Eowyn

 

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 Gigi .

Gigi Tanksley became a WikiTreer in January of 2015.  She participates in several of our projects including Westward Ho!, Southern Colonies and Louisiana Families.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

My maternal side includes research on the Lanier, Hart, Seale/Seal, Stevens/Stephens, Crow/Crowe, Tillman, Hillery, Peters, Bird/Byrd, Varnado/Varnadore, Varnadoe, Bullock/Bulloch families.

My main area of research right now is the Ward, Weems, and Greene families.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I am researching heavily in the area of Wilkes, Jackson,and Hancock County, Georgia along with Holmes, and Marion County, Mississippi, for my paternal line.

My maternal lines are in the Mississippi Territory, Pike, and Marion County, Mississippi area. They are also in Tangipahoa, and Washington Parish, Louisiana areas so I am always searching that area as well.

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

My grandmother always spoke proudly of her family. She wrote journals about her ancestors as far back as she remembered about her early life. She always wanted someone to find out more about her ancestors. So, a second cousin and I started researching together about 1995 because of a promise we made to her. The cousin dropped out of the project but I found the history of our pioneer ancestors so interesting that I continued to try to identify them and learn about their lives.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Again, this would be my grandmother on my paternal side. She was born in 1888 and died in 1994 just five months short of her 107th birthday. Her father told her at age 21 that he didn’t care who she married, but she would and soon, so she should choose and get it done because he wanted her out of his house. So, having met my grandfather a few times through his cousins who were her girlfriends she chose him to set her eye on and went about getting married. She managed to get a proposal and soon became his wife and  the mother of seven living children only to be widowed when the oldest was 15 and the youngest only two years old.

At this time she was 38 years old and not wife material with all those mouths to feed but she took her family home to Mississippi and found someone who needed help on their farm and they all worked together to make a living for the family. She also saw and experienced a lot of firsts – the first electric washing machine, bra, talking movie, ball point pen, Tupperware, polio vaccine, man in space, personal computer, and even learned about the Hubble Telescope.

My last letter from her was about having cataracts removed from her eyes. She was amazed by neon colors after that surgery and didn’t understand why anyone would prefer pita bread over good old plain cornbread.

I have often remarked that I don’t think I could have been one of those pioneer women in the wilderness cooking wild animals and living rough. The truth is I don’t think I could have found the strength in me to live my grandmother’s life.

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

I hope to someday find the parents of two of my ancestral grandfathers. John Ward who was born in South Carolina in 1795, along with finding the parents of John Gilbert who died in Marion County, Mississippi in 1815.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

My main interests outside of WikTree are reading, watching documentaries, and history.

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

I joined WikiTree in 2015. I spend most of my time on the site trying to locate good sources for information on my family lines and writing what I hope is a good biography.

I also try to locate profiles that fit the good sources I come across so I can share those sources with those who manage the profiles they fit. Sometimes, I post the location, sometimes the actual source, sometimes I private message the profile manager.

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

I found WikiTree when I was complaining that all my years of research would be thrown away eventually by my descendants to a friend on the telephone one day. Although she was not into genealogy, she knew that WikiTree existed and suggested I check it as a possible way to preserve my research. I looked closely at the site and the comments on public forums about it and decided this was where my research should go and that it would be in good hands forever. It also helped knowing that should I die without locating good sources to knock down my brick walls eventually all my brick walls would be connected to the larger tree thus knocking down those walls for me even after death.

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

My favorite things about WikiTree are the RootsSearchRelationship to Me, and Connections features. These make it easy to look for sources and connect to the tree.

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

The one thing I can see that needs work would be retaining the interest of guests to WikiTree. I think we need something like a live chat with guests that would make it more personal to them and spark an interest in our shared ancestors and history. There are a lot of sources held by family which could be very valuable to our collaborative work that we miss having access to with the current way of doing things.

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 had about four or five generations of ancestors that I could prove on some of my lines. The sources are handwritten on card stock in binders. Joining WikiTree made me go back to those sources to actually find them and place them on my profiles. This in turn expanded my tree as well as WikiTree because I created profiles for entire families rather than just the one profile I was searching for. This wasn’t just a plus for me but for WikiTree as well.  

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

If you’re just starting out be sure to source your profiles as you go. I added mine without sources and am still three years later not sure all of them are sourced. It is a lot of work to backtrack and try adding sources. Be sure to never let anyone discourage you. Everyone has something valuable to contribute to WikiTree no matter who they are or what their background is.


