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 Melanie.

Melanie Paul became a WikiTreer in September of 2018.  She’s involved in many projects including Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Military and War, ANZAC, and Notables.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Currently: mostly my maternal lines, as much of the paternal side (up to the point where I get stuck finding sources) is already on WikiTree (not all, as there’s always something new to find, such as my fifth great grandfather’s father … something I discovered in the last month).  The Swedish line isn’t a single surname, as that wasn’t a concept used in Sweden until recent times. So that side is mostly following patronymics. My other maternal lines would be Gordon (I’m stuck, there, on a Pod Person), Crewe (had a recent breakthrough there!), and McCrea (another recent breakthrough!).  I’ve done a lot of work on collateral lines … and stop when I can’t get to sources. (Guidoux would be one collateral line, as that would require knowledge of and access to Switzerland resource repositories.)

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I don’t think I actually research locations as such.  Rather it’s more I end up researching in a particular country/region because the person took me there.  Thus, I have researched New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, England, Australia (all States, both pre and post Federation (1901)), Germany, Prussia, Denmark …. I’m sure you get the picture.  I shall have to attempt Wales next, as that was one of my recent brick wall breaks and I can barely wait until I find out more!

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

It’s like reading.  I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested.  Growing up in a very small family (mother and siblings), not knowing my grandparents (my only living grandparent lived almost the length of the continent away, my paternal grandfather died when I was a child, and both my maternal grandparents died when my mother was a child), not knowing my only Uncle and cousins (they were faces in a photograph on the wall of my mother’s bedroom), almost never seeing my father (and only then it was like about twice in 10 years because my Mother initiated the meetings and facilitated them when she happened to be in the same State for other reasons), knowing that “somewhere out there” were people who shared my blood and my ancestors fascinated me.  I think I started actively researching in my late teens, collaborating with my mother once she realised how serious I was. Later my son also joined us.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I think it’s probably my four-times-great grandmother Tempest Margaret Hughes.  The “why” would be because she has a wonderful name, the origin of which has defied my cousin and I for years (I was thrilled to know said cousin carries that name, as it didn’t pass down my direct line (for some reason it went to only a few males, none of them on my line after the 1900s that I have found .. and we had a dearth of females born until my nieces arrived in the world)); because she was musical (she was acknowledged by early Sydney Society (yes, with a capital S) as a person of note and worth) and is known as the composer of a musical piece that was later adapted by a male and claimed as his own, and because she was a strong woman.

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

Broken through brick walls would be my however-many-greats-grandfathers Thomas Crewe, James McCrea, and Ole aka Ole Williamson aka Ola Waldemarsson (Waldemarsson-2).  He’s all over G2G because I have asked a couple of questions regarding him. Finding out that he was NOT born in Liverpool (which is the information the family had … it’s on his marriage certificate!), but in Sweden, and that his father wasn’t Larsse Williamson, but Waldemar Larsson, was the beginning of an absolute avalanche of family (the line goes back to at least 1649, verified) … including a new 4th cousin who lives in Utah.

I now have information on his family thanks to another WikiTreer (Eva Ekeblad) picking up on a comment I made on G2G and going off and building on what I had recently discovered.

One I’d love to break through is my three-times-great-grandfather Wallace Gordon, my second designated Pod Person.  I know he existed because he’s on the marriage registration and also on the registrations of all the children. But he wasn’t born that I can find (nor can others who are researching this same line), nor can a death be found for him.

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

I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about wanting to be related to anyone except those to whom I am actually related.  Thinking about it … maybe Louisa Alcott, or Lucy Montgomery. Because they had ideas in their heads, and they told wonderful, believable, relatable stories. 

