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 Mark.

Mark Sutherland-Fisher became a WikiTreer in July of 2017.  He is very active as a Project Coordinator in our Scotland Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Sutherland, Mackenzie, Drummond, Waddell, Fisher and Postlethwaite

What are some of the locations you are researching?

The Scottish Highlands for most of my maternal ancestry and the Counties of Westmorland, Cumberland and Lancashire in England for most of my paternal ancestry plus a sprinkling of locations from London to Aberdeen. All my known ancestry since the 11th century comes from the British Isles.

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

As a child my maternal grandfather related to me the family stories his maternal grandaunt had related to him 50 years earlier. Through him I heard the words of the “Waterloo generation”, the generation of her parents. Her great-grandfather had been on the field of Culloden on 16th April 1746 within the Jacobite army and survived to tell the tale.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

From my “illustrious” ancestors it has to be Margaret Beaufort, Duchess of Suffolk, afterwards Countess of Richmond and mother of Henry VII of England. Her maneuvering during the Wars of the Roses made her the female version of Machiavelli. A mother at 13, had she not been so strong and determined, we would never have had the Tudors and Stewarts on the throne.

Among my less “illustrious” and more recent ancestors it would be another woman, Sophia Fraser a 3x great grandmother. Her only child was illegitimate and his father referred to her in the Kirk Session minutes as though she was the local “easy lay”. As she was the one who came from a “better family” I would love to hear her side of the story.

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

The Scottish naming pattern is both a blessing and a curse. Highland Scottish families tended to stick “religiously” to it. Both my 3x great grandfather Sutherlands were named James and both their fathers were named Alexander. In the Parish of Latheron in Caithness, in the late 18th and early 19th century the Parish Ministers adopted a narrow Calvinistic attitude so only men were relevant because it was a man who determined whether he and a woman were married and it was the father who determined whether his children were legitimate or otherwise. The church “made money” from the small fees levied for registering marriages and baptisms, thereby declaring that couples were not fornicators and their children not illegitimate.

As a result for several generations the Parish Ministers only recorded the name and sometimes rank, occupation or residence of the father on the baptism of his child. Two centuries later that is not much use when there are upwards of ten cousins, all named Alexander Sutherland, fathering children and having them baptised in the same parish at the same time. My brick wall is working out “which” Alexander is “my” Alexander in terms of the wider Sutherland family within the extended Sutherland of Forse and Langwell family! For four decades I have been using snippets of information and the process of elimination to narrow down the “candidates” and now DNA has put another weapon in my armoury! DNA confirms he was a member of the Sutherland family in the direct male line of descent from Freskyn of Moravia (c1100-1166) founder of the family. Similarly DNA has confirmed his wife Margaret was a member of the Mackenzie of Gairloch branch of the Kintail family. 

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

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527) arguably the “father” of modern political philosophy. After genealogy, politics is my greatest passion and over the years many people have accused me of having a mind like Machiavelli. I have taken that as the supreme compliment!

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Politics (though I am no longer actively involved beyond my laptop), Rotary International, gardening and my dogs. I am about to complete my 3rd term as President of the Rotary Club of Tain and Easter Ross in its ten-year existence and 27 years ago on becoming President of the Rotary Club of Dingwall, at 32 I was the youngest president in R.I.B.I. at the time. I am lucky enough to have substantial gardens round my house so spend much of the summer months in them. I have 2 Jack Russell dogs, a father and son who have me twisted round their little paws!  

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

I joined WikiTree on 1st July 2017, one of the best things I have ever done. I look after around 4,000 profiles of members of my extended family. I have the privilege of being a member of the Leadership Team of the new Scotland Project with special responsibility for Scottish Clans and Scottish Nobility. I also lead our Protocol Team (equivalent of Rangers which has a very different meaning in Scotland). I work closely with a fantastic group of dedicated WikiTree members building our new project, hopefully learning from the successes and otherwise from the longer established projects. I therefore spend roughly half my time on WikiTree encouraging and supporting other members, especially those newer to genealogy, and the other half improving profiles.

What brought you to WikiTree?

