A good reason to include siblings of ancestors.

+20 votes
I don't mean to criticize anyone but some people only include their only direct family lines and not siblings of ancestors.  There are lots of reasons, mostly I would attribute it to a lack of time and let's face it, we all have that problem.

But I recently ran across a stellar example of a reason to include and research the siblings of our ancestors.

I can't quite remember the exact census reference, but that's not all too important.  I can't quite remember the names either, but again that's not terribly important.

Ok, we have a woman who we'll call Mary Henley.  She was born around 1820.

We have no idea who her parents are.  By the 1850 census she was already married to her husband and her marriage record does not give the names of her parents.  Her death record doesn't say who her parents are either.  She married a man named Frey.

Now we have another woman who lived in the exact same county as Mary.  We will call her Anna.  She was born about 1822.

Now we do have Anna's death record from about 1902.  it says she was born Anna Henley and it gives the names of her parents.  John and Susan Henley.  Anna later married a man named Meisner.

Now we find that in 1900.  Anna (Henley) Meisner, now a widow, is living with a 25 year year old man man named, Mike Frey along with his wife and young children.  Some further research reveals that Mike, is Mary's grandson.   It also states in the census that Anna is Mike's Great Aunt.

So we know that Anna is Mike's great aunt.  And considering that Mike is Mary's grandson, that would mean that Mary and Anna are sisters.

And since we have a death record for Anna, giving the names of her parents.  It is reasonable to assume that Mary has the same parents.

So by going beyond the direct family line we are able to find some valuable information or at least a further avenue to study.  A person not paying attention to possible siblings of ancestors may miss a vital clue.


More than once, I have found while my direct ancestor does not have a record for parents, a person I can prove is a sibling of theirs does have a record that gives the name of parents.

I thought I would just toss this out there for the benefit of anyone interested.

in The Tree House by Craig Albrechtson G2G6 Mach 8 (87.9k points)
edited by Ellen Smith
I have also noticed that Wikitree-ers often will only enter their own direct ancestor and ignore siblings. I have had a couple situations when by entering all the known siblings, it has helped solve mysteries elsewhere in my tree, because  the families that the siblings married into, gave me new avenues to research. Also, by me entering my great grandfather's siblings and their spouses, I learned that I had two great Aunts who were early members of DAR. I would not have recognized them from the DAR site because Harriette and Cornellia used their married names when they applied, - not their maiden surname.

But the best reason for entering siblings (when we have time), - is because it's the kind thing to do that helps others in their genealogy search. I could not have the family tree that I have, if it wren't for the work of others who came before me and shared

5 Answers

+11 votes
Thanks for posting and I agree. You do want families. I try to get grandchildren of each of my direct line when I can. Without researching my great grandfather's brother, I would never have had evidence of a name change. His brother's death certificate listed a different father than either of them had ever listed in other records and ALL the records generated by my great grandfather had incorrect (and different) parents.

I've become a firm believer in Elizabeth Shown Mills "FAN" club (Friends, Associates and Neighbors) as well.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (448k points)
+3 votes
Other spouces sometimes get left out as well
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (292k points)
+4 votes
I wil usually try and come back and add siblings when I "have the time"

But yes, I know how important they are.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+4 votes
Great post! Totally agree! I have no historical blood relation to the wider tree, I am working class English/Welsh going as far back as 1700 on most lines, 1600 on some and still no blood connections! All my connections to the tree are from exploring long dead Aunts and Uncles who married into known families! Well done you :)

Edit: By blood connection i meant a direct Ancestor connected to the wider tree. I HAVE actually found wikitreers who are distant blood relations descended from Aunts and Uncles that I never would have found otherwise; it is through them I am connected. I'm confused as to how we connect if we don't follow the clues like you did... Geneology bloodhounds! ;-)

by Lizzie Griffiths G2G6 Pilot (119k points)
edited by Lizzie Griffiths
+3 votes
I think people sometimes only do direct ancestors because genealogy is time consuming.

But I totally agree that sketching out at least all the children can be valuable, and sometimes even essential, for building a fuller picture of our ancestor’s lives.

My aim is to sketch out all children and grandchildren, and their spouses, from birth to death, and add birth records for great-grandchildren. I possibly should have set a smaller scope.

Having said that, some parts of my tree are still ancestors only, but I’m about two-thirds of the way there. Most of my ancestor profiles have a biography and their children are at least mentioned.
by Mark Dorney G2G6 Mach 4 (47.9k points)

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