada and the UK, anyway) to between 1903 and 1938 (when I start to bump into privacy limits on public records). I have found it amazingly easy to chase all kinds of rabbits and track down 2-4 generations in the families of spouses of cousins and so on. Every connection that I've made to the wider tree (4 so far) has been through lateral connections like that.

(Granted, it would probably be a lot easier for me to work backwards if my ancestors had been rich and famous, but as I look into the details of the places they lived, I find comments like "[Neighbourhood] was notorious as one of the most crowded and poverty-stricken parts of [City]" with disturbing regularity...)

So my advice is to just keep chugging away. I have also found that it helps to take a break from my own family every once in a while, and spend some time working on a challenge, or adding somebody notable (or just plain interesting) who hasn't been entered in WikiTree yet, or building a free space page for an emigrant/immigrant ship, or something else that I find interesting, but that I can do for fun, rather than because I have any specific goal or deadline. 



by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (703k points)
Greg, your response is extremely helpful. I guess I was lucky that my family hooked into the global tree right away...not that there is anyone famous or wealthy, but there are many people researching my Smith and Miller lines. But when I took on this family to try to connect I just can't find anyone with connections. This family is pretty poor having children age 11 working in the coal mines. They have, for the most part married inside the small communities and lived their whole lives there.

Your comments on the "golden age" is something I didn't realize. I experienced the problem of getting too recent and bumping into privacy issues. I will try again to focus during the golden age.

Since this is not my family I think I will take a break from it and focus on upgrading and expanding my entries for my family. Thanks again for your valuable answer.

+3 votes
Did you try
by Mantvydas Juozapavičius G2G2 (2.8k points)

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