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 Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Winter became a WikiTreer in February of 2015.  She has over 160,000 contributions and spends a lot of time working with our Cemeteries Project. She loves connecting individuals to our global tree!

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

There’s a few dozen of them I’ll follow to try & connect when I come across them: FairchildMallett, EddyHungerford, Kellogg & Shumway are examples of those. Not the super common names so much (Wheeler, Smith, Jackson), nor the rare ones (Wiehle, Psotta, Kofoid, Rodie.) Just the medium ones.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

1) I got curious about the anti-government Bundy family who participated in armed occupations of public lands & facilities in recent years. It led to spending a few months looking at their family ties, particularly the Mexican Colonias that came when the Mormon church discontinued polygamy to gain Utah statehood. We don’t usually study that aspect of American history in school, but I think it’s fair to conclude that you cannot really understand the expansion into the American West without looking at LDS settlement patterns.

2) I’m descended from many of the first settlers of towns around Bridgeport, Connecticut. Having worked through thousands of cemetery pix, I’m pretty solidly knowledgeable about that area. To a lesser degree, along the Connecticut River through Connecticut and Massachusetts,  New London, Connecticut & Essex County, Massachusetts. I’m coordinator for Connecticut cemeteries. Ask me!

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

On Sept. 11, 2001, my uncle in Denver went into major medical emergency, due to Alzheimer’s. All planes were down, and I was the only relation close enough to drive. So I got in the car to take care of his new arrangements going forward, and close down his life as it had been. What’s relevant here is 3 boxes of genealogical papers found, representing 50 years of work by my grandfather, his brother, and their father. I put it into software, and it was over 4500 names, going back 10+ generations to the Puritan Great Migration. Their work is thoroughly sourced, including contemporary correspondence with second cousins back in the late 1800s. Because I had so much to start with, I don’t mainly research my own ancestors any more.

In general, I’m interested in the patterns and puzzles and what they show about history and culture.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Not ancestor, cousin: Some years ago, I came across a man called McGregor Curry who married a distant cousin.  Born of Bahamian immigrants to the US, he became the Chief Customs Officer at Key West, Florida during Prohibition. This strikes me as a great premise for a TV series. Miami Vice meets Deadwood, some such. I suppose that some day, I ought to follow through and do something about him here on WikiTree.

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

I have a pair of passed down oil portraits of a couple of ancestors born in Scotland. (In other words: When my mom died, nobody else was interested, so I brought them home. She got them by a similar process.) I see these people every day on my actual wall. I was given some passed down names to go with: Hamilton Steele – what a name! – and Ann (Anderson) Steele, parents of Elizabeth (Steele) Schneider, after whom I am named. But that’s a mistake. I’ve found plenty of info about Hamilton & Ann, but there’s too many discrepancies for them to be Elizabeth Steele’s parents. Furthermore, the Scotland Census shows Hamilton as “farm laborer” and “ploughman”, and I don’t think he’d be as prosperous as portrayed in the portraits. Maybe there’s another Hamilton Steel/e that I’ve not uncovered yet, or maybe someone made a mistake. There’s nobody left to ask any more.

In looking for a picture of myself for this Meet a Member entry I came across a carte-de-visite of “Mary Howell, sister of Elizabeth (Steele) Schneider.” Oddly, I’d never noticed it before, despite having it for years. And I found the correct Schneider clan in New York City. The family lore got off track a little but, but it wasn’t entirely wrong.  Elizabeth’s father was William Steel, and her MOTHER was Hamilton “Hammy”(Marshall) Steel. If I’m to believe the info on FindAGrave, they were successful in the fashionable shoe trade.

So, thank you Meet our Members for helping me find the right names for the portraits! Meanwhile, I didn’t find the picture of myself I was looking for, showing three-year-old’s a bat-out-of-hell tricycle ride. There aren’t very many pictures of me extant – the one I picked is a screen shot from when I was on Jeopardy! awhile back.

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

I joined on 3 Feb 2015. My approach is, primarily, connecting. I spent a few months on people who have counties named after them in the USA. I did about half the c.1500 people in that category, profiles & connecting. It was illuminating, if somewhat depressing, to realize that most of the counties in the USA were named after slave owners, Indian killers, or in many cases, both.

For well over a year now, my main activity has been placing and connecting thousands of cemetery pix. Primarily, they were from the Bridgeport, CT area, with a few from elsewhere in CT & MA. I finished them recently. I also just finished on a cemetery in Kingston, New York . For now, the Texas cemetery pictures are on the back burner, but I’ll get to those before long. It feels good to get bucket list tasks like this finished!

From time to time, I work on Notables, particularly musicians. I’ve also gotten interested in #resistancegenealogy: It’s a topical and potentially controversial activity, so I don’t bring it up in discussion on WikiTree generally. The purpose is related to current immigration debates and controversies in the US. When public figures make statements, journalist Jennifer Mendelsohn & others check against their family history to see if their own family meets their stated standards.

For example: Conservative commentator Ann Coulter says she’s descended from settlers, not immigrants. I’m not sure the differences between the 2 in her thinking, but 3 of her father’s 4 sets of g-grandparents came as refugees fleeing the Irish potato famine.

