Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community. Meet Ronel.
Ronel has been a member since November 2014 and is one of our wonderful Leaders. She’s made so many fantastic contributions, particularly to our Dutch Cape Colony and South African Roots Projects.
Surnames you are researching:
All Olivier and related families since 1652: Private Database totals 37,272 names and 15,325 families.
Locations you are researching:
When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?
Ever since I can remember I was fascinated by history. My dear late father got me hooked at a very early age by reading me bedtime stories from history books. Family history was just an extension of my early love for history, and my vivid imagination was channeled by my father, encouraging me to get the facts straight. Thinking back, I remember all the family stories and anecdotes told after dinner. Fortunately I was born before television and storytelling was our favorite pastime.
Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?
There are many, but if I had to choose one I would say Balthazar Johannes Vorster, 13-12-1915: Not because he was Prime Minister of South Africa, but because he instilled a sense of “With the necessary respect for others, Stand up for what you believe in even if it is unpopular with others,” into me that I made it my mantra in life.
Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down.
During the Anglo Boer War a General Cornelis Hermanus (Kerneels) Olivier (1851-1924) played a huge role in the peace treaty of Vereeniging. Unfortunately he was a very quiet and reserved person. It took me many years to find out exactly who he was and where he came from. The breaking down of that brick wall led to a branches being added to the tree that would have been lost forever.
If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Born: July 18, 1918, Died: December 5, 2013. He stood by his beliefs and had the ability to forgive and respect the views of others. A great leader and fascinating person.
What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?
I doodle with oils to create landscapes and I love to work in my garden. To be so close to nature is my therapeutic recovery from the sadness in the world.
How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?
I had the privilege to create my profile on Nov 11, 2014 and have made 50,678 entries since then, indicating that I have a medium activity.
What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?
The WikiTree family is unique in collaboration and strives to be 100% correct. I love the feeling of knowing that my family is safe here and that, should I no longer be able to look after them, all will be well.
I don’t love the fact that, due to limited time and endless pages of information, I am unable to know everything there is to know, but love the fact that I can get answers to many questions in the G2G or from all the helpful friends I made along the way.
The excitement to be contacted by family, and others who think we are family, through WikiTree.
I like the fact that WikiTree is free.
Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?
Take it slow read all you can and then.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
Use the G2G to your full advantage.
There is no such thing as a stupid question.
We don’t have to agree with everyone all the time, but we must respect other viewpoints.
If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?
Be proud to belong to a family, but be humble when you have reached the pinnacles of life.
By grace we are who we are.