The Story Behind the Site

A Word from the Founder

Our mission and goal is to:

  • provide you with all the possible resources you need to understand who your family is
  • allow you to create a visual family tree
  • give you a platform to collaborate with knowledgeable family members
  • attract your family members to your and their tree with social media type features for further collaboration
  • allow you to work through other websites already containing family information
  • provide a place to store and retrieve information, content, pictures, videos, etc about family and places

To understand where this mission comes from, let me give you a little history of my own family tree research. When I was about eight years old, I remember my brother who is two years older working with our grandmother to create our family tree on a large piece of poster paper. If memory serves me correctly, he produced this for a school project. After he had presented the project, the poster ended up in a pile of other papers and projects and over the years, it probably ended up folded, bent, unusable and subsequently, in the trash heap. Not because it wasn't an important document, but because there is just not much room available to keep such things in a family with seven children.


attended a number of family reunions over the years and had a pretty good understanding of who my relatives were in general but not exactly how I was related. Closer family members might tell me the relationships verbally but all of it just didn’t stick in my memory since I’m more of a visual person or perhaps because I didn’t have some precursory information needed to understand the connection through my more closely related family members. In addition, I grew up in a very small community where most if not all of the people in the community were related by blood and by marriage. And I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say "all". The community was and still is very very small.

This community has a central record-keeping situation where records have been kept for well over 150 years. As I understand, the details go all the way back to the original settlers of this community and keep track of births, marriages, deaths, and various other important events. I have heard of various community members (family members) going to these records to help them create their family tree, which is in effect also my own family tree. Some of the information they've learned has been interesting, surprising, and even a little shocking.

In addition to these records, the community has published three history booklets with great general information about the community, the families, and history of the area. My parents had one of the booklets I skimmed over when I was very young. My grandmother gave me another when I was about twenty-five years old. And I might have acquired the last one from the publisher.


ver the last twenty years, I've stumbled upon some fragmented pieces of information about family members on the web. And I've even found a very interesting webpage that shows all the offspring of a single great-great-great-grandfather who came to this small community from a foreign country in 1847. And along with this webpage, I found other individuals' offspring on their own webpages.

Somewhere around 2010, I visited my family and my older brother took me to a graveyard in this small community where 160 years of ancestors and family members are buried. With his knowledge, he walked me through and showed me the gravesites of various people. While looking through these headstones, some names were very familiar, the ancestors of neighbors and close relatives. But some were almost familiar, not changed from when these ancestors came from other countries 160 years ago. But as these ancestors moved toward speaking mostly English from their native language, the names also changed. My own name is a great example. This really started to spark my interest in creating a family tree that goes back as far as possible and that is as complete and accurate as possible.


ince I now live about 2,500 miles from that small community I grew up in, getting to any information was going to have to be done through the Internet.

I spent a lot of time using Google to find links to information and to get the original names of my ancestors. I found links to® where people had posted messages and were attempting to work with each other. I also found links to partial family trees where I could document five or six generations of a branch of my family.

But there seemed to be something missing as I went through the info in the various places. Well, really, there were quite a few missing pieces.

First, there wasn't a single place to easily create a family tree without having to pay. So, I began tracking my findings and producing a tree in Microsoft Excel® which is by the way a horribly confusing way to display a family tree.

Second, the information I was finding was not connected in way that I could easily create my own family tree. While people were finding ways to collaborate for very specific family members, there was no way for me to have my entire family tree created through collaboration with people over various branches of the tree.

Third, while there is a lot of fragmented information scattered throughout the Internet, there is also a lot of missing information that I know various relatives have not put on the Internet yet. I was hearing of a few relatives having a strong interest in genealogy and they were storing the information on a hard drive, in a genealogy file, and on pieces of paper. But these were not accessible to me. Some relatives were even using Facebook to host pictures of places in the community as well as pictures of past family members.

Fourth, there was no good way of giving an ancestor a profile so that they have their own story. There was no online place where knowledgeable family members can give ancestors their history for us to see in this and future generations.

Fifth, I'm sure I spent well over 500 hours attempting to find information to build my family tree when I'm sure I have family members who already have this info readily available. If I could have reached the family members easily and have them help me fill in parts of the tree they already know about, then that 500 hours could have been spent researching parts of the family tree that haven't been discovered and documented yet.

Bird on a Branch

The ultimate goal is to help people to discover their roots in the easiest and most helpful way possible. I am a firm believer that more information is better. Accuracy is important in understanding who we are and where we came from. And pooling all the family information available in a collaborative way and assembling it into a coherent whole for the individual user is important to have a complete picture of who we are.

Charles Herrick
Founder of Full Family Tree


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