I chose that title because when you are researching your family it is like the flow of the cascades. The cascades as a whole are a wonder to behold. The glistening flow of the water provides the feel of continuation and spreading out that touches its surroundings; the rocks are the little bumps you hit when you can’t find a person; the twist and turns show how the family divides yet is still a whole and finally the soft, lush greenery shows the expansion of the family and friends that support you with their beauty and takes in the nourishment the water provides. That is how I feel about researching my ancestors.
I have mentioned in a previous post how one source provides many connections to your family, even when you don’t expect it (cascading of information.) That is how I found my ancestors.
When I started this blog I gave information about what was happening in the world that affected our ancestors decision to leave England and travel to an unknown place; unknown laws, if any to begin with; unknown land conditions and no family or friend except those that travelled with them. While I was reading about the culture and the history of earlyAmericaI found surnames that linked with mine. I kept notes of those names and was able to match them up with my family line. Well, how did I know my family line?
That was the most important part that I didn’t mention when I started. I had gathered family information and copy of records over the years. It started more as a back up than for family history. It was when people from the older generations, which we had visited on those Sunday drives, started to be “Heaven Found” that I realized I needed to preserve information and stories they told. I would listen at family gatherings and jot down notes afterward. Later when I visited them I would fill in the blanks by asking questions. In 1997 when I finally set up my first e-mail account I even sent out a questionnaire, by both e-mail and snail mail with a SASE, for them to answer and send back. I only had a 25% return, but it was more information than I had before. We must remember that some families, especially the older generations, do not discuss family personal things, like who had babies out of wedlock, who got into trouble as a child and had to do community service or even if someone was placed in an institution. To them those were secrets that they wanted to keep. You almost always hear the good things that happen, but not the bad. When the rich became poor, the lost of the family farm or the black sheep of the family were not talked about. Not even was a pregnancy discussed until the baby was actually born. Yes, it is a challenge to get the basics, but it gives you a place to begin.
I had documents proving the family connections up to my great-great grandfather, Augustus and Sarah (Emerson) Stearns. I had the same starting with Isaac Stearns, the first generation, down to Nathan Stearns. I knew that Augustus father’s name was Nathan, but did not have Nathan’s documentation. I didn’t want to assume that the same Nathan Stearns I found in the First Families and Genealogy of New Hampshire by Erza Stearns was the same person. It was a good chance he was, but I didn’t want to provide incorrect information. It wasn’t until several years later that I was writing a story for a local writing contest that I found proof to that connection. I had gone to the library to research the 1700’s culture forMerrimack,New Hampshire, the time and place of the story line, that I found Zachariah Stearns and his offspring. I went to the Historical Society of Merrimack and made copies of the information that proved that my Nathan was the son of Zachariah’s great grandson, Nathan. Here again is another example of cascading information from one source providing answers to another.
I have been providing website links, book titles and personal records as my sources, but the best source is you and your time. I’m hoping what I provide saves you some time in researching your family, but only you know what is pertinent to you.Readingmay be time consuming, but is always informative, even if it isn’t your direct family connection at that time. What I mean by that is that when I started looking into the family I was searching for Stearns surname, thinking that was the least stressful approach. I didn’t think of the other lines until I started my second surname and found myself retracing steps. Now I have four surnames I follow while researching, but I keep a list of the married names and what source I found that information for later use. There is some back tracking yes, but much less than starting totally from scratch. There is a note that must be remembered here, stay focused, don’t let yourself get side tracked with those other names or you can loose sight of your original goal. I’m still working on this myself; the excitement of finding a new link can carry you away faster than you think.
I’m at the point now that I started doing research on the other names. Those names are filling in the blanks for my primary surnames. I will continue posting the generations of the Stearns surname with the Fletcher, Chase and Nelson family surnames to follow. I will continue with my thought process of why I chose the link or book I did in hopes it will guide you. Please keep in mind that I am just a caring family member and not a professional genealogist. This is my passion and my goal is to provide future generations a glimpse of the past of which we all will be at some point in our lives. My last point is if you search for nothing else but death certificate you have accomplished a lot. That death certificate can provide not only a family link, but in some cases a family health trait to be looking for. I found four cases of childhood heart disease and cancer deaths that I did not know ran in the family. If we had known about it sooner we may have been able to save a life. Remember I said earlier that the older generations didn’t always talk about the bad things in life, don’t be that generation to our descendents. Knowledge is power and power can save a life. Happy Researching.