Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - How Many Children/Grandchildren in Your Birth Surname Line?

It's Saturday Night - 
time for more Genealogy Fun! 

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Consider your Birth Surname families - the ones from your father back through his father all the way back to the first of that surname in your family group sheets or genealogy database.  List the father's name, and lifespan years.

2)  Use your paper charts or genealogy software program to create a Descendants chart (dropline or graphical) that provide the children and their children (i.e., up to the grandchildren of each father in the surname list).

3)  Count how many children they had (with all spouses), and the children of those children in your records and/or database.  Add those numbers to the list.  See my example below!  [Note: Do not count the spouses of the children]

4)  What does this list of children and grandchildren tell you about these persons in your birth surname line?  Does this task indicate areas that you need to do more research to fill out families and find potential cousins?

5)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, or in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

Here's mine:

1)  My SEAVER surname line is:

*  Robert Seaver (1608-1683) had 7 children and 34 grandchildren.
*  Shubael Seaver (1639-1730) had 6 children and 20 grandchildren
*  Joseph Seaver (1672-1754) had 6 children and 48 grandchildren
*  Robert Seaver (1702-1752) had 9 children and 40 grandchildren
*  Norman Seaver (1734-1787) had 13 children and 48 grandchildren
*  Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816) had 10 children and 42 grandchildren
*  Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) had 4 children and 9 grandchildren
*  Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) had 5 children and 8 grandchildren
*  Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922) had 3 children and 7 grandchildren
*  Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942) had 7 children and 11 grandchildren
*  Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983) had 3 children and 6 grandchildren. 

2)  I did this task by doing a 3-generation dropline Descendant List in RootsMagic 6 (Reports > Lists > Descendant List) and counting the children (generation 2) and grandchildren (generation 3) for each person.  Here's the first page for Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816):

4)  The list above tells me several things:

*  The first six generations on the list had 51 children, so 8.4 children on average.  The last five generations on the list had 22 children, so 4.4 children on average.  
*  The 11 generations above had 73 children (average of 6.6), and 273 grandchildren (average of 24.8).
*  The number of children started reducing in the early 1800s for some reason - perhaps for reasons that are social, economic,  religious, distraction, or relative fertility).  All of my Seaver families worshipped as Protestant Christians.
*  A father who dies in his wife's child-bearing years really reduces the numbers (only Benjamin Seaver 1791 really has this problem).  Early deaths of children in childhood or before marriage reduces the numbers of potential grandchildren.
*  Once the families moved off the farm for a town or city, the number of children is reduced. (Isaac Seaver 1823 was the first one to not work as a farmer or to live in a place larger than a village of hundreds of people).
*  I think that I have captured all of the children and grandchildren of each of these fathers in my research and genealogy database.  There were some of the grandchildren on the lists (especially the children of female children) where I did not have death dates, spouse names or marriage dates.  That creates research opportunities to add to my genealogy database.

5)  I did this here!

NOTE:  Saturday Night Genealogy Fun will be on hiatus for the next two weeks because I will be enjoying the Legacy Family Tree Cruise through the Panama Canal.  Saturday Night Genealogy Fun will resume on Saturday, 12 October.

The URL of this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


John said...

Randy: Have a great cruise!!

For the first time ever, I have participated in your weekly "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!" prompt. I have posted it on my blog at:
and have used your prompt image to indicate my participation (with credit of course). :-)

Geolover said...

This does provide an interesting perspective. The family of my earliest known birth-surname ancestor was nearly all killed in an attack on their settlement; just one of the two surviving children had children.

For 19th-century families, Civil War casualties often had a profound effect. In one ancestral family, of 11 children all sons and sons-in-law served in the war, and three died while in service.

The kind of perspective shown this way can prompt looking into specific historical circumstances a bit more deeply.

Yvonne Demoskoff said...

Saturday is almost over, Randy, but I finally got around to posting my take on tonight's challenge. It's at

Like John said, enjoy that cruise!

John said...

Randy: Looks like I somehow managed to not post the link to my contribution to the birth surname line prompt in yesterday's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

I hope this works :-)