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

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 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!


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 10 Occupation Records

March 17th, 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 five bloggers who are taking up the challenge 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 WhiteCassmob, Anne and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Campaspe Library Week 10

Sharon Week 10

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

This week’s topic looks at occupations and sometimes what our ancestors did for a living can lead to all kinds of documentation depending on what their job or profession was. I am going to look at my great great great grandfather John Carnegie who was an oysterman. I originally thought that it would be very hard to find out anything about oyster farming.

I knew from land records that John had selected to land selections on Pumicestone Passage near Toorbul and those files revealed that he had a house, garden and orchard on the land. Other documents told me he was an oyster farmer. For many occupations you need a government license so a good starting place is the government gazettes.

For Queensland these are freely available online at Text Queensland: Queensland’s Past Online for the period 1859 to 1900. A search revealed a number of references to Carnegie. For example, in the  Queensland Government Gazette for 16 March 1901 there is a list of licenses issued under The Oysters Act of 1886. In this instance it is a four column table listing employees, licensees, the names of their boats and the number of their license during the month of February 1901. J Carnegie is listed as the employee (this could be John or even his grandson James – it is always hard to know when only an initial is used), Mrs Davis is the licensee (this is probably his married daughter Clara), the name of their boat is the Clara and the number is 45.

Licenses were usually granted on an annual basis so it is possible to check each year for any variations. It is especially useful to know the start and end dates as these can often pin point when someone moves into an area or starts up in the job and when they retire, die or move elsewhere. Although reading government legislation can be a little dry and boring, it can be useful to learn what type of records were required to be kept under the Act and to then learn if those records have survived or were published in the Gazettes or elsewhere.

Where an occupation was monitored by the Government, there can also be annual reports published in Votes and Proceedings which are normally located at the State Library or possibly the State Archives. A search of these publications for the period 1884-1891 and 1900 revealed a number of references to John Carnegie. For example, in 1884 John held two banks north of Ninghi Creek and the inspector wrote that John ‘has gone to extraordinary labour on his selection digging drains and embankments. He has about 500 bags on it’. In 1885 it was reported that he had approximately 1000 bags.

By 1886 John held three banks north of Ninghi Creek and Mr Carr, the inspector again reported that John had gone to considerable trouble with the cultivation of his oyster banks. When John was informed about whelk tingle in Pumicestone Passage, John with his children Clara aged 14 years and James aged 6 years (really his grandson although the inspector would not have known this), collected several cwt of whelk tingles off his banks. John also had stones and stakes laid down for the catchment of spat.

In 1888 John Carnegie and other oystermen in the area were reported to have a large amount of cultivation but few marketable oysters. This was because of a borer, or whelk tingle, which was very plentiful in Ninghi Creek. The whelk tingle pierces and kills young oysters and this was one of the reasons why John’s oyster business started to fail.

Unfortunately there was no more detailed information in the Votes and Proceedings but I did manage to locate a map at the Queensland State Archives showing the location of the oyster leases. This allowed me to know exactly where John’s three banks were located, just off shore from his land selections (which were probably partly under water at high tide).

Another useful place to pick up information is newspapers and a keyword search for oysters, Pumicestone, Carnegie and other key words returned a number of useful hits in Trove. Although there may not be direct reference to my ancestor in some of the articles, the references are still useful in understanding the wider context of the industry in the area.

Most of us have ancestors who had all kinds of different occupations so pick one and then see how much you can find out about that particular person and the job they did. Once you have done that, do the same with another occupation and you may be amazed at how much you can find. I really like having teachers in the family as education records are usually easy to find in State Archives. It really is a matter of thinking what kind of records would be created and where would those records be if they still survive. Anything associated with government may be recorded in government publications like the Gazettes and Votes and Proceedings or in the State Archives.

