52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 6 Land Records

February 19th, 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:

Anne Week 6 Land Records

Sharon Week 6 Land Records

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

My families were not big land owners and only and only three of my great great grandfathers took up land selections in Queensland. The State Archives is the repository to look for original land records and in Queensland we are lucky that the records have been name indexed for the major series. Even better the files have not been culled in any way and therefore provide a wealth of information. In the example that I am going to use, the land selection file even included personal letters from my ancestor to the Department.

John and Sarah Finn immigrated to Queensland from County Wicklow with their young son Robert and another son James Joseph was born on board the Mairi Bhan on the voyage out in 1882. Another daughter Rose Anna was born in Brisbane in 1884 but her birth was not registered until 1886 by which time the family were living in Nambour, north of Brisbane. This is a reminder that some births and deaths may not have been registered until sometime after the event.

On 2 March 1886 John Finn applied to select a farm of 160 acres, portion 8V in the parish of Maroochy, county of Canning. The purchase price was £1 10s per acre making the annual rental £3 6s 8d. At the time of selection the land was described as very rough terrain covered with dense scrub which made farming the selection difficult.

Adding to this difficulty was the fact that the weather was exceptionally rainy after John moved onto the land. In a series of letters that John wrote to the Chief Commissioner of Lands  we can easily imagine the troubles that John experienced in trying to make a success of his farm.

In a letter dated 8 May 1890 to the Chief Commissioner of Lands John asked for more time to pay the annual rental as his crops of corn and potatoes had failed owing to the rainy weather. He had been unsuccessful in obtaining work elsewhere. Another letter dated 9 June 1890 reveals that the family were still struggling to make a success of the farm. In this letter John stated that he suffered a broken limb seven months ago and was now just starting to return to his full strength. The injury must have been quite serious as he sold all his cattle in order to feed his wife and six children as well as pay the person that looked after him during his incapacity.

A further letter dated 25 August 1890 shows that John was planning to leave the selection for a few months in order to go and get a job elsewhere. In order to make sure that his selection was not forfeited, John promised that one or two of his children would visit the homestead each week. This situation was acceptable to the Chief Commissioner of Lands.

The Bailiff of Crown Lands inspected the selection on 23 April 1891 and reported that the land was used for grazing and the cultivation of fruit and vegetables.

The improvements on the selection included a house of slabs, sawn timber, iron roof and 3 rooms, outbuildings, enclosed garden, rail fence and gate plus partly cleared scrub. This was sufficient to fulfil the conditions necessary before a Deed of Grant could issue. Consequently on 10 September 1891 John Finn paid £4 17s 6d the final balance owing on his farm and the Deed of Grant issued on 31 October 1891. John sold the farm in February 1892.

While living at Petrie’s Creek John and Sarah had three more children. They were Mary in 1886, Sarah Jane in 1888,  and John born in 1890.  Another daughter Margaret Anne was born in the Caboolture area in 1892 before the family moved to northern New South Wales where their last three children were born – Thomas Ambrose in 1895, Denis Patrick in 1898 and Kathleen Gertrude in 1900. Sarah died 15 months later, aged only 40 years old and leaving a very young family. But that is another story.

Not all land files have personal correspondence in them but you will usually find the application forms (including an ancestor’s signature), maps or sketches  of the portion and reports on what the improvements to the land are. In this example I found out a lot of details about the family’s life that I would not have found elsewhere. For example, I know that John and Sarah Finn were living in a three room house with six children, John badly broke his leg in late 1889 and that wet weather led to his failed corn and potato crops. They were only on the land for six years but thanks to the land file I have a very clear understanding of what their life was like during those six difficult years.

Land records are worth looking for even if you do not think the family was on the land. I only expected to find one of my great great grandfathers on a land selection, the other two were happy surprises although neither stayed for very long. So check any indexes in case there is a happy surprise waiting for you too.

The major national and state archives in Australia and New Zealand are:


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 5 Family Stories

February 3rd, 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 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:

Anne Week 5 Family Stories

Sharon Week 5 Family Stories

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards

Week 5 Family Stories

One of the first things I did after getting hooked on genealogy back in the late 70s, was to visit as many of my elderly relatives as I could. I jotted down the bits and pieces of information they gave me, copied photographs and documents and filed it all away in my manilla folders in my filing cabinets. Now as I work my way through the dozens and dozens of folders, weeding and scanning to reduce the size of my family history records and also to make backup copies and to more easily pass the information on to other family members, I realise that I probably should have asked more and different questions and I should have made more fulsome notes. But that is nearly 40 years of hindsight and we quite often cannot go back to revisit those interviews.

