Archive for November, 2011

Genealogy Cruising Day One at Sea

November 23rd, 2011

It was great to see so many people turn up for my talk At Sea Then and Now and I appreciated the feedback throughout the day as I kept running into other Unlock the Past cruisers (now easily identifiable by our lanyards and name tags). Also interesting to see how many others on board also ask about what we are doing – so many people seem to be doing genealogy or are interested in it.

Although I missed Chris Paton’s session on Discover Scottish Family History (having heard it before) I know he has the URLs that he mentions on his website Scotland’s Greatest Story so have a look there for some great resources and links.

After lunch Perry McIntyre’s talk was a great introduction to The Convict Irish and I particularly liked Perry’s approach of trying to get people thinking about why their ancestors did things and where they had come from and so on. She highlighted books published by Irish Wattle along with many others, Irish newspapers available via the National Library of Australia‘s E-Resources, her own book Free Passage: The Reunion of Irish Convicts and Their Families in Australia 1788-1852 published by Anchor Books Australia to mention just a few points.

Next was Rosemary Kopittke talking about government gazettes, police gazettes and education gazettes – all fantastic resources for finding out details on ancestors and relatives that you might not easily find elsewhere. There is a range of resources on gazettes on the Unlock the Past website under Resources including indexes and sample pages. Many of these gazettes are also included in FindMyPast Australasia as well.

Lynne Blake was next with an introduction to New Zealand research and I think she gets my koala bear award for putting the most information into any talk but unfortunately she ran out of time and many of her slides were just skipped through. It was really an hour talk but she covered all of the repositories and the various kinds of records you can use for researching New Zealand ancestors. I was particularly disappointed as she started skipping slides just as she came to military records and that was one area I did want to know more about.

Lynne also talked about the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and the Resources they have for members only. Cyndi’s List also has a great list of New Zealand resources, many mentioned by Lynne.

Next was Jan Gow talking about how she uses Treepad to organise her genealogy resources and links and again as time was very short, only 30 minutes, she spoke very quickly and skipping through parts of the talk. What made it even worse was just towards the end the ship’s sound system came on with the announcement about White Island coming up so that put an end to Jan’s talk. I would like to hear it again but without the time constraints.

As White Island was so fascinating, I didn’t make it back in time for Richard Reid’s talk on The ANZACS: Australians at Gallipoli and Gallipoli Today or Perry’s talk on Beginning Irish Research, both talks I wanted to hear. However, I’m not sure that people would have heard them very well as the ship’s sound system continued to give out a history of White Island and a running commentary as we circled the island.

I’m writing this in my cabin at dawn the following day so haven’t caught up with anyone yet to see how those talks went. Hopefully I will be able to get some feedback from those who did go.

For more on what happened at sea yesterday check out my Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog on Day 2 on board Volendam.


Genealogy Cruising Again – Day One

November 20th, 2011

I write another blog, Diary of an Australian Genealogist, and note my daily activities briefly there but for the larger seminar reports, I will be putting them on my website. So for those interested in the Unlock the Past Scottish/Irish history and genealogy cruise over the next two weeks there will be updates in both blogs. I had thought I would do it differently, but the length of this report changed my mind.

Saturday was the first onshore genealogy seminar associated with Unlock the Past’s Irish/Scottish themed genealogy cruise. Auckland City Library is very impressive – modern, multi-storied (with escalators) it has fantastic resources for family history research. The Library describes itself as one of the most comprehensive family history collections in the southern hemisphere and I’d have to agree with that. It reminds me a lot of the Helen Macpherson Genealogy Centre at the State Library of Victoria although that’s a remodelled 19th century building so the atmosphere is different. In fact, the Auckland Research Centre is the type of library I would have loved to work for.

There is a great seminar room, good acoustics and really comfy chairs. The drawback was the low ceiling which meant the screen was not as high as it could have been to allow easier access to info at the bottom of the screen.

