Greetings fellow WikiTreers! Welcome to the August 2017 edition of News from the Tree, our monthly report on new features and changes around the site, notes on community leaders, tips, etc.

What’s New?

Have you Checked your Weekly Connections in the Connection Finder?

Every week you can find two new connections in our Connection Finder.

Each Tuesday, we showcase a WikiTreer in a Meet our Members feature on our blog and they also get spotlighted in the Connection Finder for that week.

This week it’s Alison Andrus.

Alison Andrus

Alison currently leads the US History Project, an umbrella for many smaller projects. (Is there a project for your state yet?) In her blog interview, Alison writes “I have met the most wonderful, caring and kind people on WikiTree you will ever want to meet. They are so generous with their time and talents, I have learned so much and feel so humbled.”

See how you are connected to Alison.

We also highlight what we call an Example Profile of the Week. These profiles are top-notch and meet the styles and standards criteria that the community has agreed upon. The notable whose profile is used as an example is also featured in the Connection Finder for that week.

Spotlighted this week is English author Virginia Woolf (1882-1941).  See how you are connected.

And of course you can always see your connection to our standard connection anchors, Queen Elizabeth II and Kevin Bacon.

Follow the tag connection_finder for weekly updates on connections.

Relationship Finder Quick Links

Here’s a fun thing. Check out your new Relationship Finder Quick Links.

There’s a link at the bottom of the Relationship Finder (as well as from “Relationships” in your profile pull-down menu, your Family Tree & Tools page, and anyone else’s Quick Links page such as the one for Chris.)

This page enables you to go down the list and click to see if you’re related to the US presidents, Magna Carta Surety Barons, or Mayflower passengers. There’s also a section for checking whether you’re related to your spouse or if your parents are related to each other. :-)

For the Magna Carta and Mayflower sections we tried to remove those who don’t have connections to living descendants or who would have been redundant because their children are also on the list. If you notice someone that should be included or excluded, please post here.

Do you have suggestions for other sections we should add? If so, share them here.

New Source Requirement When Creating Profiles

We just implemented a new change regarding sources. If you want to create a profile without including a source you’re now asked to select a source substitute like this:

[ ]Personal recollection of events witnessed by [[Whitten-1|Chris Whitten]] as remembered 11 Jul 2017.

[ ] Unsourced family tree handed down to [[Whitten-1|Chris Whitten]].

[ ] Source will be added by [[Whitten-1|Chris Whitten]] by 12 Jul 2017.

The first option only appears if the birth or death date is after 1917. The second option only appears if the dates are after 1700. The third option will include the {{Unsourced}} template as well as recording that text in the profile.

Question of the Week

Have you participated in the Question of the Week yet? Every Friday a genealogy-related question is posed to community members in our G2G Forum. You can join in the fun and share a little about yourself and learn about your fellow WikiTreers! Follow the tag “question_of_the_week” to get the new question each week.

We recently asked “How do you use social media to promote your family tree?”

Here are just a few of the answers we received:

  • On Facebook I’ve been honoring my ancestors on their birthdays and anniversaries by writing a bio and including pictures of them or their gravestones or of some document that mentions them. The first year I did parents thru 2nd greats. The second was for 3rd greats plus aunts, uncles, great aunts and great uncles with no living descendants. This year it is 4th greats. Next year I may do famous and infamous ancestors and other relatives. I get to share my work and my cousins get to learn some about their ancestors. ~ Mary
  • Yes, I do use Facebook for genealogy, I have found over 200 2-3rd  cousins which helped tremendously.  We even met in person. It’s a great way to expend your genealogy and knowing your family. Once we started to talk about sickness and illness facts they were more interested. Some are not too interested but gave me the information needed.  ~ Lise
  • I use my blog, where I have a widget for WikiTree, as well as Facebook for connecting with relatives. When I have brick walls, it has been really great to write about my research and ask for any information anyone could add via my blog. I have received a gold mine of information and help from distant relatives in this way. Plus making lasting relationships with those who are serious family researchers like myself ~ Michelle
  • In addition to belonging to an embarrassing number of Facebook Genealogy  groups and my genealogy blog, I also started my own local Facebook genealogy chat group just so I could talk more about genealogy! ~ Emma

Who’s New

We’re excited to announce Sarah Rojas as our newest Leader!  She’s been WikiTree-ing since May of 2014 and is active as a Sourcerer, Connector and Data Doctor.

