Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Flow of Information

A little over a year ago, in a post titled New Discoveries are Delightful, I wrote the following: "my genealogy research is pretty casual these days." I went on to say how I was running out of information and was content to sit back and take it slow. I also acknowledged that "new stuff shows-up." Those thoughts were all pretty genuine but what I did not realize was that just around the corner, a massive amount of family history was waiting for me. First, some background information,

Green County Historical Society
When I wrote that post, in January of 2011, this blog was only about three months old and I had yet to write any posts on individual family members. It would not be until February of 2011 that I would write my first post on one of those family members - the Goldner Family.  That was followed a couple of months later with a post on the Peterson / Moe Family. Both of those two talked as much about the process as the families themselves.

Finally, in late May of that year I wrote "David Herman - Arrived 1862." This was the first post that was strictly about the history of a family, their ancestry and journey. It has also consistently been the most read post on this blog. Others have followed, including the Wilderman Family, Zweifel Family and, most recently, the Hollister Family. Also, in August of 2011, I started writing short biographies of individual family members. This "Short Biography Series" allows me to focus on one individual and produce a faster post. Five of these have been posted with three more in draft mode.

The gist of it is that while the blog is now about 16 months old, it took a good six months until content started to resonate with others. Sometime last year, I activated the "Counter Gadget" and also started paying attention to my stats. This blog has a fairly narrow scope and so I do not expect many visitors but what I noticed was that, in fact, as I started writing about family members, the visitor count picked-up. I now get a dozen or more visitors every day and even the occasional comment. This means 400 - 500 visitors per month with a general trend upward. It is nice to have a few visitors but the real payday from this blog has come from three places:
  1. New family information from people I did not know. I have been contacted by lost relatives and gained a substantial amount of information about some branches of my family. Without this blog, I would probably have never met these people.
  2. New research required to write posts. As I am writing a post, I start with accumulated research but then go back and search the Internet and sites like AncestryDotCom. This leads to information I missed in past searches or that has just come available. Once again, new information that I may not have looked for if I was not writing a post.
  3. Reaching out to family members who have information I need. These are people I know-of but did not know personally. This turned out to be a really good place for new information. The blog helped push me to contact them. 
What I could not realize back in early 2011, when I wrote about "taking it slow" and "running out of information" was that writing this blog would open up new avenues in my family search. By that summer, I would find myself buried in new information. Here is one example: I reached-out to a family member in Monroe, Wisconsin for my research on the Zweifel family. She had the "Zweifel Book" that I had been searching for but, not only that, because of her connections, one day I found myself in the Green County Historical Society with personal access to obituaries, photos and other information on all my family names from that area.

Family documents on display
at the Peterson Family Reunion
You just never know where one of these roads will lead. Another good example is the Peterson / Moe discoveries. After stumbling upon my blog, three distant family members reached out to me last summer and I gained a lot of new information. That culminated with a trip to the "Big Peterson Family Reunion" to meet the researchers, distant family members and find even more information. In another example, recently, as I was writing the David Hollister three-part series, I went back to the Internet and found more in-depth information, specifically, on David's children. Writing the post led me to the new information. This rush of new information has increased my knowledge base and added several hundred documents to my data base including a number of never-before-seen (by me) photographs.

What is the lesson here? The more you search, the more you find? Perhaps, or maybe it should be, the more you share the more that gets shared with you! I may want to be "taking it easy" but the flow of information sees no end in sight and I still find all of those new discoveries delightful.

Additional Reading:
The Genealogy Mother Load
New Discoveries are Delightful
1040 Census - Once in a Lifetime


  1. Update,

    Another contact! Just a few days before this post was released, I received a comment on the second part of my three part article on the Zweifel Family. Since then, we have made contact and exchanged information. That Zweifel family settled in Pennsylvania in the 1850's and our two lines go back and meet in the 1500's. Another example of how this blog keeps the flow of information going.

  2. My name is Mary Zweifel (by marriage) and my husband's family is from the St. Louis area. Do you have any information you can share on the Zweifel's that settled in St. Louis Missouri? The state of Missouri has an excellent death certificate database and I have been able to pull death records, but we are unsure of who the direct relatives are on the Zweifel side. His family was always told they were German, but all of the information we can find indicates Zweifels are from Switzerland. I will check back on the blog to see if any new information has been posted.

    1. Mary,

      I do not have any specific information on any Zweifel family members that settled in Saint Louis. The name certainly has roots in the German language so I would imagine that immigrants from Germany could also have that name but I did do a quick search and it does appear that there were Zwiefels in Saint Louis from Switzerland. I would be happy to help you with your search - if you are interested, contact me via one of the contact buttons on my site - there is one on the Home Page, Resource Page or Archive Page - then we can talk.

    2. Thank you very much, I will do so at a later date when I have more time to committ to the project.