Robertson County Connection

Don’t overreach in your ancestry research

Hello all! This month I want to talk about researchers who over-research their family trees.

What I mean is that they venture too far away from their family line. Going back into your family history, with each generation the amount of grandparents you have will double. The larger your family tree is, the harder it is to maintain. If you are lucky and able to trace every grandparent back into the 17th century, do you really know how many grandparents you have? Let us take a quick look:

Bill Boyd

Starting with your parents, that is two people; now add each of their parents and that is four more people. You now have six families to research. Now comes your eight great grandparents added to your six, which now gives you a total of 14. The next generation would be your three times (3X) great grandparents and you had 16 of those to add to your total. Now your grandparents number 30, and you have only gone back four generations.

One more generation of grandparents adds 32 additional families, now increasing your total to 62 and that is not including all their children and grandchildren. If you have good fortunes and find every grandparent back to the early 1600s and reached your 15 times (15x) great grandparents, not including their children, you have over 131,000 grandparents. That is a lot of history and family stories that allowed you to exist and be the person you are today.

The tip for this month is to choose the family lines you wish to follow. Usually your surname would be one family line to follow, and your mother’s father’s surname would be a second. Your wife’s parents would include her father’s surname and her mother’s father’s surname. Those family lines are plenty of work. The additional grandparents you find, include just the grandparents’ information and the names of their children. This will keep you on a straight path back to history, but going further left or right away from your family line is up to you. Perhaps there is a historical figure or event that you may wish to connect to your family. That is fine. Then it is OK to drift away from that family line a bit.

For any further help, come see us at the White House Library at 10 a.m., on the second Monday of each month.

Parents, if you have a son or daughter that is interested in genealogy, our first class in January was cancelled due to the weather. Our next class is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. We require that your child be at least 11 years of age and at least one parent accompany the child. These two-hour classes will be on the third Saturday of each month. Again, these are totally free classes. For further information call the White House Library at 615-672-0239, or just send me an email at

On Monday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m., our adult genealogy club will meet. Each meeting for the club will occur on the third Monday of each month.

I am looking for old stories and little known historical information about the town of White House. If you have a story, contact me, Bill Boyd, at the above email address.

Bill Boyd is with the Genealogy Club with the White House Public Library. You can reach him via email at