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 of 2017.  She is the Project Coordinator for Profile Improvements Team in the England Project and is active in several projects including the Mining Disasters Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

The names in my family that I am interested in include Williams, James, Shephard, Orwin, Count, Gyte, and Nuttall. In my husband’s family they are Whitaker, Keeling, Towning, Corbett, Sokell, Palmer, Winder, Hargate, Truelove and Birks. They are in all England. Every family, except the Corbetts were in Yorkshire or Derbyshire by the late 1800s.

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, the Midlands and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. I live in the Yorkshire, near Barnsley. It’s in the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield.  I have developed an interest in coal mining history and I am working with the Mining Disasters Project to document some of the mining disasters in the Barnsley area. My aim is to document 10 disasters that occurred within a 10 mile radius of my home. I have completed Carr House Colliery Disaster and the Huskar Disaster and I am now researching the Lundhill Disater. In the 18th century a lot of men and boys (and even women and girls) were being killed in mining accidents in the Barnsley area so there is plenty to keep me busy.

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. Perhaps my maternal grandmother, Emily (Gyte) Count. She died long before I was born. She had 14 children, including twins when she was 16 years old before she married. The twins died in infancy and I am sure my mother and aunts and uncles knew nothing about them. I like the ones that caused scandals too, like John Corbett, a distant relative of my husband, who murdered his wife in 1859 and then committed suicide. Another is George Orwin who was sentenced to a year in prison in 1854 for stealing a flitch of bacon.

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

That has to be my great grandfather William Williams. His father was Thomas, I knew that from Williams’ marriage certificate. I first found William in the 1881 census when trawling through the census for Wingate, Durham on a microfiche reader in the Durham Record Office in the 1990s. A lady in the office said, “You won’t get far with him”. The census said he came from Coaleforshire, a place that does not exist. I now think William said, “Coleford Sir” to the enumerator who wrote down what he heard. At the time I could not find William in the 1891 census. When the 1901 census was released he was not at home with his family. I had to wait until 2011 before I was able to discover that he came from the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. I found a family in West Dean, Gloucestershire that seemed to fit, but I was never confident that I was correct, so did not add them to my tree. I am grateful to Joe Farler for coming to my aid. He noticed a note on my home page on WikiTree about William Williams being one of my brick walls. He offered help and together we have been able to find more evidence to prove the link. That was recently, so I am still working on this family.

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. When I first joined I spent all my time adding family members. Now I do a bit of everything, sourcing, correcting errors, writing biographies, documenting the mining disasters and joining is some of the challenges. I tend to jump from one thing to another in a random way as something catches my attention. I work on English profiles, because that is where my family is and it’s what I do best.

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

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.

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

I like working with other people and sharing information. I love the way that people on WikiTree come together and help each other. I like G2G, it helps to bring the community together.

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

Although I like Challenges, I would change some of them. I think some of them encourage members to go for quantity rather than quality. The Sourcerers Challenge is an example. If people are chasing numbers, like in the thons, then they will add one quick, easy source and move on. Instead of giving credit for each profile improved, I would give credit for each source added. That would encourage members to spend a bit more time on each profile and leave behind something that would be more useful when the next person wants to work on it. If someone found a lot of interesting information they would be more likely to go back later and do more work to improve that profile.

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

When I first joined WikiTree I added all my profiles one by one and resisted the temptation to import everything using a gedcom. It made me revisit each person on my tree and review some of the work I did years ago. As I did it, I added more sources, found information I had missed and corrected a few errors. I discovered that the only source on some of profiles was information that someone else had given me. I corrected that. So WikiTree has helped me to make my research better and more accurate. I hope I am helping others by sharing a family tree that will be there for future generations.

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!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  4 Responses to “Meet our Members: Joan Whitaker”

  1. So good to know you through your intro to your collaborators. I also have a whole plowshare of English ancestors, but how far back I don’t know. My mother’s line brought them into my view. The ones I met were rough hewn but that may not have gone too far back, and certainly started with the English immigrants from Europe. To make that trip into the unknown must have taken a very strong personality and a person with strong habits. Determined and forceful. And perhaps fleeing something.

  2. Lovely to see this spotlight on you, Joan.
    I wish I had more time to spend on WikiTree, I might get my head around how it operates more clearly but I do what I can. Best wishes, Jenny

  3. I agree with you, we have to many profiles without sources, I don’t import anything using a gedcom. I try to do my own work, and do the best I can.

  4. I’m new to this and haven’t gotten too far yet but I know my great-grandmother was Bertha Whitaker, her father was John Whitaker, son of John, who was the son of Laurence Whitaker. Maybe I’m related to your husband. This is all so interesting.
    Thank you for the work you’ve done.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



© 2017 WikiTree Blog Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha