Mixing my metaphors: Macadamias and Glass Slippers

Queensland nuts or Macadamias on the tree. Image from wikipedia.

Queensland nuts or Macadamias on the tree. Image from wikipedia.

Growing up as a child in Queensland, we had a large Queensland nut tree in our back garden.  Now known as macadamias, these nuts make you work hard to get to their delicious centres (unless you buy them stripped bare). First you have to work through the hard protective casing around the nut, unless it’s so ripened that the exterior has turned brown and ready to fall off. Then you are still left with the rock-hard shell itself. This is no dainty nut, ready to be cracked with a graceful pair of nut crackers on the Christmas table. No, you need a hammer, the perfect spot in the concrete path and a firm stroke and a good aim for the seam in the shell. Hit too hard and you’ll demolish the nut itself, hit too softly and that delicious nut will continue to elude you. Or you just use your grandfather’s vice from “under the house”.

It struck me last night that’s a pretty good analogy to some family history research, especially the focus I’ve had lately on exploring all things relating to the little barque, Florentia, on which my ancestor Mary O’Brien may have arrived in 1853.

I’ve collected as much possible information as I can including:

Passengers lists from three archives: Tasmanian Archives in Hobart; State Records of New South Wales in Kingswood, Sydney; and Queensland State Archives in Brisbane. A few were available online but there were offline ones as well (thanks to the Unlock the Past cruise I was already going to those places – good timing)

Official Correspondence at the same archives between the various authorities: Colonial Secretary, Immigration Board, Immigration Agent, Brisbane Resident and the Police Magistrate for Brisbane.

News stories from Trove and also the British and Irish newspapers on Find My Past which were largely unproductive, as was a check of the Welsh newspapers online.

JSTOR articles available with my National Library of Australia card, again unproductive.

I’ve compared the data squeezed from each source and analysed places of origin and relations in the colony.

What did I learn?

Length of the voyage and on-board disputes

I already knew this ship had taken an inordinate, and unusual, amount of time to reach Moreton Bay: 156 days or 23 weeks. They’d had an unscheduled stop in Hobart Town after 19+ weeks at sea, because they’d been loaded with only 20 weeks of provisions. Surely all on board must have been getting anxious before they reached Hobart – after all they’d been rationed since passing the Cape of Good Hope.

The Sydney Morning Herald of 11 May 1853, reported a Brisbane story of 22 April: “The Florentia is the next immigrant vessel for this place, and she may now be considered fully due”. Initially I thought this was code for wondering if the ship had been lost, especially as it had only spoken two other vessels[i], both in the early weeks of the voyage. However by the time of the story, the news of the ship’s arrival in Hobart had already been published.

Unsurprisingly the Immigration Board who mustered the passengers in Moreton Bay on 29 April reportedly found the “state of the ship does not appear to be very cleanly.[ii]

As alluded to in the newspapers, the local Immigration Board is now engaged in the investigation of certain charges against the ship’s officers, but what their nature or justice may be remains a mystery”[iii]and “some of the proceedings of the voyage are likely to furnish employment for that mysterious body the ‘Unholy Inquisition.’ We hear that the Surgeon-Superintendent does not appear to be culpable, but more sinned against than sinning. Will the Inquisition stifle this affair also?” [iv]

These newspaper references and the length of the voyage gave me hope that the official correspondence would provide some clues to this enquiry, and indeed it did…but I will keep this for a separate story. The newspaper reporter seems to have been correct in his assumption, too, that the mystery would be stifled. Nothing further is reported in any of the newspapers on Trove, as far as I could find, and as I’ve mentioned nothing in the British, Welsh or Irish newspapers, at least by the ship’s name.

 Mortality and the long voyage

There is contradictory evidence as to how many died on the voyage as well as how many births there were.  The summary information for the Florentia in Hobart lists 9 deaths: 1 married woman, 3 single women, 1 boy under 14, 3 girls under 14 and one infant. In fact the infant was, as far as I can tell a stillborn child. However by the time the ship reached Brisbane, they were reporting 12 births and 17 deaths.[v] It is entirely possible (probable) that four passengers died between Hobart and Moreton Bay as the total number of passengers falls from 249 to 245. This would still leave an anomaly of four deaths, which would reconcile with the additional four births, though not necessarily the same children[vi].

These figures are representative but without a breakdown of the additional deaths cannot be entirely accurate.

These figures are representative but without a breakdown of the additional deaths cannot be entirely accurate.

