Faces of NextGen: Meet Mike Quackenbush

Mike QuackenbushMike Quackenbush, 25, Canada

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Ambitious, Charismatic, Giving, Sociable, Individualistic.

Why genealogy? When you’re born with the curiosity bug, what better than directing that into an activity that really never ends! I was eleven years old when I received a family history on my mother’s family which was prepared by my great-aunt. That book most certainly got my interest piqued! After a few years of delving into further research of the lives on my maternal family, I began to get even more curious of my father’s family. My dad never really knew his father growing up, which in turn left a generational gap of information not being passed down. Almost fifteen years later—I am so excited to share what I have found in my research with family and friends and connect with cousins all around the world!

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? Definitely finding out that my 2x great grandfather was imprisoned at HMP Wakefield in Yorkshire, England—not once, but sixteen times in twelve years – was a WOW moment for me! Following his medically unfit (nowadays referred to as PTSD) discharge from his twenty year career with the British Army, he was jailed for not providing for his family—keeping in mind that he literally just got booted from his job. After serving his first sentence, he was jailed fifteen more times in eleven years for reasons including: not providing for his family, begging for money, being homeless, and carrying unpaid civil debts. Putting the whole picture together really made me feel for this man whose life was turned upside down after putting his life on the line to fight numerous battles including the Boer Wars.

What are you working on this week? Following a presentation I made mid-November on British Home Children, I realized that I wanted to learn more about the 118 Middlemore Home Children who traveled on the same ship alongside my great-grandfather in 1913. So this week, I’ve been starting to gather the project framework to begin the multi-year process of researching all of the home children on the passenger list, so that I can then dedicate a database to these 118 children who left their families and roots behind in Great Britain to serve as indentured labour on farms in Canada.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Organization. We handle a lot of files, both paper and digital, and you need to develop your own system for filing and managing data. Some people get data-overload—I crave it. Names, dates, places—I feel like I have an eidetic memory for these, which helps immensely when parsing through records and making connections.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? I think every genealogist on the face of the earth would say, at some point, that time travel would be an incredible super power to have. Just imagine.

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? When I’m not researching family history, I first love to catch up on the sleep I’ve missed from those late-night binge research sessions in new databases online! After I’ve reenergized, I love to travel, spend time with friends, try new wine selections, and maybe sneak in some movies—or binge watch Netflix!

Anything else you’d like to share? Make yourself a New Year’s resolution you can actually keep and achieve for 2016! Simply get involved. A few minutes a day can help you to become part of a larger community, and help people around the world. As the great leadership speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.