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.



Waitangi Day – A New Zealand Connection

February 2nd, 2011

This is my contribution to the Waitangi Day Blog Challenge – Your Earliest Known New Zealand Ancestor. While most of my ancestors were Australian based, I do have New Zealand connections like many other Australian families. In a lot of cases this is a mining connection with many people crossing the Tasman in search of their fortunes.

My son’s gg grandfather John Barrow Atkinson went to New Zealand first before being attracted to the gold fields of Gympie in Queensland. I couldn’t find his arrival in the immigration indexes at Queensland State Archives so I suspected that he had arrived elsewhere. Similar searches of indexes in other States was also unsuccessful but initially I did not suspect New Zealand.

The breakthrough came because John Barrow Atkinson ended up a very successful miner, mine manager, entrepreneur and philanthropist with 8 children who all continued to live in the Gympie area. He was featured, along with other Gympie personalities, in The Queenslander, on 27 March 1897 – there was even a photograph of JB!

The article gave an account of his life starting with his birth in 1845 at Calthouse in Lancashire and his various jobs including working at the Barrow Railroad Company and the Barrow Ironworks. In September 1867 he left for the West Coast of New Zealand to try his hand at mining. His first miner’s right for the goldfield of Waimea was issued on 20 January 1868 in the district of Canterbury on the South Island of New Zealand. His youngest son Clyde inherited the New Zealand miner’s right certificate issued to JB Atkinsonon in 1868 and it is a treasured family possession.

However, in 1868 Gympie was being seen as the new El Dorado and many New Zealand miners were moving to Queensland to try out the new mining field. John was persuaded to go too and he reached the Yarrell Station field, 60 miles north of Gayndah in April 1868 but it was a ‘duffer’. He then moved on to the Two Mile at Gympie where he was very successful.

John Barrow Atkinson was probably only in New Zealand for a matter of months but he still left a record of his visit. We are lucky in that we have John’s own account of his movements on the mining fields through the newspaper interview and that he kept his first ever miner’s right. Without those two pieces of evidence, I might have had a hard time proving that John had spent time in New Zealand.

This is true of a lot of miners who spent time on both sides of the Tasman. Suddenly they disappear from one area and you then find them in another. A lot of times there is no official documentation surviving to prove/disprove their wanderings. I hope to do some research on John Barrow Atkinson in New Zealand at some time in the future and at least visit Waimea to see what it is like today.

I have other New Zealand connections but I will save them for the next blogging theme! Thanks for the opportunity to participate.


Mining and Criminal Records in Queensland

November 5th, 2009

In 1992 I successfully completed the Diploma in Historical Studies at the Society of Australian Genealogists. It was the end of an annus horribilus year, my son turned five, my then husband had major cancer surgery followed by chemotherapy, I was working full time at the John Oxley Library while nursing my husband at home and for relaxation I thought I would do the Diploma. Looking back I can almost laugh but at the time the Diploma kept me focussed. Therefore these two theses mean a lot to me and having salvaged them from a Word Perfect format into Word although losing some formatting and style, they are both still readable and informative. The illustrations are not in the document and I will have to scan them and attach separately. Also since 1992 my research has progressed, and some of the questions in my thesis I have now answered. Ideally I will do a sequel but not today. So in the meantime, I have put my two 1992 research theses under Resources on my website. I hope someone finds Criminal Records: A Guide to Sources in Queensland and From Iron Chains to Gold Bars: A History of the Walker Family including the Evans, Potter, Bullen and Atkinson Families, 1814-1941 useful and interesting.

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