In praise of .. Ancestry’s Member Connect Activity feature

The Ancestry website has a flexible (personalised) front page, where you can arrange or hide various modules showing particular information. I have chosen to have ‘Recent Member Connect Activity’ as the the top left box, which I find a bit addictive. It highlights activity by other Ancestry members connected with records which are on your own tree (or the ‘shoebox’ save-for-later area). There’s something new every week, often most days, usually just showing you who else has some vague interest in a particular person in the tree, saving a census or birth record say, as its easy to do. This can be a bit of a time waster when the same fellow researchers re-appear, or the link is tenuous. Or occasionally good for a laugh when they have got things obviously wrong. But it can come up trumps, as it did twice this weekend.

On Friday, I spotted Ancestry user kejama1 had added records to Samuel and Mary Myhill – Mary is a great great aunt. On having a look at where she had saved these, I could see that she had only one of Mary’s children, Kate Jane Watts Myhill. In my tree this is Katie Jane Watts, born 1875, several years before Mary married Samuel.

Sam Myhill and offspring

Yes, another illegitimate offspring amongst the ancestors. But what grabbed my attention was the presence of Katie’s husband, as I had yet to track this person down. Edmund John Pike married Kate in 1903 in Smallburgh, a Norfolk village but also the name of a larger registration district which includes Worstead, the Watts family home. He had previously married Caroline Chichester Hewys, but she had died in 1902.

{Katie Jane Watts is the one on the right in the photo}

As Kate was working in the London County Lunatic Asylum at Colney Hatch in 1901 and Edmund was a clerk in Tottenham at that time, how they met is rather open to speculation. In the 1911 census the couple are in Watford, with one son, Harold Edmund Baron Pike. At 1932 , on Edmund’s death, the probate record says Harold is an accountant. Kate Pike dies Watford 1945.

After that success with a first cousin twice removed on Friday, it was a surprise to find another seriously helpful connection appear on Saturday evening as I returned to the front page before logging out of the Ancestry site. This is one I would probably never have found without such help.

Margaret Ann Osborne, born 1874 Bargoed, was an older sister to great grandmother Amelia. I had looked quite hard to find what had happened to her after the 1891 census, but was stuck with choosing from four possible husbands and assuming she had married as Annie Osborne (she appears with that name in 1881 census). So a ready made and well sourced tree from ‘elisharvey’ was very welcome. Annie, as she indeed appears in most places, had married Clifford Charles Taylor (one of the 4 possibles) 1896 Pontypridd district (Rhondda/Tonypandy area). Four Five children from him before he dies in 1902, and she remarries in 1905 to George Trask. Trask, along with Osborne, is a prominent name in Merriott, Somerset {1}. Indeed George had been born there about 1864, and in 1891 was lodging with an Osborne family from Merriott in Salford, Lancs. Annie and George have two children by 1911, when they were living in Weymouth, working together selling fruit. A third, Phyllis, appears 1916.

George had 3 more children from a previous marriage – one of whom was lodging in 1911 with my great grandparents Charles and Amelia at Blaenclydach (I had wondered who his parents were!). So far I have found more info on two of the combined group of children – Annie Ellen Trask (born 6 July 1906 Tonypandy) marries William John Duignan 1929 in Weymouth, while Clifford Charles Taylor (born 9 Sept 1901 Tonypandy) has numerous entries in the ‘crew manifests’ available on Ancestry. He is going back and forth between Southampton and America as a ship’s cook, in later years a sauce cook on the Queen Mary. That’s the second  first cousin twice removed found “all at sea” in less than a week (see Stanley Cullum).

Note 1. See Merriott Families Genealogy site for pages on each of the main surnames.

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