Featured Surnames from May 2010

Here are some of the most active and interesting surnames on WikiTree for May 2010.

I started with the 30 names that had the most new additions in the past month. (The number in parentheses is the contribution count.)

From the top 30, I picked 10 to feature. That's right. The Top 10 is entirely subjective. As in, up to me. In whatever order I want!

Top 10
  1. Corkum (81)
  2. Dugal (638)
  3. Tolson (136)
  4. Coldwell (248)
  5. Shields (169)
  6. Dugger (108)
  7. Gould (95)
  8. Jarrell (94)
  9. Martin (90)
  10. Davis (109)
  1. Knickle (342)
  2. Tanner (244)
  3. Coffin (157)
  4. Shaw (153)
  5. Bray (151)
  6. Nazer (142)
  7. Smith (142)
  8. Monnot (140)
  9. Brewster (127)
  10. Brown (108)
  11. Morris (100)
  12. Tracey (91)
  13. Burgess (89)
  14. Rider (85)
  15. Stover (84)
  16. Macleod (77)
  17. Cavers (76)
  18. Staton (76)
  19. Sanford (74)
  20. Johnson (69)
City map of Gorchum from The Van Gorkom Network

1. Corkum

This is one of my own family names.

Like I said, the Top 10 is subjective. I don't mean to sound defensive, but why wouldn't I choose one of my own family surnames to start this off? Cut me some slack here. Geez.

Annie Corkum (1854-1904) was my great-great-grandmother. Last September Marsha Auger found WikiTree. She's a distant cousin of mine, a great-granddaughter of Annie. Since then Marsha has added a lot of information to the family that I didn't have. She's made 566 contributions so far!

Marsha also did WikiTree the great favor of introducing Doug Coldwell to us. He's from the same small community in Nova Scotia where the Corkums lived.

Doug did WikiTree the favor of introducing Jamie Swindells to us. Jamie is related to Doug, and to my Corkums!

Jamie has traced our Corkum line way back Johannes Von Gorinchem, born in 1525 in the Netherlands. Von Gorinchem became Von Gorkum became Gorkum became Corkum. A few hundred years ago, spelling was about as subjective as this list. "Von Gorinchem" just means "from the city of Gorinchem", which was also called Gorchum.

Our ancestor Johann Wilhelm Gorkum (1713-1783) was one of the German Protestant "Palatines" who came to Nova Scotia as part of an emigration sponsored by the British government. The Brits were trying to repopulate the colony after kicking out the French Catholic Acadians. The Acadians felt like a threat to the empire, whereas the Palatines were just annoying, what with their requests for food and such.

More resources: Corkum Message Board at Ancestry.com and Carole's Site for her Corkum ancestors, many of which overlap.

2. Dugal

For sheer number of new profiles, the Dugal surname wins by a landslide. Six hundred thirty-eight (638!) last month. Almost all of the new Dugals come from a "gedcom" file that Jamie uploaded to WikiTree.

Gedcoms are great. Most genealogy websites and software packages have adopted this standardized family tree data format. If you've ever entered your family history somewhere else, chances are good that you can export it from that tool and import to WikiTree.

Jamie's gedcom was so large that half the runners-up this month are from that file (Knickle, Tanner, Shaw, Bray, Nazer, Brewster, etc.).

3. Tolson

Joanna Tolson rocks. Jo found WikiTree about a year ago, and she's hardly slowed down since. Sometimes I wonder if she's even slept. Jo has made 24,215 contributions to WikiTree. I kid you not. See for yourself.

Almost all of Jo's 24K contributions were done by hand, except the last few hundred which came from a gedcom import. I'm actually a little surprised that Jo didn't electronically scream at me when she learned that we had the gedcom import system working. It took about a year for my programmer Brian and I to get it working well; this year while Jo was making twenty thousand additions by hand. But Jo didn't scream at me. She was thrilled about the gedcom import tool and imported her husband's Tolson line with it.

More resources: Tolson Family History Group on Facebook, Tolson forum on Genealogy.com.

Doug Coldwell's Coadwell Family Crest

4. Coldwell

Witness Doug Coldwell in action. This man is a WikiTreer Extraordinaire. "My daughter calls me obsessed," he says. "I prefer the term impassioned."