The seminar program was mainly Chris Paton talking on a number of subjects with Rosemary Kopittke talking on FindMyPast and myself on Google Your Family Tree: Tips & Tricks. Seonaid Lewis did a tour of the Auckland Research Centre for those interested.

I knew it was going to be a fantastic day as I sat listening to Chris’ first talk Irish Resources Online. While I like to think I know a bit about Irish genealogy and have used all the usual suspects, libraries, archives, subscription sites etc, I found my pen madly scribbling down URLs for sites that I’ve never come across. When I get home after the cruise, I’m going to have to spend quite a bit of time following up my new leads.

In fact there are so many great Irish resources now online that Chris has just published a new book Irish Family History Resources Online with Unlock the Past ($19.50 AU) so I am definitely going to have to get a copy of that while on the cruise.

Rosemary’s talk looked at the UK, Ireland and Australasia resources available through FindMyPast. I have heard Rosemary many times but this was the first time on the Irish resources. Even so, I was still amazed at all the new material that has gone up on the UK and Australasian sites  and there are a few new resources I want to follow up. At the beginning of her talk, Rosemary handed out a four page outline of her talk which made note taking easier, although it did not include the Irish site which is still relatively new.

After a lunch break, Chris gave an incredibly detailed talk on Scottish church records with lots of dates and their significance. I have read a copy of his book of the same name, and heard him speak on this topic last year, so that made it easier to follow.  Those not as familiar with the complexities would have found his timelines useful and his detailed slides clearly explained why it’s not so straight forward finding church records.

My talk on Google Your Family Tree: Tips & Tricks was next and I was pleased that a number of attendees came up and said how much they got out of it. I had been worried that most might have already heard a variation of the talk during the Unlock the Past roadshow last year.

Google makes changes every so often so you need to try and keep on top and although I had revised the talk and noted the Language translation tools needed an app now, I hadn’t been aware of the fact that Cache had changed so was very grateful to my friend Michelle for pointing that out. That’s another reason why going to seminars and genealogy society meetings is so important, you get to talk to others and learn things you might miss if you simply try to do it alone at home.

As my Google talk covers a wide range of Google features in only 45 minutes, I have a slightly expanded version of the talk on my website on the Resources page (scroll down to Presentations) which allows attendees to relook at the slides as they try out the various search strategies and other features with their own family names.

Final talk of the day was Chris on Scottish land records and all I can say is I hope he is planning a book on this topic too.  He mentioned so many dates and types of records depending on the time frame. Starting off gently with a brief look at newspapers and their relevance, he then moved into the more complex land systems and records. I found myself thinking I was lucky that my Scottish ancestors didn’t have any land although I suspect they must have been renters in Montrose!

The only fact that stands out in my mind after Chris’ talk on Scottish land records is that feudalism was not abolished until 2004 – what a fantastic trivia question, no one would guess that!

Gould Genealogy had a display of their ever growing range of Unlock the Past publications, Auckland City Library had a display of their various useful brochures and publications on family history, the Guild of One Name Studies was represented and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSOG) had a display of their publications and non-members were given a copy of their journal The New Zealand Genealogist and a membership form.

I have written previously about the Society and still think it must be one of the best genealogy societies  for what it offers its members in the members’ only section of the website, especially the at home access to the Gale newspapers. In Australia we are lucky to have some of these resources provided free by the National Library of Australia and its E-Resources. It’s a fantastic membership benefit, as New Zealand like Australia, has long distances between its various cities and towns and not everyone can visit the Society’s Auckland library.

It was also great to catch up with Library staff Marie and Seonaid and various NZSOG members who I had met on previous trips plus all the new people I met and talked with during the day. Afterwards a few people joined us for drinks and dinner and I learnt another Google tip which I hadn’t heard of so I’m eagerly waiting for an email with more details.

