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 Jillaine.

Jillaine Smith joined WikiTree in October 2012 and is one of our wonderful Leaders. She was instrumental in forming our Puritan Great Migration project and now serves as one of its co-leader. She helps out on the Native American Project, and serves as a G2G Moderator and Integrator.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Schmidt, Lowry/Lowrie, Grosch.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Colonial New England; mid-19th century Buffalo; pre-1850 Schwenningen (Germany).

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

My father retired around the time I married (mid 1990s) at which point he started gathering data from family members the old fashioned way — writing letters asking them to share with him what they knew. I was a technology nut back then, and was eager to find a tech solution to capture all that he was finding. As I started entering his findings into a very early version of Family Tree Maker (which no one would recognize today), I then found myself drawn to the wonders of re-learning history through one’s family history. I started seriously documenting my family about 1998. During an extended period of unemployment, I did genealogy professionally, took several courses in professional genealogy and started down the path towards certification.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

That would be Regina Erhardt Fassnacht (1823-1893). One of the youngest of a huge Black Forest family, she had to support herself after the death of her parents. She became a nanny to a family downriver from her home town, and one thing led to another and she and the oldest son “eloped” to Buffalo, New York. Not ten years later, she was widowed with three young daughters. Unlike so many of her contemporaries, she did not immediately replace her spouse, but remained single and started selling fish in a push-cart; this grew into a multi-generational fish market that finally closed in the 1970s. She was an early example of an independent business woman. I’m only sorry that I have no photo of her.

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

I have two solid brick walls I have been pounding away on for decades now; see their profiles for the details:

  1. What are the origins of Leonhard Schmidt (1818-1872), my immigrant ancestor who came from “Baden” to Buffalo in the mid 1840s.

  2. What are the origins of the my great-great-grandmother Laura (or Henrietta) Grosch who married Edwin Lowrie?

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

I’d rather travel back in time to Townshend, Vermont 1780-1787 to find out if my husband’s ancestors continued their “spiritual wife-ism” practice after getting kicked out of Warwick, Massachusetts for wife-swapping. See Amzi Doolittle.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Currently I am very into spinning wool from fleece. This includes purchasing the raw, just-shorn fleece from a (preferably local) vendor, scouring then combing or carding it, then spinning and knitting it. I am particularly interested in working with rare, conservation breeds.  Here’s a sweater I finished earlier this year from a single sheep, the breed Jacob:

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?  Are you involved in projects/challenges? Which ones? What do you enjoy about them/what are you working on?

I’ve been a member of WikiTree since early October 2012.  There have been times when I’ve been online several hours almost every single day, to just a few hours per week. I was very involved with the creation of the Puritan Great Migration project for several years, took a hiatus, then came back to it and recently joined as co-leader of it with Anne B. I also helped set up the Huguenot Migration Project, but turned it over several years ago. I’m also helping out on the Native American Project, and I serve as a G2G Moderator and Integrator.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

LOVE RootSearch tool for finding sources from a variety of online sites. This has been very helpful in fleshing out empty profiles.

I also have a fondness for db_error #902 – Empty, Disconnected Open Profiles because they’re so horrible to have on WikiTree. I love finding them, connecting them to family members, and filling out their sources. A subset of these come from the infamous DeCoursey.GED – a GEDCOM uploaded in WikiTree’s earliest days filled with empty, sourceless, disconnected profiles.

I also have a thing for (against?) mythological profiles– people created in hopes to claim ancestry to such folks as royalty or Native American “princesses.” I love debunking them through the identification and analysis of sources.

Speaking of which, I’m kinda of a Source Nut (some might use a worse word); the bulk of my G2G responses stress the importance of sourcing and evidence analysis.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Focus on your immediate family, working back one generation at a time, making profiles manually, adding sources. Slowly but surely, work your way back.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

Well, I’d have to HAVE descendants to leave a message for them. ;-) My branch of the tree ends with me.


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  4 Responses to “Meet our Members: Jillaine Smith”

  1. Interesting that you spin your own yarn. I had a friend who used to do the same thing. We were living in England and she would buy raw wool and spin it, and then knit stuff. : )

  2. Hi Jillaine;

    Our of curiosity, I checked “Connection Finder”, and we are related, 22 degrees of separation, through my grandmother, Grace Greenwood Jenuine
    (Davis). Davis-8414

    Gary

  3. I love your sweater!!! (Also a knitter, but just an advanced beginner with only 3 years experience.

    Thanks for all you do at WT, Jillaine!

  4. love, love the sweater, Jillaine. One relaxing hobby? ;-)

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