A NEW ZEALAND artist discovered a box of old photos during the Covid pandemic that revealed a secret family tree with links to Somerset.

Painter Angela Elizabeth Johnson, who was born in New Zealand to British parents, found out the origins of her family could be traced back to Yeovil.

Angela discovered she is related to a famous artist who was born in Yeovil but then moved to North Carolina, Miss Elisabeth Augusta Chant.

She was a painter just like Angela and was part of the first group of New Yeovil settlers.

Chard & Ilminster News: Angela said 'a quick photo comparison showed a striking family resemblance'Angela said 'a quick photo comparison showed a striking family resemblance'

Angela also discovered that Mary Chant, Elisabeth Chants’ aunt, was the only family member to stay behind in Yeovil.

She had five boys to her Great, Great Grandfather William Raymond, whose cousin was Walter Raymond, the famous novelist born in Yeovil in 1852.

Angela also claimed her grandmother knew about the family tree’s links to Somerset but never spoke about it and she does not why.

She said: “My effort to discover and reconnect to my family tree (hidden by my grandma) in lockdown was a success.

“It's not every day you find a box of photos with family members you don't know the names of but during lockdown this year my mother and I did.

Chard & Ilminster News: One of the photos found by AngelaOne of the photos found by Angela

“Concerned about losing information in the pandemic I reached out to my cousin in the U.K. ‘Do you know who your great, great, great grandparents were?’ she asked.

“Naturally we had no idea because my grandma never talked about her family.

“After she told me their names, I had a little search online... I was soon to discover that my cousin Lisa had unleashed the white rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland.

“I had been painting all my life thinking I was unique in our family and then after one google search boom another artist that was famous appeared on the screen before me.

“Reaching out to The Cameron Art Museum and many historic providers in North Carolina I began the task of connecting to my lost family who interesting were the first New Yeovil Settlers from Yeovil in the UK to Hawley 1873 Minnesota.

“They were first settlers to live and work on the prairies with the Northern Pacific Railroad in Minnesota/Buffalo River led by reverend George Rodgers.

“Curious about this new path before me, I wondered if the people of Yeovil knew this part of their history and what became of the New Yeovil settlers.”