About Family Trees

Family trees are fascinating, complicated, informative, sometimes beautiful, and often wrong.

It’s always exciting to discover a new family tree that has been handed down through the generations, but I have learned the hard way not to take them at face value. When a fifth cousin once removed sends you a family tree that was written by who-knows-who, just be careful not to take it as the” whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. Then there’s the possibility that the author’s “truth” was just plain wrong. That goes for records kept in a family bible, as well as dates on tombstones.

But family trees are so essential to confirming your own research, which makes them very valuable. And besides, when I tried to read the sometimes impossible handwriting I found myself suddenly “connected” to the writer who was always a family member – albeit a distant one.

Fifth cousin, Alfhard Kowallek [deceased] sent me this lovely hand-written tree that began with Thomas Pickering, who was alive in 1695. Not much help because we don’t know his age in 1695, but we can place him in Norley a tiny village charmingly set near the river Weaver in Cheshire, England. This snippet of information is the oldest written date we have in our genealogy – so now I was faced with the challenge of identifying which Thomas this was.

Family tree

About 1744 in Weaverham several Pickering families were having children at the same time – in the same parish. The five families below were also having children - all in the same few years.

There lived:
Thomas, who had Mary [1743]
Bernard who had Margaret [1744]
James who had Elizabeth [1742]
James who had Catherine [1742] and Joseph [1744]
Samuel who had Samuel [1741] and Jane
John who had Joseph [1742], Mary [1743], and John [1744]

I was following Bernard’s family for a long time thinking there was a direct relationship – and I still think there is a connection. However, it was John who should have been my target.

You can see the challenges!