Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Another use for Evernote

I am fairly new to Evernote, and lots of people in the genie community rave about it. So I'm going out of my comfort zone and giving it a try, and it really is awesome. I've been searching for some information from many sources, and the Evernote tagging system comes into its own in situations like this. I just save each email or web page to my Evernote account, tag it with a relevant description, and bingo, it's done. It's then super-easy to search the tags to find related items. You can download the app to smart phones, tablets, and PC's (Macs too, I presume), so all your saved results are available when you're out and about.

Following on from that I've stepped up a notch (in an attempt at being organised) by saving and tagging a bunch of items and search results from the State Records NSW website, so when I'm ready for my next excursion to my version of a Cathedral I'll have all my records in front of me to request, ready for the amazing staff there to pull and have ready and waiting for me. (I love SRNSW. They're like my slaves, only better, because they know sooooooo much.)

So try Evernote, and see if tagging what you've saved makes it easier to retrieve things when you really need them.

Monday, 9 December 2013

I love Trove, but sometimes ......

I don't know of one genie out there who doesn't love Trove for newspaper searches related to our ancestors, but sometimes, no matter how well we fill in the search fields the article we know is there just won't show up. This was the case for my gg-grandmother, Ada MORRANT (1864 - 1913). I'll write her story another day, as it's quite a doozy. 

I was searching for any kind of death notice in the paper for her,  so I was typing my fingers down to stubs on Trove, looking for her using a name-based search. Nothing. I tried variations on the spelling of her married name, Barrett, as well as her own name, Morrant - still nothing. I KNEW it was in a newspaper because I'd found it on the wonderful Ryerson Index, another resource us Aussies are lucky to have at our disposal.

Ryerson Index result for Ada Barrett's funeral notice

Luckily, there is more than one way to skin a cat (apologies to cat lovers). Instead of searching using Ada's name, I searched as if I was reading an actual paper edition of the Sydney Morning Herald for 27 December 1913, and virtually turned each page until I got to the Funeral Notices. And there she was. 4 times! How Trove didn't OCR these entries correctly I'll never know, but at least Ada was there, and well loved by her children and friends judging by the notices.

Sydney Morning Herald funeral notices 27 Dec 1913
So even though I've had a whinge about Trove in the past here, still 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Week 5 - Your Childhood Home - very late in coming :)

This blog post is really late, as I've recently started a fantastic job in a library and that keeps me really busy. This will be my last post in the series, as I'll be writing blog posts about my ancestors and their stories, which has gone by the wayside lately. I skipped week 4 because I don't really have a favourite season. I'm such an indoor girl that I really don't notice the weather. Living in Australia we have stinking hot summers, and the winters aren't terribly cold where I live (like maybe down to 4 degrees Celcius), with no snow because the coast is close by. There's something I like and also dislike about all of the seasons. If it could be spring or autumn temperatures all year round I'd be fine with that. :)
So that's my poor excuse for week 4. Now onto week 5......

The prompt for week 5 is Your Childhood Home

When did you leave home? I left home in a couple of stages. Firstly I moved out during the school weeks to live with my grandparents and go to the senior high school that my mother had been to, which was close enough to my Dad's parent's place that I could be a day student. I would come home very weekend and for the school holidays.

Where was it? The first house I lived in was in a Hunter Valley mining town called Pelaw Main. Our house was a first-home-buyer's-special miner's cottage that backed onto the bush and some grazing land. There was mine-subsidence under the house, and Dad said if you put a marble at the front door it would roll straight out the back door, so the house was on a bit of a slope! There used to be a whole other street full of houses behind ours, but they all started to fall into the coal mine, so they were demolished. Mum said that in winter you could see steam from the mine coming up through the grass out the back. We lived there until I was 3 and my younger sister was about to be born. I presume we needed a house big enough to hold the growing brood.
The photo below is my Mum holding me in her arms, and my Dad's brother, Uncle Max. I think that was Max's car. Mum hadn't learned to drive at that stage, and Dad had a motorbike for getting around. The house looks nothing like this now. It's been extended on most sides and you wouldn't recognise it as the same place. I even had to double-check the house number with my Mum to make sure the one I can see in Google Street View is the same. The only things I remember about the house was that the verandah floorboards had many splinters, and I was taken to Kurri Kurri Ambulance Station to get a large one removed from my toe. And my Dad would park his motorbike there and I was allowed to climb onto it, but I did burn my leg on it when the muffler was still hot one day. Ouch!

Our Pelaw Main house c1968

You can still see the ghost of the streets behind the houses where whole families lived & played up until the 1960's.

Where did you move to?

