Family Trees That Talk – Interviewing Relatives

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at 2021.04.08
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5 Simple Rules

Verify Or Else

Family interviews are a fantastic way to fill in the gaps in your family trees, and will provide far more information than you could ever glean from a marriage certificate. The quality and detail can be extraordinary and enlightening, BUT don’t accept everything Uncle George says as being entirely accurate. His “true story” may not be true at all. THE FIRST RULE IN GENEALOGY IS VERIFY – wherever possible. The truth can be stretched, twisted, bent and made to disappear altogether. That doesn’t mean Uncle George is lying, he may just be repeating what he was told by someone else or may have forgotten the detailsover time.

My Story

Here is an example of just such a point from my own family history. It is very illustrative of the need, when researching family trees, for accurate information.

My great-grandfather George BURLS came out from England and settled in rural Victoria, Australia. My grandmother, his youngest daughter, always said that hewas a detective and that he solved a murder investigation in a nearby town. Well, that was all I had to go on. Firstly if THERE was a murder the local newspaper was the place to start. I knew I would have to go back to the early 1900’s because my great-grandfather died in 1919 aged 70.

Back at about that time a water reservoir called the Waranga Basin was beingexcavated and so there was a great influx of workers around the area. Two of the workers living in the tent city that sprung up were James Edwards andWilliam Skinner. They were friends but Skinner got drunk one night and attacked Edwards with a shovel. He defended himself with a nearby axe and killed Skinner. Fearing the police would not believe it was self-defence, Edwards proceeded to cut up the body, placed the parts in hessian bags and threw them into the basin. The parts were later found and an investigation ensued. All thesedetails I got from a newspaper, The Rushworth Chronicle of 1905.

George BURLS and his son Alfred were rabbit trapping, which was their occupation, when they were approached by the culprit, Edwards, who they both knew from another job site where they had previously worked together. Edwards denied ever knowing them and said he wanted to buy some tobacco.He did so then left. They were both called to give evidence at the subsequent trial. End of story!

The above are the facts of the case. My grandmothers version was somewhat more elaborate, granting my great-grandfather, who by the way only had oneeye, with the tracking down and apprehension of Edwards. But again, she may have just been repeating what she had been told.

Handy Interviewing Questions

Okay, so here are some sample questions to get your family trees talking. These are in addition to the mandatory ones such as names, dates of birth,marriage death etc.

1. Describe your childhood – relationship with parents, siblings.

2. The greatest joy of your childhood was …….?

3. As a childFree Web Content, what was your worst fear?

4. What was your father’s occupation and what was the quality of your life like as a child?

5. How would you describe your parents and or grandparents – physical characteristics and qualities?

6. What is the most pleasant memory you have of your parents and or grandparents?

7. What was the dumbest thing you ever did as a child?

8. What was your most memorable holiday?

9. What was one thing that attracted you to your spouse? Why?

10. What was the most difficult moment for you as a parent?

11. What one thing would you change in your role as a parent?

12. What would you like your children to most remember about you?

13. What was your greatest fear as a parent?

14. What activities do you enjoy?

15. What do you find really annoying in other peoples actions or characteristics?

Play with the questions. Add to them if you wish. They are just to get you thinking.Good hunting!


A family holiday needs to be a relaxed affair, spending time with your family away from the pressures of daily life, you want to find a comfortable and informal place to stay where you can do what you want, when you want and not worry about the noise the kids make or whether their current food fads can be catered for. Renting a luxury villa in your destination of choice provides the perfect solution for a family that likes to be comfortable, but wants to avoid the formality of a hotel setting.    Luxury villas can offer all the comfort of a luxury hotel but allow you a more relaxed pace and offer plenty of private space for family activities. In a city like Cape Town most luxury villas have their own private garden and swimming pool, so after a day exploring you can return to cool off in your own tranquil space. Satellite TV and DVD players are usually provided and if you have teenagers you might want to choose a villa that has more than one lounge area, so that their choice of music or viewing doesn’t have to be inflicted on the whole family! Younger children feel much more at ease in a rented villa which can become a home from home for a week or more, giving them a stable base from which to enjoy all the holiday activities. You don’t need to be tied to your hotel room while they have their afternoon nap, but can float in the pool conveniently located outside on the terrace, within earshot. Toys can be strewn around and noisy games played without disturbing other guests, so parents can relax themselves.Most luxury villas have a housekeeping service included in the rental price and many of them provide baby-sitting services, catering and after hours housekeeping as optional extras, so you can decide how much looking after you’d like. Well equipped kitchens mean that you can enjoy cooking relaxed meals en famille, with all the mod cons that you enjoy at home, but you can always turn your back on the stove and head out to a gourmet restaurant or barbeque by the pool instead.When you have decided where you want to spend your holiday look for a local villa company that specializes in the top-end properties and peruse their selection online. You might discover a gem that perfectly suits your family, catering for everybody’s interests. A luxury villa on a golf estate that also has horse riding and hiking nearby could be your idea of a perfect holiday, or maybe you’ve got younger children and would like to be right by a beach with stunning ocean views? Your priority might be having an internet connection in each room, or perhaps a property with a snooker room and a home cinema would be ideal for the tastes of your family.There is so much choice out there, whether you are looking for the ultimate in sleek modern design, or a restored Victorian mansion with modern luxury tastefully integrated into bygone opulence. Copyright Kit Heathcock 2008Source: Free Articles from

Kit is a contributor to Just The Planet, the online luxury travel magazine for independent travellers. Read more about luxury villas  and family holidays.


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