About Ashley Odell
Note to read before messaging me
I will absolutely reply to your messages and requests, but please expect and excuse a little delay. If you need help with a specific line, you will probably get a speedier response from someone (including me) if you post a discussion thread. I am unfortunately unable to assist with tree-building for the time being. Thank you for your understanding.
I am a historian and a curator for Geni. I work on special projects focused on geographic and topical themes. I also coordinate the BillionGraves Team.
If you follow the Geni Blog, you've likely seen some of my work. If I built a profile for you or a close relative and you have no clue who I am, odds are you have a notable relative -- ask me about it! If you have questions about the genealogy of a specific person or the information on their profile, please consider using the "Discussions" tab on their profile instead of sending me a private message so that we can work out the answer more quickly and collaboratively as a group.
When I'm not working on special projects for Geni, I like to work on my own direct ancestors, who include:
- Oldest-of-the-old-stock New England Yankees
- Confederate Southerners who fought the above
- Pirates, refugees, and slaves of the Bahamas
- A Danish-German fraudster who murdered his professor
- New England's first "wonder-working" historian
- America's first public school teacher
- One of the original Mormon pioneers
- The first Irish-Catholic in Massachusetts
- A bunch of cranky old coots, including this guy
Although I am predominantly European-American, my recent ancestry includes significant percentages of Yoruba, Mandinka, and Bantu on my maternal side, and undetermined Native American on my paternal. (My paternal grandfather was adopted.) Deeper DNA analysis narrows the Native American roots to Abenaki, Métis, and/or Mohawk. I also have an Ashkenazi DNA connection, which I believe to have narrowed down a Lithuanian family that passed through England.
In an exciting development, I learned in early 2015 that my father's surname was supposed to be Williams and that we trace back to Colonial South Carolina, of all places. Y-DNA testing is pretty great stuff!
Geographically, I am most active in the Bahamian and New England branches of the World Family Tree. Projects that catch my interest are often about fraternal organizations, comedy and popular culture, higher education and alumnae/i affiliations, founders and groundbreakers, creative people, and women and minority groups. Things like royalty, the Mayflower, and celebrity connections aren't of much interest to me. I prefer simple and marginalized folks over elite ones. I do work on a lot of celebrity trees, but mostly to help with the Geni blog and attracting more people to genealogy. In my perfect world, I could work solely on the poor farmers of Vermont and fishers of the West Indies. Alas.
In terms of Geni-specific conversation, I like discussing the best ways to help users become better genealogists, emphasizing quality above all, and understanding primary vs. secondary sources. I am on a mission to keep discourse cordial and productive, and I invite you to join me.
Aside from this
Other than genealogy, I'm involved with an assortment of library-focused groups and efforts, especially those related to supporting marginalized people and fighting censorship. I'm currently working on a research project for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I am the only millennial devoted to print journalism and read multiple newspapers and magazines daily. I'm a feminist and support the intersectionality movement. I studied Spanish, French, German, and Latin in school and am always trying to get better with them, though unfortunately I think only Spanish and French have held well over time. I also really like good films, pictures and videos of fat cats, eating sunflower seed butter right out of the jar, and not living in a city.
Most recent immigrant ancestors
These are the most recent ones I can officially document side-to-side. For others, I know where they came from but still need the connecting documents.
- The Bahamas: Mom! :)
- Barbados: Ann Hill, b. 1628
- Canada: James Beggs Reay, b. 1847 in Hemmingford
- England: Rosina Richardson, b. 1878 in Huddlesfield
- France: Pierre Chamois, b. 1635 in Saint-Maixent-l'École
- Germany: Wilhelmina Folkas, b. 1823
- Ireland: Jessima McNeil, b. 1848
- Isle of Man: William Thompson, b. 1580
- Scotland: James McBride, b. 1822
- Sweden: Karl Tornqvist, b. 1776 in Öland
- Wales: John Best, b. c. 1640