It was my kinsman Sir William Arbuthnot of Kittybrewster, who first introduced me to WikiTree when he sought my opinion on an existing profile on the site. As soon as I looked at the profile, I was hooked.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

I like the emphasis we place on providing good sources for information on profiles. It makes WikiTree stand apart from many other internet-based genealogy sites. My favourite feature is Connection Finder and the weekly connections. I have found some hitherto unknown cousins that way. {Editor’s note: Check the Connection Finder this week to see how you are connected to Mark!}

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

I would love to see a new name field especially for titles and territorial designations which would show up in the person search. It is a Europe-wide problem as most European countries have ranks of nobility which are complex and lead to the creation of thousands of unnecessary duplicate profiles which then have to be merged. It would also be useful in the USA where it could be used to include e.g. “23rd President of the United States of America” as an additional searchable name box in addition to “Benjamin Harrison”.

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

WikiTree regularly points me to family relationships I was unaware of. It also enables me to help others when I recognise a profile and can add several earlier generations to it. Nowadays when I come across a newly discovered cousin, I automatically refer him or her to my WikiTree profile because it is the easiest way for him or her to explore the extended family without having to share login and password details for other online programmes Like Ancestry.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Walk before you try to run! Spend a week or so getting to know WikiTree. Never be slow in asking a more experienced WikiTree member for help or advice. Use G-2-G. Always be courteous to fellow members of WikiTree and remember none of us “own” our ancestors. We share them with many many others. If you wish to constructively criticise a fellow member of the community send him or her a private message. Publicly humiliating someone says more about you than him or her!

If you have any questions about Scottish Clans or the Scottish Nobility, send me a private message and I will try to help you.


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Hi WikiTreers!

Wow, what a wonderful WikiTree-ing weekend! Another successful marathon has come and gone. Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2020 Spring Clean-a-Thon.  It’s one of our favorite things when the community comes together and works hard on bettering our tree!

This year we cleared 158,784 suggestions in 72 hours! Quite an accomplishment. We beat last year’s total of 132,554 and the all-time record of 152, 253 set in 2018.  That makes this our most productive Clean-a-Thon yet.

Here are some highlights from the event:

Top 5 Teams by Total

  • Tree Nuts – 18,642
  • Team Roses – 17,685
  • Team Virginia – 15,730
  • Sandringham Strollers – 11,803
  • Windsor Warriors – 11,513

Top 5 by Team Average (number of team contributions divided by team members):

  • Team Roses – 982
  • Team Virginia – 874
  • South African Springboks – 825
  • Windsor Warriors – 822
  • Tree Nuts – 583

Top 5 Participants:

  • Porter Marsh – 4,532
  • Susie MacLeod – 4,007
  • Morgan Mulligan – 3,637
  • Maddy Hardman – 3,539
  • Emma MacBeath – 3,242

Top 5 Suggestions:

  • Location Too Early in Birth Location: 14, 334
  • USA Too Early in Birth Location: 11,455
  • ProjectBox Without Project Account: 10,866
  • GEDCOM Junk: 8,453
  • Empty Profile: 8,122

Top Participant Per Suggestion Group:

  • Biographies: Susie MacLeod with 2,329
  • Locations: Porter Marsh with 3,162
  • FindAGrave: Lydia Holland with 2,240
  • Privacy: Linda Peterson with 1,831
  • Unique Names: Isabelle Martin with 2,066
  • Names: Porter Marsh with 1,175
  • References: Desiree Schekierka with 991
  • Dates: Morgan Mulligan with 1,410
  • Gender: Pip Sheppard with 908
  • Templates: Susie MacLeod with 1,610
  • Relations: Sandy Patak with 1,331
  • Categories: Natalie Trott with 586
  • WikiData: Porter Marsh with 160

23 Teams participated and 20 of them broke 1000! 585 members participated – 46 of them broke 1000!

Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the clean-up and contributed to another fun, successful marathon and improved the health of our tree!

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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 Jackie.

Jackie Prentice became a WikiTreer in May of 2019. She is a Cemeterist and a Project Coordinator for our Scotland Project.  She also participates in the Military and War and England projects.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I am researching from Liverpool, Lancashire, England: Campbell, Cowley, McCoys (no Hatfields) McGarry and Ruddock. From Scotland: Prentice, Hogg and Hiddlestone.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I am mainly focused on my One Place Study of Kirkby, Lancashire England.  I have started with the 1841 census and I am slowly (very, very slowly) working my way through and following each person through the following census’ until they either have died or left the town. 

