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 Deb.

Deb became a WikiTreer in May of this year.  She is a Data Doctor, a Sourcerer, and an Integrator. She also participates in the 1776Latter-day Saints (LDS)Puritan Great Migration (PGM), and Notables projects. She likes doing the sourcing and Data Doctor challenges, and loved the Source-A-Thon (she came in third!).

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

A few of the names I’m researching are, Lewis, which is my maiden name but only because my grandfather took his stepfather’s surname, Borquez and its variations, which would have been my name had my grandfather not become a Lewis, Western, which is my mother’s maiden name, Smith (oh joy), which belongs to my maternal grandmother, Hubbard, for my paternal grandmother and Durham, for my husband and our children. I’ve left a lot out, of course, but those are the nearest and dearest.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Massachusetts, Vermont, England, Scotland, Spain, Mexico, Utah, and Arizona are prominent locations on my father’s side. My mother brings us Michigan, Canada, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Cornwall, England. From my hubby’s family I get Virginia, Illinois, and Oklahoma. I would love to break through to Europe with his lines; especially the Durhams but they’ve always been a stubborn lot.

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

I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t interested in family history. I always loved listening to the stories my family members told about events that took place before I was born. I’ve since learned that some of those tales should have been taken with a very large grain of salt but that’s part of the fun of discovery.

The genealogy seed was planted pretty early as well because my paternal grandmother’s family was with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the time of Joseph Smith. My aunt has what she calls “The Big Black Book of Hubbards” with family history and lineages. I’ve dabbled on and off for many years but it was probably about 20 years ago that I began to get more serious about researching and not just take someone else’s word for it. I’ve found many errors in our big black book of Hubbards.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I have temporary favorites at times, usually the one I’m heavily into researching at the moment, but in the end I always seem to come back to my third great grandmother, Caroline Eliza Nickerson. She was born in 1808 in Vermont and her story is very compelling. She traveled to New York with her parents and siblings to join Joseph Smith and other early Mormons where she met and married her first husband, Marshall Moore Hubbard, my third great grandfather. Marshall died in Michigan while there to sell property, leaving Caroline with four small children. She married twice more, suffered many hardships, and lost several children during her journey to Utah. She became a much revered teacher in Utah and died there at the age of 81. I’ve been working on her biography but don’t have it on WikiTree yet. There’s a wealth of material to sort through and digest.

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

Aside from the issue of tracing my husband’s family back to Europe that I mentioned earlier, one of my most frustrating brick walls involved my mother’s paternal grandfather. His name was Glen Western but he was raised by a family named King. He ultimately adopted “King” as a middle name. I tried for years to find his biological parents but kept coming up short. Just a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a brother who was fostered by another family and, unlike my great grandfather who always listed the Kings as his parents on official documents, he used the names of his biological parents on his Social Security application. Eureka! Now I’m hoping there is a birth record for my grandfather where his bio parents’ other two children were born. I know his parents’ names now and that’s a start; one step at a time.

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

I’ve always been fascinated by the scientist, Marie Curie. A woman so prominent in the sciences was and still is, to a large degree, unusual. I would love to find out I was related to such a pioneer.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I spend some of my time working as a Social Media Community Specialist for the mobile division of a large company. I interact with our community on several social media platforms as well as moderate and interact on our community forums.

When not working or looking for the dearly departed, I read a great deal, crochet, knit, cook, and enjoy various water related fun, but my favorite pastime is playing with my grandchildren.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?  Are there any projects/challenges you are involved in? What do you enjoy doing?

I became a WikiTree member in May and I’m on daily. I’m a Data Doctor, a Sourcerer, and an Integrator. I’m also a member of the 1776, Latter-day Saints (LDS), Puritan Great Migration (PGM), and Notables projects. I like doing the sourcing and data doctor challenges, and loved the Source-A-Thon (I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet, though). Can’t wait for the Spring Clean-A-Thon!

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

The moment I found WikiTree and read about the premise behind it, I knew I’d found my genealogical home. I’ve been so frustrated over the years by “junk” genealogy and mistakes in lineages and relationships that get perpetuated through lack of due diligence. Yes, I realize there are plenty of mistakes on WikiTree but the idea that we communicate with each other and work together to correct those mistakes while striving to provide proof for all of it means that I never have to see my great grandfather married to his son’s mother-in-law on WikiTree or argue with people who insist he was married to her simply because they’ve seen it on 50 other trees.

There isn’t a lot I don’t like. I wouldn’t mind having more data fields for things like burials and baptisms but I do fully understand why there aren’t. I can deal. I probably wouldn’t complain if the fields were arranged differently so that all the fields relating to birth and death were together; all the fields relating to names were together, etc. I imagine that too would be more trouble than it’s worth to alter. Compared to the things I love about WikiTree, these are minor inconveniences.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?  

Take it slowly at first. Enter your first generations by hand to get a feel for it before even thinking about a big GEDCOM upload. Make sure you have the first profiles you enter fully sourced before you move on. Trust me; you’ll be glad of it later. As you go, read, read, and read! The help pages are full of useful information and instruction. Above all, ask! There are so many knowledgeable and helpful people on WikiTree that are willing to drop their own research to assist you with navigating the site or do some sleuthing for you if you just can’t find that one piece of evidence you need. I have seen so many people find the link they have been missing simply by posting a question in G2G. It’s inspiring to see the lengths many WikiTreers will go to in order to help someone else.


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  One Response to “Meet our Members: Deb Durham”

  1. I love the challenges, too. Fun and rewarding, knowing you’re improving our tree.

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