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 Sandy.

Sandy Patak joined WikiTree in March of 2016.  She was one of the winners in our 2018 Spring Clean-a-Thon and is very active on WikiTree as a Cemeterist.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Bonar/Bonner, Gregory, Hamrick, Dodrill, Ware, Wamsley, Arbogast, Linger, Lance/Lantz and Patak

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I’m researching the Highlands and in particular Stirling area of Scotland.  While tracing my Bonar/Bonner family back to Scotland, I am also tracing my brother’s Craig side of the family.  There is much debate in our family on whether the Craig’s came from Scotland or went through Ireland first.

I’m also researching my husband’s family, the Pataks, back to Hungry.  This has been a challenge due to language and the movement of the country’s boundaries.

I am always researching the Central West Virginia region which is where all of my family hail from.  I am the first family member to not be born in Wild Wonderful West Virginia. I am often in the state researching, talking to relatives and friends as well as surveying and documenting cemeteries.

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

My Uncle Drex!

From a very early age, he would tell stories of our ancestors in such a way that you would swear that he knew them personally.  Instead, he obtained all the stories and details by visiting his older generation and asking detailed questions. This was way before the internet so he would go door-to-door and stay for hours collecting information.   I was hooked with genealogy right then and there! When Uncle Drex gifted me with his genealogy work before he passed away, I actively started to update our family records and put our family trees on the Internet.

Later in life, I decided to take a DNA Test to prove that I was Italian.  Most people assume that I am and, well, I do eat my fair share of pasta. I was quite shocked at the results… they showed no Italian ancestry.  It did show some Scandinavian, which we can all guess how that happened. So my current quest is to trace my line back far enough to find where my Beloved Bonar/Bonner family came from in Scotland.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

It would easy for me to pick my beloved Grandmother but I think my favorite is her Great Grandmother: Sarah Folks Bonner.

Sarah’s husband, Samuel Bonner, briefly served in the War of 1812 for Johnathan Wamsley and Col. Booth in Virginia (now West Virginia).  Samuel was suppose to be granted a pension that included land in Randolph County, WV. For over a decade she fought, as his widow, to get the land grant.  She was denied over 50 times but persevered until finally, shortly after her death in 1880, she (and her heir) were granted the land rights. There are over 75 pieces of historical documents that show she never gave up on her right to the land.  The claims denials were fairly harsh. She even employed attorneys at a great expense to correspond with the Pension Office in DC. Each document she signed had her mark of “X” because she could not write.

Sarah paid money to the attorneys to protect the land that Samuel was buried on and so their son could inherit.  She fought the good fight and eventually won. Something that is incredible for a woman to do in that era. Currently, the land has been divided and sold many times over but my husband, son and I go there often to fly fish on the mighty Elk River and walk the land that they farmed.

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

With the help of a fellow WikiTree member, I was able to break the Brick Wall on my Husband’s Great Grandfather: Fredrik Ludvig Carlson.  I posted for Swedish research assistance and a member of WikiTree from Sweden researched some very old documents and was able to find Fredrik’s parents.  Not only was the Brick Wall torn down but I got an insight to their lives in Sweden before they emigrated to the U.S.

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

Sophie Friederike Auguste Romanov aka Catherine the Great.

Catherine the Great was extremely well read, brave and had more guts than most men of her time.  For someone to integrate into another country, learn the language, learn the religion, learn the history and work on making a nation prosper practically on her own is impressive. She had her faults but her progress far outweigh the bad throughout the political minefields.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Our family camps in our Vintage Airstream Argosy a lot.  It was a childhood dream of mine to buy an Airstream and completely renovate it.  Eight years ago, the right trailer at the right price came along. It took us over two years to get it completely renovated with a lot of hands on work and dirt!  Now, we take short weekend trips or long haul trips to the beach and beyond. It’s incredibly easy to load up the teenager and pups and go for an adventure. As a result of our work, I write and manage a blog on the renovation process for Vintage Trailers.

I am also fairly obsessed with hockey.  Our family are season ticket holders to our local team, the Atlanta Gladiators. We can be found at hockey events from October to April every year.

Otherwise, I am on the golf course cheering my son on during his golf tournaments which have taken over our summers.

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

I’ve been on WikiTree since March 2016.

I spend most of my time adding ancestors and uploading picture of tombstones.  I have over 2000 pictures of family cemeteries and local cemeteries that need uploaded.  As a Cemeterist, I am trying to complete the task of matching the photos with people.

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

Oddly enough, my son was researching U.S. Presidents and found WikiTree before me!  Once I read about the Honor Code and that it was free to use, I was hooked.

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

The collaboration between members as well as Projects.  I love the ability to put a category on a profile and have everyone connect in a specific category on one page.  I use that a lot for researching variations of names.

