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 Sarah.

Sarah Rojas became a  WikiTreer in May of 2014 and is our newest Leader.  She is co-leading our Arborist project and helps in the G2G as an Integrator/Moderator.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

My focus is on Callis and Gamalero (both of these I have a name study for), but I am researching my other family names as well, like Lewis, Reider, Powell, etc.

What are some of the locations you are researching:

I don’t specifically focus myself on locations, more so on people/surnames, but places where I seem to have a lot of people are Mathews, Virginia and Berks County, Pennsylvania.

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

My paternal grandmother was really into genealogy and she had many books and research that she helped with. She would give me some of the books to look at which really sparked my interest. She passed away a few years ago and I’ve been slowly going through the rest of her genealogical things (she didn’t throw anything out, not even cash/balance sheets from 50-60 years ago!)

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

One of my favorite ancestors, because of the stories about him, is Benjamin Hutchison Lewis. He was a Captain of the Confederate Company F 15th Alabama Regiment, the “Brundidge Guards.” Benjamin was mentioned in the book by Colonel William C Oates, “The War Between the Union and the Confederacy…”, an actual account of the war and his opinion on the lost opportunities by the 15th Alabama regiment. Colonel Oates describes my ancestor as “brave as Caesar” and commented that “battalion drill completely bewildered him.” He was also very unlucky. His infant daughter died while at war and this combined with him contracting the measles, made him crazy (but he was cured). About 20 years after his resignation from the war, he was shot to death. An interesting story to say the least.

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

My biggest brick wall right now is the Gamalero family, my mother’s maiden name. One ancestor migrated from Italy to the United States (traveled back and forth between the US and Guatemala), but I have only been able to find mentions of his parents in his death certificate, nothing else regarding his family or ancestors. One day when I have enough money I’ll travel there myself, or pay someone to look into the records over there if they aren’t online at that time.

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

Maybe Leonardo Da Vinci. A Renaissance man, he was artistic, smart and one of my favorites in history (because of his art). Since I’m not able to track down my ancestors in Italy yet, it could be a (wild) possibility!

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

You can say I am somewhat of a Renaissance lady myself in the fact that I dabble in many things; I majored in Art at University (with minors in Art History and Religion), I play the piano, I practice yoga, and above all I love learning new things! But one of my biggest, but most unproductive, hobbies is watching TV!

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?  Are there any projects/challenges are you involved in? What do you enjoy doing?

I have been on WikiTree for about three years, and I say I am pretty active, but I do have my moments of inactivity. I just became a leader and I am really excited about taking on a bigger role on WikiTree because I love helping people and figuring out problems.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

I love the community aspect of WikiTree and how helpful everyone is! One thing that I don’t like as much is if you don’t know where something is (like a certain page for a project or something), it is a bit difficult to find, BUT the search bar for the Help Pages is a step in the right direction!

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

The biggest tip is patience, don’t try to take on too much, or try to understand everything at once because you’ll stress and overwhelm yourself and won’t enjoy WikiTree like you should!


 

 

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 Alison.

Alison standing in front of Catherine the Great's Summer Palace in Pushkin, Russia

Alison joined WikiTree in 2014 and became a Leader in October 2014. Currently, she leads the US History Project and the Westward Ho! Project,  and is a Local VolunteerConnectorSourcererRangerArboristData Doctor and Integrator. (She does much, much more as you’ll read later on!)

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

I lead One Name Studies for Andrus, Andrews, Flaugher and McGrew. I’m also researching Benedix, Graul, Wrangham, Nealy, Underhill, Werner, Conant, Harmon, Metcalf, Giles and my Hansen line that dates back to the New Netherlands.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

It seems like every branch of my dad’s family passed through New York at one time or another in just about every county. I also research Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota. I conduct One Place Studies for Dickey County, North Dakota and Kitsap County, Washington and lead the Washington State, North Dakota and Minnesota Projects as well as the Westward Ho! Project. That covers a lot of ground!

