52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 21 Obituaries

July 6th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records Week 17 Court Records Week 18 Almanacs   Week 19 Family Bibles Week 20 Mining Records

Week 21 Obituaries

This week’s topic is obituaries and sadly I have never found any on my own direct ancestors and I have only found a few on the siblings of my direct ancestors. But even these can be worth looking for because they may have clues that help to confirm your research on a direct ancestor.

My great greObituary Thomas Johnstonat grandfather Adam Johnston was a bit of a rogue (and left extremely interesting records) while his older brother Thomas Johnston was much more respectable. When Thomas died in 1909 an obituary under the heading of ‘Death of an Oxley Pioneer’ appeared in the Brisbane Courier and it even included a photograph. How exciting as I don’t have any photos of Adam.

But it was the detail in the obituary which really helped my Irish research. It reports that he was born at Knockbride in County Cavan. Knockbride is a parish located outside the town of Bailieborough. On Adam’s certificates I found just Cavan and/or various spellings of Bailieborough. Between the certificates and the obituary I had an exact place to start looking for their baptisms.  The search was successful but I have never been able to trace their parents back (yet).

My partner Max’s families were a lot more socially respectable than my families and I have a number of obituaries particularly for his Burstow family. Thomas Stephen Burstow came out to Queensland and became a very successful businessman, a distinguished freemason and even Mayor of Toowoomba at one stage of his career.

The obituary in the Brisbane Courier in 1928 was headed ‘Worthy Career’ and had a photograph of him in his Masonic regalia. There are details of his career, community involvement and his many Masonic  achievements  but what was more interesting to me was that the obituary reported that Thomas and his wife had gone back to the Old Country for a visit. I don’t think any of my own direct relatives ever did that so I found that snippet fascinating.Thomas Stephen Burstow in Masonic regalia, obituary 1928

There was also a smaller obituary in the Queensland Times (Ipswich) and a report of his death in The Queenslander. If someone is well known look for more than one obituary or account of their death as the information in each may be different.

Thanks to Trove we can now more easily search for and find obituaries. When I first looked for the Burstow obituary all I found was the one in the Brisbane Courier, now there are another two reports following his death. Remember that new newspapers are being digitised and placed online all the time so it is necessary to recheck from time to time for new information. Another option for me is to monitor new titles coming and I am ‘patiently’ waiting for a few titles this year!

Obituaries may have information that is not found in official documents so it is definitely worth spending some time to see if something appeared in the local newspaper after a person’s death. I know lots of people who have done a little genealogy happy dance after finding an obituary. Why not try it too?



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 20 Mining Records

June 25th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records Week 17 Court Records Week 18 Almanacs   Week 19 Family Bibles

Week 20 Mining Records

Mining guide coverThis is a favourite topic of mine as so many of my ancestors were miners. It was even behind the decision to write the research guide Tracing Your Mining Ancestors: A Brief Guide to Resources in Australia and New Zealand, published by Unlock the Past earlier this year.

I have Cornish tin miners who came out to South Australia in the 1860s, coal miners who came out from Staffordshire who came out to New South Wales and later moved to Queensland mining for gold, coal and copper in a variety of places and even my Irish ancestors tried their hand at tin mining in Stanthorpe in the 1870s.

On my son’s side of the family there are gold miners everywhere and they are typical of miners everywhere. They moved around starting out in Sydney, then moving to the Victorian goldfields of the 1850s, then to the Gympie goldfields in Queensland before making the big trek across to Western Australia for the 1890s gold rushes.

There are not many indexes to miners but the place to start is with the relevant state archives as they will have the government records and there is usually a brief guide or fact sheet that will highlight the most frequently used resources.  Trove is another place to big up clues as shareholders may have been mentioned in newspapers when mining companies started up. I have also been fairly lucky finding references to some of my families in published local histories and of course, the local genealogy and family history society and historical society are also worth investigating.

Sometimes you can literally strike gold on your ancestors. For example, on 27 March 1897 The Queenslander published a series of profiles on successful Gympie gold miners and included was a profile on John Barrow Atkinson, my son’s great great grandfather. It starts with the words ‘ John Barrow Atkinson first saw the light life in 1845 at Calthouse on the banks of Windermere Lake, Lancashire, England’ and then goes on to tell the story of his life. Without that article I would never have known what jobs he had in Lancashire, nor that he went to New Zealand before coming to Queensland. He also went to a number of smaller gold fields before finally ending up in Gympie where he was most successful.