Her grandmother, Bennie Callis, was an avid researcher of her genealogy, which eventually got Sarah hooked after going through the books and documents she had.

Learn more about Sarah soon in a Meet Our Members feature!

Meet Our Members

Every week we post an interview with one of our members so you can get to know them a little better.  In case you missed it, here are our July features!

  • Jacqueline Girouard became a WikiTreer in September 2014 and as her profile says, she’s had something productive to do every day since.  Jackie is one of our wonderful Leaders, co-leading both the Acadian and Louisiana projects, as well as participating as a SourcererArborist and Data Doctor.  Do you have Acadian ancestors? So does she!

Tree Tips

  • Family History Photo of the Week Nominee

    Remember point IV of our Honor Code: We know misunderstandings are inevitable. We try to minimize them by being courteous to everyone, even those who don’t act accordingly.  Collaboration can be hard but treating each other with respect and kindness can go along way to smoothing over the bumps in the road.

  • Have you noticed all the different badges you can receive on WikiTree? Here’s a list of the types and how they are earned and awarded.
  • New to WikiTree? Get started by creating a few profiles for your relatives. Start at your profile. Click a link such as [mother?] or [father?] on your profile or your profile’s edit page. If you need more help, see Help:Adding Family.
  • WikiTree has seven privacy levels. See Help:Privacy for a full explanation of each one. The privacy level determines what those who are not on the Trusted List can see and do.

Community Accomplishments

Top 10 contributors for last month: WikiTree Club 1000 July 2017

  1. Cindy Lesure (8,667 edits in July)
  2. Kaye Mansfield (8312)
  3. NJ Penny (7707)
  4. Carrie Quackenbush (7577)
  5. Gregory Rose (7260)
  6. Michael Sheffield (6947)
  7. Esmé van der Westhuizen (6490)
  8. Stephanie Ahles (6485)
  9. Susan McNamee (6068)
  10. Austin Pérez (5997)

Super Star recipients (recognized by a Leader for extraordinary contributions that go far beyond what is normally seen on WikiTree): 

Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication: Eva EkebladSusie MacLeod and Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl!

Congratulations to last month’s challenge winners:

Project Updates

Project Spotlight: Ambassadors

pgm.gifWikiTree has pledged to stay 100% free, so we need to keep costs low. Since we don’t have a big ad budget, our community depends on word of mouth. We grow when our members tell other genealogists, their family, and friends what we do.

Ambassadors are some of our awesome volunteers who are active on various social media channels and/or bloggers who are dedicated to helping share the WikiTree love.  If you are active on social media and/or have a blog, this might be the project for you!

If you would like to participate, click here to join.

New Projects

  • North Dakota: Do you have any research interests in what is now the state of North Dakota? This project focuses on creating and improving profiles for anyone who lived in this area at any time. There is also a suggested list of other ways you can help on the project page.
  • Hughey One Name Study:  Do you have Hugheys in your tree? Get involved with this new One Name Study!
  • Washingon State: This project is a sub-project of the U. S. History Project which works to create and improve profiles for those individuals who lived in the state of Washington. There is a list of things you can do to help on the project page.
  • Davis One Name Study:  Got Davis’?  Collaborate with other WikiTreers in this one name study.

Don’t Miss These!


sourcerer.gifSOURCERERS CHALLENGE:  Far too many profiles on WikiTree don’t have any sources. This challenge is about correcting that with census data, BMD records/index references, family bible references, military documents, land documents, wills, etc. Each month we’ll post in G2G to start up the month’s challenge. To participate, go to this G2G post.

connectors.gifCONNECTORS CHALLENGEThe goal of the Connectors Challenge is to see how many individuals you can connect to our global family tree.  To join in the August Challenge, go here.

photo_of_week.gifFAMILY HISTORY PHOTO OF THE WEEKIf you love old photos or if you have photos in your own family collection that you love, you can share them in our Family History Photo of the Week Facebook group so they are nominated for our Family History Photo of the Week Contest!  See also Criteria for Selection and DisqualificationSee previous winners here.

You might also want to check out our Weekend ChatSaturday Sourcing SprintsBiography Builders Challenge and the new Surname Spotlight Challenge.

