THE “GRAFTON” GENEALOGY

Under this name we introduce a plan of genealogy which we believe is
destined to become more popular than the clan genealogy. This is the
book for all who are interested in their own ancestral lines more than
in the ramifications of a thinly-connected tribe.

It is the plan which permits a full discourse of all that is nearest to
the heart. Its preliminary investigations thrill one with discoveries of
the deepest personal interest. Its compilation permits all the humors
and liberties of literary speech. Its every page and chapter is like a
visit to ancestral halls, where the genial shades of forebears seem to
gather round as we gaze at their portraits, listen to the old tales,
handle the heirlooms and ransack the family papers.

The general idea of this genealogy is simple. It enables one to exhibit
as many of one’s direct ancestral lines as can be ascertained, or a
sufficient number to make an interesting volume.

Where do we begin? With ourselves, James Smith! Next we put down the
name of our father, William Smith, and the maiden name of our mother,
Mary Jones, and under each name collect all the biographical data
possible. In the next generation there are four names. There is our
paternal grandparent, William Smith, Sr., still hale and hearty, and his
wife, Mary Doe, of sainted memory, whom we remember almost as well as
we do the fragrant odor of her inimitable pies and cake!

Then there is our maternal grandfather, Colonel Henry Jones, a soldier
and a gentleman if there ever was one, and his young wife, Mary Summers,
whom we never saw because she yielded her sweet life in the throes which
brought our mother into the world. Have we not often mused over that
dear face, gentle and beautiful in the old daguerreotype! Many a tear
have we shed over her sad story–in the sentimental days, before the
callous cares of this world’s business crept into our heart!

The names of all these we put down, gathering the materials for full
biographies, and thus we continue with our eight great-grandparents, our
sixteen great-great-grandparents, our thirty-two great-great-greats, and
so on until we have unraveled the glories of the entire ten generations
(if we can boast so many in America), with their 1,022 ancestors and 512
surnames.

The reader may ask, “Is this not as bad as a ‘clan’ genealogy? How shall
we manage all these names and the reams of data?”

The fact is, however, that he who can boast himself to be in the tenth
generation in even a single line is fortunate, and must have had an
American ancestor contemporary with the Jamestown gentlemen or the
Mayflower pilgrims. Undoubtedly many of our lines go back on this side
of the Atlantic only four, five or six generations. Such cases subtract
materially from our 1,022 possible ancestors and 512 surnames.

And let us suppose that when the Dutch stem of Schermerhorn and the
French stem of de Lancey come into view in our family tree, we find
Joneses again, and–yes, a little research proves that these Joneses
also descended from the emigrant, Stephen Jones, the ancestor of our
maternal grandfather, Colonel William Jones. The Jones stock is a fine
brand, and three strains are none too many, but their appearance
subtracts two more surnames from the theoretical number.

Furthermore, while we may be able to find our way back from generation
to generation with almost ridiculous ease in some cases, such luck is
usually too good to last. It is a rare vein which yields family
connections at every stroke of the genealogical spade, and one such line
may have to console us for a number which we mine slowly and painfully,
and for some others which yield no results whatever beyond a certain
point. In truth, most old American families pan out fairly well, with
here and there a golden nugget of peculiar lustre, or a diamond of the
first water; but we are seldom troubled by finding more of this wealth
than we are able to handle.

In making the investigation, we should aim to collect data for a very
full account of each ancestor, with a portrait, autograph, the history
of his possessions, photograph of the homestead, his old letters, his
Bible and will–in fact, any and all materials which picture clearly
his character and affairs. When we have finished collecting, our
accumulations are worked up into monographs on each one of the lines
traced, each monograph enriched by illustrations and accompanied by an
appendix in which we exhibit in full the documents and extracts
constituting the proofs of the descent. We recommend that each monograph
be introduced by a chart, exhibiting the pedigree from the earliest
known progenitor down to the person whose ancestry is the subject of the
book. This adds a valuable feature, and makes the whole line clear at a
glance. After all the monographs are completed, they should be arranged
together for publication in one volume.

If expense is not much of an object, it is especially interesting to
prepare for one’s own library one copy of the edition printed,
sumptuously bound and enriched with original documents, or certified
copies of them,–old prints, silhouette portraits and other
illustrations gathered solely for that copy. In fact, some people may
prefer to limit the edition to this one copy. These ideas may be
followed in the Grafton plan of genealogy with brilliant results. A
proper method of research, with the necessary means at its disposal,
should result in the accumulation of an abundance of interesting
illustrative matter for such a book.

The Grafton plan of work calls for a notebook in which the display of
the genealogical statistics of a family takes a subordinate place. What
is wanted is a notebook in which an indefinite number of pages may be
devoted to the data of each ancestor, with some index system which will
make all instantly accessible, and some ready means of rearranging the
pages. These ends are achieved by a notebook equipped with the Grafton
Chart Index, which is quite different from the notebook mentioned in the
last chapter.

The Chart Index affords a diagrammatic display of one’s ancestry for ten
generations–spaces for writing in the names of every one of our 1,022
theoretically possible ancestors, each in his proper place. Each name is
located by a Roman numeral, indicating the generation to which it
belongs, and by an Arabic figure, indicating its place in that
generation. With each name also appears a blank space in brackets, to
receive the number of the page of the notebook where the data of that
name begins. And at the top of this page in the notebook are written the
generation and place numbers of the name in the diagram.

