Tag: wikitree

A few weeks ago, WikiTree sent out it’s weekly email. As always, it has a list of notable people that you can click on to view their ancestry. You can also see how you’re related to these people and other fun things. I’m almost always connected through my wife’s ancestry, so not directly genealogically.

That specific week it was notable musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. I was also curious about other musicians I enjoyed growing up. One that came to mind was Cliff Burton. He was the bassist in my favorite band of all time, Metallica. He played with them on their first three albums, but tragically died when Metallica’s tour bus crashed in rural Sweden during their 1986 Master of Puppets tour.

Missing Profile

It was sad to find out that Cliff didn’t have a WikiTree profile. His father’s name was known since Cliff’s father Ray Burton was still very visible to fans of the band and he passed away last year in January 2020. It was enough to work with.

I’ve always wanted to do some genealogy research on a notable person and Cliff was good option. He wasn’t too famous where I’d feel like I was treading over already researched information, but he was still notable. He is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and listed as the ninth greatest bassist of all-time according to Rolling Stone.

Start At the Beginning

I started by creating the profile for Clifford Lee Burton and worked from there. Fortunately, his parents were already linked to him on Find-A-Grave, so I had names to work with: Ray Burton and Janette Morgenstern.

Ray’s family was traced to Rutherford County, Tennessee where he was born to Paul and Mary (Lenoir) Burton.

Janette’s was a bit tougher. I found her in the census records and her birth entry. Though, it only listed her mother and mother’s maiden name. Her parents were divorced sometime between her birth and the 1930 Census. So, I have her mother, Marion Rosenthal, but not her father (though I have some leads.)

There is currently only one more generation back for both lines as I want to make sure they are the right ancestors before adding. The Burton line goes deep into Tennessee, while the Morgenstern mainly stays in California. Though his great-grandfather, Sigmund Rosenthal, was born in Germany.

This is fun and interesting project. Hopefully, it will be able to connect Cliff’s line into the main connected family tree so other people can see how they’re connected!

Joseph Hoffmann

A few years back I happened to pop onto eBay and was just casually browsing and searching for genealogy-related items (like my surnames) and I ran across a collection of old cabinet card photos from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. Since it wasn’t too expensive, I bought it and then, as it sometimes happens, it sat with my genealogy stuff for a few years. This year I decided to look through them to see what I could find.

They may have been orphaned in many ways. More than likely they were held by an old family member who passed away and no one knew what the photos were and gave them to someone else or an antique shop, etc. I really enjoy the positive vibes of solving the mystery of these forgotten photos and returning them to family.

Fortunately, most of them had names written on the back. I spent some time sorting them and finding connections between some of them just based on their names and faces.

From there, I started using my research knowledge and sources to try to piece together a family tree for these individuals. I did pretty well on most of them, at least connecting them to items like census records and marriage records.

To get the information out there for the largest audience, I built their families and put them onto WikiTree. This way people may be able to find them via Google and then can also claim ownership of the profiles.

Right now, I have nine individual with photos on WikiTree and their connections from there. I do need to flesh them out a bit more, but it’s a good start.

I have found them in a few other places, like Find-A-Grave and have contacted the profile managers, but no luck. I also did find possible matches listed in some family trees on Ancestry, but without paying Ancestry, I cannot confirm the matches nor contact those profile managers. I’m hoping this post and WikiTree will be a good start.

Just to get the names out there, here are the nine individuals with photos:

I was just reading up on this week’s WikiTree member of the week. Sometimes I learn new things or find new people to talk to about certain locations or subjects. In the post, she mentions using a site called ofb.genealogy.net. I thought I’d check it out since it is supposed to be good for German ancestry, which I have a lot.

From there, I found their GEDBAS site, which is like a database of family trees submitted by people. I searched most of my German surnames until I tried my LAST family and saw an entry for my 3rd-great-grandfather, Johann LAST.

His entry didn’t have any more information than I had since it looked to be pulled from the parish registers of Batzwitz/Barkow where I originally found his baptismal record from 1825. The record showed that he was born illegitimate and only listed his mother, Dorothea Sophia LAST.

What caught my eye on this record is that it listed a father for him, a man named Johann Friedrich Gottlieb SCHMITT. Interesting.

Instead of just entering that info into my database and calling it a day like 20-year-old Brian may have done, I looked more into the records and listed sources. This genealogy seems to have been gleaned from the parish registers and I knew where to find those.