WikiTree Calendar

Stay up to date with all the latest challenges, contests, LiveCasts and upcoming events via our Calendar.

Thanks for all you do, WikiTreers. You’re the best.

Sincerely, The WikiTree Team and Leaders

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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 Rubén.

Rubén joined us in April of 2016.  He quickly became active in our G2G forum and is super friendly, welcoming and helpful.  He participates in our Mexico Project, has all three Generous Genealogist badges and has received several Wonderful WikiTreer awards.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Hernández de Espinoza, García de Miranda, Gutiérrez de Hermosillo, Romero de Chávez, Ulibarri y Liñan, de Olachea y Negrete and many more. In the middle of the XVIII century these long last names were truncated and the descendants went by one last name part only. In our time there are Olachea’s and Negrete’s with common ancestors that used the long last name Olachea y Negrete.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Mainly Mexican western and central estates: Michoacán, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and Nayarit.

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

When I was born my grandfather would have been a centenarian if still alive. Most of my aunts and uncles were born in the XIX century. When I was a child I heard lots of stories about events and people that happened back then … and from people with first hand knowledge!

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

All of them. I think I am made of a small piece of each one of them and their history is part of my history.

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

Once, when I was almost giving up on researching for an ancestor´s ancestors I found a birth certificate of one of his children. The witnesses were listed as his uncle and his brother in law. Most of the time the witnesses on these documents are relatives but the relationship is not listed. These clues made it possible to find who his parents were.

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?

I really believe we all are connected in a single family tree. So all of us are somehow related to each and every person in history.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Genealogy leads you to research and learn more about many other subjects that really delight me: History, Geography, Sociology and so on. I also love math and logic puzzles.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?

I first joined WikiTree in April 2016. Since then I can’t stop WikiTreeing almost every day.

I strongly agree with our community’s mission:

Our community’s mission is to grow an accurate single family tree that connects us all and is freely available to us all.”

All the American continent is mainly populated by descendants of European emigrants. I’m sure that Mauricio Macri born in Argentina and Justin Trudeau born in Canada have common ancestors, and we can find them if we dig enough.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

Many aspects of WikiTree are really unique and outstanding, especially our 9 point Honor Code. I always try to incorporate points III and IV to my everyday life. So WikiTree is much more than all about Genealogy only.

I am always amazed by the continuous improvements: Opening 100/150+ profiles, [half] siblings notation, “Ancestors” and “Descendants” buttons on profiles, just to mention some of the latest.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Endure the learning curve.

The harvest will be plentiful.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

I am a small piece of what you are made of.  Be a better person to honor me and your descendants will honor you as well.


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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 Alison.

Alison standing in front of Catherine the Great's Summer Palace in Pushkin, Russia

Alison joined WikiTree in 2014 and became a Leader in October 2014. Currently, she leads the US History Project and the Westward Ho! Project,  and is a Local VolunteerConnectorSourcererRangerArboristData Doctor and Integrator. (She does much, much more as you’ll read later on!)

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I lead One Name Studies for Andrus, Andrews, Flaugher and McGrew. I’m also researching Benedix, Graul, Wrangham, Nealy, Underhill, Werner, Conant, Harmon, Metcalf, Giles and my Hansen line that dates back to the New Netherlands.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

It seems like every branch of my dad’s family passed through New York at one time or another in just about every county. I also research Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota. I conduct One Place Studies for Dickey County, North Dakota and Kitsap County, Washington and lead the Washington State, North Dakota and Minnesota Projects as well as the Westward Ho! Project. That covers a lot of ground!

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

Two of my mother’s sisters actively researched our family in the 1970′s, visiting libraries and writing letters. I loved hearing about all their latest discoveries and started accompanying them on their research trips when I was still in high school. My own research really took off when I bought my first home computer in the early 1990′s. Back then, the genealogy websites were still in their infancy, so now I feel like a founding member of those early sites like Rootsweb where I joined their Roots-L mailing lists and contributed regularly to WorldGenWeb.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My paternal great-great grandmother, Harriet Underhill Andrus. When I was growing up, my favorite books were the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Because I grew up in North Dakota, I could really relate to the stories. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered that my ancestor, Harriet Andrus, and Laura Ingalls were second cousins! Harriet left New York with her husband and five children in 1876 and lived for a time in Minnesota before homesteading in the plains of the Dakotas in 1883. I have a picture of her standing in tall prairie grass with the wind blowing in her hair, a true pioneer of the West.