It may not be so easy to trace people who worked in private businesses or companies but those employers may still have been registered with the government and you may be able to trace those histories. Post Office Directories and Almanacs can also be used to trace smaller businesses and some of these are online. For example, Sands Sydney, Suburban and Country Commercial Directories are free online (and there are other useful Sydney resources free online at the City of Sydney Archives), South Australia at the State Library of South Australia, Pughs Almanacs for Queensland at Text Queensland and Western Australia at the State Library of Western Australia. A Google search will often locate these types of resources.

If your ancestor was in a union then the Australian Trade Union Archives website may be worth looking at.  Another useful website for business records is the Guide to Australian Business Records.

Occupations is actually a huge topic but I hope that this blog post has given you some idea of what questions to ask and where to look to find out more about your ancestors’ occupations.


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 Week 7 – Local Histories

February 26th, 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 five bloggers who are taking up the challenge 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 WhiteCassmob, Anne and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Sharon Week 7

Cassmob Week7

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

Local history often goes hand in hand with family history as our ancestors were very much a part of the communities in which they lived. I have always looked for local histories for areas they lived in and this also includes any church or school histories or anniversary celebrations. Quite often there has been direct references to my families and if I am lucky, a relevant photo or two.

However like all resources, anything we find in a published history should still be checked for accuracy. Many older histories do not cite their sources and it can be very hard to trace where a particular story has come from. In one instance, locals told me not to buy the local history because there were so many mistakes in it (which was a bit sad as I am sure that a lot of hard work went into producing the publication). I still purchased the book as there were lots of references to my families but there was no bibliography, no footnotes or end notes, no list of sources and the index was more a contents list. The acknowledgements was a long list of people and I suspect that the book was written more from an anecdotal perspective than a records perspective.

People’s memories of an area will differ according to their individual perspectives but they should still be considered as these memories may not be recorded in any other source and may supplement the official records. For example, Clara Bishop (nee Carnegie) was my great great grandmother’s sister and Clara told a story to one of her nieces that was then published in a local history, From Spear to Musket 1879-1979 Caboolture Centenary: stories of the area once controlled by the Caboolture Divisional Board.

Clara’s first husband was Charles Davis and with him she had two sons Alexander (Alec) Thomas Davis and John Carnegie Davis. According to this account Alec died of black flu when it reached the isolated settlements along Pumicestone Passage shortly after World War One. Apparently the authorities in Caboolture refused to handle the body unless it was closely wrapped to prevent contagion and this was reported from several sources (but unfortunately these sources are not cited). Clara then sewed her son’s body in a sail and drove her spring cart along the bush track into Caboolture in the dead of night and left the body in Carmody’s buggy shed to await a doctor’s certificate. The writer goes on to say ‘that the buggy shed served as a morgue more than once, but that night it must have covered human grief and human courage beyond mortal measure’.

So how much of Clara’s story is true? She would have been remembering it many years later and the niece similarly would have been remembering what was said many years later again for the history. As other sources are referred to but not cited we cannot check them either. One obvious source to check is Alec’s death certificate.  He died in May 1919 aged 26 years with cause of death given as oedema of brain and a note that he had a skull injury a few months ago from shrapnel. There was a circular portion of his skull about two inches in diameter that was uncovered by bone and bulging and that he had a blow of his head shortly before his death but on the other side of his skull.

It appears that Alec received his head wound in the last months of the war and was sent home where he somehow hit his head again and this possibly aggravated his existing injuries leading to his death. Clara’s grief must have been two fold – she would have worried about Alec the whole time he was away at war and then to lose him shortly after his return must have been terrible for her. She probably did have to take his body into Caboolture because of Toorbul’s isolation.

A search of Trove in the Brisbane Courier in 1919 for black flu reveals no entries, although a search for influenza reveals many entries. There are reports in April and early May 1919 that Queensland is still clear of the epidemic so it is unlikely that Alec had the black flu when he died on 5 May and it is not mentioned on his death certificate. However after May 1919 there were influenza cases in Queensland and in retrospect perhaps his death became associated with the epidemic although in reality he died just before it began.

