(First published 16 April 2014; updated 25 November 2019)

Hi WikiTreers,

It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Paul.

Paul Bech is one of our Team Members but he is also one of our earliest active volunteers, having joined WikiTree in November of 2010.  He helped pioneer the usage of free-space profiles and categories, created the Genealogy Help section, and led the Australian Convicts and First Settlers project.  If you’re dealing with an Unresponsive Profile Manager or a 150-year-old profile that isn’t being openly shared, Paul is the man to contact.

Be sure to check the Connection Finder to see how many steps away you are from Paul!

What surnames you are researching?

Allan, Bech, Oxley, Standen, Syme, Hayes

What locations you are researching?

Australia (Mostly NSW), Denmark, England (Kent), Scotland (Edinburgh), Ireland

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

I probably became interested in my late teens. In my twenties I discovered a family history written by a relative in a museum in a country town and I wrote to the person who turned out to be a 3rd cousin. This was pre-internet days. Probably one of the driving factors was the absence of any real knowledge by my parents of their roots (beyond a coupe of generations).

Ann Mahony

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

William Oxley, my 3rd great grandfather. He brought his family to Australia in 1839. He was quite literate and wrote several letters back to his brother James in England. The descendants of James and recently donated these letters to the State Library of NSW. My excitement of discovering these was tremendous. To read them is to relive what life was like for them in the Pioneering days of Australia. Travelling inland to a property of his employer, several days ride over the rugged Blue Mountains on a road only opened little over a decade before. Standing on the edge of shear escarpments staring at steep sided canyons around him, no houses or people to be seen. He described it as like the organ pipes in the church at Rolvenden in Kent. He also talked of rolling himself up in the bark of a tree to sleep at night.

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

The father of my great grandmother, Eleanor Maria Hayes (who was James Hayes). Eleanor was the child of Ann Mahoney (Mahony) and James Hayes. Ann was previously married to a John Rudd. After his death she took up with James and Eleanor was born as a result.

The relationship between Ann and James appears to have been short lived, so all I can say I know is that James was in the Campbelltown area of NSW, Australia around 1852. There is a story covering most of this on Ann’s profile page.

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

There are so many. As I learn more about my own family history I continually find more stories from it, so I guess I am happy to relate to any of them. If I had to pick one of them it would be probably be Ann Forbes, a convict on the First Fleet to Australia. Being sent to a colony on the other side of the world and having to survive in an alien landscape. By now there must be thousands of descendants.

Evelyn Bech

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Photography is a main interest. A camera goes everywhere with me. Bushwalking (hiking) has been a long time interest as well. Astronomy, if you haven’t seen the stars from a dark outback location in Australia you haven’t lived. I love Sci-fi; “Klaatu barada nikto”. Other interests are video editing, and lately, singing lessons. Have been thinking of learning Ballroom dancing as well, my mother, Evelyn Bech nee Oxley,  was champion ballroom dancer for several years.

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

November 2010. If I can get to a computer with Internet access I am on WikiTree.

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

WikiTree has been growing so fast. The open and collaborative aspect of WikiTree is something that I am particularly passionate about. I have long been a volunteer in many different ways.

I contribute to cemetery sites, taking the time to take photos, transcribe, and compile, then I donate to online cemetery sites (see the WikiTree cemetery project if interested). I drive around with a GPS tracker to map areas and contribute to Openstreetmaps.org which has a similar philosophy to WikiTree. The bottom line is I give freely and love to help because that is who I am. It is nice to get back, but I don’t get upset if people don’t have the same philosophy. Yes, I do a lot of work for nothing, but that is its own reward. WikiTree fits like a hand and a glove.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

G2G. The WikiTree forum for asking questions. WikiTreers are a fantastic lot (pat yourselves on the back). They don’t have all the answers but they do jump in when they can assist. They probably started the same way, by asking questions. That is what a Wiki is about. Learning by collaborating. As you learn you then share. I think the large majority of people on WikiTree share that.

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  5 Responses to “Meet our Members ~ Paul Bech”

  1. I wondered if we could add a page manager to Thomas Nunn Jr and Thomas Nunn Senior In the Joshua Nunn family tree. My aunt gave me her information but now a 5th generation Nunn has started working on the tree and I’d like to add him as a page manager for the roots of the tree here in New Jersey and Upper Canada. His name is Tom Nunn. I’m not fast enough updating for him and I’d like him to be able to update the Thomas and Joshua pages. (3) I don’t know how to add a manager to the pages.

  2. I’m new at this. Thank you for contacting me Paul. Both of our DNA has been sent in and we are waiting for that to come back. Before we go ahead with a tree.

    Lynn Larry & Betty White

  3. Hello Paul Bech
    You are the nearest relation WikiTree has shown me but I am at a loss to slot you into my most direct ancestor. My email address is cameronelizabeth81@gmail.com and I should very much like to contact you, or you contact me. I am following my direct ancestors of Roberts and Cameron (mother’s side and Sambrook and Tattersell father;s side. Hope you have time to reply.
    Elizabeth (Sambrook 11 on Wikitree)

  4. Paul is a great example of helping people like me who are sometimes slow in learning the ropes. From experience I know if I contact him with a problem he is on it straight away and I thank him sincerely.
    Jill Mills

  5. Congratulations Paul, You deserve to be the special member. I have always found you to be a kind helpful person. I recall how you educated others to take photos of cemeteries. Congratulations once again

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