finescale history

There’s a reason our featured image is of a dirt road running
through a cemetery. Come on in, take a look around,
and discover the adventure that is in you. 

your past …

assembled, confirmed,

contextualized, memorialized,

realized, and utilized

Want to take control of your past? For individuals and families, we offer a comprehensive, fully-integrated approach to genealogy, uncovering your family history, and preserving it for generations to come.

For both individuals and institutions, we provide specialized historical services — research, finding lost heirs and relatives, DNA analysis, photographical restoration, and much more.

Our specialty is the design and creation of personalized, historically-accurate architectural models for use in model train layouts, doll houses, diorama construction, and exhibit curation.

Be sure to check out The Story of Us, a chronicle of the Hile family tree in all of its many branches. These dynamic, ever-changing pages highlight the work we do and demonstrate the kinds of stories and data you might see in your family or institutional history.

what we can do for you today …

building family trees and legacies

Whether you are looking to build a family tree or an institution seeking to preserve a legacy, we start from scratch, if necessary, build on whatever you already have, and break through “brick walls” to discover missing links.

We verify the data utilizing a wide variety of sources, including DNA wherever relevant and possible.

Moving beyond bare names and dates, we look at family, architectural, social history and the like, to provide you with a much fuller expression of what your family’s or institution’s actual story encompassed. 

Organization and presentation

Once the research is done it is time to present your story, be it in a website, a book, video, or other methods of presentation of your choosing. We are also available for public speaking to your organization, workplace gatherings, family reunions, or other favorite groups.

Whatever it is that is done for you, the final product envisions a thorough, written report that outlines exactly what was done, the sources used, and the results.

Restoration of vintage photography is one of our specialties and we will provide you with the photographs and other documentation we obtain (subject to applicable copyright and other laws, of course!).

specialized services

We offer a wide variety of genealogical and history-based services, including but not limited to ancestor or location research, finding lost heirs and relatives, DNA analysis, photographic restoration, model-building, diorama construction, exhibit curation, and much more.

We also understand that some people want to “do it themselves” (after all, were love doing it ourselves) but need a little help on occasion or to save costs. We offer a mentorship program tailored to your specific needs to assist you in getting started and keeping you going.

DNA Banner
Miraikan, from the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Tokyo, Japan, photo by MIKI Yoshihito

you probably have questions …

frequently asked questions

because it wouldn’t be an adventure if there were no questions

We started out designing and building precision, detailed, turn-of-the-twentieth-century structures for model railroad layouts. We still do and now carry on this “finescale” philosophy to our passion for family history. 

No, but we will make every effort to build as complete and accurate a family tree as possible within the confines of your budget and particular circumstances.

Why can’t we get them all? Aside from inaccurate or lacking record-keeping in the past, consider this: without getting too mathematical here, it has to be understood that families trees grow exponentially. You may have had only two parents, but you also had four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents and so on. Add them all up, factor in the branches each of those ancestors of yours were a part of (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), and it all adds up to a whole lot of people. But — and this is the good news — it also adds up to a whole lot of stories to uncover and tell! 

Finding birth parents can be difficult–not going to lie–but it has become much easier in recent years.

Yes. We consider the work we do and collect on your behalf to be yours and we respect your privacy. We do not disclose what we find, where we find it, or what we did with it to anyone without your express permission. This includes your own close family members, as well as law enforcement (absent a warrant or subpoena).

Not only can you, but we expect you to. We’ll need your assistance in determining the scope of work, deciding what to do when the inevitable roadblocks or surprises pop up, and helping to sort through what oftentimes will be a plethora of potentially confusing data. We don’t have a team t-shirt yet but if and when we do, you’ll get one.

Absolutely! In fact, we’ve got just the thing for it.

That depends on a number of factors but the biggest is how accessible the documentary evidence is. Getting DNA results back generally takes 4-6 weeks.

Museums have the same issues as individuals seeking out their family tree–accuracy of information, honest assessment of relevance, proper context, et al. Whether you are an individual, a family, or an institutional client, our core principles and practices remain the same.

That depends on the individual project. Therefore, we generally charge on an hourly basis, but only after having undertaken an Initial Review (at no charge) and after a Preliminary Assessment (usually a four-hour task).


As mentioned elsewhere, the size of a family is exponential and to build a family tree going back even a few generations will encompass a lot of people and generate a lot of stories, so there’s bound to be some surprises in there. Some of them may be painful (one of the reasons we don’t share your results even with close family members without your permission). We’ll be gentle, but be prepared …

What you see at The Story of Us is an example of the kinds and levels of detailed information you will uncover on your own trees. Hopefully, you will see the adventure undertaken and the adventure realized for one family, keeping in mind that the story of us is the story of you. And that is the adventure that awaits!

ready to get started?

“Why waste your money looking up your family
tree?,” Mark Twain, who figures prominently
in our family tree, once asked. “Just go
into politics and your opponents will do it for you.”

Most people don’t go into politics.

That’s where we come in. So if you’re ready …