With access to today’s online resources we can revisit the stories in local histories and check for accuracy and supporting evidence. They say do not judge a book by its cover – so too do not accept the contents as fact without supporting evidence. There will probably be some elements of truth but the facts may also be obscured by the mists of time. Why not see if there is a local history (or two) written about the area where your ancestors lived? You might be surprised at what you discover.


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations)

January 21st, 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). 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 two bloggers who are taking up the challenge 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 and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Sharon – Probates (wills and administrations), Judy Webster 10 Tips for Wills, Intestacies and Probates

Links to Week 1 Military Medals, Week 2 Internal Migration

Week 3 Probates (wills and administration)

Not too many of my ancestors left wills and even if they did, it was usually a  basic will leaving everything to their spouse. However you should always look for a will or an intestacy (administration) just in case there is something interesting to find.

My great great grandmother Elizabeth Rosewarne married twice and had children to both James Henry Trevaskis and George Guy. When she died in 1904, her will caused some ill feeling in the family as it only named her two sons James Henry Guy and George Guy. Her daughter Dorcas Trevaskis and son John Trevaskis were not mentioned and they individually visited a solicitor with their suspicions about the will. The executors were their two half brothers and the beneficiaries under the will. The executors eventually gave consent for Dorcas and John to examine the will and no further action was noted on file.

Now before you all start thinking that perhaps Elizabeth was a very wealthy woman, she was not but just over £535 was a sizeable estate for that time. Elizabeth had some mining homestead leases with improvements, furniture, horses, buggy and carts, money in two Australian Joint Stock Bank fixed deposit accounts and 40 mixed fowls. This inventory gave me the exact location of their mining leases and I would never have known about the fowls if the estate had not been so detailed.

Administration of an intestate estate can also lead to the discovery of detailed lists of property and personal effects. I have previously written about the estate of my great grandfather Thomas Price but it is worth referring back to it because it is one of the most detailed lists I have ever seen. Coincidentally it was an Australia Day blog challenge in 2012 so perhaps it is appropriate to remember him again on the approach to Australia Day 2014. Wealth for Toil was about his last job before his accidental death at the Wee MacGregor mine in far north Queensland. He died intestate and the Public Curator administered his estate, hence the incredibly detailed list of effects in his tent at the time of his death. I still get a bit teary every time I read this blog thinking about his lonely life.

Sometimes we look for probate records in the hope that they will solve some family mystery. Late last year I discovered that my great great grandmother Helen Carnegie and her second husband Charles Wademore Chick both left wills in New South Wales where Charles had died in 1929. He left everything (a sizable estate of £4018 including real estate and an insurance policy) to Helen and she returned to Queensland where she died in 1946. Helen updated her will in 1933 leaving everything to her sister Clara Bishop or if she predeceased Helen, everything was to go to her nephew Clara’s son, John Carnegie Davis. My mystery remains – why did she not mention her son James Carnegie who was my great grandfather?

So probate records can fill in missing information on a family, or provide details that would not be found anywhere else or they may just raise more questions. Either way, it is definitely worth checking (usually the records are at the State Archives) to see if there was a will or an intestacy. Remember to widen your search time period as not all estates were wrapped up shortly after death. It may only occur after the death of both partners. There may not be any probate records to find but you will never know unless you look.


Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2013

January 1st, 2014

Well known geneablogger Geniaus has again invited the genealogy blogging community to her annual Accentuate the Positive Geneameme. As usual I can’t resist the challenge so below are my responses to her twenty questions. Anyone can join in this activity in their own blog post but don’t forget to let Geniaus know too so that she can link all responses into her original blog post. Write as much or as little as you want.

Remember to accentuate the positive – please delete the statements that are not relevant to your situation.

