52 Ancestors Week One - Start [closed]

+39 votes

Happy New Year to everyone!!  OK we have received the first prompt.

At least we know that new prompts will be released on Mondays.

For those of you get the same email that I get, please try not to jump ahead of me, although you can of course be writing your posts. Just don't post them until it's the right time. Thank you.

The first prompt is START.

AJC - Let's talk about Week 1 "Start." Some ideas include starting with yourself or whoever the "home person" is on one of your family trees. Maybe you focus on the person who got you started in genealogy or the ancestor you wanted to find first. You could talk about a relative who started a business. 

I will post this thread onto the Space Page and you can all book mark the space page so that you have easy access to the thread.

For week one, everyone has to post their entries on THIS thread. You can post a bio on the profile, or on your blog or anywhere else and post a link here, or you can post the bio on this thread as well.  Links to the profiles are encouraged as well.

If you have any questions, please PM me or go back to the first thread - when I first mentioned this challenge and post them there - but I think most questions have been pretty well answered.

And look we have a tag too!!  Thank you to whomever made the 52_ancestors tag!!

Good luck everyone and I can't wait to see what you all come up with.


closed with the note: Challenge is finished
in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (962k points)
closed by Eowyn Walker
PS And you are related to Mungo Park the explorer? Wow!!  I am so jealous. ALL I have in my ancestry are rather dull and boring Ag-Labs!!! And maybe a Roof Thatcher or two.
Welcome to Wikitree Libby! The 52 Ancestors Challenge is a great way to start!

Congratulations you have a huge response!  I couldn't find my original post (I have found it now).  I want to post a link to the profile I am working on.  I've got the first paragraph of the biography fleshed out a bit and am kind of proud of how its shaping up!

Start: Many things came together to get me interested in researching my family tree. But one worth mentioning is my great aunt, whose work on her family tree is nothing short of spectacular. She’s been researching her family tree for 40 years, with most of it being done prior to the age of the internet. Much of her first hand research involved extensive travelling, so she could see primary sources in person. She wrote one book for each of her grandparents, one of which is descended from Henry de Beaumont. That family tree goes back 30 generations! I plan on entering much of it into wikitree, bit by bit. I am well aware that this will take me years to accomplish.
This is the link for my dad's profile. I chose to do the biography for my dad since he was the first to "start" genealogy research in our family and started me on my path to continue his research. Dad was a courageous and brave man who helped many in unusual ways.He was always my "Superman" and deserved to wear a cape!


I'm also doing this challenge on my own blog at wwwRootfindersGR.com.

The event that got me STARTed researching my family tree was when I was in college. I had heard and been interested in family stories, but I assumed that all the stories had been told to me in my eighteen years. I thought wrong.  In college, one evening some friends and I attended a live performance of a Celtic duo performing Irish and Scottish songs on harp and violin. There was a lively audience including both college students and community members in a range of ages. Some were dressed in kilts, and many were dancing. I enjoyed the music so much that I stayed far beyond the hour I had planned and I purchased a record (vinyl) from the band that was performing.

Later, when I was home for the summer, I  told my mother about the evening and confessed I felt a bit of an imposter for loving the music so much when I wasn't Irish or Scottish. My mother, who was driving at the time, nearly drove off the road. "What kind of a name did you think Keirnan was?" she exclaimed. 

I didn't know and hadn't thought about it. I'd never been explicitly taught anything about my grandmother's surname and my main interaction with St. Patrick's Day had been wearing green so as not to get pinched.

Well, my mother realized that her duty to share what she knew of her family history had not yet been discharged and she began to share a great deal more of the stories she'd learned growing up. 

It turned out that her grandfather  (my great-grandfather)  James Francis "Daddy Frank" Keirnan was descended 100% from Irish  Catholic immigrants and we know we have Keirnans (yes, that's the way they spelled it), O'Briens, Mangans, and McGills on my mother's side. Later research revealed another Scots-Irish line that both she and my father share, and both Scots-Irish and Irish Protestant lines on my father's side.

She also sent me a greeting card every St. Patrick's Day without fail to remind me I was at least 1/8th Irish. She also took more interest in her own heritage and she and my father visited Ireland and encouraged me to do so as well.

And I realized that people don't just tell you things, you have to take the initiative and ASK. So I did begin asking a lot of questions about family history and those questions became the basis for research projects and so it all began. 

PS. Research revealed additional Irish immigrants both Catholic and Protestant on both my mothers and father's lines.

Welcome to Wikitree and to the 52 ancestors Challenge, Anna!!

