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.