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 Tara.

Tara Wildes became a Wiki Genealogist in December 2016.  She loves participating in our challenges and coordinates the Wildes One Name Study.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Wildes, Walker, Anderson, Wood, Kato, Rouse, Bowen, Lanier

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I focus on the Wiregrass Region of the Southern United States, but do not limit research to that area. I go where the records take me.  

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

My great-aunt, Hazel Wildes Mancil, was one of our family historians, and her lifelong interest and research was something I admired.  She encouraged and mentored many family members in genealogy.  I was a history minor in college as well and believe in preserving and learning from our past.  

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Hard to pick a favorite, but my 4g grandfather Maximillan Wildes is one of my most intriguing. There’s unsolved mystery about his origin; family lore has him stowing away on a ship and arriving in America from Scotland. Another theory is based on correspondence from the early 1800’s that implies he may have been a son of a Massachusetts judge. He was a pioneer in the Okefenokee Swamp area of Southeast Georgia and was killed along with his wife and most of his children in a raid on his homestead by the Seminoles during the Second Seminole War. Four brothers were away hunting and survived the raid, and most of the Wildes/Wilds of the southeastern United States are descendants of Reuben, Jesse, John, and James Wildes.

It is hard for us to imagine these days the leap of faith it took to strike out into the unknown, especially when we have so much knowledge immediately accessible. It’s even harder to grasp the survival skills that were common to the men and women in our past, especially those in the wilderness with no corner store, no biweekly paycheck, no electricity or phones.

Various members of our family have been using Y-DNA to attempt to determine Maximillian’s origin, but have yet to gain any conclusive knowledge.  

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

I still have a lot of walls, and while I know many may never be breached, I enjoy the search. It’s very satisfying to find even the smallest clues.  

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

I admire a lot of people – and figure I’m related to them all, somehow! 

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

After a 30-plus year career in criminal justice, I work on reforming that system these days, through my own consulting business and continuing to serve as our local reentry coordinator for people returning to society from jails and prisons. I also enjoy photography, all of nature and have fun trying to grow things from tomatoes to sourdough cultures. 

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

I have been on WikiTree since 2016, and I divide my time between researching my family, cleaning up my early mistakes and helping where I can with various projects. I try to take part in most of the challenges and found doing so has really helped my own growth in understanding best practices. 

I started the Wildes One Name Project and would love to have more people pitch in! 

What brought you to WikiTree?

A distant cousin told me about it, and I was hooked at first look. I love being able to share research and collaborate with others in an organized manner. 

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

Because WikiTree is free it provides instant access for anyone curious about their family history and the overarching goal of one accurate shared tree is aspirational. There is no better way to show we are one expanded family, no matter how distant the links. There are so many ways to get involved, it’s hard to choose what to do!

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

This is not a direct answer to that question, but it is great how many of the members’ suggestions get incorporated into positive changes. There are so many talented volunteers on this site.

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

Making connections, whether with my own relatives or anyone with common interests. It is wonderful to preserve and curate information on the lives of people, regardless of their fame or fortune. Each profile made is there for others to take from what they wish, while tombstones may crumble and paper records fade.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Explore first, read the FAQ, watch the tutorials, see if you have connections in existing profiles and don’t hesitate to ask questions.  This is a welcoming and considerate group.


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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 Lucy.

Lucy Robinson became a WikiTreer in May of 2017.  She’s a Data Doctor, Connector and Sourcerer and also participates in our Germany Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching? 

I’ve been trying to find out anything about the Wilsons from North Georgia. They are a mixture of Brewers, Underwoods & Harringtons/Herringtons. Wilson is my maiden name and the one I’m having the most trouble with.

I’m fascinated with my 10th great grandfather’s, John Punch/Bunch, name. I personally believe all of us track back to Africa and this man is my link. 

I’ve just joined a German Project Group to work on my Mingledorff line. I’ve been stuck for some time and excited to partner with people who live in that area of Germany. 

I’d really like to figure out how to solve the DNA mystery of my Herrington/Harrington line. Many are trying to determine if the man who came to America is the same as the well known Harrington line of England. 

