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How Wide Should One Search?

Discussion in 'Any questions?' started by Bryman, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I can think of all sorts of clichés to counter the points you make, one of them being …’lies, damn lies and statistics’ and …’you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’ and borrowing from Churchill during the Battle of Britain…'never has so much been owed by so many to so few’ … there are plenty more where they came from.

    Of course, Forum contributions -both postings and responses - are made by a handful of people and it is the same on every FH site or Blog post I have ever visited. Similarly, on Facebook, Twitter (et al) ‘the same old same old’. Newspapers cry out for readers, Charities for donations, and Stores bemoan losing out to the web. In short and to coin a phrase – “would that it were not so

    Take heart, your ‘Lost Cousins’ concept was a brilliant idea, and your Newsletter does a lot to spark interest in Genealogy and I am sure added DNA content, will help spread the gospel further. The Forum is one of the best places around in which to discuss all matters pertaining to Family History. Perhaps easing the criteria for membership is the way forward?

    But, and it is a big BUT, nothing satisfies the faint hearted. Only true enthusiasts stay the course and contribute. People seek instant gratification which as we all know is rarely forthcoming with genealogical research. Even those encouraged by DNA testing and spurred after the first flush of ‘ethnicity’ results, may fall by the wayside when it comes to taking on the complexities of DNA matching.

    Just keep on doing what you are doing, and yes that includes chivvying and chiding where appropriate.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  2. Tim

    Tim Megastar and Moderator Staff Member

    I'm afraid mine is a mixture. In the early days, before LC, I added parents A and B and all their offspring for 1841 even though it was Child C that was married to my blood. When I joined LC I dutifully added all my households where I had them for 1841, 1881 and 1911. So I do have households that are all related by marriage as the person who married my blood was either not born or was too young to marry.

    As my tree started to get bigger, I've now stopped adding parents and siblings of the people who marry into the blood. Hopefully my ratio will start to change, (if it's actually a measure of something useful?).
  3. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Bob, you are being too pessimistic. For a start, LostCousins members are not a random cross-section of people who once had an interest in family history - they're typically more experienced and more committed than the people you'll meet at other websites. Many of them have already achieved success in other areas of their lives - as published authors, doctors, lawyers, academics, or founders of charities (to name just a few examples that spring to mind).

    But whilst about half of the members are now retired that doesn't mean that they have unlimited time to spend researching their tree. That's why the message I try to get across is that LostCousins is designed to save members time - that was the main aim when I founded the site, and whilst it took a while to reach the critical mass at which that objective was achieved, we passed that point many years ago.

    The important thing is to focus on the positives - and that's why I would be concerned if the proportion of matches between people who aren't cousins were to increase.

    I wasn't complaining about the small number of people who have contributed to the forum discussion, just making the point that the hundreds of members who cross my path in one way or another each week provide a much bigger sample. I don't keep statistics, but I do detect common themes.

    In the early years it was mostly problems that people had with the systems - these were dealt with by making the software more user-friendly and improving the on-screen help; right now the most common theme is "we're only related by marriage, so I won't be able to help you, but I wish you luck".
  4. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    With all due respect, Peter, I believe that Bob is the optimist and you are the one that is being unduly pessimistic. You may have received many communications from members who feel that they ought to give up but their ilk will always appear in any group, unfortunately, and you should not assume that their departure would be a major loss to LC necessarily. Another Churchillian quote not given by Bob above is "Never, ever, give up". Perhaps they need yet more encouragement and explanation of what they can reasonably expect.

    Or do you mean the easiest to handle? A match with a blood relative is everyone's goal but expectations should be kept in check. I would rather be matched with a by-marriage relative than to have no match at all.

    But that is just my point . . . the above quote need not be true.
    A close relative by marriage may be able to help much more than a distant blood relative. That has certainly been the case for me.

    If you think that sufficiently important then you could always delete such references for those considered 'unrelated', but I think that would be a shame and wasteful.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Rhian

    Rhian LostCousins Member

    In several of my lines there are persistent merges going back generations where cousins have married. In these cases related by marriage may turn out to be cousins from a few generations earlier, having them entered already is a great help in assisting new contacts, cousins or not, to further their research, which eventually could help even more people.

    It is because of these 'extra' contacts that I am at times tempted to enter some of the several hundred speculative research people that I am using to find the common ancestor with a DNA cousin, some direct relative of these people could help sort out the lines. These are also interwoven family lines of cousin marriages, which seems a particular 'feature' of north west England.
  6. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I agree wholeheartedly with Bryman, and indeed his first three responses to Peter might have been my own:

    1] I was being optimistic and at the same time a realist; 2] of course a match to a blood relative is what everyone seeks but a match by marriage is far, far better than none at all (a point I cannot emphasise enough); and finally 3] I have yet to find any match by marriage which has not produced a positive outcome.

