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.

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