Meet our Members: Gina Meyers

+25 votes

Hi everyone!

500px-Meet_our_Members_Photos-87.jpgIt's time to meet another one of our wonderful WikiTreers. This week's member is Gina Meyers

Gina became a Wiki Genealogist in February of 2021. She is active in our Palatine Migration, Ireland and Quaker projects.

When did you get interested in family history?

I’ve always been interested in family history, ever since I was a very little girl. I can remember sitting on my Irish grandmother’s lap, and begging for more stories of “home” - she had been in Australia for decades, but she was forever Irish. I still have the first family tree I drew up when I was about 10.

On top of that, we traveled a lot when I was a kid, and so my immediate family was always a very close and self-sufficient little unit. I think I was captivated by the idea of claiming connections to a broader world. I’m still fascinated by people who connect across time and space, and the stories that connect them.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Excuse me? What is “outside of genealogy”?

I’m interested in many things, although genealogy tends to take over. I like textiles - everything from quilting and sewing, to doing the laundry. I like education - everything from the philosophy of why and how our education systems operate, to marking maths homework. I’m interested in climate change, sustainability, and social justice. So I’m thrilled that I get to work from time to time with a couple of fabulous not-for-profit organisations - one which operates as a clearing house for secondhand clothing and linen to be distributed to families who are doing it tough, and another which works to improve access to education for kids who miss school because of critical or chronic illness.

I like bushwalking, and sometimes I even spend time with my living relatives :)

What is your genealogical research focus? Has it changed over the years?

Absolutely my focus has changed. I think everyone is interested, when they first start researching, just to see how far back they can go, and I was no different. And then one day I found out that Indigenous Australians didn’t have the right to vote until the 1960’s, and I was appalled - I wanted to know where all my family had been in the decades leading up to that, and why they hadn’t been shouting in the streets about the injustice of it. That’s when I started trying to understand people in their historical context, and began looking at genealogy as a study of families in history rather than just a collection of names and dates. So now I tend to spend as much time reading around the historical landscape as I do logging vital statistics. Did you know people actually write whole book chapters about “The Market Structure of Shipping German Immigrants to Colonial America”? It’s fascinating stuff.

Are you interested in certain surnames or locations?

That’s like asking, “What’s your favourite song?” The answer is different every week.

Do you have a favorite genealogical discovery?

My favourite genealogical discoveries involve scandals and skeletons which I probably shouldn’t advertise. My daughter says ominously, “There’s a reason it was a discovery …”

But my favourite brick wall breakthrough was probably finding where my husband’s grandfather had come from. We had spent years trying to trace his family according to the details given on his marriage and death certificates, but nothing ever added up, and eventually we concluded that he must have been adopted. As a last ditch effort I sent away to the General Register Office in England for the birth certificate of a child whose surname was John’s middle name. When it arrived, I opened it on my way back from the letterbox, and I remember standing stock still on the driveway, staring at the certificate, which listed our John’s exact birthdate and an unmarried mother - and I knew I had him at last. After that, everything fell into place, and it was all corroborated later when DNA testing became available.

What is your toughest brick wall currently?

Gosh, so many brick walls ... But every ancestor at the end of a line is a brick wall. So the more brick walls you have, the better you’re doing, right?

(interview continues in comments)

WikiTree profile: Gina Meyers
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

How long have you been on WikiTree and what brought you here?

I joined WikiTree just over a year ago. I had been doing some work through the FTDNA Myers Surname y-DNA project with Eric Myers. We were trying to work out whether y-DNA data could support the published family trees which traced his Meyer family back to the Swiss Anabaptists of the 16th century. We agreed that we needed a shared platform to track our research, and after some investigation Eric decided that Wikitree looked good. I took some convincing, I was worried about having everything out in public where anyone could edit it - but I realised quickly that my concerns were unfounded. I love it now, it’s such a great way of collecting, sharing, comparing and discussing information, and I’ve moved most of my research across to Wikitree, not just the Swiss Anabaptist Meyer families.

What do you spend the most time doing on WikiTree?

Building out patrilineal and matrilineal lines in the hope of finding people who might be willing to consider DNA testing. That and sourcing - you just can’t have too many sources.

Which project or projects are you most involved in?

