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 Bonnie.

Bonnie Saunders became a WikiTreer in February of 2015.  She likes to participate in our weekly challenges and is very active in our Spain Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I am researching six family lines: Saunders/Sanders, Alford/Alvord, MacLeod, Ball, Simmons/Simon, Kousch/Kausch.  I’ve been able to trace their movements once they came to the New World in the 17th-19th centuries but have not found many documents from their areas of origin, namely England, France, Germany, Netherlands & Scotland.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Apart from the places mentioned above, I have looked into New England and Michigan settlements since a lot of my family’s history occurred in or near those areas.   I have spent time also researching Spain. My husband and daughter were both born in Spain and I’ve lived in the country for almost 47 years, which has led me recently to join the Spain Project led by Susie MacLeod and Wendy Sullivan.  I heartily recommend it to anyone who has family roots in Spain and/or who is interested in the country!

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

My interest began one morning when I was looking for my Aunt’s obituary.  I hadn’t been in touch with my mother’s family for years and while I figured my Aunt must have passed away, as indeed she had, I decided to look around the web.  I quickly found the information, and one thing leading to another, I started looking up other family members. Soon I connected to popular genealogy haunts – mainly Familysearch.org. Ancestry.com and WikiTree.com – and before I knew it, I was knee-deep in censuses, Find-a-Grave searches and quaint town histories. With the internet, I had scores of puzzle pieces easily within reach, what was lacking, unfortunately, was background information about who my family is.  I see now, how very little I know about my ancestors, and am truly sorry I never took the time to quiz my parents and grandmothers about those who preceded me. It took a fluke search to bring some of that family history to the surface but I’m having fun piecing it together!

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I have a lot of favorites, although I must admit that I’ve found myself quite enjoying the Alford family.  It would appear that the Alfords arrived on New World shores early from England, one Benedict Alvordborn around 1619 in Whitestaunton, Somersetshire, England, died in 1683 in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut.  How he got there or the exact date of his arrival remain mysteries, but from there on out, the English colonies in America were blessed with colorful Alford/Alvord family members.  They were a flamboyant family, educated people who had a penchant for religion (several were Reverends). All in all, I’ve found them to be an unconventional and refreshing collective!

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

There are a couple of brick walls, more like barricades, that I haven’t been able to breech, but the one that bothers me the most is the parentage of Green Saunders, (1767-1845), who was my fourth great grandfather.  I’ve combed the internet, read histories about the towns he was in – St Lawrence, Nicholville, and Dickenson, New York – and even have a Family Bible where he appears with his wife Sarah Chamberlain …. but the documents that link him definitively to his parents have eluded me up to now.  

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

I joined WikiTree in February of 2015 and started building profiles the following September. Since then I’ve been working on and off in WikiTree, primarily on my own family.  In 2017, I participated in the October Source-a-Thon, and this year in the April Spring Clean-a-Thon. I have also worked on some 10 or so Weekly Challenges in 2018. As mentioned earlier, I just joined the Spain Project, and am a member of the Profilers Team in that group.

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

It was a happy coincidence, I was looking for information on the web and WikiTree popped up in my queries.  

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

The database is very well designed.  A lot of thought and effort have gone into streamlining it and improvements are being made continuously.  It’s all rather amazing! One thing that never ceases to mystify me is how well it handles merges. The relationship finder is a delightful tool, as well.  The philosophy behind WikiTree is innovative: in most genealogy sites you are obliged to wade through countless trees, because your one ancestor appears in a myriad of different user posts, but in WikiTree, there is just one entry, or at least there should be! (which is why there are merges.).  The WikiTree Community is a boon in itself, people are gracious and helpful and are extremely generous with their time and expertise. Last, WikiTree will be here when we are all long gone, I appreciate that continuity.

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

I wouldn’t mind having fields for the Cemetery Name and Cemetery place, and maybe even a third for the Memorial # (if it’s a Find a Grave entry), and since there’s no harm in wishing, ditto for Baptismal info, Church name and place.

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

I have had several people contact me via WikiTree about specific ancestors, asking for information or scans, and they in turn have provided me with all kinds of useful data, anecdotes and pictures that have enriched the profiles I’ve posted.  One such story happened in January 2018, when a person who was renovating an old house in Ypsilanti, Michigangot in touch with me.  He was researching the previous owners, had come across some of the profiles I manage and e-mailed me, requesting information about the family and any old pictures I had of them or the house.

My father’s family had built the house themselves (they were carpenters), in the 1860’s, and only they had lived there until my grandmother died in 1974.  It’s a home we all loved and enjoyed, and had fond memories of, but it was my understanding that it had been torn down after her death. Much to my glee, not only is it still standing, it’s being lovingly restored. We were able to exchange ample information, I provided the “before” pictures and the new owners the “after” images, and all of this was possible thanks to WikiTree.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Previously, I expressed my regrets that I hadn’t asked my family enough about where we came from.  If you are lucky enough to have family still living, don’t make the same mistake, and talk to them now before chapters are irreversibly closed.  

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  4 Responses to “Meet our Members: Bonnie Saunders”

  1. Congrats on member of the week Bonnie! I definitely agree with your advice in the last question – there’s so many questions I wish I could ask my grandparents but didn’t get the time to!

  2. Benedict is the 9th great grandfather of George

    1. George is the son of Robert Augustus Kellogg [confident]
    2. Robert is the son of Cecil George (Barber) Kellogg [confident]
    3. Cecil is the son of Manley W (Rolph) Barbour [confident]
    4. Manley is the son of Mary A. (Barber) Rolph [unknown confidence]
    5. Mary is the daughter of Philander M Barber [unknown confidence]
    6. Philander is the son of William Barber [unknown confidence]
    7. William is the son of John Barber [unknown confidence]
    8. John is the son of John Barber [unknown confidence]
    9. John is the son of Jane (Alford) Barber [unknown confidence]
    10. Jane is the daughter of Jeremiah Alford [unknown confidence]
    11. Jeremy is the son of Benedict Alvord [unknown confidence]
    This makes Benedict the ninth great grandfather of George.

  3. My name is Peter Gleed Saunders and I’ve traced my Saunders to Torpoint, Cromwell England, quite a suprise since my Gleed side came from Purton, England. My Grandfather Alfred George Gleed had a failed marriage in Conn.when he first came to America leaving me with about 80 cousins in Mich. then he moved to California were he married again, the suprise here was Grandma was Creole and not French as we were told growing up.

  4. Dear Bonnie,
    My father was in the Royal Navy during the Spanish Civil War, he said it was common for RN ships to take pregnant women of the beaches/docksides and babies were born on warships. He said it was also common for the babies to be christened in the ships bell and for the babies to have the name of the ship incorporated in their name. So have you come across many ‘non Spanish’ – Marie Loisa Barham Arroyho , [Warspite, Nelson] – …….names for folks born between about 1936 and 1939?


    Dave Waters

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