It's time to meet another one of our Wonderful WikiTreers! This week's member is Alexandra Carter.
Alexandra became a Wiki Genealogist in August of 2017. She is very active in our Netherlands (Dutch Roots) project as well as the Canada Project.
What are some of the surnames you are researching?
Lately I’ve been working more heavily on my maternal ancestry, including surnames Birkhoff, van Brakel, Carpentier, Harvey, Hawk/Hawke, Hoople, de Kan, Lount, Murray, Robertson, Schut, Sheek, and Wheeler.
What are some of the locations you are researching?
Most of my research is focused in two countries: Canada, specifically Eastern Ontario (Waterloo Region, Toronto, Lost Villages along the St. Lawrence Seaway) and Western Quebec (Montreal, Sainte-Sophie), and the Netherlands, with many in Rotterdam and Zuid-Holland. Sadly, I haven’t made any research trips to any of these places… yet!
I also have many ancestors in England, Scotland, Wales, and Italy, but research is on pause for those locations.
When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?
I had two major entry points to my family history. When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my paternal grandparents’ house. My grandmother kept many family photo albums and loved to tell me stories about the people in the photos. This usually included the story of the time I choked on an apple as a toddler (don’t worry, I was fine), but also anecdotes about various aunts, uncles, and cousins. Later, one of my great-aunts compiled a family history of the Carters, going back to Charles Carter, an English immigrant to Perry County, Ohio. Her work was my jumping off point when I started working on my family tree, which I’ve been researching on and off for about 18 years.
Who's your favorite ancestor and why?
I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I do get really excited when I’m working on a biography and I find an interesting story about an ancestor. When that happens, that person automatically becomes my favorite of the moment. A good example: my 3x great-grandfather John Murray (Murray-11178). He was born in Scotland in 1811 and immigrated to the English colony of Lower Canada with his wife and parents. He lived through multiple changes in government that meant he and his family lived in Lower Canada, Canada East, and finally Quebec, all without leaving their village of New Glasgow. One of my aunts has a framed letter that John Murray wrote to his grandson, my great-grandfather John Alexander Murray (Murray-11113), about his marriage and journey from Scotland to Quebec, which is one of the best primary sources we have. I also made some fortuitous discoveries in digitized public domain books of Canadian history. According to secondary sources, John Murray was friendly with a man named Carolus Laurier, who lived in the nearby village of Saint-Lin. When Carolus sent his son Wilfrid to school in New Glasgow to learn English, he boarded with the Murrays for a short time, and later helped in John Murray’s shop. Wilfrid Laurier (Laurier-128) went on to become Prime Minister of Canada. Laurier wrote in a letter "The pure family life and godly conduct of the Murrays so impressed me that I am convinced a Protestant can be an earnest, true Christian, as well as a Catholic."
Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.
My Italian great-great grandparents (four of them) are persistent brick walls. I know their names, the names of some of their children, and where they lived. Some of this info came from the backs of photos or the Melaragno family Bible, and some from a family tree my great-aunt Gilda wrote up for me a couple years ago. Without fail, every time I show her my tree, I’m able to add some Melaragno or Lombardi cousins’ names. I’ve relied on her a lot for information about her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Unsurprisingly, civil records from rural Italy haven’t proven to be super accessible in the US, but I’m sure one of these days I’ll make a breakthrough.
What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?
I work full time as a librarian, and I’ve done many different things within the field, including digitizing archives and special collections materials. Right now, I’m a supervisor at a suburban branch of a large public library system. Outside of work, I read a lot—mostly fiction, but a bit of history and social science too. I enjoy making music, on my own or as part of a group. I play several different instruments, but most often the flute. I also sing in the choir at my church and I’m part of a local fife and drum corps. My Oma taught me to knit as child, but I’ve gotten more serious about it as an adult, and right now I’m knitting a baby blanket for a friend. Similarly, my Mom taught me basic sewing, and I’m sewing face masks with my still pretty new sewing machine to practice my skills. I’m a hockey fan, and I not only watch a lot of hockey but listen to several hockey podcasts, and were the playoffs happening right now, I’d probably be scaring my cat by yelling at the TV.
[interview continues in comments]