I’m involved in a few different projects. The big three are the Palatine Migration Project, the Ireland Project, and the Quakers Project. I probably spend the most time in the Palatine Migration Project. There are a lot of profiles which have been created as part of unsourced gedcom uploads, and so I try to tidy them up and find sources. And, because most of the profiles are for people who lived around 1700, many have sources which give conflicting information, so I try to reconcile them and work out where any misconceptions might have come from.

I also run a couple of informal projects with Eric Myers. One is the “Baschi Meyer Project” which focuses on the family of Baschi Meyer and his wife, Otilla Mueller, who lived in Switzerland in the early 17th century and who were persecuted for their Anabaptist faith. Other researchers had put together an extensive family tree detailing the Meyer descendants who were believed to have emigrated to Pennsylvania. Those researchers relied on shipping lists and land records, and made a few educated guesses which were not unreasonable at the time. However, the y-DNA data shows that this “family” actually comprises at least three completely unrelated Meyer families. So our next step is to try to work out which, if any, of them might have been related to Baschi and Otilla - which has led to our very new “Swiss Anabaptist Immigrants” Project.

How can others help that project?

I’m on a bit of a crusade at the moment to trace the women who came with the Palatine Migration. So often I see instances where the husband’s profile will have all the immigration details and the land purchases and the names of the children - and then the wife’s profile will say, “We don’t know much about her.” Actually, we know everything about her that we know about her husband, although we might be missing her birth surname. And of course the sons, who carry the surname and own land and pay taxes, are much more easily traced, but the daughters are often overlooked. It would be wonderful to see more women’s profiles more thoroughly researched.

What inspires you to contribute so much of yourself to WikiTree's mission?

Honestly, it’s just an endless and intricate jigsaw puzzle, and I love puzzles.

What is your favorite feature or function on WikiTree?

I’m still working out so many of the features and functions, I don’t think I make the most of all the different capabilities on the platform. I really like the “DNA Descendants” tool which shows who has inherited the different sorts of DNA from any given person. In the past I’ve spent ages drawing up charts to keep track of the patrilineal descendants (for y-DNA purposes) and the matrilineal descendants (for mt-DNA purposes), and I love being able to just hit the button on anyone's family tree page and see immediately where the possibilities for further research and DNA testing are.

Do you have a story about how you were helped through the work of others on WikiTree?

Working with the Palatine Migration Project led me to the realisation that my Irish Meyers ancestors, who were Quakers and whose y-DNA is Germanic, were quite likely also Palatine migrants … I had never heard of Irish Palatines up until then, and so this has opened up a whole new avenue of research for me.

Do you have any tips for someone who wants to get more involved in our community?

I’d highly recommend joining a Project. It’s brilliant to be engaged with a group of people who are interested in the same things that you’re interested in, who can understand and sympathise with the research problems that you have, and who just might have a snippet of information or advice that makes all the difference to your research. I’ve learned heaps from the people in the Palatine Migration, Ireland and Quaker projects, and am so grateful to have “met” them through the WikiTree community. Whatever your goals, everything is better with community.

15 Answers

+13 votes
Thank you for what you do!  Your enthusiasm is clearly seen in your answers.  Thanks to WT for not editing our your Aussie phrasing, love to "hear" it.
by Rick Morley G2G6 Mach 4 (45.2k points)
Thanks, Rick. Sometimes I worry that "enthusiasm" just looks like "talkative" - but if Aussie phrasing makes it interesting to listen to, I'll take that :)
+10 votes
Great interview! Gina, your answer to the last question, about projects, is a wonderful summary of the benefits of active participation in the community.
by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Thanks, Chris. I truly believe in participation in community in any sphere, and I love it that Wikitree makes that possible.
+9 votes
Thank You for sharing with us Gina. I couldn't agree more that genealogy is an unending puzzle. It's highly addictive too!
by Marty Franke G2G6 Pilot (219k points)
HIGHLY addictive ... ! I'm always glad my living relatives are so tolerant, but I do wonder occasionally if the dead ones would be astonished by the time we spend on them ...
My family have all agreed this is the least annoying of my interests.
+9 votes
Congratulations on being nominated as Member ofthe week, Gina.

