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:

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 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 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.


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


31 Activities for NFHM (researchers) – The Final 16!

August 28th, 2013

For National Family History Month 2013 I created a list of 31 activities for researchers to do. My blog for the first 15 activities is here.

Here are the final 16 activities:

16 Attend or listen to a webinar
There has been little time for this luxury but one site that I like to check out is Legacy Family Tree webinars. I use Legacy software for my own family history but their webinars are on all kinds of topics (mostly US but there are generic and UK topics too). They are free to listen to live or you can watch them for free up to seven days after the live event. I find after the event is sometimes best as the US times are not always a good fit with Australian time! Watching and listening to them on my laptop at home is easy and I find webinars a great way to learn. You can see upcoming seminars and also archived seminars on the website. I’ve just noticed that two of my favourite presenters are coming up – Dear MYRTLE and Thomas MacEntee – so I’ve just put them into my diary!

17 Read a family history blog
I do this all the time as I have a number of people who I follow on a semi regular basis depending on time. If you are unfamiliar with blogs you might want to look at Inside History Magazine’s article by Jill Ball on 50 Genealogy Blogs You Need to Read in 2013 – some of my favourites are there too.

18 Start your own genealogy blog writing stories about individual ancestors or families
There is free software that allows you to do this. I used Google Blogger to set up my Diary of an Australian Genealogist and I found that fairly easy to use and of course you learn more as you go along. If you don’t want to put your stories online yet, don’t let that stop you from at least writing them in the first place.

19 Have another look at that brick wall – construct a time line of known facts and relook at everything
I find that time lines help me to see any gaps in what I know or what I have looked at. Also write down all the possible spelling variations for any given names or surnames and then ask someone else how they would spell it. Use wildcards. Have you got all the relevant certificates? What about any new resources either online or in print? With new online resources I’ve slowly solved my brick walls but I still have one GG grandfather who doesn’t want to be found! Read Still Looking for James Henry Trevaskis here.

20 Did your ancestors own land?
Land records can be more than just knowing they owned a particular portion of land in a parish. The land files on my GG grandfather John Finn contained numerous personal letters between him and the Lands Department which have invaluable details about the family’s struggle to keep their farm against all kinds of hardships. I would never have found that information elsewhere.

21 Did they leave probate records?
Not many of my people had detailed wills but I did find interesting information in administration files including married names of daughters, addresses and so on. When my GG grandfather Thomas Price died at a mining site away from this family, I was very pleased that his estate was handled by the then Public Curator. The wealth of information in that file was hard to believe and you can read some of the details in my blog Wealth for Toil – Thomas Price.

22 What about their school years – was it one school or did they move around?
If you live in Queensland you are lucky as the Queensland Family History Society have indexed a lot of the school admission registers and school histories and have published their indexes on CD. The indexes are also available through Findmypast Australasia too. I have found lots of information on my Queensland families and was even surprised to find my own name as a list of pupils who attended Bardon State School was included in the school’s 50th anniversary book and indexed by QFHS!

23 Visit your local newsagent and see what genealogy and family history magazines they have. Australian Family Tree Connections http://www.aftc.com.au/ and Inside History Magazine http://www.insidehistory.com.au/ are both sponsors of NFHM
I was surprised to find five newsagents on Bribie Island and I did find both Inside History Magazine and Australian Family Tree Connections as well as a selection of UK magazines. The only trouble is if I see a magazine and it has topics that I’m interested in, then I don’t always resist the temptation to buy myself a new magazine! Of course the local library also has genealogy magazines but you have to be quick to get the latest issues.

24 Subscription databases such as Ancestry and Findmypast are often available at your local council library or your genealogy library – book a session time and see what you can discover. Both are sponsors of NFHM
The content of both of these sites just keeps on getting better and better with new material going online all the time. Every time I use either database I find something new. I once heard a talk by Jan Gow, a noted New Zealand genealogist, on doing genealogy in your pyjamas and it’s true – an at home subscription (or pay as you go) allows you to do it whenever you want and you don’t have to stop just because the library is closing. Of course you do have to remember to go to bed!

25 Check out the Gould Genealogy & History online catalogue and be ready when the family ask what you want for Christmas/birthday etc. Another sponsor of NFHM
Whenever family say ‘what do you want for your birthday’ I can never think of anything but in recent years I’ve gotten smarter and there is usually some book or CD that I want from Gould Genealogy & History. They have an extensive range on just about everything genealogy related so make sure you give your family the URL!

