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 Wendy.

Wendy Taylor became a WikiTreer in May of 2018.  She participates in our Palantine Migration Project and is a coordinator for our Greeters Project!

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Adams, Castella, Caldicott, Codling, Disher, Edwards, Engel, Knights, Hansen, Hewitt, Holm, Huntsman, Lange, Larsen, Middleton, Nurse, Secord, Skillings, Watts, Webb, Wintersteen and Zimmerman to name but a few.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

My maternal grandparents emigrated to Canada from Denmark in the 1920s, so Denmark is definitely an area of interest, particularly København (Copenhagen) and the Vejle and Odense regions.

A number of my paternal great grandparents emigrated to Canada from Norfolk, England between 1836 and 1840.  I am particularly interested in the villages of Edgefield and Cley Next the Sea where they lived.

My great great great grandfather, John Peter Zimmerman, came to Ontario from Knowlton, Sussex, New Jersey, though I believe the Zimmermans were originally from Prussia and Germany, as some have records with the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia.

The Engels and Wintersteen families were originally from the Palatine regions of Germany.

My extended family has migrated all over Canada and the United States, often back and forth across the border.

I emigrated from Ontario, Canada and eventually settled in Warwickshire, England. Imagine my delight when I discovered my Adams ancestors were from Northamptonshire and the Webbs and Caldicotts were from Warwickshire, where I was now living. I recently visited Tysoe in Warwickshire, where Mary Webb, my three times great grandmother, and William Adams, my three times great grandfather, were married.  Mary was born in Compton Wynyates, where her father worked in the dog kennels. It is a shame that there is no public access to Compton Wynyates.

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

I got interested in genealogy about 20 years ago. My parents knew little of their family history, though they gave me a book called  ‘Little Successes – The History of a Hamlet Windfall, Ontario 1850-2000’  written by Belva Hewitt Kalbfleisch, a first cousin once removed.  I did random web searches and found out lots of information, but wasn’t terribly organised about it. I visited Edgefield and Cley Next the Sea in Norfolk, England.  I got an Ancestry account, but let it lapse, then I was given an Ancestry DNA kit by my partner and my daughters took me to Copenhagen for my 60th birthday.  My interest reignited.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

How do you choose just one?  Almost every person has a story. Pankraes Brinius Castella, my four times great grandfather, because I love the name.  He was born about 1783 in Copenhagen and died about 1836.  His father was a soldier, linguist and informant in Copenhagen, possibly from the Midi-Pyrénées, France. Pankraes, sometimes known as Bruno, was listed as a petitionist on the 1834 census. I would love to better understand why they settled in Copenhagen and what they were doing.  These were some of my earlier attempts at setting up profiles and I plan to revisit them, now I have learned more about WikiTree.

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

I have two brick walls which frustrate me. The first is what happened to my great grandfather Rasmus Christian Hansen and those of his children who I understand emigrated to Argentina. My cousin, Betty, received a photo of Rasmus from a distant cousin in Australia, but there the trail goes cold. I know that one of my grandmother’s brothers, Hans Valdemar Holm, emigrated to Argentina, but I haven’t yet found enough good sources to add him to WikiTree.

The second is Mary Philip Johnson, my three times great grandmother. She was born in 1789 and died in 1848, but I haven’t found any records of her apart from her Find a Grave memorial.

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

I am happy being related to the people I am, but someone I respect is Thorvald Stauning, who was the first Social Democratic Prime Minister of Denmark and his government established the Danish social welfare state. His son, Holger, established an art collective and was a self taught artist. One of my prize possessions is a painting by Holger Stauning, which he gave to my grandparents when they returned to Denmark for a visit in the 1950s. They had met Holger and his wife, Rosa, while they were all homesteading in Alberta, Canada.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I am an avid reader. I have an eclectic taste in music – my partner was a psychedelic trance DJ when we met, although now he works in a library. I love to dance. I play bridge, when I get the chance, and I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles.

I love to learn new things and l love to travel. I enjoy visiting museums and art galleries.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I joined WikiTree on 14 May 2018 and became a confirmed member on 16 May 2018, so almost two years ago. I did a bit in the first few months, but then life took over. I didn’t really start in earnest until Jun 2019. Now I am on WikiTree daily. I have a tree on Ancestry with over 25,000 people and am gradually migrating it bit by bit. Let’s hope I finish migrating it in my lifetime.

I joined the Palantine Project when I was working on some of my Engel and Wintersteen ancestors. I learned a lot from the Palantine Project, though I haven’t been particularly active. I must try harder, as I admire their work enormously!