He married Emma Bullen and his two brothers in law, William and George Bullen took their families from Gympie to the West Australian goldfields in the 1890s. One of my favourite websites for the Kalgoorlie/Boulder area is Outback Family History and there are links to all kinds of useful resources including books, cemeteries, schools, maps, military, people and places. A simple name search of the site brings up references to my Bullen family in postal directories, marriage indexes and cemeteries.

The site  has even digitised some books and then linked the references to the images.  One of Emma’s sisters also went to Kalgoorlie with her husband David Louden and family. Their son Henry was killed in France in 1917 and while I had found his military dossier online at the National Archives of Australia, I had no photo of him in uniform.  On the Outback Family History website section on WW1Soldiers, Goldfields  there is a very nice image of Henry Louden which was previously published in the Kalgoorlie Miner.

I have yet to travel to Kalgoorlie (still on my genealogy bucket list) but in the meantime I can do some research online to complement information obtained from certificates and other government records and family sources.

Although miners can be difficult to trace because they moved around, with persistence you can trace them through certificates, children’s school records, newspapers, hospital records and so on. If you cannot find anything on a miner direct, try other family members including their wife, children and don’t forget siblings. Follow up all clues and hopefully you will learn more about your mining ancestors.



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 19 Family Bibles

June 18th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records Week 17 Court Records, Week 18 Almanacs

Week 19 Family Bibles

Not everyone is fortunate to have a family bible but if you are they can be a wonderful resource if someone has written family information inside. When my great grandmother Elizabeth Pollard aka Judge(see Elizabeth’s story here)  immigrated to New South Wales with her husband Thomas Price she must have been given a bible by somebody. We do not know who but we do know that she brought it with her as the first handwritten note is ‘We land in NSW on 28 July 1878′. They had boarded the Samuel Plimsoll on 2 May 1878 having married on 7 April, just a month earlier.

The next entry in the bible is their respective birth dates. This is then followed by the names and dates of their children who were born as they moved around the east coast of New South Wales before they headed to Queensland. Their first son Solomon was born five months after arrival so Elizabeth would have experienced the first months of her pregnancy on board ship which could not have been easy.

Solomon was born in Caleula in 1878, William in Orange in 1880, Thomas in Parramatta in 1881, Elizabeth Ann in Kiama in 1883, Clara in Broughton Creek in 1886, Henry in Nattai in 1887, George in Bundamba, QLD in 1889, a still born child in Bundaberg in 1892, Herbert Leslie in Charters Towers in 1894 and their final child Annie Lewis in Charters Towers in 1897. Sadly Annie only lived two days.

In 19 years of marriage Elizabeth had left her home in England, sailed to Australia while pregnant, travelled extensively around New South Wales and Queensland and given birth to ten children, two of whom died within days of birth. While this is amazing what I find sad is that the only things that Elizabeth wrote in her bible were the names and dates of birth and death. None of her feelings are shown and yet she experienced so much.

As her children grew up and married and had families themselves, Elizabeth also recorded the names and dates of birth of her many grandchildren in her bible. There are entries for Harry’s children, Clara’s children and George’s children. William and Elizabeth Ann never had children but Solomon,Thomas and Herbert did but their families are not recorded in the bible. Is this because they had moved away from Charters Towers and Elizabeth lost touch with what was happening in their lives? Sometimes what is missing can also be useful to our research.

Elizabeth spent her final years with my grandmother Alice Price (nee White) so the diary was passed down to one of Alice’s daughters, Alma and then on to one of her daughters, my cousin. Alma recorded her children and grandchildren in the bible . It also captures Alma’s thoughts on the death of her mother Alice and brother Cyril who both died within weeks of each other.

