Meet our Members: Marion Ceruti

+24 votes

Hi everyone!

Meet_our_Members_Photos-91.jpgIt's time to get to know another one of our wonderful WikiTreers. This week's member is Marion Ceruti.

Marion became a Wiki Genealogist in December of 2018 and is active in helping our Bahamas Project.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy or family history? 

I have received the archives, both documents and photos, of several family genealogists and historians. Their meticulous efforts at preservation inspired me to organize their work in such a way as to attract the assistance of others to help explain the missing information, such as the identity of people in photos. I am a problem solver and genealogy offers many problems that need to be solved. Successful solutions can lead to the discovery of cousins. Unsolved problems inspire us to declare them brick walls.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy? 

My degrees are all in chemistry and my career was that of a Navy scientist in San Diego, California. I have always enjoyed water sports, such as swimming, surfing, and sailing. I am a musician, composer, arranger, collector of musical instruments, and producer of music CDs. I am a prolific writer with book manuscripts in progress. Add to the list of interests heraldry, mathematics, mysticism, and sub-atomic particle physics.

What is your genealogical research focus?

My mother's side of the family is well documented, to include Sir Anthony Deane, his descendants Charles Anthony Deane, and Charles' son Robert Deane, my 2x g grandfather. I want profiles of all their descendants but I don't always have to be the one to create them. On my father's side, his family from the Bahamas has proven to be very interesting. Most of my brick walls originate on his side. Many cousins whom I have never met include an engineer who worked in a sister Naval facility in South Carolina, sort of a parallel life story to mine. I would like to know more about my African ancestors, a challenging task.

Has the focus of your research or work changed over the years? 

It has broadened from immediate family only to include profiles of scientists, and distant relatives' spouses. I especially like to communicate with cousins who can fill me in on the "rest of the story." Cousins have provided photos of mutual relatives which they posted on profiles.

Are you are interested in certain surnames or locations? 

Ceruti, Higgs, Deane, Hildreth, The Bahamas, Kent County England, Wales, Scotland, and France come to mind.

Do you have a favorite genealogical discovery? 

Descent from Rhun born in the year 4C.E. Also I am a descendant of the Count of Carcasone, France, which my husband and I visited in 2013. At the time we had no idea.

Do you have a favorite brick wall breakthrough story? 

I have managed to identify family members in unlabeled photos using circumstantial evidence and pattern recognition. I have exploded a number of family myths and demonstrated that they are not true. One was that we descended from the famous violin makers in Cremona, Italy. I visited Cremona to gather data. Another myth was that the Stillwell coat of arms granted to John Packenham Stillwell had anything to do with our family. This took a visit to the College of Arms in London UK. I proved that the date of the family photo on my grandparents profiles was early 1906 and not the 1907. Three people were dead by then.

What is your toughest brick wall currently? 

With so many brick walls, where to begin? Probably the most intriguing question is the origin of my great grandfather, Theodore Ceruti. The yDNA evidence points strongly to England, not Sardignia, Italy. He may have been an adopted child or the descendant of an adopted child. This is one possible way to explain the data. Another explanation is that he was a pirate in the Caribbean who jumped ship to start a new and much safer life on Ragged Leland, Bahamas. (Even if this isn't the case, his wife, my g grandma descended from Mathew Lowe, a known pirate.) One thing we know is that my grandfather didn't like to talk about his family. 

(interview continues in comments)

WikiTree profile: Marion Ceruti
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)

What brought you to WikiTree? 

My paternal cousins had done some research in the Bahamas and WikiTree seemed to be a good forum in which to build on their ground-breaking work. I like the fact that it is free, which attracts more users.

What do you spend the most time doing here?

I still have lots more data and photos to add from my grandmother's extensive archive. My maternal genealogist cousins also have archives and data that has not been posted.

Why do you do this work?