If I could go back even more … I’d love to have known the first person to ever think of making metal out of rocks.  Whatever gave them the idea that there was even anything IN those rocks

How did they decide what to do?  The processes of their thinking fascinates me.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Reading.  I have always been a voracious reader.  My mother always knew where I was if I was running late for school.  (Behind my bedroom door reading a book.) I cannot remember a time when I did NOT read.  Mum gave me the Arthur Mee encyclopaedia set because I was the one who always had my nose stuck in it.  I even tried to learn French through its pages! (I failed.) Mum also taught me to “read with a dictionary”, so I did … and I later taught my children the same thing.  I even read the dictionary. I had also read the entire Bible by age eight.

Music.  I love to listen to music … mostly classical, some classic rock, blues, Australian country (John Williamson, Sarah Storer, Reg Lindsay, etc), Christian, Bee Gees!, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Home Free (absolutely FANTASTIC!), Celtic Woman.  I also sing. I’m not taught, other than in school several thousands of years ago! My family always sang when I was a child. We’d even do it in parts. Maybe that’s what made the parts singing easier when my children and I would sing in church.  

Creating.  I have always liked art and have created banners to hang in church.  Creating by cooking is also something I have long loved to do. Both my children seem to have inherited this, as they both cook .. and both do it creatively.  THEIR children also seem to be trending that way, as all three of them also cook. I’ve written a few unpublished children’s stories. I love words. I love how words can convey things.

Getting together with family.  

Talking with people.  I like to hear their stories.  Recently I was with my adopted daughter and her family in a (pre-loved items) store in Clinton, Iowa, and fell into talking with a couple of other customers.  I got to hear some delightful stories of their family histories, so I told them they needed to write it all down, or record it. Even if their families weren’t interested now, they might be in the future.  If the family wasn’t interested in the photos and other physical stuff, some local history society likely would be. I believe I left behind at least three people committed to recording their stories before it gets forgotten.

Exploring new places.  My most memorable trip in recent times would be the one my husband and I made to South Dakota in September 2017.  My husband was doing the driving when we came into the area where the mountains (the Black hills area) first come into view (we were travelling east TO west), which was a very Good Thing as I was just so awed all I could say was WOW over and over.  We got to visit Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial (which I loved … and got to bring away with me some of the pegmatite granite that has been blasted out in order to create the head and face. We drove through the Badlands after leaving Wall, South Dakota.  Another absolutely blown away WOW drive. Made me wonder aloud at just what it took for the First Peoples to travel that area, as well as the first European explorers and Pathfinders. The courage it must have taken for the non-First Peoples to even attempt such a trip with their wagons etc, not knowing if they would ever find a way through.  The same trip also had us visit Bear Lodge (aka “Devils Tower”), which features in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, up close and personal. (I do not understand the mind-set that refuses to acknowledge that the current name should also reflect what the Native American peoples have always called it. My understanding of the several recent proposals that were rejected were to have both names used, so those familiar with “Devils Tower” (aka the revenue generating tourists) would still recognise it, but the First Peoples would also have their traditional name/s acknowledged.) 

Playing board games, especially Scrabble, and the computer-based Wordament (Microsoft), plus the dice games Yahtzee and Farkle.  

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

I’m really relatively new, as I only created my account on the 28th September 2018.  Most of my time for the last three or four months has been working on the Australia Project’s unsourced profiles, with a lot of that overlapping with the other projects for which I have a badge.  

Unfortunately for the sourcing, I usually end up running down numerous rabbit holes finding military information, all the children, spouses, parents … even to actually adding new profiles for some of those families that have gaps that I can fill, especially the Veterans and the babies.  I now have quite a few profiles on my watchlist where I have to go and look at them to remember WHY I have them!  

I’m currently a member of the following projects: Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Military and War, ANZAC, and Notables.  I guess I participate by working on profiles that would fall under those headings, but not in any special order. Often it’ll be a number of Australian ANZAC profiles, then it’ll be a few English ones, or New Zealand, etc.  I particularly want those who should be honoured, to be so honoured; those who are of note, to be noted.