From here we moved a whole 4.1 km the neighbouring town of Weston. I can remember the layout of this house better, as I we lived there until I was nine. It had a bedroom on each side of the hallway at the front, and another opposite the lounge room as you walked further down the hallway. Behind the lounge was the kitchen, and opposite that was the bathroom and laundry. We had an inside toilet, too, which was a step up in the world after our last house! I can't imagine Mum toilet training two toddlers with an outside toilet, as well as contend with the rain, the dark, spiders, etc. Thank god for modern plumbing. Two days after we moved here my sister was born. I'm sure Mum was thrilled to be moving house at nine months pregnant!! As an adult I've driven past the house and it looked so much closer to the road that I remembered. When we moved in it had plaster moulded into fruit shapes around the hallway, which was painted to be the colours of the actual fruit. Ugh! It was quickly painted over in white. My sister and I shared one of the front bedrooms, and I can still see our twin beds and matching blue & white floral bedspreads. I can remember it was a long dark walk down the hallway at night to the toilet. There was a park within walking distance, which I was allowed to go to ALONE (times sure have changed, and maybe not for the better) and play on the fun but apparently dangerous equipment (if you believe the people who make the current park regulations and equipment). The slippery-dip was always blisteringly hot on the backs of my legs, and very high up, so I didn't go on it very often. Behind our back fence was a cream or yellow weatherboard church, which I used to climb through some broken palings in the back fence to see. I don't recall ever seeing people there, though, but occasionally there was confetti in the grass, which was very exciting. Now it's a duplex - typical. We had hydrangeas planted down the side of our house, and Boston fern along the back verandah. My grandmother helped me plant some zinnia seedlings along a side garden, but I think the soil was pretty hopeless so they didn't sprout. My lack of understanding of the importance of regular watering might've had some part to play. The front fence was chain-link when we lived there, and the front porch had a brick half-wall instead of pickets. The side fences were wooden palings, and there were three huge (to me!) garages at the end of the driveway that aren't there any more.
Our Weston house where I lived from age 3 to 9

In 1977 we moved again, an hour's drive away, to be closer to Dad's workplace, and we ended up at Gorokan on the beautiful Central Coast of NSW. I think I was lucky to grow up in the area that I did. It was full of families, with no real trouble around, burglaries or vandalism, etc. Sadly, the area isn't the same now. The house was sold about 15 years ago and The house is now rented, to one of our old neighbour's children (who is now over 30). I wonder if she feels weird to be sleeping in what was my Mum & Dad's bedroom, a room where she would never have been allowed to venture as a child coming to play with my sisters.

I lived here until I moved to Sydney for work in 1987. My first marital home was only around the corner, which was very handy for babysitting. As I was growing up in Gorokan, a group of neighbours would get together regularly for Guy Fawkes Night, Christmas celebrations, and a weekly tipping (betting) club, and called themselves the Minnamurra Mugs, named after the street. Those were the days........

Gorokan house
My Uncle Max painted each house on a corner of a tablecloth as a wedding present.
Pelaw Main house
Weston house


Cessnock house
Gorokan house
The Cessnock house pictured on the tablecloth at was my grandparent's home until they both died and it was sold in 2003. It was in the family since the 1930's. My grandmother lovingly tended some rose bushes near the front fence, one of which flowered into a large bloom that had huge petals like maroon velvet and smelled divine. Sadly, I can't find the same one anywhere. If I could find one I'd grow it as a reminder of my grandmother. This is what the house looks like. It was freezing in winter, and hot as hell in summer, but it was the place we all gathered as a family, and that's what it's all about after all.

Monday, 23 September 2013

My great-great-grandmother's brooch

Elizabeth Lorne ("Lizzie") BRACKENREG (1853 - 1949), the eldest daughter of Charles John BRACKENREG and Mary Ann BAILEY, was born at home into a family of publicans and racehorse owners in High St, West Maitland. Charles was the grandson of a NSW Rum Corps soldier, James BRACKENRIG, who arrived on the Neptune with the Second Fleet, and Mary Ann's father was a convict from London, Samuel BAILEY. Lizzie's younger sister, Ruby, lived with my father's family when he was a child, and he remembers her saying that her grandfather "was on the Governor's second boat".

Lizzie was an accomplished pianist, who played on a Sunday at one of the Anglican churches in Maitland. They lived at a property called "Wyndella", at Luskintyre, which is 18 kms from Maitland. There is now a suburb named Windella near that area. She also gave piano lessons. Her piano was handed down to her granddaughter, Florence Mary O'NEILL, who then passed it onto her only daughter who is my Aunty Rea (Marea). There are little holes on the front of the piano where the candle holders that lit up the sheet music were removed. Lizzie's great uncle, Thomas STUBBS, was a well-known violinist and composer, as was his granddaughter, Maud FITZ-STUBBS, as well as her brother, Percy FITZ-STUBBS and her daughter, Madeline WOODS. Sadly, their musical ability has not trickled down to my branch at all.

