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 Lance.

Lance Martin joined us at WikiTree in January of 2014.  He is a Data Doctor and Sourcerer and is involved in several projects including Italian Roots and Switzerland.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Surnames in my family tree that need more researching within the U.S. are Riley, Rader, Waggoner, Miller, Taylor, Spencer, and many permuations of Robertson/Robinson.

Surnames I am researching that have a strong interest for me, though I have found no proven ancestors are Greer, Swafford, Lee, and Howard.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

The locations I am researching currently are Uri, Switzerland; Sondrio, Italy; Del Norte and Humboldt Counties in California; and familes in Brown County, Indiana; Warren, Indiana, and Bradley County, Tennessee.

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

Certainly one of my favorite events at Grandma’s house was when she would open the trunk in the closet and pull out all the old stuff. Youth, however, hid from me the inevitability of death, and all of my direct ancestors passed before I had the skills to capture their stories. Had I known then what I know now, the questions would be endless.

With the advent of the internet, Facebook and DNA testing, I have been able to piece together a robust tree, much to the delight of the rest of my family. I am confident for the next three generations, I will be known as the family genealogist to as distant as third and fourth cousins.

This has a snowball effect, and now I have a huge collection of stories, photos and information that I have been able to categorize and share. But there is always more to do.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

The more I learn about each ancestor, their trials, their successes and their failures, the more I appreciate each of them. From the ubiquitous (the pioneers, the soldiers, the immigrants) to the extraordinary (the prostitute, the sheriff, the movie star), each has a story worth telling. Each time I look deeper into an ancestor’s experience, I gain a broader perspective of the human experience, which makes me a better, more understanding, person. I think one way to have an appreciation for all the points of view in our nation today is to be able to accept the roles our ancestors have played and why they made the choices they did.

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

This year marked the complete destruction of a brickwall I have had for years. Two years ago I made a trip to Europe in hopes of finding the families of my maternal Swiss great grandmother and my paternal Italian great grandfather. I had gone expecting to find tons of information on the Swiss side (because they are so organized) and little on the Italian side (because Italians are not). In actuality I found generations of information on my first attempt in Italy, and only dead ends in Switzerland. It wasn’t until this year, that I got a break from a helpful scholar in Switzerland, so that I can now trace the Swiss side back to the early 1600’s.

My next brickwall is my previously mentioned Robertson/Robinson line. A second great grandmother from Indiana that I am trying to capture with mtDNA, and auDNA. I keep making cracks in it, but, as yet, it is still holding strong.

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

I have been here just over 4 years. I mostly spend my time adding new people and returning to and sourcing some of the people I added before WikiTree-X. The major intent of my research is the aforementioned brickwall and the brickwall of a half first cousin, who I discovered just a couple years ago. We have no information on my grandfather’s first wife, her grandmother.

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

Honestly I do not know how I found WikiTree, but I love wikis and think this site is wonderful. I am all for collaborating. I enjoy adding little bits here and there.

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

I love the way auDNA results are propagated throughout the tree and that I can use the Connection Finder tools to document connections between two profiles.

The thing I like most, however, is it is free and a place where I can work on families in bits and pieces. If I look someone up, I enter them into WikiTree, whether I am related or not. For instance, if I had an uncle named John Brown in Humboldt County, I am going to look up all the John Browns there and try and sort them out. If I was keeping all of this on my own tree, it would quickly get too cumbersome. Also, by adding the research and records I complete, I am able to refer back to it, and should I never look at it again, hopefully I have given someone else a starting point.

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

I would love love love to be able to link records to sources in WikiTree in such a way that Ales could do his magic and see if two people are using the same source, similar to what he has done for Find A Grave. I work on people that I have no oral history of, and sometimes, there really are actually two different people with the same name that share many other genealogical facts and being able to attribute a census record to a wiki profile would be invaluable.

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

With the DNA features, I have helped three adoptees find their relatives. And as I am an unfocused researcher, WikiTree has remained steadfast, holding every project I work on until I get back to it.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

The most important thing is to have fun finding your place in history.


