Trove Tuesday – Funeral Notices and Oddfellows

24 January 2017

Most family historians look for funeral notices as they provide information on close relatives such as a person’s address, names of children and sometimes where they live if not local, married names of daughters, and sometimes even grandchildren’s names. Occasionally we might get other information such as military service, employment, membership of sporting groups and friendly societies.

The Courier Mail 15 Jun 1954

The Courier Mail 15 Jun 1954

For today’s Trove Tuesday post I am looking at my great grandfather James Carnegie who died in 1954.

His funeral notice gives his home address and that he was survived by his wife and children. I can tell who is married and who isn’t married. There are married surnames for the daughters which can be useful if the marriage is within the closed access period for the indexes.

James is described as a husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather so that tells me that there are quite a few descendants to look for.

Finally we are given the name of the cemetery where I can look for a tombstone.

While all of the above is interesting, what did intrigue me was that he was an Odd Fellow, a member of the Southern Cross Lodge, No 2060, GUOOF (Grand United Order of Odd Fellows).

A Google search leads to a number of websites which explain what the Odd Fellows are all about. There is even a website for them with a section on their History.

James Carnegie and his wife Mary Finn in 1906

James Carnegie and his wife Mary Finn in 1906

Of more interest, was the fact that the Noel Butlin Archives Centre (NBAC) at the Australian National University holds the records for the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. As an archivist, the first thing I always do is read the agency history which provides background information:

The Grand United Order of Oddfellows (GUOOF), which was originally established in England in the late 1700s, began in Australia around 1844. The first Sydney lodge—Travellers’ Home No 731—was operating in 1845 and by 1848 there were three additional lodges. In 1854, the Port Phillip District of Grand United separated from the New South Wales branch to establish Grand United in Victoria. In 1877, the Queensland lodges also separated and established their own management committee. Eventually the Queensland and NSW branches merged to form Grand United Friendly Society (NSW), and in 1986, Grand United (Vic) merged with Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows (Vic). In March 2005, the Grand United Friendly Society (NSW) merged with Australian Unity.

The next thing I do is look at the list of records held for AU NBAC Z728 Grand United Order of Odd Fellows deposit. There are 159 boxes of minutes, membership records, financial records, rules and laws, correspondence, attendance books, visitors books, circulars, manuals, registration records, merit book, obituary book, staff records, indexes, publications and memorabilia. But there is no online list to tell me if the collection holds any Queensland records. The other thing to note is that collections like this are not usually indexed by a person’s name so even if you know a Lodge name and number, you will still need to go through the records to see if they are relevant. Something to investigate further on a future trip to Canberra.

I also did a search on the State Library of Queensland online catalogue in case there were any local records but no luck.

One funeral notice can lead to all kinds of family information. Now I know that great grandfather was an Odd Fellow. Thanks Trove.

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Shauna has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society. In 2009 Shauna received the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Services to Family History Award for her achievements in Queensland, Canberra and Victoria.

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