Before the talks got underway, I visited some more of the exhibitors. Although I have no Wends/Sorbs in my own family history, I found the Wend/Sorb Society of South Australia‘s stall fascinating. The costumes were eye catching but there was also a wealth of information on Wendish family names and I discovered I used to work with someone who had a Wendish surname. I had always assumed it was just German but like most European countries, the history is a little more complicated than that.
The Wends are a Slavic race who lived in eastern Germany and in Europe they are known as Sorbs. They are the smallest of the Slavic races who inhabited Eastern Europe and have their own language, culture and customs. In Australia, they settled in South Australia (near Hoffnungsthal, Ebenezer, St Kitts and Peter’s Hill), Victoria (near Hamilton and Horsham) and in New South Wales in the Riverina north of Albury. About 2000 Wends in 400 families came here between 1848 and 1860.
Day Two again offered five streams of talks or activities so it was hard to pick where you wanted to go plus there were still some exhibitors that I wanted to catch up with. My first talk was Ben Hollister on Changing Names: Places and People and we all have these types of problems in our family history. Sometimes they can be major brick walls. While Ben’s talk had German/European examples the methodology is the same for all. Wikipedia has a list of Australian place names changed from German names which is handy to consult if you can’t find somewhere.
I was interested to know about a new resource for those with German ancestors. The German Australian Genealogy & History Alliance is a new portal and individuals and groups are welcome to join. The website is not up yet but will be soon. It has been established by the Lutheran Archives, the German & Continental European SIG of SAGHS, the Central European Group of QFHS and the Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbande. One of their projects is creating a database of those who changed their names in a significant way, not just minor spelling changes. They have already listed names from deed poll registers, newspapers and other sources.
My talk on Sporting Ancestors: Every family has them was attended by a small, but enthusiastic audience. People are always surprised when I start talking about rifle clubs or fishing groups as it does not fit the usual sporting stereotype of cricket or football. Women played croquet and I referred them to croquet lessons in the Australian Women’s Weekly via Trove. My presentation is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations and my book is available from Gould Genealogy & History.
There was a geneabloggers photo taken at lunch time and I think we managed to have everyone there. There was a great handing over of phones and cameras to the two people who were trying to take the photo before we all rushed of to the next round of talks.
I went to Philip Payton’s talk on the Cornish in SA and again it was more academic than family history and I would have liked to look at some old photos or maps while he was speaking. I discovered that he has written Making Moonta: the invention of Australia’s little Cornwall which was published in 2007 so that has gone on to the reading list as my Cornish great great grandparents lived at Moonta in the early 1860s. His talk also made me start thinking about how they travelled from South Australia to Copperfield in Queensland. I must have another look at Trove to see if I can find anything about the Cornish making this move.
Next was Rosemary Kopittke on Scotland’s People and I have heard Rosemary before but this was an insight into the recent changes at Scotland’s People. It is really good that we can now see search results without having to pay for them. This makes it much easier to see if you have the right person or whether you need to redo the search with different variants. The 1911 Scottish census is only available here and it is also the only place you can get the images for the other earlier census. The valuation rolls look interesting and I have found my 4th great grandmother on them which is a bit amazing.
Finally I was on the DNA ethics panel convened by Helen Smith who had a series of questions she put to the panel made up of Brad Argent from Ancestry DNA and Richard Merry from the Guild of One Name Studies. There were lots of questions from the audience as well as those posed by Helen. I think the audience went away with a deeper understanding of what’s involved especially if you are asking for DNA from other family members.
There were lots of exhibitors but the final one I want to mention here is the National Boer War Association which has branches in NSW, SA, WA and ACT. As I have two great uncles who fought in the Boer War in both Queensland and Commonwealth contingents I was interested in what the Association does. Apparently Queensland chose to do its own thing (why doesn’t that surprise me) so I have to look them up now that I’m home. Basically the Association is raising money to help complete a permanent memorial to Boer War veterans in Canberra and to keep their memory alive.
Along side was a wonderful tribute to Violet Day which was first held on 2 Jul 1915. It commemorated those who fought in WW1 as well as those who lost their lives and was conceived of by the Secretary of the Cheer-Up Society. Violets were chosen to signify the sorrow within the community. By 1928 it had moved to August and the 56th and final observation of Violet Day was held on 2 Aug 1970 which may be why many of us may have forgotten about this day and the significance of violets during WW1.
My Expo tote bag has lots of brochures, newsletters and other bits and pieces that I can go through at leisure. I tend to take things and everything goes into one of my filing cabinet drawers for future reference. Some topics I look at regularly and others possibly never. It’s probably a hangover from pre Google days because we can easily search these days, but I still like to browse as I may not always think to look for something.
For me that is what is best about genealogy expos and conferences. You get to browse a lot of exhibitors and go to talks that you might not think will assist your research, but then find out it is relevant. Coupled with that is the opportunity to talk to like minded people about your genealogy problems and get advice and encouragement. If you become a regular attendee at these types of events, you soon find yourself catching up with other regulars or you might find yourself meeting virtual friends in person.
The Unlock the Past History & Genealogy Expo in Adelaide was definitely worth attending and it will take a few months for me to work through my to do and reading lists from the Expo. If there is a similar event happening in your area, make sure you try and attend if possible. These events will help your research and you have a good time too. Thanks to all the exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and of course, Unlock the Past for another great geneaevent.