You're absolutely right, getting involved in a project has many benefits and it makes a lot of things easier. If you have any questions about your projects, especially when it comes to German ancestors, don't be afraid to bring up the Germany project. We have many dedicated and helpful researchers there.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
Thanks, Dieter. I've been a bit intimidated by the idea of research in Germany, but, given the focus on Palatine migrants, many lines point back that way. When I can gather my courage I will definitely be seeking advice from the Germany project :)
+8 votes

You really hit on the best(IM not so HO) feature on WT, Projects whether a large organised project, or a personal project such as a Cemetery, WT is the only place I have found where these features are available.
by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (305k points)
You know, on reflection, you're right : I was thinking about technical features that I liked, but the Projects definitely differentiate Wikitree from other platforms.
+8 votes

    Loved your answer on genealogical research focus, particularly the reference to "The Market Structure of Shipping German Immigrants to Colonial America."  I have found myself reading things that I would never have conceived of reading.

by Roger Stong G2G6 Pilot (441k points)
"Discoverers and Discoveries : the penal laws and Dublin property" is a ripsnorter too :) ... and one I probably would not have found without the help of another Wikitreer.
+8 votes

Thanks for introducing us to Gina! smiley

by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (944k points)
+7 votes
Great interview!!!! I have quite a few German and Swiss Meyer and Mayers in my tree. Now I have to go and quickly check to see if we are related.... I have a few Baschi's in my Swiss tree.... I believe it is a pet name for Sebastian, as it appears to be used interchangeably in one of my lines.
by Beth Stephenson G2G6 Mach 3 (34.5k points)
It's funny, Meyers isn't such a common name in Australia, and I always thought it was a bit unusual ... until I met the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Palatine Migrants! But I'd love to know if you think any of your Meyer or Mayer family are connected somehow to the Swiss Anabaptists. It's a bit of a puzzle that none of the people who currently claim descent from Baschi and Tylli seem to have used the name Baschi or Sebastian in their families.
I'm not sure about Anabaptist... But, my Swiss Meyers were from Wilchingen, Schaffhausen and their church was Protestant.
+7 votes
Hello Gina. I am interested in finding Dr. Ralph Meyers/Meiers./Myers.  married to Brenda Jones 1956 in Melbourne, Australia.  Ralph did his internee training at the Alfred Hospital and went into the AIF to complete his training. Perhaps he his on your list of Meyers. ?
by Audrey van den Berg G2G6 (7.2k points)
Hi, Audrey. Ralph is not on any of my lists, and while my family has its fair share of black sheep, I suspect Ralph is not one of them. The Vic BDM lists him as Ralph Ulrich Henry, which looks like fairly recent German ancestry - but mine were Irish back to at least the mid-1700's. There is another Meyers family in the country (many in Qld) which seems to have included a lot of doctors and dentists, and I don't know much about them, but is it possible he was one of theirs?
Thanks, Gina for all your work. Appreciate.

+6 votes
Hi Gina, My Jungblut/Youngblood family were Palatine Quakers arriving prior to 1739.  Finding so little of them in PA online or elsewhere. Are you aware of emigration lists from Germany/Netherlands or England?  I have found no Jungbluts on immigrant ship lists before 1739.

Thank you
by Larry Youngblood G2G1 (1.4k points)
Hi, Larry. My go-to for passenger lists would be the resources pages at the Palatine Migration Project ( I'm afraid I don't have a lot of experience with Quakers outside Ireland, and I'd definitely defer to others in the Quaker Project for advice there.
Thank you... a lot to go through...Larry
+4 votes
Congratulations, Gina, and thank you for all you do for our tree.  The Palatine diaspora is such a fascinating phenomenon.  Thank you, Eowyn, for another wonderful interview.
by Mark Weinheimer G2G6 Pilot (711k points)
+3 votes

Great interview Gina.  Loved the story of cracking open the mystery of your husband's grandfather.

Also love your bit on sourcing!  I have a saying: "if it isn't sourced, it's just a rumour".  cool

by Brad Cunningham G2G6 Mach 8 (84.9k points)
That's a very good saying to keep in mind!
+3 votes

I loved your comment: “So the more brick walls you have, the better you’re doing,“ Makes me feel like I’m doing great!  Just wish some of them were a little further away!  

It was fun to read your interview!

by Bartley McRorie G2G6 Mach 8 (84.0k points)
I do have a couple of up-close brick walls, and they're definitely more tantalising and frustrating. But they will be SO much more satisfying when they finally come down :)
+3 votes
This was a great interview, Gina. We really appreciate all your contributions to our Palatine Migration Project!
by Dave Rutherford G2G6 Mach 8 (80.3k points)
+3 votes
Great interview!  I enjoyed meeting you.
ago by Michael Schell G2G6 Mach 3 (38.6k points)

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