26 Explore the new FamilySearch and perhaps do one of their tutorials. Also a sponsor of NFHM
FamilySearch is continually being updated and you really do need to keep checking and rechecking. I love all the digitised records that are being added so make sure you don’t miss them. Scroll down to the Browse by Location section and the bottom of the Home Page and then browse the collections – you might be surprised what is there and it’s free access. The Learning Centre is also worth looking at (find it under the Get Help link) and I often use the Library catalogue and wiki to see what is available for areas that I am interested in.

27 Join Trove and correct newspaper text after you make that exciting family discovery
My love affair with Trove shows no sign of fading away and only the other day I discovered that the Ipswich Times is being added and there were references to John Finn and his celebrated arson case – the articles aren’t online yet as they are still going through the process but I gave my email address and they will contact me when the article is totally online. How fantastic is that! When I do find articles on my family I put tags on, add them to my lists and correct the text. Saves me having to do the searches again, especially if it wasn’t easy to find in the first instance.

28 Plan to attend the next AFFHO congress in Canberra in 2015 http://www.congress2015.org.au/
I wouldn’t even think of missing the 2015 Congress: Generations Meeting Across Time in Canberra as it will be a great place to hear good speakers on all kinds of topics not to mention all the trade displays where it is easy to spend money with all their tempting goods. But for me the best part of attending Congress is catching up with all my genealogy friends and colleagues from around Australia, New Zealand and overseas. I’ve registered my interest in attending and I submitted two papers for consideration in the program so fingers crossed.

29 Make sure all your photos are identified (both print copies and online) and explore Picasa’s facial recognition capability
This is an ongoing project for me as I am slowly scanning and identifying where I can my mother’s old photos and albums plus trying to tag and caption all the digital photos we take. I found using Picasa’s facial recognition technology easy to use and it certainly helped me to group identify lots of family members once I put in the key information on who people were.

30 Make a start on writing up your family history or perhaps just one family’s stories
Another one of my ongoing projects with drafts done for all my major families. I just need to stop looking for that last bit of information and finish them!

31 Start planning a family reunion or a family gathering
We’ve had a few over the years but I’m thinking of having another one for Mum’s 80th birthday next year. She is the last of her generation and there are still a few of her nieces and nephews around. My brother and I are the youngest of that generation and many of our cousins are in their 70s so getting everyone together could prove a bit challenging but worthwhile.

Well that’s the end of my 31 activities for researchers in National Family History Month 2013. But many of them are long term projects and can’t be done in a single day. I hope they have given you some ideas to further your own research during August and into the future. NFHM will be August 2014 so stay tuned for updates (I volunteered to be the national coordinator again)!





Leslie Gordon Price – A Rat of Tobruk

April 25th, 2012

Today is ANZAC Day and I foreshadowed back in February during the Bombing of Darwin 70th anniversary tour that my ANZAC Day blog this year would be dedicated to my Uncle Gordon, my mother’s eldest brother.Gordon Price WW2

During the bombing of Darwin tour, I met historian Brad Manera and was privileged to have him advise me on a ‘kidney dish’ that Gordon had carried around with him during his time in the army. For years I believed all soldiers had one, but perhaps not as engraved and decorated as Gordon’s. To my surprise Brad believed it was actually an enemy souvenir and because of the illustrations quite unique. I resolved then and there to get Gordon’s army dossier from the National Archives of Australia and within a few weeks of getting home from Darwin I received the dossier.

Gordon’s army record is indeed reflected in his ‘kidney dish’ – all the big battles of the Middle East and New Guinea are recorded as he was part of the 2/13 Infantry Battalion in World War 2. The Australian War Memorial has a brief history of the unit and a listing of Battle Honours including the defence of Tobruk, the battle of El Alamein, Borneo, Lae and the liberation of Australian New Guinea to mention just a few.

The army dossier had one surprise for me and that was Gordon’s date of birth – according to the file he was five years younger than he really was. So instead of enlisting at 23 he was in fact 28 years old although I’m not really sure why he would have changed the year of his birth.

The disappointment in the file is that the small photographs are not all that clear but I do have some Christmas postcards he sent home to family members that have a small photo of him in uniform. I have memories of Uncle Gordon but as a much older person as he was 45 when I was born.

