Cluster Genealogy Can Help Grow Your Family Tree

Here is a quick tip to help you get past those brick walls we all encounter.

When you reach the point in your research where you are unable to trace an individual’s ancestry any further, try researching that persons siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s obvious that your 8th great-grandfathers parents are also the parents of his brothers and sisters and his grandparents are the grandparents of his cousins. So, why do we get so focused on the subject of our research that we ignore the other paths to the same goal? Search for all those other family members – you might break through that wall.

Look at the picture that accompanies this post.  Since we know for sure that those people are all connected, every name on that sheet would make a good research target.

Extended family line research is just one subset of cluster genealogy. To go even further, we should be researching neighbors and associates of our subject too. Our ancestors usually lived in close knit communities. They married the sons and daughters of their neighbors. They migrated together and engaged in land deals. It can be very fruitful to explore the connections.

To locate these relatives and neighbors, use census and town records to find out who was living close by. Scroll up and down in the records and look for possible connections.

Of course, you will want to be especially curious about those with the same surname. Also, look for other family naming clues. A child’s first or middle name just might be the mother’s or grandmother’s surname. Look for those names in the local records too.