As well as the areas that my profiles touch.

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

I got interested in genealogy around the time of the celebrations and commemorations here in the UK for World War 2. I realised that my family had very little documentary evidence of family as a great deal of our history was destroyed in the bombing raids on Liverpool.

I had to wait for my mother to agree to talk about it all as even now she finds the whole period upsetting and I wasn’t prepared to do the research until she was on board.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I don’t really have a favourite but the one I admire the most is my maternal grandmother Irene Cowley. In the space of 14 months from 1940-1941 she lost her mother to a bomb in Liverpool, her father-in-law, mother-in-law, a niece and nephew in a house fire in Liverpool which also claimed the life of a young policeman who was trying to save the family and within a month of that was widowed when her husband was killed at the Evacuation of Crete in 1941. She still got up every day putting one foot in front of the other and just dealt with it. I would have just pulled the covers over my head and blocked out the world. But they were a different breed.

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

I found most of the family on my side easy to find but my husband is awkward (pun intended).  I am struggling to find the parents of Jame Prentice born about 1806.

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

Neil Armstrong. I have always wanted to go into space.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Actually my interests are very domestic, I love cooking, and crafting, mainly knitting , crochet and sewing.

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

I have been with WikiTree since May 2019, although it seems that it has been in my life for much longer and apart from my One Place Study, I am part of the Cemeteries Project where I concentrate on military graves within the Moray area of Scotland.  This led to me joining the Military and War Project. I am a member of the England Project focusing on Lancashire and have recently begun to learn Connecting with the help of the wonderful Carol Keeling. But my main focus at the moment which I spend most time on it being the Project Membership Coordinator for the Scotland Project.

What brought you to WikiTree?

I found WikiTree by accident. I was doing a general search of the internet for a family member I had been researching through a paid site and it came up in the search engine so I clicked on it and it started from there.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

Apart from the collaboration with other like minded people, I love RootSearch and WikiTree+.

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

Data Doctor jargon. I don’t understand half of what I find in my suggestions list.

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

The England Project’s Orphan Trail was the most helpful thing that I did when first starting out.  I didn’t do it right away and I am still trying to fix profiles that I now know are very sparse, source wise, that I had inputted before I took the trail. 

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

One profile at a time, don’t be tempted to upload gedcoms unless you have time to fix them. Don’t Wikitree while you are angry, it is hard to get use to other people “meddling” with your profiles but it is usually done in good faith. Finally join a project, the help they give new people is invaluable.


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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 Becky.

Becky Troth became a WikiTreer in May of 2019.  She is very active in our England Project as a team leader for the Shropshire county team. She also leads two One Name Studies: Troth and Elcock.

What are some of the surnames you are researching? 

Troth/Troath, Elcock, Cadwallader, Dovey, Penn, Ruff/Rough, Burras/Burrows, London, Frisby.

What are some of the locations you are researching? 

Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, England.

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

I was curious about my family history from a very young age, my great grandfather would sit and tell me stories and show me photographs of family, sadly he passed away when I was 9 years old. It wasn’t until around 2004 my passion for family history was really ignited. I came across an old family bible that belonged to the Elcock’s, my paternal Great Grandmother’s family. Inside was the original marriage certificate, with the postage stamp for payment attached, for my 2x Great Grandparents David Elcock and Alice Cadwallader’s marriage in 1885. There is also a page that lists their children, with their birth, marriage and death dates. From then on I have been hooked and everything else is history!

Who’s your favourite ancestor and why?

I don’t have just one favourite, my family suffered great losses during both world wars and there has been much hardship and heartache in my family’s history. I have also discovered great courage and endurance, each of my ancestors has their own story and all have contributed in some way, to who I am today, but I am especially grateful to those who paid the ultimate price so that we may live in a free and just society. 

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I love learning new things, I enjoy reading books, watching documentaries and I also love period dramas. I have recently discovered Future Learn which has some great free courses. I completed a free genealogy course run by the University of Strathclyde and is highly recommended and I have just completed a short course on the Tudors.