The most tragic aspect of the deaths is that those people’s names remain unrecorded. One can deduce that two married women died, simply by looking at the details for families, so presumably one died on the final phase of the journey. As the parents’ names are stated for the children in each family, the mothers’ names are revealed even though they are not listed on the manifests as “died on the voyage”, which I’ve seen on other ships. The two married women were Mary Massy (family from Limerick) and Cath Ryan (family from Tipperary).

But what of the children who succumbed on the voyage, or the single women? Sadly, there is no mention of their names anywhere. I wonder if their families ever learnt what happened to them.

With my East Clare database which covers the period 1848-1870, the mortality rate was 1%, very low. On this voyage, the overall rate was 5%, with females being the most at risk category. Girls under 14 were particularly vulnerable, with a 6.98% mortality, and likely more depending on the deaths between Hobart and Moreton Bay. It’s tempting to conclude that this would, in large part, have been down to the reduced provisions, including the lack of water mentioned in passenger complaints, and reiterated in the Immigration Board’s enquiry.[vii] Of itself the long voyage should not have had such an impact but the ship was also a former convict-ship and was probably not as well equipped as some later ones, or as suitable for general emigration.

If ever there was a voyage when one might wish for a copy of the Surgeon’s journal, this would be one of them. Among the SRNSW documents is a letter which indicates that the surgeon’s diary was forwarded to the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners[viii] but sadly it does not appear in the lists of extant diaries on the UK National Archives site. There is also no mention of a passenger diary extant for this voyage in the Log of Logs.

The prince and the glass slipper

My hope from this research voyage was that I’d find any clues at all to suggest there were unassisted passengers on this voyage, and any kind of reference to Mary and her sister. Unfortunately my quest was futile. I know a lot about this ship’s voyage but am none the wiser about Mary. Perhaps my family tree is indeed a Queensland Nut or Macadamia tree…it’s certainly keeping me on my toes.

I’m left feeling like the prince who went from house to house trying to squeeze the glass slipper on each young woman’s foot hoping to find the beautiful girl who’d stolen his heart. I suppose by now I should know better than believe in fairy stories.

 Who was mentioned in the documents? What was the scandal? Come back for the second instalment.

A readable and informative reference book on the conditions of voyages is Robin Haines’ book “Life and death in the age of sail”.[ix] I can highly recommend it to provide a solid understanding of the health aspects of migration.

 

[i] Free Trader, for New York, and the American ship Great Britain. Moreton Bay Courier, 30 April 1853, page 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3710533

[ii] Moreton Bay Courier 30 April 1853, page 3.

[iii] Sydney Morning Herald, 11 May 1853, page 2 supplement.

[iv] Moreton Bay Courier 30 April 1853, page 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3710533

[v] Empire, 10 May 1853 page 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61324080.

[vi] The newspaper reports that 12 of the deaths were children.

[vii] SRNSW 53/1419 in batch 53/5645. Immigration Board at Brisbane to the Agent for Immigration, 19 May 1853. The Board comprised Messrs Wickham, Duncan and Swift.

[viii] SRNSW 53/8264.  Agent for Immigration to the Colonial Secretary for forwarding, dated 15 September 1853.

[ix] Life and Death in the Age of Sail. Haines, R. UNSW Press, Sydney 2003

Trove Tuesday: James Morton of Ballymena, County Antrim and Grafton, NSW.

My East Clare Emigrants blog has been neglected since the cruise but today I was determined to add a story, and the one I’d selected was about Mary Ann Morton, nee Massy. One thing led to another, as it does, and eventually I also followed up her husband, James Morton. An Irishman born in Ballymena, County Antrim he didn’t fit on the other blog so his story makes a good one for Trove Tuesday, despite the less pleasant aspects of his history on Australia’s frontier. Perhaps he was pre-conditioned by his service with the New York Rifles in the Mexican War of 1847. Which goes to show how Trove can help our American cousins as well as the Aussies. I did like that he had known Fred Ward, aka the bushranger Thunderbolt. Apart from the confronting aspects, wouldn’t you like a family obituary with this much detail, though yet again, puzzlingly, there is no detailed mention of family.

DEATH OF MR. J. MORTON. (1924, March 19). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16142344

DEATH OF MR. J. MORTON. (1924, March 19). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16142344

But this obituary is incredibly complex and talks of the conflict between the Aborigines and white settlers on the frontiers of Australia in those early days. The language, and more so, the behaviours are confronting but are a part of our history.