My most prolific group of names involve the Salzburger families from Ebenezer, Georgia  and Purysburg, SC. This group has happily produced a list of over 3,000 cousins. Some I’ve gotten quite close to.

For a friend I’ve been looking into Powell & Burroughs of Virginia.

What are some of the locations you are researching? 

I’m looking into Rhineland-Palatine for my Mingledorff line. England for the Harrington like. Northeast Ga, Northern SC, and NC for my Wilsons. The Punch/Bunch line has led me all over the US. I’d love to figure out where he was before and how he originally became indentured. He ended up becoming the first, legal, lifelong slave in America with descendants across Va, NC, SC, Chicago and even Hawaii. 

I found records showing I’m related to some pretty famous Vikings & have been looking into Norway, Denmark & Sweden.

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

I was disabled in a 1996 car accident & left with too much time on my hands. Most of my careers have been either investigative or research in nature. I combined this with my love of family & history in general. 

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

That’s a hard choice. If I had to pick I’d have to go with Judge William Henderson Underwood (Underwood-6345). He was a self taught man & son of a doctor. He taught school while he taught himself the law. After being admitted to the bar he represented over 300 Cherokee Indians that he thought were wrongly charged. He ended up being the lead attorney at the US Supreme Court case of Cherokee Nation vs Georgia, which he won. Sadly we had a President who had little regard for the Court. He has been noted as being “the” attorney who was able to get the Supreme Court to understand the plight of the Cherokee. 

I share that sense of right vs wrong with this man and his passion for the underdog. I love his tenacity to achieve his goals and how he never stopped trying to serve his community. 

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

The Wilson name. It’s the only name I’ve not been able to get leads on. I’m stumped at my 3rd great father who seemed to have used several names & died in the Civil War. Because of this there is only one census record with a possible nickname. It’s unknown where he died or where he’s buried. He’s relatively unknown. 

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I enjoy learning and there’s not a subject that’s off limits. I have a love for music and am teaching myself the cello. I’m religious and spend time volunteering at my Church. Most of all my family is my main interest. I have two children & four amazing grandchildren. With schools closed I’ve taken on the role of teacher for my youngest grandson. My 80 & 85 year old parents live next door & run circles around me. Under normal circumstances I spend a lot of time with my Aunt who’s in an assisted living facility. 

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

I’ve been on WikiTree for 3 years. I spend my time trying to improve my original profiles while adding to my tree. I volunteer with the Data Doctors, Connectors, & Sourcerers. I have a habit of adopting orphan profiles because I feel bad for them. I’m a member of the Cornbread Catchers team for the marathon challenges and don’t know how I ever survived without them. I have a great mentor who is the most patient person I know. Best of all I’ve found a host of cousins which thrills me. I can’t have enough family!

What brought you to WikiTree?

I found WikiTree by accident, read the rules & was hooked. 

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

I love WikiTree because of the rules. When I read profiles where the rules have been followed I feel I can trust the information. That’s important to me. 

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

 The tools & available groups on WikiTree are amazing. The new Germany Project Regions Teams is going to be a fantastic way to collaborate with people on the ground in Germany. 

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Follow the welcome steps. Create only one profile & work it to completion. Ask for help, a lot. Don’t import your tree. It’s going to make a huge mess that you’re not ready to fix in order to comply with the rules. You’ll get there & doing it right the first time will pay off in the long run. 


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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 Jaki.

Jaki Erdoes has been active on WikiTree since 2016. She participates in our Palatine Migration, Hungary and Scotland projects as well as our quarterly marathons and 52 Photos Challenge.

What are some of the surnames you are researching? 

There are so many!  But primarily, on my maternal line, Sternbergh, Dodds, Hazen, Lane, Votey/deVotie/Vauxtie, Van Brunt, Schuyler, Printup, Pierce.

On my father’s side, mostly Elsass, Schrom, Glass, Baumhor.

What are some of the locations you are researching? 

Colonial New York and Vermont, England, Scotland, Germany, Hungary, Austria.