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was – I didn’t discover anyone new but I did find out a lot more about my very elusive great grandmother Helen Carnegie! I’ve been asked to give a talk about the family at the Bribie Island Historical Society which I’m looking forward too.

2.  A precious family photo I found was – When unpacking all my study stuff in our new house, I rediscovered an old family photo album that was only found after my grandmother died in 1994. Mum, thinks it is the Carnegie family but she is not sure and of course there is no one left now to ask.

3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was – Strangely enough I don’t think I visited one cemetery this year but I have to visit the Carnegie grave in the Toorbul cemetery as I haven’t been back there since the late 1970s. The headstone is now shattered but I have a photograph of it still upright.

4.  An important vital record I found was – I discovered that Helen Carnegie and her second husband Charles Wademore Chick both left wills in New South Wales so I happily sent away for them. While the documents answered some questions, they raised yet more questions which is often the way in genealogy.

5.  A newly found family member who shared - A number of distant cousins on various family lines contacted me throughout the year, mainly finding me via Google and my blog posts on the families. It does pay to advertise!

6.  A geneasurprise I received was - After moving to Bribie Island we discovered that Max also had family connections to the area through his Burstow and Eldridge families (his mother’s side).

7.   My 2013 blog post that I was particularly proud of was – As voluntary national coordinator for National Family History Month I did quite a bit of blogging to help promote NFHM. Perhaps the post I am most proud of is the National Family History Month Launch 2013 blog as I outlined some of the changes I have introduced to this annual event each August.

8.   My 2013 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was – For NFHM I drew up a list of 31 genealogy activities for researchers and 31 activities for genealogy and family history societies and these blogs attracted a lot of attention (to see all four blogs scroll through the August 2013 archive). Also Diary of an Australian Genealogist was selected by the National Library of Australia to be archived in their Pandora web archive reflecting the interest in that blog.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was – I have bought a new piece of technology that allows me to plug into my laptop and then hear directly into my hearing aids, which avoids echoes and other background noises I was picking up when just using speakers or headphones.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was – I still like Twitter for instant news but I find I am also picking up useful information from Facebook posts by my genealogy friends.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was - I really learnt a lot from Paul Milner‘s presentations on the 3rd genealogy cruise with Unlock the Past. He gave some brilliant talks.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to - I went out to Chinchilla in western Queensland with Sue Reid from the Queensland Family History Society to give a one day seminar. We both gave two talks each (mine was on Trove and Google for Genealogy and Sue’s two talks were on online newspapers). Small groups in rural and regional areas don’t often have the opportunity to get experienced speakers so it was really good that the Chinchilla Family History Group received financial support from their local council to make the trip possible.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was - I have had a series of articles published in Irish Lives Remembered and I have also had some pieces published in Inside History Magazine. I really enjoy writing!

14. I taught a friend how to – use an IPad. I’m self taught and when my local library ran a free ‘how to use your IPad’ I went along and learnt a few more things but I’m sure there is even more that I can use my IPad for!

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was – In the raffle at the NSW/ACT Association of Family History Societies genealogy conference in Canberra I won a copy of Geoff Rasmussen’s new book on Digital Imaging Essentials: Techniques and Tips for Genealogists and Family Historians. This has been useful in my project to scan all my photos and documents (an ongoing project)!

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was – The National Film and Sound Archive. While in Canberra for the Australian Society of Archivists conference I had the opportunity to visit the NFSA for the first time since I left Canberra in 2003. It has some amazing records and memorabilia.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was – Since moving to Bribie Island I have been reading some of the local history books on the area. When researching families, you also have to look at what else was happening in the local community at the same time.

18. It was exciting to finally meet - I would have to say the overseas speakers on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise mentioned above in 11 above. They were all easy to talk too and of course the cruise brought a lot of good Australian and New Zealand speakers together too, although most of them I’ve known for many years.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was – I don’t really think you can go past a genealogy cruise – all you have to do is shower, dress and toddle off to the lectures with no cooking, housework etc to distract you!

