34. Standing on the shoulders of many, many other genealogists.

Posted on Facebook on 2 May 2017.

I want to work as efficiently as possible in the archives I have planned to visit from 19 until 29 June. I simply have to in order to complete the task I have set myself. I want to relate explicitly all Weissenborns and Wittenborns who have lived since 1618 - including those who are alive today - to their ancestor(s) who was/were alive in 1618. I think that enough documentation has survived to do so. The catch is in the sheer number of books that have to be consulted. This number as well as the need to store the information made this task impossible for me when I undertook it as teenager some 40 years ago. I think that today the task can be completed with the help of the dedicated software I have partly developed myself, and by using the information already recovered by many, many other genealogists.

Many genealogists have stored their data in the commercial database named Heritage. I have not taken a subscription to this database as I am not interested to be updated on progress. I do however want once-off to have all currently available data on Weissenborns and Wittenborns in Heritage. And, equally important for me, I want to get familiar with these data. Hence my approach has been to first use the free search engine in Heritage exhaustively. Several pieces of data on each person are withheld by this free search engine. For me this only added to the thrill of the chase. Moreover it forced me to recognise and memorize the data I did get hold of. In my own database I made coded notes about the data that were withheld.

Last week I took the free 2-week trial subscription to Heritage, to collect all withheld information. I got to see and copy the data of several hundreds of genealogists, for which I am very grateful. I had prepared myself so well that I have tracked down the information of all my coded notes in two days. I spent one more day just probing Heritage - with some agreeable surprises - and then ended my free subscription. Thank you, Heritage!

I have now entered the stage that more than half of all fresh information either joins unrelated "loose" persons in my database to trees or trees to each other. As nothing on the internet ever gets wiped out, I am laying this puzzle for all posterity. After me everyone can consult the result. If the puzzle is complete, every Weissenborn and Wittenborn can look up the "tollgate" ancestor(s) in 1618. It is a true tollgate, as that/these ancestor(s) lived in Thüringen or Hessen, barring a minority of some 10%. I have updated the map showing these ancestors (see attached) as I found several more in my search through Heritage.

The map also contains the first Weißenborn coming from a village Weißenborn: Janike Dorothee Minde has recorded in Heritage that a Johannes Weißenborn was born in Weißenborn near Eschwege in 1631. She also recorded that that same Johannes' grand-daughter Anna Christina Weißenborn married a Johannes Weißenborn who was born in nearby Aue. These two would most likely have known how they were related. We will probably have to take recourse to DNA analysis to say something concretely about their relatedness.

I have been surprised by the amount of documentation from the 16th century still extant today. The completed puzzle for the time after 1618 will surely help in relating these scattered pieces of information.