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 Jeff.

Jeff Timmons became a WikiTreer in August of 2017.  He is currently attempting to identify and document all the descendants of his known ancestors, and he is part of the Finland Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Paternal: Timmons, Lacey, Glass; Maternal: Dohn, Dodge, Chase and Michener.  Honorable Mention: Brown and Taylor to some degree but they are too common for me to have much success without luck playing a role.

What are some of the locations you are researching? 

Most of my more recent paternal ancestors were from Eastern Ohio – especially Tuscarawas. Guernsey, Belmont and Harrison Counties – so a great deal of my research has been in this area.

Since my top brick wall is Charles Timmons, who spent much of his life in Ohio, and my few Timmons/Timmins yDNA matches seem to have originated throughout Ohio, I research (and document on WikiTree ANY Timmons I encounter who EVER lived anywhere in Ohio.

One of my periodic endeavors is to find a census record for a Timmons household in the first half of the 19th century which is not yet documented on WikiTree and trace their lineage forward and backward in time documenting as many ancestors and descendants as possible in hopes that some day I will figure out how such a tree might actually tie into my tree.  

Yeovil, Somerset, England.  Ancestors of my maternal grandfather (surname – Dodge) can be traced back to Yeovil and at that point the line currently stops.  Norman Dodge (a fellow WikiTree member) has done a phenomenal job of documenting an amazing array of individuals with the Dodge surname.  I hope to some day link my Dodge lineage into the array of Dodges he has documented.

Haldimand and Lincoln County, Ontario, Canada. The ancestry of my maternal grandmother can be traced back to the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada.  From there it can be traced to Germany on one side and back to Pennsylvania on the other side.

Western Pennsylvania.  My brick wall Charles Timmons may well be traced back into Pennsylvania and then on to Ireland but I don’t really know.  My maternal grandmother’s family can also be traced back to Bucks County, Pennsylvania so I have two points of interest in Pennsylvania.

I suspect I’ll eventually get more deeply into both Germany and Ireland once I get more near term ancestry taken care of.

Finland and Sweden.  Periodically I take a pause on my ancestry and take a look at my wife’s ancestry.  Three of her grandparents were from Finland and the 4th was from Sweden.  When I start tracing her lineage, I enjoy the challenge of researching in a foreign language (NOT! – fortunately I have had quite a bit of luck with WikiTree Finland Project members helping out in this area).

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

Three somewhat linked events led to my interest in genealogy. 

First, my father passed away when I was only 4 years old.  My mother remarried when I was 10. I didn’t know much of my father’s family growing up.  This sparked significant curiosity as I grew older.  

Second, in my early 20s I got an invitation to a “Brown Family Reunion”.  This reunion was for descendants of my father’s maternal grandparents. Once I met these relatives and started learning about that line, I just got more and more interested in the entire genealogical research process.

Third, I inherited a book (Pittis Genealogy – The Pittis family in England and America by Margaret Birney Pittis) that I hadn’t looked at until my late 20s.  It documented SOME of my lineage on my paternal side back to the 1400s. This provided a bit of a genealogical perspective for me. I have a couple other similar books that I inherited.  I believe they belonged to my paternal grandmother Ruth Alberta (Brown) Timmons. I suspect she was a bit of a genealogist even back then. I wish I knew her. She died when I was only a few months old.  Maybe I inherited her Genealogical DNA. 😊

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?  

My favorite, and least favorite ancestor, is Charles Timmons , my third great grandfather.  He is the bane of my genealogical existence. I was able to find my relationship to him in the first 15 minutes of my genealogical efforts. 3-4 years later, 5 DNA tests later, and I still do not have any idea who his parents are.  He appears to be the brick wall frustrating every descendant of his who is interested in genealogy.   

A close second is John Mills Lacey, Sr  is a well-documented ancestor that I am currently enjoying searching for descendants of.  He had 2 or 3 wives and at least 17 children (likely 19) so there are LOTS of descendants.

As for an ancestor I could have actually met,my paternal grandmother could be a third choice.  From everything I have learned about her, she was a very interesting woman. As mentioned earlier, she was likely an old-fashioned genealogist.

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

Successes – 

  1.  For a while I had problems finding the parents and grandparents of Elmer Ellsworth Brown.  The common surname makes research challenging.  
  2. His sister Celestine (Brown) Deselms was also a bit of a challenge to research.  Initial documentation mispelled her name in such a fashion that SHE appeared to be MALE.  Once I figured out the proper spelling and that HE was actually FEMALE I had lots of fun documenting quite a wide array of descendants, siblings, etc.