20. Another positive I would like to share is – technology and the internet just keeps on getting better and better and more and more archives and libraries are making new indexes and digitised records available. It really is essential to revisit your research and check out what’s new. Roll on 2014, I’m looking forward to more exciting genealogy discoveries.


Genealogy Aspirations 2014

December 23rd, 2013

This year has gone incredibly fast! It has been busy with settling into our new home on Bribie Island and doing some travel as usual. Regular readers will know that I like to review my genealogy goals at the end of a year and to set myself some new genealogy goals for the coming year. So how did I go with my Genealogy Aspirations 2013?

The five aspirations (in brief) were:

1. As I unpack to identify and list tasks to help keep my goal of scanning and rehousing photographs and family heirlooms progressing. I’m happy to say that I did manage to do some scanning and rehousing but it always takes longer to do than you think.

2. The Burstow one name study – to get organised so that I can answer any queries from others interested in the name and to set up my profile on the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS) website. I managed to set up some spreadsheets for the UK census and some other miscellaneous records in Australia and I received one query on the name via the GOONS website.

3. My Norwegian ancestors (the Gunderson line goes back to 1688) – researching more about their culture and where they came from. Sadly, this was the aspiration that got away!

4. As we now live on Bribie Island across from where my Scottish ancestors (Carnegie) were oyster farmers in Pumicestone Passage, to re-look at their files. I have been re-looking at this family and discovered new information. I’ve been asked to speak about the family’s history at the March 2014 meeting of the Bribie Island Historical Society so that will definitely focus my thoughts as I prepare for the talk.


5. Finally to get back to blogging on a more regular basis – both my SHHE Genie Rambles blog and my Diary of an Australian Genealogist were a bit haphazard in 2012. Again I was not as active here as I would have liked but I really did achieve this goal during National Family History Month (NFHM). I was the new voluntary national co-ordinator and I suspect that is where a lot of my spare time went this year. One big plus here was that Diary of an Australian Genealogist was selected by the National Library of Australia to be archived into Pandora, accessed via the archived web sites section of Trove which was a thrill and an honour.


As usual there were other genealogy related things that arose during the year to capture my attention. Perhaps the most time consuming (outside of NFHM) were two new research guides for Unlock the Past which are due out in January 2014, just in time for the fourth UTP genealogy cruise. I also attended a number of meetings in Canberra of the National Archives of Australia‘s advisory committee for the centenary of World War One and it has been really interesting being part of that committee and I am looking forward to the 2014 meetings.


Now to my Genealogy Aspirations for 2014


1. I have to keep the scanning of photographs and documents at the top of the list (I am very much an out of sight out of mind person). Now that we live in Paradise and all its distractions, I do not want to be tied down to any fixed timetable but perhaps three hours  a week, which would be 156 hours for the year. That might even finish the job!


2. My Burstow one name study will continue (one name studies are actually never ending) but one thing I do want to try this coming year is to do some family reconstructions if I can. It is not an essential part of a one name study but one that intrigues me, especially for the name here in Australia.


3. Each year I try and focus on at least one of my families so in 2014 it will be my Irish families (Finn and Fegan from Wicklow; Jeffers from Armagh and Johnston from Cavan). There are lots of new resources for Ireland so maybe I can finally push these lines further back or at least learn more about the families they left behind when they came to Australia.


4. As well as new resources, there are new ways of doing genealogy and catching up with long lost relatives. My friend Geniaus has started having Google+ hangouts but so far I’ve been hesitant to join in as I’m not that techy but like all new things it is just a matter of learning how to do them! Often easier said than done. So 2014 will be my year to try (and probably like) some of these new social media events.


5. I am not sure if organising National Family History Month on a voluntary basis is a personal aspiration but it will take up my time and I do want to make it even more successful than 2013, so I have included it here. Although it is only during the month of August, there is lots of planning and organising through out the year. Plus it is a great chance to work with my genealogy friends and colleagues to help spread the word about the joys of chasing your ancestors!


