Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.
I would love to figure out my Goodell heritage; my documented brick wall is Sally born 1808 in (most likely) New Hampshire. I know her “likely” parents but there is no proof (John Goodell and Sally Webster) and he has been researched extensively by many more people than me with nothing conclusive found, mainly due to records either lacking or destroyed.
The brick wall I’m proudest of breaking through, with the help of a second cousin, Larry Nolte, was our common Nolte immigrant ancestor who came to St. Louis sometime in the early 1800s. He lied about his age at his marriage likely because he was so much older than his bride, his name was super common, his age and place of origin were different on every document we found about him. We spent years tracing every “Heinrich Nolte” in Missouri and contacting researchers in Germany before we cracked this one.
I’ll just give one other brief one because it’s DNA-related. After years of wondering why I had some close DNA connections that didn’t seem to make sense, I figured out by combining records and DNA research that my grandfather was the illegitimate son of the literally-next-door neighbor (so technically I’m a “Billington”, not a “Stauf” at all). Now that DNA testing and data sharing is so common, a lot of people are finding out about “non parental events”, unfortunately that can break up families as much as it can connect long-lost relatives so people need to be careful about doing this research and sharing the results. Fortunately my aunt just thought it was funny, but she has a good sense of humor. I’m not sure how my father would have reacted (he passed away before I discovered all this) learning that his own father was illegitimate.
If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?
I don’t really have an answer for that, there are so many people who were great scientists or humanitarians or political leaders who created empires, I don’t really have a specific person. And even if I was related to someone famous, or infamous, what really matters to me is what I do with my life, my family and my friends. Unless it was someone rich who left me a lot of money, that would be OK. ☺
What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?
Playing and watching hockey and golf, meddling in our adult son’s life (ha ha), riding our bikes around Westminster, Colorado and enjoying retirement.
How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?
I’ve been on WikiTree for almost 6 years but only got active about a year ago. I don’t spend much time researching my own family any more so mostly I work on Puritan Great Migration projects. I joined PGM about 6 months ago and was “promoted” (if that’s the word) to Project Coordinator recently so I’m trying to help new members with standards, editing, sourcing, maintenance etc. I’m still learning about the tools and resources available (thanks Data Doctors!) to improve profiles and perform maintenance and research.
What brought you to WikiTree?
I always used Ancestry.com and Family Tree Maker for my own work and just dipped into WikiTree occasionally for hints or research. A couple years ago I started realizing how much work many folks here put into their research and sourcing compared to some other genealogy sites. That got me more involved, and it just snowballed from there. My mother’s ancestors were early immigrants (Colby, Tubbs, etc.) and that made me aware of the PGM project.
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