As you begin your family tree, one item is essential: you must have a strong foundation.
What is the foundation of your family tree, you ask? That is simple. It all begins with you. And then your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, I am sure that you get my meaning. You have to have good, solid facts on yourself, your mom and dad, everything in order to have a strong tree.
Trust me, I know the lure of just adding person after person in your tree. It’s exciting as you get up higher and higher into the branches as you find a fifth-great-grandmother here, and a seventh-great-grandfather there. But if you haven’t done your due diligence down below, you know, where YOU are, and YOUR PARENTS are… you aren’t going to know for certain if your fifth-great-grandmother is really who you are related too.
I am a person who does the horrible, awful no-good type of researching because I skip around (and I have a feeling there are more people like me out there than aren’t). They say you should just work on one branch at a time. I am sure that is the smart way of doing things but there are days I want to work on my dad’s side of the family, and other days when I feel like getting my mom’s family a little more under control. It’s called variety, and I love variety (it is the spice of life, after all). Not to mention sometimes you have people on both sides of your family curious about what you are finding, and you don’t want to disappoint anyone, so I skip around and do both.
Sometimes on the same day.
But you always begin with you. And once you know about you, you can move onto your parents, and their siblings which leads to your grandparents, and their siblings, and so on. Yes, I’m the type that likes to work on the collateral people as I work my way up because you never know when you are going to find a distant aunt or cousin that may come back and help you figure out a puzzle later on (like, great-great-grandma was living with an aunt, and it wasn’t popping up in an Ancestry or FamilySearch search).
But it’s always best to find everything you can, or at least all the vital records and census records before moving up to the next direct line ancestor. This gives you a strong foundation for your genealogical research. And a strong foundation helps you build a very healthy tree.