New Year’s Genealogy Resolution – Hey, Look, ANCESTOR


As genealogists, we love genealogy, right?

So we certainly don’t need to be encouraged to work on genealogy. Often, we have to be encouraged to stop working on genealogy – like to do bothersome things like eat and sleep.  Oh yes, and work.

However, sometimes, I find myself researching haphazardly without direction, and I don’t seem to ever get anything “done,” as if there is such a thing in genealogy.  This is the genealogical equivalent of “SQUIRREL” aka “ANCESTOR.”

For me, goals give me direction and clarity. If I wake up in the morning without a plan for the day, I’m much less likely to accomplish anything.

Once a year we make New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions give us the opportunity to reflect upon what is important to us and how we might go about achieving those things.

But more importantly, resolutions are promises to ourselves. And in my case, a commitment to my ancestors.

I only have one Genealogy Resolution this year.

I know, I know….how can there just be one?

Well, defining what is the MOST IMPORTANT lets me focus on that one goal, without distractions. Ok, with hopefully only a few distractions. Scratch that. I welcome distractions, but only if they are brick walls falling on other lines. See, I’m already distracted. Just thinking about brick walls falling does that to me.  Which is exactly why I need a focused plan.


I love the 52 Ancestors stories because they give my ancestors’ lives shape.  Birth, death, where they lived, what happened during their lifetimes, what we know or can figure out about each of them and weave into a story – including something about DNA for each of them. These articles bring these people, who are part of me, to life.  And because the articles are online, they can be updated as more information is discovered. How’s that for optimistic! Plus, the stories are available for posterity and they function as “cousin bait.”

Notice, I didn’t say 52 stories.  I want my goal, promise, resolution to be achievable. I don’t want to get discouraged and set myself up for “failure” if I miss a week for some reason. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is how we phrase the goal!

Let’s face it, sometimes life just gets in the way. Sometimes the research and gathering of information for a particular ancestor is particularly intense. Sometimes, I have to wait for information to arrive. Sometimes I need to find someone to DNA test, or order upgrades.  Sometimes we find out that we were, uh, cough…um, wrong…and we have to do some revising.  Ok, we have to saw the whole darned branch off the tree and start over. Dang!

I’d be very happy with 50 stories, truthfully!

This isn’t like that age old promise to exercise more, which, by the way, I’ve already abandoned this year – in favor of genealogy research. I mean, really, who has time for  sweating when there are ancestors who need to be found???

Plus, now that I’ve shared my resolution with you, you are all going to hold me accountable! Right?

Do you have a genealogy resolution for 2017?  Do share!



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34 thoughts on “New Year’s Genealogy Resolution – Hey, Look, ANCESTOR

  1. I’m going to keep plugging away with the research. I’ve been very remiss about posting on my genealogy blog, 2016 was NOT a good year for anything, and I want to get some of the research written up and posted. It does me no good to leave it all in files on my computer, no one else can benefit from my efforts or find family if it does get put out there someplace. I don’t make resolutions, I do set some goals and more posts is one of those goals, I do know better than to set a number, but more is enough for me. I have also been compiling a lot of the bits and pieces to see if there are clues to further the work.
    Have a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Brick Wall Busting New Year!!!

  2. LOL! How many times have I been up late, bleary eyed, researching someone SO FAR from my original search that I don’t remember who I was searching originally or how I got to where I ended up? Glad to know I’m not the only one who wanders off task.

    • In the middle of something else yesterday, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t searched FindAGrave for the neighbors of my ancestors. Why would I want to do that? Well, if all the neighbors are buried in the same place, then he probably is too. Hey, look, ANCESTOR, over there…….

      • Your stories of your ancestors are very interesting, and sometimes useful. Thanks to you I have probably found where one of my ancestors died in Hawkins County, North Carolina a long time ago. It is a little thing, but it has been bothering me, and other descendants. I posted this information to my PUBLIC tree at I like to share my information, and sometimes discuss it with others researching the same people.

        Yesterday, I tracked a family and their grown children who moved often. They were impossible! But I found them. Most of the family was buried together in one small cemetery on Some of the information at findagrave may not be exactly accurate, and tombstone date may not be exactly accurate as well, but it is hard to argue with a grave next to relatives. It is such a useful site.

        I have more to say, but some other time. I have 4 more Family Finder kits I am gifting to relatives. I am sure that will be interesting.

        You keep up the good work!

  3. There are 2 major brick walls that I would like to even make a dent in. The first one is where my paternal grandfathers father and uncles came from originally. The second is where my paternal grandmothers mother was born and where her family was in the 1870 census.

    Each of these walls used several spellings of the last name and I have been searching for them for several years.

      • I have my DNA and one of my brothers. We have a lot of people on gedmatch but not been able to figure any direct links out.