Even after all that time, there are some family stories that I can remember easily. My grandfather’s cousin was Doris Eileen Manville nee Maher and everyone called her Aunty Dorrie. She was good friends with my grandmother Kathleen May Gunderson nee Carnegie so we saw a lot of Aunty Dorrie and her husband Stan Manville. When I started researching she was 71 years old with a good memory and she lived to 99 years. It was from her that I learnt most about my Gunderson and Johnston families .

Her best family story was regarding my great great grandfather Adam Johnston. His wife was Maria Jeffers who was Dorrie’s much loved grandmother. While Dorrie could tell me about Maria, she was always reluctant to talk about Adam but she did tell me that he had simply disappeared having been taken by a crocodile in Oxley Creek which runs into the Brisbane River. I had been having trouble finding a death certificate for Adam but I did not really think it was because of a crocodile. Still I looked into it and there was no inquest and without an exact date it was not possible to check newspapers back then. I even investigated crocodiles in the Brisbane area but could not come up with any evidence of any in the river.

So I guessed that Adam had deserted Maria at some point and had subsequently been dropped from the family history. It was not until 1987 that I stumbled across a reference to Adam in Brisbane prison records and found out that he had deserted the family and failed to pay maintenance and was subsequently sentenced to gaol time. Local court records gave me lots of information on Adam and Maria and some of their public fights and I could see why Dorrie’s generation did not want to talk about it and would have preferred to keep it secret from the next generations. Family stories often have some truth in them and it is a matter of working out the relevant pieces of information.

On my mother’s side of the family there is the story of how her father Henry Price participated in the capture of German New Guinea in World War One. I sent away for Henry’s army record and after a lengthy (9 months) wait I eventually received a two page letter outlining his brief military service. I have previously written about Henry Price’s military service (read it here) but briefly he was part of the Kennedy Regiment that was sent to New Guinea at the start of the war. He was on board the Kanowna whose crew mutinied and they were all eventually sent back to Townsville.  Most of the Kennedy Regiment reenlisted and were sent to Gallipoli but Henry decided he had had enough of military service and stayed on in Townsville. Again there was an element of truth in the family story but not the complete story.

Sometimes family stories can have you looking in all the wrong places. Max’s grandfather Henry Spencer was older than his wife Ada Barwick nee Jarvis and the family story was that he had had another family in England before he came out to Australia. Ada and Henry separated when Max’s father was young and the family lost contact with him and no one knew when or where he had died. The family had lived in Tasmania and South Australia and we looked in both those places and Victoria for Henry’s death without any success. We wondered if he had gone back to England and we also tried to find the family that he was supposed to have had over there.

The truth was that Henry had come out to Queensland as a single man, married twice in Queensland with families to both women and after the death of his second wife moved to Tasmania where he met Ada, a young widow with two children. I had not thought to look for him in Queensland and only stumbled on his death in Ancestry when they listed BDM indexes for the various states. These days it is easier to accidentally find people by simply searching huge databases for them. Once we had his death certificate we could then trace all the step siblings but for a while we were looking for him in all the wrong places because of the family story.

It is definitely worth contacting older relatives and noting any family stories and anecdotes but like any resource, family stories need to be checked and proven against other records. In Adam and Maria’s case it led to a wealth of information in court and prison records which gave me details not found elsewhere. Military records may be quite different from what the family remembers and all too often, those who returned home from war were reluctant to talk about it so a more complete picture may be in the official record. Certificates are probably the records that surprise us most often, revealing unknown marriages or children not to mention incorrect parents names on death certificates and so on. If you still have some elderly relatives out there, now is the time to have a chat and capture those family stories!


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 4 Memorial Cards

January 28th, 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). 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 four 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 this week:

Anne Memorial Cards

Sharon Memorial Cards

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations)

Week 4 Memorial Cards

There is only one memorial card in my family history records but I have seen lots of memorial cards in other family collections. So why include memorial  cards in this blog challenge? The one in my family was loaned to me by my mother’s aunt back in the late 1970s so I am not sure now if the original still exists as Aunty Ivy died some years ago. But I have my copy and it started me on a search for what happened to an 11 year old boy who fell off his horse in Charters Towers in North Queensland in 1900.

The photo of Sydney Herbert White on the memorial card is the only one in existence, to my knowledge.  It is not a great photo or copy, as the original was not in good condition but the words Deeply Mourned and the verse that accompanies it reveal the family’s grief following the accident.