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

My great-grandfather, Melchior Gaspar Balthasar Benedix was born in Saxony, Germany in 1857. He emigrated alone to America in 1883 and married his first wife in Wisconsin in 1884. His marriage record states that his parents were John and Barbara, but I have never been able to trace the family in Germany. 

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?

Do I have to pick one? Can I pick everybody? Give us another year or two while we add more profiles to WikiTree and before too much longer, we can say we are related to everyone! ;-) Maybe that’s too much wishful thinking, but I do love the idea that everyone who has every lived can all be connected to each other.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I love to travel, read, watch BBC shows, garden, cook for family and friends, sew, knit, crochet, play board games, go to the theater and concerts, garage sales and auctions and take long walks.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?  Are you involved in projects/challenges? Which ones? What do you enjoy about them/what are you working on?

I joined WikiTree in 2014 and became a leader in October 2014. When it’s not summer time and the sunshine calling me, I usually exceed my 1000 a month contributions. Currently, I’m leading or helping to lead the US History Project and the Westward Ho! Project, although I’ve also led the Mentors, Greeters, One Name Studies and Black Sheep Projects during my time as leader. I’m a Local Volunteer, Connector, Sourcerer, Ranger, Arborist, Data Doctor and Integrator. I also lead sub-projects for Washington State, North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as the Homesteaders, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Pony Express, four ONS and two OPS. I’m also a member of the Cemeterists, Quakers, Military and War, Penn, Roll of Honor, Great War, Categorization, Presidents, US Civil War, DNA, New Netherlands and 1776 Projects to help honor my ancestors who fit under those classifications.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

People and people! By the very nature of WikiTree being a collaborative website, I have met the most wonderful, caring and kind people on WikiTree you will ever want to meet. They are so generous with their time and talents, I have learned so much and feel so humbled. And then there are the people who are not so nice. Being a huge people pleaser, I never thought I would ever find myself in a situation that I would be cussed out by a total stranger just for trying to be a good mentor, but you really encounter all kinds of people. The trick is to keep smiling, do your best, and don’t let a few bad apples get you down.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Educate yourself! I spent the first few weeks reading through the Help pages to make sure I had a good handle on what I was doing. I wanted to make sure I was doing things right and was worried about messing things up. Even now, I sometimes run across a profile I worked on in the early days, cringe, hope no one else has run across it and edit it as fast as I can.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

You can find all my life’s work on WikiTree! ;-)


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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 Ellen.

Ellen has been a WikiTreer since April of 2014.  She’s very active and helpful in our G2G forum,  is Project Coordinator for the New Netherland Settlers Project and is a great asset to the Puritan and Palatine Migration Projects.

What are some surnames you are researching?:

I don’t have a surname focus. At any given time, I might be researching any of the names in my WikiTree Family List, which spans the alphabet from Abbott to Zoeller, or possibly a relative by marriage or a random person unrelated to me.  With about 900 direct ancestors on my WikiTree 10-generation family list (plus about 1000 more if I add generations 11 and 12), I  don’t feel much need to find more ancestors, but  there’s much work to be done in properly curating the ones I have.

What locations you are researching:

My focus is in places where most of my ancestors lived during the last four centuries, particularly Massachusetts, Connecticut (primarily eastern Connecticut), Vermont, New York’s  Hudson Valley, and eastern Pennsylvania.

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

I had plenty of chances to get interested, but it took me a long time to get bitten by the bug.

I grew up aware of my ancestors back to my great-great grandparents, and often farther back.  In some cases I knew where they lived (sometimes the house was still occupied by relatives), my family had furniture and other items  from long-ago ancestors, and I visited several cemeteries where ancestors were buried.  One great grandfather (dead before I was born) had devoted his retirement years to family history; he researched several family lines and  typed out books on mimeograph stencils, and I had read the resulting books.  A college history class assignment asked us to interview living relatives, collect other family history information, and write an account of our families’ histories in the context of historical trends in the United States  since the Civil War.