A Great Old Pioneer. (1924, March 18). The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1886 - 1942), p. 4. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article125965563

A Great Old Pioneer. (1924, March 18). The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1886 – 1942), p. 4. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article125965563

Continued from the Obituary above.

Continued from the Obituary above.

My thoughts on David Malouf’s A First Place

David MaloufI’ve just begun an e-book of short stories, A First Place, by David Malouf. Absorbing stories written by Australians always seem slightly disorienting, so accustomed are we (or is it only me?) to reading books whose settings are elsewhere. Which came first, the sense that “other is better”, leading to the exodus of much of Australia’s talent, or the relative weighting of other and local?

One story, A First Place, is about growing up in Brisbane and how its particular topography and lifestyle defines not only who we become as adults, but how we think. That certainly gave me pause for thought, and I can’t decide the merits of the case, but is that because it’s part of me?

Brisbane is a hilly city – not mountainous, just hilly, where travelling by car or foot anywhere involves the negotiation of hills. From a large-scale view, the hills are not so obvious, it’s when one is on the ground that it becomes so much more apparent. One of the earliest things a Brisbane learner-driver has to come to terms with is hill starts in a geared car. After nearly two decades of living in flat-as-a-tack Darwin I sometimes forget I have to change gears or use more power when going up a hill. Our geography does change our daily patterns.

Taken from a hotel in the CBD, this view is to the south.

Taken from a hotel in the CBD, this view is to the south.

Malouf posits that the topography of the city means “it shapes in those who grow up there a different sensibility, a cast of mind, creates a different sort of Australian”. The hilliness of the city means that its residents miss the long vistas of flatter cities like Adelaide or Melbourne. They become accustomed to new views at every rise, and this may make them restless in the absence of variety, as well as precluding a clear map of the mind. I’d suggest it might also inculcate a sense of mystery in the same way that a door into a garden, rather than shut you out, makes you more curious what lies behind…or is that, once again, the Brisbane girl in me? He’s certainly correct that it gives the legs a good workout, especially if you grew up relying on Shanks’ pony to get you everywhere – something that’s noticeably absent from Darwin’s flatness, and the laziness that tropical humidity generates.

He also talks about the river’s unusual snake-like twisting through the city: one of the reasons the flooding a few years back caused so much damage, as it has in the past. Add to that the relative lack of bridges forcing the traveller to negotiate twice as many suburbs as a direct route would allow.  The river conspires to shut off vistas as do the hills, but I think it also opens up a sense of a city of two sides on both banks.

Brisbane River snakes through the city and here, the CBD. You can see some of the bridges, two of which are new.

Brisbane River snakes through the city and here, the CBD. You can see some of the bridges -the one in the centre is a new pedestrian bridge, called the Kurilpa Bridge (or the Knitting Needle Bridge as I do).

Now that the river has become an active character in the Brisbane landscape with the arrival of the City Cats (ferries) along with the riverside walkways, it does open up the city in a different way. In much the same way as the hills, it makes you wonder (if you don’t already), what is round the next corner. No wonder a river tour has become so popular over the past decades.1113 Brisbane river and ferry stop

The hills and river combine in a story my father has handed down. I often wondered whether it was something he’d made up, even though it made eminent sense, until a friend whose father was also a born-and-bred old Queenslander confirmed the same story. In the pioneering days, the drays would travel across the city along the ridges of the hills when the river was in flood. My father did much the same when my cousin’s house was in imminent risk of flooding back in 1974, helping him to get his belongings up to the ceiling before the flood hit (reaching very close to the ceiling – two floors).

The Story Bridge at sunset, a city cat, and in the distance my school, one of Brisbane's heritage sites.

The Story Bridge at sunset, a city cat, and in the distance my school, one of Brisbane’s heritage sites.

As Malouf says, Brisbane has a radial design, striking out from the city centre. In the days when few families had their own car, this meant that setting out on a journey could make two suburbs seem immeasurably far apart, and mystifyingly disconnected. This is how I experienced visits to my grandfather at Buranda from Kelvin Grove, or family friends at the outside reaches of Mt Gravatt. It wasn’t until we acquired a car, or until I travelled more by car, that the geography of the city started to make sense in a quite different way. The CBD of the city may be suitably laid out in grid-fashion (and flat) but not the rest of the place. Motorways (and bus lanes) cut through suburbs like knives now, but the new tunnels and underpasses generate a lack of knowledge of the landscape above, until one pops out, bandicoot-like, at the other end, hopefully in the right place, or somewhere you recognise and can navigate from.