Front page Elizabeth's childrenBack in the late 1970s I took photos of the various pages. It was in extremely fragile condition then and to help preserve it for future generations my cousin had a special box made. My regret is that back then I was not a very good photographer and some of my images are not all that clear. I still have the negatives so perhaps I should try and scan them and then enhance the images using more modern technology. Somehow I am reluctant to disturb the bible from its secure storage but 2018 will mark the 140th anniversary of its (and my great grandparents) arrival in Australia. My mother is their last surviving grandchild. Maybe we should start thinking about some sort of celebration?

Family bibles can be useful resources for family history and they can connect us through the generations. If you are lucky enough to have one in the family records, why not think about why and how it has come to be in the family and are there plans in place to ensure that it continues to be handed down the generations still to come.



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 18 Almanacs

June 10th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records Week 17 Court Records

Week 18 Almanacs

I love looking at almanacs as they are similar to directories and newspapers with lots of different information, lists of names and interesting advertisements. Once upon a time we might have used print copies if they were not too fragile or more likely it would have been microfiche or microfilm. This made them less easy to use (in my opinion) but now we have many almanacs digitised by Archive Digital Books Australasia for sale or in libraries, some are available through findmypast.com.au and some are even online for free.

Quite a lot of my research is in Queensland and I regularly use Text Queensland where you can get a range of digitised historical books and journals on Queensland, government gazettes to 1900, The Queenslander and Pugh’s Almanac all online for free. As this week’s topic is almanacs I will confine my blog challenge to Pugh’s.

The exact title varied over the years but most people simply use the generic title Pugh’s Almanacs. The range online is from 1859 to 1927 which is fantastic and you can search or select a particular year. The table of contents reveals how informative these annual publications can be. There are lists of people under all types of subjects including occupations, government departments, community organisations and clubs and country directories. The Ministers of Religion section is also useful as it tells you where various churches and denominations were at a particular time. An annual calendar of events, statistics on just about everything  and Men of the Time in Queensland that year are also features that I like to follow up.

The 186Brisbane to Gympie 1869 Pughs Almanac9 Pugh’s Almanac has a description of the Brisbane to Gympie goldfields route in the Country Directory section. As quite a few of my families went to the Gympie goldfields it is interesting to read how they actually travelled there. It not only gives the direct Cobb and Co route but also other routes depending on where someone was starting out from. This is a great section to look at because it outlines how people travelled around Queensland in 1869.

I have also found quite a few advertisements for various family businesses and even the death of my great great grandfather was listed in the calendar of events. In the 1898 Pugh’s Almanac  calendar of events for 4 June it simply states ‘a woodcutter named Gunderson was killed at Coorparoo’.  Although not much information it does show that all kinds of events were put into the calendar not just major or significant events.

The easBurstow advertisement 1899 Pugh's Almanaciest way to see what almanacs have been digitised (and therefore more easily accessible and searchable) is to check the catalogue at Gould Genealogy & History for the heading Archive Digital Books. This section is then divided up into national, state and territory and then subdivided up into subject categories including directories and almanacs. Once you have a title you can then search on Trove to see if it is held in a library near you or online. Your local genealogy or family history society may have copies too.

Like newspapers you can spend a lot of time looking through almanacs for direct references to your ancestors and background context to help you understand the local communities is which they lived. If you really want to know more about your ancestors lives in detail then almanacs will definitely help you to do that. Why not have a look?



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 17 Court Records

June 4th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge. Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy Webster, Sharn White, Cassmob, Anne, Campaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Sharon Week 17

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records

Week 17 Court Records
Court records are one of my favourite types of records probably because I have found so much of my family history in them. There are all kinds of courts from higher courts such as the Supreme and District Courts to the local courts of petty sessions plus there are licensing courts, mining warden’s courts, traffic courts, police courts. Terminology and court names vary over time and within the various Australian colonies/states and territories which is why I tend to simply use the generic term court records.

It is timely that this topic came up this week as last month I gave a talk at the Genealogical Society of Queensland annual seminar on court records using some of my own family examples. You can read about the seminar here and the presentation is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

Court records in general are not indexed although there may be individual indexes within each register. The easiest way to find out if an ancestor did make a court appearance is finding a reference in newspapers via Trove. This will give a date and place which can then be followed up at the State Archives which is where court records end up for research purposes. Another place for a serendipity find are police gazettes which are available for searching in findmypast.com.au and Ancestry.com.au have NSW police gazettes.