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

Every so often I would do an internet search for my family names, just to see if I could find something new.  Often it’d be one of my paternal line, because Tempest Margaret’s name is rather special. This one time I got a hit that showed my family was on WikiTree, so I got curious to see how accurate it was … and WHO it was put us there!  I communicated with the person who is profile manager for several of the family and gave information they didn’t have, as well as offering corrections to things that weren’t quite right. I got hooked enough to sign up for my own account … and so it goes on.  

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

I love that it is collaborative.  If we get stuck on something, or need to understand something, there’s usually someone else who knows what we don’t.  Most of the time it just needs asking (something I am very bad at doing, but I’m learning!).

I like the relationship tool .. showing the number of removes for cousins, or greats on the direct ancestors.  MUCH easier than my old pen and paper method!

I also like the weekly connection to someone.  It has frequently surprised me how closely connected I am to some people I would never, normally, have even considered being that close.  It’s also interesting to see just how those connections are made: which married couple, which siblings, which married couple, and how many “jumps”.

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

There are two things, really.  

The first would be to have marriages displayed on profiles as “married to” rather than “husband/wife of“.  Currently it displays as ” Wife of [name goes here] — married [date goes here (end date if there is one)] in [place goes here]”, whereas I’d like to see it more as “Married [name goes here] on [date goes here (end date if there is one] in [place goes here]”.  That would allow acknowledgement of previous spouses where the one partner has no wish to be seen as “wife/husband of“, because the marriage ended acrimoniously (or whatever their reason may be).  I don’t have my mother’s marriage to my father displayed, because it would say she was the “wife of”, when she ceased being that the day he walked out and started living with another woman.  (It doesn’t matter that there is an official end date.  That would still give the impression they were “married” much longer than they were, because there was no divorce until “no fault” divorce happened in the 1980s, and he left in the 1950s.)

The second would be to be able to arrange photos and documents on profiles/free space pages, so you have the “pretty” images as those seen to the side, rather than a document (or whatever) just because you uploaded it first.  I solved the problem of “duplicated” images showing when using images in biographies by not uploading them to the profiles, but to a space page and then linking them. Makes for a much nicer, neater, profile. (But my one space page display looks awful because I create images to explain things to others and some of them are just not “pretty”.)

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

I think it has made me a better researcher.  I did well enough, back when I was researching just my own family lines with my mother and my son, but I’ve learnt to delve harder and deeper.  One of my favourites has to be the husband of the woman who began my Irish Famine Girls “project”. If you check the changes tab for Gielis-134, you’ll see all I had to go on was a last name and two children.  (He was added automatically by the system, when the PM for the son added a sister.) I had the most marvelous “journey” finding Leopold and his wife, the rest of their children, and that his wife had been one of a few hundred Irish girls who were taken on two ships to Van Diemen’s Land after the Earl Grey Scheme was officially ended.  I have a few of the girls with profiles, but have had difficulty in getting sources for most of them.  

I hope I’ve helped by sharing what I learn with others.  

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Stick with it.  It may seem tough when you first get started, but it gets easier the more you do.  Plus, the community is really terrific.

If you get stuck on anything, just ask for help.  There are so many people who are just so willing to look things up if you don’t have access to certain sites / resources, or to point you in the right direction so you can find it yourself.

Be sure to add a source to every “fact” you state.  

If you’re not sure of anything, put it under a == Research Notes == header, because you never know how much your thinking processes may help someone else in the future.  

You can even “sign” things you want dated, by using four tildes (~~~~), so any new information can be seen chronologically.

Don’t be scared off by other people editing profiles you manage.  Either they have information you don’t, or they share that ancestor.  That’s one of the best parts of it being a wiki!


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  2 Responses to “Meet our Members: Melanie Paul”

  1. Congratulations on making Member of the Week, Melanie! I enjoyed reading your blog. Onya!

    Herb

  2. Melanie I already knew you were great and then I read you like scrabble to….You are perfect.

    Thank you always for all your Help❤

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