They are all called John

Another researcher suggested that publishing a family tree would be helpful. This is a very sensible idea. But do I publish one tree or many?

The picture shows what appears to be multiple trees. However, there is an interconnected root system. In practice it is a single organism., covering over 100 acres. The challenge for the family historian is to determine whether there is one tree or many. Ideally we want to join everything together in a neat pattern.

Photo: US Forest Service, cited by CNN

The page ‘Family Tree’ shows that there are at least four men carrying the John Stanley name in a direct line. The earliest was born sometime around 1800. Even his father was probably called John. I might well add him to the tree with the name “Probably John, born circa 1775”. There are others born in the nineteenth century with a strong Roscommon connection. These could be cousins. Equally, it might just be coincidence.

The proliferation of individuals called John Stanley does have one advantage. If the date of birth are only ten years apart, then it is safe to assume that they are not linearly connected. Disproving a proposition seems easier than proving one.