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!


Surname Saturday Meme: Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

November 17th, 2011

As a regular reader of Geniaus‘ blogs, I often find myself (lately) doing memes. Sometimes they are created by Geniaus and sometimes she has picked up memes from fellow bloggers. This is one of the latter, and it is a really useful way to advertise the primary surnames we are researching. I have already had considerable success with relatives finding me via my own blogs, so this meme instantly appealed to me.

On his Destination Austin Family Blog Thomas MacEntee has revived Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie’s meme from 2009. Thomas says “Why so? Well this meme actually helps the genealogy blogger create “surname bait” for other researchers to find out on Google and other search engines.”

I’m a bit behind in responding to the challenge as it is a busy (or busier) time for me at present but that won’t detract from the results I am hoping for, which may be next week, next year or even in a few years time. As Geniaus said, it has also made me reflect on my direct ancestors again as it is a while since I revisited some of those lines (having started in 1977) and more recently I have been doing my partner’s families. Plus there are so many more resources available now I really should revisit all family lines.

The instructions for this meme are very simple (although they are US centric) but simply adjust them slightly to include Country, state or county or whatever is relevant for your ancestors.

How The Meme Works

To participate, do the following at your own blog and post a link in the comments of Thomas’ post:

1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:

[SURNAME]: State/Province (county/subdivision), date range
as in:

AUSTIN surname: New York (Jefferson County, Lewis County, St. Lawrence County), 1830-present; Rhode Island (Kent County, Washington County), 1638-1830

2. At the end, list your Most Wanted Ancestor with details!

Shauna’s Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

Following are the surnames of my Great-Great Grandparents

CARNEGIE surname: Scotland (Angus, Montrose) 1786-1875; Australia (New South Wales, Grafton, Queensland, Brisbane, Toorbul) 1875-present

FAGAN surname: Ireland (Wicklow, Rathdrum, Glasnarget) 1861-present

FINN surname: Ireland (Wicklow, Rathdrum, Avoca) 1841-1882; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane) 1882-present

GUNDERSON surname: Norway (Telemark County, Seljord) 1688-1873; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane) 1873-present

HALVORSDATTER surname: Norway (Telemark County, Seljord) 1811-present

JEFFERS surname: Ireland (Armagh, Portadown) 1844-present

JOHNSTON surname: Ireland (Cavan, Bailieborough, Knockbride) 1803-1861; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane, Mackay) 1861-present

JUDGE surname: England (Northamptonshire, Croughton, Brackley) 1799-present

POLLARD surname: England (Northamptonshire, Croughton, Brackley) 1799-present

PRICE surname: England (Staffordshire, Wednesbury, West Bromwich) 1789-1878; Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, Charters Towers, Brisbane) 1878-present

ROSEWARNE surname: England (Cornwall, St Hilary Breage) 1582-present

SILK surname: England (Staffordshire, Wednesbury) 1740-present

SWEATMAN surname: England (Oxfordshire, Deddington) 1798-present

TITT surname: England (Wiltshire, Wylie, Bishopstrow) 1549-present

TREVASKIS surname: England (Cornwall, St Hilary, Ludgvan) 1698-1861; Australia (South Australia, Moonta, Queensland, Copperfield, Charters Towers) 1861-present

WHITE surname: England (Wiltshire, Pitton & Farley) 1640-1883; Australia (Queensland, Charters Towers, Brisbane) 1883-present

Most Wanted Ancestor: I’ve just recently found mine – Elizabeth JUDGE who was really a POLLARD (story here) but I’m happy to have any additional information on any of the above!


Remembrance Day & My Two Grandfathers

November 10th, 2011

Each ANZAC Day I like to blog about one of my military ancestors, and this Remembrance Day I have decided to do the same. Neither of my two grandfathers spent much time in military service but their stories are still interesting.

Although my parents were born only a few months apart, my mother’s father Henry Price was born in 1887 while my father’s father John Martin Gunderson was born in 1909. So one grandfather saw brief service in World War One and the other in World War Two.

