The history of the KGS Member Pedigree Charts is pretty simple. The Pedigree Charts were/are submitted by those who have, and will, become members of the Kansas Genealogical Society since the beginning of the Kansas Genealogical Society in 1958. Each page is searchable by surname.
What Is a Pedigree Chart?
A pedigree chart is a diagram that shows the occurrence and appearance or phenotypes of a particular gene or organism and it’s ancestors from one generation to the next, most commonly humans, show dogs and racehorses.
The word “pedigree” is a corruption of the French “pied de grue” or cranes’ foot, because the typical lines and split lines (each split leading to a different offspring of the one parent line) resemble the thin leg and foot of a crane.
We’ll briefly explore only the human pedigree chart here.
In England and Wales, pedigrees are officially recorded in the college of Arms, which has records going back to the Middle Ages, including pedigrees collected during roving inquiries by it’s heralds (an official messenger and representative of a king or leader) during the 16th and 17th centuries. The purpose of these heraldic visitations was to register and regulate the use of coats of arms.
Those who claimed the right to bear arms had to provide proof either of a grant of arms to them by the College, or to be descended from an ancestor entitled to arms. It was the reason that pedigrees were recorded by the visitations. Pedigrees continue to be registered at the College of Arms and kept up to date on a voluntary basis but they are not accessible to the general public without the payment of a fee.
More visible, therefore, are the pedigrees recorded in published works, such as Burke’s Peerage and Burke’s Landed Gentry in the United Kingdom and, in continental Europe by the Almanach de Gotha.
NOTE: “Middle Ages” is defined as the period in European history between antiquity and the Italian Renaissance, often considered to be between the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and the early 15th century. Or, more simply, the period from A.D. 476 to 1453.
Heraldry is the profession or study of the devising and granting of coats of arms and of determining who is entitled to bear them.
Coats of arms in England –
The law of heraldic arms (or laws of heraldry) governs the “bearing of arms”, that is, the possession, use or display of arms, also called coats of arms, coat armour or armorial bearings. Although it is believed that the original function of coats of arms was to enable knights to identify each other on the battlefield, they soon acquired wider, more decorative uses. They are still widely used today by countries, public and private institutions and by individuals. The earliest writer on the law of arms was Bartolus de Saxoferrato. The officials who administer these matters are called pursuivants, heralds, or kings of arms (in increasing order of seniority). The law of arms is part of the law in countries which regulate heraldry, although not part of common law in England and in countries whose laws derive from English law.
Coats of Arms In the United States –
In the United States protection of coats of arms is for the most part limited to those of units of the armed forces, with a few exceptions. Personal coats of arms may be freely assumed but the right to these blazons is not protected in any way. It is possible that a coat of arms could be successfully protected as a trademark or service mark, but, in general, such protection is reserved for commercial use as a mark connected with a good or service, and not as a heraldic coat of arms. For example, the University of Texas at Austin has registered its emblem and coat of arms for use in its capacity as an institution of higher education.
What Is an Ahnentafel?
An ahnentafel (German for ancestor table) or ahnenreihe (ancestor series) is a numbering system for listing a person’s direct ancestors in a fixed sequence of ascent. The subject (proband) of the ahnentafel is listed as #1, the subject’s father as #2 and the mother as #3, the paternal grandparents as #4 and #5 and the maternal grandparents as #6 and #7, and so on, back through the generations.
Apart from #1, who can be male or female, all even numbered persons are male and all odd numbered persons are female. In this schema, the number of any person’s father is double the person’s number, and a person’s mother is double the person’s plus one. Using this knowledge of numeration, one can derive some basic information about individuals who are listed without additional research.
The construct displays a person’s genealogy compactly, without the need for a diagram such as a family tree. It is particularly useful in situations where one may be restricted to presenting a genealogy in plain text, for example, in emails or newsgroup articles. In effect, an ahnentafel is a method for storing a binary tree in an array by listing the nodes (individuals) in level-order (in generation order).
The ahnentafel system of numeration is also known as: the Eytzinger Method for Michael Eytzinger, the Austrian born historian who first published the principles of the system in 1590; the Sosa Method, named for Jeronimo (Jerome) de Sosa, the Spanish genealogist who popularized the numbering system in his work Noticia de la gran casa los marqueses de Villafranca in 1676; and the Sosa-Stradonitz Method, for Stephan Kekule von Stradonitz, the genealogist and son of Frederich August Kekule von Stradonitz, who published his interpretation of Sosa’s method in his Ahnentafel-atlas in 1898.
To look at it visually, here is the layout of a typical ahnentafel chart, with the mathematical numbering system illustrated:
- father (1*2)
- mother (1*2+1)
- paternal grandfather (2*2)
- paternal grandmother (2*2+1)
- maternal grandmother (4*2)
- maternal grandfather’s father (4*2+1)
- paternal grandfather’s father = great grandfather (4*2)
- paternal grandfather’s mother = great grandmother (4*2+1)
- paternal grandmother’s father = great grandfather (5*2)
- paternal grandmother’s mother = great grandmother (5*2=1)
- maternal grandfather’s father = great grandfather (6*2)
- maternal grandfather’s mother = great grandmother (6*2+1)
- maternal grandmother’s father = great grandfather (7*2)
- maternal grandmother’s mother = great grandmother (7*2+1)
You may notice that the numbers used here are exactly the same as you’re used to seeing in a pedigree chart. It’s just presented in a more condensed, list format. Unlike the brief example shown here, a true ahnentafel chart will list each individual’s full name, dates and places of birth, marriage and death (if known).
You can create an ahnentafel chart by hand or produce it with your genealogy software program (where you may see it referred to as an ancestor chart. The ahnentafel is great for sharing because it only listed direct line ancestors and presents them in a compact format that is easy to read.