Greetings fellow WikiTreers!

Welcome to the October 2014 edition of News from the Tree, our monthly report on new features and changes around the site, notes on community leaders, tips, etc.

What’s New?

Volunteer Requests in G2G

We’ve started a new category in the G2G Forum called Project Help.  Project leaders are posting requests for help with specific tasks related to the projects they lead.

If you want to volunteer but aren’t sure where you can help, check this category and see what’s needed.  Find a task and jump right in!

Relationship Finder Now Finds Multiple Common Ancestors

Our Relationship Finder was designed to name the relationship between two people, e.g. “third cousin twice removed.” To do this it finds the first ancestor shared by both people.

Now the Relationship Finder will find and display all your common ancestors instead of just the first. The further back in time, the more we all start to share ancestors. (This is what WikiTree is all about!)

This is especially valuable for genetic genealogists. When analyzing why two people share a segment of DNA, you want to know about all their shared ancestors, not just the first shared ancestor.

New Emphasis on Editing After a Merge

When you complete a merge, it’s important to clean up the narrative and integrate the sources into one section. To make this easier, after you complete a merge you’re now redirected to the edit page so you can make the changes without another click.

Our Style Committee gave great guidelines on what to keep and what to remove when cleaning-up a biography. You can read about that here.

Who’s New?

We are delighted to welcome a new Leader to the ranks this month: Vicki Norman.  Vicki has been a WikiTreer since August of 2012.   She’s involved with our U.S. Civil War and Photo of the Week projects and has made many wonderful contributions and improvements to several of our U.S. Presidential profiles.

Quick Tips

  • Spend some time learning the menus at the top right of your page. These drop down menus give you shortcuts to everything from help, to the relationship finder, to categories.
  • Never be afraid to ask a question in the G2G forum.  We don’t bite!
  • Many ancestors have different ways of spelling their names, when searching for somebody always try searches with different spelling variations.

Project Updates

There have been several new projects started recently.  Here are just a few of them:

Westward Ho: This is a top level project that encompasses all sub-projects west of the Mississippi River from 1800 – 1925. Some of those sub-projects include Wild Wild West, Trails and Wagon Trains, Cowboys and Cowgirls, and the Mexican American War.

Multimedia: This is a new project for all those WikiTreers who have some multimedia talent to create various forms of multimedia to promote and/or educate and entertain people about WikiTree.

Global Community Outreach: The goals of this project are to recognize cultural differences and integrate them into the existing structure of WikiTree,  to encourage members to share information relevant to their cultural heritage and background and to discuss strategies for reaching out to genealogists around the world and ways for volunteers outside the United States to become more active in our global community.

The Czech Project: This project is working to research and improve our shared ancestors from the Czech Republic.

There are just a few of the great projects on WikiTree.  As of now, we have fifty ongoing projects.  Check out the list of projects and see what grabs your attention and join one (or two or three!).

Community Accomplishments

Top 10 contributors for last month:

WikiTree Club 1000 September 2014

  1. Kirsty Ward (10,072 edits in September)
  2. Kaye Mansfield (9154)
  3. Catherine V (7662)
  4. Vincent Piazza (7640)
  5. Austin Pérez (7096)
  6. Susan Tye (6292)
  7. Doug Lockwood (5489)
  8. Maggie N. (5407)
  9. Abby Glann (5239)
  10. Michelle McQueen (4893)

Super Star recipients (recognized by a Leader for extraordinary contributions that go far beyond what is normally seen on WikiTree):

Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication: Carrie Quackenbush, AJ Jacobs, Alison Andrus, Lisa Franklin, Bree Ogle and Bobbie Hall.

