The long and winding path

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With the Connection Finder we can follow the path from any connected profile in the Global WikiTree to any other connected profile we can think of. This page is part of the exploration of 100 Circles: A Geometry of The Tree and deals with "inroad" to the "main hill" of the Global Tree, in particular with profiles that have a long inroad. The appellation "long and winding" comes from viewing paths in the alternative view of a generational path, where you can see the path winding up and down between generations and moving horizontally through marriages.


The long and winding path

Just from looking regularly at the featured profiles in the Connection Finder, you will notice that some types of profiles tend to be more distant from "everybody else" than others. For example African-American notable like Chuck Berry (1926-2017) does not have any path shorter than 30 degrees from the profiles featured in the Disney Legends theme, while my own distances vary from 30 to Julie Andrews and down to 21 to Angela Lansbury - and then I cannot compete with most of the members reporting in the G2G thread, with distances down to 15 or 16 to at least one of the featured profiles.

Population distributed over circles

Querying the distribution of all connected profiles in the Tree over the circles of Chuck Berry we get the following diagram.

Peak (mode): circle 32
Distance to Queen Elizabeth II: 32
Mean distance: 35.97
Eccentricity: 105 (a little bit outside the frame)

So while Chuck Berry is quite a long way from QEII, and quite "excentric", he is a far cry from the profiles featured on the page about The Outer Rim of the Global Tree, where profiles are over 60 degrees away from the Queen, and have excentricity values from 121 to 143.

On the other hand, compared to a profile like Samuel Lothrop Esq (1622-1700) whose peak circle is Nr 15 and whose mean distance is at 17.2, the curve of Chuck Berry shows a very long left tail or "inroad" to the main "hill" where circles have a population approaching or exceeding the million. Lothrop is currently 14 degrees from the Queen

The inroad - left tail of the curve

To study the inroad, it is necessary to make an excerpt at a different scale. These are the 20 first circles of Chuck Berry, where the population per circle does not exceed 150 profiles.

Chuck's inroad is fairly typical of profiles with a really long way to the "hill" - there are usually a few small hills (family clusters) with valleys between them. In the valleys it is easy to find bottlenecks, where the exclusion of a single profile disconnects the focus profile from the Tree. In Chuck Berry's case Oscar Camp, one of the two profiles in his circle Nr 8, is such a bottleneck. But in fact the connection of the whole family cluster of Chuck Berry hinges on his father, who is the connection gateway for his mother and all her kin.

Examples from 2020

The rest of this page mainly consists of examples collected in November 2020. Connections for most of the sample profiles will have changed since then.

Sean Connery - exploring the little X for excluding people from the path

Sean Connery's path to Samuel Lothrop

Thomas Sean Connery (1930-2020), starring profile of James Bond Week, is one example of profiles with a bottlenecked path to the rest of the Tree.

It seems that all his connections go through his wife, Diane Cilento. Indeed, if you click the little black cross in the upper right corner of Diane's box, you cut Sean's connection to the tree.

So in spite of a family tree filled out to 100% in the second and third generations, to 75% in the fourth, and going a few more generations back in a couple of lines, Sean 's wife provides the only connection of this Scots cluster to the Global Tree. Happily, this is no longer so in November 2022.

On the other hand, once we get past the bottleneck, Connery is not all that far from the rest of the Tree. The most populated of his 106 Circles is Circle Nr 30.

Carl Wilhelm Christian Ritter von Doderer - a bottleneck in his path

Carl Wilhelm Christian (Doderer) Ritter von Doderer (1825-1900) was picked out for study on a hunch, as being the oldest created, connected, profile from Austria - just to see something else than Sweden.

Ritter von Doderer's path to Olof Andersson

Ritter von Doderer is 44 degrees from Olof Andersson. Since the peak of Ritter von Doderer's curve is at Circle 36 this puts Olof in a circle more distant than the most populous circle of Ritter von Doderer's. Olof is a bit more central than Ritter von Doderer, who is, neverthelss not the most "peripheral" profile in the tree by far. However, Ritter von Doderer's path has a remarkably long bottleneck with a really weak point in his Circle 17, where there are only two individuals. One of those is probably a dead end, since we have yet to find someone else appearing at that point in his path than Maude Hepworth (Ranney) Becker (1874-1957). Cross her out, and it cuts off his connection. Actually, crossing out her father, Martin L Ranney (1830-1894), in Circle 18, also cuts the connection of Ritter von Doderer.

