It gets to a point where you look at a generation of siblings and you simply cannot believe with such a big family, perhaps of ten brothers and sisters, that only half of them got married and had children.
Once you have exhausted all the obvious leads into a family tree you begin to wonder, “what about all those lonely people?” Just like the Beatles song, you have to reconsider, was in fact, “Eleanor Rigby buried with her name, and nobody came?” While the song may sound haunting and interesting to listen to, the reality behind each individual, can and did, have a life their own. There simply may not be enough solid evidence, in the form of documentation, before they departed.
That’s where we need to set aside the big picture and focus on the individuals. To prove, that in fact, there is no proof of marriage, or offspring. It is not as easy as it sounds. One must be willing to look up every bit and piece of information you can find on them, there parents, and their brothers and sisters; especially around the time of their deaths. An obituary, sad to say, may be a source of information for those who attended or those who may still be alive when said individual passed away.
Sometimes you can come across family stories shared online and try and glean information from them. Yet, they could be based on rumors or even assumptions made or passed along for generations; much being lost or confused in translation. I always like to look for at least two or three pieces of information that can corroborate a story.
If I do take a leap of faith based on a single reference, I try and move forward and laterally on the next individual it might reference and see if their documentation can help back up, or validate the link to them, their supposed spouse or parent. Either way anything added on weak evidence needs substantiation or you risk creating a false chain leading nowhere fast.
Whenever I have a weak link, I try and add some demarcation into the names. Like the area reserved for “Junior” or “Senior”, instead I will place an asterisk. This way it can remain obvious to me that everyone thereafter may not actually be a part of this family. If I cannot prove the link within one or two generations then I usually just erase it and call it quits on that individual going any further than their lonesome selves.
Unfortunately, not everyone was compatible or found a partner to live out the rest of their days. Well, not in the traditional sense, that is. I’ve even gone as far as finding their grave and opening up the picture of their tombstone to make sure it was not inscribed with something like, “to our loving father”. Been there, and done that. It becomes an “Aha!” moment. However, now your stuck trying to figure out who his children were.