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

My father, Richard Erdoes, was a great story-teller, so I grew up hearing wonderful, funny stories about his Austro-Hungarian family of actors, eccentrics, and opera singers. On the other side of the family, my maternal grandfather was very proud of our colonial heritage, and connections to Revolutionary War officers. When I was a teenager, my grandfather David Sternbergh put together a family genealogy with a few stories, photos, and copies of family bible pages. My mother’s Aunt Constance Votey sent me something similar.

However, it was not until years later, in the late 1990s, that I became aware of our local Family History Library. I began ordering microfilms of Hungarian vital records and going through them manually, taking notes, and researching my Elsass and Glass lines. My father didn’t know much about these ancestors and was pleased to hear what I’d found.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Besides my own parents (of course!) my favorite ancestor is my father’s aunt, actress Leopoldine Sangora. She came from Europe to live with us in New York after her husband died, around the time I was born. I knew her as Tante Poldi. She was a sweet, lovely lady, with a really interesting life on the stage and in films. (I need to work on her profile!)

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

One of my mother’s ancestors was a man named William Printup), whose origins were something of a mystery.  I bought a book titled The Printup Family in America, by Stephen Lawton & Robert Printup, Gateway Press, 1989, whose authors were unable to trace back before William’s appearance in New York City in 1695. William settled in the Mohawk Valley, where he was a blacksmith. He became fluent in several Iroquois dialects, and was employed as an interpreter during several treaty negotiations.

Using Family Search, I had my eureka moment when I discovered a birth record for a William Printup born in Meriden, Warwickshire, England in 1676. I can’t be 100% certain that this is the same man, but since it is such an unusual surname, I think it’s probably him. 

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

I guess I’m happy researching my own family.  Very rich history right there. 

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I enjoy crafting, hiking, photography, and traveling. Sadly, travel is on hold until this pandemic is over.

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

I joined WikiTree in 2016. I’m afraid I’m not as focused as I would like to be. I work on various lines of my family as time permits, easily falling down research rabbit holes. I have joined more projects than I really am able to devote myself to, but I contribute when I can.  I have participated in several Clean- or Connect-a-thons, as well as photo challenges.

What brought you to WikiTree?

I honestly can’t remember. But I am glad I found it! 

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

The sense of community and collaboration, and the commitment to a single, well-sourced family tree is important to me. I find the errors and “Gedcom junk” that clutter other genealogy websites really frustrating.

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

Probably the way the search function deals with variant spellings. For example, it does not recognize Elsass and Elsasz as being related names.

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

I do like to find duplicates and either merge them or ask the profile managers to do so.  Also, I have connected with several cousins and learned a lot about different lines of our family.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Explore to see what’s already here, and to see how WikiTree is set up, before uploading your own tree.  There is a learning curve, but once you figure out how to use WikiTree, it’s really rewarding. Think of it as sharing, and try not to be too attached to “your” ancestors, as opposed to “ours.”  And don’t be afraid to ask questions!


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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 Claire.

Claire Nava became a WikiTreer in February of 2015.  She is an enthusiastic Greeter and a sleuthing Data Doctor.

What are some of the surnames you are researching? 

Nava, Chapel (long a, please), McNabb, Van Schoonhoven, Gage.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Currently, I am researching extended family in colonial America – New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont. 

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

My first memory of genealogy was on a trip to my paternal grandmother’s house. This was in the early 1960s, so children were expected to just sit and listen. Grandma would pull out a box of photos. They would study the pictures and Grandma would tell stories. One day, she pulled out this picture and handed it to Dad, saying “Isn’t she scary looking?” (I glanced up at it as it changed hands. They were, indeed, scary-looking). Grandma died and left her records to my father who carried on the research. When Dad died, I inherited their records. I started to sort through the photos and letters and such, and began to meet my ancestors. I was hooked.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

 Can I have two? 

