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 Keith.

Keith Cook became a WikiTreer in December of 2013.  He loves improving profiles in his Watchlist and is active in our Military and War and Sweden projects.  Keith has also started two One Name Studies: Vinal and Hugenroth.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Cook, Laurin, Lindsay, Van Vliet, Grier, Vinal.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New York.

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

My interest really started when I was 18 years old; I had just learned on March 26, 1988, that my natural mother died in 1970 of cancer (I was born March 26, 1969). I had asked my father (who had remarried a year after my mother passed away) where my mother was buried and he couldn’t quite remember but he pointed me to Wakefield, Massachusetts. I then contacted my Aunt Elise (who was the older sister of my natural mother but I was never told that and I never made the connection for whatever reason), who turned out to be the family historian. She gave me all of the information regarding my mother and where she was buried in Wakefield at Lakeside Cemetery.

I found my mother’s grave and realized that she was buried with her natural mother (a Lindsay who died when my mother was about 9 years old). There were a few more family names on the tombstone and eventually over time I began to look around at other nearby headstones and found another Lindsay name that is connected with our line. And so it continued throughout that cemetery, as I walked around I found a whole family history buried right there.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

This is a difficult question. I guess I’d have to say my Grandfather Sven Albert Laurin. He became a Methodist minister during the Depression. I have many letters detailing his struggles and accomplishments; and I have a rough draft of a letter he sent to the Bishop detailing his thoughts on the war:  “As a minister of the gospel, I cannot harmonize the taking of arms in war against the people of another country with the spirit and the teaching of Christ.”

I also have many pictures of him, one of which is when he is sitting at a table with a bunch of boys and he has all of their attention.

His first wife, Doris Lindsay (my natural grandmother mentioned above) first worked as a librarian at The Women’s Reformatory in Framingham, Massachusetts, for a couple of years and then left and joined my Grandfather Sven in his ministry to help their community. After she passed, Sven sent my mother to live with her maternal grandmother for a while. Eventually Sven remarried.

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

I guess I’m hoping to break through more of the Cook wall. I’ve gone back as far as my Great Grandfather, who was born in 1881 in Wheeler, Steuben, New York; married Cora Belle Baker and left (to Ohio) when my grandfather was a young boy.

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

Well, I don’t have a name off of the top of my head but after looking through a book of quotes and readings that was once held by my Grandfather Sven, I’ve come across the name of Paul Tournier who wrote, “Learn To Grow Old” (1972). I’ve just turned 50 and I have a few of the same traits as he. Paul Tournier writes:

“Life is a task to be accomplished. But who can claim that he has accomplished his task. The particular acceptance I am referring to here is perhaps one of the most difficult to achieve; it is acceptance of unfulfillment, acceptance of the unfulfilled.”

I can relate a lot to this way of thinking. I have a lot in my life that’s unfulfilled (divorced, no spouse, no kids and I’m the last male in the family) but I have acceptance.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I’ve recently, within the last couple of years, been collecting vinyl records. Old records, new records, music of different genres: heavy metal, rock, jazz, country, classical….

I’m also involved in a recovery program, 16 years sober myself and I help others who want what I have.

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

I  joined WikiTree on December 29, 2013. Right now I’m updating and improving the profiles I manage and I’ve been doing this by sequence of birthdays. Whenever I get a weekly WikiTree email for that week, I go down the birthday list. I believe this also helps me to connect with any possible other people who may be researching their ancestor within that same month.

I’m a Military and War Project member, a One Name Studies (ONS) Project member and a Sweden Project member. Right now I’m mostly involved in the ONS Project by starting a Vinal ONS and a Hugenroth ONS. The Hugenroth ONS is interesting because I recently was contacted by a Hugenroth (who wasn’t a WikiTree member at first but then accepted my invite) after she created her mother’s profile – she realized that a profile of her mother already existed and seeing that I was manager, requested to combine, which I did.

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

My favorite thing about WikiTree is the community and its theory of how we’re all connected in some way and trying to make one big tree.

The feature I like/use the most is the “Name On Watchlist” search box; I remember before having that it was a chore to look up people. I also like the new “Pop-up” profile feature, when you move your pointer over a name.

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

Well I’m often asked, “How are you related to…” in the past I’ve sent emails relating my connection to such a person and just recently I’ve posted on the profiles I manage how I’m related in the “Post A Comment” box with the links of names but there’s a limit to the number of characters. The last one I did, I left out the middle names and changed some of the birth-death years from 2019 to ‘19. So if there’s a better way to handle this…

[Editor: You can send a link to a Relationship Finder trail. When on a profile, click “Relationship to Me” on the profile pull-down menu and then copy-and-paste the URL.]

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

Through WikiTree I’ve been able to contact or rather discover a cousin in Texas with the name Laurin and through him I’ve learned I have a Laurin cousin in New York and a Laurin cousin in Pennsylvania.

On the flip side I’ve been able to help others with providing sources.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Yes, take it slow. Rather than uploading a whole bunch of names, dates, etc., take it one profile at a time. I enjoy creating profiles but I prefer quality over quantity.


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  2 Responses to “Meet our Members: Keith Cook”

  1. Your work is beautiful. I loved reading your story.

  2. Thanks for sharing, great story.

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