Each year, for the last few years, Jill Ball (aka Geniaus) invites us to take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post. Write as much or as little as you want and complete as many statements as you wish. If you wish to take part and don’t have a blog email Jill your responses and she will post them on the GeniAus blog.
Once you have done so please share your post’s link in a comment on Jill’s post or to her via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Jill will, later in January, compile a list of links to all contributions here on her blog.
Remember to Accentuate the Positive
(Please delete the items that are not relevant to your situation.)
1. An elusive ancestor I found was – thanks to DNA matches I have managed to extend/confirm my Irish Kane family in Wicklow, Ireland and pushed back my mother’s Sweatman/Cooper families in Oxfordshire back a generation or two. Once you get back into the 1700s, I want to learn more about where they were living and what kind of life it was. On some lines my interest is now more local history than family history.
2. A great newspaper article I found was – not overly fond of the new Trove, but it keeps on delivering fascinating snippets on the family history. Similarly I spend a lot of time searching British and Irish newspapers finding mostly death or funeral notices. But a fascinating find for Max’s Spencer family was when his great grandmother died, they listed all the contents of the house, everything. They were wealthy and it is an amazing description of what life would have been like for people who had a ‘library’ – even the books were listed including Fox’s History of Queensland, 3 volumes. It was all being sold at auction.
3. A geneajourney I planned but didn’t take was – RootsTech Connect 2021 in February this year – this would have been my first RootsTech in person but thanks to Covid 19, it will now be a free virtual conference. It’s not too late to register for a wonderful three days and you can watch the recorded sessions in your own time. The really exciting part for me was being asked to present a session on Australian archives. Mine talk and paperwork went in a few days before the 31 December 2020 deadline.
4. I located an important record – not so much record searching this year, but DNA matching and then checking their family trees for accuracy and how they connect to me. When Blaine Bettinger was in Australia in 2019, one of the things he kept saying, which is why I remember it, was tree completeness. You can’t work out matches with incomplete trees. With all the illegitimacy on Dad’s side that’s a bit difficult, but on Mum’s side, I have found that if I trace a complete tree for an ancestral couple I can usually work out who fits in and where. Tree building and tree completeness. The big hurdle is why did they all have such large families?
5. A newly found family member shared – a first cousin reached out when she learnt of my cancer diagnosis and we have met up a few times (when allowed) and shared memories of our grandmother and other aunts and uncles. She is a few years older than me, and was really interested to read my draft history on the Price family. We hadn’t seen each other in decades.
6. A geneasurprise I received was – I am related to Chris Wright in Rockhampton. I have known her for many years and never thought there was a connection. But she was listening to one of the MyHeritage talks I presented on Australian records and I mentioned that my mother’s uncle’s wife was a teacher, Florence Dayman. Turns out that Chris’ family also married into the Dayman’s – so not a biological connection but one via marriage. How often do we sit next to someone at a conference, not realising that we may have a common link?
7. My 2020 social media post that I was particularly proud of was – between cancer and covid I lost a bit of my zest for writing, so my posts on Preparing Your Family History Records for Handover bogged down after the fifth month. Many of the comments both on the blog and Facebook indicated that I was not alone in tackling this issue. I have continued to reduce my ‘stuff’ and will finish the blog series in 2021. It really is important that all our research does not disappear when we are no longer here.
8. I made a new genimate who joined our Bribie Zoom Genies – she is from Caboolture and her local group had closed down but wasn’t doing anything online, so she joined us. She always found the time to thank me for each session and for helping with her questions. She can’t travel and I’m thinking about maybe continuing with a monthly Zoom meeting for those who can’t attend Bribie Genealogy in person. Plus there are those who work – just an idea rattling around in my brain but could be fun and once a month would be easier than four times a month like we did in 2020.
9. A new piece of technology or skill I mastered was – this has to be Zoom! It was the only way to get around in 2020 although I also did live Facebook with MyHeritage (twice) and Gotowebinars with the GSQ DNA group. I also converted my U3A advanced family history group to Zoom sessions and we had a great time from May to December with weekly meetings. Plus I gave two talks to Caloundra Family History Research and also Deniliquin Genealogical Society.