In the talk mentioned above, I used examples from newspapers from Trove and Papers Past (New Zealand), police gazettes and court of petty session records to show examples from my Finn, Johnston and Trevaskis families. I will not repeat those examples here but will instead highlight my great great grandmother’s story.

Aase Gunderson was Norwegian and came out to Queensland with her husband Anders and two young sons, both of whom died on the voyage out in 1873. Aose gave birth to four more children here,twin boys, another son and a daughter. One of the twin boys died aged five weeks but the surviving twin and the other son married and had children. I have never been able to learn what happened to the daughter but I suspect she died young too. If so, within the space of a few years Aase had lost four children and moved from her Norwegian home and family to the other side of the world.

The young family had a farm at Yengarie near Maryborough, QLD but must have found it hard as they sold up and moved to Brisbane in the early 1880s. On 31 October 1885 Aase was charged with seriously assaulting their landlord, William Trieschmann. The family rented a room in Trieschmann’s house and on the evening of 22 October he stated that Aase hit him over the head with a piece of firewood several times without any provocation. Trieschmann’s wife and daughter both corroborated his evidence. There is a quite detailed account in the Brisbane Courier on 31 Oct 1885 in Trove.

The only reason they could give for Aase’s actions were that they had reported her to Inspector Marlow on 19 October 1885 for cruelty to three puppies. Also Mrs. Trieschmann had summonsed Aase for making use of obscene language but the case had been dismissed.

Aase said nothing in her own defence and even refused a Norwegian translator so obviously she was still not fluent in the English language. William Trieschmann eventually dropped the charges. Aase was granted bail as this newspaper report shows (Brisbane Courier 7 Nov 1885 in Trove). It Brisbane Courier 7 Nov 1885 Osie Gundersonmust have been very hard for her husband to find the money and the surety. How traumatic was her brief stay in gaol and her experience with the police and the court, places where probably no one else spoke her language?

I have looked at the newspaper reports and read the court depositions but at no time did Aase explain her actions. There must have been more to the story as I cannot see why anyone would pick up a piece of wood and start hitting their landlord over the head without any provocation. Why didn’t Aase use the Norwegian translator? Why didn’t she tell her side of the story? Why did Trieschmann drop the charges? So many questions and probably we will never know the answers.

Aase died five years later aged 45 years from heart disease. Her two sons were 12 and 10 years old and she had lived in Queensland almost 17 years. Heart disease or a broken heart?

The court records and newspapers all recorded her name as Osie but the Norwegian spelling was Aase so perhaps the spelling reflects how the name was pronounced. What I really found sad was that her death was registered under the name of Mary so at some point she had given up using her Norwegian name. Whenever I think about my great great grandmother it is always with sadness as she had so much sorrow and hardship within her short life.

Court records can tell us a lot about our ancestors if we are lucky enough to find them but the records can raise more questions for which there are no answers. Crimes and circumstances vary but court records are definitely worth following up if you catch a glimpse (or two) of your family in other sources such as newspapers and police gazettes. Boring ancestors do not leave exciting records and I am so glad my ancestors were anything but boring.



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 16 Naturalization & Citizenship Records

May 17th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Sharon Week 16

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates

Week 16 Naturalizations & Citizenship Records

Anyone with European and other non British ancestors should really try to find the naturalization records for their ancestors. My father’s family was Norwegian with Anders (later Andrew) Gundersen arriving in Queensland on board the Humboldt in 1873 with his wife Aose (later Mary). Sadly they lost both their two young sons on the voyage out.  Another two sons and a daughter were born in Queensland.

Shortly after arrival in 1874 Anders selected a homestead lease in the Wide Bay land district and lived there with his family for the next five years. In 1879 Anders applied for the deed of grant and had to provide proof of fulfillment of conditions for the selection. This he did and was granted the deed to the land in December 1879. Part of the process was becoming naturalized and he did this in Maryborough on 20 August 1879, the same date he started the process to gaining freehold title of his selection.

