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How Wide Should One Search?

Discussion in 'Any questions?' started by Bryman, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    When I first started entering census references on to My Ancestors page, I concentrated on my direct ancestors, probably like most new members. Initially, those entries were from my father's side of the family as most had the same family name. Then I added more from my mother's side as I became more familiar with those other surnames.

    That didn't get me very far and so I followed Peter's advice to add other blood relatives to include my (few) known cousins and their ancestors. Gradually my number of entries increased as I added family members that were previously unknown to me. However, I quickly realized that restricting research to just blood relatives was unlikely to match me with other members due to my extended family being such a small part of each census. In any case, each family includes one parent from another family unless cousins married. Therefore, I added census references for those who joined my family even if they were not my blood relatives.

    Of course, many of those from other families also appeared in earlier censuses as part of their original birth families so other references were identified for my new family members. Not wishing to waste the effort expended in finding those references, I also added those to the My Ancestors page, together with the other members of those birth families.

    eg. Suppose A marries B and they have a child C with all recorded in the 1841 census and C then marries D (my blood relative) and they are recorded in the 1881 census. I would add the appropriate census references to my records and then add C/D to My Ancestors page for 1881 and A/B/C for 1841, even though only D is known to be my blood relative.

    I have little interest in spending all of my time entering everyone from the 1841/1881/1911 censuses on to My Ancestors page but it does make sense to me for all family members to be added even if not blood relatives.

    Over the last few years, there have been several instances where matches have been made using those non-blood relatives and one/both of us LC members have benefited from an exchange of information. In one case, resultant information led to my discovering that several families that I had recorded as related by marriage were in fact my blood relatives and the LC member was my cousin!

    I had assumed that all LC members had probably come to a similar conclusion as me and added references for all of their related family members. That was until Peter mentioned to me that he was surprised that I had more references on My Ancestors page for relatives by marriage than I had for blood relatives. That did not surprise me and I replied that I expected most LC members with more than a few hundred entries to be in a similar situation.

    Hence this discussion topic to see if my expectations are correct or am I alone in recording this much detail? What do other members do, and why?

    Although the primary objective of the LC site may be to identify living cousins, I believe that the recording and matching of census references can confirm research and help members fill in any gaps in their knowledge, not necessarily directly related to blood relatives only.
  2. Rhian

    Rhian LostCousins Member

    I agree adding relatives by marriage can be useful, in one case I made contact with a cousin through an illegitimate relationship, as good as a marriage but without the benefit of clergy. If I had not added the marriage family and the illegitimate son I would never have found the LC.

    I do have lots more by marriage relations to add but have been concentrating on research with a DNA cousin and have spent most of the year looking for a common family, I am not sure if it is useful to add any of these potential relatives to my ancestors page until I prove their link to me.
  3. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I tend to add only those households which include at least one blood relative but I enter all the relatives by marriage living there as well.

    I can't remember if I have as yet entered any households where there were only relatives by marriage included but I can foresee some circumstances when I might choose to do this. I guess it would depend on whether making a match via that household would be likely to lead to any fruitful exchange of information - for either party.

    At present just under a quarter of all the people I've entered are relatives by marriage.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    I generally enter households that contain the person who marries (or will marry) into my 'blood family'. In these cases, I usually include on LC just that person and the head of the household.
    As with Bryman, I have had instances where I find that a 'relative by marriage' turns out to be a blood relation
  5. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    I did wonder when I first started using LC, how many cousins I would be able to find particularly since my paternal ancestors started emigrating in 1839 and most had then finished emigrating by 1860, so it seemed a little like I might not have enough paternal relatives to add in (and half of those relatives were Scottish, and thus the 1881 census was the only census LC used), and the last member of that side to emigrate did so in 1906, but again, he too was Scottish. My maternal ancestors didn't emigrate until 1947, so I thought I had a much better chance to find maternal cousins than paternal.

    But I did as it was designed and added in all the extended family I could find, and I still haven't added in every single census entry for each I have found. My blood relatives still luckily, out number those related by marriage.
    When it comes to those related by marriage, I tend to add them in even before they have married into the family, but I have stopped adding in their entire families as it was taking a long time and sometimes I couldn't remember, in an entry of 17 names related "by marriage" which particular one was the individual who was related by marriage!

    The ironic thing of the entire event is of the two cousins I have found - both of them are on my paternal side; and the links/possible cousins list is weighted towards discoveries on my paternal lines (4 in particular) with 15 possible links (including cousins) to my maternal side (only 3 lines) at 8 possible links.
  6. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    That sums up my own way of working, and percentages to date are approx. 60% direct & bloodline, with 39% marriage and 1% o & s (odds & sods) as I call them. Although these days I update fairly infrequently, the last time I did so I had far more marriage entries than bloodline. In fact I even wondered if there would come a time when I would reach parity. So perhaps Bryman with his well earned Superstar status, has not only done that, but tilted the balance the other way.
  7. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    The three members who have entered the most relatives of all have each entered at least TWICE as many blood relatives as those related only by marriage.