There does not seem to be any forked and rejoining path before circle 18 either. There are some more populated circles before the narrow point at 17, but these presumably consist of relatives of Carl Wilhelm Christian, depending on the same narrow bridge. His most distant ancestor, Kaspar Doderer (1512-), is 25 Degrees from the bottleneck Maude Hepworth (Ranney) Becker. Kaspar has only one profile in his first circle, his son. The son has two profiles in his first circle (a parent and a child = father and son). Kaspar's grandson, Peter Doderer (1581-) also has a wife, but she has no parents, and so does not add any new path to the father-son chain.

The first circles of Ritter von Doderer

If we look at the alternative view - generational path for a connection of Carl Wilhelm Christian Ritter von Doderer (sorry, cannot be linked) we can see that the path that is not a dead end goes through a son of his brother and then through four private profiles, which makes the trail a bit hard to follow.

There are probably quite a number of profiles with thin and vulnerable connection paths like this.

Some of the others - notably Jean Gabin

The G2G question Scrap Closeness, what is your most distant connection in the global tree? brought up a few, like emperor Liu Xiu of China, who is 81 Degrees from Olof Andersson - not surprising considered the time difference. His path is long and winding indeed - mostly sideways - through Sassanides, the House of David and later through European nobility. His most populated circle is Nr 71. His circle 41 ist the first that contains more than 100 profiles.

The profile that almost always appears as the furthest profile from an examined profile (this has been included as a special feature in the magic query) is الشريف/ علي المغراوي الحسني - using Google translate on Arabic Wikipedia he is the Ottoman scholar Ahmed Al-Mallawi (1677–1767 by the Western calendar). He is 109 degrees from Olof Andersson. His path goes forward in time several generations and then perhaps three times as far back in time, until it reaches the Sassanides and the path forward to European nobility. These two profiles represent the endpoints of lineages distant in space and time from the center of the Tree (wherever that is). They also involve royal/noble lines documented back to times very far from times when there is documentation for the common folk. There will also be a shortage of members with the competence to broaden their paths (= fill out their circles).

Speaking about lineages going far back. in time, it might also be interesting to know that Olof Andersson is 49 degrees from Snaerr Jokulsson, who was a giant - a natural deity and a personification of snow. Or perhaps not. Let's not go there. Let's instead turn our attention to more recent profiles with long, winding and bottlenecked paths.

Jean Gabin (1904-1976) was offered up as an answer to the G2G question Scrap Closeness, what is your most distant connection in the global tree?. Gabin is 62 Degrees from Olof Andersson (who is in himself not all that central) and 47 Degrees from Samuel Lothrop (who must be quite close to the center).

Several of Jean Gabin's circles contain one single profile: C10, C12, C13, C14 and C19. Up to Circle 20 there are no alternative paths. After that there seems to be more choices - it is, for example, possible to circumvent the private profiles showing up as Nr 30 and 31 by crossing out Nr 30. (This may have changed)

Gabin's path winds a long way through France: back in time and then sideways through marriages, forward in time and then some more zig-zags until it reaches the Buonapartes and goes to America with Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte (1805-1870).

Generational view of path from Jean Gabin to Samuel Lothrop 26 November 2020
Generational view of path from Jean Gabin to Samuel Lothrop 18 December 2020

Gabin was a good example of how the path of a freshly connected notable may look. We could have picked up others, like Georg Friederich Händel (1685-1759), who was very recently connected to the Global Tree or Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), who was taken as an example of profiles with a "telephone pole" connection to the Tree in a discussion about the mathematical graph structure of the global tree in 2018.

Now, thanks to Isabelle Martin, Gabin has turned into an example of how a path can be visibly shortened by work on profile creation for close relatives.

The plan for a concluding section to this page, was to see what some "fattening" of the first circles (preferably in Sweden) might do for a long and winding path. The chosen example (below) turned out to have, instead, an opportunity for a surprise shortcut.

Werkelin: what happens when you find a new shortcut

The profile for Lars Petter Werkelin (1845-1922) was created in June 2018 by an emigrated descendant. During 2019 Laurie Miller put considerable work into fleshing out the Werkelin kinship network, centered around the hamlet Werkegårds on Fårö (map), however without reaching a connection to the Global Tree. The difficulty in finding a connection may stem from the fact that Fårö is an island off the bigger island, Gotland, which was in older times very isolated and endogamic.

In accordance with this line of reasoning, the first step by Eva Ekeblad in connecting the Werkelins was to cast about for someone who left the island, but stayed in Sweden. In 1950 there were about 40 Werkelins on Fårö, a small handful in Slite on Gotland and one single person in the Stockholm area, Jonny Emma Matilda Werkelin, married Blom. Looking at the nearest kin of her husband, there were people from various parts of Sweden - and taking the avenue of least resistance, the choice was to explore in the direction of the parts of Sweden we are most familiar with. Lars Petter Werkelin was first connected to the Global Tree in October 2020, by a long and narrow path, which looked like a good candidate for seeing what "fattening" the path might do for bringing a profile closer to the main tree.

