The world is a chaotic mess, so let's focus on something positive. How's your family tree coming along? How's your progress report looking?
Well, how can we measure our progress in piecing together the names that make us who we are?
I've been measuring my progress by keeping my grandparent chart up to date. I've had a lot of success finding more 6th great grandparents lately. I've focused hard on searching for their names. Each time I find one, I open my grandparent chart. I figure out their Ahnentafel number and add the new name in the proper place.
It's a manual process, for sure. Sometimes I'll count the blank spaces and note how many names are missing for a generation.
Today I found a fast and accurate way to see which ancestors I have and how many I'm missing. Never underestimate the power of Family Tree Analyzer. It's a free program I've written about several times, and it has a ton of useful features.
|Family Tree Analyzer gives you an instant progress report.
First you need to export a new GEDCOM file from your family tree software or website. (A GEDCOM is a text file with all the facts in your family tree.) Open your GEDCOM with Family Tree Analyzer. (I just found out you can drag and drop your file onto the program window!) Then go to Reports on the top menu bar and choose How Many Directs Report. The report opens a table showing how many people you've found in each generation.
I have a total of 343 directs named in my family tree. I've got myself and my 2 sons, 2 parents, 4 grandparents, and on and on. My report goes all the way up to 2 pairs of 9th great grandparents. At first I thought something was wrong with the count of 4th great grandparents. I know I'm missing 9 of the possible 64, but this report showed 11 missing. Then I remembered my paternal grandparents were 3rd cousins. I've got repeat ancestors!
As you view your report, keep these totals in mind. Here's how many ancestors everyone has:
- 4 grandparents
- 8 great grandparents
- 16 2nd great grandparents (I've found them all)
- 32 3rd great grandparents (I've found 31)
- 64 4th great grandparents (I've found 53)
- 128 5th great grandparents (I've found 84)
- 256 6th great grandparents (I've found 100)
- 512 7th great grandparents (I've found 31)
- 1024 8th great grandparents (I've found 7)
- 2048 9th great grandparents (I've found 4)
- 4096 10th great grandparents
The number of ancestors doubles each generation, and it really adds up! Click any line in the report to see a new chart with details about each person in that category. For example, I clicked the 6th great grandmother line. That showed me the names of the 50 6th great grandmothers I've identified. FIFTY!
|In my case, it's easy to see which ancestral hometown is dominant in my ancestry.
I can see these women were born between about 1690 and the mid 1700s. That's way before the available vital records from Italy. I found their names in the marriage or death records of their children or grandchildren.
Sometimes there's no proof of an early ancestor's town of birth. I mark them as Italy. I'm sure of that. But once I get down to my 5th great grandparents, I can find proof. I know some were born in:
- Colle Sannita
- Sant'Angelo a Cupolo, and
- Santa Paolina.
Click the BirthLocation column in your Family Tree Analyzer report to sort the list. You'll see how many ancestors came from the same town. In an earlier article I counted my ancestors by town and found that a third of my ancestry comes from one town. This report makes that so easy to see.
|Each time I find another direct ancestor, they go right into my grandparent chart with their Ahnentafel number.
Your progress report can help focus your attention on a particular branch. I have a roadblock on half of my blue branch (my maternal grandmother). Apart from that, I want to press on finding those 5th and 6th great grandparents.
But first, I'll finish clearing out my genealogy closet. When you focus on one project, you can make tremendous progress.