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

Two of my mother’s sisters actively researched our family in the 1970′s, visiting libraries and writing letters. I loved hearing about all their latest discoveries and started accompanying them on their research trips when I was still in high school. My own research really took off when I bought my first home computer in the early 1990′s. Back then, the genealogy websites were still in their infancy, so now I feel like a founding member of those early sites like Rootsweb where I joined their Roots-L mailing lists and contributed regularly to WorldGenWeb.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My paternal great-great grandmother, Harriet Underhill Andrus. When I was growing up, my favorite books were the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Because I grew up in North Dakota, I could really relate to the stories. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered that my ancestor, Harriet Andrus, and Laura Ingalls were second cousins! Harriet left New York with her husband and five children in 1876 and lived for a time in Minnesota before homesteading in the plains of the Dakotas in 1883. I have a picture of her standing in tall prairie grass with the wind blowing in her hair, a true pioneer of the West.

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

My great-grandfather, Melchior Gaspar Balthasar Benedix was born in Saxony, Germany in 1857. He emigrated alone to America in 1883 and married his first wife in Wisconsin in 1884. His marriage record states that his parents were John and Barbara, but I have never been able to trace the family in Germany. 

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

Do I have to pick one? Can I pick everybody? Give us another year or two while we add more profiles to WikiTree and before too much longer, we can say we are related to everyone! ;-) Maybe that’s too much wishful thinking, but I do love the idea that everyone who has every lived can all be connected to each other.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I love to travel, read, watch BBC shows, garden, cook for family and friends, sew, knit, crochet, play board games, go to the theater and concerts, garage sales and auctions and take long walks.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?  Are you involved in projects/challenges? Which ones? What do you enjoy about them/what are you working on?

I joined WikiTree in 2014 and became a leader in October 2014. When it’s not summer time and the sunshine calling me, I usually exceed my 1000 a month contributions. Currently, I’m leading or helping to lead the US History Project and the Westward Ho! Project, although I’ve also led the Mentors, Greeters, One Name Studies and Black Sheep Projects during my time as leader. I’m a Local Volunteer, Connector, Sourcerer, Ranger, Arborist, Data Doctor and Integrator. I also lead sub-projects for Washington State, North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as the Homesteaders, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Pony Express, four ONS and two OPS. I’m also a member of the Cemeterists, Quakers, Military and War, Penn, Roll of Honor, Great War, Categorization, Presidents, US Civil War, DNA, New Netherlands and 1776 Projects to help honor my ancestors who fit under those classifications.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

People and people! By the very nature of WikiTree being a collaborative website, I have met the most wonderful, caring and kind people on WikiTree you will ever want to meet. They are so generous with their time and talents, I have learned so much and feel so humbled. And then there are the people who are not so nice. Being a huge people pleaser, I never thought I would ever find myself in a situation that I would be cussed out by a total stranger just for trying to be a good mentor, but you really encounter all kinds of people. The trick is to keep smiling, do your best, and don’t let a few bad apples get you down.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Educate yourself! I spent the first few weeks reading through the Help pages to make sure I had a good handle on what I was doing. I wanted to make sure I was doing things right and was worried about messing things up. Even now, I sometimes run across a profile I worked on in the early days, cringe, hope no one else has run across it and edit it as fast as I can.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

You can find all my life’s work on WikiTree! ;-)


 

 

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 Kay.

Kay Wilson joined us in April of 2013.  She is very active co-leading our DNA project as well as participating as one of our Rangers.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Smith, Waugh, Wible, Southwick, Stone.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I’m mostly researching in New England, but my son-in-law has many ancestors in the South, so I have some new areas to learn.

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

When I was in college an LDS friend showed me a pedigree chart and family group sheets, and I was hooked! I love to gather data! I asked everyone, grandparents, aunts, uncles, to fill out what they knew about the family. I still have what they gave me, and am still finding useful clues in them. It was slow going, writing to people and waiting to hear back, and paper records were really cumbersome, so I didn’t make a lot of progress. Then when I found out about genealogy software I got started again.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

One of my favorite ancestors is my grandmother, Grace Murdoch Johnson, who encouraged me at the start and advised me to find out as much as I could about the stories for each of my ancestors, not just dates and places. Another is my mother’s grandfather, Caleb Alfred Smith, who was born in 1805. He was 72 years old when her father was born! After a long childless marriage his first wife died, he remarried at the age of 66 and had 4 children. I’ve never been able to find a picture of him, although he lived until 1883.