It is a target of opportunity to help fill in details that other people, such as cousins, might want but do not have. A note on a letter that my mother had helped me to connect with a cousin and genealogist. Her profile has a great quote that we genealogists are the storytellers of the clan. I also connected with cousins from a branch of the family that had become disconnected due to the untimely death of my Uncle Ed. It brings us together.

Which project are you most involved in? 

Lately, I have been focused on descendants from the Bahamas. I am trying to find a connection between the Higgs family on Ragged Island and the Higgs family on Spanish Wells. I am also following up on the Descendants of Lt. Robert Deane, RN. Turns out that there is quite a lot of information about them and their spouses. Except of course, the information needed to solve the family mystery of the location of Lt Deane's silver medal. I also have been involved with the Connect-a-Thons, which were very rewarding. I enjoyed participating with the Twisted Thistles and the Wizards of Aus.

How do you contribute to WikiTree projects? 

So many projects and so little time. I also try to help cousins with their WikiTree activities. The 1950 US Census will shed some light on what happened more recently. Then I will try again to find a third cousin of mine, whom I met in 1955. I plan a new round of profiles and edits using data from my grandmother's archive.

How can others help? 

Fill in the profiles and data ASAP. Tell us what you know. We have connections between us of which we are still unaware.

Connect-a-thons are good ways to contribute. Select a team that interests you and go for it.

What inspires you to contribute so much of yourself to WikiTree?

I want to complete what other family genealogy experts started.

What is your favorite feature or function here? 

I like the research function to get more information about a profile, especially reliable sources. I also like the relationship to me function and the fan charts. I enjoy question of the week and photo of the week sharing.

Sources are very important. We want others to know how we came to know what we have written. It is great to see how we are all so connected.

What feature would you most like to see improved? 

Not a big deal but it would be nice to be able to select the order in which profile photos appear for all photos, not just the primary photo.

Some photos are more important than others. Photos tend to be added in random order, whatever's available at the time. Chronological order might be better.

Do you have a story about how someone was helped through your participation on WikiTree? 

I have helped cousins connect with their roots in the Bahamas. I also have helped a cousin on my mother's side connect with our common ancestor. I think I now know how the gene(s) for autoimmune diseases was passed down in our family.

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

My story is all about connecting the work of others and organizing it in the most factual and entertaining way. Ann Carmel, Bahamas genealogist and historian extraordinaire, help me in countless ways, adding to my knowledge and correcting me when I made a merging error. It was this correction that resulted in my interest to find a common ancestor for the Higgs family on various islands in the Bahamas.

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

Come on in! Don't be afraid to try. Genealogy is an iterative discipline. Put down what you know now and add to the knowledge later. If you get stuck we will do the best we can to help you as others have helped us.

What could we do to inspire more people to participate in our mission?

Anyone who likes mystery, history, and fellowship of kindred spirits will find endless opportunities to learn and contribute. If you like WikiTree, tell your friends and relatives, and don't forget to say why you like it.

Thank you, Eowyn, for the great job you have done with this material that I have provided. You certainly know how to accomplish a lot in a short period of time.
Beautiful interview! I understand about finding about my African ancestors even though I discovered my maternal roots via African Ancestry Inc. To find out how one woman from West Africa to present day Georgia would be a challenge. Thankfully, the USBH project is going to attempt to find out more about my family. I do have verified paternal European ancestry.

We must discuss more about this.
Thank you, Eileen, for responding. I am interested to collaborate with you to learn what you know and to share what I know about our African ancestors. My auDNA reports 7% from Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. From circumstantial evidence coupled with some reasonable assumptions. I have traced these ancentral lines back to at least four women of 100% African descent in the Bahamas. They could have descended from slaves who were already in the Bahamas, or they could have arrived on ships from West Africa. Everything was done to erase their history, their lineage, their language, their culture, and their identity, so we should not be surprised by the difficulty in finding this information.

Among my tasks in the coming weeks will be to figure out how to make profiles of manumitted slaves whose lineage is party known.

