Sunday, February 17, 2013

Understanding Family Relationships

A good friend of mine brought back some information on the Riggs Family when she visited NEHGS in April of 2011. You might wonder what has taken me so long to actually focus on the two files for this family. First of all, it is not one of my ancestral families and the clients I worked with moved out of state over a year ago. They are currently visiting here and wanted to have an update on their family database. So, for the last four days I worked to clean up the files with updated information from

With the update finished and compiling the information for 274 people, we now have 1851 names to do further work on. How do we keep track of what we have, who all these people are, and how they relate to each other? We use a computer database that can be shared with a flash drive from one computer to another. The challenge is more complicated as the clients are in their eighties and hope to have the details of their family histories ironed out while they still can.

As we go over the updated pedigree chart, the amount of information about the first six generations is astounding. For the first four generations there is complete information about the events for every individual, parents, grandparents and great grandparents. In the fifth generation there are only five people with unknown parents and only four people with some missing personal data or estimated dates. In the sixth generation the eleven known ancestors show information on their children. Seventy-six couples now have updated marriage information.

Now comes the time to focus on the material from NEHGS. Originally a blog post was written about the Riggs Family Bible, which is at NEHGS. My friend acquired copies of the title page of the bible and the four pages of vital records found in the middle of that book. With the book was a newspaper-clipping obituary for Austin Childs, mentioning his daughter Mrs. George Farnsworth. Two towns mentioned were, Canadaigua and Hopewell. Doing a search on Wikipedia, two towns of those names were found in Ontario County, New York. A search for census records for 1870 had results for George Farnsworth, living with wife Anna and her sister Eliza Childs. They were already in the database, but now we could confirm which daughter was Mrs. Farnsworth. Her mother was Caroline Elizabeth Riggs, whose birth was noted in the Riggs Bible.

The next set of papers from NEHGS is for Averil Burnet and his wife Betsey Riggs. This file consists of five pages from the bible of Daniel Lillie Burnett, M.D. He is the grandson of Averial and Betsey. Others of the Riggs family found on the page with Betsey born 20 Oct. 1804 are: John L. Riggs born 7 Jan. 1794 and Jehiel Riggs born 30 Sep. 1802. They most likely are her brothers. A note on the page records that John L. Riggs had been to Vermont for a visit on 20 Sep. 1852. There is also a Harmina Riggs born 6 June 1831, with no mention of a relationship. There is also a complete list for the birth family of Averil, parents Jonathan Burnett and Abigail Parish and their twelve children. There are only two girls with the maiden name of Burnett in the database, so more research is needed to link this family to the Riggs known ancestor.

Don't you just love family history puzzles? There are surely some in your own family history. Today in Parade Magazine there was an article on, "One Big Happy Family." The first question, of nineteen, asked how children were best able to handle stress and the answer was they knew the most about their family history. Then for question eighteen they asked how many Americans attend a family reunion every year and the answer was 100 million. Maybe there really is more to the knowing of our family history and the roll that it plays into our individual development. So, back to the puzzles we go in search of our elusive ancestors.

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