  1. Corp. Joshua Gage. He was a short man of 5’ 4” or so, who fought at the battle of Breed’s Hill. His commander was Lieut. Samuel Brocklebank (Brocklebank-55), over six feet tall and heavy. Brocklebank was wounded by the British and lay bleeding. Gage saw that the British were bound to charge, but he would not leave his Lieutenant. He half-dragged Brocklebank to a nearby haystack, made a hole and helped Brocklebank in. He crawled in after him and covered both of them with hay. The British did charge, but somehow they did not find Gage and Brocklebank. Brocklebank recovered from his wounds, and they must have remained close friends because over twenty years later, Joshua’s son, John, married Samuel’s daughter, Lydia. It was in a flowery tribute printed in a local paper and re-told by my great-grandmother.
  2. Edith Orilla (Bonney) Gage. Her husband, Benjamin Franklin Gage, was a grandson of the American Revolutionary War hero, Joshua Gage, so of course the grandson volunteered for the Civil War. He came back broken physically. I don’t have the details, but the best work he could find was as a leather tanner; a nasty, dirty job working with dead animals and old urine. Most tanners lived in poverty, but Edith Orilla was an excellent artist. Not only did she care for her poor, battered husband, but she also raised their daughter, was a devout member of their church, managed the household, and helped support the family financially. When her daughter or husband needed something extra, Edith would pull out her oil paints and create charming, original landscapes and still lifes. Even though she was also frequently ill, she earned enough money to send her one precious daughter to college in the late 1800s Michigan.

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

Margaret (Mitchell) McNabb. When I was little, my mother said that I was related to Bonaparte (nope), Billy the Kid (also nope), and we had a genuine Lady in the family (unproven so far). The best story was about Margaret Mitchell. She was an Irish heiress, daughter of a baronet. The story goes, she fled with her sweetheart, John McNabb, and they emigrated to the colonies around the time of the American Revolution. Fully expecting to see this story shot down, too, I put it into a G2G question a couple of months ago. Guess what? It was true! G2G members gave me sources for her birth, their marriage records, their children … And an extra little fillip – apparently, she ran away with one sweetheart, met John McNabb on the boat to America, and married her new sweetie when they landed. I was shocked and delighted to have the story confirmed. 

Thanks to the G2G crew, I learned new research techniques and was able to add new life to an old story.

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

I’d have to say, Richard III of England. His name and character were blackened by the Tudors and by Shakespeare’s play, but it wasn’t true. He was an excellent and well-balanced king. Yes, he probably did cause some people to die. He was a general; it happens, but contemporary evidence does not support a hysterical neurotic or cold-blooded murderer who went around killing his own brothers, women, and children.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I love my church family (Lutheran LCMS). I’m the current president of the LWML, our women’s group, which supports missionary work, feeding the homeless, services for the deaf and the unborn, etc. I love to read mysteries, fiction, history, and medieval lit. I also enjoy old time radio shows. I drive quite a bit, so I listen to Dragnet or Sam Spade or Lux Radio Theatre as I travel. I work with a group called OTRR (Old Time Radio Researchers) to improve the quality of the recordings.

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

I’ve been on WikiTree for just over five years. I have gone as far back as I can with most of my direct ancestors, so now I’m volunteering with the Greatest Greeters (Hi all, you’re the best). I can’t take a regular shift since my schedule’s tricky, but I love working on the Merge Feed – when people merge profiles – to make sure that everyone has been properly greeted and knows how to get started.

My new current favorite is being a Data Doctor. I was an English teacher for a number of years, so it’s nice to use my detective and proofreading skills to help people strengthen their profiles. Sometimes, it’s just a quick sneak attack – a suggestion will say that someone was born in Massachusetts, USA in 1700. Whoops! No USA in 1700. I’ll just pop in and change “Massachusetts, USA” to “Massachusetts Bay,” leave a note to record my visit, and then I’m off. I do enjoy unraveling convoluted profiles, but they do take a ton of time.

What brought you to WikiTree?