I came across a fair amount of info on slaves & slaveowners doing cemetery pix, building a sense of how to identify that info in the records. Now that I’ve put the Kingston, NY cemetery to bed my focus is slaveowners in Connecticut. By the time I’m done, Fairfield County’s maybe going to look like a hotbed of slavery. I don’t know that it was compared to nearby areas, but I do think it’s good for these historical facts to be looked at honestly, and to be available for public review. It may be a little harder to get at those who were in the slave trade on ships, but it might be worth following up for those who died in the Caribbean.

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

I read an article about the Global Family Reunion that showed up in my FaceBook feed from Vox. It made sense instantly, so I signed up.

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

Not just WikiTree, but genealogy generally: It’s the serendipity. You never know what you’ll come across. For one example: Bridgeport was home to PT Barnum, which might be why I came across an immigrant family of circus performers. Since they toured throughout Europe, every child was born in a different country! In general, I also enjoy the patterns and the puzzles of it all. Best of all, WikiTree is public. I have an ancestry.com account, but it’s not so easy to share with family members as sending them here. And there’s always the cousins you have never met yet.

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

Working on cemeteries, one encounters lots and lots of military veterans. For awhile, I tried marking their profiles or the benefit of those working on projects like the US Civil War or 1776 for the American Revolution. I gave that up and here’s why: People in those projects seem to expect everyone to be as interested and involved as they are. I’m not! I thought it would be helpful to just mark them so others would follow through, but instead I kept getting instruction on how to research every battle and military unit and so on. Thing is, I don’t want to go that far off on a tangent. So I quit trying. I think it would help if there were an “Inbox” for projects so users could put a simple tag for project specialists to follow up on.

There’s always room for improvement on search, too. The one that pops to mind is for alternative spellings on first names (e.g. Alan, Allan, Allen) like there already is for last names.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

It’s never perfect, and it’s never finished. Different people have different approaches, priorities, and POVs which is a strength of WikiTree, in my opinion. I don’t worry too much about making profiles perfect; leaving it better than I found it is good enough for me. Don’t worry too much about unsolicited advice because you can’t please everybody. Take what helps and leave the rest. Learn how to use G2G.


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  4 Responses to “Meet our Members: Elizabeth Winter”

  1. It says were 9th cousins 554 ttimes but I was wondering about the Winters, my fathers Aunt married a George Winter and they had two sons in Evanston, ill. but I know nothing about the Winter family

    Elizabeth and Carolyn are 9th cousins twice removed
    Elizabeth Winter and Carolyn (Olsen) GiaMarco are both descendants of Richard Hubbell.

    1. Elizabeth is the daughter of Marion (Rodie) Winter [unknown confidence]
    2. Marion is the daughter of Julia Adelaide (Wheeler) Rodie [unknown confidence]
    3. Julia is the daughter of Daniel Fairchild Wheeler [unknown confidence]
    4. Fairchild is the son of Hobart Rutledge Wheeler [unknown confidence]
    5. Hobart is the son of Ebenezer Wheeler [unknown confidence]
    6. Ebenezer is the son of Ann (Walker) Wheeler [unknown confidence]
    7. Ann is the daughter of Eunice (Nichols) Walker [unknown confidence]
    8. Eunice is the daughter of Patience (Hubbell) Nichols [unknown confidence]
    9. Patience is the daughter of James Hubbell [unknown confidence]
    10. James is the son of Richard Hubbell [unknown confidence]
    This makes Richard the eighth great grandfather of Elizabeth.

    1. Carolyn is the daughter of Hildreth (Bush) Olsen [confident]
    2. Hildreth is the daughter of Ned Aaron Bush [unknown confidence]
    3. Ned is the son of Florence Pearl (Snedeker) Bush [unknown confidence]
    4. Pearl is the daughter of William Marret Snedeker [confident]
    5. William is the son of George William Snedeker [confident]
    6. George is the son of Garrett Snedeker [confident]
    7. Garrett is the son of Elizabeth (Frost) Snedeker [confident]
    8. Elizabeth is the daughter of Josiah Frost Sr. [unknown confidence]
    9. Josiah is the son of Jedediah Frost [confident]
    10. Jedediah is the son of Abner Frost [confident]
    11. Abner is the son of Elizabeth (Hubbell) Hull [confident]
    12. Elizabeth is the daughter of Richard Hubbell [unknown confidence]
    This makes Richard the tenth great grandfather of Carolyn.

    [how to share this on Facebook]
    Explore more: 554 common ancestors were found between Elizabeth and Carolyn within 30 generations. To view the relationship trails, select the common ancestor here. Note that the relationship name will not change.

  2. Hello Elizabeth, my ged match number is A913439. e mail neilpeters863@yahoo.co.uk Ancestry member.
    Would you have a match in your tree to mine?
    Kindly yours
    Neil.

  3. Elizabeth Winter is 24 Degrees from Cynthia Mangiafico

  4. Hi Elizabeth, I tried to see if I could find you on Geni.com to see if we’re family, but there’s so many people with the same name as yours. Do you know if you have a profile on Geni, and if you do would you mind sending me a link to the page? Thanks!! Here’s a link to mine if interested:
    https://www.geni.com/people/James-David-Cunningham-D-D/6000000007428255275?from_flash=1&fsession_id=1536599823176&through=6000000007428255275

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