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  6 Responses to “Meet our Members: Lance Martin”

  1. Just…yay, Lance!

  2. Hi, Lance. I enjoyed reading your interview. This could have been my interview as your remarks resonated so much with me. I think I would have responded practically the same way as you did. I too tend to be an “unfocused researcher.” I work on whatever pops into my mind on that particular day, and love adding new profiles of people who have no relation to me as well as those who are or might possibly be related. Glad to know there are others on Wikitree with the same enthusiasm for the site. Happy hunting!

  3. My brick wall is my Great Grandparents John “Jack” Porter and wife Mary “Polly” Webb Porter( I am a bit OCD) I can’t find where they are buried I read a story once about him fighting Indians. I called DC and they told me he was last seen in Floyd Co. KY, I think he probably was a Confederate Soldier. I feel I have to finalize this with a gravesite.

  4. Dear Mr. Martin,
    I have been trying to get information on my great Grandfather, William H. Martin, born in Trigg COunty, Kentucky, in 1849. His mother is Anamda M.Martin. WIlliam is an elusive person, but he was married to my great g. Josephine Hollingsworth Martin in Birmingham, AL, and I think he died in Birmingham. I am not sure where buried. Josephine’s mother was a Lee and my granny, WIllie Lee Martin said we were related to Robert E. Lee! I have been doing research, but the Lee project with DNA studies is very confusing!!I think my lineage goes like this (except, if you read a book like Nagel’s Lee Family back 8 generations, says that WIlliam didnt have any children!!!): Richard Lee, the Immigrant, his son, WIlliam Lee who married ALice Felton, his son Richard Lee II, his son John Lee, Esquire, VA, his son, Captain THomas G. Lee (I used him for DAR patriot;he fought for NC), Needham Lee who moved to Alabama with wife Susan Bailey; hisdaughter, SUsan Lee, and her daughter, Terrisa Josephine Hollingsworth, and her daugher, my grandmother, Willie Lee Martin. I am just trying to determine if Martin was Irish or Eglish!!We think he is buried in FOley Cemetery with Josephine (it is a cemetery for imigrants who worked in Birmingham Coal Mines (Pratt Mines) in 1800s..there are Englishm Scots, Germans, French, etc. Do you know anything of that?
    The reason I think WIlliam H. Martin is Irish is because I am 17percent Irish (my Italian father is 20 percent Irish, though!) and my cousin, 4x removed, Riccardo Martin, was the understudy to Caruso at the Met in NYC in 1920!!! He was my granny’s first cousin. WIliam H. Martin’s father came from Maryland, and his grandfather was SMith Martin, we think!! William H. Martin, from Maryland, married Amanda M, Johns, fro VA, and her line goes back to histopher Branch, 5x great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson! I have just joined the Jamestown SOciety through her. (WIlliam H. Martin had a lot of land and possessions berfore CIvil War, in Kentucky..valued at 60k. AFter war, he couldnt pay taxes and auctioned land in foreclosure..and wife, AManda, died at 34 years old!)
    I was also interested that you had Italian roots. My father, Frank SAvoldi, was Italian.He just died at 94. His mother was born on Lago DI Garda,(COzzaglio) and father was Giovanni Savoldi from ODOLO (near Brescia.) I am trying to also find out if those SAvoldis are related to Savoldis in Bergamo,Italy, I just discovered a painting by a SAVOLDO from Brescia (1400s) who studied under Caravaggio, famous Italian Sculpture! I think it may be an ancestor! It is amazing what one learns in genealogy!
    Please let me know if you have any information on MARTIN (Irish?etc.) surname or anything else. Where in Italy are your ancestors? You can see my tree on Ancestry or FTDNA, Savoldi Tree (or Censullo, my husbands name!)

  5. Dear Mr. Martin,
    I forgot to mention that I also have a Swafford on my tree. You said that was one of names you were interested in. Another interesting side is that my cousin Hugh Martin (stage name, Riccardo Martin) who was a famous opera singer in 1910 to 1950 at Met, owned land in Florida, and when his heir went to sell it in the 50s after his death, they sold it cheap to Walt Disney, and it became Disney World FLOrida!!! My cousin joked that it could have been MARTIN WORLD!!!
    Best Regards,

  6. I kept trying to figure out who Lance Martin was and how I was related to him! 20+ times removed, but they had you with Queen Elizabeth and Ameila Earhart. I am glad this mystery is solved.

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