I wondered it there might have been an inquest into his death and I found a handwritten account with numerous witness statements at the Queensland State Archives. My great grandparents Herbert William White and Dorcas White nee Trevaskis both gave statements which told me more about Sydney, their eldest child.  He had been riding to see his grandmother Elizabeth Guy (formerly Trevaskis nee Rosewarne) when the horse was spooked and he was thrown off. Witnesses gave two accounts – one there was a dog and two there was a pile of rags but whichever it was, Sydney fell heavily and was taken to Mrs Guy’s, his grandmother’s house and a doctor and his father were sent for. His mother was already at her mother’s place. Sadly Sydney died shortly after his father arrived from what the doctor diagnosed as a broken neck.

If Aunty Ivy had not kept a copy of the memorial card, I might never have fully looked into Sydney’s death as he was my grandmother’s sibling and I tended back then to only spend money on certificates if it was a direct line or I needed more information on the family to go back further.  Of course these days we would head straight to Trove to see if we could find something on an 11 year old boy’s death.

And sure enough, Trove did not disappoint. By putting “Sydney Herbert White” as a search term there are two direct hits which now tell me even more than I previously learnt from the inquest. There is a paragraph published after the funeral. Like the inquest, it is sad reading – ‘A large number of the little boy’s fellow scholars at the Sandy Creek Sunday School testified their regard by following the funeral’.  The account was published in the North Queensland Register on 3 December 1900. The following week the same newspaper reported at length on the inquest, basically giving shortened versions of the various witness statements.

Back in the 1970s I did find a newspaper account of the accident in the New Eagle on 1 December 1900 but that microfilm has not yet been digitised. So remember not everything is in Trove yet. Perhaps we all need to rediscover our microform skills?

Sydney was buried in the Charters Towers cemetery and his grieving parents erected a tombstone in his memory. The verse again shows their grief – ‘as the ivy clings to the oak, so our memory shall cling to thee’.  I have visited the grave and taken a photo for the family history.  Sydney has not been forgotten and although his life was short, he left many records behind.

This blog challenge is all about revisiting my older research to see if there are any new records and information. Yet again I am amazed at how much more I have learnt about one event. Even if you do not have any memorial cards (although you should definitely ask older family members), there are probably children in your families who died young. Maybe you can find out more about their short lives by paying Trove (or Papers Past if you have New Zealand ancestors) a quick visit.


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)

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.


Australia Day Challenge 2014: C’mon Aussie

January 20th, 2014

One of my favourite bloggers, Cassmob, has issued an Australia Day Challenge C’mon Aussie geneameme and as usual I can’t resist. Anyone can join in and all the details are at the C’mon Aussie link.

CLIMBING YOUR FAMILY’S GUM TREE

My first ancestor to arrive in Australia was: Adam Johnston in 1861 (the only way I managed to get convicts in the family was to marry someone with convicts)

I have Australian Royalty (tell us who, how many and which Fleet they arrived with): My partner’s ancestor Samuel Pyers arrived on the Third Fleet.

I’m an Aussie mongrel, my ancestors came to Oz from: England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway

Did any of your ancestors arrive under their own financial steam? Some came free, some assisted.

How many ancestors came as singles? Four

How many came as couples? Five

How many came as family groups? None although one had a brother already out here.

Did one person lead the way and others follow? Not really, all my families were quite disconnected arriving in SA, VIC, NSW and QLD

What’s the longest journey they took to get here? Only about 4 months as the earliest was in the 1860s

Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place? No

Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive? SA, VIC, NSW and QLD

Did they settle and remain in one state/colony? SA, VIC and NSW went to QLD, and QLD mostly stayed in QLD except one couple went to NSW but came back to QLD

Did they stay in one town or move around? Mostly answered above but they were miners following the gold or copper in most cases.

Do you have any First Australians in your tree? No

Were any self-employed? Yes, mostly miners and farmers and one oyster farmer.

What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in? Mining and farming as above

Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation? No

Did any of your ancestors leave Australia and go “home”? No

NOW IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU

What’s your State of Origin? Queensland

Do you still live there? Just returned home after living in the ACT and Victoria for a decade or so

Where was your favourite Aussie holiday place as a child? We either went to the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast for holidays so I always loved the beach

Any special place you like to holiday now? I still love travelling around in a caravan but I’m past the camping in a tent stage!

Share your favourite spot in Oz: So many places, how to pick just one – probably where we retired to, Bribie Island and it hasn’t changed that much since I first came here with my parents in the early 60s!