The family must have made a comfortable living, as I have a few photos of Lizzie throughout her life, and she was very well dressed in each of them. In every photo she is wearing a gold brooch, that has worked it's way down the generations, and the current custodian is another Australian descendant who lives in England. It must have been important to her if she wore it for every special occasion. I have no idea if it was a gift to her, maybe as an engagement present from her future husband, John CRUCKSHANK, who she married when she was age 25, or maybe it was left to her by her own mother. There is no specific mention of it in her will, although it was handed down to her fourth daughter, Ruby. Maybe Lizzie gave it to Ruby before she died, rather than through her will.

Ruby's daughter had the brooch cleaned in 1984 for her daughter (Patricia, the current owner) to wear at her wedding as her dress was Victorian in style.  Patricia remembers her Mum saying that she loved to play with the dangly bits as a child and had actually pulled one off although it's not obvious from the photo, so she thinks a jeweller must have repaired it at some stage. The brooch has a pin on the back to fasten it to clothing.

Gold brooch with seed pearls and emeralds

Lizzie Brackenreg wearing the brooch.
Elizabeth at the wedding of her daughter, Ida, in 1915, age 62

Lizzie's husband, John CRUCKSHANK, predeceased her by 37 years, and although she lived in Westmead (Sydney) after he died, they are buried together in the Anglican section at Cessnock's Nulkaba Cemetery. I hope Lizzie's longevity genes are very strong in me, as she was 96 when she died.

Elizabeth and John's grave at Nulkaba, near Cessnock

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Book of me, Written by you: geneameme week 3 - describe your physical self

The prompt for week 3 is - describe your physical self.

Eeeeew! Whose idea was this???! Deep breath.

I'm 5 foot 2 with eyes of blue. Seriously! I'm a shorty, but I don't mind. Lots of my friends are the same height. I'm under-tall for my midriff, though. I would need to be about 6' tall to be as thin as I'd like - based on my current level of cuddliness lol. My warped logic is that I have a tall person's stomach muscles in a short person's body, which is why they pop out at the front. That's my excuse & I'm sticking to it! I'm an average size in clothing, except the hems of jeans always need to come up a bit. Even petite jeans usually need a bit off the bottom. Luckily my Mum taught me to sew. And her Mum taught her - see? a genealogy link! One can always be found!

My hair is dark brown with the odd grey, but I try & keep them under control. I can't see myself being one of these fabulous women who embrace the grey. It's past my shoulders, & wavy, & goes frizzy after one sleep. Surprisingly for a Leo, I'm not that worried about my hair, so it's usually in a no-maintenance ponytail. Today it's out loose.

My skin is fairly pale, and freckly on my arms & hands. I think the freckles on my face have faded away with age. There are a few wrinkles on my face, but if my only choices are ageing or death, I know which one I pick. Hopefully I won't look leathery in years to come because I avoid the sun, especially on my face. Sunscreen wasn't around much when I was a kid, so my Aussie childhood of frequent sunburns could well haunt me later in life.

Scars: one under my right eye (which now conveniently blends into a crow's foot! Wrinkles do have their advantages haha) from the chickenpox I had when I was 9. Another on both sides of my right ankle to fix the break that happened when I was 4 mths pregnant with my 18yo son. Chasing after his older brother while pregnant & in plaster was so much fun!!! (NOT).

Today I'm wearing blue denim jeans & a grey T-shirt, a gold watch, & 4 gold rings. One is my plain band wedding ring. My engagement ring has 3 diamonds in a row. On my right hand (I'm right-handed) is a ring that looks like diamonds in the shape of a flower. I call it my divorce ring :). We get rings for every other occasion, I figured I deserved one for having the courage to leave a bad marriage. The 4th ring was a present for Mother's Day from my sons who are now 18 & 20. It has I LOVE YOU written across the top & diamond chips as well. I love it & it reminds me of them now they don't live at home. I'm really touched that they bought it for me together.

I'm not the slightest bit fit, although I would like to be. I know that's up to me to arrange, but I feel so busy with everything else that it's not in my time budget at the moment. My 6yo daughter & I have taken to walking around the block after dinner. She holds my hand & notices things that I don't, which is priceless. We might upgrade to walking around it twice, just for starters. 

Yes, 45 years of use
Wrinklier on the right from driving.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Geneablogger Meme: The Book of Me, Written By You – Prompt 2 - Your Birth

Better late than never!!

The Prompt for week 2 - Your Birth

Do you have any baby photos?

