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 Jelena.

Jelena Eckstädt became a WikiTreer in May of 2017.   She’s active in our Canada, Slavic Roots and Notables projects and likes to join in the weekly Data Doctors Challenges.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Eckstädt, Schupp, Große on my German (paternal) side,  and currently Glumac and Ušljebrka from my Serbian half.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Lahn-Dill-Kreis (the region in Hesse where my German grandmum is from), Tangermünde (the town where my German grandpaternal ancestors are from), then I‘m also currently reading a book about the history of Stari Banovci, where my Serbian granddad was born and his ancestors were from (about 40km north of Belgrade, the Serbian capital). I should dive into the website of the Serbian archive to see what I’d be able to find online, although I think or fear that that isn’t really much because when a country has not that much money (or the money disappears in unknown avenues) the archives are usually the first to suffer.

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

There were several moments when my interest in family history was sparked. When I was 9 years old, a relative of my German grandmum organised a family reunion. My mum knew only a handful people there. But at that reunion were more than 60 people, and nearly everybody told her: “I am a cousin of your mother-in-law.”  (My great-granddad had 9 siblings.) So there mum collected some papers, put them together and started to paint a family tree to understand which cousin is from which uncle or aunt of my grandmum. I still have that tree, but then I didn’t know how to continue and had no one to guide me. So the interest fell asleep again.

After the youngest brother of my granddad died, I inherited the copies of the Baptism, Marriage and Burial entries of my granddad’s ancestors. My grandparents had to fill the “Ahnenpass” (ancestor’s passport) when they wanted to marry because of Hitler’s Aryan laws. But my grandfather went further than what was needed then and collected the documents of his direct line until 1683. I think he wanted to do his genealogy after he would have returned from World War II but he was KIA in Russia. So now I had the folder with this treasure, could see that and was excited, but I still didn’t know how to go ahead.

A few years later, I visited a maternal cousin of my father, and he was already then deep into family history and that stuff. He gave me a computer program to install and some info about our common family and I started to insert all those BMD stuff from my grandpaternal family. About 2010 I looked in the web if there was some information about the first wife of the grandfather of my grandmother. I found http://ofb.genealogy.net/ with my whole grandmaternal family. And here I was hooked ever since.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

This has to be my paternal great-grandmother. In September 1943 she got within three days the messages that first her oldest son (my granddad) died in Russia and that her second son was missed somewhere in Ukraine. After that she was extremely courageous. She went to an office and returned her Mother’s Cross, which she got because she gave birth to five children. Family lore tells she said there: “Here you are the Cross again! You took me two of my children, so I’m not eligible anymore. And I don’t need it anymore.” Last year I got from my dad’s cousin (the one who gave me the genealogy program) letters that were sent to his mother, mainly of my grandmother, but also of my dad. To some of those letters my great-grandmother contributed a bit and I don’t see that she got bitter because of how fate treated her. My dad always said: “What I know of goodness and of beauty I learned of that grandmother.”

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

I want to find out who the grandmother of my paternal great-granddad is. My granddad left that place empty in his ancestor’s passport, I found the baptism entry of my great-great-grandmother which says she is illegitimate. There is a surname given on the wedding certificate of my great-great-grandparents, but I don’t know how realistic that one is. The name there sounds a bit made up, but who knows.

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

I am already related to Martin Luther, through the aunt of my great-grandmother above. If I was to choose someone who I am not related to, I think I’d pick Charlemagne, because I am fascinated by royalty and their ancestry. Once I sat in front of TV, watching a royal wedding, and the expert commentator said: “Here are the Greek royals, they are cousins of the Swedes.” (If I recall it was Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding I watched.) “Here are the Danes, they are cousins. Here are the British royals, they are cousins. And here are the Romanians, they are cousins too.” That was the moment when I started doing a genealogy of Queen Victoria. I wanted to see how they are all related.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I am a huge (TV) sports fan. Because of my slight disability I can’t do sports myself, but I can watch it on TV. And most of the sports I really watch or know at least some important athletes in it. Olympic Games is literally Heaven on Earth for me. Then I enjoy learning languages. Actually that isn’t only a hobby because I am a graduated translator, but e.g. a year ago I started learning Norwegian because I found out I also have relatives in Norway. I also like to do embroidery (Do you really call “stitching” that way? I never heard that word before!)

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.

My account got confirmed on 25 May 2017 and immediately until the end of May I made 100 contributions when I entered my basic tree with the connection to Martin Luther, so I was connected to the Big Tree within the first week.

A small part of my extended family is from Ontario, so I joined the Canada Project. My main contribution to that project is sourcing some unsourced Canadians. Then I am a member of the Slavic Roots Project, but because there the most problems are about today’s Poland, Ukraine and Russia, I can’t involve myself in there that much as well. I am also a member of the Notables Project, although I also there don’t do that much. I joined it when I needed someone to create a profile for the painter Lucas Cranach the elder, who is also in my Luther-line. Sometimes I create profiles for Notables who just died. I’m e.g. one of the managers of Monserrat Caballé’s profile. (If anybody wants to connect her, go ahead, she’s still not connected.)

