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 Shannon.

Shannon Thomas became a WikiTreer in April of 2013.  She’s active in our Profile Improvement Project, helps protect our tree as one of our Rangers and participates as a Tree Hugger on our Appreciation Team by thanking members who earn the Club 100 badge each month!

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Seigfreid (Siegfried), Hunter, Mason, Erwine, Killian, Gensel, Houseknecht, Thomas, Halderman, Allabach, Hartman, and Rutan.

What are some of the locations you are researching? 

I have been fortunate enough that my ancestors stayed mostly in the same place and it happens to be where I currently live.  My focus has been the counties Columbia, Mountour, Luzerne, and Lycoming in Pennsylvania. I do have a Reverend Alvah Rutan who came from New Jersey, but I cannot find him in New Jersey.  Someday, soon, I am sure I will be searching in other places.

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

My husband I watched an episode of Who Do You Think You Are, and we immediately wanted to know where we came from and who our ancestors were. This led me to Ancestry and from there the addiction was born. We collected information from our families, and I started putting pieces of the puzzle together. We went to cemeteries and the local genealogical society where we found more information. We found that Jason (my husband) had a 3rd great-grandfather who was killed during the Civil War. Once I found his wife’s burial the pieces started coming together. During all this research I was also learning how to research. From that point on genealogy took over all my free time.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My favorite ancestor is Reverend Alvah Russel Rutan. He is Jason’s 3rd great-grandfather. Alvah has quite the story and I am still putting the pieces together.

He was arrested during the Civil War for being involved in the Fishing Creek Confederacy. Basically, he was arrested several times from August of 1864 to October of 1864. Those arrested during this time were not told of the charges against them, never knew who their accusers were, were arrested without proper authority and tried only in front of an illegal “military commission.” They were imprisoned without knowing what they had done wrong, and when they were eventually released months or years later, they still did not know. Alvah was imprisoned at Fort Mifflin near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On February 23, 1865 he was pardoned by the President of the United States and released from Fort Mifflin on March 1, 1865. At this time Alvah returns home to his family. And this is where I lose him until I found his will dated March 10, 1877.

Alvah was put through a lot but his family remained strong and hopeful that he would be released. His story intrigues me and I am determined that I am going to find all of the pieces to this puzzle. You can read more about Alvah and the Fishing Creek Confederacy on my blog, Our Life Picture by Picture.  There was a book written about the Fishing Creek Confederacy in 2012; it is called The Fishing Creek Confederacy; A Story of Civil War Draft Resistance by Richard A. Sauers and Peter Thomasak.

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

I want to find out what happened to Alvah after his release in 1865. I want to find his parents and grow his family tree.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Besides genealogy I make greeting cards. I collect vintage Pyrex. Recently, I started digital scrapbooking and planning on my iPad. I also enjoy geocaching with my niece and nephew.   

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 have been on WikiTree since April 2013 when my genealogy adventures began. I came to WikiTree several times a week looking for more information and adding to WikiTree where I could. The first project I joined was the Profile Improvement Project in 2014. I had a lot of profiles that needed help and I was looking for a way to give back. Recently, I became a member of the Rangers where I keep an eye on WikiTree twice a week, and the WikiTree Appreciation Team. On the Appreciation Team I congratulate those who have made 100 or more contributions in a month.  Keep the contributions coming and you just might see a thank you from me.

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

Facebook sent me to WikiTree. I was looking for some free genealogy sites to further my research and it was recommended that I give WikiTree a try.

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

My favorite thing about WikiTree is the community. The volunteers help keep WikeTree strong and thriving. WikiTreers are willing to help someone when they ask for assistance.  I’ve had community members go off and do some searching and come back to me with great resources that I did not know existed. Collaboration is the key to success!

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

Sources.  It is frustrating when I find a new person and go to the profile only to find there are no sources or the source is another family tree.  I still have some of those profiles to clean up too.

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

WikiTree has given me many new ancestors to add to my tree, has helped me make genealogy friends, and I have learned a lot about research from WikiTree.  Since I have gotten so much from WikiTree it is only fair that I give back to WikiTree. I like being able to volunteer for different projects and help or encourage others while they are doing their own research.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

If you have a question, please ask.  The WikiTree community is great for collaboration.  Use the help files, I learn something new all the time.  Be willing to work with other researchers if they contact you.

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  One Response to “Meet our Members: Shannon Thomas”

  1. Shannon,
    There are only 13 degrees between us. That is pretty close. I did the bulk of my family research in the 1960’s and 70’s.before the age of computers. I hope to hear from you.
    Respectfully yours,
    John Lemley

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