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 Traci.

Traci Thiessen has been a WikiTreer for almost six years. She joined in August 2013.  She’s involved in many projects and challenges, including Magna Carta, Germany, Mayflower, Bio Builders and 52 Ancestors.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?  

Thiessen, Miell, Musel, Crawford, Junge, Rayman, Hinds, Perkins, Kloppenburg, Menge, Chihak/Cihak, Konicek, Bradley, Crandall, Leatherman, Kalt, Kettenbach, Elker and Mosblech

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; Austria and Czech Republic (formerly known as Bohemia); Pilton/Norton St Philip, Somerset, England; Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England; early New England (MA, ME, NH); central and eastern Iowa.

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

In the 1970s-80s, my maternal grandmother and her sister researched their side of the family and put together a handwritten family tree (without sources). In the mid-1990s, I found this tree among some of her personal items and photos. Knowing my grandmother had discovered that one of our Perkins ancestors may have served in the Revolutionary War, I did some occasional research in the library to find out more about that branch of my family. I began to fill in the blanks on the tree she created and became hooked on genealogy.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?  

I don’t have a favorite ancestor, but I do have a favorite era: early America/New England colonies. I am a descendant of five Mayflower passengers and am intrigued by their stories.

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

As half of my family is from Germany and Austria/Czech Republic, I have many brick walls due to the language barrier and the ever-changing political boundaries in Europe. However, my most frustrating brick wall is in the USA, at my 3rd great grandfather in rural Pennsylvania or New York, where Henry Crawford was born. I have devoted countless hours of research to find Henry’s origins and have found nothing. Someday I will travel to the counties where he lived and sift through deeds and probate records with the hopes of breaking that wall down.

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’ve used WikiTree as a research tool since 2013, but have been actively adding and expanding profiles for the last 2+ years. Currently, I am spending most of my time researching the Perkins family in America. I’m co-coordinator of the Perkins Name Study with Clyde Perkins who recently added new WikiTree profiles for all the Perkins men who were killed in Vietnam along with their military information, categories, etc. I then wrote their biographies and tried (often unsuccessfully) to connect them to the global tree.

Along with the One Name Studies project, I’m involved with several others, including: Magna Carta Project/European Aristocrats (I’m the gateway guardian of Sarah Henchman), Germany, Puritan Great Migration, Mayflower, and most recently, the Military and War Project. Also, as a member of the Profile Improvement Project, I regularly participate in Biography Builders, Sourcerers, Connectors, Data Doctors and 52 Ancestors challenges. I’ve also participated in every “___-a-Thon” held over the last 2 years.

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

I found WikiTree while doing a Google search for one of my family members. I found a well-researched, fully sourced profile and was instantly enamored with the site. The opportunity to collaborate in a setting where sources are required and with people vastly more knowledgeable than myself was irresistible. My Ancestry.com tree is private, but I’m in the process of bringing the best of my Ancestry tree over to WikiTree, one profile at a time, to ensure proper sourcing on each profile (I really dislike GEDCOM messes).

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

There is so much to like about WikiTree. My favorite things are the friendly collaboration and the requirement that each profile is sourced. I must admit that I love doing WikiTree’s weekly/monthly challenges, but I do them as a participant and not as a competitor. I try to focus on the quality rather than quantity of profiles improved as I can’t compete with some participants’ huge numbers of contributions. Also, I find that the challenges are a great way to improve my own profiles by building biographies and clearing data errors.

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

I don’t like all the “garbage” that is imported with GEDCOMs. I wish there were a way to prevent unsourced/incorrect/undated profiles from being imported, but I understand that one person’s trash may be another’s treasure and I will continue cleaning those GEDCOMs when I find them.

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

WikiTree’s G2G community has helped me learn how to focus my research, warned me about what to avoid and has given me more leads than I can begin to count. I am forever grateful to have found this community and appreciate all it has to offer.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Familiarize yourself with WikiTree’s Style and Standards, ask questions and have fun. Everyone’s contribution is worthwhile, so be bold!


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  7 Responses to “Meet our Members: Traci Thiessen”

  1. Are you related to Tiffani Thiessen, the “Saved by the Bell” actress?

  2. Hi Traci,

    Greetings Cousin! We are 11th cousins twice removed through Robert Fiske!

  3. Hi William. As for as I know, there is no connection between me and Tiffani. I’d love to say there was one though! Thanks for asking.

    • I presume we’re all related in the Animal Kingdom; the questions are how closely, and how well can we prove it. Hopefully, you’ll find your relation to Tiffani, and I’ll find mine to Viggo Mortensen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Taylor Swift.

  4. Hi Traci,
    My mom was Marie Elizabeth Thiessen, a first born in a sod house in OKlahoma. I read about Wiki Tree on Mennonite Genealogy and History.

  5. Hey cousin….”Traci and Judy are 12th cousins once removed!” Wikitree says our common ancestor is Robert White.

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