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 Peggy.

Peggy McReynolds became a WikiTreer in February of 2015. She enjoys spending time improving the profiles of her ancestors by adding sources, biographies and categories.  She’s also active in our U.S. Civil War Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I’ve manually input the “easy” profiles for my ancestors. While I haven’t counted, there are many brickwalls. (Yes, I realize there’s a Brickwall App, but for now, “ignorance is bliss”.) Each winter I return to the following family lines, hoping for new leads. The Plunkett family, traced back to Hickman and Perry County, Tennessee, circa 1834. The Pridgen family, traced back to Monroe County, Georgia, circa 1829. The Wright family, traced back to Chester County, South Carolina, circa 1795.    Two years ago I solved my McReynolds family “brickwall”  (stalemated at my GG Grandfather Stephen McReynolds) and was able to connect to profiles created by others on WikiTree, going back to 1600 in Scotland.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Johnson County (today Logan County) Arkansas; Both my parents grew up on small farms near New Blaine, Arkansas. Most of mother’s family lines were living in the area by 1840.   My father’s ancestors moved there between 1830 and 1870.  I also research in Hopkins County, Kentucky, and Bradley County, Tennessee. Recently I researched in Massachusetts and was impressed with the quality of records that could be found, compared to other states. My husband’s family has more recent immigrants from Prussia; however, this family line has already been well researched.

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

When I retired in 2010, my co-workers asked what I was going to do in retirement.   Not once did I say “genealogy”.   But soon after retirement, my mother mentioned I was her successor  to manage a CD, which was being used to fund the maintenance of a family cemetery in Arkansas.   There were less than 100 graves there.   I remembered going there with my grandmother to decorate her parents’ graves.   My interest in genealogy started with the question “Who are these people buried here?”   By the time I got to their Civil War stories, I was hooked.   I had to know why there were both Union and Confederate military headstones.  Where was the Plunkett family farm house that was burned by Bushwhackers?  (My GGG grandmother was tied and locked in the burning house, but was saved by her daughters who had been hiding in the woods.)   Each answer led to a new question.  I gained a great respect for the strength of my ancestors and wanted their stories to be known.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My gg grandmother Juliet Wise, who was born in 1833 in Bradley County, Tennessee.  Juliet’s relatives were northern sympathizers during the Civil War, as were many residents of Bradley County, Tennessee. She married Stephen McReynolds, who was also a Union sympathizer. He slept in the woods many nights, to avoid being impressed into the Confederate Army. Juliet’s brothers joined Union Army units from Tennessee.  After the war, Juliet and Stephen moved to a homestead in Shoal Creek, Logan County, Arkansas.  They are both buried on the homestead cemetery, with many of their children. The hardships the family experienced were documented in letters Juliet wrote to family in Tennessee. 

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

Just before my father died he and his cousins were researching the McReynolds family line.  They were inexperienced but enjoyed “the hunt”.  This was in 1999 and they were researching the old fashioned way.  They felt hopelessly stuck with my GG Grandfather, Stephen McReynolds who moved to Arkansas after the Civil War.   Dad died in 1999 and his cousins never broke the brick wall.

About 2013 I picked up their search and it took until 2016 to break the wall.    Many ancestry.com family trees had connected our Stephen McReynolds to a couple from Bledsoe Tennessee.   I agreed he was born in Tennessee and his mother’s name was Elender  (from Civil War Claims court documents), but we had an 1880 family letter mentioning his Uncle Sam McReynolds, “who lives 35 miles from us” …… this didn’t fit with the couple from  Bledsoe Tennessee and in 1850 the 16 year old Stephen McReynolds  wasn’t living with this Bledsoe couple.  Where was he?  I just couldn’t get comfortable with the ancestry.com trees, despite the growing number of trees that adopted this position.

I finally broke the wall with a two prong approach:  1) Found “Uncle Sam McReynolds” in Arkansas, tracking him through Missouri back to Bradley County, Tennessee.   2)  Used very aggressive “wild cards” to locate the critical 1850 U.S. Census; it was finally found with the spelling “McKunels”.  In 1850, Stephen was living with his widowed mother Elender and his three younger sisters in Bradley County, Tennessee.   I’ve sent many of the ancestry.com members a memo and sources, but only a few changed their trees.

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

I joined in February 2015. The first year was spent manually inputting my family tree; my skills were fundamental. I began layering in new skills; creating categories and writing biographies. Most of my time is still spent improving profiles and developing new WikiTree skills. In the past few months, I’ve been using G2G more often.  I enjoy getting to know other WikiTree members that are regularly using the forum; what an incredible mix of people willing to help.

What brought you to WikiTree?

I was looking for an internet genealogy site that fit my goals. I found WikiTree through random searching.  (Hmmmmmm,  I won’t admit that’s how all my research is accomplished, surely I have a plan.)

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

The “One Tree” concept. What I’ve discovered will continue to expand and improve, even when I can’t use a computer anymore.

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

Greater expectations for sources.

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

Before I started using WikiTree my goal was to document “family research”; now I’m starting to develop skills a genealogist needs.  There’s so much to learn and G2G is there to help, at whatever pace I choose.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Don’t try to learn it all at once. Start with the basic skills required to create profiles and connect them to others.  No need to write bios at first but sources are critical.  When you no longer struggle with the basics, layer in more skills.   If you get stuck, go to G2G.

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  One Response to “Meet our Members: Peggy McReynolds”

  1. Hey peggy, i am trying to find out if any one of my past relatives were of indian descent. I am awaiting my dna results.

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