Doug added 248 Coldwells last month. Altogether there are now 764 Coldwells on the site (mostly his), and he just surpassed 10,000 total contributions. And he hasn't imported any gedcoms! Like with Joanna, he's done a lot of typing!

More resources: Coldwell Roots by John Coldwell (UK).

5. Shields

I love, love, love Dee D'Errico. Shields is just one of the many, many surnames that Dee has been working on. Dee has made over 17,400 contributions to WikiTree, less than half from a gedcom.

One interesting Shields ancestor she's researched: Peter Shields (1756-1832), who may have come to America as a British soldier during the Revolution but ended the war fighting with the Continental Army. (However, as with so much family lore, the facts have been hard to nail down. Check out the bio to see how diligently Dee has tried.)

One of my favorite things about Dee is that she's incredibly experienced with online genealogy. Much more than me. See her sites such as The Taming of the Tree and More Taming the Family Tree. She's been there, done that. Now she chooses to invest her time in WikiTree. That makes me very proud.

6. Dugger

Chris Holler and I first connected in May 2009. He had a huge gedcom file that he wanted to import.

My conversations with Chris became a primary impetus for developing the gedcom import system. In April, we finally imported his file.

Dugger is just one of his family names. Chris has dug as deep as Daniel Dugger (1690-1776) of Virginia.

7. Gould

Some of my favorite WikiTreers are brought together under the Gould name.

Douglas Simmons (7,500+ contributions!) traces his ancestry to James Gould, born in 1784 in England. Douglas's great-great-great-grandfather George Gould (1830-1910) fought in the US Civil War. "George was assigned ship duty under Capt. Hatteras. He had to jump ship when the ship was burning and remained in the water for many hours before he was rescued. The pocketwatch that he carried was ruined by the salt water, and remains in the family today."

Emily Dain (4,581), one of the earliest users of WikiTree, has created pages for a Gould line tracing back to Tobias Gould (1792-1860) of Maine.

Dubliner Orlaith Read (1,275) has two Goulds in her family, and recurrent superstar Doug Coldwell added a few as well.

8. Jarrell

This is one of the many surnames contributed by James Swartz (985 contributions). James traces his Jarrell family through John Fitz Jarrell, who was born in 1654 in the Netherlands and emigrated to the Virginia colony.

9. Martin

Many of the Martin additions are from Dee. Wonderful Dee. She's traced Martin ancestors as far back as Thomas Martin who died in Marlborough, Massachusetts in 1701.

Unsuprisingly, there are a lot of other WikiTreers with Martin ancestry. A total of 343 Martins have been created so far.

For example, there's Emily Dain (again, 4,581 contributions!). Emily's ancestor Elizabeth Dains married Lewis Martin in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1792.

Early WikiTreer David McDougle (1,435) traces back to William Martin (1778-1856) who appears to have been a perpetual pioneer: born in Delaware, found a wife in Kentucky, moved out to Indiana.

Alan Schindler (623) traces his Martin family back to John Baptist Martin I who was born in Germany in 1825 and moved to Illinois.

Cole Coers (350) has Martins from Germany going back to Saturninus Martin (1684-1748).

Then there's Joanna Tolson (ahem, like I said above, twenty-four thousand contributions). Jo has traced her French-Canadian ancestors back through Jean Martin (1699-1779) and also Joseph Martin (1736-1795).

Jamie Swindell's ancestor William Martin (1688-1790) was born in Ireland.

Among the many other WikiTreers who have made Martin contributions: Reagan Garrison (87 total contribs), my second-cousin Becky Syphers (392), Ava Martin (35), Deborah Smith (50), Kierstin Robinson (42), Richard Dent (305), George Martin (258) William Perry (134), Brendan Martin (51), Kathleen Davis (27), and even Mr. 10K Doug Coldwell.

10. Davis

Davis is even bigger than Martin. Who doesn't have a Davis in their family? It's the seventh most popular surname in the US.

Dee Christophel D'Errico has a huge tree of Davis ancestors that goes back as far back as Massachusetts Bay colonist Dollar Davis (1593-1673). Laury Kenton (307 contributions) has J. R. Davis (1854-1946). Chris Holler has George Davis, born between 1705 and 1717. Jamie Swindells has a Dudley Davis born 1721. James Swartz has Peter Davis (1784-1850). And even old Jefferson Davis makes an appearance on WikiTree.

Features Index