FHB Intro

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One of the most difficult aspects of assembling a book about family history is knowing how to begin, and how to organize it. There's the Biblical approach, where the beginning is really the beginning, before Adam. That is probably a bit of overkill for our purposes. Then there is the direct lineage method, where only one line of descent is considered; that is too limited for my taste since we have material about many unrelated families whose stories are braided together in recent generations. Instead, for this book I have adopted an anecdotal storytelling scheme. To keep it somewhat organized, each chapter is devoted to a particular surname, and a partial family tree will be appended to show how that family is related to the others. The chapters are organized in alphabetical order. A link to my complete online family tree (which keeps growing as more discoveries are made) is provided for those who want to see all the information, including source material, and an appendix includes a GEDCOM of the full tree at the point in its development when this book is finished. A link to a webpage where the file can be downloaded, and where updated versions will be posted from time to time, is also in that appendix.

Because this document is an ebook, rather than a printed product, it will be possible to include many illustrations and electronic files (such as the GEDCOM, which can be imported into almost any family tree app). If you are not familiar with the GEDCOM format, here is a brief explanation. It is a standardized text document that has information about individuals, with metadata that provides information about how each individual is related to his or her immediate family (parents, spouses and children). In aggregate, all these families are linked together by their metadata. Notes and source information can be included, although those are frequently omitted, and tend to make the files very large and difficult to read without an application. More detailed information about GEDCOM can be found on Wikipedia. The GEDCOM at the end of this book will be large. An advantage of the GEDCOM format is that as a plain text document, it is both human readable and cross-platform, so regardless of future technological developments it should remain accessible indefinitely.

Some family stories are more complete than others. In some cases, all we know about a particular ancestral family is a single name. In those cases, it would be silly to devote a full chapter consisting of just the sentence, "This is all we know", so those names will only be mentioned in the story of the known families they were married into. A chapter subtitle will list all the surnames found in each chapter to make it easier to find them. And because this is an electronic document, full text search can be used to locate each mention of even the most obscure names.

Finally, for those interested in the research methodology used to collect this corpus, I will include appendices with information about traditional "paper" genealogy and one about DNA genealogical research, with links to online information about each of those. Both formal research methods, and recollections of family traditions, as well as some analysis, have contributed to the information being preserved and presented in this document.

All historical writing is subject to error. Where the data are uncertain, I will endeavor to say so, and in many cases will offer alternative interpretations. But in all instances, where there are errors, they are mine alone. Likewise, the information has come from many sources. In some cases these have been historical documents and records, some has been found in old books; in other instances they have come from other family members, close and distant. I am grateful for all of it. Wherever possible, I cite my sources, but in some cases they have been lost over the years because I have not always been as thorough as I should be in recording where I found information. I encourage everyone to independently verify whatever they find in this collection, and perhaps take it with the proverbial grain of salt.

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