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 Robin.

Robin Helstrom became a WikiTreer in January of 2018.  She participates in several projects including French Roots,  Canada, and United Kingdom. She recently became the Project Coordinator of the North America Cemeteries Team in our Global Cemeteries Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Dudgeon, Young, Brownlee, McBain, Aspevig, Olman, Syverson, Neighbour, Mack, Sandercock, Lawlor, Tilsley, Boyd, Wilson, Warden, Murdock, Broome, Pittman, Grawbarger, Chamberlin, Fraser, LeBas, and Marchand.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Hastings, Ontario; Renfrew, Ontario; Hull, Quebec; Newbury, Vermont; Yetminster, Dorset; Clun, Shropshire; Radner, Wales.

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

From a young age I was always excited for family gatherings. My paternal great-aunt always showed me pictures and told stories of our relatives. She had these old drawings in her guest room that were scary looking to me as a child but I knew not to be afraid because she told me what great people these ancestors were. Then when I was about 12 my great-grandmother made me a binder full of photos and information on her side. I caught the bug and soon other family members sent me memoirs and photos. And it’s just snowballed since about 2000 or so.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I’m partial to my Tilsley and Heighway ancestry at the moment. I find chasing down Tilsley vicars in Wales and unraveling the mass of Heighways in Shropshire to be a fascinating challenge that keeps me interested.  I’m ever swayed by my curiosity.

But if I had to pick just one that been long lived it would be Maggie (Warden) Boyd, my maternal great-great grandmother. I remember pictures of her when I was a child and she was so young and beautiful. She died in her early 30s in 1919. Family lore said it was a botched gin bath abortion. I ordered the death certificate and it only suggested she died at 3:00 am of cerebral hemorrhage and inhaling emesis. And we knew little about her background in England. I’ve slowly been finding bits but so far the mystery prevails.

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

I’m really hoping to bust a brick wall about my Jones relations: My 2x great-grandmother, Mary (Jones) Heighway, and my 3x great-grandmother Margaret (Jones) Neighbour. Of course Jones in Wales is an incredibly popular surname but I’d love to find the right Jones and finally carry those two lines further back.

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

Henry VIII. I have always been fascinated with him since I was a child. I read so many books and did research papers in school. I know his family quite well and they’ve always just spoken to something in me. So far no luck haha.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I love doing crafts, yoga, meditation, all things Benedict Cumberbatch (yes I’m a member of the Cumber Collective) and The Beatles (lifelong Beatlemaniac). I enjoy playing music although I’m hardly proficient at any instrument, I love crosswords, period dramas, lots of British television, and reading classic literature.

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 started on WikiTree in January of 2018. I have spent most of my time building out my own family tree, categorizing all things, trying to make DNA connections, and bouncing between projects including French Roots, European Aristocrats, 1776, one name studies, Notables, Canada, and United Kingdom. I have put the most work into Categorization, where I am a project member, and Global Cemeteries, where I was newly minted Coordinator of the North America Cemeteries Team.

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

I fell across WikiTree in Google. I had come across an ancestor and discovered I had a false lineage in my tree and signed up to see what else I could prove or disprove.

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

The fact that it’s free really speaks to me. I find the paywall genealogy sites to be infuriating – charging us for our own history, I think it’s criminal. It should be public knowledge.

I also really love the philosophy of a free resource that connects us all – and we can physically see those connections through the relationship finder, through DNA connections, and categorizations. It’s so thrilling to me to be able to connect with other users and to see my work is making a difference not only for myself, but for the Genealogy community in general.

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

I can’t think of much off the top of my head. Sometimes I wish I was interested in less things and I could stay more focused on a topic. There’s too many rabbit holes to get lost in in WikiTree lol.

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

WikiTree has put me in connection with so many knowledgeable folks and allowed me to really grow as a researcher and continue to learn new things.

My contribution to Genealogy at large is the site allows me to collaborate just for fun. I can expand lines, chase celebrities, categorize others’ profiles, clean up GEDCOM junk, and work on so many things unrelated to myself and know it will be helpful to someone and fun for me at the same time.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

 I would say don’t be afraid to make a mistake or to ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question, errors can be reversed, and just learn and have as much fun as you can.

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  One Response to “Meet our Members: Robin Helstrom”

  1. Congrats, Robin! Beatles 4 evah!

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