But I didn’t really get interested until after I tested with 23andMe and started getting queries from “DNA Relatives” seeking to find our relationship. Those requests and other events started my doing Internet research to fill in the blanks in my tree. The Internet resources that became available in recent years made searching so much easier than it used to be, and I discovered that I had “hit the jackpot” in ancestor-hunting, since much of my ancestry is in colonial American populations that have been extensively studied.  I got hooked on the thrill of the hunt and I became intrigued by the histories of the major migration episodes that brought most of my ancestors to America (the Puritan Great Migration, New Netherland settlement, the Palatine migration, and the migration of Ulster Scots beginning in 1718).

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My family’s favorite ancestor used to be Susannah Martin, who was hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692. But I discovered that she’s not our ancestor. Unbeknownst to my family, our supposed connection had been disproven in an article published in The American Genealogist in 1980 — but it took us 35 years to find that out.

Maybe my new favorite is my great grandmother Ella (Stubblebine) Wingard. Her skill and hard work as a dressmaker helped enable her two daughters to attend four years of college around the time of World War I — in a time and place where many children of both sexes left school in their early teens to work in factories or mines .

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down.

The first ancestor I found completely on my own (with no hints from family lore, published genealogy, or online family trees) was the father of  my 3-greats grandmother Elizabeth Carpenter. I searched free internet sources for men named Carpenter living in or near Rensselaer County, New York who could have had a daughter her age. Walter Carpenter was the only candidate who turned up.  His name was a promising clue, since the name Walter had entered the family starting with Elizabeth’s son Walter.  An abstract of Walter’s will listed an unmarried adult daughter named Elizabeth, which was consistent with my ancestor’s date of marriage. So I added Walter Carpenter to my family tree – but I felt tentative about doing that, because I wondered why the various people who had researched the families hadn’t made this connection. If I had been active on WikiTree, I probably would have posted a request for advice in the G2G forum here.  After acquiring  other records, I’m now confident that Walter is the right man, and I’ve become more confident of my genealogical judgment, but I still relish the thrill of finding Walter, and recall my initial uncertainties about the find.

And Walter turned out be an interesting ancestor. During the American Revolution he was imprisoned on suspicions of disloyalty (to the American side), but he made amends and even established a claim to being a “patriot.” And he was a slaveowner (as were several other New York ancestors)  –  an embarrassing bit of  history that had been edited out of my family’s lore.

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?

I can’t fix on one person I would want to related to, but a famous person who I’m particularly pleased to be related to is U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt — a champion of government as an agent for the public good and  a conservationist whose actions protected a sizeable chunk of the United States’ national parks and national forests. My conservative Republican great-grandfather likely would have enjoyed knowing that he and T.R. were 5th cousins – the same relationship that Franklin D. Roosevelt had with T.R.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Well, I spend way too much time on genealogy.  My professional background is in science, which is both a career and a passion for many of us; I’m intensely engaged in local civic affairs; and I enjoy travel – seldom to the same place twice.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?

I joined in April 2014. Initially, my initial motivation was to fix some errors and omissions I saw when WikiTree profiles came up in my search results. I was here for more than a month before I added one of my parents to the tree, and I’m still focused more on long-ago family than on the recent generations that I’ve “always” known about.  I am on WikiTree pretty much every day — in the G2G forum, doing various tasks in support of the New Netherland Settlers, Puritan Great Migration, and Palatine Migration projects, and occasionally working on my own family.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

It’s been wonderful to experience how collaborative genealogy in WikiTree makes all of us better genealogists. Collaboration on our shared ancestors encourages us to share information and to hold each other to high standards. I’ve learned an enormous amount from other WikiTreers.  My biggest negative is my concern about whether WikiTree ‘s technological and organizational structure will keep up with growth and adapt to  changing needs and expectations.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

1. Look at other people’s families around WikiTree to see how they’ve documented their ancestors within the WikiTree framework (“featured profiles” are one good place to look for examples) and identify some examples that you want to emulate, then look at the “edit” version of those profiles to see how they entered their content.

2.  Participate in the G2G forum. You can learn a lot there, and get help when you need it – and it’s a great place to discuss difficult genealogical problems.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

Studying the lives of our ancestors, I am constantly reminded of how profoundly life can change in a relatively short time. Our ancestors could not possibly have imagined today’s world, and you will inhabit a future that I cannot possibly imagine. I wish that the world we leave for you was in better condition, and I hope you will manage it better than my generation has done.


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Hi WikiTreers!

Here are a few things happening around the community this week:

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