New Member Comments

When a guest volunteers to become a full member we ask them to leave a comment telling a little about how and/or why they’d like to volunteer with WikiTree.  We get some really great responses.  Comments such as:

  • I’m still “wet behind the ears” to many people only starting out on this ancestry journey about 1 1/2 years ago. Born and raised Irish Catholic and believing I was from Sicilian descent on my paternal side, the real truth was about to unfold… My DNA test created “Clash of the Titans” take II, Filipino & possibly the Ashkenazi Jewish. It’s been a very interesting journey and one I can’t wait to see which parts of the world it’ll take me to.  Lisa Magno
  • I am planning a family reunion in 2016 and would love to build one on here as a tool for my family to use for the reunion. Angela Smart
  • Creating such a genealogical world wide web requires certain checks and balances to work with common understandings for our common goals. I can use help as I can easily get “turned around” working on one limb, moving to a twig and on and on it goes, spinning a little out of control. but I love the research and exciting or unexpected discoveries! Pam Vest
  • As I delve into my families’ pasts I can see global connections being made, and a brotherhood of man from common ancestors emerging all around me. Ted Giovannini

Anyone can view these comments on the New Volunteer Feed.

If you have a few minutes to spare they are fun to read through and a great way to find people with interests similar to your own or researching the same surnames/locations. When you see a comment that resonates for you, click the thank-you link or post a comment to make them feel welcome to WikiTree.

Ghosts in the Tree

Are you ready for Halloween? Do you have your costume picked? Don’t forget to get your spook on with us at our “Ghosts in the Tree” G+ Hangout on Air, on October 31st at 9pm EDT.

Wrap up in a blanket with all the lights on or off in your home and listen to or tell your favorite Ghost Story.

You can watch via:


Brought to you by our Multimedia Project!

Thank you for your contributions to our great community.

The WikiTree Team and Leaders

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by Bob Fields

On October 26:

Francois Mitterand (Image Credit: WikiTree)

Shah of Iran (Image Credit: WIkipedia)

Hillary Clinton (Image Credit: Wikipedia)










1854 – C. W. Post*, American businessman, founded Post Foods (d. 1914).
1865 – Benjamin Guggenheim, American businessman (d. 1912 on the Titanic).
1911 – Mahalia Jackson*, American gospel singer (d. 1972).
1914 – Jackie Coogan*, American actor (d. 1984) (The Kid, Uncle Fester, California Child Actor’s Bill).
1916 – François Mitterrand, French lawyer and politician, 21st President of France 1981-95 (d. 1996).
1919 – Mohammad Reza Pahlavi*, Shah of Iran (d. 1980).
1946 – Pat Sajak*, American game show host, producer, and actor (Wheel of Fortune).
1947 – Hillary Rodham Clinton, American lawyer and politician, 49th US First Lady, presidential candidate.
1961 – Dylan McDermott*, American actor (The Practice, American Horror Story, Wonderland).
1963 – Natalie Merchant*, American singer-songwriter and pianist (10,000 Maniacs).
1973 – Seth MacFarlane*, American voice actor, singer, director, producer, and screenwriter (Family Guy , American Dad!).


Alfred the Great (Image Credit: WikiTree)

Clanton-McLaury Gang (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Hattie McDaniel (Image Credit: WikiTree)











899 – Alfred the Great, English king who successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest (b. 849).
1806 – John Graves Simcoe*, English general and politician, 1st Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. His bicameral Legislature founded York (now Toronto) and was instrumental in introducing trial by jury, English common law, freehold land tenure, and the abolition of slavery (b. 1752).
1864 – “Bloody Bill” William T. Anderson*, Confederate American guerrilla leader, in Missouri in a Union ambush (b. 1838).
1881 – The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral takes place at Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt and Virgil and Morgan Earp and “Doc” Holliday kill Billy Clanton* and Tom* and Frank McLaury*.
1902 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American social activist, abolitionist, and early women’s rights movement leader (b. 1815).
1952 – Hattie McDaniel, American actress and singer, the first African American to win an Academy Award (b. 1895) (Gone with the Wind).
1972 – Igor Sikorsky*, Russian-American helicopter and aircraft designer, founded Sikorsky Aircraft (b. 1889).

