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 Kristina.

Kristina Wheeler joined WikiTree in August 0f 2017.  She is deep into developing her ancestors’ profiles as well as participating in our Black Sheep Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Wheeler, Bewley, Martin, Hargis, Rogers, Roberts, Crook, Storm

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Four  primary locations are DeKalb, Tennessee, Cushing and Custer Oklahoma , and Cumberland Kentucky.

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

In 1984 when I was 12 we did up a handwritten sheet on the family with the notes like  “Boy Winn ½ Indian outlaw and travelled there in a covered wagon.” We headed out as gypsies for a few years in a converted school bus. During this time we spent a bit visiting locations tied to the family.  We stopped in this little town in Dixon Springs, Tennessee, to research Dempsey Parker from whom we had a letter from 1867.

The people in the small town looked at my hippie father as if he was next in line for a shotgun, until he started rattling off names and how we were related.  Next thing, we were invited for dinner and being shown records in the church.

A few years later when I was 21, I was given, for a while, a rather large 4 inch thick blue book on my mom’s Disbrow side and it said we were related to Jane Cromwell – however things didn’t add up to me in reading it.

The internet had been launched and between these I started digging and got lost in the people. I still haven’t found an answer about Jane Cromwell, nor does it matter to me, as I found the humanity in my family – that they paid $4 a month for rent, that they measured their land by “the old oak tree”, died in the Civil War and the wife had to sell the farm and so many more stories.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Matlock Roberts and Zilpha (supposed last name of Bane, but highly in doubt based on DNA right now ) – I inherited an original sketch of her from 1830 and a photograph of the matching one of him.

It became my pet line, and not being able to get very far with proof of his parents for years drove me crazy (still keep working on it, but think I’ve successfully proven who they were now and  two new sibling lines tracked that I have 5 cm of DNA in common with someone on each line). I’ve been looking for proof of a family story that seemed to have been on several lines – that around 1900 several of the siblings packed up in the middle of the night and left the area and that James Henry killed a man.

This combined with kids showing as children of Milton under the census, yet the widow of his brother Matlock Jr claiming them on her Civil War pension. And the criss crosses in those family lines and families intermingling, and the few chuckles along the way like the daughter who inherited a cow. Nothing has been simple in this family for the over 1,500 descendants I’ve tracked to date and with each person another story.

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

I have several one being I have a strange DNA name showing up related to the last name Cullom which is apparently somehow linked to my Roberts line.  My only guess right now is that it’s related to Zilpha and working on trying to figure out how it fits. But it’s my 3rd closest DNA match on family tree DNA which is throwing me for a loop.

The paperwork brick wall is Sarah Emma Martin.

I made a trip to Oklahoma in November to find further clues. I have her obituary now and it states Philadelphia, but as far as names of her parents I still have none.  The ones I’ve seen in other trees make no sense as if I follow that one it later shows that Sarah was living with her parents still in 1870 and my Sarah and Phillip had married in 1863.  To date I don’t have a marriage record for them, and family lore knows not much about them.

I recently obtained her homestead papers, and they hold no further clues, neither do the books in Cushing that mention the family.  I have a potential for 5 families in Philadelphia to investigate after I finish transcribing her homestead record and the remainder of the information I picked up in Oklahoma as they may give clues that relate once it’s added to her profile.

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

That’s hard – A toss up between Douglas Adams of Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I will be building out his profile in the near future, he was a Jesuit priest that believed in evolution and was a key player in finding a missing link to man kind’s evolution.

Through the times of life we as humans have survived genocide, terrorism, war and so many inconceivable horrors, yet we overcome those.  He was an amazing beautiful soul torn between his beliefs on both ends of the spectrum and his writings.  He fought against the church to be published, yet found balance. In looking at our families and their stories I find this quote very applicable:

“In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.” As “The profoundly ‘atomic’ character of the universe is visible in everyday experience, in raindrops and grains of sand, in the hosts of the living, and the multitude of stars; even in the ashes of the dead”

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

4x4ing, camping at 6,000 feet in elevation, travelling to foreign countries like Romania and seeing abandoned structures that are thousands of years old, and of course the writing and photography that come with it.

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

I found WikiTree in August, and am apparently addicted.  I spend about 2 hours a day on transit so use that time to fix the location errors on the Data Doctor reports.

When I have a short time on a computer I work on building out quick sketches of who they were and basic documentation to support it, but what I truly love and lose track of time doing is fully building out their work-in-progress profiles such as Dempsey Parker or the traumas like Quincy Rogers. You get to combine your research with that of other researchers to build a true solid story that is continuously a work-in-progress.

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

I had put genealogy on hold for a decade, and then randomly decided to do a DNA test.  Previously I had an issue and lost a year’s worth of work and this time was looking for a cloud back up for moving forward, and a software that wouldn’t get “outdated”. I wasn’t happy with Ancestry for that either as you are too much an island and it’s too restrictive in its functionality.

I did a google search on a few things and found WikiTree –  which encompassed what I had wanted to do a decade ago and had tried but just didn’t have the resources to do.

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

Finding a family member that is already in there and linking to them, especially siblings higher up it’s like – OMG I didn’t imagine this person was related!  Also, how the site suggests duplicates when there might be a match which helps you put a light on going ohhhhhh wait  – something Ancestry.com can’t even start to suggest.

Lastly,  when I have research on a non-related person, or a story that needs to be told, I have a place to put that now, even if they aren’t yet “in my tree”.

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

Ability to search by find a grave number (when looking for family that may exist but that I don’t want to add at this time), link me to other mtDNA matches and  limit the suggested locations by the years set in the birth/death fields (would make phone updating easier).

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

It’s helped me connect and talk to people I never would have to obtain permission to share photos on WikiTree. It’s also reconnected me with a few other researchers I haven’t talked to in years. They are avid researchers that I’ve brought over to the wikiside so we can all work on the same profile instead of 3 of us having our own files.

Also I now truly understand we are connected when, for example,  I get a note from someone that I’m connected to by being 22nd cousins.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Don’t upload a gedcom, simply enter each person one by one.  That way you don’t have to clean up things, but you get to “enjoy” drawing them out as people and spending the time telling the world about who they were, not just facts and figures.

And be patient, the learning curve is huge, but the power once you learn to harness it is amazing.  You will feel like you know nothing even though you may have done research for years, but it is the most amazing place to “relearn” how to do genealogy.

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