Do we wish to know where to look for the data bearing upon a certain
person? We glance at his place in the chart and there find the page
reference to his place in the notebook. Or, with our notebook open at a
certain place, do we wish to know the ancestral connections of the
individual there treated? We glance at the numerals which head his data,
and thus learn his place in the chart, which displays at a glance his
relations to all the lines and other individuals of our entire ancestry,
so far as determined. The body of the notebook is detachable from the
cover and chart-index. When its pages are full, another section may be
attached, which becomes Section B of one great notebook, this process
being repeated as often as desired, the one index covering the whole. If
the data on John Smith begins on page 50 of the first section, the page
reference in the chart will be A50, or simply 50. If it begins on the
same page of the next section, the reference will be to B50, and so on.




The leaves of the notebook are perforated and easily detachable. When
the work of investigation is complete, or at any time in the process,
the data can be rearranged in any order desired. When the data for one
complete line has been gathered, we may wish to arrange it in the order
of descent and begin the delightful task of working it up for the
printer while other lines are still being investigated.

The Chart Index may be obtained separately. It can be used simply as a
chart, to exhibit one’s entire ancestry, or may be adjusted as an index
to some system of notebooks which the reader already has in hand.[5]

The notebook referred to in our last chapter may be used to advantage
in conjunction with the one just described.

For example, John Smith, the first of one of our lines, may have had
eight children. While the “Grafton” genealogy will dwell at length only
upon that one of the children who is our ancestor,–Stephen Smith, for
example,–his seven brothers and sisters will be briefly noticed,
although their descendants will not be followed unless it be to call
attention to distinguished relatives in some of these collateral lines.
Having given the history of the first John Smith in full, we append a
condensed account of all his children, other than the one who is our
ancestor, after which we take up the latter, Stephen Smith, in full. The
notebook devised for the “clan” genealogy will serve admirably for
collecting the skeleton of facts desired for these notices of the
brothers and sisters of our ancestors.

The research necessary for a “Grafton” genealogy sounds every note in
the gamut of joys peculiar to ancestry-hunting, and adds a special
appeal to those who wish to join one of the patriotic societies. If the
line of our surname fails to yield ancestors who had the foresight to
qualify us for membership in a given organization, it may be that
another line will give better results. Or if our name is already on the
roll, it will be pleasant to be numbered among those who have qualified
through more than one ancestor. Who knows what riches lie hidden,
patiently awaiting a discoverer, to reward him who systematically
carries back all of his family lines?

The “Grafton” genealogy recommends itself to us, even if one of our
lines has already appeared in a “clan” genealogy, and that line the one
through which we inherit our surname. In Europe, where titles and
property are inherited by male children, under the laws of entail and
primogeniture, a legal significance attaches to the line of the surname,
and to most Americans this line is of special interest. Nevertheless, it
often happens that our ancestry along this line is less brilliant than
along some of the other lines. In that case we will not do full justice
to our surname until we reveal the glory of the sturdy stocks which our
ancestors had the good sense to engraft upon our line by marriage.

Our line may appear in its due place in the great tome of the clan, but
does it shine with the splendor worthy of our immediate ancestors? Is it
not almost hidden from sight among so many other lines? And when we find
it, is there anything more than a concise epitome of dry facts under the
name of each ancestor?

No doubt the tribe-embracing plan prohibits all else, but is this all we
want? Do we not desire a full history of each ancestor, with all the
interesting facts, traditions and illustrations which can be brought
together? Then let us set to work to gather these, and to make our own
line the subject of the first monograph of a Grafton genealogy, which
will show all the luxuriant branches of our particular family tree, a
happy intertwining of many stocks and surnames, of which we are the
final product. Those who work in the hope of realizing a profit from the
sales of the printed book should consider the possibilities of the
Grafton genealogy. What gives interest to a genealogy? Not the later
generations, but the earlier stems and origin of the tree, ascertained
through historical research. Instead of presenting one such stem and
appealing to a single tribe, why not exploit all the stems of one’s
ancestry and appeal to as many great tribes of descendants? The prospect
certainly seems as favorable for marketing a genealogy which sets forth
researches on the origins of many American stems as for the other kind,
which only interests descendants of a single stem. But whether the
finished work embodies the “clan” or the “Grafton” plan, its sale will
principally depend upon the application of proper methods in getting the
book before the public. This subject will come before us a little
farther on.

We add a word on our right to assume the rôle of godfather toward the
plan of genealogy discussed in this chapter. We claim no patent-rights
over the bare idea of a work which traces more ancestral lines than one.
But where, outside of these pages, will the reader find a recognition of
the possibilities of such a work? Where else will he find its plan
developed and presented so that its advantages may at once be seen by
the ancestry-hunter? The rights of occupation and colonization are
certainly ours, although we exercise them with a royal largeness of
heart! We have developed this rich territory, only to throw it open to
the world. Having ourselves cultivated its fertile fields with pleasing
results, and transformed a barren wilderness into a blossoming garden,
we now invite our friend, the reader, to step in and take full
possession!

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