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 Barbara.

Barbara has been a WikiTreer since March of 2013.  She’s constantly working with our DNA tools, is an Adoption Angel, and is active as an Ambassador promoting WikiTree via social media and in presentations to local groups.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Brady, Armstrong, Jenkins, Shoff, Rogers, Pri(t)chard, McCormick, Hollen, Wakefield, Briley, Greenwell to name a few for me. I research loads of others too.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Ireland, Scotland.

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

My sister, Deborah, blew me away when she returned from summer vacation with a stack of photos. They were all headstones. I’m not sure she took any pictures of the living relatives she met. That was back in the 1970’s. I didn’t really do much until the age of computers. Then I played. Mostly showing people how they could find their family. I did a lot of that for friends. I have “played” at doing genealogy since the early 1990’s. I did an atDNA test in 2012 or 13 (I think). Try as I might, I couldn’t figure it out. Not that I wasn’t trying. I was reading loads of blogs. My bulb was out. I thought if I read it over and over I would “get it.” I got really serious about it when I read Jim Bartlett’s blog Segment-ology. That was less than a year ago. His simple explanations were like he was turning up a dimmer switch for me. He lit a fire. I have become passionate about working with triangulation and segments. I am having a BLAST!

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My grandmother, Stella Lois Armstrong Prichard. I grew up with her. I wish I had recorded all the family stories. I have some awesome cousins I love too. I would give their names, but they are still living. I always called them Aunt because of our age difference. We inherited a long life gene from our Jenkins line I think. I know one of them came to visit and was over 100.

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

Oh, wow! Great question and I am very excited right now. Hugh Brady b.1709 IR and Hannah McCormick. Descendants of Hugh and Hannah (McCormick) Brady have a Facebook page. We recently started the Brady DNA Project, also on Facebook. Everyone with the Brady surname is invited to join. We are all learning how to do triangulation and study segments together.

In the last week I met a new Brady cousin who I discovered while looking at WikiTree descendants for Hugh Brady. I messaged her and found out we live only 45 minutes from each other and are getting together soon. She joined the Brady DNA Project and I did a GEDmatch triangulation workbook for her. (We are all on GEDmatch and using WikiTree.) Low and behold I found a triangulation for her to another Brady and they share just over 15 cM. This cousin appears to be a missing link to take our line back to Ireland and possibly County Cavan. This is exciting. He joined and I am finding even more links for him. We hope to break through our brick wall to find definitively who Hugh’s father and mother were and verify that Hannah is truly a McCormick. So far, I am very hopeful. There has been loads written on the family over the years, but the source documentation other than “stories” hasn’t been found. We would love to know the name of the ship they arrived on. We think they come in someplace around Delaware but no one has found it yet. I have some information that leads me to believe Hannah’s family was already settled here. Nothing yet that explicitly states who her parents were. We need a marriage license or will. There’s a WikiTree challenge for the G2G forum.

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

Now that’s a tough one. Maybe Nikola Tesla. I would want to try to pick his brain and learn his awesome thought process – where he went in his thinking, how he “saw” in his mind the things that he saw. I would also offer to make duplicates copies of his inventions and disperse them to others for safekeeping.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Writing. Reading. At one time I really enjoyed gardening. The older you get the more your body rebels. I would say I am pretty lopsided. I am still learning genetic genealogy and putting together a method using triangulation, to simplify methods currently being used, which means I have had to learn more computer skills. Three years ago a 14-year-old showed me the tab on a browser. I about came out of my chair. I had been using a different browser to open a new window when I didn’t want to leave the one that I already had opened.

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 had to look at my profile page. According to it, March 2013. I wasn’t really all that active except for putting my known family in the tree. I’ve been more active over the last year. I struggle to learn and WikiTree has so many bells and whistles I sometimes go in circles. I try to do my best and continue to learn. I add loads of stuff now. I love the Research tool. THAT is a big help.

I am a WikiTree Ambassador. I started giving talks at some area libraries in the last year and encourage everyone to join. I am very good at sending them links to videos about WikTree. Now so many people are asking for a class on WikiTree, I am going to have to really get to work. I do know if you put your tree up here, you will connect to cousins. I also know it was the best place for the people in the Brady DNA Project to link their branches of our world tree. Thank heaven for some of our really good genealogists, one in particular, Elizabeth Brady, who is doing a lot of pruning. Donna Cuillard has been doing Brady research for years and shares generously on our DNA Project and administrates the Brady Descendants FB page. She and a group of others also work tirelessly on our family reunions on the original Brady homestead near Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

I recently became an Adoption Angel but have several people I have been working with whose parents are still unknown. I love teaching adoptees how to find their family and do what I can as I can to help.

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

I love the videos. I think we need more and I plan on learning how to help with that. I love watching Mags Gaulden, I usually catch the videos after the fact. I like following the tags, and with attention deficit disorder can get lost for hours. The surnames and DNA lists are a great place to do some GEDmatch one-on-one matches. I found some cousins that way. Some of the instructions confuse me. When you are adding people I wish an alert would pop-up and say, STOP, you might get lucky and have just found a cousin! Look these choices over closely. Maybe a really short video link they could click on that explains how WikiTree works.  I think it would cut down on the instances of needing to do merges later.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Write the people who manage the profiles you link too. THEY ARE USUALLY FAMILY! Do a Youtube video search for WikiTree. Don’t try to do everything all at once. It is a process. HAVE FUN! Be willing to help others and answer their questions—even if you have to look it up to answer them.

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

I love you that’s why I did this for you.


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  3 Responses to “Meet our Members: Barbara Shoff”

  1. I agree it is hard to learn. I have a second or third cousin who was adopted out. It is hard to figure out which side of my family deb is on as both sides of my family have relatives living in the general area she said she is from. She says her birth mother is still alive and she is in contact with her. She also can get some information from her father’s family. But we haven’t found the link k yet as I am using a kindle 10 hd and you can’t do triangular Latino? On it but you can view what chromosomes they are a match with you.. Deborah-6

  2. Sorry errors in previous message. I am Deb not my new family match. It is not Latino. I meant matching.

  3. Pleased to meet you cousin! We share Scarrow roots! Congrats on your continuing work on DNA connections!

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