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 Thomas.

Thomas Fuller became a WikiTreer in February of 2018. He started a Fuller One Name Study and is active in our Michigan, Data Doctors and Sourcerers Projects.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

My own surname, Fuller, is my greatest interest. I’m also interested in Haynes, Stoddard, Kinney, Russ, Baer, Cazier, Warner, and Willoughby on my dad’s side. Samons, Branham, Owens, Crum, and Herrington on my mother’s side. Among others.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

My main focus is Michigan. I’m a lifelong resident and a fifth-generation native on my dad’s side. The towns of Ypsilanti, Jackson, and Leslie in particular, have all been important parts of my own life and my family history. My mom’s parents were from Floyd County, Kentucky, so that’s another important area of research for me.

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

I’ve always been interested in history, geography, languages and cultures. I’ve had an on and off interest in family history since childhood. It really took off in June 2017, when I realized that my late great-grandmother’s 100th birthday was approaching – I thought. I went online and looked up her birthdate in the U.S. Social Security Death Index and confirmed her 100th birthday was in fact a few days away. Then I looked up more deceased relatives, and then I stumbled across the FamilySearch app on my phone. Once I saw how easily I could obtain good information for free, I was hooked.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Not counting ancestors I personally remember – I’m going to say my fourth great-grandfather, Benjamin W. Fuller. He was born and raised in upstate New York. He came to Michigan in the mid 1850’s, together with his three children from his late wife, his second wife, and their first child. He settled in and is buried near Ypsilanti. I hope to go see his grave and where his farm was this coming summer.

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

I hope to confirm whether Benjamin’s father, Joseph Fuller, is the man with that name that I think he is.

The most interesting wall I’ve broken down actually hasn’t made it to WikiTree yet – but I discovered that my father-in-law’s grandfather actually had a different surname and state of birth than what he told his family. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t find any records for him as a child in Kentucky – or for his parents. I had their names and the era had plenty of records – but they just weren’t there. Then I looked at all the available images on all his records again and I saw a nearest relative listed on his draft card from the First World War that eventually led me to conclude that he was from a family in Indiana with a different last name. I still don’t know why he didn’t tell his family the truth – I’m not sure I ever will. I’ll document it all on WikiTree before too long.

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

I don’t know – we’re all related to each other, ultimately. If my theory about who Joseph Fuller is pans out, I’ll end up being descended from one of the Fullers who came to North America in the Puritan Great Migration – so I pick them. It would make things much easier if I was sure I was right.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Do you mean what am I interested in or what do I spend my time doing? I’m interested in books, history, geography, demographics, religion, sociology, and etymology.

I spend most of my time either at work, or at home doing childcare and chores. I’ve been married seven years and I have three sons: 5 year-old twins and a single 2 year-old. I’m a Catholic convert so my faith is a huge part of my life also.

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 for eleven months. I started the Fuller Name Study half a year ago and I’m still figuring out how to be a leader there. I also joined the Michigan Project, Data Doctors, and Sourcerers. Besides working on my own tree and reading a lot of posts at G2G, I try to whittle away at Unsourced Michigan profiles.

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

I think it was from googling some alleged ancestors in hopes of finding evidence for or against my descent from them. I kept finding profiles of them on WikiTree. Eventually I joined to see if I could establish a link to them. I’m still working on that.

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

Biographies. I love to turn the dry facts in the sources into a cohesive, accurate story. It makes my ancestors come alive to me.

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

The biggest improvement would be a huge increase in the number of dedicated, actively contributing members. Many hands make light work – and there’s a lot of work to do.

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

Involvement at WikiTree has taught me to have high standards on sourcing and documentation, and to not be in such a rush to get everything “done.”

Also, just a few days ago, a generous genealogist on WikiTree saw a post on G2G and found a birth record for my maternal grandfather under his biological father’s surname. She was able to see past my blinders of what I knew, that all his records would be under his stepfather’s surname – turns out, that’s not true. It’s a great example of how collaborative genealogy can produce more results than private genealogy. (Thanks, Marion Poole.)

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

As nearly everyone says, don’t be in a rush to get everything done. The goal is to honor each ancestor and their relatives with a thoughtful, well-written biography with impeccable sources – not just to discover a list of names of ancestors going back hundreds of years.

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