I read the g2g forum whenever searching for answers on a topic that I need advice.

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

GEDCOM!  I would love to have Gedcom uploads paused until a new member completes at least 20 Profiles… with sources.  Once those 20 are completed and reviewed, then the Gedcom can be uploaded. Throughout my Family Tree on WikiTree are so many Gedcoms that are simply outright incorrect, abandoned and not sourced.  There is a learning curve with WikiTree and that should be understood before a massive dump of ancestors.

A related issue would be if there was a way to not include all the Ancestry “Junk” when uploading a Gedcom.

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

I am a check twice, then respond type of person.  WikiTree is my solid backup. It’s very easy to look at the Family Tree and track it.  The DNA Team has been a tremendous resource for knowledge in an area that I was just learning.  With that information, I was able to work on tearing down my current Brick Wall as well as other people’s.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Go SLOW!  Take your time building your first couple of Profiles.  Treat your ancestor’s profiles as a full life and not just a bunch of sources and data.  Do not be afraid to add to an existing profile. At first, I thought I would be stepping on someone else’s toes but I found that most truly collaborate.

Join a Team during the Clean-A-Thon or Source-A-Thon… the Captains and Leaders are always so supportive and mentoring.  I can’t stress this one enough!


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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 Dave.

Dave Rutherford joined WikiTree in November 2012 and is one of our newest Leaders! He helps keep vandals away by volunteering as a Ranger and is active in several projects including our Canadian History and United Kingdom projects.  He recently started the Palatine Migration project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Lots of names! Between my tree and my wife’s, we have 55 of our 64 3x great grandparents identified. Some of the names include Rutherford, Scott, Fenwick, Wood and Gearveiss from northern England & the Scottish borders; Cornish families Jaco, Pinch and Downing; Palatine lines Boyer, Moyer, Ribble, Teeple, Young and Teeter; plus colonial lines Pherrill, Russell and Tidd. Then there are Samson, McBrayne and Milne from Scotland; Harriott from Sussex and Bush (Bosch) who were originally Dutch.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Much of my research is centered here in Canada, especially Ontario. Also I’ve found deep roots for both my wife and myself in the Palatine settlers of the Mohawk valley of New York and the Delaware valley of New Jersey. And I’ve done a fair bit of poking around the online records of the UK, especially Lancashire and Cornwall.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Tough one. I guess I would select my 4x great grandmother Eliza (Jaco) Fenwick. She was a writer and teacher in late 1700’s London. Her novel “Secresy” is still in print and featured in some college curricula. She and her husband were close friends of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft and she was nurse to Mary in her final days. She took Mary’s baby (the future Mary Shelley) home to look after her when Mary died. Eliza also wrote children’s books as well as various fiction and non-fiction works. She ended her working life teaching at King’s College in Upper Canada and caring for four grandchildren, including my great great grandfather.

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

How about one of each?

The first ancestor that I researched in any depth was my 4X great grandfather Jacob Russell, a Loyalist in the Revolutionary War who ended up in New Brunswick. I was able to learn a great deal about his life during the war and afterwards, but could find nothing regarding his parentage. He was represented on numerous Ancestry trees, but none that provided any sensible ancestors. It was by connecting with another researcher here on WikiTree, a distant cousin from Virginia, that we finally broke through the brick wall, finding his baptism in Huntington Harbor, New York. We can now trace the line back to Charlestown in 1637.

One of my most frustrating brick walls belongs to Jacob’s son in law, my 3x great grandfather Stephen Pherrill. Stephen married Jacob’s daughter Elizabeth and they moved to Upper Canada, becoming among the first settlers of Scarborough. (Now part of Toronto.) Stephen was reportedly born on the upper St. John River in New Brunswick and his parents supposedly came from Maine. But I have found no trace of his ancestry, and indeed, have not really been able to find much of anyone with his surname. All the Pherrills on WikiTree are his descendants.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I like reading sci/fi & fantasy, and the occasional murder mystery. As well as history and current affairs. I like tennis and I watch the occasional hockey game. (Ice hockey, of course – is there really any other kind?) I love to cook. And I like to walk a few kilometers every day whenever I can. A few extra hours each day would be nice.

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

I’ve been on WikiTree since the fall of 2012. I try to spend part of the time helping out the community through my Ranger shifts and work on projects. But a lot of my time is still spent on my tree. I split the time between making improvements to existing profiles and adding connections to new cousins as they contact me. I am online just about every day, but for some reason, my “to do” list never seems to shrink, but rather continues to grow!

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

Beginner’s luck. I was just looking for a free place to build my family tree, without any clear idea what I was getting into!