It seems Johann LAST’s mother, Dorothea, had another illegitimate child in 1829, a daughter name Hanne Charlotte Karoline LAST. Then, a few months later in 1830, Dorothea married Johann SCHMITT. She continued to have 3 or 4 more children with Johann, all with the surname SCHMITT/SCHMIDT.

Based on historical evidence and the information in the records, it’s highly likely that Johann SCHMITT is Johann LAST’s father. More often than not the couple get married after an illegitimate birth, but the fact that Dorothea had 2 illegitimate children and Johann was born 5 years before their marriage makes me wonder.

I may never know who Johann LAST’s father is, but it is some interesting new information. You never know what you may find on a random day.

For whatever reason in the last few weeks, I’ve dove straight into everything related to WikiTree. Once I started looking at all of the things that were possible with a huge, helpful, friendly community of users and a system that allows a lot of interconnectedness, I was able to find the power in the site. I’ve always used the site, but I picked up a bunch more responsibility with it recently.

Not only have I started up the Zalewski Name Study project on the site, I also started one up for the next largest surname in my tree, the Thielke Name Study. Those are still in their infancy, with the Zalewski one being a bit further. The Thielke one only has two lines on it so far, but it’s a start.

I also spent a lot of July adding sources to a lot of profiles on the site, mostly my own. This got me the “Sourcerer” and “Club 100 – July 2017” badges for my profile. I also became a member of the US History project, the Categorization project, the Wisconsin project, and the Cemeteries project (aka a Cemeterist.) But, not only did I join those, I am also now the Project Coordinator for the Wisconsin Project itself. This means I get to coordinate all of the sub-projects under Wisconsin and try to recruit volunteers to help build Wisconsin’s information and profiles.

Once I became that coordinator, I noticed Wisconsin has no county sub-projects. So, I went ahead and created the Ozaukee County project since it is the one I feel that I have the most expertise with.

Then once I became a Cemeterist, I decided to pick one local cemetery and work on it. Back in May of 2000, I transcribed a small, local cemetery in the area named St. Finbar’s Cemetery. I posted it up on interment.net as this was probably the leading cemetery transcription site at the time. Surprisingly, it’s still up and listed.

So, I added the St. Finbar’s Cemetery project up onto WikiTree and added my transcription even though it’s slightly outdated. Now, my goal is to either link existing profiles to the listing or create new profiles for every person buried there. I’ve added a few so far and learned a bit of history about the cemetery and its “inhabitants.”

I’m excited and I hope I do well coordinating all of these things. My profile is getting long. The one thing I love to do outside of researching my own family is to help others find information about their family. If you do genealogy, I recommend you join the site or at least visit and look around at all of the amazing things people are doing on their own time to help others.

I spent some time these last few days updating a lot of my ancestor’s profiles on WikiTree. WikiTree is constantly an amazing source for genealogy information. They consistently add really helpful new features and trying to make one big family tree is a big project. Features like the DNA connections, the genealogical relationships, and especially the community and the hundreds of helpful groups. It’s like one big family working on creating one big family.

One of the really cool parts of the WikiTree profiles is the biography area. By default, it just adds a little sentence to a profile when you add it, nothing too helpful. I did a bit with the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” projects over the years (I know, I need to get back to it this year.) I thought to myself, why not copy some of those posts over to my WikiTree profiles as biographies. I could interlink everything and source a lot of it and it would definitely help people who are not aware of my site. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. For example, the profile of my 3rd-great-grandfather, Johann Last. I’ve also done a lot of work, though not only recently, on my other great-great-grandfather Frank Zalewski’s profile over the years.

I’m still working my way through my 2014 52 Ancestors posts and as I post more for 2017’s project, I will try to add those. If you’re not using WikiTree, you really should look into it.

AJ Jacobs made some headlines inside and outside of the genealogy community back in 2014-15 by setting out to have a Global Family Reunion. His mission is to connect everyone in the world to each other in one human family tree. He wrote a bit about it in a NY Times article.

On WikiTree, you can see how you connect to AJ (and many others) using their site since they built it to be one large tree. I recently finally connected my tree to his and no surprise that it was via my French-Canadian line. Once I connected my CLOUTIER ancestors to their father, my connection was complete. Now, this is not a direct “cousin” as we genealogists know it, but just a “degree of relationship” connection. It’s more like six-degrees of Kevin Bacon (whom you can also see if you connect to, I do, too.)

I am 29 degrees from AJ Jacobs, so “I am a cousin!” and I am unfortunately more than six-degrees from Kevin Bacon (27). If you want to know how you connect to them, or even me, start filling in your WikiTree lines. The site is very easy to use.