NaturaNaturalization certificate Anders Gunderson 1879lization certificates are not overly informative mainly giving the person’s name, address, country of origin (sometimes even town is included), age and occupation. Sometimes there may be other remarks. What I find most interesting is the person’s signature which is usually written in their native language. In my example we learn that Anders was a 35 year old farmer from Norway who was living at Yengarie near Maryborough, Queensland.

Anyone with Scandinavian ancestors will know that the use of patronymics made it confusing for immigrants and those they were dealing with in the colony. Anders was the son of Gunnar Jorensen so out here he became Andersen Gundersen (dying as Andrew Gunderson). One of his sons was named Gundersen Gundersen later known as Gundah Gunderson. So we need to be flexible when searching for them in the indexes!

Naturalization and citizenship records can be found in the various State Archives and after 1901 in the National Archives of Australia and note that some States transferred their early naturalization records to the Commonwealth while others retained them. So read the fact sheet or brief guides for the State that you are researching to find out where the records are. The information may also vary depending on the time period. For example, naturalizations
pre 1860 usually have more information including the ship of arrival which can be very helpful. Post 1900 records are different again.

While my great great grandfather’s naturalization certificate does not tell me anything new it does give me his original signature before his name was anglicised. It must have been hard for them in an English speaking country and I often wonder how they learnt English and if they ever missed their home country. Very little information has been passed down about Anders and Aose so I appreciate every piece of evidence I can locate about them.

Naturalization records and citizenship records may just have a piece of your family puzzle so if you have non British ancestors, these records are definitely worth a look.



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates

May 6th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge: Anne Week 15

Sharon Week 15

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records

Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates

The introduction of civil registration of births, deaths and marriages was a real plus for family history as certificates can give us those vital clues for moving back through the generations. Of course dates it was introduced and information on certificates varies from country to country but we really cannot confirm our research without these documents.

Birth certificates give us information on the parents and where they were from, marriage certificates also give us information on the parents and death certificates are particularly useful for telling us how long someone was in the colony or state if they an immigrant. Graham Jaunay‘s chart of information on Australian certificates is a handy checklist before buying certificates as it clearly outlines what information is available when.

While certificates can be a straight forward way of progressing backwards, there are traps, both unintentional and intentional. Birth certificates are generally considered more reliable as the parents are usually the informants. With my Irish Johnston family, both Adam and Maria were illiterate which meant that someone else wrote down what they said when they registered their ten children. By buying all ten certificates I was able to narrow down and eventually find the place in Ireland that Adam came from even though the certificates had a variety of spellings for the place name.

Marriages are also considered to be reliable as both parties to the marriage provide the information. But what if either one had something to hide? My great great grandfather James Carnegie gave the names of his grandparents John and Helen Carnegie as his parents which confused me for a little while. It turned out that James was illegitimate and was possibly raised by his grandparents. I still do not know if he used their names to hide his illegitimacy or he genuinely believed they were his parents. A puzzle I am still working on.

Death certificates can be the most misleading depending on the informant. Even family members may give the wrong information or they do not know the required information to start with. I like purchasing death certificates because I want to know the cause of death and to see if any illnesses tend to run in family lines. Sometimes you can get a daughter’s married name and address if she is the informant and if you are trying to trace all the descendants for someone, death certificates help to give you the names of all the children, unless they predeceased the person.

If you cannot find someone arriving in a particular colony/ state have you checked what is on the death certificate in case they arrived in a different colony/state? People moved around more than we perhaps think. My great great grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth Price arrived in Sydney in 1878 and as far as the family knew they lived in Charters Towers Queensland for most of their lives. I purchased their ten children’s’ birth certificates and  was surprised at how much they had travelled through New South Wales and Queensland. Children were born in Caleula, NSW in 1878, Orange NSW 1880, Parramatta NSW 1881, Kiama NSW 1883, Broughton Creek NSW 1886, Nattai NSW 1887, Bundamba QLD 1889, still born child Bundaberg QLD 1892, and finally Charters Towers 1894 and 1897. So for about 15 years they were wandering around before making Charters Towers their home, something I would not have known if I had not purchased all of the children’s birth certificates.