Where were you born?
Kurri Kurri District Hospital, in the NSW Hunter Valley

Who was present at your birth?
My Mum & I (obviously!) and Sister Seamer, who was the midwife. Mum couldn't remember her name, but I found it on my birth certificate. The Doctor's name is also there on the certificate, but Mum said he didn't make it in time, so maybe the hospital were following protocol to list his name on the form.


18 inches & 6 lb 1/4 oz in the old money, or 45.72 cm & 2.73 kg.

What day was it? Time?

It was a Wednesday (which presumably makes me full of grace), at 1.15 am. Dad dropped Mum off at the hospital (this was 1968, so fathers were actively discouraged from being there), then went home to sleep. We didn't have the phone on at home then, so a taxi was sent (all of 3.1 km) to tell Dad the good news about his firstborn.

Did you have hair? 

My baby book describes it as "fair red", and I know there wasn't all that much of it.

Eye colour?
Blue. And still blue all these years later.

Are you a twin?

No, but I always wanted one. Not much I can do about it now!!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

99 Things Genealogy Meme - Aussie Style

  1. Belong to a genealogical society (SAG)
  2. Joined the Australian Genealogists group on Genealogy Wise (pending)
  3. Transcribed records.
  4. Uploaded headstone pictures to Find-A-Grave or a similar site.
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)
  6. Joined Facebook.
  7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery.
  8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group.
  9. Attended a genealogy conference.
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society.
  12. Joined the Society of Australian Genealogists.
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery. 
  16. Talked to dead ancestors.
  17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants
  19. Cold called a distant relative.
  20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
  21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
  22. Googled my name
  23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
  24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
  25. Have been paid to do genealogical research. (I wish!)
  26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research. (Ditto)
  27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.
  28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
  29. Responded to messages on a message board.
  30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.
  31. Participated in a genealogy meme 
  32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks, etc.).
  33. Performed a record lookup.
  34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise.
  35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space (or been a long distance swimmer) (Just bought He Must Have Swum by Janet Reakes)
  36. Found a disturbing family secret.
  37. Told others about a disturbing family secret.
  38. Combined genealogy with crafts 
  39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby.
  40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person. (For the Walcha WW1 Honor Roll project)
  41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
  42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure. 
  43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology. 
  44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
  45. Disproved a family myth through research. (My gg g-m didn't exclude my g-gm from her will just because she married a Catholic)
  46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
  47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.
  48. Translated a record from a foreign language.
  49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.
  50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer. (baptism, not census)
  51. Used microfiche.
  52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City
  53. Used Google+ for genealogy.
  54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors
  55. Taught a class in genealogy.
  56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
  57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
  58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
  59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents.
  60. Found an ancestor on the Australian Electoral Rolls
  61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
  62. Have found relevant articles on Trove.
  63. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
  64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
  65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
  66. Visited the National Library of Australia.
  67. Have an ancestor who came to Australia as a ten pound pom.
  68. Have an ancestor who fought at Gallipoli.
  69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
  70. Can read a church record in Latin. 
  71. Have an ancestor who changed his/her name.
  72. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
  73. Created a family website 
  74. Have a genealogy blog (you're on it right now!)
  75. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
  76. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
  77. Done genealogy research at the War Memorial in Canberra.
  78. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center.
  79. Found an ancestor in the Ryerson index.
  80. Have visited the National Archives of Australia.
  81. Have an ancestor who served in the Boer War.
  82. Use maps in my genealogy research.
  83. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK. 3 of them
  84. Found a bigamist among the ancestors.
  85. Visited the National Archives in Kew
  86. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records.
  87. Taken an online genealogy course.
  88. Consistently cite my sources.
  89. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors
  90. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.
  91. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
  92. Made a rubbing of an ancestors gravestone.
  93. Followed genealogists on Twitter.
  94. Published a family history book.
  95. Learned of the death of a fairly close relative through research.
  96. Offended a family member with my research. (unsure, but most likely ;)  )
  97. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts.
  98. Have a paid subscription to a genealogy database.
  99. Edited records on Trove.
This blog post is a response to Jill Ball's post from last week:
As there are now a number of Australian bloggers in the blogisphere I thought I'd take Becky's meme and dinkumise it.  I encourage Australian genealogists to post this meme, which will give others a picture of you, to your blogs. Foreigners are welcome to join the fun.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Ancestors' Geneameme

Another genie meme, Jill Ball's idea this time:

