Welcome to another installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community. Meet Peter. He is one of our wonderful WikiTree Leaders. Peter leads our Bahamas Project and has also been instrumental in many of the great advances we’ve made incorporating DNA features into WikiTree.
This was originally published December 2014. It was updated February 2016.
Surnames you are researching: Albury, Archer, Barnett, Bell, Bethel, Dekle, Driggers, Hull, Manning, Mercer, Miller, Moore, O’Conner, Pinder, Roundtree, Strode, Summerlin, Trapnell, Roberts, Russell, Rustin, Sawyer, Sasser, Williams.
Locations you are researching: Bahamas, Bermuda, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.
When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?
In the early 1970’s my mother shared her father’s collection of publications related to family reunions for descendants of our 18th century German immigrant John Dekle. These descendant charts, family stories, and photographs of my mother’s family got me interested in my father’s ancestry from the Bahamas. I was able to interview my father’s paternal Aunt Louise shortly before she died in 1978. Roberts is one of the most common surnames in the Bahamas so I was surprised to hear her state that our Roberts family is unrelated to the others. I thought this was preposterous, but when I completed Y-DNA testing in 2004, I was able to confirm our Roberts line was indeed unrelated to all those remaining in the Bahamas.
Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?
My grandfather Benjamin E. Roberts is currently my favorite ancestor because I’ve been able to use WikiTree DNA features to confirm his direct paternal and maternal ancestral lines. WikiTree’s profile feature also provided the opportunity for me to write his biography, and include his autograph and links to free-space profiles for his home that he personally constructed and the schooner he then used to transport his family from one island to another.
Tell us about the brick wall you most want to tear down.
I inherited my mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from my mother who got hers from her mother, etc.; back all the way to Mary O’Connor. The family story is that her ancestry was from County Cork, Ireland. I recently discovered her father’s name when I was adding some of my old notes to WikiTree. Mary’s mother is one of my most recent unknown ancestors and I’ve been trying to track her down for about 40 years.
If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?
From genetic genealogy I have learned that we are indeed all cousins of each other to some degree. So everyone is related to everyone else. The quest is to find what traditional genealogical records exist to help reveal HOW some of us are related. I was very pleased to discover that Clara Barton is my 12th cousin 5 times removed. I greatly admire her pioneering work in nursing as well as her support of the women’s suffrage movement.
What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?
Philately, travel, and museums.
How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?
I’ve been active since July 2013. Contributing to WikiTree is currently how I like to spend much of my personal free time.
Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?
Check to verify that the person you are adding is not already in WikiTree. Think in terms of “our” relatives rather than “my” relatives. Find a project that interests you and volunteer to make contributions.
If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?
Be proactive in preserving our digital family history (photos, database information, stories, DNA test results, etc.) for your descendants as a way of honoring the great sacrifices your ancestors made which have contributed to your fortunate circumstances.
What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?
I love that WikiTree is the only crowd-sourced worldwide ancestral tree that associates your genetics with your genealogy. The DNA features and the G2G forum are outstanding. I’m disappointed when WikiTreers say they have been Y-DNA or mtDNA tested but don’t put their results in YSearch or MitoSearch and keep their family tree private so their Y-DNA and mtDNA results are not associated with their ancestry. WikiTree is so easy to use on an iPad and it would be a huge mistake if future changes made iPad use more difficult. I don’t care for the discourtesy and vandalism that sometimes occurs. So far WikiTree has been a truly outstanding joy for me. It is an exceedingly special world, and I hope it lasts the rest of my life.