Henry Price

At the outbreak of World War One, Henry as part of the Kennedy Regiment in North Queensland, was mobilised for war service.  In the event of war, it had been previously arranged that the Kennedy Regiment, one of the citizen-force regiments enrolled under the compulsory training scheme, would garrison Thursday Island. Therefore as soon as the news was received, the regiment’s was mobilised. On 8 August 1914 Henry and his regiment (over 1000 men) embarked on the troopship Kanowna at Cairns for Thursday Island.

After reaching Thursday Island safely, a few days later the volunteers were called for ‘for service outside Australia’. The Defence Act provided that no citizen forces could be sent outside the Commonwealth without their consent, hence the ‘call for service’.  About 500 of the men volunteered including Henry Price and they were then sent on to Port Moresby on 16 August 1914 on board the Kanowna where they were to take part in the capture of German New Guinea.

On 4 September 1914 the Kennedy Regiment met Colonel William Holmes who was based in Port Moresby to prepare the task force to attack German New Guinea. Henry joined the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force on 6 September 1914.

Holmes had been expecting mature, trained well-equipped soldiers. Unfortunately he was disappointed for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the Kennedy troops were mainly young men aged between 18 and 20 years old.  The Regiment had been mobilised quickly, without proper medical inspection and consisted of both trainees under the compulsory scheme (some of whom were not yet 18) and middle-aged members of local rifle clubs.

Secondly, the  new arrivals had very little gear with them and to fight in the tropics soldiers needed mosquito nets, good boots, hammocks and suitable uniforms. There had been no time to provision the Kanowna for a long voyage and she quickly ran out of stores and was given extra stores from the Sydney.

A third factor that upset Holmes was that the Kanowna’s crew were considering mutiny as most of its members had  been shanghaied into service and were not volunteers.  Without the Kanowna, there was no way of getting the Kennedy Regiment from Port Moresby to the attack area.

For these reasons Holmes wanted to send the Kennedy Regiment and the Kanowna back to Queensland.  However, he could not do this without higher authority and before this could be arranged, Holmes was ordered to send his troops off to battle.  On 7 September 1914 the cruisers Sydney and Encounter, the auxiliary cruiser Berrima, destroyers Warrego and Yarra, submarines AE1 and AE2, the supply ship Aorangi, the Parramatta, the Koolonga, the oil tanker Murex and the Kanowna steamed out of Port Moresby.

However, just outside the harbour the Kanowna slewed sideways and halted.  The firemen had stopped stoking the engines and insisted that they would not start again until the ship was going home to Queensland.  The soldiers declared they would stoke the engines but were overruled and the Kanowna was ordered back to Townsville.

Colonel Holmes reported ‘I consider the Kanowna detachment, as at present constituted and equipped, unfit for immediate service and, in view of today’s events …. recommend disbandment’. The Kanowna arrived back in Townsville on 18 September 1914 and the Kennedy troops, including Henry Price, were discharged on the same day.

Henry Price

Henry Price

The majority of the Kennedy Regiment then rushed to volunteer for the 1st AIF and subsequently became the backbone of the 15th Battalion at Gallipoli which went in with 1000 men but sadly, within just a few short weeks came out with only 350 men.

Henry Price did not re-enlist following the abortive campaign on the Kanowna.  For his brief part in the war effort, Henry received the British War Medal.  This simple silver medal was issued singly without the Victory Medal 1914-18 to certain personnel who did not actually serve in the theatre of war. The family story that he participated in the capture of German New Guinea was not quite accurate.

Had Henry re-enlisted, he would have gone to Gallipoli and perhaps this story may not have been written as only three of his ten children had been born at the outbreak of  World War One. The photo to the right shows Henry and my grandmother Alice and their daughter (my mother) shortly before his death in 1938.