Although not in a very hilly street, the home my grandparents lived in is a good example of the Queenslander style of house.

Although not in a hilly street, the home my grandparents once lived in is a good example of the Queenslander style of house.

Malouf also has a theory that Brisbane’s tree-house-like homes, built on stilts to accommodate the hills and introduce breezes, affect the psyche of those who grew up there.  His argument is that their openness, with doors always ajar, introduce an element of not-seeing, not-hearing as appropriate to the circumstances. The timber of the building moves in a way that brick structures do not, and are more vulnerable to climate as well as protecting the family from it. I’m not entirely sure that I agree with his thesis on the effect of Brisbane (or more accurately, tropical, housing). It seems predicated on a particular type of house, the old Queenslander with its encircling verandahs rather even than post-war timber housing, and certainly not on the more modern brick bungalow or two-story house. On the other hand, doors are only shut here because of air-conditioning so perhaps he has a point.

“Under the house” is a different world from that above where all serious living takes place. Home of the household washing machine, tubs, wringer or boiler, Dad’s workbenches and the kids’ play area, it has a sort of wondrousness about it as well as a daily practicality. It offers the chance to explore what Malouf calls “a kind of archaeological site”, hosting as it does all sorts of odds and ends that have found their way to rest there, as well as on-going practical items. This space certainly features prominently in my childhood memories of both my own home and that of my grandparents next door. I used to love using my grandfather’s vice to crack the Queensland nuts (now known as macadamias) which grew on our tree. Usually enclosed by timber battens, “under the house” is both open and yet secure. Surely this experience is different from those for whom a basement may serve similar functions?

Malouf asks himself “what habits of mind such a city may encourage in its citizens, and how, though taken for granted in this place, they may differ from the habits of places where geography declares itself at every point as helpful, reliable, being itself a map”. I suspect it gives your internal GPS such good training that ever after you are more able to understand other places.

The Brisbane River approaches the city from the west.

The Brisbane River flows out to Moreton Bay -you can see the Gateway Bridge here, dwarfed by altitude. Very kind of the pilot to take the river and city route that particular time -doesn’t happen frequently, and then you have to have the camera ready too.

If a good writer’s goal is to make one think, and challenge our internal assumptions, then Malouf has achieved this for me today.

Have you thought about the impact of the geography of where you grew up? Do you think it has affected how you see the world psychologically and emotionally, your habits and sense of the world’s geography.

Book: A First Place, David Malouf. Random House 2014. A collection of personal essays and writing from David Malouf to celebrate his 80th birthday. This includes the following short story: A First Place. 1984 Blakelock Lecture.

Like so many cities, Brisbane has its own sight-seeing ferris wheel. Adjacent is the Cultural Precinct.

Like so many cities, Brisbane has its own sight-seeing ferris wheel. Adjacent is the Cultural Precinct.

Kiva: More bang for your buck today

kiva lgeThanks to an alert by Genealogists for Families team captain, Judy Webster, I found there’s a chance today to double our impact when making loans on Kiva.

This is how it works:

  • Go to www.kiva.org
  • You can join to choose the Genealogists for Families team if you like
  • Click on Lend
  • Look for anyone who has this caption against their name: 

    Double your impact! 

    An Anonymous Kiva Lender will match loans made to this borrower

  • You can select specific countries, male/female, specific types of loan eg housing/clothing/services etc.
  • You can also check the type of loan by clicking on “learn more”, including how secure the microfinance organisation is. Also check the person’s repayment schedule to see what the repayment time period is.
  • Once you’ve made your selection go the checkout and make your payment (Paypal is one of the options)

Over the coming months you’ll receive repayments on the loans. You can choose whether to reinvest your repayments or you can take the money back.Mr Cassmob and I have chosen to build up a portfolio so that when we’re both retired we can continue to make loans using our repayments.

Please be aware these are loans, not gifts, you are helping others to build their self-sufficiency and strengthen their security. The team has lent $97,000 since it’s inception only 2.5 years ago.

You can learn more about Kiva through my page here. Why not join us on Genealogists for Families today while your loan will give more bang for each buck.   Even if you miss today’s double-impact special, why not join us. Help other families make a difference to their lives.

Kiva loans

Just cruisin’ – genealogy at sea

Some of you may have missed the post I submitted (late) as my February contribution to the new Worldwide Genealogy blog. It offered my perspective on the pros and cons of genealogy cruising.

You can read it here or find “genealogy cruising” in the left hand sidebar.

