Motivation Monday: What’s My Number?

I was inspired by the post What’s Your Number? Don’t Be Too Shocked if It’s Below 30%!

In the post, Lorine McGinnis Schulze at Olive Tree Genealogy talks about how many ancestors we have if we trace them directly backward from ourselves. She wanted to see just how many ancestors she’d found and what percentage of the total work she’d completed. I thought her post was intriguing so I tallied up my numbers. Here’s what I came up with.

Generation Number of
Possible Ancestors
Number of My Ancestors Found
7th great 512 0
6th great 256 15
5th great 128 24
4th great 64 42
3rd great 32 30
2nd great 16 16
1st great 8 8
Grandparents 4 4
Parents 2 2
1022 141

The percentage is 13.8%. It is indeed below 30%. Now, the aggregate total doesn’t really tell me which lines of my family are stuck, just that past the 3rd great-grandparents I come up very short. So, I wanted to break the total down by the lines of my family: Brown and Geiszler. Here’s how things shape up:

Generation Number of Possible Ancestors Browns Found Geiszlers Found Total
7th great 512 0
6th great 256 4 11 15
5th great 128 10 14 24
4th great 64 14 28 42
3rd great 32 14 16 30
2nd great 16 8 8 16
1st great 8 4 4 8
Grandparents 4 2 2 4
Parents 2 1 1 2
1022 57 84 141

From this, I can see that I have found a lot of relatives on the Geiszler line but not so many on the Brown line. Could it be that on the Brown line I have names like Brown, Smith, Young, and Long? It makes it very hard to figure out which family is yours amongst the multitude of them. Comparatively the Geiszler line has Geiszler, Zumstein, Mack, and Hoppe. This makes it a lot easier on one hand but more difficult on others.

The other contributing factor to the Geiszler success is the more common name of Comfort and Marvin have a very successful genealogist on that line tracing the lines into the 6th generation. I believe these lines have gone into the 7th generation but the trees get tangled up so much that I don’t know who is who. So, until I’m prepared to check out those lines, I’ve just left them off my chart.

I have quite a few suspected ancestors that I haven’t found enough evidence (people don’t cite their sources so I’m hesitant to accept potential family members without more proof) to incorporate them into these numbers. In any case, I think, the few additional names might bring the percentage up to 15%, if I’m lucky.

So… I liked this numbers activity not because it points out how much I haven’t accomplished. It actually points out where I should be focusing my efforts. I’ll admit I get lost in the siblings, aunts, and cousins. I’m trying to learn who my direct ancestors are and how they affected their posterity. So, I do go laterally and collaterally often. But, I thought this was a useful reminder to not neglect the direct ancestors of mine.

So thanks Lorine for the post.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

5 thoughts on “Motivation Monday: What’s My Number?

  1. I'm glad you did it this way too. I'm going to rework mine tonight, not because it will increase my measly 5% ranking, but because I'm curious to see if I'm focusing more on one branch than another. I always feel like the "other" branch(es) get jealous if you spend too much time on someone else. Thanks Devon!

  2. I'm on vacation and am trying to keep up with my blog reading. There have been several posts on this theme and I can't wait to get home and write my own blog post on this.

    Thanks for the idea of breaking out the numbers by ancestral line and may add that to my table when I finally get to write that blog post.

  3. Jenny, I agree. I know for a fact that one branch has a little more focus right now. Primarily because several others have done a good job with the other branch. But, I don't want any ancestors to be jealous of other family members. We don't need another 'war in Heaven' so to speak. 😉

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