Hopeful – 

  1. Parents of Charles Timmons
  2. Parents of Mary Hurley Clifton
  3. Parents of Benjamin Brown
  4. Confirmable sources that Aaron Thompson Glass and Mary Margaret Jones are actually the parents of Eliza Glass. 

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

Almost any American President would provide for interesting genealogical efforts.  I’ll pick our first president, George Washington. Almost any president except our current one.  HE is too controversial.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy? 

I am an avid snow skier and for many years was an amateur ski racer.  I enjoy skiing and experiencing new and varied ski resorts. Twenty years ago, I began keeping track of where I had skied and to date I have skied at nearly 100 different ski resorts.  My wife and son both enjoy skiing as well so we ski every year during my son’s annual spring break.

My family enjoys boating and waterskiing as well.  We take an annual trip to Lake Norris, Tennessee and enjoy a variety of water sports.

I make it an effort to find as many interesting and unique activities as possible for my 12 year old son. Most recently he has had the opportunity to participate in the sport of Luge on the Lake Placid, New York Olympic Luge course and try out for the US Olympic Junior Development Team.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing? If you’re  involved in a project(s), tell us about how you participate in it. 

I have been a WikiTree genealogist for a bit less than 2 years.  About 6-9 months ago I changed my tactics. I had been doing everything possible to try and stretch my tree back in time with diminishing success.  I was pretty quickly able to identify and adequately document my 32 3rd great grandparents and was not having much luck with my 4th great grandparents.  Out of desperation I started down the DNA test route.  DNA testing helped a bit but soon I learned that DNA was helping me find living descendants of the ancestors I had already identified but not many more of my missing ancestors. 

So… I started my current strategy. I am now attempting to identify and document descendants of my known ancestors. For a few of my 3rd great grandparents I have identified and documented close to 1,000 descendants of each.  This approach has actually provided a greater sense of satisfaction AND in a few cases it has helped me find people who have found (or think they have found) some of the ancestors I couldn’t find myself previously.  I hope to continue identifying such descendants; clean up exiting, incomplete profiles of mine; respond to my endless array of FindAGrave related WikiTree+ suggestions; and add more photographs over the next year or two.

I am a member of the Finland Project, but I am not yet very active.  When I get back over to my wife’s side of the family, I will be likely to be a bit more involved in the Finland Project.

If/when I stop finding profiles to add to our shared tree based on their relationship to me, I suspect I will be far more likely to join and/or participate in WikiTree projects.

Given my software development background, I suspect one project I might be somewhat interested in at some point might be the Data Doctors Project.

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

I don’t know how I found WikiTree in the first place.  I am certain I was looking for the parents of Charles Timmons when I somehow bumped into WikiTree.  I had been keeping track of my family tree in an Excel spreadsheet and only added information when I was convinced it was correct.  I wasn’t saving my sources but mentally I was trying to simply only add “confirmable” people to my “tree”. Excel isn’t a very good tool for such an endeavor. 😊  It started with me simply creating the basics of my family tree and pasting citation information from FamilySearch into the profiles I was creating.   

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

  1. Above all, I like the shared tree concept and the expectation that data should be sourced.
  2. I like the basic pedigree chart for any given profile.
  3. I like to press the descendant button on a given profile and see all the descendants I have documented. (I wish it could have an option as to how many generations to display.  I would like to CONDITIONALLY add a couple more gnerations.)
  4. I like the recently added profile preview you get when hovering over a person.
  5. I like the privacy functionality so I can feel comfortable adding more information than I would otherwise add.
  6. Many people probably dislike the “markup language” used for profiles.  It is very much like HTML. The ability to do almost anything you want is wonderful.  As a result, it is too complex for many. In my case I hated it to start with and now love it.  If you start out using almost none of it and slowly add new features to your “Vocabulary” you can eventually learn to love it.
  7. I like the DNA icon that appears on profiles, pedigrees, and descendant lists.  I find this nice to show me which ancestors I need to look for DNA matches for. My goal is to find enough DNA matches to check all 64 of my 4th great grandparents (I have a long way to go).
  8. DNA aspects of WikiTree in general.  I have been quite interested in my DNA results and the ability to use and refer to them in WikiTree is very nice.
  9. I love the statistics box you can click on next to a person and see how many children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, 2nd great grandchildren, 3rd great grandchildren, 4th great grandchildren, etc they have defined on WikiTree. (Wait a minute, this feature doesn’t exist.) 😊

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?  Just like the previous question, I can’t pick just 1.  😊