    Currently about half of the new living relatives found by members are cousins, which is consistent with a 2 to 1 ratio. If everyone had a roughly equal split then the proportion of cousins would fall to a quarter, which some members would find demoralising.
  8. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Surely that just means they ignore, to a certain extent anyway, those connected by marriage to bloodline. It would be easy to maintain a 2 to 1 ratio by simply (say) just recording a spouse (perhaps previous marriages and offspring) but bypass their bloodline roots. There are times, in fact many times, when a Census is all about a family connected (or to be connected) by marriage, which I might include whether bloodline is present or not. Often a marriage-related family adds relevance to a Tree, even if it disturbs the ratio.

    I gave little thought to blood-marriage ratio's, they just were what they were, based on my own ways of going about things, and not unlike how Bryman explains. I agree I did notice on my Summary page that marriage numbers where climbing at a faster rate that bloodline, but I put that down to the fact that my bloodline was already well represented (not complete of course but getting there ) and now it was time for marriage related family to be recognised in the overall scheme of things.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    That's right - because people related only by marriage are very unlikely to directly connect you to a cousin you wouldn't otherwise have found. They're more likely to connect you indirectly to people who are descendants of the marriage, but you only need to enter the person your relative married for that connection to be made.
    Who you enter on your own tree is entirely up to you - it doesn't affect anyone else.

    But when you enter people on your My Ancestors page it does affect other members, and it's important to consider the negative impact that contact with people who are distantly related by marriage might have on those other members.
  10. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I will
    Yes, I can see the points you are making (in both instances), but it is nevertheless disturbing (to me if no one else) that the things I regard as important and integral in my own Tree should be regarded as unnecessary, and even a waste of (other peoples) time and expectations when entered as a LC Ancestor. I would not be upset to be advised of a match that turned out to be one 'by marriage' any more than when an Ancestry contact produces the same end result. I do not expect every contact to be golden, sometimes silver & bronze bring their own rewards too. I'm sure I'm not alone in this thinking.

    I realise those sentiments fly in the wind of establishing solid 'cousin' matches, but I think you under estimate the value of the full picture that LC offers from recording everyone related to the family, direct, blood, marriage; and a few sundry other categories. You ask for people to give priority to family relationships which of course everyone does, and by my interpretation this includes relationships by marriage.

    I will leave it there as we are about to be invaded by family members, who on this occasion are all bloodline, except a son-in-law who is only related by my daughter's second marriage, so not even the father of my grandchildren. (Even so he is a lovely chap and a member of a family I have researched in depth and a jolly interesting one too. Perhaps not cousins but family nevertheless).
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's not a question of whether you or I value the matches but whether the members that we connect with value them.

    People who take part in the LostCousins project are hoping to find cousins. If the vast majority of the matches they make are with people who aren't cousins some of them will simply stop entering their own relatives, stop replying to invitations from people who aren't shown as cousins, or both.
  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    These are the instructions on the Add Ancestor form when selecting a relationship from the drop-down menu - otherwise some members might, for example, assume that someone shown in the census as a lodger should always be recorded as a lodger even though they might be the member's direct ancestor.
  13. Britjan

    Britjan LostCousins Star

    I've just added a few more to my Ancestor page but my ratio stays at about 58% blood and 42% marriage.
    These latest additions made me smile because they're distantly related to my "Smith" direct ancestor who was age 9 on the 1841 census.
    Adding the married names as well has helped me continue to track my ancestors who were on the move to Canada, Australia and the U.S. even before the 1881 UK census. It saves me from having to go back to look at the census itself.
    My latest additions did not come to Canada until the 1900's , with the father and son serving during WWI and moving down to the U.S. afterwards. Now I have to review the 1940 US census to see where they were at that time.
  14. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    I have not come back with a further post to this discussion because I didn't think that anyone had taken an interest and replied. I have not received any notifications of posts by other members so I will have to look for the relevant topic and add my ha'peth there. Meanwhile . . .

    Might Liberty's mode of operation be the reason why some members have less marriage entries than me? I enter all blood and marriage members of the household. If that is not what Peter would like then perhaps he could make that clear with suitable instructions/explanation.

    I have discovered a lot about parts of my tree from those related ONLY by marriage so why try to anticipate which connections may be productive. Finding living cousins may be the primary purpose of LC but why waste the opportunity of making contact with other useful people along the way? Having done the hard work and obtained the household reference, I think it sensible to add all relevant household members for that reference to avoid any match 'slipping through my fingers' due to partial entry.