Regarding the remaining 1% in the auDNA from the Margreb, I am almost certain that this was Don Abascal, my 2x g grandfather, who was born in Spain. From circumstantial evidence here again, I believe that he was of Moorish descent, but that's another story.

I am open to learn more from the Black History experts on Wikitree and beyond.

9 Answers

+13 votes
Marion, it is so nice to see you on Meet Our Members. Your photos with the Challenges have made you a good friend, so I certainly enjoyed reading your answers and seeing your beautiful smile.  You have always been an inspiration for other members.
by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (539k points)
Alexis, you are always so kind. I am honored to be your good friend.
+13 votes
Hi Marion! It's nice to meet you. What a wonderful interview. I love that you have several ways to pursue your passion for genealogy. I love the community here as well, and the collaboration that goes with it!
by Mindy Silva G2G6 Pilot (749k points)
Hello, Mindy, it's great to be on Wikitree and to be able to collaborate with excellent genealogists like you.
+12 votes
Congratulations, Marion, and thank you for all you do for our tree.  The Bahamas work sounds both challenging and fascinating.  Thank you, Eowyn, for another great interview.
by Mark Weinheimer G2G6 Pilot (730k points)
Thank you, Mark for your kind words. It's a pleasure to collaborate with wonderful Wikitreers like you.
+9 votes
Congratulations on being nominated as member of the week, Marion.

It is nice to read something more about such a kind and active member on WikiTree like you are.
ago by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
Thank you, Dieter, with all your extensive accomplishments on Wikitree, you are an inspiration to us all.
+9 votes
So good to read about your amazing life and accomplishments.  I believe our paths have crossed before, as your name is very familiar.  I too am a descendent of Bahamian ancestors with some African thrown in for good measure.  I also belong to the Bahamas Genealogy group with Ann Carmel, as well as the Bahamas Project here on Wikitree.  One of my grandmother's aunts married a Higgs long ago so we may have some distant connection from the Bahamas.

Edit:  Just did the "relationship to me" and discovered we are 21st cousins twice removed, but not through Bahamian ancestors. Fascinating.
ago by Carolyn Martin G2G6 Pilot (213k points)
edited ago by Carolyn Martin
Hello Carolyn, it's great to be able to meet cousins like you. We must be related through my gateway ancestor, Hannah Jessup Hildreth, on my mother's side. However, we must also have a closer connection on my father's side. My first cousin once removed, Catherine Ceruti, married Frederick James Higgs and they had 10 children on Ragged Island, Bahamas.

BTW, in case anyone is interested, a group of Africans is looking for descendants in the African diaspora, like us. At this time, at least 20% African ancestry is required to take the next step. Check out for more details. I learned a lot of good information and I am still learning.
+8 votes
Great interview, Marion! We also share interests in mysticism as well as a diverse range of topics. ;-)
ago by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (305k points)
Hello Eric, thank you for your comments. Let's explore together our mutual interests and maybe we can break through some brick walls.
+5 votes
Marion, thank you for sharing your interesting story.  And thank you for your many efforts on projects and for your research.  I wish you well with breaking down brick walls.  You are a great encouragement to others.
ago by Robert Clark G2G6 Pilot (439k points)
Thank you, Robert, for your great support and for all of your WW awards. You truly lead by example.
+5 votes
Congratulations Marion.  Thank you for your many valuable contributions to your Bahamian family and we are most grateful that you found WikiTree.
ago by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (585k points)
Greetings Peter, Thank you for your vote of confidence. It is my pleasure and privilege to be in a position to help highlight how our Bahamian families are connected. Thank you also for leading the Bahamas project.
+4 votes
Well, doggone it!  How did I ever miss this post earlier?  Congratulations on being chosen for this honor.  I am extremely impressed by the breadth of your work.
ago by Candyce Fulford G2G6 Mach 5 (54.7k points)
Hello Cousin Candyce and fellow story teller of the clan. It's great that we could connect on Wikitree. Keep your Wikitree contributions coming. Now we know "the rest of the story."

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