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

I joined WikiTree fairly recently, in May 2019, so less than a year and I am addicted! I was quickly introduced to the fantastic England Project and their wonderful orphan trail. I’m now the team leader for the England Project’s Shropshire counties team, Shropshire being very close to my heart and I have started two one-name studies, Troth and Elcock. I also enjoy writing biographies, sourcing, data doctoring and more recently connecting branches to the main tree. 

What brought you to WikiTree?

I found WikiTree through Google. I was searching for a free genealogy site. I took a few weeks to finally join, but I wish I had found you sooner!

What is your favourite thing about WikiTree?

I love the collaborative nature of WikiTree, what better way to research than to pool together sharing our research, experience and knowledge! 

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

Indexing for free-space pages, there are literally thousands of really useful pages but it is very difficult to find them without an index.

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

It has helped me review my research as I am adding my ancestors into WikiTree one by one. I have learned how to cite my sources correctly.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Join a project that is relevant to your area of research, don’t be afraid to ask questions  – if you don’t know how to do something someone else will – and bookmark pages.


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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 Cheryl.

Cheryl Skordahl became a WikiTreer in November of 2015.  She enjoys participating in our Puritan Great Migration Project as well as the Profile Improvement and United States projects.

What are some of the surnames you are researching? 

I’ve thoroughly researched my surname, “Aldrich.” A few additional families in my genealogy that I’ve researched are “Chapman,”  “Chapin,” and “McCollum.” More recently I’ve researched “Wood” and “Mitchell.” Susan (Mitchell) Wood, my 10th great grandmother, was born in 1590 at Ovenden, West Riding, Yorkshire; she married Matthew Mitchell and migrated to New England in 1635, descendants of this family moved to Long Island. 

What are some of the locations you are researching? 

I spend most of my time researching families who resided in New England. More specifically I enjoy researching Long Island and I have been asked to become the project coordinator of Long Island in the United States Project in the near future.

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

As a child, my grandmother told me that the name “Aldrich” was of German origin. When a cousin found the birth information for my 2nd great grandfather, Cyrus C. Aldrich, in New York state, I purchased a subscription at Ancestry.com. There I found that my 9th great grandparents, George Aldrich and Katherine (Seald) Aldrich were from Derbyshire, England and migrated to Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay way back in 1631. From then on, I was hooked on genealogy. It’s a great hobby.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why? 

My favorite ancestor is my dad, Jesse Aldrich. At age 98, he’s still active, fairly healthy, a committed Christian who is active in his church. He maintains contact with all his children and loves each of them deeply from the heart. I’m so grateful for his influence in my life.

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

I have a questionable connection to the Mayflower through Lucy (Cooke) McCollum, wife of David McCollum.  I’m just not sure if this research is accurate, so this is the brick wall, I’m not sure if it is accurate. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cooke-2691  I’d appreciate any help to verify this line. 

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy? 

I’m a committed Christian and I am very active in my church.

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

I’ve been an active member of WikiTree since November 2015 – and I like to brag that I have had well over 100 contributions every month since then. The project where I spend most of my time is the Puritan Great Migration. I couldn’t say enough about how much I enjoy being an active member of the Puritan Great Migration project. Our two leaders are fantastically encouraging and helpful, we have a top-notch google group as well as several other active members. Also I am active in the United States Project, Profile Improvement Project, and  52 Ancestors. I’ve found my WikiTree home among the fabulous genealogical friends within these projects.

What brought you to WikiTree?

I found WikiTree just through internet surfing. I was searching for someplace FREE to deposit my genealogical research.  

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree? 

As I said above, my favorite thing is that it is FREE. Additionally I appreciate the collaboration with so many other genealogists (both amateur and professional).  G2G – where much collaboration happens, is so helpful.

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

I like WikiTree just the way it is, but also appreciate the improvements being made.

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

If it’s NOT sourced from primary documents or from an accurate, scholarly book (such as “The Great Migration”) I don’t add it to my genealogy.  In this way, I’m assisting genealogy. Additionally, I frequently add notes to profiles – revealing mistaken internet genealogy.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree? 

Take it slow and study the help pages carefully. Have a source for every fact in your biographies; learn about inline citations and use them. 


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