While you’re over there visiting, why not have a look at the diverse posts being submitted by genealogists from all over the world. It’s great to have so many different stories and approaches all in one place. This innovation was the brainchild of Julie Goucher from Angler’s Rest.

The joys of local histories

Shauna Hicks is writing a 52 week series on genealogical records to “stimulate her genealogy blogging efforts”. She’s invited us to join her on the journey and while I’m behind, how could I miss out on the Week 7 topic: local histories…. after all they take up a fair bit of my bookshelf space.

Why local histories?

local histories 2Local histories tend to come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes those tiny volumes can include significant information. Only rarely will they specifically mention one’s own family, but that doesn’t matter. Our families aren’t islands and they share their community with their friends, associates and neighbours (FANs) as well as, possibly, other family members. Anything which expands our knowledge of the family’s community adds texture and richness to what we know of family stories and – it may even break down brick walls.

I’d categorise types of local histories these ways:

1. “Anecdotal” local histories which draw on the memories of those who live(d) there.

These are often chatty, informative stories but can be very subjective, which is not to say they are incorrect. Rather that the reader needs to weigh up what they’re being told. I feel sure that if you’ve ever had a conversation with a spouse or sibling, you’ll recall instances where you each remember an event completely differently. For me, the weakness of this type of history is that often only a select group of people are interviewed, or choose to be interviewed, which lends a bias to the overall history. I wrote about this, in part, in an earlier blog post. Better than no history, of course, but leaving one craving more, or just wondering. Nor does this type of local history tend to include broader historical context so we can judge if the community’s experience is typical or uncommon.

2.      “Academic” local historieslocal histories 1

These may be somewhat esoteric and seem too dense to bother with at times. However because they have to be reviewed by academic peers, they generally have more depth. What they lack is often a sense of the individuals who lived in the community, though they are certainly a bridge between the individual’s experience of history and national or international perspectives. They may exist as published histories but it’s also worth searching local universities to see if a Masters or PhD student has written a thesis on your area of interest.

3.      “Rounded” local histories

I struggled to find a term which satisfied me for this category. These may include a blend of broader history together with the story of the specific community and its circumstances, as well as some of the families who lived there.

Crows Nest Folk Museum & Village.

Crows Nest Folk Museum & Village, Queensland.

4.      “Pictorial” local histories

Although they offer less depth than any of the above, pictorial histories can bring the stories to light more clearly by showing you photographs or paintings of communities or regions either currently, or contemporaneous with when your family lived there.

5.      Built local history

I’m sure this wasn’t what Shauna had in mind but why not consider the local history that a local historical museum can offer you? It may be they also have a small publication on the area which you won’t find elsewhere, but they’ll have artefacts and perhaps buildings which show you how your ancestors lived. I wrote about these, as well as local histories, in my 52 weeks Beyond the Internet series in 2012.

Beyond the Internet

6.      Local history theory

What does it mean to study local history? How do we know the best ways to study local history? I have quite a few of these types of books too, thanks to my study for an Advanced Diploma in Local History.

So what’s my favourite local history?

You can see from all the tags how much info I've got from these two books.

You can see from all the tags how much info I’ve got from these two books.

Hands down I’d have to say the book Dorfprozelten Teil II written by Georg Veh in collaboration with members of the community. I’m forever dipping into it for my own family and that of the other Dorfprozelten emigrants.

A phenomenal amount of work has gone into it, listing as it does the residents of this Bavarian village from 1844 when the first land register was prepared. Not only that, it includes a plethora of BDM details for many of the families, as well as photographs of the community which make it easier to understand the village irrespective of whether the reader understands German.

This is of course perfect for research into the families and individuals who not only lived in the community but who emigrated. In fact a section of the book called be sub-titled “Inns and Emigrants”. In this I was very fortunate personally as my ancestral Happ family had owned an inn in the village for at least 150 years. This book gave me wonderful information, and photographs, which I was given permission to include in my Kunkel family history.

In terms of the emigrants, there’s no indication in the book of where the information was sourced. I am culpable in regard to the Australian-bound emigrants. What I provided to Georg at the time has been added to, and in some cases amended, as my knowledge has grown of their experiences –sometimes after repeatedly hassling poor Georg to clarify particular family details.

Frustratingly, albeit understandably, there is no index but I have prepared a partial one for my own use.

Summary

So there you have it. Hopefully some of this will offer food for thought, and an inclination to give local history a whirl to add flavour to your family history. I truly believe it’s impossible to do a well-rounded family history without looking at your family’s community.