Any great Aussie adventure you’ve had? I’ve done an enormous amount of travel within Australia but I always love going to Alice Springs and Uluru, the night sky is simply magnificent!

What’s on your Australian holiday bucket list? There are two places I haven’t been yet, both in Western Australia – Kalgoorlie and Broome, the remoteness is a challenge but I will get there. My partner has been to both so it will probably have to be a solo trip!

How do you celebrate Australia Day? I don’t remembering celebrating it as a child but over the last few years or so, we have had a BBQ and had friends round or gone to their place. This year we have an old friend from Canberra staying the weekend and our new friends on Bribie have suggested they come round to our BBQ so it might be a bigger event for us than usual. It will make a change as last year, and our first Australia Day in our new home, we had the remnants of Cyclone Oswald hovering over us for days and everything was washed out!


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 2 Internal Migration

January 14th, 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. Happy researching Shauna Hicks

Week 2 Internal Migration

Technically internal migration is not a category of records but it is such an important part of our family history research as our ancestors moved around a lot more than we think. Many did not just come to Australia and stay in the one place. We can discover their movements from a number of different sources as my own examples will demonstrate.

Having started researching my family history back in the 1970s when certificates were a lot cheaper (although I was not earning that much either back then) I made it a practice to buy the certificates of the siblings of my direct ancestors if I was having trouble tracing the family. This practice paid off for a number of my families.

Adam Johnston and Maria Jeffers married in Brisbane in 1864 and had nine children. My own direct ancestor was their seventh child Elizabeth Johnston who was born at South Pine, north of Brisbane. I had trouble locating the family in that area so I started buying the other children’s birth certificates.  The first four children James, Sarah Jane, William and Selina were all born in Brisbane and my big surprise came when I bought the next certificate. Fifth child, daughter Margaret was born in Stanthorpe down near the New South Wales border. Another daughter Margaret was also born in Stanthorpe and that sent me looking for a death certificate for the first Margaret.  My ancestor Elizabeth was their next child born at South Pine so by then they had left Stanthorpe. The eighth child Maria was also born at South Pine while the ninth and last child Adam John was born at Sherwood on the other side of Brisbane.

What prompted their move and stay in Stanthorpe for at least four years? This is where occupation on a certificate comes in handy. Adam Johnston had become a tin miner and was trying his luck on the tin fields of Stanthorpe in the 1870s. Had I not purchased all of the children’s birth certificates this period in their lives would have remained unknown (to me) as I have found no other evidence of it elsewhere.

It is a similar story with my Price family. Thomas and Elizabeth Price arrived as newlyweds in Sydney in 1878 and obviously they were not sure where they wanted to settle. They had ten children (big families help when tracing ancestors movements) and the children were as follows: Solomon was born at Caleula, William at Orange, Thomas at Parramatta, Elizabeth Ann at Kiama, Clara at Broughton Creek, Henry at Nattai (all more or less south of Sydney), then George was born at Bundanba (now Bundamba) west of Brisbane, a still born child was born in Bundaberg and the last two Herbert Leslie and Annie Lewis were born in Charters Towers in far north Queensland.

In just under twenty years Thomas and Elizabeth Price had moved up and down the east coast of Australia and without those birth certificates I would not have known about all the family moves.

My final example is my Trevaskis family. James Henry Trevaskis arrived in Moonta, South Australia with his wife Ann and three children. After his wife died, he married my direct ancestor Elizabeth Rosewarne and they had my great grandmother Dorcas Trevaskis in Moonta. Their next son John Trevaskis was born in Copperfield, Queensland  and I would love to know how they made that incredible trip from South Australia, presumably through western New South Wales and up through Queensland. Dorcas married in Charters Towers and died in Brisbane but the wording ‘late of Charters Towers’ on her tombstone makes the link back there. So sometimes there are also clues to internal migration in records such as funeral notices, obituaries and monumental inscriptions.

One way I track these internal movements in a family is to use a time chart where I put all known dates and places for an individual (or a family) in a timeline and often this will help me see a discrepancy or that I am missing a key piece of information. Are you really sure that your ancestors did not move around after they arrived in Australia?

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Sharon (Tree of Me blog) Internal Migration

Judy Webster Internal Migration

Cassmob Internal Migration


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 1 Military Medals

January 7th, 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). 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. Happy researching everyone in 2014, Shauna Hicks

Week 1 Military Medals
Many of my ancestors have been awarded military medals but I have never really taken the time to research what the medals were awarded for, apart from the general knowledge that they received them for their participation in a particular war. This week I’m looking at the Boer War medals awarded to my mother’s uncles and the medals awarded to both my grandfathers, one in World War One and the other in World War Two.

