January 1990

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Leon Stiles and

The Stiles Family


Bill Treichler

The Stiles family may be the most charted family in the world. Mr. Leon Stiles who lives in Yates County near Penn Yan keeps the records for the Stiles families in this country, England, and other parts of the world as well. Mr. Stiles has about 140,000 names of Stiles family members. From the number of names he has recorded of Stiles relatives in this country he estimates that one out of every 220 persons in the United States is a relative.

There are three major Stiles families in this country, each with about 30,000 names. These families are called the Massachusetts, the Connecticut, and the Virginia families because their roots were in these colonies. Then there are the Philadelphia family of Stiles with about 10,000 names, the Styles family that is centered in Kingston, New York, with 3000 to 4000 names, and other smaller Stiles groups. There are 12 published Stiles genealogies.

Not all of these families are linked in this country. A number of Stiles must have come at different times or from different sections of England. The Stiles line has been run back to about 1050 AD which is about the time that surnames came into common usage.

Mr. Stiles receives an average of two letters a day pertaining to his family record keeping. Some of them come requesting information and require answers, but most of the letters enclose information about the family which he records in typewritten notebooks. He has about 200 of these notebooks stretching along bookcase shelves. It took several days for a micro-filming crew to photograph all of the Stiles records he has for the Mormon repository.

Mr. Stiles not only documents data about people whose name is Stiles but he records information on all the family lines that originated from Stiles daughters.

Often there are contradictions in the information he receives or conflicts between listings. He records what he considers to be the most plausible data and puts all of the conflicting information into footnotes. This preserves all of the reports. Sometime other information might indicate that the record in a footnote was accurate. He or a successor of his could then revise this part.

Mr. Stiles spends every morning or about four hours a day working on these records and entering them now into a computer file. This will eventually make his work easier. He says, however, that he will never catch up.

Until he gets all of the data from the typewritten notebooks transferred into the computer file he must keep the manual file up to date by entering the death notices he receives into it.

The computer program he uses, the Personal Ancestral File (PAF), was developed by members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ. It is available for a very nominal price and can be bought to be compatible with most any computer. Information may be obtained by writing to 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84150.

The program assigns every name a Random Index Number (RIN) and every couple a Marriage RIN (MRIN). On December 7, Mr. Styles had reached the RIN of 22,712—that many entries so far!

The computer screen shows a family group; by moving a mouse-guided pointer to the command desired on the screen and clicking there the operator can move backward or forward following the father's or mother's side or a son's or daughter's descent as the screen changes to show each family group. By using the print command the screen information is printed out on a family-group chart.

A computer program for genealogy documenting saves time by making the original entries and the later updates easier to do than filling out charts. Mr. Stiles says that it takes him about four minutes to fill in the names and dates on a screen, much less time than writing in a chart.

The information is stored in a disk which can be backed up with any number of copies or it can be printed out in standard chart form. Searching for relatives that have been recorded in a computer file is easier and quicker than leafing through notebooks.

In addition to the notebooks, Mr. Stiles has about 400 volumes of books, including Stiles' genealogies and related family histories and regional listings. He uses old atlases, too. A book that he considers very helpful is the Genealogical Research Directory. This book is published annually in Australia and lists all names on which there is published genealogical information with a key to those sources.

Mr. Stiles has taken time to run back his wife's family, Nelson, and her mother's family, Spencer. The Spencer name has been traced back to 840 AD when the family was still in France before the Norman conquest of Britain.

Mr. and Mrs. Stiles moved to their present home on Stiles Road in 1941. At one time they had a large chicken hatchery on their farm. Sometime ago, however, chicken raising left this part of New York and they no longer incubate eggs. Now they produce gladioli blooms for florists and propagate new varieties for a gladioli breeder. Mr. Stiles works afternoons tending the bulbs in their beds through summer and in their storage trays during winter.

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