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

I’m hoping to solve some brick walls with yDNA for Smith, Wilson, and Stone. We were able to trace our Smith ancestry on paper back to New Haven, Connecticut in the 1600s. With my maternal uncle’s yDNA we used his matches and non-matches to eliminate one potential local Smith candidate for the father of our ancestor Thomas Smith-15895 (1634-1724). I’m hoping that someday we’ll be able to use yDNA to find Thomas Smith’s father and where he came from.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I like to read, hike, and cross-country ski. During income tax season I’m a volunteer tax preparer with AARP TaxAide.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?

Kitty Smith suggested WikiTree to me in 2013 so I could share research with a yDNA Smith cousin as we looked for other male Smith descendants of our common ancestors. Now I spend several hours most days on WikiTree, looking for ancestors and helping other people learning to use WikiTree.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

I love the collaboration with distant cousins who are working on the same ancestors. I love the wonderful DNA tools available to us on WikiTree.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

I recommend that you add your family members manually (no gedcom), always adding sources, dates and locations as you go, so others can understand why you believe the relationships you’ve added are accurate. When you’re ready to use DNA on WikiTree, please read the instructions first and ask questions on G2G if you don’t understand: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:How_to_Get_Started_with_DNA

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

Have fun with genealogy. I hope you are able to break down all the brick walls that we weren’t able to.


 

 

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 Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Girouard became a WikiTreer in September 2014 and as her profile says, she’s had something productive to do every day since.  Jackie is one of our wonderful Leaders, co-leading both the Acadian and Louisiana projects, as well as participating as a Sourcerer, Arborist and Data Doctor.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

All names Acadian as well as some non-Acadians in Louisiana (LA) that need TLC.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

SW Louisiana (Acadia Parishes), New Orleans, LA, Natchitoches, LA.

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

Acadians in Louisiana have been aware of their ancestry from the moment they arrived in Louisiana from early 1760s to before 1800. We spoke French in our home which was weird when we moved to Texas in the 1950s. More recently, my mother Yvelle Theriot Girouard died at 100 years, 4 months and I inherited her genealogy work.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I don’t have a favorite–they all have their human stories. The Acadian ancestors who were uprooted from Acadie in 1755 after living there over 100 years, are particularly compelling. Some were deported to Virginia, which the colony refused to let them stay. These were put on over-crowded, under-supplied ships and sent to camps in England to await repatriation to France. It is estimated that about ½ of these “Virginia” Acadians perished at sea or in the English camps. From France, many were recruited by Spain to emigrate to Louisiana which now owned Louisiana. After thirty years of exile, these Acadians disembarked from seven ships in New Orleans in 1785 and were given supplies and land in SW Louisiana by the Spanish government.

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

Some of my Acadian ancestors from Louisiana inter-married with Irish or Scottish people. These European ancestors have been challenging to identify because their records are scarce and their names were spelled strangely in Louisiana church records.

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

That’s not something I ever think about. I feel connected to humans in general and sometimes even to non-humans.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I am an avid birder and maintain a list of the birds I’ve seen using the ebird app maintained by Cornell University. I belong to Texas Master Naturalists, a volunteer conservation organization. A current project we have is monitoring water quality in the town where I live. On Monday evenings during the school year, I can be found singing Alto with the Brazos Valley Chorale. Lastly, I have four adorable grandchildren and three children whom I enjoy spending time with.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?

I joined in fall 2014 when I stumbled upon WikiTree. I was looking for a website that all my family could see and that I thought might be around for a long time (hopefully forever). I check in every day unless travelling to places with no service. I do merges, error correction, sourcing and co-lead two projects: the Acadian Project and the Louisiana Project. I love to help others find sources for their ancestors.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

WikiTree is all about improvement which means change. It’s free and collaborative for those so inclined. There is a lot of interest in accuracy and sourcing. Assuming good intentions is emphasized.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Go through the tutorial and browse the help index to see what’s there. Enter your ancestors one by one, don’t be enticed to upload a gedcom until you’ve entered many profiles by hand. Before adding someone, do a search to see if they are already there. Source as you go. Ask for help.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

Love is all there is.


