And We Begin…

John Helen2

OK, I’m starting a family history website and I’d like some opinions and input from all of you, the potential users of the site.  Before I ask, let me tell you who I am, and why I’m doing this.

My name is Bill Downs and I am one of nine grandchildren to John Downs(#18) and Helen (Hopkins) Downs(#19).  (I’ll explain the numbers in a bit.)  That is them at the top of this post.

Many of us have fond memories of Uncle Giles, Helen’s little brother.  He was the family historian and many of us recall reading the booklets he wrote on our family history and genealogy.  When he died in 1974, I slowly inherited the position of family historian and even became custodian of many of his notes and papers.

In the intervening 44 years, I have added much that storehouse of knowledge.  In addition, I didn’t really have anything for my Downs line, other than a few dates for my great grandparents, Thomas Downs(#20) and Anna (Watts) Downs(#21).  I also had the same scant information for their other five sons.  I soon began researching them and their lines, amassing much through the decades.

So, I have a lot of genealogy and history starting with the two people at the top of the post.  Recently, in a period of about ten days, I got three inquiries concerning this information, one through social media, one in person and one by phone.  I took this as an omen that I needed to do something with all of this research I’ve gathered through the decades.  The last time I saw Uncle Giles, he warned me and my family, to write everything down.  I have written everything down and I hope I’ve made Uncle Giles proud.  Now I can almost hear him yelling at me from beyond the grave, “OK, now you’ve written it all down, NOW DO SOMETHING WITH IT!”  Hence this project I now begin.

Where I could use some advice is in the scope and privacy departments.  First off, I’d never publish any information on someone that is still living but how about publishing information on parents of people still living?  Is that acceptable or should I best leave them be too?  The closer I come down to the present, the more I risk upsetting someone over privacy.  On the other hand, the closer I come to the present, the more collateral genealogical lines I can bring in and share.

I would like your thoughts on this issue.  Please leave comments below and we can even discuss it there.  I’m sure I will want your opinions on other issues as I move forward.  Please feel free to “Follow” this site so you can be emailed when there are updates.  I want to hear from you because I want to serve you the best I can here.

As promised, about the numbers

The names of our relatives in my database are in bold and followed by a number in parentheses.   I guess the best way to describe their use and show their value is by the following example:

My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was Joshua Hopkins(#97), who was born in 1657. I am descended from him through his son, Joshua Hopkins(#95), born in 1698. Among his sons was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Joshua Hopkins(#93), born in 1725. This Joshua(#93) had a son, Joshua Hopkins(#91), born in 1753. Joshua(#91) had eight children. Two of his sons were Joshua(#838), born in 1787, and Giles(#89), born in 1791. Giles Hopkins(#89) was my great-great-great-grandfather.

I do have the dates of birth for these men, and I could refer to one as “Joshua Hopkins (b. 1725).” But I don’t always have that information for everyone in my database. I also think it is easier just saying “Joshua Hopkins(#93).” Basically, every individual in my database has been assigned a unique identifying number, which in database management is known as a “primary key.”  I’m starting this convention now and will continue it as the site grows.

There is one final word on the numbers. You might think that there is a pattern in their assignment. This is not necessarily true. While the Joshua’s in the example above were 97, 95, 93, etc., the last one was 838. The sequence is strictly the order in which I entered them into my database.

4 thoughts on “And We Begin…

  1. Welcome to the genealogy community! I will often write about the parents of individuals who are still living, but I’ll only share positive stories (or will stick to the records) unless I have permission to share a “skeleton in the closet” that would fit my blog. If I’m not sure about whether a story should be shared or not (whether it would upset some extended family that I’m not very close to), I usually refrain from sharing it. There’s always another story to tell!

    1. That seems like it is always sound advice to follow. I guess I’m just putting it out to family to see what they would like me to do. It sort of sets the scope for the entire project. Thanks for the warm welcome and the comment.

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