What happens when you cannot find an entry in the BDM indexes? Usually it is a spelling variation and you need to try all possibilities or even search on a given name with no surname and or perhaps widen your time frame. One of my family members, James Phillips, was simply not there and in desperation I purchased the birth certificate of his youngest sister Lucy Lydia Phillips and as this was a Queensland certificate, it was an image of the original entry complete with annotations.

To my complete surprise, it was annotated with the death of the person whose birth I was trying to find. As an older brother James was listed as a living sibling and next to his name was an annotation re his death in 1951. Obviously when he died, the Registrar’s staff tried to find his birth so that they could annotate it with his death date but like me, they could not find the birth so they annotated his younger sister’s birth entry. How lucky for me but it does show that these early annotations can be quite useful.  I have lots of certificates (without annotations) I purchased before digital images and I have often wondered what annotations, if any, are on them but the cost of repurchasing just to find out, is not worth it.

But if you have a brick wall then relooking at your certificates may be useful. Have you obtained certificates for siblings if you are having a problem with a direct ancestor?  Have you checked the witnesses on marriage certificates, are they family members? Do timelines and places fit with known family movements? Are the occupations significant?  Is it time to relook at what certificates you have and are there any pieces of information missing? The cost of certificates can be expensive but digital images are often cheaper so make sure you look at what options are available. Certificates have to be my favourite record! Are they your?

52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 14 Cemetery Records

April 24th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge: Sharon Week 14 

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land RecordsWeek 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames

Week 14 Cemetery Records

Cemetery records have to be one of my favourite genealogical records. There are two kinds of records to look for – burial records and headstones and it is important to check for both.

Headstones can give additional information that may not be found elsewhere. Sometimes there might be a year or exact date of birth, or the place where they were born, or there may other family members on the tombstone, nicknames or perhaps even a masonic symbol.

With tomorrow ANZAC Day I must include Tasman Jarvis in this blog post. He died at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and his death is recorded on his parents’ (Alfred and Eliza Jarvis) headstone in Richmond cemetery, Tasmania. I first told his story in a blog post for ANZAC Day in 2010 – read about his story here. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of his death.Tasman Jarvis, parents headstone

My great grandmother Dorcas White died in Brisbane in 1935 and is buried in Toowong cemetery. It is a simple headstone with basic information but the real clue is ‘late of Charters Towers’. That kind of information can help to confirm it is the right person, especially when researching common surnames. Dorcas was buried with her son Herbert and the inscription for him has in brackets ‘Nibby’ which was his nickname, a fact I would not have known had it not been included on the headstone.

Dorcas’ eldest son Sydney was buried in Charters Towers and the headstone records his accidental death aged 11 years. This clue led me to inquest records and I wrote about Sydney’s story in Week 4 Memorial Cards. Besides Sydney’s grave is Dorcas’ other son Robert who died aged 30 years. Again basic death information is captured but at the bottom is ‘erected by his loving wife and children’. A family missing their husband and father.

While the White family did erect headstones for their loved ones, many of my other families did not. My Norwegian great great grandmother Aase Gunderson’s death was a mystery for many years. Her husband remarried but I could not find a death certificate and after the headstones of the major Brisbane cemeteries had been transcribed and indexed, I knew there was no headstone. My breakthrough came when the Brisbane City Council put the burial records online.

Grave Location Search allowed me to find her husband’s burial under the name of Andrew (Andreas) Gunderson and the entry showed he was buried with four other people. I recognised three straight away as a son, a daughter and his second wife’s infant son. But there was also a Mary Gunderson in the grave and I could not place her in my family. After purchasing the death certificate I realised that I had finally found his first wife Aase’s death! At some point she had started calling herself Mary.

Those with European ancestry will know that many people anglicised their names and while Andreas to Andrew was obvious, Aase to Mary was not and the parents names on the death index did not match what I believed her parents names were. This is why I had not previously bought the death certificate.

Many Australian local councils have now placed their burial records online and it can be a great way of finding out when someone died and who they are buried with. Cross checking with BDM indexes online can also help to identify and sort family information. A Google search may give results for a cemetery otherwise do a Google search for the local council name and then look for their cemetery and burial information.

There are two useful portal sites for Australian cemetery and burial information. Australian Cemeteries and Interment.net and both are subdivided by state and territory and then arranged in alphabetical order by cemetery name. Information provided usually includes online data, transcripts, photos, look ups, maps and further information. What is included varies depending on what information is available for the cemetery you are researching.