10. I joined – as mentioned above we formed the Bribie Zoom Genies group and had weekly meetings and when permitted, we also held an in person workshop. The group is so keen we are starting up Bribie Genealogy in person from February and now have a Facebook page. Plus I have now joined Caloundra Family History Research.
11. A genealogy education session or event from which I learnt something new was – just so many with free conferences, webinars and the ability to join other group’s meetings to listen to their speakers. Genealogists were zooming around the world, and I always seem to learn something new from any session. Or a reminder of something long forgotten or I need to revisit.
12. A blog post that taught me something new was – any of Blaine Bettinger‘s on DNA and the various ways to look at your genealogy matches plus using all the new tools. I am also a great fan of his webinars which you can sometimes view free on Legacy Family Tree Webinars. That site may even be worth subscribing to, watch out for specials or get your loved ones to buy a subscription as a birthday present.
13. A DNA discovery I made was – more positive work on Dad’s biological father using the various tools. I’m now reasonably confident what families he belongs to further back and I don’t really need to know who his father actually was. I am more interested in who my ancestors were and what their lives were like. That is what I am working on now.
14. I taught a genimate how to – lots of people to Zoom. Our first few Bribie Zoom Genie meetings were a bit chaotic at the start as we tried to get audio/video/screen sharing and recording all working. But it soon became routine and the group liked the recordings as they could go back and listen again. I still shared my slides as always, but they never include what I say. In some ways Zoom is better, but we all reallly missed not being able to meet in person.
15. A brick wall I demolished was – Dad’s ancestry. I am more Irish than I thought. Mum’s side is all English while Dad’s is mostly Irish, a little Scots, a little English and an unknown great grandfather. My next DNA/brickwall challenge is to find out who he was. This will be more tricky as I believe he lived around Pumicestone Passage which separates Bribie Island from the mainland. There weren’t that many families here in the late 1870s.
16. A great site I visited was – my first thought was this had to be virtual as I haven’t been anywhere. But that’s not true – we went to Adelaide prior to the last Unlock the Past genealogy cruise (cancelled before we even left South Australian waters). I went to the National Archives of Australia Adelaide office which is in the State Library of South Australia. So convenient. The service was great and I had preordered the records I wanted to see. I was able to use my phone to take images of the World War 2 pay files that I was interested in. Pay files and salary cards can have interesting details if they exist.
17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was – I have been reading real life books by people whose lives were changed by discovering a family secret through DNA. I can so relate to the words ‘but I’m not who I thought I was’. That is so true – although you are the same person, your mindset changes and you wonder about health issues eg why did Dad get cancer at 57 years. Where does my passion for history come from – not Mum’s side – or am I unique in this? I ordered a number of books in via inter library loan. Currently reading Inheritance: a memoir of genealogy, paternity and love by Dani Shapiro (American). No spoiler alerts plus there are a few novels out there too around this topic which are easy reading. Even murder mysteries.
18. Zoom gave me an opportunity to – expand my genealogy learning by attending conferences which I could not have traveled to and in most instances were either free or very reasonably priced. Plus I still have access to the recordings. My ‘to watch’ pile is starting to look like my ‘to read’ pile – who needs TV? Confession we did finally buy a smart TV in 2020 but we are not members of any streaming service except the freebies.
19. I am excited for 2021 because – there are some genealogical conferences coming up and it will be great to see people in person again. First is FHDU 2021 where I am giving two sessions, then there is RootsTech Connect and I am also speaking at the AFFHO Congress 2021 on beautiful Norfolk Island (our third visit). My talk is Finding Love in Paradise! Plus Bribie Genealogy starts in February and that is going to be so good for all genealogists and family historians on the Island.
20. Another positive I would like to share is … Nothing to do with genealogy, but I am now cancer free. Thanks to all those who gave me support and good wishes through my 15 month ‘battle’. Illness is never easy but having a passionate hobby such as family history and belonging to a wonderful worldwide genealogical community, made it much more ‘fun’. Thank you everyone who was part of my journey in 2020 and I sincerely hope that we can all meet up again in person real soon. Stay well and safe.