Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Wendy.

Wendy Sullivan joined WikiTree in September of 2015 and became a WikiTree Leader in April of this year.  She is involved in many aspects of our site but especially as a Greeter and with the England and Spain projects.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I began researching my Mum’s side of the family first. Robinson and Foreman. Ladies first of course 😉 I managed to hit the 1650’s before a distant cousin contacted me and we began working on my great Aunt (her great great Aunt) and her husband, which of course is another story entirely. From there I began working on the Ling and Sturgeon side, my Dad’s parents (having forgotten where I had reached on Mum’s side). At one point I thought I had found thousands of ancestors already on WikiTree but sadly not, as I had the wrong record for my Grandfather. Can you imagine how stupid I felt? (Don’t answer that, just imagine). I am still expanding these branches and hoping to find connections.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I am researching the Suffolk County in England in general, as that is my home County, and anywhere else that happens to intersect with my branches. I have also just started a One Place Study for the village of Kedington. This is where my paternal Grandfather was born. I never knew either of my Grandfathers, but as I lived, from the age of 3, in the house that he owned, I was and still am intrigued to know more about him, and what made him move from Kedington to Ipswich.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

I suffered a spinal injury in 2010 which eventually has curtailed my more active pastimes. By the time late 2014 arrived I decided to find a more relaxing and interesting hobby, or at least that is what was intended. Maybe knitting would have been more relaxing! Anyway I started off at Genes Reunited. Didn’t find that overly user friendly so moved over to Ancestry. After about 6 months there, I found WikiTree and signed up. I went back to Ancestry and began another tree, because I felt so much of a novice I did not want to mess WikiTree up, especially as so many people were putting so much time into it. I came back after 6 months and haven’t looked back since ☺

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I have a lot of quirky and eccentric ancestors, (eccentric in their time that is, because they would be now anyway!), but I only “know” them from records, so I would have to say, other than my dear parents, my maternal Grandmother Ada Alice (Foreman) Robinson. (1884-1962). For most of her life there was one war or another that would have affected her in some way. The two biggest of course were WWI and WWII. She was one of eight children and born during Queen Victoria’s reign. She gave life to twelve children in twenty five years, caring for eight of them during WWI. My grandfather passed away when their youngest child was just eleven, so she was left on her own to bring up their children. She passed away when I was eight, but I remember such wonderful times with her. She shared her love of nature with me through our walks. She was a strong woman, who lived through many hard times, but the warmth of her smile, softness of her voice and tender touch will always remain with me.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

Remember that cousin I mentioned earlier? Well, we hit the strangest of brick walls that gave us both a migraine and despite all efforts is still standing strong and needing more dynamite to knock it down! We can find records, which by all accounts, do relate to the person that is our brick wall, but they have different names on, so most likely would be first and middle names, but then he disappears totally, no birth/baptism records, no death records. We may have to visit every church in Suffolk to see if we can find him, unless the record office has more microfiches still undusted.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I originally signed up in 16th September, 2015 but didn’t sign the honor code until 3rd March, 2016. I was recently honored to be asked to become a WikiTree Leader, so now the majority of my time is co leading the England Project. I am also helping to get the Spain Project up and running. There are so many wonderful people involved in these projects, who are giving so much of their time to make the projects special. I am very privileged to work alongside them all!! I am also working towards my pre-1500 certification, so I can help to keep our tree accurate and healthy.

What brought you to WikiTree? (In other words, how did you find us?)

I found WikiTree through dear old Google. I was searching for an ancestor and one of the links was WikiTree. Good job he was the wrong ancestor or I might not have found WikiTree for a long while, and my branches would have so many errors!!

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

My favorite thing about WikitTree is the community. From the first Human greeting (the greeters are totally awesome at what they do), to G2G where discussions take place that are helpful and the majority are friendly, and then onto the projects where people get support for their awkward profiles, and can get advice and opinions from people who have first hand knowledge of that country, through the project.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

I would like to see the Help pages revamped. One or two seem to run you around in circles and in my opinion some are a little ambiguous and need some clarification.

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?

Without a doubt, WikiTree has helped me with my genealogy by making me use my brain! I now have branches that are more accurate and have sources which I have found for myself. I think and hope that I have helped others in some way with finding sources for their profiles and helping them break down their brick walls, with accurate information.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Follow the “New member how to” pages from the link you are given when you first join. They have been written by members who have experienced already what you are about to, and these will help you get started in the right way.

One profile a time, create it, source it, write it, and then move on.  ☺

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no question is silly if you learn by the answer!

Try not to be offended if someone says you are wrong. Collaboration is the key, and the typed word can often be misunderstood. We all make mistakes so talk it though nicely. ☺

Join a project when you feel comfortable. The support you get from them is often needed and you will in time be able to support others, which is what makes WikiTree so special!!

