In which our intrepid hero traces his family tree.

Several months ago, I was pottering around on the Net, looking for a reference to my father’s role in the introduction of jujutsu to Australia. I couldn’t find it, but instead, I found a goldmine: a family tree of my paternal grandfather’s mother’s line, going all the way back to the mid-17th century.

This discovery resparked an interest in genealogy amongst the family. My maternal grandmother had placed a ban on researching her ancestry (in order to conceal a few skeletons in the family closet), but since her death in December, it’s been open season.

My aunt recently discovered a letter to my grandmother from 1984, detailing their descent from a convict who arrived in Australia in 1792. She forwarded me a copy of this letter last week, and I’ve been diligently adding to my family tree at Geni ever since—hence the lack of activity here lately.

I’m up to around 800 entries at the moment, with the promise of many more to come.

I’ve discovered a few surprises, such as large concentrations of ancestors around Mudgee and Kurrajong, a line highborn in family lore actually descending from convict stock, and four siblings from one family who married members of another.

This last sort of relationship is difficult to chart on a traditional tree. In order to clearly show lineages, you would need to plot it in three dimensions, or set up hyperlinks—which, fortunately, Geni does.

I’ve yet to research the line on the main tree that would require such hyperlinkage, but an unrelated line yielded just such a relationship: two sisters married cousins. It’s fiddly to do with Geni’s software, but possible, and yields satisfactory results.

Ancestry‘s database is down at the moment, which frees me for other things, like blogging and watching Gunpowder, Treason & Plot on DVD. It’s not such a bad thing—I need the break. It’s an enormous task I’ve set myself, and I really don’t want to burn out…