Find A Grave is a US based website but there are Australian entries in the database and I was surprised to find that my great great great grandparents John and Helen Carnegie (nee Stratton) were listed. Their grave is the only headstone surviving in the historic Toorbul cemetery. The local council have now put up a memorial listing all those known to be buried there. 100_3550

John and Helen’s grandson James Carnegie and his wife Mary (nee Finn) were buried in the Balmoral cemetery in Brisbane and this is also on Find A Grave. The contributor’s name is someone I have been in contact with over the years as one of his ancestors’ siblings married into the family. Had I not already been aware of his research, I could have contacted him to exchange more information.

These are just some of the ways that cemetery records can assist with family history research. In our global world do not dismiss overseas websites as anyone can contribute to free data sites such as Find A Grave. If you add some of your own family information, you may make contact with someone else researching the same family. Also the major subscription databases also have burial and transcription information. I am sure everyone has their own success stories with burial records and headstone transcriptions but is it time to relook at your research and see what is new?


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames

April 18th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnne, Campaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge: Sharon Week 13

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers

Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames

Readers might be wondering how personal names and surnames fits into a genealogical records blogging theme. I have been lucky with my own research to have unusual personal names and surnames which have given me clues to follow or helped to confirm relationships.

This is probably most obvious with my maiden surname of Gunderson which is Norwegian. Certificates, immigration and naturalization records all confirmed the Norwegian ancestry. Then it was a crash course in patronymics to help me go further back in Norway and I eventually ended up in 1688 in the parish of Seljord in the county of Telemark.

James Henry Trevaskis and Elizabeth Rosewarne are my GG grandparents and both were from Cornwall. Anyone with Cornish ancestry will know that the prefixes Tre (a settlement or homestead) and Ros/Rose (heath or moor) are common to Cornish surnames. James Henry and Elizabeth named their only daughter, my great grandmother, Dorcas and this is a name that appears in many generations of my Cornish ancestry. It is a Greek name and Dorcas was a disciple who lived at Joppa and is referenced in the New Testament.

Going further back in time I have a direct ancestor Hannibal Trevaskis who married a Zenobia Penglase in St Hilary Cornwall in 1731. Hannibal is a personal name that was carried down a number of family lines while Zenobia was not so popular. It certainly beats looking for John or William or Mary or Elizabeth.

So what do unusual names tell us?

Zenobia was a 3rd century Queen of the Palmyrene empire in Syria who led a famous revolt against the Roman empire. She went on to conquer Egypt and expelled the Romans from there too. After ruling Egypt for five years she was beaten and taken as hostage to Rome.  Zenobia is believed to have died shortly after this ca 275. Yet her name lived on and my ancestress was given the name in 1703 in Cornwall. I find that fascinating.

Hannibal was a name I was more familiar with having learnt at school about a general named Hannibal who led his elephants over the Italian alps. Funny how some bits of information stick in our minds even years later. To refresh my memory, Wikipedia states that Hannibal was a Punic Carthaginian military commander born 247 BC and died ca 182 BC. He is considered one of the greatest military generals of antiquity and reading about his various battles is fascinating and he did have 38 war elephants in the second Punic war!

A question that springs to mind is why were Cornish parents giving their children ancient names of military people in the early 18th century? Wikipedia has an interesting section on Cornish surnames but nothing that really explains given names at that time. The Cornwall Council website has a interesting  time line of Cornish history but again nothing that explains the fascination with old military leaders, both male and female. British History Online has Magna Britannia Vol 3 Cornwall and there are some very interesting parish histories in that volume. I may never really know why my ancestors were named Hannibal and Zenobia in the early 1700s but I have learnt a lot of Cornish history trying to find out why.

If you have a really unusual surname then it may be useful to have a look at the Guild of One Name Studies. There are over 2,600 people researching over 8,400 surnames and their variations. One of my unusual names is Peplow and I have been in contact with the person doing the one name study and while they have lots of names and families, none of them tie in with my particular Peplow brick wall. I know the county she was from via the 1841 census but she had died by the time of the 1851 census so perhaps she will always be a mystery.