Other Events:

Erie Canal (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

The Pony Express Stamp (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

P-51 Mustang (Image Credit: Wikipedia)







1775 – King George III goes before Parliament to declare the American colonies in rebellion, and authorizes a military response to quell the American Revolution.
1825 – The Erie Canal: passage from the Hudson River in Albany to Lake Erie. New York Governor DeWitt Clinton*, largely responsible for its construction, leads the opening ceremonies.
1861 – The Pony Express officially ceases operations.
1905 – Norway becomes independent from Sweden.
1917 – World War I: Battle of Caporetto; Italy suffers a catastrophic defeat at the forces of Austria-Hungary and Germany. The battle demonstrated the effectiveness of stormtroopers and infiltration tactics and poison gas.
1940 – The P-51 Mustang fighter makes its maiden flight. Its long range allowed protected bombing raids deep into Nazi Germany. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down.
1942 – World War II: Guadalcanal Campaign: Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands: U.S. aircraft carrier Hornet is sunk and Enterprise is heavily damaged, while two Japanese carriers and one cruiser are heavily damaged.
1944 – World War II: The Battle of Leyte Gulf ends with an overwhelming American victory.
1994 – Jordan and Israel sign a peace treaty.
1972 – US National security adviser Henry Kissinger declares “peace is at hand” in Vietnam. He was mistaken.
1977 – The last natural case of smallpox in Merca district, Somalia. Considered the date of the eradication of smallpox, the most spectacular success of vaccination.

The individuals marked with “*” don’t have a profile on WikiTree yet. Please help grow our tree.

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by Bob Fields

On October 25:

Johann Strauss (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Pablo Picasso (Image Credit: WikiTree)

Katy Perry (Image Credit: WikiTree)









1825 – Johann Strauss II, Austrian composer (d. 1899) (The Blue Danube, Tales from the Vienna Woods, Die Fledermaus).
1838 – Georges Bizet*, French composer (d. 1875) (Carmen).
1881 – Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter and sculptor (d. 1973).
1888 – Richard E. Byrd, American admiral and Polar explorer (d. 1957).
1984 – Katy Perry, American singer-songwriter and actress.


Geoffrey Chaucer (Image Credit: WikiTree)

George II (Image Credit: WikiTree)

Vincent Price (Image Credit: WikiTree)










1400 – Geoffrey Chaucer, English poet and author (b. 1343) (The Canterbury Tales).
1760 – King George II dies; his grandson George III becomes King of Great Britain. (b. 1683).
1986 – Forrest Tucker*, American actor (b. 1919) (Sands of Iwo Jima, F Troop).
1992 – Roger Miller*, American singer-songwriter and actor (b. 1936) (“King of the Road“, Big River).
1993 – Vincent Price, American horror actor and voice artist (b. 1911) (The Fly, House of Wax, The Masque of the Red Death, “Thriller”).
1995 – Bobby Riggs*, American tennis player (b. 1918).
2002 – Richard Harris*, Irish-English actor and singer (b. 1930) (This Sporting Life, Unforgiven, Gladiator, Harry Potter).

Other Events:

Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Abigail Adams (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Nelson Mandela (Image Credit: WikiTree)









1415 – Hundred Years’ War: Henry V of England defeats the French at the Battle of Agincourt, on Saint Crispin’s Day, using the English longbow.
1764 – Future President John Adams marries Abigail Smith, who fought for women’s rights when her husband was in the Continental Congress.
1812 – War of 1812: The USS United States, commanded by Stephen Decatur, captures the British frigate HMS Macedonian.
1854 – The Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War (Charge of the Light Brigade).
1859 – US President Chester A Arthur weds Ellen Herndon.
1940 – Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.* is named the first African American general in the United States Army.
1944 – World War II: Battle of Leyte Gulf: one of the largest naval battles in history, around the Philippines, the first battle in which Japanese aircraft carried out organized kamikaze attacks.
1962 – Cuban missile crisis: Adlai Stevenson* shows photos at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council proving that Soviet missiles are installed in Cuba.
1962 – Nelson Mandela is sentenced to five years in prison. He is released 27 years later.
1971 – The United Nations seats the People’s Republic of China and expels the Republic of China.
1983 – Operation Urgent Fury: The US invades Grenada, six days after Prime Minister Maurice Bishop is executed. Thanksgiving Day now commemorates the invasion.
The individuals marked with “*” don’t have a profile on WikiTree yet. Please help grow our tree.