      • DNA DID help with this problem for me. Testing my cousin and 2nd cousin and brother and self showed me that all our Miller matches had the same names in their trees. I was able to find the spot where our common ggf belonged. Reading your blog also showed me that those names were YOUR Millers, which was a marvelous help in understanding their lives. Thank you for you wonderful research and writing.

  4. 🙂 I love your ancestor stories…keep it up! How do choose which ancestors to write about? Do you ever do suggestions in cousin lines?

    • Often I start working my way up a particular line because the research dovetails of course. When I hit an end or something they derails the line, I switch to another one. I don’t do the cousins. Just the direct line.

      • How do you make sure you have the correct person if you do not research the cousins, particularly in difficult families? Researching the whole family makes recognizing the line of Family Finder matches much easier. I have always done “cluster” research, and now I am very glad. These cousins may share my DNA, and they have descendants with surnames not recognized by me in my DNA matches..

        My project this year is researching out cousins within the 5 generation scope, and bringing my research closer to the present. In the past I had usually stopped my research at 100 years back from the present in respect for living people’s families, with the exception of my direct line, but Family Finder DNA has changed this perspective. I still block living people from public view. I do not feel so intrusive researching cousin’s families if they took DNA tests, and want to find their families. Some people have not been able to find their families back more than three generations. This also checks the veracity of my research, I am seeing some very wrong genealogy in family trees.

        This needs a short explanation. I have several DNA matches that list the surname Franklin. There was no Franklin in my tree! I found them researching last night. This family descends from the daughter of my 2x great-grandfather’s half-brother, who had a different surname. Some first names are the same as in my family. My great-grandfather likely knew them, as they lived nearby when he was young. My grandfather may have heard of them, or even visited. This was a research experience that broadened my knowledge of my father’s family. It also gave me a warm feeling of being connected which is sometimes missing from dry research. The Franklin woman’s name was Rose, and she had a brother with the same name as my father, and others in his family.

        The Family Finder DNA results has exceeded my expectations. Yes, cousin research is necessary.

  5. Records indicate I’m a Mayflower descendant of William Bradford. My state’s Mayflower Society historian said she’s confidant my lineage would meet the criteria for approval. This is the year I’m going to begin the process of submitting my application to the Mayflower Society. I must admit, I will always allow time to review new Ancestry matches with green hint leafs. I’m also easily distracted by any new male Y-37, 67, and 111 DNA matches from Family TreeDNA..

    Carpe diem

  6. I will finish the lineage in our family back to James Madison and Zachary Taylor, presidents, for my grandson, who studies the presidents in school. Secondly, I want to understand DNA better to try to find a brick wall on my paternal side, so will take some online classes you have recommended in your last post. Thanks Roberta, your stories are a book of all our ancestors. Good Luck to all of us!

  7. When we test all of the surviving g-grandchildren of my British g-grandparents, who emigrated to Texas in 1873, we discovered that my g-grandmother had a Native American/Sub-Saharan African grandparent! I’ve been doing the genetic genealogy thing since 2102 and have dozens of cousins tested, including those descended from my Native American/Sub-Saharan African ancestor.

    To my *astonishment*, the two lines *matched*! Not just segments, but people in the two families came up on their match lists. Even a relative still In England matches a member of my NA/AA family here.

    I now believe my g-grandmother’s ancestor was probably an unfortunate Native American woman who was enslaved and shipped to the West Indies to work on a sugar plantation in the early 18th Century. Her son must have been one of thousands of three and four year olds chosen to be “fashion accessories” to noble ladies in England’s Great Houses, and shipped off to Hampshire. Once these boys reached puberty they might be shipped back to the plantation, become grooms, gardeners, or if they were well liked, given their freedom and apprenticed out in the local village.

    I’ve been told by British experts that few records exist of individual slaves of the era, but I’ve narrowed it down to two potential candidates. My goal this year is to identify that slave ancestor and give them the recognition they so richly deserve after so much tragedy.

  8. My New Year’s genealogical Resolution is to work less on other people’s trees and more on my own! I’ve allowed myself to become very distracted by other people’s genealogy (I manage several kits on Ancestry, FTDNA, 23andme and GEDmatch).. I just submitted my Mayflower application for one of my Richard Warren lines, and I successfully applied to the DAR prior to that. I hope to join a couple of other lineage societies as well, but I never will get around to it if I don’t work on my own tree.

    Happy New Year! I love your ancestor stories, Roberta!