Most of all enjoy what you are doing. For the majority of people Genealogy is a hobby and a labour of love, so if you are not enjoying your day, come back tomorrow. ☺


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Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Joan.

Joan Whitaker became a WikiTreer in February of 2017.  She is the Project Coordinator for Profile Improvements Team in the England Project and is active in several projects including the Mining Disasters Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

The names in my family that I am interested in include Williams, James, Shephard, Orwin, Count, Gyte, and Nuttall. In my husband’s family they are Whitaker, Keeling, Towning, Corbett, Sokell, Palmer, Winder, Hargate, Truelove and Birks. They are in all England. Every family, except the Corbetts were in Yorkshire or Derbyshire by the late 1800s.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Mainly Yorkshire and Derbyshire. There are coal miners in every branch of my family, so they are found where the coal was, in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, the Midlands and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. I live in the Yorkshire, near Barnsley. It’s in the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield.  I have developed an interest in coal mining history and I am working with the Mining Disasters Project to document some of the mining disasters in the Barnsley area. My aim is to document 10 disasters that occurred within a 10 mile radius of my home. I have completed Carr House Colliery Disaster and the Huskar Disaster and I am now researching the Lundhill Disater. In the 18th century a lot of men and boys (and even women and girls) were being killed in mining accidents in the Barnsley area so there is plenty to keep me busy.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

I was an only child, and although I was part of a big extended family and had the company of lots of cousins, I still spent a lot of time listening to my parents and aunts and uncles talking. I remembered more than they thought I would, perhaps a few things that they would not have wanted me to know about. I started looking seriously at the history of my family shortly after my father’s death over 20 years ago. At the time my first grandchild was expected,  I was concerned that information about my family would be lost if I did not document it. I wanted it to be there for future generations.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I don’t think I have one. Perhaps my maternal grandmother, Emily (Gyte) Count. She died long before I was born. She had 14 children, including twins when she was 16 years old before she married. The twins died in infancy and I am sure my mother and aunts and uncles knew nothing about them. I like the ones that caused scandals too, like John Corbett, a distant relative of my husband, who murdered his wife in 1859 and then committed suicide. Another is George Orwin who was sentenced to a year in prison in 1854 for stealing a flitch of bacon.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

That has to be my great grandfather William Williams. His father was Thomas, I knew that from Williams’ marriage certificate. I first found William in the 1881 census when trawling through the census for Wingate, Durham on a microfiche reader in the Durham Record Office in the 1990s. A lady in the office said, “You won’t get far with him”. The census said he came from Coaleforshire, a place that does not exist. I now think William said, “Coleford Sir” to the enumerator who wrote down what he heard. At the time I could not find William in the 1891 census. When the 1901 census was released he was not at home with his family. I had to wait until 2011 before I was able to discover that he came from the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. I found a family in West Dean, Gloucestershire that seemed to fit, but I was never confident that I was correct, so did not add them to my tree. I am grateful to Joe Farler for coming to my aid. He noticed a note on my home page on WikiTree about William Williams being one of my brick walls. He offered help and together we have been able to find more evidence to prove the link. That was recently, so I am still working on this family.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I joined WikiTree at the beginning of February 2017. When I first joined I spent all my time adding family members. Now I do a bit of everything, sourcing, correcting errors, writing biographies, documenting the mining disasters and joining is some of the challenges. I tend to jump from one thing to another in a random way as something catches my attention. I work on English profiles, because that is where my family is and it’s what I do best.

What brought you to WikiTree? (In other words, how did you find us?)

Carol Keeling told me about it when we were both doing the same online family history course. I was a bit unsure at first. I had never put my family online, because I did not really trust Ancestry or any of the other websites, and I objected to paying to give them my research. WikiTree seemed to be different, so I took the plunge.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

I like working with other people and sharing information. I love the way that people on WikiTree come together and help each other. I like G2G, it helps to bring the community together.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

Although I like Challenges, I would change some of them. I think some of them encourage members to go for quantity rather than quality. The Sourcerers Challenge is an example. If people are chasing numbers, like in the thons, then they will add one quick, easy source and move on. Instead of giving credit for each profile improved, I would give credit for each source added. That would encourage members to spend a bit more time on each profile and leave behind something that would be more useful when the next person wants to work on it. If someone found a lot of interesting information they would be more likely to go back later and do more work to improve that profile.

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?

When I first joined WikiTree I added all my profiles one by one and resisted the temptation to import everything using a gedcom. It made me revisit each person on my tree and review some of the work I did years ago. As I did it, I added more sources, found information I had missed and corrected a few errors. I discovered that the only source on some of profiles was information that someone else had given me. I corrected that. So WikiTree has helped me to make my research better and more accurate. I hope I am helping others by sharing a family tree that will be there for future generations.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Add profiles slowly and make sure that they are well sourced. Use the help files. Take advice from other people. Uses G2G and get involved in the community. Oh, and enjoy it!


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