Methodology

Family Tree or Family Graph

Two weeks ago I presented 5 classes in the Swing through the South class of SLIG 2016. And I never attend a year of SLIG without new thoughts to mull and ponder!

Prepping 5 classes was challenging and enlightening.  And I kept noticing things that I either hadn’t noticed before or that I hadn’t actually formed into coherent thoughts.  Take the concept of family trees.  We all build them.  They show generation after generation of our ancestors and the parents of each ancestor.

And that is one of the primary goals of genealogy.  Kinship.  But kinship is not just parents.  Especially in southern families.  Here is the most basic family tree for Mary Jane Emma Snavely who lived a very short 11 years on this earth:

family graph01

And we can take both of her parents back a few generations:

family graph02

And because I suspect you are fairly observant, you noticed that Mary Jane Aker’s grandfather is her husband’s great grandfather.  Ah, those family ties. The tree actually can be better represented as:

family graph03

 

But the connectivity doesn’t end there.  Mary Jane’s father was Philip Aker, and Barbara was his second wife.  Guess who his first wife was?

family graph04

 

 

Philip Aker first married Christina Snavely and when died he married her sister Barbara.  And I’m leaving out all the other Aker children.  And more than a few of the Snavely family.  But another of John and Elizabeth Musser Snavely’s children was George Snavely.  And he and his brother Adam shared another connection.

family graph05

Adam and George who were the only two sons of John and Elizabeth Snavely, married sisters, daughters of Nicholas Wassum and Elizabeth DeLong.

To understand the short eleven year life of Mary Jane Emma Snavely don’t we need to examine all these people?  They  appear to be pretty interconnected when  we “graph” them out.  And no doubt the graph gets bigger and more complicated with everyone we continue to add.

Go search your trees.  See if you can find the interconnected families.  How do we represent these graphs that show these relationships in a way that will give us better understanding of who our ancestors were?

Starting with the classic family tree is a must.  You can’t understand the generations if you don’t have it.  But there are a lot of connections we don’t represent, or at least we don’t represent well.  How do we visually  do this so it adds to our understanding and help drive us to those delightful “ah-ha” moments?

 

Tuesday’s Tip — Two New Links You Must Check Out

We all know that family histories, local histories, indexes of vital and the sort are awesome for finding nuggets of gold.  Check out FamilySearch’s Family History Books beta site:

http://books.familysearch.org/

Second link, courtesy of Mark Lowe: Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, which can be found in google books:

Notice the dates? These were the references that law clerks and the like used as reference in the 1800’s in the south.  Want to know about what a drove-road is and what it means? The information is there.

Remember, don’t look if you just have two minutes! Trust me!

Sorting Saturday — Making Sense out of the Mess or Sources Matter

I am trying to pull my grandfather and his ancestor’s lives into order and tell their story.  I find I have a mess of records.  One big old honking mess.  So I’m getting organized.  And not just thinking about it.  Or starting and stopping. (Yes,  I’ve done that multiple times.)  I’m doing it.

Prune the Tree. I use Family Tree Maker (yes, I’m a Ancestry.com employee, but I was using long before I joined the company.)  I went to Export and selected my grandfather, his descendants.

I selected his ancestors and included all parents and all ancestor’s descendants for 1 generation.

Do I really need all of his 5th cousins 4 times removed husbands?  I think not.

This is a copy, nothing is lost if I need to go back.

Sources.  OK, it is time to clean up my sources.  And is where I am now.  I’m cleaning up duplicates.  And removing all those horrid sources that you collect over the years.  I opened my electronic of Evidence Explained (you must get yourself one!) and went to work.  I’m about 30% of the way done I’d guess.  Oh, and managed to delete about 50 1880 sources.  I will recover I’m sure.

My 1850 sources are looking awesome!


One document per family.  I’ve also have one document per family, and attach every one to that.  Boy does the cut down on the chaos.  AND when I make a mistake in  sourcing (gasp!) I only have to correct it and re-correct it once.

Images for Indexes.  You know when you merge in a Social Security Death Index, but you have no image.  Well I make one.  I have Snagit (I love it, but there are other reasonable solutions.)  So let’s say I add my Great Aunt Eva’s SSDI.  I go to the page, clip out the important stuff:

So if I’m working on someone and I don’t have access to the internet, I have everything I need.

I’m sort of excited to have a clean tree.  Sourced correctly.  And then the story telling will go much faster.  I’ve often found it takes me as long to source a blog post as it does write it.  This should really help.

I learned a lot when I took the Genealogy course at Boston University.  I took the class and I got an A.  Now I have to walk the walk. And one thing I believe with all my genealogy heart is that sources matter.  No more sloppy sourcing for me.  And I won’t have to feel guilty when I sit in Thomas Jones or Elissa Scalise Powell‘s classes at FGS!

Happy Sourcing!

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