Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Carol.

Carol Keeling became a WikiTreer in August of 2015.  She’s active in many ways including in our England Project as a helper for Sussex County.  Carol also works hard as a Connector and Data Doctor.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

My maiden name was Winton, so that has to go top of the list, closely followed by Whitbread, Woodhams, Alger and Anthoney. On my husband’s side there is Keeling (of course!), then Rolfe, Bossley, Shovlar and Higginbottom. I’ve picked some of the unusual ones to list, but I have plenty more common surnames that could be added.

 What are some of the locations you are researching?

Both my parents were born in London, England. But I have ancestors from the counties of Sussex, Kent, Devon and Bedfordshire.

The Keelings were from Lincolnshire, (and probably Staffordshire, if I could only get back that far). There are also connections to Kent, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Suffolk. So quite a wide variety.

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

In 1979, Gordon Honeycombe presented a 5 part series on BBC, based on the research he had done into his own family. I was hooked, it totally fascinated me, and I started to enlist the help of family members  right away.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

This is a tough one to answer, but I’m going to choose my great grandmother Sarah Ann Winton. She was widowed in her early 40’s with 5 young children to support. (I use the term ‘widowed’ loosely here, as she was never married to the father of her children). She kept the family together and took in lodgers as a source of income. Her guests were mainly theatrical people, who were appearing in the local theatres of Deptford and New Cross (in South London). One of my most prized possessions is her visitors comments book, which contains not only names and dates, but also the touring company they were appearing with. I have a couple of photos of her, she looks quite a determined person, and I’ve always felt that she was quite inspirational.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

I have far too many brick walls that are waiting to be broken down, so will write about one that I’ve solved.

George David King and his wife Elizabeth, had their first child Mary King, born in Marden in Kent in 1837. Although they had two subsequent children, I was unable to identify their birth registrations, so Elizabeth’s maiden name was unknown. When the GRO launched their website (I think in 2016), it gave the ages at death from 1837-1866, and mother’s maiden name for all births 1837-1911.

I checked the age at death for George and Elizabeth’s youngest child Ann King, who had died in 1848. It showed age 4, which came as a complete surprise. She had been baptised just a short while before her death, so I’d assumed that she was an infant. I was able to locate her birth registration in Medway district (of Kent) in 1844, which showed her mother’s maiden name to be Pearce. I already knew that Elizabeth had been born in Marden, so a quick check of the parish registers confirmed that Elizabeth Pearce had been baptised in Marden in 1805. I’ve since confirmed this with a couple of DNA matches, so am confident it’s correct. Elizabeth’s surname had been shown as unknown in my tree for over 20 years.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

During the winter months we live in Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, so I spend a lot of time walking along the coastal promenade, and sitting in my garden in the sunshine reading. I love a good thriller and have several favourite authors who write genealogical mysteries. (Would recommend Steve Robinson and Nathan Dylan Goodwin, for anyone based in England). We also enjoy dining out with our friends and neighbours.

Our summers are spent in England. I love to be out of doors, walking and often shopping. And I have a garden in each location that keeps me busy as well. I also enjoy travelling; last year we went to China, and the year before we visited Canada.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I joined WikiTree in August 2015, and have probably been logged on nearly every day since then!

My time is split between connecting and correcting ‘suggestions’ as a data doctor, and both of these tasks involve sourcing as well. I’m a member of the England Project, and a helper for the county of Sussex, so I’ve been concentrating my efforts recently on that county. Using WikiTree+, it is now easy to identify what needs working on in specific locations. I also check all G2G posts that are tagged ‘connectors’, and try and help if I can.

During my first few months on WikiTree I uploaded a lot of my tree using Gedcom. I’ve set myself a target this year to revisit as many of these profiles as I can, to clean them up, add to them and check all of their sources. So far this year, I’ve found two branches on WikiTree that I can link onto my tree, which is an added bonus.

What brought you to WikiTree? (In other words, how did you find us?)

I was very disillusioned with Ancestry, and started to look at other options searching the internet. I found a lot of recommendations for WikiTree, so here I am. I particularly liked the emphasis placed on sourcing, and found the website easy to navigate.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

Every morning when I log on, I ask myself ‘what shall I do today?’. There are so many options, but never any compulsion to hurry and get something done. So my favourite thing has to be the happy and relaxed atmosphere that WikiTree has, it’s like a welcoming friend, always there when you need it, but not intrusive when you have other things to do. You can spend as much or little time as you have, and still feel you are making progress. And I’m always eager to get back to it after a holiday away.

My favourite feature is the profile design. All the important information that you need is top left, and if you need to read more then the biography is available as you scroll down.

I’ve enjoyed taking part in both the Source-a-Thon and Clean-a-Thon weekends. They’ve encouraged me to become more involved, working as a team, and will eagerly await the next one.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

Another tough question. In my role as a connector, I’ve liaised with many people who, after uploading a Gedcom file, have then realised that their tree doesn’t all connect together (whether as a result of missing people, or often skipped people that are already on WikiTree). I’m saddened that we often lose these people and have had comments like ‘It was all such a mess, that I just left it’. I know the mentors do an excellent job, but it’s very hard admitting to someone else that you need help. Maybe we can devise a way of reaching out to anyone in this situation, without them feeling inadequate.

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?

Having started to build my tree over 35 years ago, uploading my research to WikiTree has encouraged me to revisit each and every person on it, to check and add sources and include other family members. Needless to say I’ve found several errors, brought to light mainly by the abundant sources now on-line. As I work through each profile, I feel more confident that it is proven to be correct, and will be freely available for any other researchers to use.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Take it slowly, manually add quite a few ancestors before contemplating a Gedcom upload. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Send a message to anyone that you find already on WikiTree that you are related to, so begin to make friendships. Check and correct any suggestions on your profiles every week. Try and read some posts on G2G every day, just to see what others are working on and maybe struggling with.


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  2 Responses to “Meet our Members: Carol Keeling”

  1. I have not really jumped in so mostly just saying thanks because your work likely opens doors for others. I am wondering if the Sussex group has anything on the name Inskipp?

  2. Prince Harry and Meghan are now the Duke and duchess of Sussex.

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