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 Joan.

Joan Whitaker became a WikiTreer in February 2017.  We are excited to have her as one of our newest Project Leaders.  She has been very involved in our England Project and is now helping to lead it.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

The names of my great grandparents were Williams, Shephard, Count, and Gyte.  Other names I research include Whitaker, which is my husband’s name and James, Orwin, Nuttall, Keeling, Towning, Palmer, and Winder

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Mainly Yorkshire and Derbyshire. There are coal miners in every branch of my family, so they are found where the coal was, in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Durham, the Midlands and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.  All my ancestors are in England so that is where most of my research is. 

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

I was an only child, and although I was part of a big extended family and had the company of lots of cousins, I still spent a lot of time listening to my parents and aunts and uncles talking. I remembered more than they thought I would, perhaps a few things that they would not have wanted me to know about. I started looking seriously at the history of my family shortly after my father’s death over 20 years ago. At the time my first grandchild was expected, I was concerned that information about my family would be lost if I did not document it. I wanted it to be there for future generations.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I don’t think I have one. It changes depending on who I am researching at the time. Currently it’s William Williams. He is my great grandfather and I only found his parents earlier this year. I have just had a DNA match with a descendant of one of his brothers, so I am very happy because it confirms I have the right family.

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

I really want to know more about Sarah, my fourth great grandmother, who married William Mandeville on 28 April 1778 at Everton, Nottinghamshire, England. She was Sarah Sharpe, a widow, when she married William. I do not know her maiden name or who her parents were. I wonder if she was called Sarah Dorothy. My mother’s name was Sarah Dorothy, named after her grandmother, Sarah Dorothy Mandeville, who was Sarah and William Maderville’s granddaughter.

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

I joined WikiTree at the beginning of February 2017. I do a bit of everything, sourcing, correcting errors, and researching miners that were killed in disasters and their families (mining is one of my interests). During the past few months I have spent a lot of time working with the England Project‘s gedcom team cleaning of the dreaded gedcoms from the early days of WikiTree. 

What brought you to WikiTree?

Carol Keeling told me about it when we were both doing the same online family history course. I was a bit unsure at first. I had never put my family online, because I did not really trust Ancestry or any of the other websites, and I objected to paying to give them my research. WikiTree seemed to be different, so I took the plunge and I am still here.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

I like working with other people and sharing information. I love the way that people on WikiTree come together, share ideas and help each other. I think of my friends on WikiTree as my virtual family. We have never met, but they are all special.

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

I would unlock all profiles where the manager has not been active for 5 years, unless they were for living people. I find it frustrating when I have to go through the process of sending messages to profile managers that are unlikely to respond, and then having to wait until an unresponsive manager request is processed. By the time the profiles are opened I have sometimes almost forgotten why I wanted the profile unlocked in the first place.

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

WikiTree has made me a better genealogist. Since joining I have improved my researching skills, and now look for information in places that I would never have thought about before. My research is documented better and my ancestors have become real people, rather than just names.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Add profiles slowly and make sure that they are well sourced. Use the help files. Take advice from other people. Uses G2G and get involved in the community. Oh, and enjoy it!


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  4 Responses to “Meet our Members: Joan Whitaker”

  1. Hi Joan,
    My name is Bob Whitaker, I have been researching my Whitaker genealogy for over two decades. I have tree on Ancestry, “Whitaker’s of New England”. I’ve been able to trace my family tree to Skipton, Yorshie, UK. To Robert Whitaker, born 1594. He married Ann Wright Dec. 12, 1619.
    Would you husbands Whitaker line show any similarities?
    Thanks,
    Bob Whitaker

  2. Lovely to meet you Joan. I agree with your comments whole heartedly.Thank you for all you do on Wikitree.
    I am slowly updating my tree and also my website but still work full time so find limited opportunity to do so. You have inspired me to persevere!
    Best wishes, Lesley

  3. Could you help me find a picture of one of our family ancestors? His name is Reuben Thomas Binion, father of Nathaniel Mull Binion, grandfather of Leon Dan Binion…???

  4. Joan whittaker my father was the son of fred boyd squires and the nephew of james radcliffe squires. I myself am also related to king henry the 8th.. I would love to talk to you about all this.

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