Mum still has the albums with all the photos that Gordon sent home to her while he was away and when I visit her again in June, I hope to borrow the albums so that I can copy the photos and match them up to the places on the ‘kidney dish’ and in the dossier.

In the meantime I am reading Peter FitzSimons book on Tobruk to gain a better understanding of the war in North Africa having read the basics of the Siege of Tobruk in Wikipedia. The Australian War Memorial also has the 2/13’s unit diaries and these are digitised and online so I can really begin to understand what it means to be a ‘Rat of Tobruk’. Lest we Forget.


My Bucket List Geneameme

January 30th, 2012

I always like to try any challenge thrown out by Geniaus especially her Geneamemes and this Bucket List Geneameme is no exception. The only difference this time is that I have found it incredibly difficult. Why?

I’ve had a personal bucket list for years and slowly ticking off various things I want to do, places I want to go and so on. Some of those have been genealogy oriented (indeed most of my life has been defined by chasing my ancestors) but I have never really sat down and asked the types of questions in this geneameme challenge.

So it has taken me longer than other challenges because I want to do it all and choosing is really hard. Here’s my final list. I’m looking forward to reading what others have got on their lists. Thanks Geniaus for another great challenge.

The Bucket List GeneaMeme
The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you would like to do or find: Bold Type
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

You are encouraged to add extra comments after each item
  1. The genealogy conference I would most like to attend is… what a tough one for a self confessed conference junkie but if I have to narrow it down it would be between Who Do You Think You Are in London in February or Rootstech in Salt Lake City in the USA – next year I intend to get to one of them, not sure which one yet!
  2. The genealogy speaker I would most like to hear and see is… another tough one as there are so many overseas speakers that I would love to hear in person, but possibly Thomas MacEntee wins this as I have heard him in a webinar and think he probably does a great in person talk (note I am not devaluing Australian or New Zealand speakers but I have been privileged to hear a great many speakers over the last 34 years)
  3. The geneablogger I would most like to meet in person is… three tough ones in a row – one of the really nice things about social media is that it has introduced me to so many great geneabloggers whose blogs I enjoy reading and learning from – picking from a great field (bit like the Melbourne Cup) I choose Dear Myrtle (on an Australia basis I was thrilled to meet Twigs of Yore at a Canberra genealogy expo and similarly Geniaus at Sydney events, plus many others)
  4. The genealogy writer I would most like to have dinner with is… this is very much like the one before but I will plead out as I don’t like dinner conversations as I find it very hard to hear unless it is one on one or no more than four at the table. I was privileged to have a one on one dinner with Dan Lynch during his 2010 trip and it was surprising how wide ranging the discussion was and how much other things we had in common. One dinner is probably not enough!
  5. The genealogy lecture I would most like to present is…. As someone who has probably given thousands of talks over the years to societies and conferences, both in a work and volunteer capacity, I’m not sure what to say here but to give a talk overseas (not New Zealand, already ticked off several times over). That would be a totally different kind of audience with different expectations and needs – I can feel the butterflies already!
  6. I would like to go on a genealogy cruise that visits…. As a veteran of two genealogy cruises in the Australia/Pacific area, I am now looking at some of the overseas ones, either UK or US/Canada as I have ancestors in both areas.
  7. The photo I would most like to find is… Another tough one as there are so many candidates for this one – but making a choice I would go for my Cornish great great grandparents James Henry Trevaskis and Elizabeth Rosewarne. I’m assuming they would be in the photo together but I would also take one of either of them on their own!
  8. The repository in a foreign land I would most like to visit is… Not sure that I classify the UK as foreign so I will go for Norway National and Regional Archives. Although a lot of Norwegian genealogy records have been digitised and are free online!
  9. The place of worship I would most like to visit is… Having been to most places in Australia it would have to be overseas so I will go for the church at Pitton & Farley in Wiltshire where my ancestors were associated with the church for hundreds of years.
  10. The cemetery I would most like to visit is …… Again I have been to most in Australia although my great grandfather Thomas Price’s grave in remote Hightville is still a must do (have recently made contact with someone who will take me out there if I can get myself up to the Cloncurry area of Queensland). Another must do is the cemetery in Harmony, Minnesota in the USA as this is the area where my Norwegian ancestors moved to after they left Norway in 1850.
  11. The ancestral town or village I would most like to visit is…… Another tough one and I’m torn between the various parishes in Cornwall and counties Armagh, Cavan and Wicklow in Ireland. I’ve only ever been to London so seeing more of the UK and Ireland is definitely on the list and will be driven by my genealogy roots.
  12. The brick wall I most want to smash is… What happened to James Henry Trevaskis? He disappears from Copperfield in Queensland and five years later his wife Elizabeth remarries. I’ve blogged about it so I live in hope that he will turn up someday!
  13. The piece of software I most want to buy is…. I’m not a techo person but I do like to try and keep up with what computers can do for genealogy. The idea of my own genealogy website interests me and I do admire Geniaus’s website and use of Next Generation software. Just not sure when I will take the plunge.
  14. The tech toy I want to purchase next is ….. I’m still tossing up whether I need a tablet or not – expect I do but it might mean even more time online and my recent five week trip to places with no internet made me realise there is life away from the computer!
  15. The expensive book I would most like to buy is… I’ve bought quite a few in my time and I’m now in the position of what do I do with them all? We’re moving and I can’t really take everything with me so no more book buying for me. It’s libraries or e-books!
  16. The library I would most like to visit is….. Wow, fancy asking a former librarian that question but I will say the British Library. I didn’t get there on my visit to London as I spent too much time in the British Museum looking at their fantastic exhibits (despite the fact that numerous school groups seemed to have picked the same day to visit).
  17. The genealogy related book I would most like to write is…. Regular readers of my blogs will know that I continue to procrastinate in finalising my various family history drafts. I will do it – someday!
  18. The genealogy blog I would most like to start would be about…. I have two already so I wouldn’t start a third – My Diary of an Australian Genealogist was started to replace my paper diaries so that I could look back and see what I had been doing over the year/s.
  19. The journal article I would most like to write would be about… I have written hundreds of articles and conference papers over the years but in more recent times I have taken to writing about my own ancestors and telling their stories before it is too late.
  20. The ancestor I most want to meet in the afterlife is…. The toughest question of them all but I will have to go with Helen Carnegie, later Ferguson, still later Chick – it took me a long time to find her and there’s still more to find out.