Then, somewhat unexpectedly, in an unexplored corner of Lars Petter Werkelin's fourth circle, we found Gustaf Gottfrid Wivägg (1890-) who was the husband of a granddaughter of Lars Petter's brother. All Viewegs in Sweden who are born with the name, are descended from Gottfrid Vieweg (1694-1773), who has been in WikiTree since 2016. There were only three missing generations to enter. So instead of being slowly brought closer to the rest of the Global Tree, Lars Petter Werkelin's distance to the bulk of the Global Tree was drastically shortened from one week to the other: 22 December his mean distance from other connected profiles was 42, 72 and his peak value (his most populated circle) was 40. Then, 1 December, due to the new connection his mean distance had gone down to 38,48 and his peak value was in Circle 36.

The diagram of his totals does not show what happened to the bottleneck in his closest circles - these values are so comparatively small. Looking at his first sixteen circles, there is the typical hill (not a mountain) formed by the profiles created as his nearest kin was explored. The hill is followed by a sequence of circles with very few profiles in each - in principle created for the express purpose of geting the cluster connected to the Global Tree. With the second connection, the hill in the first eight circles or so, has barely changed at all. But from the low point at Circle 10, where there were previously only three profiles, the population increase gathers speed. These new "neighbours" are what the new Vieweg connection brought.

When Lars Petter Werkelin was first connected, there was a fairly long sequence (up to his Circle 8) where there was only a single path available. With the new connection there is more to choose from. There are still target profiles where Werkelin's shortest connection goes through Jonny Emma Matilda and her husband, but more frequently it goes the Vieweg way. We will keep an eye on his development, but are not planning any actual work on his paths in the near future.

A new attempt at documenting a freshly connected profile: Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson (1944-2021) of the Supremes died 8 February 2021, and was chosen as featured profile in the Connection finder along with other Motown personalities in the week 17-13 February. She did not have a profile to begin with, so it is not surprising that her connection to the Global Tree is of the telephone pole variety. Her path to Samuel Lothrop (and to any other connected profile) goes through the same 15 profiles in her first 15 circles, until there is a choice of two different paths in Circle 16 (branching out even more after that).

Looking at the first 20 circles of Mary Wilson, there is a bottleneck in circles 15 and 16 (four profiles in each circle). After that point the curve starts rising steeply towards the "mountain" formed by the bulk of the Global Tree.

Along with the sample of Mary Wilson's data, we captured data for a number of other profiles - for a variety of reasons, but mostly for the purpose of comparison between samples taken the same day (with the same size of the Tree). The work on them is not yet complete, but there is a spreadsheet dedicated to them:

Sadly enough Mary Wilson's connection hinged upon a an old but undiscovered conflation, which was subsequently disconnected. She was reconnected May 27 2023:

Comments: 8

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What a great page, Eva. Not the first time I'm visiting it and I have an update on Jean Gabin - some work has been done around his relatives, or more specifically, his paternal grandfather's - it would be boring to explain why I think he is interesting - but anyway, Gabin's path has been shortened by 2 units. So he's now 60 degrees from Olof Andersson. I don't think I have finished with him yet, though I'm not sure the connection can be much improved until a few people die and a really shorter path can be set up.
Thanks Isabelle!

Good to hear about Jean Gabin. I will pay him a revisit soon.

posted by Eva Ekeblad
Only two units? I like the way the first part of his path to Lothrop is visibly different now - I made a new screen dump to compare. I have also re-worked the text. My sense of how connections work in the Global Tree is changing. I cannot quite articulate it yet, but events that surprised me yesterday will not surprise me the day after tomorrow.
posted by Eva Ekeblad
I wish now that I had sampled Jean Gabin's circles when we had this exchange four weeks ago.

The comparison between 20 November 2020 and today, 14 january 2021 is pretty nice - I guess that is what being pulled two steps closer looks like from the circle perspective.

posted by Eva Ekeblad
I've only just read this - lovely work, Eva, and a really nice explanation of the concept.
Thank you Kelsey - I'm really having such fun with this. And learning a lot at the same time.
posted by Eva Ekeblad
Eva, congratulations on another interesting, entertaining, and beautifully constructed page!
posted by [Living Kelts]
Thank you, Julie.

I'm planning to also mention de Saint-Exupéry and Jean Gabin and then finally one very long and thin connection that I made not long ago. I'm planning to do a little more work on that one now and then.

posted by Eva Ekeblad