 

by Michael Stills

In Preparing for the Adventure, we introduced you to concept of genealogical collaboration as conceived by Chris Whitten, creator of WikiTree. As a place “where genealogists collaborate,” WikiTree encourages individuals to work together on shared ancestors while building a single family tree.

The concept of working together on shared ancestors is not the common experience on most online genealogical sites, and WikiTree is aware that this unusual experience creates challenges for the first-time participant. To help ease the transition, Chris developed the Honor Code.

For members of WikiTree, the Honor Code is the “secret sauce” to productive and enjoyable collaboration. Most people fail to read the Terms of Service before joining any given website. However, failing to do so means entering at your own peril. With WikiTree especially, it is imperative to your success and enjoyment that you understand the Honor Code and abide by its principles.

Because collaboration requires individuals with varying degrees of knowledge, skills and abilities to work together towards a common goal, the Honor Code establishes the foundation from which everyone must work.

Be forewarned, WikiTree is a unique experience that is unsettling to many, especially in the beginning. This uneasiness begins to disappear as members learn to embrace the Honor Code. Those who embrace the Honor Code often experience an epiphany about what working collaboratively truly means. For these individuals, WikiTree is as addicting as genealogy itself. In joining WikiTree and embracing all that comes with it, you will not find a better group of genealogists willing to help and who care about doing genealogy well.

So, let’s put on our Collaborative Genealogy Goggles and take a closer look at the principles of WikiTree’s Honor Code.

Our Honor Code

1. We collaborate. When we share ancestors we work together on the same ancestor profiles.

When you share the same ancestor, there should be only one profile for that ancestor. That profile does not belong to you or the person you are sharing with, it belongs to the community at large. You will collaborate on what that single profile should look like. This collaborative element requires you to share and to discuss what you know with one another, and come to an agreement of what should be included on that profile. This process is vastly different than sites like Ancestry, where each genealogist can have their own version of an ancestor. When we have to share the ancestor, we need to engage in discussion on how we know what we know. These conversations should revolve around what evidence exists to support your statements of fact. When done politely and productively, this collaboration can lead to new discoveries and better-sourced profiles.

Profile Manager is someone who has created or adopted a profile and has accepted the responsibility of developing that profile for the community. It does not mean that they own the profile. They are the WikiTree genealogist who is currently shepherding the profile and who has agreed to respond to requests for collaboration.

2. We care about accuracy. We’re always aiming to improve upon our worldwide family tree and fix mistakes.

People make mistakes, accepting this as fact and endeavoring to work together to replace mistakes with documented evidence is part of the process.

3. We know mistakes are inevitable. We don’t want to be afraid to make them. We assume that mistakes are unintentional when others make them and ask for the same understanding.

Because we know mistakes are part of the process, we help each other without attacking those who make the mistake. If we are all working from the principles of the Honor Code, mistakes provide an opportunity for clarification. Be open to discussion. In fact, because you are agreeing to collaborate, you are agreeing to respond to requests for clarification. If you do not respond, you are not collaborating. There are processes in place to help those who wish to collaborate but find it difficult because a member is not responding. For an example, visit Unresponsive Profile Manager on WikiTree.

4. We know misunderstandings are inevitable. We try to minimize them by being courteous to everyone, even to those who don’t act accordingly.

WikiTree provides examples to help you communicate on a more productive level. Visit Don’t WikiTree While Angry.

5. We respect privacy. We privacy-protect anything we think our family members might not want public. If that’s not enough for someone, we delete their personal information.

Privacy is very important on WikiTree, if you still have questions or concerns after reading WikiTree’s Privacy policy, you can reach out and ask for clarification. The staff at WikiTree is very responsive.

6. We respect copyrights. We don’t knowingly copy information that’s owned by someone else. If we ourselves want to preserve a copyright, we’re clear about what’s copyrighted so others don’t accidentally copy it.

If you have questions about what you are sharing, you can visit the G2G forum (Genealogists to Genealogists Forum) for help. Many of our members are well versed in this area and will work with you to help resolve your concerns.

7. We give credit. Although most genealogy isn’t copyrighted, researchers deserve credit for the work they’ve done.

If someone or some site has helped you find a genealogical gold nugget, give them a shout out. You can acknowledge them on their profile or on the profile they helped you with. One of the best places to say thank you is on the G2G forum, which we will discover on our next adventure.

