How to name your family tree

My ancestry.com family tree is appropriately named: “Bartee Douthy Duncan Fisher Kimbrough Owen Parker Shaw Thompson Wead Weed Wilks Wilkes Family Tree.”

Below is a photo of the Wilkes family and friends in front of their home in Springfield, Missouri. It is estimated that this photo was taken in 1925.


To gain the best results from building your family tree on any ancestry website, list the top surnames. As you build your family tree, remember the surnames and always use the maiden names of your female ancestors in genealogy searches.

In my early years of researching my family, I included my female ancestors’ married names in family genealogy searches. It limited my information collection. Now that I have replaced the married names with maiden names, the family searches are much more successful.

How do you find the maiden names? Check marriage certificates and licenses, marriage announcements and bonds for the correct maiden names of relatives. For instance, as shown below, I located the maiden name of Florida L. Fisher on the marriage license certifying the union with our cousin, Herbert Gerald Parker.


If marriage documents are tough to find, ask your oldest family members to help remember the maiden names. When I used my maternal Great- Great-Grandmother’s Melissa C. Gray Wilkes’ maiden name, I easily located her parents and her grandparents. The Gray surname was the key to finding her parents, grandparents and siblings.

Great-Great-Grandmother Melissa Gray Wilkes (1871 – 1934) is viewed below:


Happy family searches. Build your family trees with maiden names linked to the strong surnames.

HoHo Helpful hints for family tree

It’s Freebie Friday!


For many of us, it is a challenge to learn of our grandparents and their parents. Think about the challenge of locating 10 generations of grandparents, or stated another way, your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents!

While the Good Genes Genealogy cousins are only halfway there with our maternal grandparents, we, like you, will keep trying to reach the 10th generation of relatives.

Notice the fourth and fifth great-grandfathers. The fourth great-grandfather fought a battle in Georgia during the Revolutionary War to keep the British invasion at bay.

Here’s some solid advice from us and colleagues who are genealogy buffs:

  • Decide on your purpose for your family tree. Some prefer to build family tree to only link direct lineage. Others build trees for family history purposes. Both types of family trees are valuable.
  • Now begin with yourself to begin your family tree, hence the top of the Christmas tree shaped family tree that is displayed in this blog.
  • Fill in as much as you know about your grandparents and their parents, if possible.
  • Use death and birth certificates, if available, to verify each grandparents’ parents.
  • DNA results remain a huge help in filling in the names of grandparents, siblings, cousins and other relatives.
  • Do not ignore individuals that keep appearing on your ancestry lines that do not appear to be blood relatives. Their records are equally important to locate ancestors as those “nonblood” individuals may share other family relationships.
  • If grandparents have been married more than once, you have the choice to add each marriage, or directly link your blood lines to the married grandparents. It’s tricky, yet family tree-building technology is now allowing for some flexibility.
  • Build in lots of genealogy research time to achieve whatever goals you have for building family trees this holiday season.

Have fun, relax, share memories and ask great questions of your relatives to build your tree.

Happy Holidays!

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