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 Marty.

Marty Acks became a WikiTreer in July 0f 2014.  He’s active in our ScottishSourcerers, and Pre-1500 projects and also enjoys working on Data Doctor Suggestions and exploring the DNA features in WikiTree. This year he started giving presentations about WikiTree and has a couple local gigs lined up for next year.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Lenover, Acks, Porterfield, and Malicote/Mallicoat (and variations).

What are some of the locations you are researching?

In the United States, it’s all over the board. Generally, my research is in Illinois where I have lived and the northern and southern migration routes taken by emigrants from Europe. In Europe, I am focused on Ayrshire and Renfrewshire in Scotland where my Porterfield ancestors originated.

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

About the turn of the century is when I started getting interested in genealogy. My mom and dad had done a great job doing non-internet research. They shared some of their files and I went to work from there. I started by doing “hermit” genealogy on the internet for about fifteen years.  A few years ago, I found the WikiTree community and later joined multiple Chicago area genealogical groups.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

The 17th century Porterfields of Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, Scotland have captured my attention for a long time. They were Covenanters during the killing times in Scotland and found themselves victims of the religious oppression of the time. The laird of the Porterfield estate had his lands taken, honors stripped, and was sentence to death for supporting the Covenanter movement. Favorable political changes resulted in the death sentence never being carried out and some his lands were eventually restored.

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

While I have broken through some secondary brick walls, I am stuck on both my Lenover and Acks lines. The trail runs cold on both lines around 1800.  Lenover seems German and some think it may have derived from a surname of Lindover. Acks, was perhaps an Americanized version of Ochs. This line may have come from Ersingen, Bilfingen or Spessart in what was a Catholic pocket in Baden, Germany.

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

I’d probably opt for Harry Chapin, a folk singer and activist at a time when it was not cool or hip to be one. He was a great storyteller through his songs and seemed to have relentless drive and a passion to fight hunger.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Although genealogy seems to have sucked the life out of many former activities, biking, LGB G-scale trains, travelling anywhere, and musty used bookstores still remain as active interests.  Spending time with my grandson (plus a granddaughter on the way) would top the list though.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?  Are you involved in projects/challenges? Which ones? What do you enjoy about them/what are you working on?

I joined WikiTree in July 2014 and would consider myself rather active, particularly for someone that has a full time day job. Scottish, Sourcerers, and Pre-1500 projects have been my main interests. DB Errors have gotten rather consuming as of late and I am just starting to explore the DNA features in WikiTree. This year I started speaking about WikiTree at local genealogy groups. I have a couple of speaking engagements planned already for next year.

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

I volunteer as a Ranger to help keep the tree clean from corruption and bad actors. I’m probably not as passionate about this as others, but it is important work. A WYSIWYG editor would be nice or at least an editor that highlighted the wiki markup elements to simplify the editing process.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

I was familiar with wikis and Wikipedia when I started, so I probably had a leg up on that side of things. I would say just start inputting with yourself and move on to your parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins. Check out the G2G forums for help. There are so many things going on in WikiTree, like genealogy in general, that it can be mind-numbing.

I remember the thrill of connecting an ancestor on the global family tree for the first time. It opened up a whole new world of ancestors and cousins for me.

Respect the privacy of others and be aware that collaboration works best as a team sport. Those would be my final thoughts.

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

I hope to leave a well-organized physical and digital (including WikiTree) footprint. That being said, this is my message: “Here is what I found which I thought would be of interest to future generations. Sorry I’m not around anymore to answer any questions.”


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  3 Responses to “Meet our Members: Marty Acks”

  1. Thank you Marty Acks for sharing your journey and your family. I’m one of the people referred to as ‘novice, newbee or rookie’ and I appreciate your advice. I only joined a few days ago and cannot wait to get started connecting up what I’ve been working on. Looking forward to meeting new cousins and helping build the cubbie house! Thanks again Marty. Wishing you happiness and family this Christmas. Catherine Plunkett, Tasmania, Australia

  2. Thanks Marty for doing the things I wish I were doing. I’m still hermiting along but you inspire me to leave something usable behind

  3. Congratulations Marty!
    The first connection I made on WikiTree was to one of your profiles.
    You do good work and I appreciate it.
    I’m a direct descendant of Dedman Malicoat Jr.
    Have a great new year.

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