8. We cite sources. Without sources we can’t objectively resolve conflicting information.

Beginning genealogists sometimes confuse sources with citations. WikiTree wants to know how you have come to know what you are claiming. What evidence do you have for your statements of fact? When you first create a profile you will be asked to provide evidence for the existence of the person: where did you get this information, what is your source? While one good source may be enough to create the profile, you may be asked by other collaborators for any additional source material you may have, and to document it on the profile so that they too can find it and examine it. The act of writing it down is your citation. What is unique about WikiTree is that they recognize that not everyone is a professional genealogist. Because WikiTree cares about accuracy, they have created a climate where evidence and source citations are valued and frequently requested. We will learn more about how WikiTree values source citations when we encounter Sourcerers later on in our adventure. For now, just do the best you can.

9. We are united in a mission to increase the world’s common store of knowledge. We always respect copyrights and privacy, but we keep information as free and open as possible.

Sign Here X_______________.

[YOU], Wonderful WikiTreer.

Once you have fully absorbed, understood and signed the Honor Code, you will be properly prepared to cross the threshold into the world of WikiTree. On our next adventure, we will meet the many magical helpers waiting for you in the Lost Land of G2G.

 (Michael has been a WikiTreer since December 2011 and a Volunteer Leader since Oct 2014. He is currently working for WikiTree to help expand awareness of the site. Michael is owner of Missing Roots Genealogy and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He recently completed the Online Genealogical Research Certificate offered through Boston University’s school of Professional Studies.)

 

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 Carolyn.

Carolyn Martin became a WikiTreer in February of 2015.  She is active as a Sourcerer and Data Doctor and participates in our Bahamas and Global Cemeteries Projects. She loves joining in our challenges and is often a top winner!

What are some of the surnames you are researching?  

I am researching Atkinson, Daughtry, Freeman, Wilhite, Thompson, Carey, and Stewart mainly.

What are some of the locations you are researching?  

Most of my family appears to have settled in the South – mainly Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Texas.  My maternal grandmother’s family (Carey) came from the Bahamas.

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

I started out in genealogy wanting to trace my maternal grandmother’s family who came from the Bahamas. (I really wanted to know if there were any pirates in the family!)  That was about 35 years ago. It quickly became one of my brick walls that to this day I haven’t had much success in documenting. The family immigrated to the Key West around the mid to late 1870’s.  

I have been able to only go back to my 2nd great grandparents on my grandmother’s father’s (William H Carey) line. Grandma’s mother was also a Carey from the Bahamas – she and William were reportedly cousins. I have her line back few additional generations which included Culmer and Morton lines.

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

Aside from my Carey brick wall mentioned earlier, the other significant one is my Stewart line.  My grandmother, Miriam Mayfield Carey, married George Marion Stewart, in Key West in 1924. George was in the Army and housed in the barracks right across the lane from Miriam’s family home.  He was from Louisiana, and one of 14 children born to Luther Stewart.

Luther is my brick wall.  He was the illegitimate son of Sarah Elizabeth Stewart of Mississippi, who married Joseph Marion Regions when Luther was about 10.  Luther’s biological father is unknown, so he kept Stewart as his surname. I finally hired Ancestry Pro-genealogist, Joseph Shumway, to try to find Luther’s father.  I had located several second cousins who were descendants of Luther’s children. So, I was able to give Shumway the DNA from myself, and two cousins who descended from another son and daughter of Luther’s.  Schumway and his staff researched records and analyzed the DNA over about a four month period. They were unable to find Luther’s father, but were able to state with some certainty that he descended from a Comer or Johnson line from Union County, South Carolina.  I have been concentrating on them lately and hope to one day make the connection.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I have been retired seven years now.  Besides working on WikiTree, I also have an antiques and collectibles business, Alley Cat Lane Antiques and Collectibles, located online on Ruby Lane.com, that keeps me busy. I have been involved in the collectibles business since about 1995 in various venues.

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

I joined WikiTree in February of 2015, and have been addicted ever since.  After I got my family entered, I joined the Cemetery Project and eventually set up free space pages on about seven cemeteries.  I would go take photographs, then research the people and set up profiles on them if they weren’t already on WikiTree.

