Meet our Members: Rob Graham

+14 votes

Hi everyone!

500px-Meet_our_Members_Photos-54.jpgIt's time to meet another one of our wonderful WikiTreers. This week's member is Rob Graham.

Rob became a Wiki Genealogist in November of 2018. He is very active as a Team Leader in our Scotland Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Paternal ancestors: Graham, Chambers, Ridgway, Gantt, Strong

Maternal ancestors: Sesler, Jeffries, Crawford

Wife’s Family: Slayton, Pulitano, Anastasi, Gangemi

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Scotland, with a primary interest in Dumfriesshire, the County my immigrant ancestor came from). Just signed up to be Dumfriesshire team lead. I also have many maternal ancestors from Lesmahagow parish.

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

Although I’ve always had an interest in my family history, I’ve only made it a serious pursuit since 2017, when I took over my wife’s work on her death late that year. After a year or so of frustration with how horrible Ancestry’s search tools were and with the many family trees offered up as hints that were at best imaginary, I stumbled across WikiTree, and have never turned back (oh, I still have the Ancestry account - in spite of their lame search tools- because they have such an extensive database).

WikiTree quickly became my new home. I was delighted with the one shared tree concept, the strong emphasis on sourcing and accuracy, and collaboration. WikiTree taught me most of what I know of genealogy and continues to be a source of both knowledge and inspiration. I recently completed the Scotland Project’s Tartan Trail and am committed to helping to grow and improve our shared tree. The Tartan trail was a wonderful experience. I learned a great deal from the firm but gentle guidance of Bobbie Madison!

Who's your favorite ancestor and why?

My favorite ancestor is my Grandmother Leah Chambers Graham. She was my best adult friend, confidant, and mentor when I was growing up. I still often find myself asking “would Nana approve of that”? She remains my conscience. I miss her patient loving guidance to this day.

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

I have several brick walls, the most frustrating being my immigrant ancestor William Graham  . My wife’s work had him conflated with In researching Captain Graham, I came across a memorial inscription in a PDF document published by the Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society, that made the conflation obvious, as that gentleman had died in 1848 having served 50 continuous years in the 72nd Regiment. (the “50 years” is suspect…). I keep whittling away at the long list of William Grahams that were his contemporaries in Dumfriesshire, hoping to establish the link by the process of elimination if nothing else. 

I am also at brick walls on my wife’s family maternal side (most of these have a different profile manager, and I have done little or no work on them). and wife and wife and wife

(interview continues below in comments)

WikiTree profile: Rob Graham
ago in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)

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

After pondering this for quite a while (this is the last question I have answered, after finally putting it off until my subconscious could come up with a suggestion), I chose James Clerk Maxwell, a Scotsman, who laid the foundation for our understanding of electricity and magnetism. I chose him because I have always had a love for science, and was familiar with his work, and he was Scottish. As it turns out, we share a common ancestor (we are 20th cousins, six times removed per the WikiTree relationship finder) with my branch by way of my favorite ancestor. 

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I enjoy photography, mostly landscape and wildlife (but am considering doing some graveyard memorial work).

I own a pontoon boat and do occasional fishing. 

I enjoy travel and recently made a ‘bucket list” trip to Chile. I enjoyed that so much I plan a return, hopefully in November, with my children. 

I maintain a website for the AA district office in Florence and continue to be interested in computers and programing.

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

I joined WikiTree in November of 2018 and have spent most of my time researching the many branches of both my and my wife’s family trees. I tend to get distracted rather easily, so have fleshed out quite a few branches just building profiles for relative’s children, then their children….  

I Joined the Scottish Clans Project in December of 2018 and worked on unsourced profiles and GEDCOM cleanup. I joined the Scotland project as well and self-certified for pre-1700, and just this summer, completed the Tartan Trail, which I started in May. I subsequently volunteered for the lead on Scotland projects Dumfriesshire Geographical Team, and on the Clan Graham team. I am just getting my feet wet on both projects, starting by improving the team pages.

What brought you to WikiTree?

While researching my family, a Google search turned up a profile maintained by a cousin. I liked what I saw and signed up that day!

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

This is a difficult question to answer, because I like everything about WikiTree: The Wiki architecture, the advanced editor that makes inline citations so easy, the shared common tree, the emphasis on verifiable sources, and most of all the wonderful community. If forced to pick one, I would choose the community, because that makes all the rest possible.

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

On the profile edit page, in the “Edit Family” column, the names each have a collection of action buttons (glyphs) like “copy ID”, family group sheet, etc. It would be very useful if a button for “copy WikiTree Link” could be added. This would save having to open the family members page just to copy the link so it could be used in the Bio.

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

One need only look at my early work here, such as , (which just screams GEDCOM IMPORT!) then some of my latest like:, my last Tartan Trail Challenge, to see how much Wikitree has helped me. I am so much better at finding sources, also thanks to WikiTree. There is still a lot of room for improvement.

I like to think that I have helped Wikitree by taking the time to clean up GEDCOM profiles, and add some sources to more than a few unsourced orphans. I hope to add more as time passes by taking more responsibility in the community (the team leads are a first step).

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

The help here:  is terrific. Read it all before you complete even your own profile. Watch the videos. Then try what you’ve learned on your own profile and bio. Use the ”advanced” editor (it makes inline references so much easier). Experiment with named inline references. Look at some other folks’ work. Be fearless and click on edit on a page you’d like to imitate (you can always undo any accidental change). Ask for help and guidance, join a project or two and collaborate. If you don’t understand, or need help with an ancestor or two, then post a question in G2G. You’ll be surprised how fast help arrives!

6 Answers

+6 votes
Congratulations for being nominated as Member of the week, Rob.

It's nice to get to know a little more about you. I took my honeymoon to Scotland in 1987, driving from Edinburgh in the west to the Isle of Skye. It is a fascinating country with an incredibly interesting history. And the whiskey at the distillery I visited tasted great.
ago by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+5 votes
Rob, this is a great interview! Nice to meet you.

My wife and I once did a bike tour through Dumfries and Galloway. She's a McClellan/MacClellan so we toured the castle.

Regarding copying IDs from edit pages, have you seen that profile preview pop-ups have the copy ID link?
ago by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+4 votes
Congratulations, Rob, and thank you for all you do for our tree.  The Tartan Trail work is fascinating.
ago by Mark Weinheimer G2G6 Pilot (367k points)
+5 votes
Congratulations, Rob! What a great interview, and I love your grandmother! The Scotland Project is very, very pleased to have you join us.
ago by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (206k points)
+4 votes
Congratulations Rob on the great write up!  It's nice to get to know you and to see the many ways you help out the WT family.  Keep up the awesome work!
ago by Brad Cunningham G2G6 Mach 3 (38.2k points)
+3 votes
Hi Rob! Great interview for Member of the Week. I enjoyed getting to know you through your comments and interests. We are very distant cousins...20th 5xr through MRCA John Butler de Verdun. I have distant Scots ancestry; however, I build my daughter's paternal ancestry which is Scots and includes Thom AND Fife (Phyfe...that Phyfe, Duncan who came from Inverness-shire with his family and built the American furniture dynasty. Duncan is Jennifer's 5x grand uncle. Her direct Phyfe ancestor was a silversmith and some of his pieces are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I traveled through Scotland from Glasgow to Inverness and thought it very beautiful country. Am planning on another trip to Scotland with my daughter in a year or so when we really get this pandemic under control.

Again, thanks so much for the opportunity to get to know you!
ago by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (508k points)

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