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item 

Which of these apply to you?
  1.  Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents
  2.  Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3.  Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents (6 of the 8. Working on the other 2)
  4.  Have an ancestor who was married more than three times (one ancestor had at least 4 partners, but  was only married to 2 of them. Not all at the same time, either, thank goodness)
  5.  Have an ancestor who was a bigamist (if you count being married to someone while living for 30  years with someone else, then yes. Also a father & son who both committed bigamy, 
  6.  Met all four of my grandparents (I was very lucky to know them all. I was 17 when the first one died,  so I had lots of years to form memories of these beautiful people)
  7.  Met one or more of my great-grandparents (technically yes. My last great grandparent, Rosanna  KING (1890 - 1970), died when I  was 16 months old, so I'm sure I would've been held by her, but I just  can't remember it. Just phoned my Mum & she confirmed that I'd met her)
  8.  Named a child after an ancestor (my elder daughter is Kate, named after my mother Kathryn, & my  sister, Katrina, who was also named after our mum. My younger daughter's middle name is Maree, after  my middle name, & therefore my aunty's name)
  9.  Bear an ancestor's given name/s (my aunty is Marea, & my middle name is Maree)
  10.  Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland (all of them! I'm as Caucasian as they come. Except  for my Roman toes
  11.  Have an ancestor from Asia
  12.  Have an ancestor from Continental Europe
  13.  Have an ancestor from Africa
  14.  Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer
  15.  Have an ancestor who had large land holdings (Henry TUCK (1810 - 1890) had 640 acres granted to  him on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. There are still descendants living on some of the land today,  although I don't know if it's still the full 640 acres)
  16.  Have an ancestor who was a holy man - minister, priest, rabbi (my uncle, Edward Maxwell COLLINS  is a St John of God Brother. My great-uncle's nephew by marriage is The Most Reverend Philip WILSON -  Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide. On my husband's side his many times great uncle was Reverend William  Marcus DILL MACKY. He makes searching for the MACKY family in Trove a bit tricky because he officiated at  so many marriages and his name is mentioned a lot in the marriage notices)
  17.  Have an ancestor who was a midwife (not any ancestors, but my sister is)
  18.  Have an ancestor who was an author (Catherine FALVEY (1813 - 1894) wrote poetry, and one of her  sons Henry TUCK (1845 – 1930) also wrote poetry and I have a copy of his book of poems:
  19.  Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones (not in my tree, but my husband's  grandmother was Maria Skillen SMITH (1916 - 2006) )
  20.  Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21.  Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22.  Have an ancestor with a forename beginning with Z
  23.  Have an ancestor born on 25th December (none that I can find)
  24.  Have an ancestor born on New Year's Day 3
  25.  Have blue blood in your family lines (nope, just red)
  26.  Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  27.  Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  28.  Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century (all of them)
  29.  Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier (a couple of lines)
  30.  Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents (3 of the 8)
  31.  Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X (the most recent was Ada  MORRANT who married William Joshua BARRETT at St Silas Church, Waterloo, Sydney in 1883)
  32.  Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university (not that I know of)
  33.  Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence (4 convicts in my tree, & a few who  probably did a few naughty things in their time)
  34.  Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime (a few had things stolen from them, at least one had a  bigamous husband, and undoubtedly other stuff that Trove hasn't revealed to me yet, if ever)
  35.  Have shared an ancestor's story online or in a magazine (Tell us where) Yes, my ancestor's stories  are earlier in this blog. Also, my ancestor Esther SALAMON/SPENCER/FITZ/STUBBS/BIGGE's story  was included in a book, as well as a photographic exhibition at the Museum of Sydney in April 2013. I've  blogged about all of these events in the last two years.
  36.  Have published a family history online or in print (Details  please) This is the link to my  blog post about the publication of our book called Convicts Down Under, featuring the stories of seven  convicts.
  37.  Have visited an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries (Yes, the land that was owned  by the CRUCKSHANK family near Uralla, NSW. The house was long gone, sadly)
  38.  Still have an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family (the land granted to  Henry TUCK, mentioned in #15)
  39.  Have a family bible from the 19th Century (There is a TUCK family bible that of course I would  love to  own. It's current custodian is another family member, presumably in Victoria. I'm currently on the  trail of  finding out who has it so I can get some photos of it. I know the first marriage in it has a bogus date - a  mystery I'm still solving)
  40.  Have a pre-19th century family bible (I wish!!)

Geneablogger Meme: The Book of Me, Written By You – Prompt 1 - Who Are You?