John Martin Gunderson

John Martin Gunderson

John Martin Gunderson
Jack, as he was more commonly known, enlisted in the Australian Army on 27 August 1941 in Brisbane and was discharged two years later as a Sapper with the 2/3 Field Squadron on 27 October 1943.

Aged 32 years when he enlisted, Jack’s health was an issue and he served at various places in Australia including Redbank in Queensland, Bonegilla in Victoria and Northam in Western Australia before he was declared medically unfit and discharged.

Although he never saw military service outside of Australia, he received the War Medal 1939-45 and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45.  The photo above shows Jack in his army uniform with my grandmother Kathleen and my father.


Old Research, New Resources, Fresh Eyes

September 18th, 2011

I started researching my family history in August 1977, just over 34 years ago and I am amazed at the changes over that time. Anyone starting out now can’t appreciate just how hard it was back then, especially trying to do it from Australia. Yesterday I proved (I think) that I made a fundamental error back then but without access to today’s resources, the decisions I made then were all reasonable and based on available evidence. I welcome feedback on the saga that unfolds below.

In 1977 I started buying all my Australian certificates not just key ones but all the children’s certificates too. I wanted all the details so that I could trace my families over time.

Thomas and Elizabeth Price arrived in Sydney in 1878 a few months after their marriage in Staffordshire. They had ten children across New South Wales and Queensland. From each of the children’s birth certificates I gathered information on Thomas and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s maiden name was Judge and she was born ca 1857 in Croughton, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and even Staffordshire – all places she gave on the birth certificates. Her death certificate gave her parents as George Judge and Elizabeth Ann Silk (I was sceptical of the Silk name as that was connected to the Price family).

From the family bible she had brought out with her I knew the date that she and Thomas had married so I applied for the marriage certificate. This also gave her father’s name as George Judge. So armed with all this information in 1979 I applied for her birth certificate. These were the days before indexes were widely available or online so I had the Registrar do a search. There was only one Elizabeth Judge born in 1857 in Brackley, Northamptonshire – quite close to Croughton. The certificate showed that Elizabeth was the illegitimate daughter of Harriet Judge. No other Elizabeth matched the details that I had and I assumed (that magic word) that she had not wanted Thomas to know that she was illegitimate and had said George was her father to cover up.

I then engaged a profession researcher in Northamptonshire to find Harriet Judge’s family and she was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Judge and had various siblings. The researcher also found the family in the various census returns – all before indexes and digitised images. The only thing he didn’t find was Elizabeth Judge, Harriet’s child – where was she?

The years went past, and every so often I would revisit my Judge family. I even hired the microfilm at the local Family History Centre and checked the census returns myself but that was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Then the English BDMs became available on microfiche and I decided to trace Harriet – she must have married and perhaps Elizabeth was with her in that new family.

I found Harriet who had married a George Gardiner in 1860. I searched the 1861 census (and subsequent censuses) for them but still no Elizabeth. What had Harriet done with her illegitimate child Elizabeth?

Again the years past and then we had access to digitised images of the census and online indexes. Surely I would find Elizabeth now. But no, I still couldn’t locate any reference to her other than that birth certificate and her marriage certificate. Where was she for 21 years?

Elizabeth had spent her last years living with her daughter in law, Alice Price and my mother. Mum used to tell me how Elizabeth would always have lollies waiting for her when she got home from school. My mother wanted to know what Elizabeth’s  life was like in England and how had she met Thomas Price. That was an interesting question – if she was in Northamptonshire, how had she met Thomas Price in West Bromwich, Staffordshire?

A few months ago I made a determined search to find Elizabeth in the 1861 census – she was about four years old but I couldn’t find any Elizabeth Judge that might be her. After another recent visit to Mum I again came home determined to find her in the 1871 census. If she married Thomas Price in 1878 she had to be somewhere in 1871.