As well as finding books on e-bay (use Google alerts) or select bookstores, I’ve just found this site, ISBNS.net which might prove helpful to you and which I can see becoming a firm favourite of mine.

And don’t forget if you live near an Australian reference library you will be able to submit an inter-library loan for any books held by the National Library of Australia.

A sample of the local history books on my shelves, or that I can recommend:

A centenary of memories: The Dungog Chronicle 1888-1988. Muddle, J and Hucherko K. The Dungog Chronicle

Argyll 1730-1850: Commerce, Community And Culture. McGeachy, R A A. John Donald Publishers, 2005.

Billabidgee: history of Urana Shire, Central Riverina, New South Wales. Bayley, WA. Urana Shire Council, 1959.

Conrad Martens in Queensland : the frontier travels of a colonial artist.  Steele, JG. University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1978.

Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002 (this is my “bible” for historical research on Dorfprozelten around the time the emigrants came to Australia).

Dorfprozelten am Main: Ein Dorf im Wandel seiner 1000Jährigen Geschichte. Veh, G, Benedict Press 1995.

Footsteps through Time: a history of Chinchilla Shire (two hefty volumes). Mathews, T. Chinchilla Shire Council, 2004.

From Tall Timbers: a folk history of Crow’s Nest Shire. Crow’s Nest &​ District Tourist &​ Progress Association Inc., 1988.

Herston, Recollections and Reminiscences. Hacker, DJ; Hallam DR; Spinaze, M. Queensland Women’s Historical Association. 1995.

History of South Lochaweside. McGrigor, M. Oban Times Ltd, Oban, 1996.

Laufach. Jutta Fries, 2002.

Lismore, The Great Garden. Hay, R. Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh, 2009. (Lismore, Scotland)

Lost Argyll, Argyll’s lost heritage. Pallister, M. Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh, 2005.

Villages of Northern Argyll. Withall, M. John Donald Publishers, 2004.

Vision Splendid: a history of the Winton Shire. Forrest, P and S. Winton Shire Council and Winton and District Historical Society, 2005.

That’s not all folks but it’s surely enough for one day!

Diary of a Genea-cruise: Day 9 – the finale

314 pyramidWednesday was Day 9 and the final day of our cruise as we headed for Sydney with another warning from the Captain that there would be “motion on the ocean” but that he had no control over it, being subject to a “higher power even than my wife’s”.

The UTP cruisers had a full schedule of activities for the day ahead with some earlier talks rescheduled due to illness. It was difficult to buckle down to being alert and “on plan” after the time in port at Hobart and I confess I made this one of my “time out” days, missing a few sessions. Inevitably there were clashes in the programming so I still missed some I’d liked to have heard.

RESEARCHING A HEALTH HISTORY

Helen Smith kicked off the morning with excellent advice to prepare a family tree (genogram) without names but with gender, cause of death and age at death. Even reflecting quickly on the topic as Helen spoke I could see some scary family health risks, though to be fair, none that were a huge surprise….my family is largely blessed with longevity.813 dreamworks exp

She asked “what risk factors do you have?” and encouraged us to take preventive health measures to ensure we live long enough to do our family history. Also to talk with family members about health conditions such as miscarriages, mental health issues or cancers, but being aware of people’s sensitivities around the topic.

Key messages:  Approach your family tree using health data, rather than names and see what health conditions are prevalent. Talk to family members to tease out illnesses other than the specific cause of death.

IRISH LAND RECORDS

Chris Paton was as always amusing and informative.

I was excited to learn that the Irish National Archives will “soon” be adding to their site, the extant field, house and tenure books which lie behind the Griffith Valuations. I’ve used these in Dublin before for the townland of Ballykelly but not for some of my other places and I need to revisit the images I have to make more sense of them. The website to watch is http://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/

I didn't get to spend a minute in the sun loungers...

I didn’t get to spend a minute in the sun loungers…

402 pool deck

Or on the pool deck….but I did make it to the day spa.

Chris also mentioned the Revision books (aka Cancellation Books) which update the original Griffith Valuations. These are absolutely gold in terms of tracing who took over your family’s property over the decades and can provide clues to when someone died. They are available through the LDS Family History Centres by ordering in the microfilm, but they’re very difficult to follow because they’re only in black and white whereas the originals are in colour so you can follow the entry across the page. The Valuation Office in Dublin will send a copy to you for E40 if you know where you’re looking. It may be expensive but it’s cheaper than a trip to Ireland, though nowhere near as much fun!