 

 

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 Mel.

Mel Lambert became a WikiTreer in November 2015 and is one of our newest Leaders. She is active in our Military and War, Mentor and DNA projects and also participates in the Sourcerers challenges.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Samples, Ellis, McTheny (Matheny),Boggs, Alford, Ashley, Elswick, Atkinson, Gilbert, Welborn

What are some locations you are researching?

West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina and wherever the sources lead me.

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

My interest in my family history started at the age 8 or 9, when my grandmother Sophia (Ellis) Samples told me about my great-grandmother. Her name was Nancy Bell McTheny and her husband was David Ellis. I remember thinking how cool the name McTheny was. Now, with the internet and WikiTree at my side I can explore to my heart’s content.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I do not have a favorite, but I admire the women who came before me. Their life was filled with demanding work and hardship. One example is my great-great-grandmother Mary Jane (Boggs) McTheny. She lost her mother at an early age. She is found in the home of her grandmother in the 1850 Census. She also lost 3 of her children to Scarlet fever within 10 days of each other in September of 1856, yet she continued and raised her family. To me that is a indescribable strength. I know the conditions were hard as they are still hard in the rural areas of West Virginia.

My grandmother Sophia (Ellis) Samples is another. Her heart was so kind and her love was fierce. She worked in her flowerbeds even at age 100. The one story about her, which most in our family do not know, is the gift of the “Ponytail”. In the early 1950′s, (not long after my mother and father married) Mamaw Sophia gave my mom, Janice Bell (Samples) Gilbert her hair, a 3-foot-long ponytail, to sell just in case they needed money for food. Mom cherished this gift and the meaning behind it. She saved the Ponytail, and in the late 1970′s added her own 3-foot ponytail. Mom gave me the Ponytails in the late 80′s and to carry on the tradition I added my 3-foot ponytail in the late 1990′s. To my delight, I just received a photo of Nancy Bell (McTheny) Ellis (Sophia Ellis Samples’ mother) from my cousin. The photo shows Nancy standing with her long hair flowing.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down.

OH, the walls of my family are high and well-fortified. I have been able to find sources and other useful information to help point the way, but have not found that one key to make me yell “YES”. I am rather tickled to have found beneficial source information for the Welborn side and filled in more family.

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

It is impossible for me to choose one, but I don’t have to choose. We are all interconnected, thus making us all one family. So, in the end I am related to both the great and the not so great.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I started GrayMist Creations to express my creative side. I work with wire and gemstones creating Trees of Life and tree sculptures. I love Trees. To me they represent the greatness that can become from the smallest seed. I doodle, trees of courses, mostly on napkins. Oh, I love making my husband, of 37 years, crazy. I have just about gotten him totally white headed. :)

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?

I joined WikiTree on 18 November 2015. I am a WikiTree enthusiast. I am on line almost daily. I am a Mentor and a new Leader. I love the thrill I get when I start hunting for sources. I never know what or who I am going to find.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

I love the collaboration, shared knowledge and the friendliness of our WikiTree members. I believe we are all interconnected, which is proven by our DNA. WikiTree makes using DNA so much easier than the other sites out there. Oh, and it is FREE, which appeals to the thrifty side in me. I think the hardest part (I am still learning) is the format coding used inside profiles and writing good Bio’s. I just found the template to change text color. I see colorful profiles in my future. :)

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Go slow. Do not upload a large gedcom. it is better to add the profiles one at a time. I took that advice from my greeter/mentor when I started and I am so glad I did. Ask questions. Please add at least two reliable Sources (citing someone’s tree is not a source no matter where it is located) for your profile. The more sources the better.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

Ask everyone older than you to share their stories. Be sure to WRITE them down and keep them safe. Even if you are like me and have issues with grammar and spelling. If they are on paper and shared, or posted to your computer, they can be handed down. My great grandchildren may be appalled at my usage of the English language but I hope they enjoy the stories such as how my Mom and Dad met and fell in love.

Most important – Remember to say and share your feelings to with other. Life is short, Enjoy every second of it.


 

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