Even if your profile is several years old!!  LOL
My start in genealogy was my grandfather, Robert F. Redwine and my Grandmother Evalett I. Long. They both would tell stories and I would take notes.
The person I STARTED with in genealogy with was my mothers father Guy Leslie Mayne.  I have fallen in love with all of my ancestors as I learn more and more about them.  My fathers mother Nina Sophia (Nickerson) Fritz caused me to just join the Nickerson family association.  I have tons of Nickerson family!  I have so much family yet to discover and it is so wonderful.  I wish my siblings felt the way I did.  I saw on pininterest.com where you can make a trivia game up with your ancestors, which is something I am eventually going to do to make it easier and more interesting for my family to learn their expanded family.

I grew up thinking I had such a small family never realizing how large my family really is!!!

I started with genealogy half a century ago by searching for my biological father.... now to a new start with this challenge , , , enven tho I'm LATE!!!

70 Answers

+18 votes
Best answer

Hi Robynne,

This sounds like fun, and I'd like to be involved in the challenge.

I've Start-ed off this week by creating a profile for John Start, a father to Emily Ellen Start, who already had a profile on Wikitree. Have managed to find him on every census, 1841 to 1911, and will maybe try and make that a feature of my weekly contribution. 


by Carol Keeling G2G6 Mach 6 (60.9k points)
selected by Anonymous Barnett
Seriously, his name was START?? That's actually quite funny!!  Thank you for participating.
That is a great START, indeed, Carol !
LOL!  I scanned my tree to find the name Start to no avail.  Congratulations on your family Start!!
I have chosen this post as the "best answer" because I think it is funny and the name is so appropriate for this challenge!!
Nice format for your bio! You are off to a great start.
+23 votes

I'm going to start off first since my START post has already been written. I am doing the person who got me started in genealogy and I wrote this post ages ago, years ago actually.

Mary Evans was my great grandmother. My fathers grandmother. Her mystery was she had 2 surnames. Either she was born as an Evans or she was born as a Stone. Which was it?  I got started in genealogy by trying to find out why and how she had 2 surnames. The below link tells HER story.


This is Mary's profile here on Wikitree


by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (962k points)
edited by Robynne Lozier
Nice biography Robynne! I love reading how our ancestors lived, not just dates and names. You did a fine job, loved the pictures too. :)

Deb [Cavel-3]
Thanks Deb!!
+24 votes

Fun, Robynne!

I've been meaning to update my own profle for awhile now and so I decided to start with that one and give it a nice clean-up.  

by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
LOL  Thanks for the giggles Eowyn!!
+18 votes
Not long before he died, my 2nd husband started a business. I posted to his profile some info about it: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Lavallee-92
by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (474k points)
Cool. Thanks Liz.
+12 votes

I am in these for team Tennessee. So I am in for myself and a personal challenge. My START post will be the person who started me is my mother's sister-in-law Annabelle Eagan Leonard. When we went out to visit her in 1984 she had given me a book to fill my family tree. The book was called Our Family Tree and she helped me start filling it in. So when she came in for visits and funerals we would talk and get information on family members. So she got me very interested in genealogy. But at the end she developed dementia and she is dead now. She been dead for about 2 or 3 years. I will get her in my family tree soon. This is here profile: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Eagan-291.

So is this how you will keep a tracker on people and  their post. Will this be on the tracker.

Do you mean Barnett-3517 or this ones https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:52_Ancestors_for_52_Weeks_in_2018_Challenge_for_Linda_Barnett or  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:52_Ancestors_for_52_Weeks_in_2018_Challenge_for_Barnett-3517   or what do you mean by the link?

by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (466k points)
edited by Anonymous Barnett
Linda, Welcome aboard.

Just so you know, this is NOT a team challenge, This is an individual and personal challenge!!
+19 votes

Start. Well you have to start somewhere. He started his own company. He started race horses at multiple race tracks. He started a family. He may be the start of my interest in genealogy. - When I was about 10, he showed me my first pedigree charts, of course it was horses, not people, but it was a start. Here's his profile (still a work in progress). John Patrick Rowan. I've added several items including my mother's biography on him.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Well done. I LOVED your mothers story Anne!!  That was wonderful to read!! Thank you.
+15 votes

I've told the story of my dad, who gave me my START in life. Enjoy!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Summer Orman, Week 1

by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 8 (86.4k points)
edited by Summer Orman
Sorry Summer.

Unable to read your story since I do not have an account at Wordpress.

I'd like to suggest that you copy your dad's story to his profile.