As the website says, Prompt 1: Who Are You?
The prompt for week 1 is a recognized psychology test: Ask yourself 20 times “Who are you?” Each time you should give yourself a different answer, and if you can easily go beyond 20 entries then that is fine too. This prompt is about how YOU see YOU.
My answers sound a lot like Jill Ball's (sorry Jill, trying not to copy!), but I think to be a genie we think a certain way, and like many of the same things. Jill's answers to the Geneameme are here:
I am:
an eternal student - always learning
an enthusiastic genealogist & family historian
a daughter & step-daughter, sister, niece & aunty, cousin to many
a wife to Dean
a mother of 4, & mother-in-law to 2 (if partners count, which I think they do)
a good friend & listener
a Jill-of-many-trades as far as work goes: library technician, accountant/bookkeeper, optometrist's practice manager, bookstore assistant manager, medical secretary
an avid reader
a novice blogger & writer
spiritual but not religious
messy but wishing I was more organised
a spelling nazi
non-judgemental - see? English spelling for us Aussies ;)
not the slightest bit interested in gourmet food or cooking
a feminist
myopic - maybe literally & figuratively
movie-lover (but only certain types of movies, same goes for TV series)
the household's fix-it person
too pale to enjoy going out in the sun, therefore a shade-seeker
a dreamer, especially about the design of my ideal house
There, 20!!! That was both easy & hard at the same time. Just like life, I guess.
Bring on week 2!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Father's Day 2013 tribute

Having been inspired by Jill Ball's GeniAus post this morning about Father's Day, here is my tribute to the fathers in my family.

Firstly, my husband, Dean. He's been a step-dad to my 2 grown-up sons, and is an awesome father to our two daughters. Here he is at the Sanctuary Cove boat show last year, wishfully thinking that this boat was actually his:

Next, the men whose DNA I share:

Gerald Andrew Collins (1941 - )
My father, Gerry (Gerald Andrew Collins), is a retired coal mine first aid officer, & school bus driver. He used to drive us on our school excursions, which gave us kids lots of cred. Back in primary school. Everywhere he would travel when he did his two laps of Australia he would know someone. There are never 6 degrees of separation to my Dad, only ever 2 or 3, especially if you're from Cessnock! He's battling lung cancer as best he can, and the world won't be as sunny without him in it. He answers the phone to his brother with the words: "He ain't heavy" instead of "hello", calls me "Old Nell", and always ends our phone calls by calling me "Pet". His philosophy is "If you can't say anything good about someone, don't say anything at all." He's never even said it to me (not that I can remember but surely he did at some stage), although he lives it every day. I try and live by his example, and pass it along to my children.

Andrew William Collins (1907 - 1994)
This blurry pic on the right, taken on the lakefront at Wangi Wangi NSW in 1993, is 4 generations of our Collins family. In the wheelchair is my grandfather, Andy (age 86), my Dad Gerry, me as a spring chicken, and my eldest son, Stewart, who was only a few weeks old at the time.     

Andrew William Collins (my "Pa") was also a coal miner, as well as a bread carter, canary breeder and at one stage a driving instructor. He was really lucky to avoid being killed in the Bellbird Colliery Disaster in 1923, when he was 16. He had been offered to work "a doubler" (working two shifts in a row), but didn't take it on. The explosion happened in that second shift. He was a really gentle man. When I lived with he and my grandmother for a couple of years (a privilege I didn't appreciate at the time, especially for it's genealogical value!) I would come home from school in an afternoon and he'd ask if I learned anything. The answer was always "Nup", even if I did occasionally learn something. That was our standard greeting. He loved to sit in the sun on the front verandah of his Cessnock home and say hello to anyone who walked past, as he tapped the rubber end of his walking stick on the wooden boards.

His Dad was another Andy, or George Andrew, depending on the document, was also a coal miner. The name Andrew runs through the family all over the place in many generations, including my brother. (I've recorded them all so future descendants won't get confused by them.) I wrote about him here:

He was born at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum in 1885, and was fostered by the Collins family from Newcastle, NSW, at about 6 weeks old. His marriage certificate was in the name Collins, listing his foster-parents as his parents, so if I hadn't had a heads-up about his parentage from a great-aunt I would be merrily chasing someone else's tree. Then, this hush-hush family secret information turned out to be wrong anyway! His real father's name was listed on his mother's entry into the Benevolent Asylum when she was heavily pregnant: Henry Burgess Gibb (1865 - 1901), coal miner from Newcastle. He was working there at the time, although his family had emigrated from Liverpool, England, about 1857, and were living in Sydney. Maybe Henry was home to visit his family when he met Ada Barrett (nee Morrant). I have no photos of Henry. He committed suicide (another story to be told there) in 1901, age 36. Ada's husband, William Joshua Barrett,  was in Goulburn Gaol at the time of Andy's birth, for the attempted murder of their toddler son, William James Barrett. I calculated the Ada was about 3 months pregnant with Andy when the awful attempt on William's life took place, so my guess is that William Joshua Barrett knew about the pregnancy, had just found out about it, or worked it out for himself. 