  9. My resolution is in this order: (1) complete volume 1 of biography on my mother, Glenda Grace Qualls Bryan, which has been in the works for years, but seems elusive, and yes, illusive too; (2) do some digging on to find as much as possible on my wife’s paternal line, surname Wark (my brother-in-law Ken Wark completed 67-marker test); (3) delve into my sister’s mitochondrial DNA results to see I can learn anything, and especially to determine if our mother had native American roots (could use your help on this endeavor); (4) scan, scan, and scan – more photos and documents and albums and get safely stored on external hard drives and in the hands of siblings; (5) continue research on my ancestors Morgan and Martha Strode Bryan, adding to and correcting mistakes made in our two- volume work on Morgan and Martha Strode Bryan, Their Seven Sons and Two Daughters; (6) work on entries to Family Tree Maker files on Bryan, Wark, Qualls. Obviously I am overbooked. My wife has major health issues, and I am in my third year with chronic leucocyte leukemia, and a knee replacement scheduled for Feb 27. What I will complete only God knows. I pray that God will bless me and give me the strength, perseverance, and patience to do what I can.

  10. I need to be more committed to my genealogy resolution this year. In 2016, I only went back to check what I had wrote in… October maybe. Then really try to do anything about it only the week before Christmas… It turned out it really wasn’t that complicated, and there really seems to be a trend in Quebec City to rename Flora into Geneviève, so my Geneviève should have been a Flora originally. And since she’s the second daughter, it should have been her maternal grandmother’s first name too. So now I can at least put a tentative first name in that slot.

    For 2017, I will try to do something with my Flanders Belgian ancestor, I’m just one generation short to reach the 10th generation there and it would fill four slots (I have his parents’ names already)! I hope my German basic lessons will be enough to make sense of any of this…

  11. Ha! ha! So glad you have a sense of humor! My resolution is to interact with at least 10% of the 2600 people who showed up in the 2d – 5th cousin category for my Family Tree DNA profile, almost ALL of whom have NO family tree populated!

    • Finding an empty family tree is very annoying, but some people are shy about divulging information about their family in this day of information theft and scammers, or maybe their information is embarrassing. I have been attempting to add information to my son’s tree in the Family Tree DNA profile, and I am constantly plagued with technical problems. As a new Years resolution, would someone at Family Tree DNA please fix this problem!

  12. I would like to continue to test other family members and to at some point do a full mitochondrial test for myself (only the $$$ has prevented me so far). As the sole member of my family purchasing numbering test kits for several family members (because I’m the one it matters to most), it occurs to me that I would like to ask for gift certificates for Familytreedna that I can use TOWARDS a kit purchase when people ask me what i would like for gifts. I am totally shocked to see that they do not sell gift certificates. I have just made a request that they consider offering gift certificates but am pretty sure it will be ignored. Roberta, could you add your voice to mine (I suspect they will listen to what you have to say a heck of a lot more than they will to me). If other readers of your blog feel the same way, perhaps they would make the same request. I have read too many comments that make it obvious price is a factor for many of us (even when sales occur) and it would be nice to get a little help from friends and relatives without asking them to pay the full kit cost.

  13. Ooops, I meant to say “numerous kits”, not numbering kits, should have proofread more carefully before I hit send.

  14. I love dna too. But I had a stroke almost three years ago and just as I was about to be smart about it I have gotten incredibly stupid. Living with a stroke that affects short term memory absolutely sucks. I have to rely on computers to think for me what did people do 60 years ago just sit I a corner and rock all day and sleep? .I depend on spell check ,my darling husband and pencil and paper. It is so frustrating if I do work on one line and have to try and figure out a relative now I can’t remember where I was or the name . I just sit and cry sometimes. I have spent a fortune on dna tests of siblings and I have done two myself. I was looking for pictures of my mom and dadshe parents and grandparents I wanted to see what they looked like . Simple looking for pictures . What did I find? I find out my father is not my father and find my real father at 58 years old. Sad thing is he had been dead 8 years and the one that is not my dad who I resented all my life is alive. Then while I was still mad so much my heart hurt mom died not knowing how hurt I was and the pain she caused me . Do I wish I had never done dna? Absolutely not. I am glad to know the truth. A man that was trying to protect me from being hurt took my occasional letters blasting him for not loving me enough to stick around till I was born for not walking me down the Isle at my wedding,not being there for the birth of grandkids let aloneme. But he did make an appearance everytime I fly to New Mexico . And I can not imagine taking that abuse undeserved and never saying anything. I finally told him I loved him and finally respected him he was 93. Yes I love ancestry because it rips the bandaid off distortion that was my life. Although I will never meet my father face to face I have 5 more siblings and they gave me pictures of my dad I finally know who I look like . Without ancestry dna I would still not know at 61 would it have been less painful yes , would I have complete closure absolutely not. I will never give up on ancestry as long as my brain let’s me open my eyes and see and my fingers move.

  15. My resolution for this bright new year is to record my ancestry conversations with the 3 oldest members of my family: Uncle, Anderson Doty Livesay- 92, Mom, Winnie Livesay Morrow- 93, and Aunt, Nora Livesay Moore- 95. Yes, our family is notorious for its longevity!

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