    Please don't judge everyone by your own narrow view. I believe that all members are delighted to receive matches (I know that I am) and even the less relevant matches can give encouragement even if they do not lead directly to living cousins. It may well be that some matched members don't reply to contact requests because they have lost interest due to not getting any matches for a while.

    That is why I record who matches are made with and which family members are connected to which LC member. Some members may consider this to be a case of over-kill but I find that it saves me time overall and gives me a better understanding of my tree when I return to certain parts after a period away.

    Once again, what are other members views? I am always happy to receive alternative suggestions, especially if they help me, and others, to do things better.
  15. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's not "my own narrow view" - it's an observation based on members' comments and behaviour. I do my best to encourage members to explore the matches they make, even when the connection is only by marriage, but it's quite common for the correspondence to end immediately they realise they aren't researching the same ancestors.

    If someone has joined hoping to connect with other researchers who share their ancestors, but the first few matches they get are all with people who are only related by marriage, they're likely to be demoralised.

    Right now this rarely happens because almost exactly half of matches made are between cousins - but it would become the norm if other members' entries were skewed in the way that yours are (because four-fifths of matches would be between people who weren't cousins).
  16. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Disagree, or at lest certainly not my experience from past LC Contacts. Indeed only this last week I made contact again with someone who was only - and I hate the use of the word 'only' - a contact via marriage. The reason this time was someone on Ancestry had messaged me asking for more information on someone we both showed in our respective (Public) Trees, and passing on information about them. The contact admitted to being a novice and realising my own connection was convoluted -and yes again only via marriage - I recalled from notes made in Tribal Pages that the person most likely to be of help- and almost certainly bloodline - was my LC Contact.

    Bottom line I passed on the Ancestry contact email (with permission of course) to my LC contact (whose email I had after a previous exchange of information) and received an email back saying they would indeed make contact. Within an hour or so I received what almost amounted to a standing ovation from my Ancestry person thanking me profusely for finding someone who was indeed bloodline related. A very satisfying outcome and rewarding because I now have additional notes to add into Tribal Pages to act as an aide memoire in the future.

    As I said before (Peter):
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Some of the 'relative by marriage' connections I've made have arisen because the member has entered their spouse's relatives along with their own. I guess they haven't found the FAQ on this, or found it too late and haven't yet got around to moving the entries to a separate account for their spouse.

    Strictly speaking these are cousin matches and this presumably skews the figures?

    I've never felt demoralised if a connection is by marriage only, though I admit to sometimes feeling slightly disappointed. However, I feel much more disappointed when new matches don't respond to contact.
  18. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Bob, you are quoting an isolated instance where you brought together two people who are cousins with the help of two other websites and a prodigious memory.

    Fewer than 2.5% of the readers of my newsletter are members of this forum, and of the 1500 who do belong to the forum only 79 have visited since this discussion began. And even including you. me, and Bryman (who started the discussion), only 8 forum members have contributed to it so far. LostCousins is designed for the many, not for the few - not least because it can only work well when there are many taking part.

    I don't dispute that there are instances where connections by marriage prove useful - indeed, I've written about one of my own in the newsletter. But no amount of encouragement from me is going to convince the average member that 'extended matches' (as we called them in the early days) are as useful as matches with cousins. For a start, they're rarely going to develop into long-term collaborative relationships, and we also can't ignore the fact that DNA testing is becoming an ever more important tool.

    The reason I asked Bryman to start this discussion was not to determine whether matches between members who are only related by marriage can sometimes be useful - I already knew the answer - but to get a sense of whether other members of the forum are following a similar strategy to his. So far this doesn't appear to be the case, but it is only a very small sample.
  19. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's a much rarer problem than it used to be, but I've allowed for it in the figure I quoted.
  20. PhilGee

    PhilGee LostCousins Member

    I have found this "discussion" interesting. As Peter can attest, I have relatively few entries to date and but 3 "cousins" - via blood relative, married to blood relative and step child of blood relative! The cousin via "married to blood relative" was rewarding - neither of us were able to find our common relative after 1901 individually - now the 1939 Register would have provided the solution.

    My LC entries are based on the census data I record, which is similar to Bryman's but do not include family members of "married to blood relative" pre-marriage, as they are not entered on my tree(s) - hence not listed by FTA, though they do appear on my transcripts of relatives.

    At this time, I am also not following the descendants of female blood relatives beyond their children. Yes, I do know it could be profitable (I do have a custom "married" fact to identify the spouse of the child) but I am well behind with documentation and am concentrating on that at the moment, which should (eventually) increase my LC entries many-fold.


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