The link is wrong. It should be:


Mm.  That didn’t work either. I’m having trouble finding it. Summer?

Jillaine, your link and Summer's both go to the same URL - it's only the hot text here that is different.  Summer's site there is apparently restricted to her own use and cannot be publicly viewed ... either that, or there should be another URL that she can use for public viewing only.
I've updated it, hopefully that works now!
Now I can read it!!

Wonderful story - sad too.

You need tissues for this one!!

Oops Sorry - Thanks Summer!!!
I think she fixed it because I saw it.

Summer!  Your husband (if that is your husband, I didn't read your post yet) looks just like a guy I work with!
+14 votes

The person that started me on the Genealogy bug would be my Dad's Cousin Jeanette E. Coates who wrote up a family History book. It was about my Great Grandfather who was born in Russia before coming to New Zealand. 

She isn't on Wikitree yet (I still have to add her). Unfortunately she has been dead for quite a few years But I am amazed how accurate her information has been as it nearly 30 years since she published it.  

So for my task is to get her on Here.

by Darren Kellett G2G6 Pilot (168k points)
+14 votes

I am using an ancestor from my French side as my START person. By coincidence, I noticed that he was born on January 1st ! The reason why I start with the Fougerons is that they were my "first" case study in my BYU Research course. My Dad and I inherited the middle name of Marchal as our middle names and I was always curious why. It took me years to find out where they immigrated from in Alsace-Lorraine, and a couple more years to read the microfilms to find their records. 

This man, Jean Claude Fougeron, was my 4th great grandfather. Jean-Claude died before my 3rd great-grandfather was born (his mother being eight months pregnant with him ) supposedly in a military death. I will work this week further in the French archives to solve that mystery. I also have a couple DNA triagulations to add for my Fougerons.  


by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (910k points)
edited by Maggie N.
+12 votes

I'm going to start with the profile of the person whose family group sheet spurred my interest in genealogical pursuits. 

[[Wolfe-3074|Daniel S. Wolfe]] one of my gg-grandfathers. 

by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (861k points)
+15 votes

I started genealogy research with my grandmother. According to the family story, her parents fled from Germany to Iowa to get married and she was orphaned at a young age, the youngest of a large family, and raised by a foster family. She married young, was widowed and worked at the county home, and married my grandfather when her youngest daughter was 18.

From my mother's notes, her name was Ottilia Toepelt or Taplett. She taught me to cite sources so that I could find them again, after researching for a year and finding possible siblings, then having to start over with better sources. When I added her to WikiTree, I found this was the start of the surname. My first cousins and I have DNA matches with descendants with three different variant spellings of her surname.

Here's her profile https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Toepelt-1

by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (436k points)
Great profile Kay!!!
You presented the name research very nicely.
+15 votes

I have made a start this week working of the Huskar Moorend Coal Mine Disaster, where 26 children were drowned  in 1838 at Silkstone, Yorkshire England. This is part of the wikitree Worldwide Mining Disasters Project. As well as documenting the actual disaster we intend to created profiles for all the children who were killed. The first profile that I created was for 7 year old Joseph Burkinshaw  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Burkinshaw-80  Therefore a start on a new project at the start of a new year.

by Joan Whitaker G2G6 Pilot (123k points)
edited by Joan Whitaker
Very interesting use of the Start prompt!!
+14 votes

Despite parents who guided me (over)conscientiously, my (mother's brother) Uncle Herman became my idolized role model - he would be the one I think of as having given me my START in life, as well as re-starts whenever I needed them. As an adult, "idolize" became a less than accurate description of my feelings toward him, but I always looked up to him and greatly admired him.

As a toddler, I loved his dog - a very gentle great dane named Lady who was trained to use the toilet and even to flush afterwards. 

In school, my affinity for academic subjects comprising what we now call STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is as likely to be a result of trying to emulate my adored uncle as to any inborn proclivity for these subjects.  My career choice of engineering can be seen as an attempt to follow in his footsteps.

It is now apparent to me that his choices in the realm of personal relationships were not good ones, which extracted an exorbitant emotional price.  I actually benefitted from his bad times, too, when I went through a protracted and debilitating divorce and he was the only family member willing to help me pick up the pieces without I-told-you-so's or attempts to take over my decision making responsibilities.

Even now, thirty years after his death, I see myself following in his (70-something) footsteps of resisting characterization as old - like him, I don't feel any different than I did throughout the entirety of my adulthood.

by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (945k points)

What an interesting person and great profile!