My Mother’s uncles were Solomon Price born 1878 in Caleula, New South Wales and William Price born 1880 in Orange, New South Wales. When the South African (Boer) War broke out in 1899 they were aged 21 and 19 respectively. It must have seemed like a great adventure and they quickly enlisted in December 1899 in Charters Towers, Queensland where the family were then living.

Solomon served in the 2nd Queensland Mounted Infantry Contingent and William was in the 3rd Contingent. They both returned home in 1901 but just under a year later both Solomon and William re-enlisted and joined the 7th Australian Commonwealth Horse. However by the time they arrived in South Africa the war was over and they returned to Australia.

For his service Solomon was awarded the Queen’s South African Medal. According to the medal and clasps roll, Solomon was entitled to receive the following clasps – Dreifontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Cape Colony. For his service William was also awarded the Queens South African Medal with the following clasps – Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal and Rhodesia. Both Solomon and William also received the South Africa 1901 date clasp.

The information from the medals and clasps helped me to learn more about what they experienced while serving with their Contingents and I can also follow up newspaper reports on those battles. A quick Google search will also provide background information on individual battles. This type of information supplements what I have from the military dossiers now digitised and free online courtesy of the National Archives of Australia.

I wrote about my two grandfathers, Henry Price (brother of Solomon and William Price above) and John Martin (Jack) Gunderson in a Remembrance Day blog in 2011 – read it here. Henry Price was a recipient of the British War Medal for his brief service in Papua New Guinea during World War One and Jack Gunderson received the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Australian Service Medal 1939-1945 for his service within Australia during World War Two.

The interesting thing about both of my grandfathers is that neither went overseas but we still have military dossiers and medals for them. So it pays to check the indexes even if you know your ancestor did not go overseas as not everyone who served did. If there are military medals in your family history, try and find out the stories behind the medals.

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Judy Webster Military Medals

Sharon (Tree of Me blog) Military Medals

Sharn White Military Medals


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!





Using the State Library of Victoria From Afar!

October 2nd, 2013

Back in September I was asked to do a guest blog for Family Matters, the genealogy blog of the State Library of Victoria. I’m including it on my website for those who might not have seen the Library’s blog.

When I left Victoria last year for sunny Queensland, one of the places I was going to miss was the State Library of Victoria which has a great genealogy collection. While I can’t personally visit these days, I can still do so online and it’s surprising how much genealogy information the Library has online. Plus there are digitised images, maps and books. This blog will explore some of these great resources.

On the home page under Explore there is a link to Family History Resources which is a great starting place with links to specific genealogy resources. If you can’t attend an event in person, the Library often records the talk and these are available under the watch and listen link. Of particular genealogy interest are the annual Family History Feast sessions which include the Don Grant lectures – remember to check under both the audio and video tabs. One of my favourites is Geoffrey Blainey talking about family history which was a Don Grant lecture in 2010, it doesn’t seem that long ago!

Like other libraries and archives, State Library of Victoria has a range of research guides providing easy access into the collections. Topics include Aboriginal people and family history; Adoption and Forgotten Australians; Australian Colonial Forces and family history; Early Australian census records; Gold miners and mining; Key Victorian family history resources; Maps for family history; Performance in Victoria; Picture research; Publish your family history; Researching your overseas ancestors; ships and shipping; Tracing a person in Australia; Victorian immigration and emigration; What happened when and World War One: Researching soldiers. As you can see, lots of topics on all aspects of family history to follow up.

From the Family History Resources page there is a link to the very useful Caring for family history documents section with information on copying originals, storing documents and when to seek advice from a conservator.

On the Home Page under the Collections tab, there is a link to the Library’s digitised collections and as at 2012, they have digitised 43% of the Library’s unique Victorian material comprising 49,741 heritage items and 233,098 Victorian items all online and free. There are a range of interesting resources collectively grouped together as the Port Phillip papers and the other extremely useful resource is the Victorian historical publications digitisation project. Under this project you can find the digitised journal of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria from 1911 onwards amongst other publications.

Searching in the Library’s online catalogue will also reveal all kinds of information available online but I will mention just two. First is the Victorian Government Gazette 1851-1986 which is a vast treasure trove of information and the second is the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) detail plans which are fantastic for locating individual places in Melbourne.

As the previous paragraphs show, the State Library of Victoria has an incredible amount of material available online for free. Anyone with Victorian ancestors should take the time to explore the website, online catalogue and research guides to see what information they can locate on their Victorian families and the communities in which they lived.





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