All up it was a full on day and I have lots of new URLs to follow up and ideas to explore with my Irish and Scottish ancestors. This was only Day One of the cruise/onshore seminars – I think I already need a bigger notebook!

Sunday is a day off (after I finish writing this report) and we will be exploring Auckland while other cruise presenters arrive. On Monday there is another seminar at Auckland City Library with Dr Perry McIntyre and Dr Richard Reid, both good speakers and long time friends so will be great catching up with them (not to mention learning more new things). Can’t wait (seem to be saying that a lot lately)!


Surname Saturday Meme: Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

November 17th, 2011

As a regular reader of Geniaus‘ blogs, I often find myself (lately) doing memes. Sometimes they are created by Geniaus and sometimes she has picked up memes from fellow bloggers. This is one of the latter, and it is a really useful way to advertise the primary surnames we are researching. I have already had considerable success with relatives finding me via my own blogs, so this meme instantly appealed to me.

On his Destination Austin Family Blog Thomas MacEntee has revived Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie’s meme from 2009. Thomas says “Why so? Well this meme actually helps the genealogy blogger create “surname bait” for other researchers to find out on Google and other search engines.”

I’m a bit behind in responding to the challenge as it is a busy (or busier) time for me at present but that won’t detract from the results I am hoping for, which may be next week, next year or even in a few years time. As Geniaus said, it has also made me reflect on my direct ancestors again as it is a while since I revisited some of those lines (having started in 1977) and more recently I have been doing my partner’s families. Plus there are so many more resources available now I really should revisit all family lines.

The instructions for this meme are very simple (although they are US centric) but simply adjust them slightly to include Country, state or county or whatever is relevant for your ancestors.

How The Meme Works

To participate, do the following at your own blog and post a link in the comments of Thomas’ post:

1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:

[SURNAME]: State/Province (county/subdivision), date range
as in:

AUSTIN surname: New York (Jefferson County, Lewis County, St. Lawrence County), 1830-present; Rhode Island (Kent County, Washington County), 1638-1830

2. At the end, list your Most Wanted Ancestor with details!

Shauna’s Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

Following are the surnames of my Great-Great Grandparents

CARNEGIE surname: Scotland (Angus, Montrose) 1786-1875; Australia (New South Wales, Grafton, Queensland, Brisbane, Toorbul) 1875-present

FAGAN surname: Ireland (Wicklow, Rathdrum, Glasnarget) 1861-present

FINN surname: Ireland (Wicklow, Rathdrum, Avoca) 1841-1882; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane) 1882-present

GUNDERSON surname: Norway (Telemark County, Seljord) 1688-1873; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane) 1873-present

HALVORSDATTER surname: Norway (Telemark County, Seljord) 1811-present

JEFFERS surname: Ireland (Armagh, Portadown) 1844-present

JOHNSTON surname: Ireland (Cavan, Bailieborough, Knockbride) 1803-1861; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane, Mackay) 1861-present

JUDGE surname: England (Northamptonshire, Croughton, Brackley) 1799-present

POLLARD surname: England (Northamptonshire, Croughton, Brackley) 1799-present

PRICE surname: England (Staffordshire, Wednesbury, West Bromwich) 1789-1878; Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, Charters Towers, Brisbane) 1878-present

ROSEWARNE surname: England (Cornwall, St Hilary Breage) 1582-present

SILK surname: England (Staffordshire, Wednesbury) 1740-present

SWEATMAN surname: England (Oxfordshire, Deddington) 1798-present

TITT surname: England (Wiltshire, Wylie, Bishopstrow) 1549-present

TREVASKIS surname: England (Cornwall, St Hilary, Ludgvan) 1698-1861; Australia (South Australia, Moonta, Queensland, Copperfield, Charters Towers) 1861-present

WHITE surname: England (Wiltshire, Pitton & Farley) 1640-1883; Australia (Queensland, Charters Towers, Brisbane) 1883-present

Most Wanted Ancestor: I’ve just recently found mine – Elizabeth JUDGE who was really a POLLARD (story here) but I’m happy to have any additional information on any of the above!