WikiTree was smaller then. I actually entered several hundred profiles before I bumped into anyone else, so it took a while before it dawned on me that I was only part of a much greater whole.

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

I guess if I had to sum up my favorite thing about WikiTree, it would be its accessibility.

From the moment that I started, I was impressed with the layout of the profiles: data, family connections, sources, family stories and photographs all accessible on the same page.

But that is only a small part of the picture compared to its accessibility on the web. I have been astonished at the number of folks who have contacted me over the years. And not just distant cousins. I’ve heard from historians, museum curators, professors and old friends of people who I’ve profiled in my tree.

My wife’s great grandmother had a cousin who married a man here in Ontario early in the last century. She left him a widower at a very young age and he went off to war and died in France just before the armistice in 1918. A couple of years ago, I heard from a school teacher in Iwuy France whose class was researching the soldiers buried in their local cemetery. I sent him the information that I could about the man in question, and then a few months ago, I heard from one of the soldier’s family members here in Canada. I put her in touch with the man in France, and now her family is planning a trip in the fall to a ceremony in Iwuy which will commemorate the Canadian soldiers’ sacrifices in the Great War. Making that connection wouldn’t have been possible without WikiTree.

I have heard from people on every continent (except Antarctica of course). I’ve worked with folks from Chengdu, China to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Every day is a new adventure. I don’t know who I will hear from when I turn on my computer!

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

If we could get rid of some of the limitations, especially the 5000 profile limit. I am constantly having to orphan profiles that I have researched and worked on. I would like to be able to keep tabs on them.

I’m also at the point where if I want to add a following tab, I must make a decision about which one to drop, as we are only allowed to follow twenty at a time. 

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

Oh my! Where to start? WikiTree members have been my education in genealogy from the beginning. I was pretty green when I started. I’m still no expert, but thanks to all the help from others here, I’m finally starting to learn how much I don’t know. The friendliness and willingness to help a newbie that I experienced when I started here is something that I try to emulate.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Take it slow. Read everything the greeters send you. We are a little bit different from other sites and there is a bit of a learning curve. Ignore the impulse to import a big gedcom. Build your tree one profile at a time, adding your sources as you go. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Not only do you learn stuff, but you meet people that way too.


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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 G.

G. Moore became a WikiTreer in June of 2016.  He is very active in the North Carolina Project, especially in developing out Iredell County.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I am searching the Moore, Bowman, Gillespie, Cline, Reeves, Gray, Price, Campbell, Mullis, Minnish, Hemrick, Sharpe, Wooten, Young, and Thorpe surnames.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I am managing the Iredell County, North Carolina One Place Study, where most of my ancestors lived from the mid to late 1700s to current times.  This research requires me to delve into Rowan County, the progenitor of Iredell County and neighboring counties. I have also learned a lot about the history of the Province of North Carolina and Province of Carolina in the process of doing this research.

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

I started researching family history when I lived near Washington, D.C. and spent many hours reading microfilm in the National Archives.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

Perciphull Campbell, Sr. (1767- 1853) is my favorite ancestor.  There is a lot known about him and he was a first generation North Carolinian. The house that he built still stands in Union Grove.   

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

I was able to locate or create profiles for 171 members of the Rowan County Regiment from the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War, including almost all the officers.  I found two of my ancestors on different sides of my family at opposite ends of the county in this Regiment that did not connect again until their descendants, my parents, were married 170 years later.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I play trombone in a local community band and church. When the weather is good I go fly fishing.

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

I have been on WikiTree since June 2016.   I spend most of my time on the Iredell County One Place Study.  I am adding profiles, connecting to the global tree, and categorizing 378 Revolutionary War Veterans that lived in the county (up to 338 now).  I have found 527 profiles for early settlers in what became Iredell County and lived there in the 1700s. I am in the process of finding or creating profiles for postmasters, sheriffs, and politicians that lived in Iredell County.   

 

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

I find that it gives me a greater sense of history to see the profiles and connect them with other profiles from the same time.   Using categories on profiles has helped me connect them with the Revolutionary War, churches, slavery, Census records, and other historic events.    

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

It would be nice to make it easier to search locations and time spans for when a person lived in a location.

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

I find the rigor of creating and sourcing profiles is a good test of what I know about an ancestor.  I have also run into many distant cousins working the common ancestors and have connected with several Iredell County researchers through WikiTree.   

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Before you get too far, spend a little time figuring out how to use Wiki formatting, including section headings, lists, and sourcing formats.  Create a style and stick with it. This will make your life much easier. I have been doing Wikis since the beginning of Wikipedia, so it is now second nature to me.  It also helps to create a timeline of events in the location that you are researching. Put it in a space categorized with the location. This helps you keep the changing names of counties and other events straight.


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