52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 9 Inquest Records

March 10th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of five bloggers who are taking up the challenge and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmob, Anne and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Campaspe Library Week 9

Sharon Week 9

Anne Week 9

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

An inquest is held when someone dies in an accident, or has not been seen by a doctor for some time or if they have died in an institution such as an asylum or prison. In some ways I am lucky as many of my ancestors died in accidents or in institutions and the inquest has given me more information on the family.

I touched on this in Week 4 when I did Memorial Cards – my example was Sydney Herbert White and there had been an inquest into his death. I will not repeat that here as there are lots of other examples that I can use.

John Henry Gunderson, aged 39 years, was found lying unconscious at the foot of the back steps of his house on the Thompson Estate in Brisbane on 23 May 1932. He was taken by ambulance to the Mater Hospital but he died before arriving there. The post mortem certificate in the inquest file gave cause of death as a cerebral haemorrhage and syncope (natural causes). Also in the file were witness statements from the local police constable William Charles Fuge, the widow Violet Maud Gunderson and a neighbour Austin Patrick Walsh.  So even if you do not have an inquest into an ancestor, you may find they were a witness but unfortunately witnesses are not usually indexed by name.

I find the witness statements the most interesting and where you are most likely to find information not recorded elsewhere. The neighbour Austin Walsh in his statement said he was alerted to John’s collapse by another neighbour Mrs Flanders who first saw him lying there. When he went over he saw that John was unconscious and called the ambulance and it was he who went in the ambulance with John to the hospital. He recalled the doctor on arrival saying that ‘life was extinct’.

Violet Gunderson told the inquest that her husband was not a very strong man but he never complained about being ill and that it was probably five years since he had last seen a doctor. On that occasion John wanted to join the Foresters Lodge but the doctor told him he could not pass him as he had a leaky valve of the heart. On the morning of John’s collapse, Violet had left home early to do some errands and returned home just after her husband had been found. She saw him lying there and the ambulance arrived shortly after. Violet did not go with her husband as she had a young baby to look after. Austin Walsh returned from the hospital and told Violet that John had died just as they arrived at the hospital.

Violet also gave personal details such as John’s date and place of birth, his parents names including his mother’s maiden name and father’s occupation.  Also details of their marriage and that there was only one child from the marriage, a daughter Iris Merle aged 5 months. He was a teetotaller, he was not a returned soldier, he was not in receipt of a pension, he had no property or money but did have two insurance policies. The first was with Metropolitan Life Assurance Co  but Violet did not know for how much and the second with Mutual Life and Citizens for £10 5s.

Violet was left a young widow with a baby and very little monetary support. Not only did she have to deal with her grief at losing her husband so early but she would also have been left wondering how she would continue to support herself and child.

Most inquests are also reported in the newspaper and John’s death was reported in the Courier Mail. The information was basically what was included in the inquest file only in brief.  This is where a search of Trove can be useful in finding information on accidental or sudden deaths in the family. Once the date and place of death is known it is easy to then go to the relevant State Archives and look for an inquest file or register.

As this example shows, the witnesses statements usually give an account of a person’s last moments as well as giving personal and biographical information that may not be found elsewhere.  As I mentioned at the start, I have numerous inquest files in my family records. Some of these are on direct ancestors but I also look for inquests on collateral lines and their descendants as these may also give family background.

Most State Archives have online guides to inquest records and some may even have online indexes so these should be consulted in the first instance. Also Trove may be useful in determining a date and place of death or inquest but also follow up with the archival record as well.  Why not look for some inquest records in your families, you may be surprised.


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.


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!


Those Places Thursday – Discovering Pitton & Farley, Wiltshire, England

February 3rd, 2011

This is my contribution to the blogging theme Those Places Thursday and I have selected one of my English parishes as I am also interested in One Place Studies.

My great grandfather Herbert William White was born in Farley, Wiltshire in 1864 and I have been researching the family since 1977. Many others are also linked into the White family as the family stayed in the same parish for generations.

As an Australian it is not that easy to visit our ancestral places but today, thanks to the Internet, it is a lot easier to learn about these places. A Google search on a place name can bring up a whole range of interesting sites.

I like to start with Wikipedia for an overview of a place. I was disappointed to see that Pitton & Farley did not have a dedicated article except for a page in Dutch which Google happily translated for me. This is basically a map showing location and basic information and statistics.

My next choice was the official Pitton & Farley site and there is lots of information and photographs although it is primarily a current site advertising what is happening and so on. It would be great if I was planning a visit and wanted to know what was coming up and things to do while there. However, there is a great section on Churches including All Saints Church and it’s history is given (built 1690) with recent photographs which are wonderful to see. My White family had a long connection with the Church as Herbert’s father Robert White was a Clerk of the Parish as was his father, also named Robert, a Clerk of the Parish.

The next website I like to explore when learning about an ancestral place in the UK is GENUKI and there is an entry for Pitton and Farley. This gives me basic information and links to Church Records and Gazetteers. For example, I learnt that in 1831 Farley had a population of 254 and in 1951 the combined population of Pitton and Farley was 452. Pitton is only one mile north of Farley and both are only about three miles north east of Salisbury.

To me here in Australia this sounds like a very tiny area as the suburb I live in is probably twice as big but then distances are much greater in this country than the UK. When I eventually get to visit Pitton and Farley (hopefully in the not too distant future) I will have to remember that I probably can’t just walk around it like I do here in my own suburb. The photos of snow blanketing everything is one giveaway that it may not be possible!

If I do a Google images search I can find lots of photographs and could spend hours looking at them all (882 results just on Pitton and Farley). There are all different types of maps as well. However, one can’t go past a live Google Earth tour of the streets of Pitton and Farley. It is just like driving around but you can’t get out of the car and explore further.

I also searched the National Library of Australia (NLA) online catalogue for references to any books or other resources on Pitton and Farley and if I log in, it will even tell me if the books are in my own local library or the State Library of Victoria. If not, I can always see if the books are available through inter library loan. A quick glance through the many titles tells me that I would be interested in quite a few of the titles.

One of the great things about the NLA catalogue is that it also links to online resources so by simply clicking on the link to The Visitation of Wiltshire 1565 (for example) it takes me directly to the book and I can search online myself. By entering the surname White it quickly highlights where all the White references are in the text and by hovering over the markers, I can view the text easily. Once I finish this blog, I will also be checking out the Visitation of  Wiltshire 1623.

In the process of writing this blog, I have accumulated quite a bit of information on the history of Pitton and Farley as well as seen maps and photographs and explored a 16th century publication. All of this while sitting at my laptop at home. Exploring your ancestral places can be quite easy but be prepared to spend several hours, or more, because it is truly fascinating!


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