Other land records are available at different sites eg the Defaulters’ Books (for those who refused to pay the Tithes) is on FindMyPast as are the Landed Estate Court Records.

The National University of Ireland in Galway has a database on the landed estates of Munster and Connacht…the provinces where so many Irish in Australia came from. This database will let you search for the owners of estates and whether there might be surviving estate records (but do look elsewhere as well). Those with Clare ancestry can use the wonderful Clare Library site to learn more about their ancestor’s parish and the estates before turning to this database.

PRONI (the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland) also has great information for those with northern Irish ancestry, including a national schools index.

Key messages: All of the above. If you haven’t used any of these resources then check them out.

My advice: Land records are a key gateway into Irish genealogy though you do need to know where your ancestor came from (well anyone will tell you that!). If you’re struggling to locate their townland or village check out obituaries, funeral notices and funeral directors, newspaper stories, the name they called their house/property, gravestones, family stories, immigration records and so on. Be lateral, sometimes that’s the only way you’ll find them.

822 DreamworksFAMILY HISTORIAN: Queries and Plug-ins (Jane Taubman)

I didn’t attend all the Family Historian sessions offered by Jane, largely because of clashes with other sessions. I have the program on my computer and have imported some data but have yet to really play with it. The program I have used for years is an Australian one, Relatively Yours, which offers great flexibility but doesn’t export to other programs as consistently as I’d like.

Key message (for me): Get my act together, experiment with Family Historian and decide if it suits my purposes.

DNA FOR GENEALOGISTS

Kerry Farmer provides really clear advice in her presentations and the DNA session was no different. In theory I understand the process and significance but ….every time I turn my mind to this task I wonder how it can still befuddle me despite five years of science training, albeit a long time ago. One of my stumbling blocks is that I don’t have any other (known) relatives who have tested and all the 3rd or 4th cousins who pop up only identify relations within the USA. Kerry suggests asking them if they know of anywhere overseas their families came from. Perhaps it’s time to follow Kerry’s lead and offer to pay for tests for key people in my family puzzles.

Key message (for me): try, try again to understand my DNA results, read blog posts, download the data and try to make more sense of it. Kerry’s tips: get other family members tested, join the haplogroup that fits your profile (and perhaps a surname group, if applicable), and follow Family Tree DNA on Facebook to get early warning of special deals. There are also some good webinars online. Plainly there’s lots of homework to be done, and some concentrated thinking instead of head-in-a-bucket methods.

LOST IN ASYLUMS

Shauna Hicks gave a great talk on benevolent asylums and similar that housed consumptive patients or the infirm. The key places to find information about these is the relevant archive and they can be rich sources of information which can solve many mysteries or add more information not available elsewhere –I’ve certainly had great success with them. Many of the archives have at least some of these records indexed so do have a look at them. My notes on Shauna’s talk include a lot of reminders of action to follow up.

Key messages: Don’t forget to use an advanced google search combined with the relevant URL eg www.archives.qld.gov.au.

CRUISE FINALE

It was a shame to know the cruise was coming to an end even though our brains were getting rather befuddled and full of information. Once again our table had a lovely time chatting –what a pleasure it was to spend time with Cathy, Dot, Marlene and Thomas…we never did see the other person who had been allocated to our table (we must have looked scary). Nearly every evening we were among the last tables to leave the dining room. Thanks for your company each night my new friends!

319 the dining room

The evening post-dinner session was held back in Cleopatra’s Needle and there were lots of prizes handed out to participants and my table mates were all thrilled that the big prize of $2500 towards any Unlock the Past cruise went to our new-found friend Marlene!! I think we were more excited than she was as she seemed quite stunned but accepted her prize with what is her characteristic graciousness.

The waiter's finale

The waiter’s finale

Chris Paton gave the final presentation of the conference speaking on British civilian POWs in the First World War. While it has specific relevance to his family it had broader implications and was a fascinating study of Ruhleben Internment Camp. After the nuts and bolts of the conference talks it was intriguing to listen to a broader historical topic. It was amazing to hear the diversity of learning that occurred in the camp as professionals and academics (and no doubt tradesmen) passed their skills on to their fellow internees.

Thank you to Unlock the Past for the learning opportunity of a conference held on board ship. I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite my earlier “me, cruise…never!” attitude. Now I think I may have caught the cruising bug! I will most likely write a separate post in a day or two on my general perspectives of the cruise.

