This interview was originally published in 23 September 2014. It was updated 2 December 2019.

Hi WikiTreers,

magsspeakrootstechsm.png

Mags doing a WikiTree demo at RootsTech

Welcome to  another installment of “Meet our Members”! It’s time to get to know Mags.

Mags joined us in December of 2013 and is one of our outstanding Project Leaders.  She is actively involved in our G2G Forum as well as many of our projects such as the DNA Innovators and WikiTree Rangers.  She also works with the British Home Child Project and lends a hand in her home areas of the Southeast US and Canada.

What surnames you are researching?

BaconComptonCrispDillardGaulden (Gaulding, Gauldin, Goulding…you get the idea), HammondHuntLordMcElmoyle (McIlmoil, McEmoil…again, you get the idea) and Templeton. On my spousal unit’s side: O’DohertyDesjardinCurren and Johnson. There are more surnames that sneak in.

What locations you are researching?

South Carolina, North Carolina, The State of Franklin, Georgia, Virginia.  County Antrim Ireland, Ayre Scotland, England and Wales.  Ottawa, Canada, Upper Canada, Pollans, County Donegal, Ireland.

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

As a child, my mother, grandmothers, and grandfather would often tell me about my family. Who we were, where we came from and how our family came to be. As a teen I was given some unpublished papers by a Hunt cousin. I scanned them, as teens do, but I kept them. Years later I went back to them and began my dive into genealogical psychosis from which I will never return.  I am so incredibly fortunate to have had so much good material to work from.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Any of my brickwalls, really. But, I also get pulled and pushed into frenetic searches of newly found DNA cousins – attempting to link them to me. Most other times I’ll say it’s one of my cousins. Mary Esther Gaulden Jagger. She was a leader in the women’s movement, a leader in her field as a radiological geneticist, a notable and generally a very interesting person. 

Tell us about the brick wall you most want to tear down.

The McElmoyle brick wall.  I have a good deal of information on the McElmoyle’s of York, South Carolina/Northern Ireland, but nothing that absolutely connects the dots.  A McElmoyle family paper at the Charlotte Mechlenburg library even has a statement that my ancestor buried in the same cemetery isn’t related. I have found an awful lot of information which puts the statement into dispute. You can read more about it in The Mystery of The Box, the Children of John McElmoyle, Sr.

I administer the McElmoyle DNA Project,  and have a One Name Study on the go, but since it is  rare name, it’s been very hard to get people interested. I met a medieval Irish researcher while in Ireland and asked if she recognized my McElmoyle name – her eyebrows raised – She sent me a ton of information about the meaning and location of this surname, in Gaelic.

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

Boudicca. She was a British Celtic warrior queen who led a revolt against Roman occupation. Why? Because she was strong in her convictions and strong in love of her family and homeland. She almost beat the Romans back (my spouse’s family has a saint in it – I have to find someone really cool!).

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I volunteer at mitoYDNA. It’s a new YDNA and mtDNA database that is crowdsourced, free and accessible. A group of genetic genealogists (and quite a few WikiTreers) got together to build this database because we know how important having YDNA and mtDNA databases are to the genealogical community.  On the personal front, gardening, volunteering, reading, writing, sketching, water coloring, whittling and building things…(I will try almost anything as long as I am sure it won’t kill me).

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?

I joined WikiTree in December of 2013.  I am on almost everyday.  I am incredibly active as I use WikiTree for my personal genealogy and for my businessGrandma’s Genes. 

I also blog and all things WikiTree often figure prominently in my blogs. 

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

I love the community. This is an understatement. I travel a good bit now to speak and attend conferences worldwide. Every single place I visit we WikiTreers get together for a “Paint the place Orange, WikiTree Day”. It’s a fun time and usually involves getting together outside the event for food and fellowship. It’s like having family everywhere I travel! This is the most collaborative project I have ever been involved in.

It feeds my soul, that we are working as a community to get it right. 

This deserves it’s own paragraph!  One thing I LOVE is WikiTree’s DNA features! WikiTree does things with DNA that no other genealogy site does, we combine community, collaboration and we do DNA the backwards right way. We post DNA testers to the ancestors’ profiles!

What I don’t love? I don’t love when people don’t get genealogical collaboration. We collaborate, we work together, we help each other. “Every man for himself” and “I want to control every aspect of MY family history” is old school thinking. WikiTree is progressive and forward thinking because collaboration is the new genealogical model. WikiTree is on the bleeding edge of this paradigm shift.

What advice do you have for folks who are new to WikiTree?

BOOKMARK.  That one simple thing will help the new user get back to where they were 15 minutes  or two days ago.  It is so easy to forget when there is so much going on. DNA and privacy settings – be sure to have a low enough privacy setting that WikiTree can work its magic.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

Live everyday like the next day is your first day – be exuberant and full of wonder, joy and laughter.


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  4 Responses to “Meet our Members: Mags Gaulden”

  1. Hello Mags, just read your “meet our members” page and I think you are quite an inspiration, you must be a joy to have around.
    You are just the right person to have as a leader and mentor, keep up the good work.

  2. I would like to be able to trace my family tree back to the 1700’s…..

  3. Mags, you are one of the coolest people I have ever met and I am so glad to have connected with you on WikiTree!

  4. Great write up! You are a hero!

    and Boudica needs a WikiTree profile.

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