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?


14 thoughts on “Family Tree or Family Graph

  1. dvn ms kmz time travel

    I have a lot of these types of connections. I notice them when I either added them to my tree or have gone back to study individuals to learn more about that particular person. However, being able to convey those relationships has been a hardship for me… Thank you for this bit of insite. I hope that as I work on my book, this will help me to better explain to others.

  2. toni

    Me, too. I have printed off the spiderweb pedigree for each BUT then I end up with so many pages I’m the only one who understands it. It has to be a video where I can change the family make up for each of those people, change it back, then show the relationship again because it’s like explaining a magic trick.

  3. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

    A digital collection of old photographs collected by the wife of my 2C3R was shared with me by her grandson Joe, 4C1R. Most were identified in the file name by him. I’ve been posting them weekly with a little research and mentioning the connection to others in the collection. I can see the relationships in my mind but need to get it down on paper/screen. It would be great if there were an easy way to do this. BTW I now have the actual photographs as Joe was so happy with the posts I’ve been doing.

  4. L

    Anne, I so enjoyex each of your 5 presentations at SLIG. Your reseach techniques were great models. I appreciated your enthusiasm!
    Front row Gail

  5. Chris in NM

    Anne, I suspect there is connection between your Snavleys and my families in Scott and Russell Counties, Virginia. My line which migrated from Lebanon area of Pennsylvania to Southwest Virginia: George McConnell born 20 Feb, 1770, in Pennsylvania and died 1845 in Scott Co., Va. He married Susannah Snavely 1791 in Pennsylvania, daughter of Casper Snavely (Schnebeli) and Sabina Schnatterly. George’s brother John McConnell married Catherine Snavely, another daughter of Casper Snavely and Sabina Schnatterly. George and John had a younger brother named Johann Adam McConnell. My Snavelys/Schnebelis were from Affoltern Am Albis, Canton Zurich, Switzerland. It’s possible I sat next to a cousin for an entire week when we were in Mark Lowe’s class at SLIG! Regards, Chris Mueller in New Mexico.

      1. Chris in NM

        My Snavely/Schnebeli ancestors give me headaches! Several brothers came to Lancaster Co. Penn. from Switzerland. Their names appear on serveral ships passenger lists and in legal documents in Pennsylvania with so many spelling variations (Schnewli is another) that it is hard to figure out the families. My guess is that your line and my line are descended from two different immigrant brothers. Could be wrong but would be fun to explore. Here’s an old RootsWeb list post that shows the level of name confusion

  6. Chris in NM

    Anne, Is your John Snavely who married Elizabeth Musser the son of John Snavely who married Mary (Maria) Brandstetter?

    My Casper Snavely (Schnebeli), husband of Sabina Schnatterly, is probably a half-brother of John Snavely, husband of Mary Brandstetter. These half-brothers were sons of Kasper Snavely who came to the US (Philadelphia) from Switzerland on the ship ‘Francis & Elizabeth’ in 1743.

    Kasper’s first wife, Veronica Blickensdorfer, was the mother of John and his second wife, Verena Dups, was the mother of Casper. Casper is my ggggggfather. This is not my research but that of Paul Tobler, a very dedicated Snavely (Schenbeli) researcher. See:

  7. Annick H.

    I guess you call most of these pedigree collapses (implexes) like in your 2d example. I found a program that can show them: “Winancetre”. It is in French and the basic program is free. I knew of two implexes in my tree, but the program found two more that I couldn’t see. I wish my regular genealogy software could diagram those too. I saw that someone had asked the question in the Rootsmagic blog or forum and that “they” would consider working on it; but when?

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