Merging Genealogy “Branches”

Merging branches (also known as cutting and pruning) is something you will most certainly need to do; unless you never make mistakes!  I just encountered a situation like that with my Deyo Branch (I seem to enjoy making mistakes in this line…).

By way of providing background, a newly discovered relative was kind enough to point out that I might have made an error in selecting Joseph Dion’s parentage.  The good news and bad news is, he was correct.  I had Joseph linked to an incorrect branch of the Guyon family tree.  It was a very nice branch, just not the right one… Well after much panic and research, I built a new branch of the Deyo Family Tree.  It joined up with the old male line about three generations out; had a completely different matrilineal line.

With paper I’m guessing you’d just need a big eraser and a newly sharpened pencil… ‘unfortunately’ software is much more robust and requires a lot more planning.  I could not leave my genealogy database as it was, so here’s what I did (oh and you can do this too with your genealogy software).  Before going too much further I think you should know that I recommend doing everything ‘the hard way’ by that I mean without pushing a button to delete and then merge branches and the following process description reflects this approach.

  1. First you need to do some research (searching?) to identify the new line.  Load it all into a GEDCOM capable system.  I built my new line on Ancestry.com because it is easy, fast, and I pay for a subscription to use their databases (which have lots of good data).
  2. When you are satisfied with the new branch (or in my case branches) download it (them) to your PC.
  3. Open your genealogy software tool.
  4. Save your database (make a copy).
  5. Select the person(s) where you want to cut the old branch; remove them as the child from the family where you believe they no longer are associated.
  6. Run some tools to clean up your internal database links, record IDs, etc. Basically scrub things shiney clean.
  7. Import your GEDCOM file (the one from step 2; hopefully your software does this nicely and smoothly).
  8. Attach your new family(families) to the person mentioned in step 5.
  9. Save your database. (Yes, again… label it so you can find it; do this so you can reconstruct things if they go ‘pear shaped’)
  10. Run some tools to clean up your internal database links, record IDs, etc.  Basically scrub things shiney clean. (Just another repeat by Mr. Paranoia)
  11. Identify and clean-up duplicate People, Events, etc. — I use a mix of manual and automated methods for this.  I find the automated tools are somewhat ‘less than thorough’.
  12. Run some tools to clean up your internal database links, record IDs, etc. Basically scrub things shiney clean.
  13. Save your database (make a copy).

You should now be done and hopefully things will work like you had hoped.  You can see my efforts on the Deyo Branch of our family tree.  This method will leave the old branches in your main tree, should you wish to reconnect to them.  In my case the branch started with 447 people; I added 201 new people from new family sections and after clean-up have 591 individuals.