Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2021

26 December 2021

Here is my contribution to the annual Accentuate the Positive Geneameme

Jill Ball (aka Geniaus) invites you to take part in Accentuate the Positive by responding to the following statements/questions, several of which are new, 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 her post or to via email to jillballau@gmail.com. Later in January,  Jill will compile a list of links to all contributions on her blog.

Please share this link far and wide in your social media channels.
Remember to Accentuate the Positive
(Please delete the items that are not relevant to your situation.)

1. I got the most joy from having time to do my own research thanks to Covid restrictions. It was so nice being able to work on extending some of my lines further back and to work on those DNA matches.

2. The Covid situation gave me an opportunity to spend more time on writing up my family histories so that I can do limited print runs and attach PDFs to my website. Writing allows you to see the gaps and also to identify anything that might not be quite right. I am also attaching citations to all the facts in the draft histories which means going back and checking early research when I wasn’t so rigorous with sources.

3. I managed to attend a face to face event at Bribie Genealogy at several meetings, although some were via Zoom. Some of us even had lunch afterwards. Individual chats are much easier in person.

4. My main focus this year was on writing up and expanding my draft family histories for all immigrant couples. I even did one for Max’s family descended from Joseph Spencer of Cosby, Leicestershire, England.

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/145414615/joseph-spencer : accessed 26 December 2021), memorial page for Joseph Spencer (1788–25 Mar 1835), Find a Grave Memorial ID 145414615, citing St Michael and All Angels Churchyard, Cosby, Blaby District, Leicestershire, England ; Maintained by Dianne Gibson (contributor 47016271) .

5. A new piece of technology or skill I mastered was doing hybrid talks with some people in person at the event and I zoomed in to the big screen. It was also new to the State Library of South Australia and after we had a few stumbles it all went well. It was good to have an interstate talk but I still prefer in person when possible.

6. A geneasurprise I received was a match with a second cousin on my Dad’s side which tends to confirm my theories for his biological father, or at least gets me closer. It would be so good to have his DNA but it wasn’t around back then so I make do using my DNA and my brother’s minus our mother’s.

7.  A Facebook Group that helped me was Memories of Islandmagee (private group). This is where I believe Dad’s family is from in County Antrim and there are lots of photographs posted. Given I can’t travel there at present, these photos have given me a good idea of what it looks like. Plus people ask for help on their families too.

8. My 2021 social media post that I was particularly proud of was keeping my Diary of an Australian Genealogist going each month. Also I have tried to engage more on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as a way of learning more from other posts. I like joining #ANZAncestryTime on Twitter on Tuesday nights when I can. Lots of ideas come out in that very fast hour.

9.  A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Oysterers of Moreton Bay by James G Lergessner. My GGG grandfather was John Carnegie and he was an oysterman in Pumicestone Passage, Moreton Bay in the 1870s to his death in 1904. His wife Helen was later buried with them and their grave is the only one left in the Historic Toorbul Cemetery. It seems strange that I now live on Bribie Island which is separated from the mainland by Pumicestone Passage. Did my ancestors call me back?

Historic Toorbul cemetery, author photo

10. I was impressed by how smoothly international conferences were conducted in a virtual framework. I attended several and it was usually less than $20AU to attend, no travel costs or accommodation and I could watch after the event too, at least for a short time. In the future I would like to see this continue in a hybrid fashion, both virtual and in person.

11.  A great journal or newspaper article I found was that my 5x great grandmother Mary Hitchman died from injuries she received after falling into a fireplace a week earlier. She was described as an infirm, aged woman but was only 61 years old when she died in January 1809 in Souldern, Oxfordshire, England. Without digitised newspapers we would not be able to find these family stories, both good and tragic. Somehow I identify more with her now that I know more about how she lived and died.

12. I got the most value from this subscription to The Genealogist as it has some resources not held by other subscription sites. Tithe maps are a favourite and I also like receiving a digital copy of the monthly emagazine Discover Your Ancestors as part of the subscription.

13. I progressed my DNA research with further confirmation of my father’s biological paternal ancestry. It has led me to Islandmagee just off the coast of County Antrim. Ironically the map of Islandmagee looks very much like Bribie Island.

14. I taught a genimate how to organise DNA matches using a variety of tools. This was actually a group class for Bribie Genealogy on one of our Monday night meetings. With less people there we can do more in depth assistance than on the Friday meetings which attract more people.

15.  A blog post that taught me something new was any of Sue Wyatt’s (tasteach) summaries of #ANZAncestryTime weekly sessions. Sue has been writing up all the tips and links to it began and there is always something new to discover from her summaries.

16. A DNA discovery I made was confirming a number of family links to the Silk family on Mum’s paternal side which takes me back a few more generations. It is really good when DNA confirms your paper trails.

17. A newly found family member shared a photograph of someone I believe was Dad’s father as a small boy with his brother and sisters. Trying to see a family resemblance could be wishful thinking as my brother said to me over Christmas but then we still have that DNA trail and Mum’s anecdotal memories.

18. I finally found ……… six feet under my 8X Scottish great grandmother Agnes Leach nee Mitchell who died in 1779 in Maryton, Angus, Scotland. She was there all along in the index but under her maiden surname Mitchell and not that of her husband. The proof was that it said she was the wife of Alexander Leach. I tell my U3A students not to make this mistake so I am a little embarassed. However it does show that you need to revisit your research and search again. Who knows what will turn up?

19. I splashed out and purchased a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive. I love newspapers and the BNA has a better search facility and more newspapers than Findmypast which is why I took the subscription. I have found lots of bits and pieces and could spend all day reading and searching.

20. Another positive I would like to share is that there are always new records being indexed and digitised and put online. As part of my writing up the family histories, I have also gone back and done some more searching and found things that just have to be included. Never ending but never boring.

The front cover of my Cornish Connections family history

Thanks for reading my positive genealogy year in 2021. My Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog is now a weekly update of my own genealgy research. Mostly it is a prompt to keep me working on those family history drafts. The goal is to have them all finished by end of 2022 – but they will also be easily updated as needed.

Enjoy 2022 and I hope we meet up in person somewhere at a genealogy event.


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  1. Well done you Shauna! And snap on British Newspaper Archives. I subscribed too and found all sorts of goodies. You have made such great progess with your family history in terms of organising, scanning and filing. You are a credit to the regiment and set a great benchmark. I hope I can get there too. Plod. Plod. Plod 🙂

  2. Well done Shauna. Seems a bit of lockdown has been good for us all.
    Robyn (Robyn and the Genies)

  3. Thanks Alex. Yes the scanning is a plod -but I have started watching webinars while I scan. All good until I have to take notes. More time at home helped although I would have preferred to still travel a bit. Keep up the plodding, you are not alone.

  4. Thanks Robyn. Yes our staycation has had benefits and I’m glad I didn’t waste all my time. Some concrete things to do alongside the fun things worked for me.

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