Wealth for Toil – Thomas Price

January 25th, 2012

It’s Australia Day 2012 tomorrow and I am participating in Twigs of Yore’s annual blog challenge with this year’s theme Wealth for Toil. It took me a while to decide on who to write about because although all my ancestor’s worked hard, none of them were wealthy and most of them died early, through illness or accidents.

In the end I chose my mother’s grandfather Thomas Price as he led an interesting and varied life as he tried to provide for his family. Certificates give him a variety of occupations including labourer, coach axle turner, contractor, life insurance agent and at the time of his death he was a miner working in a remote area near Cloncurry having left Charters Towers where he had been a Baptist minister.

Thomas and his wife Elizabeth arrived in Sydney in 1878 and over the next ten years they had six children in six different places in NSW – Caleula, Orange, Parramatta, Kiama, Broughton Creek and Nattai. They then made the move to Queensland and four more children were born in Bundanba (now Bundamba), Bundaberg and Charters Towers.

The family then settled in Charters Towers for a while and it is here that Thomas and Elizabeth Price became involved with the Baptist Church. In an article Find Your Ancestors in Church Publications Part 1 for Australian Family Tree Connections, I briefly told of their involvement with the Ryan Street Baptist Church in Charters Towers.

Oddly enough I know more about Thomas’ last job because he was killed in an accident on the way to work at the Wee McGregor mine at Hightville. Thomas also died intestate and away from his family which meant the Public Curator became involved. I can only assume that work and money were in short supply and that is why he took the job so far away from his family who had moved on to Townsville.

The inquest into his death at Hightville gives me a very vivid account of his last moments including what he looked like and what he was wearing. Without being too morbid, the autopsy also gives me an idea of his health at the time. He was buried at Hightville and I can only assume that his wife and family did not travel out to that remote mining area for the funeral.

His personal belongings were packed up and sent to the Public Curator in Townsville who then passed them on to his widow Elizabeth. Again I am fortunate as I have a list of my ancestor’s personal belongings at the time of his death and in many ways it makes for sad reading. The list is long and detailed under a number of headings – money, equipment, clothing, toiletries, jewellry, stationery, kitchen utensils and foodstuffs.