There are traditional naming patterns in Scotland but my Scottish ancestors do not seem to have followed them but that can be a useful way to trace some families. Scotland’s People has a useful help page on Scottish names, abbreviations and naming patterns.

Have a look at the given or personal names in your family tree. Are there any unusual ones or names handed down through the generations? What about unusual surnames? Why not investigate the origins and history of the names and learn more about the times in which they lived? My research on Cornwall and Norway has given me a greater understanding of those cultures and why my ancestors chose to emigrate to Australia.


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 12 Gazetteers

April 9th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnne, Campaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge: Sharon Week 12

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers

Week 12 Gazetteers

What is a gazetteer? A simple definition is that it is a publication which lists geographical places in alphabetical order plus giving some descriptive background information on the place. Not all that exciting as usually there is no detailed information on our ancestors but gazetteers can provide good background on where and how our ancestors lived and why they may have decided to move or emigrate to Australia.

Gazetteers can also be called by other names and perhaps Samuel Lewis’s topographical dictionaries are a perfect example. Back in the late 1970s I used his publications at the State Library of Queensland but today we can easily find them online for free. Researching does not get any easier than this! No excuse not to follow up this tip.

Lewis published topographical dictionaries for Ireland in 1837, Scotland in 1846, England in 1848 and Wales in 1849. These years are particularly apt for Australians researching their UK ancestors as most of our ancestors came out either before or after those descriptions of our ancestral places were published.

My Irish ancestor Adam Johnston arrived in Brisbane in 1861 and after a lot of research I finally discovered he was born in Bailieborough in County Cavan, Ireland. Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland is in three volumes on the Ask About Ireland website. The entry for Bailieborough describes it as a market town and parish partly in County Meath but mostly in County Cavan, just over 42 miles north west of Dublin.

It had a population of 10,480 with 1085 in the town which consisted on one street with 165 houses. The land is described as generally of good quality with various grains growing and there are several bogs in the area. My Johnston family were Methodists here in Queensland and it is interesting to read that the Wesleyan Methodists had a place of worship in Bailieborough and divine service was performed every alternate Sunday. There was a parochial school, three public schools and 13 private schools. Adam was illiterate so obviously he did not get the opportunity for schooling despite the number of schools in the parish.

My Price family came from West Bromwich in Staffordshire and Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of England in 1848 is available on the British History Online website. West Bromwich is a town and parish about six miles from Birmingham and in 1841 there were 26,121 inhabitants. The parish comprises nearly 6000 acres with about two thirds of the cultivated land arable and the remainder pasture. A considerable portion of land is occupied with buildings, collieries and brick-yards. It is a very old town and its history is given along with its rapid development as a manufacturing centre from the early 19th century. One of the reasons given for its rise was its coal and ironstone mines and this fits with my ancestors working as miners.

Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Scotland is also on the British History Online website and my Carnegie ancestors were from the town of Montrose in Scotland. It was a Royal Burgh, a seaport and a parish with 15,096 inhabitants, 72 miles north of Edinburgh.  The principal manufactures carried on were the spinning of flax and weaving and again this is consistent with occupations given in the census. There were five mills for spinning linen yarn, four driven by steam-engines of 120-horse power and one driven by water. Schools, churches, the dispensary and lunatic asylum are all described and it gives a good description of the town my great great great grandparents left in 1865, not quite 20 years after Lewis’s publication. No doubt during that time the town increased its population and manufacturing greatly.

There is also a Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Wales on the British History Online website but I do not have any Welsh ancestors to provide a personal example.

Online gazetteers can be found by using a portal site such as Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet. This site has dozens of categories but you can find gazetteers in the Maps and Geography section and then select the Locality Specific option to find resources quickly for your research areas. Genuki is a similar portal site for the UK and there is a category for Gazetteers.

By researching the places our ancestors left we may gain an insight into why they left . It can also help us to imagine what life was like for them living in those places at that time. Maps are useful to show where a place is but gazetteers give a much more descriptive look at places and can explain why our ancestors had certain occupations. Context is important in family history research and with so many gazetteers online there is no excuse for not checking them out and seeing what they can add to your research. Happy gazetteering!


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