Again I looked at every possible Elizabeth Judge, only this time I did turn up a family in the 1871 census – father George (as on her marriage certificate), mother Ann (not that far from Elizabeth Ann on her death certificate) and an Elizabeth, 13 years old, born in Northamptonshire. They were also living in West Bromwich where Thomas Price was. What made it even more exciting was that George was born in Croughton, the place Elizabeth said she was born and there was a sister Eliza. Surely a family wouldn’t have both an Eliza and an Elizabeth?

My first thoughts were that George was some relative of Harriet’s or her parents John and Hannah Judge and that George and his wife had looked after the illegitimate Elizabeth. But looking at my Judge family I couldn’t see how George could fit in. Then it occurred to me why hadn’t I found this George Judge, Ann, Elizabeth and other siblings in the 1861 census?

So back to the 1861 census and no they were not there. I hadn’t missed them and I was checking both Ancestry and FindMyPast sites so I just couldn’t understand any of it. Another daughter was called Eunice and that had to be more uncommon than George, Elizabeth or Ann. I then searched the 1861 census for all females named Eunice born ca 1853 and it was a nice short list.

There was Eunice born in Croughton, Northamptonshire with her sister Elizabeth also born in Croughton together with mother Ann and other siblings. The only difference was that the surname was Pollard not Judge. Ann was a 35 year old widow with five children. Between the 1861 and 1871 census she had married George Judge and taken his surname as did all of her children. They had also moved from Croughton to West Bromwich.

By the 1881 census George and Ann Judge and family were living in Potters Lane, West Bromwich – the same street as Thomas Price and his family. This must have been how and where Elizabeth and Thomas met.

Had I at long last found my Elizabeth Judge who was really Elizabeth Pollard? The reason I could never find another possible birth certificate for my Elizabeth Judge was that she was born with the surname Pollard but took her stepfather George Judge’s name when her mother remarried.

What happened to Harriet Judge’s illegitimate child Elizabeth? I have not checked for deaths and perhaps she was adopted or fostered out and ended up with another surname too.

I have other step marriages in my family history but this is the only time when the children have taken the surname of the stepfather. I can see that this could result in many brickwalls and if there hadn’t been an Elizabeth born about the right time and place I might have hit a brickwall, instead I hit a red herring.

The digitisation and indexing of census records (and everything else) allows us now to find family complexities like this easier and quicker. In hindsight with new resources it all looks so easy, and it is. If there is any aspect in your own research that niggles, perhaps its time to take a fresh look!


Finding Ancestors in Church Publications

April 16th, 2010

Since December 2009 I have been writing a monthly article on Finding Ancestors in Church Publications for Australian Family Tree Connections (AFTC). Parts 1-3 are now available online on Unlock the Past to make the articles more accessible.

Church publications include regular newsletters, newspapers, journals, histories, directories, biographies and so on. They don’t include original records such as parish registers as these are not usually published. Although I mostly talk about published material, I do sometimes refer to original records if they are of interest.

Thomas and Elizabeth Price_0001

Briefly in Part 1 ( AFTC December 2009) I discussed some of the ways my own family history research has been enriched by information found in various church publications over the years. I give examples from my Price family in Charters Towers, my Johnston family from Sherwood in Brisbane,  and the Burstow family from Toowoomba, Queensland. The photograph at right is Thomas and Elizabeth Price (my great grandparents) who were members of the Charters Towers Ryan Street Baptist Church in Queensland.

In Part 2 (AFTC January 2010) I gave an overview of how researchers could find church publications in archives and libraries and what kind of records to search such as directories and almanacs. I also gave an example of how to search on the National Library of Australia’s online catalogue TROVE for church publications.

Part 3 (AFTC February 2010) focuses on using brief guides and finding aids and highlights resources in Queensland. I also highlight some of the digitised resources available on CD ROM through Gould Genealogy & History using the Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in NSW as an example.

Subsequent parts of the series will be put online with a two month delay between publishing in AFTC and going online at Unlock the Past. Parts 4-5 are currently available in Australian Family Tree Connections March and April 2010 respectively.

If you have also had success using Church publications please let me know as I love success stories.

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