Under Money there was one item – a cheque for 8 pounds 14 shillings, his final payment from the Hampden Cloncurry Copper Mines. Under Equipment he had a tent, a bed rug, a pillow, a towel, a coathanger, a portmanteau, a sweat rag, a piece of rope and two boxes of matches. Under Jewellery was his watch chain and spectacles and under Stationery there were various writing items including his AWU ticket (Australian Workers Union). Under Kitchen Utensils he had a billy can, two tin dishes, a knife, a fork, two spoons and an enamel pint. Foodstuffs included three tins of dripping, two tins of condensed milk, one tin of Golden Syrup, one tin of luncheon beef, one tin of pork sausages and a bottle of condensed milk.

This list paints a somewhat lonely and less than luxurious life and Thomas was only 60 years old when he fell from the bridge at Hightville on his way to work on that fateful day in June 1918. From Townsville the family moved south to Collinsville and Elizabeth Price eventually lost her sight and moved in with my grandmother in Brisbane. My mother fondly remembers Elizabeth because she always had a lolly in her pockets for when Mum came home from school.

Elizabeth died in 1944, 26 years after her husband Thomas Price died. Eight of her ten children predeceased her as did many of her grandchildren so Elizabeth’s life was one of sorrow as well. I have recently returned from a trip to the various places in NSW that Thomas and Elizabeth lived when they first came to Australia. I found myself wondering what it was like to be continually moving and not really settling anywhere and having your family settle in various places.

Thomas and Elizabeth Price have many descendants today who are grateful that they emigrated to Australia in 1878 and through their pioneering efforts, successive generations have followed and built successful lives. Our ancestor’s toil may not have led to wealth in terms of money, but it has given us knowledge and stories of which we can know them better. Happy Australia Day!


Genealogy Aspirations Reviewed & Renewed 2012

January 13th, 2012

Although it’s already two weeks into January, my holiday travels (see Diary of an Australian Genealogist) have slowed down my blogging output. However I have been thinking about what I aspired to in 2011 (see My 2011 Genealogy Aspirations) and how well I managed to keep them in focus over what turned out to be another very busy year with lots of travel.

No 1 was finalising my mother’s Price family history and publishing it. Research on this led to a major breakthrough and the answer to something that had puzzled me for over 30 years (see Old Research, New Resources, Fresh Eyes). So this has to continue into 2012 as I am rewriting that section plus I have made contact with more members of the family recently so I need to incorporate some of that too.

No 2 was to learn more about DNA and its use in genealogy and this was progressed. I went along to talks on it by Kerry Farmer and Chris Paton but I have not done any further DNA testing. So another carry over into 2012.

No 3 was to learn more about my Cornish ancestors and Cornish culture and I joined the Cornish Association of Victoria and spent lots of time on the Cornwall Online Parish Clerks website. I’ve also agreed to give a talk on my Cornish miners to the Southern Sons of Cornwall Cornish Cultural Celebration later this year. This will probably be an ongoing part of my research now so I need to think up another goal for 2012.

No 4 was to continue to scan photographs and documents so that I have a digital copy as well as the paper copies and this has progressed but not as much as I wanted. It’s not something I can do while travelling so I really need to stay home more often (which is a goal for 2012 as we really do need to stay home to declutter and start packing for our move from Melbourne to what now looks like Port Macquarie). So scanning has to be on the 2012 agenda.

No 5 was to conserve and preserve family heirlooms and like No 4 it progressed slowly due to time away from home and will probably be done as we pack up (at least that’s the plan). However I also accumulated more items on Max’s side of the family (or rediscovered is probably more accurate) so lots to do in 2012.

So of my five aspirations, I can only dismiss one, do the DNA which is relatively straight forward and carry over the other three which are quite big given that I have been doing the family history since 1977 and have lots of information and memorabilia.

So here are my 2012 aspirations.

1. Write up my mother’s Price family history, including photographs and other illustrations in time for her 78th birthday

2. Do another DNA test, this time from a genealogy perspective and investigate my own DNA

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

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

5. Conserve and preserve family heirlooms I have collected ensuring they are boxed and stored appropriately

Hopefully during the year I will also progress other areas of my family history as new information comes online, new indexes are made available or long lost relatives make contact.

2012 is going to be another great year for genealogy!


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