After a while I got a bit burned out on that, and joined in on various challenges.  I routinely participate in sourcing and data error challenges. I also joined the Sourcerers Project and Data Doctors Project. Sometimes I get bitten by my competitive bug and go for the top spot in a challenge, which I have won numerous times, but most of the time I just enjoy doing the work, putting sources inline, and writing comments to add to the biographies.  I really enjoy connecting the person to other family members, setting up and sourcing profiles for them, and writing biographies.

I also joined the Bahamas Project. I especially enjoy adding profiles for families that immigrated from the Bahamas to Key West, Florida (my hometown).

 

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

I love the idea of a One World Tree where everyone is added only once and no one “owns” the profile.  I enjoy the collaborative effort. Every now and then, I might get an email from someone who did not appreciate my input on “their” family’s profile, but I try to be diplomatic and gently explain the collaborative nature of WikiTree.  I really love getting the emails from appreciative people who were thrilled at the info I added or corrections that were made.

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

I hate the profiles that have been uploaded from Gedcoms!  They leave such a mess and the manager often doesn’t go back to clean them up. While it may turn some people away, I wish WikiTree would require manual submissions.  I initially tried to do a Gedcom myself but it was too big, so I decided to just enter my family manually. It was great because I got to review my information, make sure the documentation was there, and make any corrections as I went.  It actually didn’t take all that long because after a couple of generations I often found the next person was already on WikiTree and all I had to do was attach to them.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

When I first joined WikiTree, I was a bit overwhelmed.  The site took a little getting used to as it doesn’t function like most other sites.  Once I got the hang of it, there was no stopping me!

To any new members I would suggest you manually add your family profiles one at a time. It will really turn out better than doing a Gedcom and won’t take nearly the time that you might think.  

Also, be patient.  Ask questions when you get lost or don’t know how to deal with something. The G2G forum is awesome!  There is always someone out there checking the forum that will answer your questions.

Once you have acclimated to the site, look under Projects to find one or more you might be interested in participating in.  It’s really a satisfying feeling (as well as fun) to know you are contributing to the site and the One World Tree.


 

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 Paula.

Paula Cullen joined WikiTree in October of 2014.  She loves improving profiles and actively participates as a Sourcerer, Connector and Data Doctor.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Cullen and Bowmar from Nottingham, Wech from Bohemia, Ramsbottom who lived in India, Antwis from Cheshire.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

A lot of my ancestors immigrated to New Zealand in the mid to late 1800’s mostly settling in Northland or Auckland so a lot of my research is localised there. They came from various parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland and South Pilsen in Bohemia among other places. I try to learn as much as I can about all of them. Some places, such as Ireland and Switzerland, are more challenging than others. I was most surprised by how good the Bohemian records are given the history there. They aren’t indexed though so I’ve spent a lot of time trawling through pages and pages of records in Old German and Latin to find my ancestors.

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

The history of how my hometown, Waipu, came to be was taught at my school. We learnt of the Highland clearances and how a number of Scottish Highlanders ended up in Nova Scotia. From here they followed the Reverend Norman McLeod onwards to Australia and finally to New Zealand where they were granted the land that became Waipu. Some of my ancestors came with him on his journey, and the difficulty of such trips made me intrigued as to how the rest of my ancestors immigrated and why they left their home countries to go on such long journeys.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Henry Mason is definitely my favourite ancestor and also one of my brick walls. His story as told through obituaries is an intriguing one that I have yet to prove true. His family claimed he was 108 when he passed away in 1931 but the newspapers reduced this down to 101. He was originally from County Down in what is now Northern Ireland. It is said he traveled to Australia when he was twenty-one drawn by the lure of gold in Ballarat. However, his love of horses drew him into a different business and he became a horse dealer. This led to him selling horses from Australia to the New Zealand government during the Maori Wars.

At the age of about 55 he finally settled down in New Zealand and married a much younger Bohemian immigrant. They had ten children, the eldest of which was my great-grandfather. He lived to see 29 grandchildren, having immigrated from Ireland, lived in Australia for 30 years and New Zealand for 50.