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Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to  another installment of “Meet our Members”! It’s time to get to know another awesome Leader who is part of our outstanding community. Meet Heather:

Surnames you are researching: 

Brown, Coy, Evans, Giles, Hawley, Lewis, Little, Mayes, Morgan, Meador, Paddock, Zachary

Locations you are researching: 

Portland, Oregon; Denton County, Texas; McAlester, Oklahoma; Scandia, Kansas; Oneida, New York; Logan County and Sebastian County, Arkansas; Plymouth, Massachusetts

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

Haha, it started on a dare. Back in 2011, there was this news story about a little girl who had traced all of the presidents except one back to a common ancestor, who just happened to be King John “Lackland” Plantagenet. I had a friend at the time who was very into conspiracy theories, who was convinced that this was somehow proof of the Illuminati or New World Order lizard people or something. I tried to reason with her that King John was king so long ago (1199-1216!), he had thousands, if not millions of descendants. “Heck,” I said, “I’m probably related to him.”

She basically replied, “I’ll bet you’re not, and you probably can’t even prove it if you are.”

Well, that’s how it started. Within 6 months, I found the connection, proving that I was, in fact, directly descended from King John.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why? 

John Thomas Mayes

Ooo, good question. I have a couple that really stand out, but I think the one that means the most to me is my great-great grandfather, John Thomas Mayes. He was a carpenter, and a mason. He and his family came over from Texas to Oregon in the late 1880s, and building a house in St. Johns (now Portland). I was born in Portland, and my grandfather was born just across the river in Vancouver, Washington.

I feel very connected to Portland area anyway, and the entire Willamette Valley, and the Mayes family settled all over that area. I actually have a photograph of John, his mother Pernetta (my ggg-grandmother), his daughter Bessie (my gg-aunt), and Bessie’s daughter, Ari, circa 1905 in Portland, OR. He’s sort of my Oregon Trail ancestor, even though he came over after the railroad had been constructed, his family actually came over by wagon.

Tell us about the brick wall you most want to tear down. 

I’ve never conclusively found out who the parents of my great-grandfather, James Arthur Morgan, are. Both my mother and I have worked on this for years. He was born in the tiny town of Scandia, Kansas in 1891. However, Kansas did not require birth records until 1911. He was an orphan, and living with his aunt and sister by 1900. Due to the destruction of the 1890 census, I have no record of his parents.

There are a couple of Morgans in Scandia in the 1885 and 1895 Kansas State Census, but I can’t determine if they are the right people. I’ve made an educated guess on who I think his parents are, based on James’ sister’s death certificate, but I know virtually nothing about them, where they come from, etc.

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why? 

Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde fame)! My father’s family swore that we were related to her for years and years, and I’ve got most of my dad’s family in my tree now, and I’ve found absolutely no connection to her. It’s so frustrating to think you are related to someone that you’re not.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy? 

I collect dolls, and build dollhouses, as well as construct miniature furniture. I’ve even started making miniature food out of polymer clay, but not well enough that I’m ready to show that to anyone yet. I’m currently in college, working toward an Associates in Applied Sciences, and I hope to eventually earn a degree in Veterinary Medicine.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much? 

I’ve been a fan of WikiTree since the day I stumbled upon it in 2011, while trying to find a good way to compile and publish my family tree research. I’ve always found WikiTree to be very easy to learn and use. WikiTree has also given me the opportunity to meet dozens of distant cousins, share information and photographs, and learn more about my family. I also really love the collaborative aspect of WikiTree.

As far as aspects that I don’t love as much…that’s tougher. The development team of WikiTree is making improvements every day, and is incredibly responsive to feedback. Any time I’ve brought up a concern, or the Leaders have requested features, those requests usually become a reality in very short order.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree? 

The key to working in a collaborative family tree site is cooperation. Listen, cooperate, respect, compromise…and document!!!. Citations are everything, and the reliability of a source can mean the difference between a good family tree and a fanciful one.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

It’s better to do what’s right, even if it means doing it alone, than to do what’s wrong with 100 other people.

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Happy Monday WikiTreers!  See what you missed from WikiTree and around the genealogy community!

From the Community Abroad

From The Tree

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