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 Sharon.

Sharon Caldwell has been a WikiTreer since July of 2017.  She participates in several projects including the Dutch Cape Colony, South African Roots, United Kingdom and England projects.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Oh my – a lot. I can’t bear having gaps in my tree!

So on my father’s side:


On my mother’s side:

GrantWalkerLeePretoriusDe Beervan Tondervan Wyk (those are the main ones)

My husband’s family:

WebbFutterHartLloydKing – Casey – van Wyk – Graham (and more)

Then I am also doing Maria Montessori.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

South Africa – all over as my family moved around a lot.

England – mostly Cornwall, Dorset and Liverpool.

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

I have been interested as long as I can remember. My great grandfather was attributed with discovering the Witwatersrand (the world’s richest goldfield) but was quite an enigma in terms of history, and growing up with lots of stories I became interested. I remember doing a project on him in Grade 4. I am interested in history generally so this is just part of a broader interest – the personal portion of a bigger interest.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

That’s really hard. What I do find is that there are some I feel a connection to, and others who are just names and dates. Two are not direct ancestors, but relatives. One is Walter Scott Caldwell, my grandfather’s cousin. His story is so sad. He was so very young when he went to the other side of the world and somehow set up a life and got married only to end up dying in France just a few months before the end of the first world war. His wife was pregnant when he left, and the baby died shortly after birth. I would love to know more about him but doubt that there is much more to find.

He was likely named after his uncle, Walter Scott. Walter was one of a large family, and son of Sarah Scott (another favorite, because she seemed to take all the orphans from the extended family living in the Liverpool slums). Walter seemed to be something of a hope for the family, somehow getting work as a stockbroker’s clerk (at age 19 in the 1861 census). By 1871 he was blind and was a music teacher. In 1881 he was living alone. He must have been quite a person to do this in that context and I would love to know how he came to learn to play an instrument and become a teacher. From a research point of view, the blind music teacher Walter Scott has helped me find other family members because of his association with them in the Census documents – names that I would never otherwise have been able to confirm.

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

I want to find out more about Alice Mallison, and I would also like to find out Robert Caldwell’s parents but my most important brick wall is Elizabeth Johanna van Tonder. She is my direct maternal ancestor. I have the U2c1 haplogroup that links me to Catharina van Malabar, but I do not know which of Catharina’s daughters was the direct female ancestor of Elizabeth Johanna de Beer. Would love to tear down that brick wall.

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?

Mmm that is a hard one. I know which historical person I would love to meet though – Richard III –  but not sure if I would have liked to be related because things did not end well for any of his relatives!

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

History as a whole, particularly South African history, Irish history and the Wars of the Roses.

Montessori education and curriculum theory.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing? If you’re  involved in a project(s), tell us about how you participate in it.

I joined in July 2017. I am a member of the Dutch Cape Colony, South African Roots, United Kingdom and England projects. I help where I can but have not been as active as I had hoped because work keeps getting in the way. I hope to be able to spend more time researching next year.

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

Looking for information on my tree, I found that the WikiTree links were way more accurate than any other family tree sites. I love how collaborative people are and how respectful the more experienced members are of each other, and the attitude of extending help to one another.

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

The reports and printable pages. It would be nice to be able to print nice looking reports for one’s own files. The profiles really don’t look good printed. Fan charts would be nice.

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

WikiTree has been invaluable in helping me extend my lines back because I know that they have been (mostly) well researched, and that if a link isn’t there it is likely not accurate. I still check but it is much easier than with other sites. I find WikiTree quite user-friendly (although I know others don’t). I think I have helped by adding a lot of well researched new profiles from my own tree.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Go slowly. Take time to search for existing profiles before creating new ones. I got carried away and created dozens of profiles that had to be merged. Everyone was very patient with me, for which I am grateful, but would have been less confused if I had been more careful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. WikiTree is about collaboration, which is what I like the most.

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  5 Responses to “Meet our Members: Sharon Caldwell”

  1. Hi I have my 23 and me dna uploaded it showed that Ihave a connection to your family tree. My grandmother was Violet Ruby Southworth, her father was Albert Southworth and his father was Charles Southworth.please contact me. I could use some help. I was adopted out at birth but found my mother and found out who my father was through the dna test. I met my grandmother when I was 21 she told me that I am a descendent of the Mayflower.

  2. Could you please help me. I have tried to locate my husbands mothers birth certificate. I have tried so many sites but have come up with nothing.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this member profile. I’m a new member, also with lots of South African connections, and I’m encouraged to learn that there are projects specifically focused on South African history. I will certainly go and look them up. Thanks Sharon!

  4. Hi Sharon! Fascinating profile! I wanted to share with you that we are connected by 30 degrees according to the Wiki Tree Connection Finder. It’s interesting that it comes back to a Stewart relative we both have in common according to the Connection Finder. Try checking your connection with “Maisen-1” and see what you come up with.

  5. Wonderful pleasure to read these notes!
    It inspires me, as a newcomers to keep on looking for my Roos,vs Merwe, de Jager, Preston (Irish!) ancestors. I have found quite a few but the Irish part is stil empty apart from WILLIAM ARTHUR! I made a few discoveries that I would never have guessed. Looking forward.
    Great thanks to all Geneaology researchers!!

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