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

I broke through the wall on one of my immigrant ancestors purely by luck. All I knew of Eliza Morrow was her first name from the birth record of her daughter, Eliza Jane, in Redfern, Australia. I couldn’t find a marriage record and no trace of her or her husband after this. Eliza Jane had moved to New Zealand, but I had no reason to think the parents had. I was later sourcing the parents of someone who had married the son of an ancestor of mine in another side of my family. I was reading through the will of her stepmother and who do I find named as a daughter, Eliza Jane. This enabled me to obtain her death certificate which included her maiden name, her parents’ names and her birth town. It’s in Ireland so I haven’t got much further but it was still exciting.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I’m mildly addicted to WikiTree so it takes up a lot of my spare time. I also play video games and am currently attempting to knit my wedding dress. I travel when my PhD studies and money allow for it.

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

I started using WikiTree in January 2015. I go through phases in what I spend my time working on. I have gone backwards about as far as records permit on all my lines. This has led me to start going sideways and through marriage to try make more connections. Lately I have been working on expanding out the Scottish/Nova Scotian immigrant families in my home town. This has proven to be challenging due to the lack of original names but I’m making progress. I am also involved in a number of projects including the Sourcerers, Data Doctors and Connectors. Sometimes I’ll compete in their respective challenges.

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

I found WikiTree as many do, through Google searches of ancestors’ names. It took me a while to figure out the purpose of WikiTree, but once I did I knew I wanted to help in any way I could.

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

I love the collaboration on WikiTree and the fact that it allows you to correct longstanding genealogy errors that are propagated by other websites through discussion with interested members. It also provides great cousin bait which has led to me finding out some interesting stories about my ancestors.

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

I would make it stop being so addictive!

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

WikiTree made me realise the importance of sourcing all important details relating to a person’s life. Before I joined WikiTree I was more of a collector of people. Genealogy had become a numbers game. Having to source every profile helped me find a few mistakes and to also obtain a better understanding of who my ancestors were. It led to me read through a large number of wills and finding occupations in census records among other sources that give you a better picture of the lives these people lived.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Take your time. There’s no need to rush to make profiles for all your ancestors, they aren’t going anywhere!


 

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 Anne.

Anne Buckmaster became a WikiTreer in September 2014.  She loves participating in our various challenges.  For our last Source-a-Thon, Anne started and captained the Knitting Sourcers, a team for knitting enthusiasts who love to source too!

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I tend to stick pretty close to home. My mother’s parents are the Shanbarkers and the Parkinsons. My father’s parents are the Buckmasters and Durhams. I haven’t branched out too much from those families.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

My father’s family is all from northwest Ohio, while my mother’s family are from all over the upper midwest. I’m particularly interested in the time they spent in South Dakota.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My father’s grandmother was Golda Elizabeth. She got married at the ripe old age of 15 then ran off before she was 20, leaving her son to be raised by her husband’s parents. Apparently it all worked out in the end though, as my father remembers a trip to visit her with her 3rd(?) or 4th(?) husband in California when he was a child. (I’ve only found marriage records for the first husband.)

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

My second favorite ancestor is also my most recently broken brick wall. Joseph Shanbarker is my 3 times great grandfather on my mother’s side. Until recently he appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the historical record at the age of 10. I could trace every single Shanbarker I found on Ancestry, Family Search, and Google to him but nobody existed concurrently or before him. I’m happy to report that thanks to sites like WikiTree and Family Search, I’ve been in contact with someone who was searching for him from the other side (his life pre-age 10). His birth name was Schonbachler and he did have a family. He also managed to get divorced in 1894 in rural South Dakota because his wife tried to “get joe out of the way, by the poisoning route.”  (Newspapers.com – Argus-Leader Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota, United States of America – 17 Aug 1894 – Page 4 accessed 10/10/2018 at www.newspapers.com/clip/24422420/argusleader/?xid=637).

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

My primary outside interest is knitting. Though I also play video games and am a big fan of shows like Supernatural and Firefly.

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

I joined in September 2014. I mostly participate in challenges, when I have time, and try (badly) to keep my tree updated.

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

My best friend (also an Anne, with an -e-) recommended WikiTree when I was looking for an Ancestry alternative.

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

I like concept of one large family tree, and the community aspect.

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

Ease of use. Wiki language and formatting take a lot of time to get used to!

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

My primary contribution through WikiTree has been in participating in Source-a-Thons. Sourcing unsourced profiles provides more information and avenues of inquiry for all of us as we try to put together one big shared tree.  

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Use the citations generated by Family Search! They’re so much easier than trying to write your own. Source and clean up your profiles as you go – it’s so much easier to do it as you go than if you leave it until later. Use common sense and pay attention to the details!


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