    As a rider to the last point, I delve into all matches with the same enthusiasm and as a result have never been disappointed with any outcome. There is always something to learn from any exchange, and I have lost count of the help given and received. My private Tribal Pages are full of notes made from even the (seemingly) remotest of contacts where the original information proved golden for one or the other; and more often than not, for both.
  7. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    Not just north west England, Rhian, I think it was a feature in most village environments. Choice may not have been extremely limited but friendships would have been strongest among just a few families. I have several instances of the same few families inter-marrying over the generations. It was one of these that led to by-marriage relatives being 'upgraded' to blood status.

    Several hundred new entries sounds a rather daunting task but I am sure that a little and often would be the way to go, as long as you do not incur the wrath of Peter.

    I have a few non-blood families entered at LC from various adjacent Shropshire villages where there were one or sometimes two families with the same surname as me. I am trying to find a link to similar named families that another person (with same surname) has traced back to those same villages but without success so far. I did consider removing them from LC but left them for now as even a by-marriage match would be fantastic for both members. They are currently classed as "possible relative".
  8. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    The website is called LostCousins - and it's cousins that most people want to find. That doesn't mean that other connections cannot be of value, and sometimes they are. But the more tenuous those other connections are, the less likely it is that the members involved will both appreciate them. (Indeed, when LostCousins first started matches between members who were related by marriage were not even reported - this feature was added later.)

    Most people are limited in the amount of time or effort they can devote to their family history research. LostCousins aims to help them make the best use of what time they have by connecting them with others who, unbeknown to them, are researching the same ancestors, their 'lost cousins'. Whilst other connections may prove useful, they're likely to require more effort and to deliver a smaller pay-off.

    The upsurge of interest in DNA provides a great opportunity for LostCousins members, because DNA provides another way to find cousins. Neither is a replacement for the other - the best results are achieved when the two approaches are used together.

    Of course people whose ancestors have lived in the same rural areas for several generations are likely to be distantly related, sometimes several times over. But it takes a lot of time and effort to make all the connections - time and effort that most researchers simply don't have. Full marks to those who carry out family reconstitutions and run One-Place Studies - I'm sure there are many of us who wish we could do the same!
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Considering that the parish registers for Shropshire are online at Findmypast, and have been for 4 years, I would have thought that any connections would have shown up by now?
  10. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Although everybody's contributions to the discussion are welcome, I do think that they need to be put into context.

    On my own My Cousins page I have 33 cousins and 17 relatives listed; of the 33 cousins 6 were found through LostCousins, and the other 27 are cousins I invited to join. A handful were known cousins before I started my research, most of the others were found via other websites, mostly before LostCousins was founded, or through DNA (some of those found through DNA were already LostCousins members).

    Of the 17 other relatives 7 were found through LostCousins, and one of them is actually a cousin (the matching relatives are blood relatives to both of us); several of the others were already LostCousins members when I found them through other sites. Obviously I didn't find any of them through DNA.

    So 7 out of the 13 new relatives I've found are cousins, roughly in line with the average. However in terms of total new relatives found I've been rather more fortunate than my Match Potential of 9.3504 would imply (though it's possible that the way it is calculated is over-conservative).

    Do others have similar ratios?
  11. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    Excluding non-responders, I have 9 cousins and 9 relatives listed. One of the relatives is actually a cousin, and with another 3, I am a cousin of their spouse. 4 of the cousins and 6 of the relatives (as listed) were new contacts found via Lost Cousins, 2 of those new relatives being 'cousins via the spouse'. So I would count that as 6 new cousins out of 10 new contacts.
  12. Tim

    Tim Megastar and Moderator Staff Member

    I have:
    8 cousins
    14 relatives
    7 non responding contacts
    match potential =14.0007
  13. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    Just as well that feature was introduced. I have recently made contact with a 'by marriage' contact who has now turned out to be my 4C1R.

    Many years ago, I entered six members of a family from the 1911 E&W Census into LC. They were matched with my 4th cousin living near Perth in Western Australia but there has been no further matching identified since . . . until now. I was notified of a single match with someone who was related only by marriage. I accepted the contact request immediately and received a short enthusiastic follow-on message a day or two later.

    I tried to moderate my reply somewhat in case it did not lead to much but then there was a near 'throw away' comment mentioned by him that the wife of the matched individual was his GGM. She was also my blood relative and had been entered by me as part of the family of 6 members from 1911. It appears that this other LC member had only entered the head of household at LC and had not included the other family members. Hence LC had not realised that we were cousins.

    Ignoring contacts from relatives who are "only" related by marriage can be a big mistake.
    • Agree Agree x 1

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