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The Grand Chase

Genealogy Essays:

Recording Adoptions
How do you draw adopted children in a family tree? (2011)

Those Elusive Edes
9 lessons learned about finding people in the census. (2009)

The Joys of Inveterate Button Pushing (2004)

Who's Your Daddy?
Genealogy versus family history. (2004)

Suspicion Meters
Your program doesn't have one, but you do. (2004)

Estimating Dates (2002)

A cautionary tale (2002)

Count Your Blessings
1988 and now (2002)

The Grand Chase
How my individuals connect (2002)

What makes a family? (2001)

A genalogical detective story (2000)

Eben J. Cady
Musing about a tombstone (2000)

Related Sections:
Main Genealogy Page
Beginning Genealogy
Intermediate Genealogy
Biography questions

Other Sections:
Christmas Letters
Misc. Essays
Peace Corps
Web Design


(First published in Missing Links: A Magazine for Genealogists
The Petunia Press
Volume 7, No. 13, 31 March 2002)

I took up the grand chase about 35 years ago, after talking with my grandmother about some silver spoons her great-grandfather had made from 12 silver dollars for his daughter's wedding. I have gotten more involved since Al Gore invented the Internet, and now have collected information about 4,113 individuals, which I have put on RootsWeb's WorldConnect, GenCircles, and my own Web site.

A lady found one of her ancestors on my site and wrote: "Are the persons listed on this Web site connected in some way? I am anxious to find out even more about my ancestors . . ."

I replied, "Yes, they are" and gave her more detail than she expected.

I started with my direct ancestors. I added my wife's direct ancestors for our children's sake. People with one child look incomplete, so I added everyone's siblings. Since the surest identifier of someone is his/her spouse, I added all the spouses I could find. I have some half-siblings. If two or more siblings married into a family, I try to have their parents to show they were indeed siblings, not just people with the same last name.

By now we were losing our second-best cat whenever he hid in the front yard, and the neighbors were asking if I wanted to borrow a lawn mower. My first cousin's son was the only one of his generation (our children, all my nieces and nephews, all of my first cousins' children) to show any interest in my hobby, so I worked on his line too.

No one likes to paint fences, and one of my sisters-in-law may or may not have been related to Ulysses Simpson Grant, so I added another line.

The Indians kidnapped my brother-in-law's fifth great-aunt in 1793. I started microwaving dinner so I would have time to work on his line.

A lady gave me a memoir about life in Nebraska at the turn of the century, written by Hazel Cady, who lived in a sod house, went to a one-room school and killed rattlesnakes with a stick. Hazel may or may not be related to my Cadys. The only way to find out was to trace her line.

I'm still working on it. In cold weather no one notices if you don't change your socks daily, which gives you five minutes extra for more important things, like dead relatives. A lot of people ask if I'm related to another Pack they know, so I am slowly gathering the descendants of Samuel Pack, born about 1755.

Finally, my son's best friend may be related to John Wesley Hardin, the famous gambler, drunk, philanderer, and outlaw. If he is, it will give him bragging rights beyond compare on the sixth grade playground. The only way to find out is to start tracing, so I'm doing his line, too, although I haven't posted the data yet.

The more people you meet who do genealogy, the more normal I'm going to appear.

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This page updated: June 21, 2014