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 Fran.

Fran Weidman became a  WikiTreer in April of 2018.  She’s active in our England Project and loves to spend time connecting people to our global tree.  Fran was also the top scoring winner in our Source-a-Thon a few weeks ago!

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

McHugh, O’Neil, Kirsch, Blum, Fischer, Fletcher, and Graves. To name a few.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, and Lincolnshire, England.

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

My mom kept a baby book from the time I was born. On the page where there should have been a really cool family tree, there were only a few names written down. She didn’t think family history was as important as growing a first tooth. But I begged to differ and would look at that family tree page and wonder – really wonder – who these people were and where they came from. As soon as I was old enough, I began prowling cemeteries and hanging out in libraries every chance I got. So began the addiction.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I would have to say my great grandfather, Patrick McHugh, and that’s only because he’s one of my biggest brick walls. I guess I had romanticized the whole “coming to the U.S. from Ireland and living happily ever after” thing. Quite the contrary. Supposedly he was dirt poor when he came over, then had to fight in the Civil War. His wife died fairly young and 5 of his children also died young. I’ve learned to admire all the immigrants and the hardships they had to go through. It certainly was not a fairy tale.

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

Well, I can’t take full credit for this one, but it has to be my husband’s 2X great grandfather, Joseph Graves Fletcher, who came from Lincolnshire, England. He was born with the surname of Graves, which we had no idea about, as hubby came from a long line of Joseph Fletchers. I tried going back to Lincolnshire to search and could not find the right Joseph Fletcher, anywhere. We found him with the surname of Fletcher on the ship coming to the U.S., but yet could not find a marriage record. Because he had changed his name back to Graves for  his marriage – then back to Fletcher. I was collaborating with a cousin who figured it out before I did. I told the Fletcher family members that they were originally Graves, and of course now they all hate me.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I enjoy reading just about anything, listening to music, doing various crafts – but most of all gardening. I moved to a small farm from a Chicago suburb 6 years ago and love growing my own food and canning stuff for winter. I’ve become quite the farm wife.

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

I’ve only been on here since April 2018. I really enjoy sourcing, but since the Source-a-Thon, I think I’ve developed Carpal Tunnel, so I have been doing a bit of connecting. I LOVE it. It’s a great challenge, and actually quite fun.

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

I was doing Google searches for ancestors (on and off for several years) and WikiTree kept coming up. I figured it was another bogus family tree site and always skipped over it. One day I decided to check it out, and am very glad I did. I was previously on Ancestry, but I grew tired of it after I found my name on someone’s family tree, being listed as dead since 1975. Not to mention an obscure cousin who wanted to argue with me about my own father’s death date (ummm… sorry dude, but I was THERE!).

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

The PEOPLE, hands down! I love being a part of the England Project and have met so many wonderful people that share the same passion. I also love the concept of “One Big Tree”. Nobody should “own” any ancestor, and that’s the problem with other sites, I think.

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

Hmm… maybe try to convey to new people the importance of sourcing, and that Ancestry Family Trees should never used as primary sources.

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

Thanks to Ros Haywood and the Orphan Trail project, I learned about the GRO indexes, which I had never heard of. Definitely a big deal for me, as I was able to dispute  the notions that my husband was related to some famous painter in London. Which made my in-laws hate me even more!

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Take your time when uploading Gedcom profiles and source as you go along. I didn’t realize what a mess they made until I saw my own.


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  One Response to “Meet our Members: Fran Weidman”

  1. All I can say is don’t ever give up. The genealogy world is full of surprises. Just yesterday I found a mistake on one of my own entries that have been there for almost 15 years; a simple mistake of birthdate versus marriage date of a second wife. After correcting this error I went on a new search to explore this new grandmother and a whole new adventure exploded I went from a new 5th Great-Grandmother all the way to early British/French Royalty up to a new 30th Great-Grandfather with heavy referenced source material all along the way. Many names I remember reading and writing book reports about in school history class. All I could say was OMG with every new click and shake with excitement, sleep was scarce last night. Guess now I have to add a few new tags on my profile page while I recheck the references. before posting to the tree

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