Pambula Genealogy Seminar

November 14th, 2011

It’s a long drive (606 kilometres) from our place to Pambula, New South Wales but it does take you through the scenic Gippsland area of Eastern Victoria. For most of the time we were out of mobile phone coverage which always makes me wonder what would happen if the car broke down as towns are few and far between the further east you go.

Even in Pambula I often found it hard to get phone coverage and if I did, it was odds on that the line would fall out before I had finished. This is a long way of saying it is not always easy for people in regional areas to have access to mobile phone and internet coverage. A bit ironic given that I was asked to talk about using Google for family history and online trends in genealogy.

It had been 10 years since I last gave a genealogy talk in Pambula for the Bega Valley Genealogy Society and there were still some familiar faces plus new ones. As well as my two talks, there was Beth Mitchell talking about the Parramatta Female Factory and while I don’t have a direct interest, I was fascinated by some of the family photos she had of various inmates and their families. What I hadn’t realised was that when the Parramatta Female Factory closed down in 1848, it became the ‘new’ hospital for lunatics (Parramatta Asylum). Beth also promoted the Save the Parramatta Female Factory campaign and most attendees signed the petition she had with her. The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct has a wide range of information and links for this fascinating area of early colonial history and heritage.

The other speaker for the day was Christine Yeats from State Records NSW talking about the DVD The Old Register One to Nine which is an invaluable resource for anyone with ancestors 1794-1824 in NSW. When the DVD first came out I was asked to do a review for the Australian archival journal Archives & Manuscripts so I was aware of how useful and interesting this resource is. In the review I mentioned that I didn’t find it all that easy to use, but I found Christine’s walk through using the various indexes and then finding the digitised images easier to understand. Another useful point from Christine’s talk was the relationship of the Register to other records held by SRNSW. It’s on sale for $100 (that’s a saving of $25) until 14 December so perhaps a great Christmas present for an enthusiastic family historian with early convict or military connections!

Christine had a paper handout  of her presentation (useful for the step by step instructions on using the Register) and versions of my talks Google Your Family Tree: Tips & Tricks and Online Trends in Family History are on the Resources page of my website (scroll down to Presentations).

Perhaps the thing I like most about speaking in regional areas is that the catering is always superb. Country cooking is always in evidence with delicious cakes, biscuits and slices and a great variety of sandwiches plus fresh fruit. Not to mention tea in teapots!!

After the seminar ended we went for a short drive down to Pambula South beach (sometimes you can even see the humpack whales from the beach) and we were surprised to see kangaroos (or were they wallabies or both, many with joeys) in people’s gardens, on footpaths and every where else! Pambula is an historic area and many of the old stone buildings also caught our attention.

The organisers did a great job and from the verbal feedback, everyone went home with lots of things they wanted to follow up on. I hope it is not another 10 years before I am asked back!


Remembrance Day & My Two Grandfathers

November 10th, 2011

Each ANZAC Day I like to blog about one of my military ancestors, and this Remembrance Day I have decided to do the same. Neither of my two grandfathers spent much time in military service but their stories are still interesting.

Although my parents were born only a few months apart, my mother’s father Henry Price was born in 1887 while my father’s father John Martin Gunderson was born in 1909. So one grandfather saw brief service in World War One and the other in World War Two.

Henry Price

At the outbreak of World War One, Henry as part of the Kennedy Regiment in North Queensland, was mobilised for war service.  In the event of war, it had been previously arranged that the Kennedy Regiment, one of the citizen-force regiments enrolled under the compulsory training scheme, would garrison Thursday Island. Therefore as soon as the news was received, the regiment’s was mobilised. On 8 August 1914 Henry and his regiment (over 1000 men) embarked on the troopship Kanowna at Cairns for Thursday Island.

