Sunday, April 2, 2023

Rabbit Holes With Randy - The LearnForeverLearn Family Tree

One of the many shallow rabbit holes I've been down recently was stimulated by the San Diego Genealogical Society (SDGS) DNA Interest Group presentation by Kathy Fernandes on this past Saturday.  She discussed DNA third-party tools, and one of them was the Exploring Family Trees site on  I have used it before but not in recent years.

On the site, the user can upload a GEDCOM file to see a graphical representation of their known ancestors (but not siblings of their ancestors).  I created a relatively small family tree with all of my ancestors up to 15 generations back from myself in RootsMagic 9. There were 2,459 known ancestors in my 15 generations, which goes back on some lines to the 1400s, mainly in the British Isles. 

Here is my family tree created by LearnForeverLearn:

On the graph, the years are on the right and left axes.  I am the solo dot at the bottom of the screen.  The small dots on the map mark the birth year of each ancestor.  Pink circles and lines map female ancestors and blue circles and lines map male ancestors.  The lines from each ancestor link back in time to the parents of each circle if they are known.  My mother and her ancestors are on the left side of the chart and my father's ancestors are on the right side of the chart.

The user can zoom in using their mouse wheel, and drag the image up-down and right-left.  The user can run their mouse over a dot and see information about that ancestor.  For example, I ran my mouse over my ancestor Sarah Clarke (1650-1704) of Medfield, Massachusetts:

The yellow box tells me that Sarah is both my 7th great-grandmother and my 8th great-grandmother because she has two children that are my ancestors.  The two lines down the chart are heavier lines than the other lines.  The two lines to Sarah above her dot show the two lines to her parents.  Her parents are my ancestor through four of their children, one on my mother's side and three on my father's side.

I traced the lines from Sarah Clarke back to her parents on the chart, Joseph Clarke (1613-1684) and Alice Fenn (1619-1710) who settled in Dedham, Massachusetts.  I highlighted Joseph Clarke and can see the lines to their four children who are also my ancestors.

In general, nearly horizontal lines on the chart indicate that the parents have two or more lines to  ancestors of a later generation.  In some cases, the near-horizontal lines may connect to ancestors that are my mother's ancestors and my father's ancestors.  Most of my near-horizontal lines are between the years 1550 and 1700 because my colonial ancestors (mainly New England) had many children and lived in relatively small communities where families intermarried.

A plethora of near-horizontal lines may indicate endogamy in the ancestry.  In my tree, the ancestors connected to most of the near-horizontal lines don't have enough DNA in segments to pass down 8-12 generations to me.

This is the only way I've found to visualize ALL of my ancestors through 15 generations back in time on one page.  To see more information on each ancestor, I have to use my RootsMagic (or other family tree software tree or an online tree) database.

Unfortunately, the only way to save this family tree is to make a screen shot of it.

This was a fun rabbit hole - it took less than 5 minutes to create and then I explored it for another hour as I waited for the NCAA Final Four basketball game on Saturday.  


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