We Build Our Own Brick Walls

“A Brick Wall”

It occurs to us all. We’re merrily researching a department of our tree once we encounter a halt in progress. At first we predict it’s short-term, then after a interval of looking out, failing, considering and extra failed searches we label it as “A Brick Wall”. It’s a metaphor that’s a lot (over) utilized in genealogical circles. I’ve learn dozens of articles and even entire books that like to increase, stretch and warp the brick wall metaphor in all kinds of instructions. Generally the writer will get away with the describing the metaphorical panorama with such restricted language, different authors construct on prime of the brick wall with but extra metaphors (barbed wire, searchlights, chisels, sledgehammers, ladders, tunnels – you identify it, we’ve seen all of them). Generally the conflation of metaphors overbalances the entire edifice till the author’s central message is misplaced in a maze-like panorama of their very own making. However does it serve a objective? How helpful is the brick wall metaphor in family tree? Do we’d like it in any respect?

The reality is that each one avenues of genealogical analysis peter out attributable to lack of proof in some unspecified time in the future. In the event that they didn’t then we might all have the ability to hint each single line of our ancestry again to an infinite level prior to now and family tree could be a trivial, and much much less attention-grabbing, pursuit. We’d like challenges in our analysis, difficulties to beat, elusive proof to trace down, intuitive leaps, and dogged detective work to provide the exercise of household historical past analysis any actual that means in any respect.

If each single department of each single tree terminates in uncertainty, then why will we cleave to the “Brick Wall” picture? Not each halt-point, query or problem can certainly be so impenetrable as to deserve a metaphor of such solidity that it requires masonry and mortar to explain it.

I feel that the very idea of the “Brick Wall” can maintain us again. Maybe it might be higher to simply accept that each one branches have a terminus. Generally the issue could be overcome and the terminus moved additional outwards, generally an absence of proof might forestall us from extending the department, not less than for now. Many, if not most, issues could be addressed to a higher or lesser extent, so I don’t see how imagining a masonry edifice on the present terminus of an proof path is in any means helpful to our thought processes. Maybe a greater picture, if any picture is required, is a layby, a picnic space or a service station – a spot to relaxation, refuel, play with the youngsters, and collect ones vitality for the following leg of the journey.

Sigh. That feels higher already. It definitely beats taking a look at a brick wall!

Subsequent Time: Be part of me to unpack the case of Mary Jane Hyland who dropped from the skies in 1894, or so it appeared. She was the longest “relaxation cease” on my genealogical journey. I’ll begin by selecting aside my very own errors – there have been heaps – earlier than turning to the strategies I used to unravel the case.