After reaching Thursday Island safely, a few days later the volunteers were called for ‘for service outside Australia’. The Defence Act provided that no citizen forces could be sent outside the Commonwealth without their consent, hence the ‘call for service’.  About 500 of the men volunteered including Henry Price and they were then sent on to Port Moresby on 16 August 1914 on board the Kanowna where they were to take part in the capture of German New Guinea.

On 4 September 1914 the Kennedy Regiment met Colonel William Holmes who was based in Port Moresby to prepare the task force to attack German New Guinea. Henry joined the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force on 6 September 1914.

Holmes had been expecting mature, trained well-equipped soldiers. Unfortunately he was disappointed for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the Kennedy troops were mainly young men aged between 18 and 20 years old.  The Regiment had been mobilised quickly, without proper medical inspection and consisted of both trainees under the compulsory scheme (some of whom were not yet 18) and middle-aged members of local rifle clubs.

Secondly, the  new arrivals had very little gear with them and to fight in the tropics soldiers needed mosquito nets, good boots, hammocks and suitable uniforms. There had been no time to provision the Kanowna for a long voyage and she quickly ran out of stores and was given extra stores from the Sydney.

A third factor that upset Holmes was that the Kanowna’s crew were considering mutiny as most of its members had  been shanghaied into service and were not volunteers.  Without the Kanowna, there was no way of getting the Kennedy Regiment from Port Moresby to the attack area.

For these reasons Holmes wanted to send the Kennedy Regiment and the Kanowna back to Queensland.  However, he could not do this without higher authority and before this could be arranged, Holmes was ordered to send his troops off to battle.  On 7 September 1914 the cruisers Sydney and Encounter, the auxiliary cruiser Berrima, destroyers Warrego and Yarra, submarines AE1 and AE2, the supply ship Aorangi, the Parramatta, the Koolonga, the oil tanker Murex and the Kanowna steamed out of Port Moresby.

However, just outside the harbour the Kanowna slewed sideways and halted.  The firemen had stopped stoking the engines and insisted that they would not start again until the ship was going home to Queensland.  The soldiers declared they would stoke the engines but were overruled and the Kanowna was ordered back to Townsville.

Colonel Holmes reported ‘I consider the Kanowna detachment, as at present constituted and equipped, unfit for immediate service and, in view of today’s events …. recommend disbandment’. The Kanowna arrived back in Townsville on 18 September 1914 and the Kennedy troops, including Henry Price, were discharged on the same day.

Henry Price

Henry Price

The majority of the Kennedy Regiment then rushed to volunteer for the 1st AIF and subsequently became the backbone of the 15th Battalion at Gallipoli which went in with 1000 men but sadly, within just a few short weeks came out with only 350 men.

Henry Price did not re-enlist following the abortive campaign on the Kanowna.  For his brief part in the war effort, Henry received the British War Medal.  This simple silver medal was issued singly without the Victory Medal 1914-18 to certain personnel who did not actually serve in the theatre of war. The family story that he participated in the capture of German New Guinea was not quite accurate.

Had Henry re-enlisted, he would have gone to Gallipoli and perhaps this story may not have been written as only three of his ten children had been born at the outbreak of  World War One. The photo to the right shows Henry and my grandmother Alice and their daughter (my mother) shortly before his death in 1938.

John Martin Gunderson

John Martin Gunderson

John Martin Gunderson
Jack, as he was more commonly known, enlisted in the Australian Army on 27 August 1941 in Brisbane and was discharged two years later as a Sapper with the 2/3 Field Squadron on 27 October 1943.

Aged 32 years when he enlisted, Jack’s health was an issue and he served at various places in Australia including Redbank in Queensland, Bonegilla in Victoria and Northam in Western Australia before he was declared medically unfit and discharged.

Although he never saw military service outside of Australia, he received the War Medal 1939-45 and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45.  The photo above shows Jack in his army uniform with my grandmother Kathleen and my father.


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