Here is Henry's son and my great grandfather, Andy:

Andrew/George Collins (1885 - 1952)

So even though we are proud Collins', from the age of 19 I thought my surname was meant to be Barrett, then a few years ago I found that it should've been Gibb. Weirdly, the same goes for my Mum's side of the family. Her father was George Millard Kerville (1911 - 1991). His father was actually Leo Gabriel (1889 - 1962), not Horace Alfred Kerville (1872 - 1939), even though he was given the Kerville name. Leo started as a boarder in Grandpa's mother's house, but they had a relationship that lasted many, many years and many children. They didn't marry until Horace died in 1939. Yet another story! So my mother's surname should've been Gabriel instead of Kerville. Ah, families. Gotta love 'em!

My Grandpa, George Millard Kerville, was an eccentric master cabinet-maker, who also made his own wine out of anything and everything. He had a cellar dug out of the red dirt under his house in Port Macquarie, NSW, and he would sneak us grandkids a sip of mead that he'd made. He had a garage/workshop where he had all his machinery and tools, which always had wood shavings on the floor, and smelled like cedar. When we would visit in the school holidays he would let us make things out of his off-cuts, so there was lots of nailing and PVA glueing, with not much to show at the end of it. We loved playing in the cedar shavings, especially the then curly bits, which must have been off the hand plane. His motorbike must not have come to NSW when he moved the family there from Victoria in 1954, as I've never seen it at his house. When my Grandmother, Edyth Mary Tuck (1920 - 2003), was in labour with my mum and her siblings he took her to the hospital in the side-car of the bike. I'm sure the ride would've sped labour along!

Grandpa George in 1963, age 52

George Millard Kerville, about 1950, outside his home in Ashburton, Vic.
So to the fathers in my life, thank you for being there, for being the wonderful men that you all are, and for giving me life. I'm ever so grateful.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Thomas Dixon's suicide attempt in 1847

Three of my male ancestors, all unrelated, committed suicide by way of their shaving razors. This is the story of one of them. The other two stories will follow.

My 4x great grandfather, Thomas Dixon, came to Tasmania aged about 20 from Raby, in Sunderland, England. He arrived in the early 1820’s to meet up with his half-brother George, and his brother Robert Dixon who was the Assistant Surveyor to John Oxley and who surveyed most of northern NSW & southern Qld. He came from a family of surveyors and astronomers, the most notable one being his great-uncle, Jeremiah Dixon, who was the British surveyor of the US Mason-Dixon Line fame.

For a few years Thomas was the licensee of the iconic Hope and Anchor Tavern that still stands on the corner of Macquarie St and Market Place in Hobart today. In 1825 he married Lincolnshire-born Helen Brownlow, and they moved to Sydney with their seven children in 1837, where he was recorded as a Spirit Merchant and opened a hay & grain store in George St Sydney, opposite the markets. This enterprise was in conjunction with his brother-in-law, Richard Brownlow. Helen died “after a lingering illness” in 1842, five years before Thomas’ death at age 46.

The NSW Government Gazette of 30 April 1847 has Thomas appointed by the Colonial Secretary to assist in revising the electoral lists, so he must have had some standing in Sydney at the time.

The incident happened like this: On 29 July 1847 he dined and then stayed overnight with a friend in Darlinghurst, Mr Thomas Bird. Thomas Bird was an architect, surveyor, and estate agent. Dixon was apparently uninclined to go to Sydney where there was a warrant out for him for striking a woman (details still to be uncovered despite many hours and even days of searching). Apparently he only drank “three glasses and a half of colonial ale” and although a man of few words, was in great spirits, discussing business with Mr Bird, after having been at the beach all day. Thomas’ 17-year-old son John was there very early the next morning when Mr Bird woke, saying that Thomas was going to cut his throat and that he had a razor in his pocket, and his cravat was off. John followed Thomas to the privy, where the act had was done. Thomas said “Let me finish myself – I’ll be transported”. They dressed his wounds and took him to the Infirmary, where Dr McEwan said in the inquest that “the windpipe was not cut, nor had any blood vessels of importance been touched. He never assigned any cause for having committed the act, nor did he make the slightest allusion to it.” The Doctor said that the wound wasn’t life-threatening, although he may have lost some blood at some time, although the “profuse suppuration consequent upon the wound” may have accelerated his death. The Doctor had reason to believe Thomas also “had some organic affection of the liver”. Possibly Thomas died from an infection from his own razor. He lingered for 17 days after the suicide attempt, leaving 3 sons and 3 daughters to mourn him. I presume he was buried with Ellen at the Devonshire Street Cemetery (still to be confirmed) as it was the one for Sydney-siders at the time.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Beware the postage rates from the NLA

On a bus trip to the State Records Office (NSW) last month I saw a woman with a pin on her lanyard and I got immediate badge-envy and decided I had to have one too. It says I (heart) Trove. I figured the National Library of Australia bookshop would sell it, but it wasn't on their website, so I emailed them to ask about it, and they added it to their online catalogue immediately. I was impressed with their prompt response.