I now have a mental image of a Great Dane using the toilet. You should add her to Uncle Herman’s profile.
+15 votes

I've been inspired. I think I may struggle to find 52 worthy ancestors though.


Her Wikitree profile https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Grey-1585 doesn't say much, unfortunately.

by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (169k points)
+14 votes

This is almost a trick question/prompt for me because I always tend to have my home person as myself. I can't even give you the ancestor I wanted to find first when I started as a teen because when I originally started I just wanted to know as much about my Great-Grandmother's family as I could. I can say that I have learned much since I started over 7 years ago, untangled a lot of webs, and also have created more questions. Since I can't obviously link to all her family on here I will link to her's. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Porter-10527 It's not the best profile, has a half done timeline yikes, but it is actually one of my better ones on here in terms of the prettiness.

by Amanda Frank G2G6 Mach 5 (50.9k points)
Everyone has to start somewhere - so why not there?
+12 votes
I'm not sure I've understood the challenge.  But, hey, give me a prompt and I'll give it a go.
by A Nony Mouse Moffett G2G6 Mach 1 (18.9k points)
The prompt is the word START - in connection with genealogy and you can write anything at all.

Read some of the responses in this thread and you will get the idea.
My aunt Dorothy was my start in genealogy.  She was researching the family from a young age as far as I can remember her statements about it.  Along with my aunt Florence who wrote in a notebook about her family.


I wrote a biography for Dorothy with this prompt.
+14 votes

I love this idea. I have joined, and posted my first week's on facebook.

Correction, I just found the answer I was looking for. Here is my first week's.

The person I write about today I see from a great grandchild’s view. She was amazing and awe-inspiring and all those other wonderful words.


    Cassie Alice Carter was born November 14,1907 in Spokane, Spokane, Washington to Ira Franklin Carter and Mabelle Louise Holton. Her parents had been pioneers, coming across the country prior to her birth. She was one of 11 kids, one passed as an infant. She and Harry had 10 kids. There is a joke that everytime he came home from work, she got pregnant. Harry worked for the forest service so he was gone a lot. Raising 5 boys and 5 girls, alone much of the time while he was at work, was no piece of cake. Being the matriarch for not only her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, but everyone she knew, had to have been exhausting at times. Even after losing Harry in 1967, she was still a wonderful force. She was, as they say now, fierce! She taught all ten of her children to take care of themselves in all manner of aspects and her door was always open to family, friends and those in need. She passed away November 9, 1984 in Sandpoint, Bonner, Idaho. And the world was a little bit worse off for the loss.


    The prompt for this was start. She was always the start of the family in my eyes growing up, well and even now. She was the start of strong women and good men. Her children proved that. The fact that her way of life, teachings, etc have been passed down through her children, grandchildren, and kept going now down through the great grandchildren and  great great grandchildren proves this.


    Her family has encountered many hardships, some more than anyone should ever have to even hear about, let alone live through. We all make it through, persevere, and overcome because she was the start of our family.


by Lisa Murphy G2G6 Pilot (153k points)
edited by Lisa Murphy
What a wonderful tribute to a pioneer, Lisa, Thank you!!
Thank you for your comment. She was an amazing person. I have already had family say how well that fit her.
Most Excellent start Lisa.
Does she have a Wikitree profile?
Profile's are NOT a requirement for this Challenge, Veronica.

Not all the stories that have been posted for week 1, are about people with profiles.
Yes she does. She was one of the first profiles I added a few years ago. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Carter-9485
+14 votes
My "Start" is my 2nd Great Grandmother. She was the first big challenge I ran across when I started doing genealogy. It took me years to piece her life together.

by Sara Rice G2G6 Mach 1 (10.5k points)
Such a sad story.
People did just disappear in those days and your great grandmother was not the only woman who had to wonder if the missing husband was dead or alive. It's a sad story but a good example of the times.
+11 votes

I started the challenge by looking back to what I had done last year


Look forward to reading other contributions 



by Anne Young G2G6 Mach 3 (36.1k points)
That was a very nice wrap-up of the year for you, Anne, Thank you.
+10 votes

I'm in for this week, Robynne. Not sure right now just who to START with. I'll edit in the link.

My START is my great-great-grandfather, Isaac F. Kennaston. He was the first Keniston to serve in the military, starting a family tradition of military service. Isaac served in the 16th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. In my line alone, 11 individuals (6 Navy, 5 Army) have served, with 2 making the Navy a career.

by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (213k points)
edited by Bob Keniston
No hurries Bob, you have all year!!

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