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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