They're only $3 each, so I ordered five of them, with certain friends in mind to send them to, and placed an online order. The postage was $17.00!!!!!!!!!!! For five little badges that would weigh less than a 10c coin each. When I queried this, I was told that they have a flat rate of postage: $7.00 for 1-4 items and $17.00 for 5+ items. This information wasn't anywhere to be found on the order page, only a choice between Parcel Post or Express Post.

Anyone who orders five huge hardcover books would be very pleased to get such good value postage, but for my tiny little things.....not happy, Jan. Next time I might just order four items.

I'll be interested to see how much the postage does actually cost. 

Photo courtesy of NLA bookshop

National Family History Month 2013 - geneameme especially for Jill Ball

  1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s?                                       Janelle's Family Tree Addiction 
  2. Do you have a wonderful "Cousin Bait" blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question. This blog post was my very first, and I've had contact from several other relatives who found me when Googling their ancestor, so the whole reason for beginning the blog has paid off (insert wicked laugh here). 
  3. Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging? I started blogging initially to get my ancestor's names out there as "cousin bait" (tick), and now when I have something interesting happen or find out something fascinating related to my family or genealogy in general I think it would make a great blog post I'm inspired to write about it. I have a list of stories to be written, & not enough hours in the day to write them. Some are waiting on just that extra little elusive fact to complete the story. My blogging inspiration has come from Lisa Louise Cooke, who taught me how to set up a Blogger site on one of her podcasts, and also Jill Ball, who posts a little (or sometimes big) something almost every day. Jill's example has made me realise that I don't have to have a major article ready to write a post, it can be small and simple as well.
  4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s? I wanted to reflect how much of an addiction this hobby really is.
  5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they? No, just the PC for now. I find it easier for flicking between articles, photos, and my tree to compile each post.
  6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post? Until 3 days ago, nothing, but this time my post wasn't specifically related to my family, just an experience on Ancestry & Family Tree Maker, so I put a link on the Australian Genealogy Facebook page.
  7. How long have you been blogging? Since May 2012, so still a newbie.
  8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog? I love being able to add tags, to make the central themes or people I mention easily searchable in Google. I also love to read other bloggers' posts, so a Follow By Email link is handy. I've found that these don't show up when I'm reading a blog from my preferred browser, Google Chrome, so occasionally I need to swap back to Internet Explorer 10 to use this feature.
  9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience? Cousin bait, and to inform and sometimes even entertain any readers. My audience is anyone who is interested in genealogy, particularly my own relatives. Especially whoever is the current custodian of a family bible I'd love to have a look at - whoever they might be!
  10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of? This post is my favourite so far, as it is a story about my first convict ancestor to Australia, and the amazing life she led. I'm proud of her survival sills, to die age 80, having many children and grandchildren who were all upstanding citizens. This story went on to be published in a book of convict stories called Convicts Down Under, compiled by the wonderful Maria Northcote who is the creator of the Genies Down Under podcasts.
  11. How do you keep up with your blog reading? I read the overnight ones in bed of a morning on my iPhone while trying to avoid getting up, and the ones that arrive by email through the day I catch in an evening.
  12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s? Blogger. It's easy-peasy to use. (except the insert link feature).
  13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging software? An easier way to add a link. I seem to stuff it up (no idea why) even though I've read the instructions and watched how to do it on YouTube. Maybe it's a Chrome issue. Anyway, I'd like Blogger to notice that I'm adding a link and do the right thing with it automatically.
  14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers? Amazingly, my post of 3 days ago has had way more views than anything else, although only one comment so far (thanks Jill!). The higher hit rate might be because more people are aware of my blog now, not necessarily the content.
  15. Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog? Just me!
  16. How do you compose your blog posts? I have an idea or a bunch of facts to make a story from, then I write it straight to Blogger, with a million tabs open for fact checking and I make sure any photos I want to add are saved to my desktop for easy retrieval.
  17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. No, genealogy is my life :) Not enough time for any other hobbies.
  18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers? No, but I'll be submitting a request tonight. It doesn't show up when I search on the site.
  19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging? All the tools I use for research: Ancestry, FTM, FMP, Trove, Google, just to name a few.
  20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger? Articles don't have to be momentous to post. Just get started. Small is still good, and easier for followers to read.