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.


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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.


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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!


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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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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 Fran.

Fran Weidman became a  WikiTreer in April of 2018.  She’s active in our England Project and loves to spend time connecting people to our global tree.  Fran was also the top scoring winner in our Source-a-Thon a few weeks ago!

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

McHugh, O’Neil, Kirsch, Blum, Fischer, Fletcher, and Graves. To name a few.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, and Lincolnshire, England.

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

My mom kept a baby book from the time I was born. On the page where there should have been a really cool family tree, there were only a few names written down. She didn’t think family history was as important as growing a first tooth. But I begged to differ and would look at that family tree page and wonder – really wonder – who these people were and where they came from. As soon as I was old enough, I began prowling cemeteries and hanging out in libraries every chance I got. So began the addiction.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I would have to say my great grandfather, Patrick McHugh, and that’s only because he’s one of my biggest brick walls. I guess I had romanticized the whole “coming to the U.S. from Ireland and living happily ever after” thing. Quite the contrary. Supposedly he was dirt poor when he came over, then had to fight in the Civil War. His wife died fairly young and 5 of his children also died young. I’ve learned to admire all the immigrants and the hardships they had to go through. It certainly was not a fairy tale.

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

Well, I can’t take full credit for this one, but it has to be my husband’s 2X great grandfather, Joseph Graves Fletcher, who came from Lincolnshire, England. He was born with the surname of Graves, which we had no idea about, as hubby came from a long line of Joseph Fletchers. I tried going back to Lincolnshire to search and could not find the right Joseph Fletcher, anywhere. We found him with the surname of Fletcher on the ship coming to the U.S., but yet could not find a marriage record. Because he had changed his name back to Graves for  his marriage – then back to Fletcher. I was collaborating with a cousin who figured it out before I did. I told the Fletcher family members that they were originally Graves, and of course now they all hate me.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I enjoy reading just about anything, listening to music, doing various crafts – but most of all gardening. I moved to a small farm from a Chicago suburb 6 years ago and love growing my own food and canning stuff for winter. I’ve become quite the farm wife.

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

I’ve only been on here since April 2018. I really enjoy sourcing, but since the Source-a-Thon, I think I’ve developed Carpal Tunnel, so I have been doing a bit of connecting. I LOVE it. It’s a great challenge, and actually quite fun.

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

I was doing Google searches for ancestors (on and off for several years) and WikiTree kept coming up. I figured it was another bogus family tree site and always skipped over it. One day I decided to check it out, and am very glad I did. I was previously on Ancestry, but I grew tired of it after I found my name on someone’s family tree, being listed as dead since 1975. Not to mention an obscure cousin who wanted to argue with me about my own father’s death date (ummm… sorry dude, but I was THERE!).

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

The PEOPLE, hands down! I love being a part of the England Project and have met so many wonderful people that share the same passion. I also love the concept of “One Big Tree”. Nobody should “own” any ancestor, and that’s the problem with other sites, I think.

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

Hmm… maybe try to convey to new people the importance of sourcing, and that Ancestry Family Trees should never used as primary sources.

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

Thanks to Ros Haywood and the Orphan Trail project, I learned about the GRO indexes, which I had never heard of. Definitely a big deal for me, as I was able to dispute  the notions that my husband was related to some famous painter in London. Which made my in-laws hate me even more!

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Take your time when uploading Gedcom profiles and source as you go along. I didn’t realize what a mess they made until I saw my own.


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