  1. I am certain that I am creating UNLISTED Profiles that match other UNLISTED profiles.  Although I fully understand the privacy concerns it is quite frustrating.  
  2. Not being able to add UNLISTED children is also a bit frustrating.  All is understandable but still frustrating.  
  3. I don’t care much for the recent change in categories but it isn’t a particularly big problem for me either way.  
  4. Lack of an ability to print nicely formatted information to take to family reunions is a bit frustrating. (There are way too many options as to how to do this which makes it hard to even suggest exactly what I would like. Almost anything better than simply printing each profile one at a time with extraneous stuff and inefficient use of space would be nice.)
  5. When adding new people, it is quite frustrating seeing a wide array of unlisted profiles “suggested”.  There is no point in suggesting another profile with absolutely no information about the profile being displayed.  The array of suggestions that don’t match very closely is also frustrating. I have almost come to the conclusion that I should completely ignore such suggestions (then I get the ONE suggestion that is actually a true relative and I get to say YEAH, I found a relative – sadly, I then have to wait a month for the profile manager to respond to my request to join the trusted list….)
  6. I suspect that at some point I am going to run into problems with too many profiles on my watch list.  Many of the profiles I would choose to drop in this scenario would be profiles of living people I have identified as descendants of ancestors.  However, if I understand the situation, I won’t be able to do so without the need to delete the profile. I hope I never have to drop myself as a profile manager to control my watch list.  I’d like the ability to export my entire watchlist as a GEDCOM as a means of making a copy of the underlying profiles about which I care.

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

The top help WikiTree has provided me is the ability to discontinue use of my spreadsheet and organize my information in a far better fashion.

The fact that WikiTree profiles tend to pop up in standard google searches when a random person chooses to do a web search on one of their ancestors has provided me opportunity to provide assistance to several individuals who were not even WikiTree members.  I get messages out of the blue from people who found a profile I created and either want to ask questions about their ancestors or want to give me information to improve the referenced profiles. In some cases it has led to a new WikiTree member. In others it has allowed me to improve a profile. 

WikiTree is one more place I put my DNA test information to assist other genealogists who have taken DNA tests.  

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree? 

Accept that you won’t have any idea what you are doing when you first start and just do the best you can. When I first started I was sure I would never get profiles to look like some of the ones I was encountering.  Everything seemed cryptic and way too difficult to do properly. Now much of it seems quite easy. Profiles that I thought I had finished 2 years ago look horrific to me now and I end up dramatically changing them whenever I bump into one of my older ones.  Look at other profiles for examples. Click edit on a profile you find interesting and see how the user accomplished it.

When you are lucky enough to bump into a profile that already exists for one of your ancestors and the profile member appears to be active, interact with them.  Ask them questions. Learn from them. It is amazing how helpful some other users of WikiTree are. Even when you put quite a bit of effort into a profile, remember it is a shared tree. Others might have a different way of doing things.  Learn to deal with it. The few occasions this occur shouldn’t impact your enjoyment of the many times you can successfully collaborate with others.

Take a DNA test (or 2 or 3). Upload the results to GEDMatch. Enter the tests on WikiTree. Learn how and when to check the DNA Confirmed box. It gives a great sense of accomplishment the first time you do it right. 😊

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  6 Responses to “Meet our Members: Jeff Timmons”

  1. Like some of your likes and dislikes. They are also some of my concerns.

  2. Oh, I wish I were related to you! I have family roots in Guernsey and Belmont Counties in Ohio from early 1800s to about 1865. Best wishes to you from Jane [[Snell-2717]]

  3. 31 Jul 2019
    Hi, Jeff,
    I do not know anything about the Ohio Timmons family. My mother-in-law Sylvia (White) Timmons wrote a genealogy book called DESCENDANTS OF JOHN TIMMONS OF VIRGINIA. Since her death in 1998, I have added photos and kept the book up to date. If you would like a PDF of the book, just send me your email.
    Joyce (Sineath)Timmons (wife of Arthur Raymond Timmons

  4. I have a Charles Timmons in my wife’s genealogy, 2nd husband of Delilah Meeker/Cox, (her great grandmother). Charles was born Nov. 16 1885, Ohio(probably) died in Livingston Montana Nov. 1, 1974.

  5. i have 525 Brown family in my tree,they hail from around New England and Canada area,it is still a work in progress,if he was to give me some names i would be glad to see if i can connect him with some family,the Brown family ti into my family through the Gove side of my tree,i have the Brown family through out the tree married to different branches.Please let me know if i can help.Michael

  6. Hi Jeff, Fun to see you featured here! I got some good ideas from this! -Mary, an unrelated Timmons hunter

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