I’m sure I’ve said it before, my mother passed the genealogy bug to me. I was living in Kentucky when I first became really interested and began doing my own research. Far from my family in Nevada. Not wanting to completely reinvent the wheel, I asked my mother to send me a gedcom of her existing tree so I could install it on my computer. Once I had that tree installed I set off doing research on my father’s lines. Meanwhile, my mother focused on her own lines. We would talk on the phone frequently, sharing updates on our individual progress.
In theory, this should have worked well for us, two different trees focusing on different parts of the country and different heritages. Or so we thought! One night my mother called to tell me about a story she had stumbled upon regarding Abraham Lincoln and the possibility that he might have been fathered by an Abraham Enloe and that an Enloe woman was the midwife at his birth. The reason this was interesting for my mother is that her 3rd great-grandmother was Rachel Enlow, also from Kentucky, Rachel would be related to those Enloes supposedly involved with Lincoln’s birth.
So, while my mother was telling this story, I opened my program to search for those Enloe/Enlow names so I could have a point of reference. I found Rachel and her father Joseph Enlow, but I didn’t have parents listed for him. A conundrum for me since the index showed many other Enloes listed on my family tree. Confused, I interrupted my mother and said, “Something doesn’t look right”. I told her I couldn’t find those Enloes and I said, “Let’s start with the first Enloe so I can see what happened with my tree”.
She said the immigrant Enloe is Hendrick born about 1632 in the Netherlands. “Odd,” I said, “I have Hendrick and he has a daughter Hester”.
“No,” she said, “He has a son Abraham”.
“That’s weird” I said. “Who’s Hester then?” I looked down through Hester’s line until I recognized the names Christiana Ditto and Nicholas Day Amos. “Oh oh!” I said. “Mom, I’m looking at Dad’s family. Dad is descended from Hendrick’s daughter Hester and you are descended from Hester’s brother Abraham. You’re cousins!” (Interjection: I had to shiver and go eww for a moment, because let’s be honest here, who wants to learn their parents are related?)
What did we do about our tree problem? Well, my mother and I combined our two separate trees into one large tree, finding two other instances where my parents have shared ancestors. To make it easier to know which line we are following, my mother and I have come up with a naming system that works for us. My father’s line has capitalized last names i.e.: Mildred MCWHERTER and my mother’s line has both names capitalized i.e.: KENNETH CHAFFEE. On those lines where they share, I’ve tried to be funny by listing the names oppositely i.e.: JAMES Draper.
Going back to Abraham Lincoln though, even if the Enloe connections are unproven, my mother does get to say she is related to him through her 10th great-grandparents Obadiah Holmes and Kathryn Hyde, making Abraham Lincoln my mother’s 6th cousin, 4 times removed.
I know there are many researchers who have separate trees for each family line, but I find it difficult to track all the ancillary people when they intersect my other lines in so many places. Working with just one tree helps me to better see the patterns that one needs to keep in mind when doing any kind of research.