April of 2000 began in influx of information about my family. Word had gotten out that I was working on the family history. Packages started arriving in the mail box on a regular basis with small amounts of family tree information, photos and interesting facts about our extended family. This came from members of the Wiggle family in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana, Arizona, California, Oregon, Nebraska and England. I gathered all this information in a storage box and saved it for a time when I could sort through it all.
The long winter day for reading that box of information came in January of 2001. George and I went to Florida for a break from the Michigan Winter. Each night I would read another part of this enormous puzzle. Some of it was easy reading and some of it was like reading a phone book. The information was overwhelming and seemed impossible to coordinate. I wanted to know how all of us were related. It seemed like I was collecting multiple pieces of a jigsaw puzzle without ever seeing the completed picture. I was beginning to give up on the project because of the enormity of it when parts of it started sounding familiar. I started making handwritten notes - and that became really impossible. I had notes and scribbles all over in stacks and it was getting very confusing and overwhelming. I longed to get back home to my work processor and start coordinating what I was reading. With the computer I could add, subtract, move around and correct information as I found it.
When we returned back home to Michigan in February 2001, I started the framework of the enormous puzzle call the Wiggle Family Tree. I checked out some of the Family Tree Programs on the computer and saw their printout. I knew this would not work for our family. I wanted to be able to make copies of the tree and mail it anywhere!
I had already been to Kinko’s, a copy business in our area, and knew I could duplicate anything that would fit on their blueprint paper. That meant it could be three feet wide and as long as I wanted it. I laid in bed many a night wondering how I could accomplish this project. Finally, one morning around 2:00 am, it dawned on me a way I might be able to do this. I crawled out of bed, went downstairs to my computer, tried it out and it worked! BINGO!
The process was to use Microsoft Word Processing, 8.5 x 14 size paper, landscape (paper turned sideways) layout. I made a column for each generation. When I started I used #12 font size. A major problem soon surfaced. I could not fit all the generations on two pieces of paper. A third piece of paper somehow made the project impossible in that format. I reduced the font size to #10 and Bingo…..it worked! Then as I found new information I could add the names and years of birth right where they fit….literally like putting the pieces into the puzzle.
I started with my immediate family and built our small part of the family tree…just going back to my grandfather. Then I gathered envelopes and packages of information sent to me by other family members. One at a time I found the common link in our families and added their information to the tree. It is amazing how fast this Tree was growing. Soon I had my Great Grandfather, Julius Wiggle, his siblings and all their descendants. During this time I was given a copy of a handwritten family tree done back in 1976 by Robert Sloan, a descendant of Evan Wiggle from Illinois. It included information going back to England and the 1600’s. So all this was added and the Wiggles from Michigan could trace their family roots back to England! How exciting! Many of the names on this tree were now familiar to me. So I integrated his information with what was already in the computer.
This entire process took weeks and hours of tedious work. But I loved it. The winters in Michigan are brutal and this project helped cure my “cabin fever”. At some point along the way I received an email from another cousin in Glendale, Arizona. He sent me an email with an attachment including information about his family. I very innocently clicked the “print” button on the computer and went upstairs for dinner. When I came back downstairs I had 53 pages of information about his branch of the family tree. So much of his information overlapped with what I already had been given. So, I spent that evening integrating his information. By this time I was confident my ancestors were from England.
Sometime in July of 2001, I thought I had the Large Family Tree completed for the time being. I printed out pages of information from the computer, and taped them all together. I took it to Kinko’s and had it copied and printed on one large piece of blueprint paper. I needed a rough draft to proof read and was proud of my completed project…..or so I thought!
ONE HOUR after I returned home with my rough draft, the mail came with an envelope from Keith Wiggle in Brunei! I had never met him, but he had heard about me and my project. That envelope contained a letter from him and 29 more pages of research on the family history. He had made contact with an Archivist in Cranham England who had done extensive research about the village and had volumes of information about our family. I spent six hours that night integrating that information to what I already had on the computer. It was amazing how much of the information overlapped with what we already knew. That just confirmed to me the information we already had was valid. That was how I learned about the Archivist in England and all the work she had done for our family.
In July of 2001 a cousin from Arizona told me of family in Utah with the spelling of the name Wiggill. He sent me names and addresses of these folk. Soon I had another form letter in the mail to see if we had a family connection. Two families from Utah responded, one with a copy of their branch of the family tree. They were descendants of Eli Wiggill from South Africa. It was easy to go back a few generations and find our “connection”. What an exciting time I was having! We had another branch of Wiggills to add to the family tree.
Originally I wanted to add places of birth, years of death and spouse names. But I soon found that to be impossible. The project was just too big! My pages just kept getting longer and longer. In the end I had fourteen pages of 8.5 x 14 paper and fourteen generations. I printed out all these pages, laid them out on the basement floor and taped them together, AGAIN. The final project was then taken back to Kinko’s and the First Edition of the Family Tree was printed. It contained information about Family from Utah, Illinois, Michigan and England. It was 2.5 feet wide and 5 feet long. We displayed it on the back of a door and propped it up under the tent at the Family Reunion that summer.
That was the beginning of this fun family project. Since that summer multiple members of the family have heard about our “Tree” and have sent me their information. I integrate it into the existing project and add their names to the Family Address List.
In April of 2005 the Fourth Edition of the Family Tree was printed. It is 3 feet wide and 9 feet long. We now have branches of the:
Today is Thursday, July 28, 2005. I am working to complete the information to send to the designer of our website. As I was proof reading this project on the computer, I received another email. This one came from another new found Wiggill family descendant in Johannesburg South Africa. Judy attached a one page version of her family tree and requested information about the rest of us.
And so the story of the Wiggall / Wiggill / Wiggle Family goes on! I hope it never ends!