On April 7th, I had my WikiTree reveal, and I wanted to share with you my experience. If you’d like to watch the recording on YouTube, you can find it HERE. If you don’t know what WikiTree is, Wikipedia tells us that;
WikiTree is a free, shared social-networking genealogy website, allows users individually to research and to contribute to their own personal family trees while building and collaborating on a singular worldwide family tree within the same system.
What the WikiTree folks have decided to do this year is to feature a guest each week and then a group of genealogists from around the world working on the guest’s tree. They call it the “Year of Accuracy.” Anyone that’s on WikiTree can sign up to help out. The objective is to create a “crowdsourced tree,” so the entire tree is sourced. I do have a tree on Ancestry, and I think most things are sourced, but there might be some items from when I first starting working on my tree that might not be as good as they could be.
So when this all started, I had a “twig” of a tree on WikiTree that I had created that included up to my great-grandparents. You might think that’s not bad, but it was just direct lines, no additional children, and I have two family lines that are blank. One because of my Beaton/Batten Mystery on my maternal great grandfather’s line and the other because my paternal grandfather was illegitimate. As I mentioned, I have a much more comprehensive tree on Ancestry and MyHeritage that has been fleshed out with much more than great grandparents. I always include all the children because that’s where you can find info that will lead you back to your ancestors.
So on March 31st, I was introduced as the week-long WikiTree Challenge, and I answered a few questions, and I explained as much as I could about my unknown (blank) lines. I haven’t had a good experience with “one tree sites” before because I’m always worried that people will add what they think is the answer to those blank lines. After all, there is documentation that could lead you down an incorrect path. You can watch the intro HERE, and you can read about my concerns on my previous blog HERE.
But let’s get back to the results. You can find the overview of the results HERE on Wikitree. Over 35 people were working on my tree, and they added 126 new direct ancestors and 336 nuclear relatives of ancestors. Thirty-four of the new ancestors, I believe, were completely new to me as many of the Wikitree folks were aware of my tree on Ancestry.
During my interview, I mentioned that I came from a long line of fishmongers in Brighton, England. This is my Clark line from my paternal grandmother’s side of the family (Alice Elizabeth Clark), and this graphic shows that they found and sourced all these fishmongers. I love the fish that they used on the tree view, and I’m going to use this as a graphic in a book I’m putting together on my family tree. Have a look at my 2x great grandfather, Robert Clark (born in 1842) HERE, and you’ll see his occupation and that of his sons. In the case of the Clark line, the WikiTree folks have actually extended my tree two generations further back than I had gotten, and they also noted that they had found a different wife for Robert Clark, born in 1785. One of the things I want to do is see if I can confirm all of what they have found with my DNA matches.
They then moved over to my grandmother’s maternal line, the Kottmann’s. Heinrich and Anna Kottmann and Heinrich’s parents had come to Canada from Germany in 1880. They had actually arrived in New York and then traveled to Renfrew, Ontario. I had researched them in Canada but very little in Germany as I wasn’t familiar with the language, and when you couple that with handwriting, that can be a real challenge.
Here again, they were able to move my Kottmann line back two generations further than I had and expanded not only my direct lines but put in many additional family members.
In the case of my 2x great grandmother’s family, they extended it an additional three generations further back than I had. I’m still looking at these lines, and again I want to confirm with DNA where I can.
Speaking of DNA, that was also very interesting in that I was able to work with the WikiTree DNA expert, Emma. Emma and I didn’t get into the Beaton/Batten mystery. We focused on the DNA that is a closer generation to work on, and Emma also had experience researching French Canadian records. So she and I worked quite a bit on my father’s DNA, hoping to discover the biological father for my grandfather, Harold. I mentioned French Canadian records because it’s pretty apparent when looking at my matches that that’s where the answer lies. The best match I have is a 126 cM match for me and a 230 cM match for my dad. It looked like we might actually be able to figure out a potential father, but there are too many trees of cousins in common that either don’t have trees attached at all or they have very little information. So that made coming to an absolute conclusion tough. I will need to make contact with more of the matches and get additional information before we can know exactly.
There is still so much that I have to go back and look at … especially all the new people and the sources that were found.
I can’t thank the WikiTree folks enough for asking me to participate in this project, and I also want to thank all the participants who added to my tree during the week. You all are giving your time and research abilities, and I appreciate all the help I’ve received.
If you haven’t checked out WikiTree, I encourage you to go to the site and see if you can find some of your ancestors and perhaps start a tree and get yourself and your family connected to other researchers in the tree. I’ve always been about collaboration, and because each of your ancestor’s profiles shows up in Google, this is terrific cousin bait.
After all I’m always looking for new cousins.