Our Family Tree Standard Practices

Master Tree

The Spratlin-Knight-Wetherbee-Watne family tree is maintained by Ken Spratlin on Ancestry.com. The tree is periodically exported from Ancestry.com as a GEDCOM file and uploaded to this website. The description field for the tree on this website contains the date and time of export from Ancestry.com. More up-to-date information may therefore be found in the tree on Ancestry.com.

Naming Conventions

Birth name (including maiden last name) entered as preferred name fact. Unknown maiden last name usually entered as NN (MarriedLastName), if married last name known.

Subsequent name change (e.g. last name Smyth changed to Smith) or alternative name spelling entered as alternate name fact. Note that Ancestry.com’s search function appears to ignore text in parentheses (e.g. Smyth (Smith)).

Adopted this convention as we are generally researching back in time, up the tree, so birth name is usually of more interest than a name an individual may have used later in life.

Title (e.g. Doctor, Reverend, Private) entered as title fact.

Nickname entered as also known as fact. Nickname alternatively (legacy) entered as alternate name fact in parentheses instead of quotation marks (e.g. John (Johnny), instead of John “Johnny”).

Preferred and Alternate Facts

Alternate facts entered for name facts, birth facts, and death facts instead of adding the information to the name fields of a preferred name fact or to the description field of a preferred birth fact or preferred death fact (e.g. alternate name spelling entered as alternate name fact).

Note that Ancestry.com does not provide the preferred and alternate feature for marriage facts, so multiple marriage facts may appear with no indication of which is preferred. If multiple marriage facts are added, and one is preferred, the words Preferred and Alternate are entered in the description fields of the marriage facts.

Last Name Symbols

Despite numerous recommendations against doing so, we use a few symbols in the last name field of the name fact to make up for deficiencies in our research tools or our own memory.

People with these symbols in their name may be found using Ancestry.com’s people search functions on their website . The search behavior seems to vary. The Find person in tree search at the top of the profile or tree windows is not order sensitive as long as the name text is first (e.g. NameText + | or NameText | + gives the same result). The List of all people search is order-sensitive. The search function on Ancestry.com’s iOS app is different, and this appears to not work at all

NN   Latin nomen nescio (“I do not know the name”) used for unknown first and last names (e.g. John NN or NN Doe); started using this instead of tbd after seeing NN as a standard for at least one world tree project

+   Direct ancestor of MKS

++   Direct ancestor of MKS with multiple descending lines

?   Confirmed by weak facts; something fishy needs to be resolved

??   A clue, not yet confirmed by facts (e.g. usually only saw name in someone else’s tree without supporting facts)

p??   Same as ?? but the parent (father and mother) relationships not yet confirmed
f??   Same as ?? but the father relationship not yet confirmed
m??   Same as ?? but the mother relationship not yet confirmed
s??   Same as ?? but the spouse relationship not yet confirmed

up??   Same as ?? but the ascendant relationship not yet confirmed (discontinued use)
dn??   Same as ?? but the descendant relationship not yet confirmed (discontinued use)
sp??   Same as ?? but the spouse relationship not yet confirmed (discontinued use)

???   Probably incorrect based on available facts; something VERY fishy needs to be resolved

#   Married a close cousin

|   Immigrant (usually to North America)

_   Not a member of the family, but included in the tree for reference (e.g. friends, neighbors, purchasers of family property)

Special Symbols

{{   Private note (e.g. phone numbers, email addresses)—The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG) application on kenspratlin.com is configured to treat the description field of facts beginning with {{ as private, and the information is not displayed.

^   Military service is indicated with this symbol at the beginning of the description field of a title fact. If the military rank is also known, the title follows the symbol (e.g. ^ Private).

/ We attempted to use the / (division) symbol in name facts at one time. We then learned that GEDCOM files use / to separate the prefix, first name, last name, and last name suffix fields of the name fact (e.g. John/Doe/). Using this symbol in the fields of a name fact caused serious problems when importing and exporting trees between various genealogy applications. So we do not do that any more!

Custom Events

We use several custom event types. These are all indicated by custom event fact labels ending in ““. This makes them easier to find within the Family Tree Maker application. Most are self-explanatory; perhaps these are not:

Interesting …famous, distinguished, notorious, interesting, etc.
ISSUE …identifies an issue in a profile needing resolution
Relationship …provides additional relationship information
RESEARCH …identifies a (non-issue) topic for future research
WARNING … often identifies a non-person in the tree

(23 Jan 2019)