Here’s an easy way to differentiate between ancestors

If you’re struggling to verify the identities of multiple interactive ancestors – especially ancestors who went by the same name – here’s one low-tech, but highly effective way to do it:

Benjamins color coded

This document, from our work at, compares five men who went by the same name in two South Carolina counties in the late 1700s.  It uses color coding to track the appearances of related family names throughout the period, enabling easy recognition of patterns.

If you’d like to use the same process, you’ll need more patience than book smarts.  You can use Word – a program that almost everyone can access.  Simply paraphrase all known records as a chronological list and include all names mentioned.  Then assign a unique background color to individual or family names.  As you assign the colors, you should start to see patterns in the data.  Your ancestors should start to present themselves to you as unique individuals.

As always, visit us at for more insights… we’re ready to help!

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