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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

Reveal Amazing Genealogy Research Clues Via Timelines

If you’re not using a modern database program, you’re missing out on a powerful tool to understand your ancestors better. Building a timeline for each ancestor is crucial because you can collate your information, see gaps in your research, and observe how historical events may have impacted your ancestor’s life.

Embrace the Power of Timelines in Genealogy Research

While numerous tools help you create genealogy timelines, I prefer using the built-in features in genealogy software, such as Family Tree Maker or RootsMagic. These software programs provide unique features that make the process of creating timelines a breeze.

Let's explore the advantages and benefits of using timelines in genealogy research.

Organized Information Collation

Timelines visually represent your ancestor's life events, allowing you to organize and collate information efficiently. By recording births, marriages, deaths, residence information, military service, migration, and more, you create a comprehensive timeline that serves as a roadmap to your ancestors' lives.

This organized approach helps you spot missing details and identify areas for further research.

Watch this video.

Revealing Relationships and Connections

While individual timelines provide valuable insights, the real magic happens when you add the life events of family members to the list. You can easily include relatives' events on an ancestor's timeline using genealogy software like RootsMagic or Family Tree Maker.

This feature allows you to visualize relationships, compare ages, and understand family dynamics more effectively. It's a captivating way to uncover hidden clues and see the bigger picture of your family's history.

Discovering New Clues

Once you turn on the events from relatives, you can begin to see clues you had not considered before. Timelines help you identify patterns, spot gaps in your research, and highlight significant historical events that may have influenced your ancestors' lives.

With this broader perspective, you gain a deeper understanding of their stories, leading you to new avenues of investigation and discoveries.

Answering Key Questions

To find genealogy clues, you need to know what questions you're trying to answer. Timelines provide a structured framework to focus your research efforts. By narrowing your queries and concentrating on specific time periods, you can unravel mysteries and fill in missing pieces of the puzzle.

Timelines empower you to ask the right questions, ultimately leading to more accurate and comprehensive family narratives.

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Unveiling the Story: A Timeline Case Study

Let's explore how timelines can shed light on an ancestor's life using the example of Evaline Townley. By examining her timeline, we can uncover intriguing details and better understand her journey.

Meet Evaline

Evaline Townley, born on October 22, 1859, got married at 32 to William Talbot Peak on July 1, 1892. By reviewing her timeline, we notice that Evaline appeared in every census from her birth until her marriage, except for the fragmented 1890 census.

Further investigation reveals that her mother, Anna Townley, passed away on June 24, 1881. This event marks a significant turning point in Evaline's life.

Delving deeper, we discover that after her mother's death, Evaline took on domestic duties, caring for her three-year-old brother, Harry, as her father and brothers focused on their brick masonry business. This responsibility likely delayed her marriage until she could start her own family.

The timeline allowed us to piece together this captivating story, highlighting the interconnected lives of Evaline and her relatives. Without the timelines in RootsMagic or Family Tree Maker, these connections and insights would have remained hidden.

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Timelines Reveal Clues to Evaline's Story

All of this information was pulled together because I reviewed Evaline’s timeline within a genealogy database. The database quickly let me view her life events with key events of her father's and brothers' lives.

It’s safe to say that someone needed to care for Harry. One could speculate that the burden would fall upon Evaline. Further support for this speculation is that Evaline would name one of her children after her younger brother, presumably the one she helped raise. Additionally, other family resources indicate her great fondness for her brother Harry.

Looking at the timelines that included family life events helped me discover why a strong connection must exist. I could not have easily made this connection without the help of the timelines in RootsMagic or Family Tree Maker.

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What Happens If You Make A Wrong Assumption?

However, remember I said to thoroughly research the lives of all of Evaline's relatives - namely her father and brothers?

Well, a new addition to the timeline is turning my assumptions on its head. Apparently, her father, Richard, married Catherine Lane. And now, I have to rethink my theory.

Is it wrong to make false assumptions?

Not necessarily. We use the research we have available when we make our conclusions. And we always leave ourselves open to the possibility that something can change.

And that's the beauty of the timelines and researching and writing as you go. Both have been discussed a lot here on Family History Fanatics and on my new channel.

So if you discover new evidence that turns your assumption on its head, that's okay. It's time to research the new edition and perhaps Evaline's extended family - namely her aunts, uncles, cousins, and that FAN Club (we talked about earlier this year on this channel) to see whether the 22-year-old lived in the home with maybe her stepmother or someone else.

And if that's the case, Evaline's story changes.

If you enjoy transforming documents into engaging narratives, don't miss my new channel, Write Your Family History. Click the above to visit the channel and subscribe.

Embrace the Journey of Research and Writing

As genealogists, our assumptions and conclusions are based on the research available at a given time. Timelines provide a dynamic framework that evolves with new evidence, allowing us to adapt our narratives and theories as we uncover fresh information. Embrace the beauty of timelines and the iterative process of researching and writing.

Remember to fully explore the lives of all your ancestors' relatives to paint a complete picture. By investigating extended family members, aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as adding the FAN Club (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors), you may stumble upon unexpected details that reshape your understanding of your ancestors' lives.

So, if you're ready to unlock the fascinating stories hidden within your family history, utilize the power of timelines and watch as your genealogy research takes on new dimensions of depth and richness.

Uncover More Genealogy Research Clues

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