Dear Ancestry Insider,
I know nothing about the parents of my 4x-great-grandmother Mrs. Betsey Ann Embody. https://familysearch.org/tree/person/LJG2-R4G/details
However, from a newspaper report shortly prior to her death, I do know that she was visited by a sister, "Mrs. Hodge of Herkimer." I can create a person named "Mrs. Hodge" in the FamilySearch Family Tree, but to link them as siblings, I need to create at least one person who is a parent to both of these women.
Is there a best practice for naming these people so that I don't interfere with other users' searches and with FamilySearch's record hinting and duplicate matching? Or should I not be creating people when I know absolutely nothing about their names, and instead use notes to record this information until I learn more?
Thanks for any insight you can share.
This is, indeed, a quandary. FamilySearch Family Tree—and any other tree system that I’m aware of—doesn’t support a true sister relationship. Under the covers, they only support parent-child and spouse-spouse relationship types. Under the covers, they also don’t have a placeholder feature for a parent of a person without a known surname. That’s not a problem in a personal tree. You do whatever suits you, such as creating a parent named “Parent of Betsey Ann [—?—]” and attaching both children. In a shared tree, you don’t have that latitude. You have a responsibility to the thousands of other users of the tree. Such a construct would be confusing and could lead to disastrous merges.
There’s also the issue of independent verification of the sister relationship. In my experience, people sometimes use relationship terms—like sister—ambiguously. I’ve found that particularly so in newspapers where the local town gossip—um, I mean “Around Town” newspaper reporter—makes unfounded assumptions. Mrs. Hodge may be a step-sister, a sister-in-law, or an organizational sister.
I would use the notes option. Reasonably exhaustive research may uncover Betsey Ann’s surname.
The Ancestry Insider