There is no more fascinating subject than in which a person may become occupied than family genealogy, an examination into the history of his ancestry. The study of human beings is an interesting one, especially when they are the particular human beings from whom the student has derived his existence, his character, his likes and dislikes, and those elements which differentiate him from every other human being and constitute him an entity with individuality.
A large number of people are becoming increasingly interested in the study of their ancestry. Persons everywhere are inquiring as to who were their progenitors, when they came to America, where in this country they settled, in what direction they followed the tide of migration as it moved into new settlements in early days, what they accomplished in business, in education, in public service, what place they occupied in the development of the state and the nation, who their children were and what became of them, and so on with many questions, the answers to which are an engrossing study.
To begin finding information on the family, printed family genealogy will be consulted. These can have different numbering plans. One plan of numbering family genealogies most often found is that adopted by the compiler of the Chapin Genealogy where numbers are used, and by Mr. Waldo Lincoln in the Lincoln and the Waldo family genealogy where letters are used. It may be described by quoting from Mr. Lincoln's introduction to the Lincoln Genealogy as follows:
"The earliest emigrant of the family, in this case Samuel Lincoln, is lettered a, his children are lettered aa, ab, ac, etc. The children of the oldest child are lettered aaa, aab, aac, etc., of the second child aba, abb, abc, etc. and so on through each succeeding generation, each descendant having as many letters as the generation to which he belongs, and letters showing exactly his line of descent.
For example, take the last name in this volume (Lincoln Genealogy), Mordacai Abel Lincoln, adaaa bbcgb. For convenience in counting, a space corresponding to a decimal point is left after the fifth and tenth letters. There being ten letters, he belongs to the tenth generation and is descended from ad, the fourth child of Samuel, a.
To look up any of his ancestors in his family genealogy, it is only necessary to leave off a sufficient number of letters and to turn to the person indicated by those remaining without resorting to the index or the intervening ancestors. For instance, to learn the record of his great-grandfather, leave off the last three letters, cgb, and there is left adaaa bb, which is the index letter of Thomas Lincoln. Take now the index letters of President Lincoln, adaaa db, and it is clear he and the aforesaid Thomas were own cousins, the first five letters showing that they had the same grandfather.
In the case of children, to save space, only the final letters are used and to obtain their full index letters it is necessary to affix the final index letter of each child to the index letters of the parent. For instance, see Deborah Lincoln^ aabab, her oldest child, John, is that of his mother, aabab, with the addition of his own letter, a> making his complete index letters aabab ay.