My 2014 genealogy aspirations are listed – wish me luck!





Looking at the Irish & Immigration with GSQ

July 1st, 2013

I’m back home after attending the Genealogical Society of Queensland‘s annual seminar in Brisbane. This year the theme was Irish in the morning and Immigration in the afternoon. It was the first genealogy seminar I’ve been to since February (which is almost like a drought for me) and it was good to be back chatting to old friends and swapping information.

The day started with Dr Jennifer Harrison talking about 19th century Irish arrivals in Queensland and Jennifer’s slides were available as a handout. After a brief look at the history of Irish emigration (I was surprised that 85% went to North America and only 15% to Australian and New Zealand, I would have thought more down under as we all seem to have at least one Irish ancestor), Jennifer pointed out that not everyone came direct to Queensland and it was a good reminder of the trans Tasman link and also inter-colonial movement. However, there were a number of immigration schemes in the 1860s which did bring Irish direct to Queensland including the Queensland Immigration Society run by Bishop Quinn. Also of interest were the History & Society series on Irish counties published by Geography Publications, Dublin. To finish there was a brief mention of St Patrick’s day and past parades.

Next session was Saadia Thomson-Dwyer talking on Irish in the Archives and I think Saadia mentioned just about every series held in Queensland State Archives as they can be found in most records including immigration, occupational records, wills and intestacies, prisons, hospital records and so on. I was particularly interested in the Imperial Pensions 1898-1912 for various country towns in Queensland.

The final session before lunch was Val Blomer from the Convict Connections group of GSQ talking about deliberate arson by Irish women in order to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). I was fascinated by the number of times Val reported that the reason they had committed the crime was to join a father, mother or other family member already in VDL. I suppose you can see transportation as a means of emigration especially if they didn’t fit the criteria for the various emigration schemes. Val had a handout summarising her talk.

During lunch I managed to chat with Stephanie Ryan, genealogy librarian at State Library of Queensland, Helen Smith an Unlock the Past regular speaker, and various other old friends and time went very quickly.

After lunch Greg Cope from National Archives of Australia, Brisbane office gave a very interesting talk on immigration journeys using five case studies. The first was Joseph Gantz the inventor of the Volkswagen and I found his story fascinating. Other stories were Ernest Sung Wee, Bas Lie, Wolf Klaphake and Princess Ubangi, an African pygmy woman which was another really interesting story. NAA’s Destination Australia website is the place to go for post WW2 migrant stories and you can even add your own (if applicable). Greg gave out a handout of his slides.

Dave Obee was next with a talk on Destination America and how to research people who went to the United States and Canada and this was of interest to me as I have a couple of ancestors who went to both places although their children came to Queensland. I was struck by how much Dave’s talk was mirroring my own. For example using subscription sites and the need to do multiple searches on spelling variations and I particularly liked his ‘check the original image not just the index’. How true! Dave had a handout which summarised his talk.

My talk on 19thC immigration and where to look was the last session and as usual I have put the slides up on the Resources page of my website. Scroll down to Presentations. To highlight some of the difficulties in locating people, I used examples from my own family history (my Carnegie, Gunderson, Rosewarne and Trevaskis families) and how I finally found the name of the ship, or at least found possibilities to follow up. I have one ancestor whose arrival is still a bit of a mystery.

It was a great day and went very quickly. The goodie bag had the program, a notebook and pencil, an Ancestry.com.au handy magnifier, a bookmark from Queensland State Archives, and brochures from NAA and a Vroom badge highlighting another NAA iniative which I suspect not too many people know about. Other brochures I picked up included the Adopt a Digger project, Unlock the Past’s 4th genealogy cruise brochure, Gould Genealogy & History leaflets, State Library of Queensland’s what’s on catalogue and Inside History‘s postcard. It is good to see sponsors supporting genealogy seminars like this.

