What to do with tree fragments and floating facts?

+4 votes

So, I’ve recently been trying to break down a brick wall in the Gibbs branch of my family tree (here on Ancestry at the moment). John Gibbs (1755-1839) is as far back as I’ve been able to get with this branch, he’s a direct ancestor and seems to appear out of nowhere. Unfortunately, he’s one of a multitude of Gibbs’ from the Somerset/Dorset borders around the 1750s, not easy to pin down. Anyway I’m making progress and hope I can finally identify him soon.

When working on characters like John I like to make free-form trees using diagramming software which allows me to add and rearrange people and facts, create floating chunks of trees and generally visualise relationships, without the need to commit stuff and add sources etc to my tree until I’m sure of what I have. 

In doing this with John Gibbs I have constructed trees for potential candidates for my John but have arrived at a point where I can rule those candidates out of my research as unrelated. This leaves me with floating branches of trees, often with multiple, tiny snippets about various people, DOBs, disconnected marriages, etc, that don’t even relate to a specific branch. My question is what to do with this information?

It’s not relevant to my tree so where can I put it? Sometimes I’m making connections that might not easily be made and it seems a shame for that to just sit in my research notes. The links between the people and families that I make might be open to question, but every piece, snippet, person that I look at has a source fact that can be cited. Would it be best to make a Gedcom of the branches and then upload them? This might take care of the larger branches, but what to do with the smaller facts that don’t really constitute more than a baptism perhaps, eg John Gibbs baptised 1751 in Queen Camel son of John and Mary - a tiny family tree in itself but perhaps not linked to anything else. Do I just create three profiles and add what facts I have?

Any advice on how best to approach this would be greatly appreciated.

in Policy and Style by Mark Stevens G2G4 (4.0k points)
edited by Mark Stevens
If you have enough sources for a profile, and the person isn’t already on Wikitree, then I would create it. You can always orphan it, then the info will be there in the future for someone to improve or connect to.
Thanks Marion.

I think I've arrived at the same conclusion as you suggest. I just need to read a bit about orphaning a profile and adding sources etc. Is one source/citation enough? A lot of these little, floating, disconnected pieces are nothing more than a baptism or marriage. Many are listed, for eg, on sites like FreeReg, not a tree per se but free and easy to find. I certainly think the micro-trees are worth adding since some of the connections are much less obvious than BMD records alone might suggest.
A birth or death record is enough, more if you have them.
Thanks Marion

2 Answers

+3 votes
I have not done exactly this, but perhaps what I have done might be helpful to you. (Or not.)

There are a few books floating around out there (some at archive.org) with some crucial information about one of my brick-wall ancestors. Since you can't copy and paste text from that site, I just blew up the page to a size I could read, and then took screencaps of the pertinent bits. I pasted them into a Word document (which is not online), and I included the exact URL and page number of the information so I could (hopefully) easily find it again if I needed to.

That document (and a couple of other similarly-purposed ones) are in a "Family - Genealogy" subfolder in my main Documents folder on my computer. (And it does get backed up to the cloud.)

And if I felt I needed to, I could also do things with Freespace profiles, but those would only work for actual text that could be copied, not screencaps of documents.

Finally... I only recently learned there was such a thing as a Freespace profile AND the scratch pad. And I found out quickly that if I didn't create some sort of a reminder to what I had called them, I would lose them.... so my scratch pad now contains the names (and URLs) of all the Freespace profiles I've created.

Hopefully you can get some ideas here that might help.... :)
by Carolyn Comings G2G6 Mach 2 (27.5k points)

Carolyn, you have two other options for finding those space pages.  One: you click on your watchlist, then click the link to your space pages (Switch to your Free-Space Watchlist).  Two: at the very top of a page, you have three search fields.  The one you want for space pages is the lowest one,  If you type "space" into the field, it will show you a dropdown of all the space pages on your watchlist (not just those you created) ---

Yes, I found that out later... but at this point I wouldn't guarantee I would actually REMEMBER it..... :D So I created a sort of kludge that WILL work for me, and maybe as I get better at this, I can make use of some other options.
Thanks Carolyn.

I haven't explored the Freespace profiles yet, but will take a look at that as a possible place to put some of this research.

Having just added a few new people from my Gedcom to the big tree I can see that it's easy enough to add individual unconnected people, so this is what I may do for some of the little snippets I have accumulated that don't relate to me at all. Then, hopefully, someone will come along and join them to their families. It's quite a bit of work but at least they'll be available for matching. I just don't want all my research to disappear when I stop thinking about it or need it anymore.
+5 votes
Hi Mark, it sounds like you are doing a really thorough and diligent job in your research.

If you have the time and inclination to add them to WikiTree (or anywhere else), I think you should do so.  Someone in the future may be able to build on those small, detached, micro-trees with their citations and connect them to the larger tree.  Over time, your research fragments may help many others.

Best of luck breaking down your brick wall too!  David
by David Dobie G2G5 (5.8k points)
Thanks David.

Yes, I think I'm going to start adding profiles as I go along, once I've solved the particular conundrum I'm dealing with, or gotten as far as I can with it. It'll probably have to be a kinda daily ritual, add a profile-a-day ...

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