I was invited to become a Greeter last summer and that has kept me busy. As someone with an IT background, I see it as a sort of 24 hour Servicedesk. The Greeters welcome new people joining WikiTree and confirm those who volunteer, provided they show that they are genuinely here for genealogical purposes and are old enough. The Greeters also try to identify potential spammers before they do any damage, give users advice on things like adoption, DNA, tags, GEDcompare and projects that may be of interest. They even translate messages for those who speak other languages. The work is done in shifts, but lots of guests and volunteers send us private messages with their problems. The best thing about the Greeters Gang is the camaraderie and help we give each other and the feeling that we are helping other people make the most of WikiTree.

I am now a Project Co-Ordinator for the Greeters, though I am still being trained. The Project Team do much more. They track issues and their resolution, such as Volunteers who have been age checked, are Unlisted, who have inconclusive tags, or who have been confirmed through a non-standard process. They send messages two weeks after volunteers have been confirmed to make sure they are getting on alright. They post comments on a variety of topics to try to ensure members get the best they can from WikiTree. They also monitor G2G for posts relevant to Greeters.

If that doesn’t keep me busy enough, I try to add sources, or create profiles for my own ancestors every day. I am currently working on my Huntsman branches. It is a good thing I am retired.

What brought you to WikiTree?

A number of years ago one of my work colleagues mentioned it to me, so I had a look at it. It was at a time when I was working on a SharePoint project, so I didn’t have the time then to get involved. Then a couple of years ago, I did a web search for an ancestor and found them on WikiTree. The rest, as they say, is history.

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

I love WikiTree and the thing I like the best about it is the emphasis on sources. It is one of the reasons I decided not to import a GEDcom file, but rather to go through finding my own sources and rechecking my research. It has forced me to be more rigorous in my research and I have discovered inaccuracies in my original research and found new branches to explore. It has definitely been worth the extra effort.

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

Because WikiTree is a collaborative site, not everyone I am interested in will come up on my watchlist. In fact, it has been suggested to me that I shouldn’t have more than 5000 people on my watchlist (those whose profiles I am manager for, or who I am on the Trusted list for).  That means that profiles I am interested in can be changed or improved without my knowing. If there was a utility which reported on ancestors whose profiles have altered in the last three months it would be quite useful, especially if it included who the Profile Manager is and who made the amendment, though I expect there is a long list of prioritised improvements, so I am not holding my breath.

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

As mentioned earlier, it has forced me to be more rigorous in my research, but aside from that it gives a Suggestion Report of potential anomalies, which I only discovered when I got involved in a WikiTree Challenge. The report highlights such things as discrepancies between birth or death dates on the profile with those which Find A Grave sources used. It is great, as we are all human and can make mistakes, plus gravestones and memorials can have mistakes. I try to remember to follow up the suggestions periodically.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Think of future grandchildren or great grandchildren finding their ancestors on WikiTree. Use good sources which can be freely accessed wherever possible. Try to make profiles more than a series of names, dates and locations.

The other really important tip is to check that your ancestor isn’t already on WikiTree. Do that before you enter a death date, as well as after. I have made the mistake of assuming that someone isn’t on WikiTree because they didn’t come up on the suggested list because their profile manager was still showing them as living. Having to merge later is always a nuisance.


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  4 Responses to “Meet our Members: Wendy Taylor”

  1. Wendy, I enjoyed very much reading your story. Best wishes, Brian Phelan in Ireland.

  2. Can you help me figure out info on my 3x great grandpa Isreal Nelson (AKA Isrel), who is buried in Tazewell, Virginia (died 7/14/1909)? His dad and grandpa are from NC and both named Isaac Nelson. I am looking for facts that he is their blood line and his dad and grandpa’s wives names. I believe this possibly the same blood line that is in my husbands family, from Wayne, WV. They have Isaac’s with sons and grand sons named Isaac, so it makes it even harder. My Isreal was born in NC, but at some point he and his father move to VA. His DOB is listed as 1812, 1826, and 1830. His property that he passed on to his kids was divided by the state line, so it is also min McDowell, WV. Which is another odd situation. I seen a family tree on Wiki and it looks like mine, but doesn’t list my Isreal. Which I wonder if he was a dirty secret and possibly mixed blood. Right before Isaac died in VA he is listed as living in “The Poor House” as a border. And 2 lines under him is a 3 yr old box as a Mulato… Which I do not understand so makes me wonder. I have done 2 different DNA test on Ancestry and one on My Herritage. I can’t seem to connect to someone willing to help, who has the missing info. Wondering if that’s not why.

  3. I’m looking for my youngest half brother, David Ray Satterwhite, age 78

  4. Hi Wendy, I’ve downloaded my gedcom and it isn’t matching with known relatives/ancestors. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I’m Helm-1206. Thanks for any help.

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