Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Trying To Get It All Straight

gene check listI have started going through my trees with a checklist of documents I have or need for each ancestor. It has helped me to fill in a lot of blanks. When I am working on the tree, I usually just work on one line at a time. If it is the Hughes line. I will look at my dad, his dad, then his dad, etc. I don’t change the order by looking into their spouses as well. I do this after I finish the male line.  Everyone does their research in their own way and this is mine. It usually works well until I make a mistake.


A couple of days ago I was researching my 2x Great Grandpa George W. Hayes. As I was closing his page getting ready to go to the next Hayes in the line, I heard a loud thud and someone yelling! I told my husband it sounded like someone got hurt so we went outside. Our elderly neighbor had fallen so we helped her up and took her into her house and made sure she was okay. When I got back home, I was still a little frazzled by the incident so I thought I would just get back to filling in some missing pieces in the tree. I pulled up the tree and hit the button and then I pulled up the ancestor. When I looked at his wife’s name I was confused. It gave her name as Elizabeth Rucker. I could have sworn her name was supposed to be Sarah Rucker. When I took a second look at her husband’s name, I realized that I had hit Georges’ wife tree by mistake. When I looked at Georges’ parents his mom was listed as Sarah Rucker. If this was correct that made George and his wife, Elizabeth Coffey first cousins. So, the search was on!




The farther back I went the more confusing it got. It was confirmed that Sarah and Elizabeth’s father was Colby Rucker.  Sarah married John Coffey, the son of Benjamin cousin blocksCoffey. Elizabeth married Thomas Hayes whose mother was Mary “Polly” Hayes. Mary Hayes was married to Benjamin Coffey. If this isn’t confusing enough Benjamin Coffey’s brother Thomas married Elizabeth Smith. They had a daughter named Mary Coffey, who married William Coffey, who was the son of Benjamin Coffey!


OK, my head hurts from all this inter-marrying.  I am going to spend some time looking through the many, many children of the Hayes, Rucker and Coffey lines to see how many other cousins have married. I know this isn’t really that unusual, there are probably some like this in most trees. I know I have cousins in my mothers’ line who have married. However, not this many within 3 generations!


So, here is my dilemma. Actually 2 of them. First, what is the best way to make a chart linking all of these cousins together to get a better view of them and their relationships with each other? Second, what do you think about me putting the “extra” relationship in my trees so future generations don’t have to do what I have done?


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.




6 thoughts on “Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Trying To Get It All Straight

  1. An Ancestry tree will show them everywhere they belong, depending on who you are looking at as the main person at the moment. However, I usually put a detailed note in the comments (so it is public) section on both the wife and husband, explaining the relationships.

  2. I was surprised to see my Family History Checklist of Completed Searches here on your blog! I’m glad you’re using it (but credit would be nice, too).
    Relationships like this make my head hurt, too. I think you should do whatever will help future researchers — extra notes and citations, or adding the person to your tree (with notes and citations), whatever will help!

    1. Thank you Nancy. I didn’t know who made the checklist. In one of the genealogy groups I asked if anyone knew of a good one I should use and they emailed me this! I love it, very straightforward. If you give me the name you want me to use I will add it to the blog.

  3. For Ike Ashlock who married his stepdaughter and then she married his half-brother after Ike died, I did an Ancestry screenshot with arrows and explanations added. I then put this in as a photo on Ancestry with further details for others to understand. Otherwise, they would just think I’d made a mess of my tree.

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