Updating & Sharing Genealogy

3 Jul

Again — it’s been a long while since a post here — I have been busy making great discoveries and serendipitous connections in many different brick walls for Kauhimaka, Waiwaiole and Ayres/Moss trees – but the last 4-6 months what’s consumed me is a special family reunion project for our upcoming Kauhimaka ‘Ohana Reunion in the Ahupua’a of Malaekahana, Oahu July 5-8th. 

When the last major “book” released on your family tree was put together in 1983 — there’s some really big shoes and gaps in information to fill to create an update.  It’s a hard act to follow – for those who were there and remember the multi-media slideshow presentation that took us through years of research into trying to answer the question, “Who was the real father of Joseph Kauhimaka?” that was given at the 1983 reunion along with the book (now a sacred treasure for decades) full of family data sheets and black & white xerox photo collages.

This year we’re going to be low-tech – outdoors and on a tight timeline — so no dimming of lights and raising the screen – no 30-40 minute presentation.  Yet it has to have substance, accuracy, timelessness, be visual, entertaining – and a keepsake. Where do you start? What should the result of the work look like, feel like, taste like / smell like and where can we download it afterward?

All good questions to ponder, but when it comes to brass-tax what matters is trying to NOT leave anyone out — you have to hit the ground knocking on doors (Facebook timelines and/or email boxes) asking, begging, pleading, stalking for updates JUST to gather all the births, deaths, marriages, divorces, adoptions, and step-relations that have grown the tree in the last 34 years.

That’s multi-generational GAP – three NEW generations actually.

Family tree sketch for your design.jpg

So about 12 years ago — I took that 1983 book and digitized it in Geni.com record by record building a tree and as Geni started to change their “free” model I realized the value of all the work I’d done and sprung for a one-time lifetime membership — to ‘secure’ it for posterity.  Sporadically and organically – I’d grow it as first birthday and birth announcements, wedding invitations, etc. would come about.  But there’s still the distant cousins who live away who you don’t see often, that uncle who just never comes to anything and nobody has seen in years, and the “I think maybe they moved, but nobody really knows – maybe they had kids.”

So what is one to do?  The age of social media helped in a few ways — allowing a way to connect with those faraway cousins who were just a name in the tree – with now a face, and a timeline to their life, photos of their keiki, their special moments and their mo’opuna – the 21st century way to get to know each other via likes, selfies and emojis.

Another great help was a “nucleus” of ‘ohana members focused on a common goal for the last year — planning a reunion gathering.  This set an agenda, a goal, a timeline for completion – and urgency for folks to actually provide their updates.  A pipeline of excitement as it were culminating in the reunion event now only days away.


1983 Kauhimaka ‘Aha ‘Ohana Reunion Book with 2010 Updates Sheets at a Mini-Reunion at Ko’olina – and Grandparent Photos Lino & Marilyn Fernandez

But the “descendants” document is just one thing — a list of names/dates – how can your presentation be more?  Due to personal tribulations and recent illness — the finish line is here and all the good ideas of what the document would be (a recipe book, collection of stories, photos, source documents) – are just that — good ideas — so it will be a work-in-progress as it should be – ever-growing, ever-updating and ever-finessing.  Hoping it will be as originally planned a collaboration as well with other contributors invested in its ongoing completion and nurturing.

In the last 30 days alone – I’ve corrected 100s of profiles in my Geni tree, added other facts, obituaries and added dozens of new family members. Talked with and exchanged photos, stories with ‘ohana near and far.  Collectively, the descendants report is now at 317 records spanning seven generations and a history since the mid-1800s. With 5 living generations — our eldest surviving descendant is nearing her 89th birthday and the youngest descendant is just a mere 6 months old. Perhaps by Wednesday — my deadline to hit print – we’ll be past 320 recorded descendants.

Some goals at the reunion will be to collect some oral histories, take lots of photos of ‘ohana, be in the moment and receive the “present” of being together, singing and communing as one. I’m looking forward to all the honi, hugs and tears of joy as we join hands in the lo’i patch, weaving lauhala, pulling in the fishing nets and creating the living lei that binds us to one another.

So what will be the takeaways?  I’ll bring some hard copies of the book in progress to share with each family line and take an email list signup for sharing a Google Drive to the PDFs post the event and my dream of a signup for ongoing family genealogy meetups /adventures in the future.  Maybe some ShakinTrees.com calling cards.  And perhaps some genealogy tools (various worksheets – like pedigree charts, fan charts) and a survey to gather ideas for another pet project to create a MyGoogle Maps for significant locations to our family (Kaupo, Waialeale, Ma’eMa’e Chapel & Cemetery, Kawaihao Seminary for Girls, Kapena Stream, etc.).

Even though the end result won’t be as amazing as I had originally envisioned, it will still be awesome — it’s my family – my ‘ohana and I am humbled.

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