I enjoy to do the Data Doctors challenges where you don’t have to use your brain too much. The Source-A-Thon challenged me to go in unclaimed areas, namely to find sources I didn’t know how to find. Actually I enjoyed sourcing that much that I still do it. And the Weekend-Chat-Threads, I really enjoy them. I started joining there last summer when I talked about getting to know Serbian relatives I met for the first time ever. I like it because most of the participants give a review about what the week was like genealogy-wise and in general. That is a good opportunity to think about what you did and what you “achieved” this week.

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

WikiTree profiles appear regularly in the sources of MyHeritage. From there I knew WikiTree and I was always fascinated of the idea of one Big Tree. I started slowly, entered my tree one by one and did mainly “my thing”. I don’t even remember anymore when I discovered G2G. I like hanging around there and having a look on the questions the community has. When I see that someone needs something in German, I always try to help, although the old German script isn’t my strongest aspect. But at least I only have to decipher the stuff, I don’t have to translate it to be able to understand it.

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

I really like the collaboration aspect of WikiTree, the collective knowledge that pours out in G2G. The website feature I like the most is the “Research”-button in the column that starts with the WikiTree-ID. If you click there, the Roots-Search form appears and you can search with one click on different websites to find info about the profile. Such a great feature for Sourcerers.

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

I would love the WikiTree forms to be polyglott. I mean that you can switch the language of the forms from English also to other languages. I think that that would help a lot with regard of the internationalisation of WikiTree. Currently it’s still very much English-centered in my opinion.

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

WikiTree has helped me to think about the topic: “Where do I know from what I claim here?” In other words, in sourcing my stuff. It also has helped me in my own genealogy just because I also help others in G2G to solve their genealogy problems. I get to know different sources I didn’t know about, I see how others try to solve their problem and I see that they have the same genealogy problems that I have.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Take your time! Don’t upload a GEDCOM. I never uploaded one, but when I see on G2G how much frustration is coming just from the fact that there is a huge GEDCOM and a nearly as huge pile of potential duplicates, I think it’s easier to fill the profiles one by one. Come to G2G, even when you start only with reading the threads. After some time you will be able to contribute your bit of knowledge. If you don’t know something, ask. If you think the question is too stupid to ask, ask in the weekend chat ;). Remember, not everything that is online is freely available, but there should be someone in the community with the subscription you just need to get to the missing link.

Thanks for having me on the blog, it was a pleasure.

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  7 Responses to “Meet our Members: Jelena Eckstädt”

  1. Hello Jelena,I am George Preston Penrod II with the Penrod named originaly in German of (Poenradt). Thanks to Wikitree I have found my original Grandfather who survived the Palatine movement to America in the lat 1690s. I have not been able to advance earilier that him due to the fact I do not know the German language. Could you suggest anything for my plight. Anything will help as I am at a standstill. Thank you Jelena

  2. In your article, I read that you enjoy helping people with interpretation of German documents. I have what I believe to be my grandmother’s birth certificate. I’m not sure, as it is handwritten in German. She was born in Germany. If you can be of any help, I would greatly appreciate it. Willing to compensate. Thank you.

  3. Hi Jelena I’m trying to get a copy of my Canadian fathers Army service record any ideas I can get this, he died 2014 aged 96

  4. Hi Jelena!
    I am very new at all of this so please bear with me on my question! I found the information you posted on wikitree very interesting. However I don’t quite understand what being related by say 20 degrees of someone means. Is that generations or? Can you help me understand ?

    I would love to attend the get together in Salt Lake City however I lam unable to make it there at this time

    Thank you in advance for your assistance

    Lois (Dobler) Williams-Worley

    • june marie carter mrs john milner in an excellent happy marriage for over 55 years.still in love . related to dunstall,taylor,symons,wilson,park,drysdale,drummond clark,gardener,stewarts. milners are walkers,whitehurst,wonnocott,whitwell,goodrick,taylor,holt,hart. on carter side is thorpe,schofield,cotton ,montgomery,Hall,Hill,jones,davies,smiths,mckenzies,mcdonalds,hart,klien,klienhart,gordon,maidment,moore,morrison,many more hope you find your connection .our dna is done,johns,ours the smiths,carters 60 markers,for y/dna female dna also for the female side.
      find our cousin connections contact on facebook.

  5. […] was just reading up on this week’s WikiTree member of the week. Sometimes I learn new things or find new people to talk to about certain locations or subjects. In […]

  6. I just happened on this interesting interview.
    As there may be someone knowledgeable on the subject, my first question is whether I can do anything about 931 errors for profiles I have adopted, including some in the Notables category. Even in the rare cases where I can get a recommendation from someone on the project, those 931s don’t respond.
    My other comment is that I studied Slavic languages for several years in the past, but haven’t found a great deal of use for it. No such people in my tree. Not even vocal concerts with Cyrillic libretto where I live now, although that is becoming more common on the coasts. Last week I wanted to add at least Russian keyboard but didn’t figure out how.

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