|New Zealand Society of Genealogists, "Northern Cemetery Burial Register, vol. 2" (typescript, Ancestry.com Inc., Provo), p. 414.|
He is about the right age and he was born in Scotland but there are probably a number of other James McKinlays of that age and birth location in existence. What are the odds that this is my missing James? Also, why was this a hint? I've been trying to kick start my research again so this, I felt, was as good as any mystery to follow.
When looking at a record page there is the "Make a Connection" section often after "Suggested Records" block on the right. So I clicked the Find Others link to see who else is doing the research. Two very interesting member trees appeared at the top of the list, both with the same birth date as my James McKinlay.
|Screenshot of Ancestry "Make a Connection" results|
Clicking on the first tree, "Toomey Family Tree", indicated that this just might be the right McKinlay since the owner of that tree had the same parents of James that I had in my database. But was that just wishful thinking on their part or was it backed up by evidence? So I dashed off the following message in Ancestry hoping I might get a response:
"Ancestry has indicated that the James McKinlay, son of Charles and Jane(t) (Finlay) McKinlay, in my tree might be the same person in your Toomey Family Tree. I am wondering if you might have any documentation such as his marriage or death registration in New Zealand that does state that your James McKinlay is the son of Charles and Jane. I would love to be able to confirm that this is one of my missing branches that is ultimately descended from James McKinlay and Margaret Orr."
Within three days I had a response that included additional details in New Zealand and an offer to share information with me. I immediately replied back with my own lineage and details of what I have plus I returned the offer of information by offering to provide a report from my master Legacy Family tree database once I had her e-mail address. That same day, she e-mailed me (I always provide my e-mail address in any Ancestry messages) and I sent her the detailed descendants report, all 194 pages since it includes the citations. The next thing was I had an e-mail in hand with pictures taken of the various records she held confirming James' parents. These included the extract from the "Dunedin New Zealand - Presbyterian Church Marriage Registers, Knox Church, Corner George & Pitt Streets. Register 24 - Mar.1887-Dec.1887." There the extract stated:
"...James aged 26 years a mariner bachelor born Glasgow Scotland presently & usually of Dunedin; the son of Charles - a slater - and Jane, nee Findlay;..."
Except for the variation of the spelling of his mother's surname, not an uncommon issue, this was my James!
What is even better is that I am now in contact with my fourth cousin that resides in New Zealand.
The lesson to learned from this is to always reach out to those researching the same family branches that you are researching. Periodically they will have documents and other clues to point you in the right direction. And sometimes, if you are very lucky, you will connect with a distant cousin!