30 March 2011

"Spider-web" Genealogy

From The History of Hartford, Vermont July 4, 1761 - April 4, 1889 by William Howard Tucker (Burlington, VT: Free Press Association, 1889) --
No longer than sixty years ago there was in one school district in Hartford six families whose total membership, parents and children, was ninety-nine persons, viz :—
David Newton and wife, and 16 children ;
Sylvanus Smith and wife, and 20 children ;
Samuel Dutton and wife, and 16 children ;
Philip Sprague and wife, and 12 children ;
Harvey Gibbs and wife, and 10 children ;
Daniel Benedict Dutton and wife, and 13 children :
number of children, 87. The number of other children in the same district at that time swelled the aggregate to nearly 120.
-- And then they all grew up and got married.  And then their children got married to what are effectively their cousins.  And then again to their second cousins.  And of course you must name some of the kids after yourselves, and their grandparents, and their aunts and uncles!  And if you tragically had a Rachel die while a toddler, well, no problem, you just named the next girl "Rachel."  Your husband die?  Well of course you married his brother, who was named after his father.  And if your wife dies, why of course you married her niece who was named after your sister in law, and whom you named two of your daughters after!

Then some day, over a hundred years later, a descendant like me comes along and must try to sort it all out.  I am sure it all made perfect sense to them back them, but for a researcher it is terribly confusing.  I haven't actually started the hard slosh, because I have done a cursory look ahead, and I dread it.  Mind you this is just a cursory look, but I note I am descended from three of the above families, and Sylvanus Smith at least twice.

Copyright © 2011 by Kevin W. Walker

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