I started with Ancestry, but I came to see that not all of their sources are reputable (AGBI or International Marriage Records, for instance) and it bothered me that Ancestry has such a stranglehold on public resources. Next, I tried FamilySearch. The research capabilities are excellent, but their profiles can be hard to manage. Finally, I tried WikiTree. I loved the idea of one big family tree instead of all those duplicated family trees on Ancestry, but I was worried. Why was WikiTree free? I kept waiting for something to go wrong. Were they going to sell my data? Was I suddenly going to get a bill? Was I safe from deranged genealogists or soulless hackers? Where was the catch? Finally, I began to relax and enjoy myself. Five years later, I have never been hacked or heckled, but I’ve met generous and friendly people of good will and learned about myself and my family.

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

The range and flexibility and depth of the system. If you’re a newbie, it’s easy enough to join in. If you like helping others, there are ways to do that. If you are like me and like to unravel complicated puzzles, that’s available too. And there are always people with similar interests to chat with, which is a real blessing.

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

I can’t think of a thing that hasn’t been covered. Basic rules and advanced techniques are covered by videos and webpages. Volunteers help expedite and keep things flowing. Leadership listens and addresses any problems quickly.

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

Definitely finding Margaret (Mitchell) McNabb. She went from a dubious fairy tale to a real woman with strength, fire, and a stubborn-streak a mile wide.

I enjoy my time on WikiTree. I like solving puzzles, helping people, connecting with like-minded people, and learning more about history and my own ancestors. 

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Please take advantage of all the great webpages and videos supplied by our leaders, and listen to the WikiTree volunteers who post on your profiles (especially the Greatest Greeters) – they are kind people with a world of experience and patience.


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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 Brad.

Brad Cunningham became a WikiTreer in March of 2019. He participates in several England Project teams and sourcing is one of his favorite activities.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Well, there are so many, but I guess if I had to name a few, I’ve been looking into Clark, Worth, Hussey, Swain lately.  They are all early settlers of Nantucket & Massachusetts Bay.  Then I’m always working on DeBeck & Dow who were early settlers in New Brunswick & Nova Scotia, after the War of 1812 (United Empire Loyalists).  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately researching my maternal side of the family.  My mother’s maiden name was JULEFF.  I’ve just started a One Name Study for Jolliffe/Juleff, so if anyone has any family members with this name please add the Category:Jolliffe One Name Study to their profile.  Or if anyone has some experience with ONS, any help is always appreciated!

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I’m a member of the Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset Teams, so I spend at least 2/3 of my time helping out where I can.  I also have ancestors from Norfolk & Ireland; however Ireland is a lot trickier than the rest.

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

I had an aunt (who recently passed away) who got me started in the maternal side.  I also used to belong to My Heritage & started creating a tree with them until I realized that by connecting through others, I was adding unsourced relatives, but oh did I ever have a huge tree.  

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why? 

My favorite ancestor is the one I newly discover.

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

I have been stuck for over a year on some of my Irish ancestors, but I can’t say that they are brick walls, only today.  Tomorrow is another “kick at the can”.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy? 

Cooking, Hiking, Vintage Trailer Rallies, Fishing, Reading.

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

I have been with WikiTree for just over a year now.  I spend a lot of time on the Dorset, Somerset, & Cornwall teams in the England Project; sourcing is something I enjoy doing.  Of course, I also love taking part in the various challenges; Source a Thon & Clean a Thon. I think I would like to try Connect a Thon next.

What brought you to WikiTree?

I used to use other sites to build my tree, but there is always a huge issue with unsourced profiles being added to your tree. Through research I found WikiTree & realized that there is a better way to do things.  I have learned so much since I have been a part of this “family”.  I can’t wait to learn more.  Everyday a new door opens. 

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

I have to say that I believe one of the best things about WikiTree is the Orphans Trail. I just hope that one day it will be something that everyone who joins WikiTree will take to start their journey.

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

I truly don’t think there is anything that I would want to change at this point, but you never know what I will say in another year. LOL

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

The “family” & community spirit of WikiTree has helped me the most. Whenever I have a problem or a roadblock, someone is always there to lend a hand. I have had members drop what they are doing just to help out. It encourages me to do the same & I do just that as much as I can. I also hope that my sourcing has helped out new people that have uploaded a profile or two without any sources. I hope that by adding one or two sources, it has encouraged them to dig further.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree? 

ORPHANS TRAIL!!  Just do it!


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