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?