As usual I’ve now got a list of things to follow up and I’m sure all the other attendees have too. Thanks to GSQ for the smooth organisation on the day which also included morning and afternoon tea and a delicious lunch. Can’t wait for the next one!


Genealogy Aspirations 2013

December 30th, 2012

Regular readers of this blog will know that each year I like to review the genealogy goals I set myself at the beginning of a year and then set new goals for the coming year. There has been varying success over the last three years but 2012 was definitely more challenging. Our sudden, although expected decision to relocate from Victoria, threw the second half of the year into chaos as most of my genealogy material was in storage and we were living in a caravan.

At the time of writing this blog we expect to move into our new home in mid January and I’m expecting it will take us a while to reestablish ourselves. Plus we have the genealogy cruise to Noumea and Fiji in February, a personal family holiday to Bali in March and we are going to the Ulysses 2013 AGM in Maryborough in April. So realistically I should only be planning on six months of ‘real’ time for my genealogy research.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! How did I go with 2012 goals? These were set out in my Genealogy Aspirations Reviewed and Renewed 2012 actually written on 13 January 2012 so I started the year a bit behind!

My 2012 aspirations and a brief result were:

1. Write up my mother’s Price family history, including photographs and other illustrations in time for her 78th birthday – not quite achieved, progress made on scanning images but now looking more likely for Mum’s 80th in 2014.

2. Do another DNA test, this time from a genealogy perspective and investigate my own DNA – just never got to this one and to be honest, not really sure that I’m into DNA that much at this stage.

3. Learn more about my Norwegian ancestors – I already know the basics from parish registers and census records but not the history and culture of Norway – another never quite got to it but still of interest.

4. Continue to scan photographs and documents so that I have digital copies as well as original copies and maintain a backup regime for both – this went into overdrive once we sold the house but there was still a lot still to do when I boxed everything up to go into storage. Will resume once I have unpacked everything and re-organised my new study which has purpose built shelving and bookcases (lucky me).

5. Conserve and preserve family heirlooms I have collected ensuring they are boxed and stored appropriately – during the packing up of the house, I realised just how much more ‘family’ material I have scattered around the house. So another goal to continue once we unpack again.

Of course there were other genealogy related things I achieved in 2012 which weren’t on the above list. A long time desire was to start a one name study but I just hadn’t decided which name. In Deniliquin, New South Wales at the genealogy muster I finally took the plunge and signed up for a Burstow one name study which I’m pleased to say I have been working on. I now have a spreadsheet with Burstow information for Australia and England and a very preliminary finding is that most of the Burstows in  Australia are descended from the one family.

Now for 2013 Aspirations.

1. Aspirations 4 and 5 above are very similar so I’m rolling them into one and as I unpack in the new house I’ll try and identify and list tasks to help keep this goal of scanning and rehousing progressing.

2. The Burstow one name study is also a priority and I need to get organised so that I can answer any queries from others interested in the name. I also need to set up my profile on the Guild of One-Name Studies website.

3. My Norwegian ancestors (Gunderson) – researching more about their culture and where they came from. The line goes back to 1688 so that’s lots of Norwegian history.

4. Now that we are living on Bribie Island, my Scottish ancestors (Carnegie) who were oyster farmers in Pumicestone Passage have again captured my attention and I’m looking forward to rediscovering my files on them during the unpack. It’s been over 30 years since I did that research so there must be new material to discover!

5. Finally I want to get back to blogging on a more regular basis – both my SHHE Genie Rambles blog and my Diary of an Australian Genealogist were a bit haphazard with all our travels and the big move. Blogging and participating in various blogging challenges forces me to write up some of those family stories and share them with others. Reading other peoples’ blogs not only helps me to learn about new things but also inspires me to do the same for my ancestors.

Well that’s my five key genealogy goals for 2013 – wish me luck!


Search