Re-United After 140 Years

My Great Grandmother, Annie Elizabeth Potter, had an older step brother named John Potter. He was born 1843 in Liverpool. John had two sons:

William Henry Potter            born Birkenhead 1865

Jonathan Wilfred Potter     born Birkenhead 1868

John died on the maiden voyage of the Carmania in 1874. The two boys were orphaned and placed in the Liverpool Seaman’s Orphan Institution.

Liverpool Seaman’s Orphanage


I was able to trace and identify a Great Granddaughter of Johnathan Wilfred Potter. She was Sandra Hamlett (nee Potter) and although born in England, she is now living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Sandra and I were kindred spirits with great enthusiasm for family history. Together we have explored our ancestry and family stories. I hope to publish more of these stories in the coming months.

Descendants of William Henry Potter proved much more elusive. Eventually. I found a ten-year-old message on a chat forum from a Ginger Schuler in Delaware, USA. She had been looking for the family of her Great Grandfather, William Potter born during the 1860s in Birkenhead.


I tried contacting Ginger but to no avail. I persisted for two years using various means. In my efforts to make contact I tried to reassure her that this was not a scam. Eventually Ginger responded. Her sources were an old family bible and stories passed down. One story told of how her Great Grandfather and another boy ran away from a “Boys School” in England, stowed away on a transatlantic ship and swam ashore near the coast of Delaware.

We all agreed the story, although incredible, was plausible. Both Sandra and Ginger continued to correspond and developed a strong friendship, both having closed the circle on their family stories. Unfortunately, Ginger passed away in 2016. I never met Ginger (Maryan Virginia Schuler Nichols) but she appeared very caring, family orientated and fun.


Before she died, Ginger and her daughter Jodi, undertook  DNA tests.

Guess what……

…they were a match for Sandra Hamlett.

The story is no longer just plausible, it is now highly probable.





Sunshine Coast


  1. Anonymous

    Hi there if u were related too sandra hamlett u are related too me i am her youngest son christopher hamlett

    • samkendal

      Hi Chris. Its me Sam Kendal. This is part of my website. Sam