616 sunrise in Sydney

Thank you also to each of you for journeying along with me…I hope you’ve got a sense of the fun we had, and that I’ve shared some of the learning opportunities.

The steward's towel monkey...our final towel creation.

The steward’s towel monkey…our final towel creation.

Diary of a Genea-Cruise: Days 7 and 8 – Hobart Town

It was a longish voyage from Adelaide to Hobart (yes, I know, our ancestors would disagree!)  so we had a combination day with genealogy and then some sight-seeing after our arrival in port at 2pm.

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

I loved arriving by sea into Hobart because it brought to mind that Mary O’Brien had probably come this way before me, back on 4 April 1853. Just imagine the relief of all those on board the Florentia after four and a half months at sea, with a diminishing supply of provisions. Hobart is such a pretty town with its encircling hills and Mount Wellington towering over the city. It may not have the drama of Sydney’s sandstone cliffs but it has an amiable, welcoming vibe. I could happily live in Hobart but that wouldn’t be an improvement on the remoteness of Darwin, and my heat-loving tropical friends would simply refuse to visit. It must surely have been appealing though to the immigrants from Ireland, England and Wales on board the Florentia.(Apologies to my mates who are heartily sick of Mary O’Brien from County Clare).

It was a public holiday for Regatta Day as the captain brought his huge ship to dock at the wharf. Little boats were skimming round the harbour but my friend Sharn and I chose to head off along the wharf to Salamanca Place and Battery Point for some sight-seeing. Having decided to stop for a coffee, we joined other Unlock the Past Cruisers for a chat at a local coffee shop.

Sailing into Hobart on Day 7

Sailing into Hobart on Day 7

But first there was some genealogy while still at sea:

Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy (panel discussion)

GeniAus (Jill Ball) hosted this Panel on Ethics which got good feedback from the audience. The panel was Kirsty Gray, Maria Northcote and myself and Jill had prepared a range of pertinent questions for us to respond to in turn. It was interesting to see the consistency between our responses …and there’d been no prior consultation or discussion. (if anyone has thought on the session I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the panel – difficult to retain it all while in the thick of it)

391 ethical dilemmas

Chris Paton again unravelled the complexities and variability of Scottish records with his talk Scottish marriage: instantly buckled for life. Scotland may be (currently) part of the UK, but Scottish family history is really not the same as that for England, make no mistake! Among the warnings Chris issued is that people only needed to have a witness to their commitment and the marriage was a valid one, and also the the (wonderful) ScotlandsPeople only has marriages for the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Churches. If you can’t find your ancestors you may wish to follow up the Statistical Accounts to see which other denominations were active in their parish at the time. 

After arrival in Hobart people scattered to their various activities and plans. I was fortunate to spent a few fun hours with fellow genie and photo obsessive, Sharn from Family History 4 U. Some of my photos from the day will eventually make it to my photo and travel blog Tropical Territory and Travel which has been sadly neglected of late, like other things. Although the weather looked a little precarious in the beginning it turned into a magnificent afternoon with crystal clear vivid blue skies.

The day finished with a very good fireworks display over the harbour, with resounding toots of the ship’s “horn” in thanks for the display. It certainly gathered the crowds on the high decks and afterwards I was invited to join my table-mates, Cathy and Dot and friend Maria in the cocktail bar on Deck 14…a very pleasant end to the day.

547 painting the shipDay 8 was another full day in port and imagine our surprise to look out from the verandah and see another cruise ship had arrived overnight. It was interesting to see that life at sea involves little down-time for the crew who were busy painting any blemishes on the ship’s hull.

My priority for Day 8 ( a shore day) was to hit the archives in Hobart although initially I’d hoped to go to the Cascade Factory. However that was superseded by following up all possible leads on the Florentia and whether they would offer any further clues to whether Mary O’Brien was on board as an unassisted immigrant when the ship sailed into Hobart. Despite searching a range of pre-ordered documents, the answers were still ambiguous by the end of the day. My research outcomes re the Florentia will be the subject of an upcoming post.

And so we sailed from Hobart Town with my thoughts reflecting on whether Mary O’Brien and her sister Bridget were similarly sorry to leave this pretty place behind to head north to Moreton Bay, or in my case, to Sydney Town.

Leaving Hobart behind.

Leaving Hobart behind.

Diary of a Genea-Cruise: Day 6 – Motion on the Ocean

Before I tell you a little about Day 6 of our genea-journey, for those who are interested, the slides from my talk Becoming a fan of FANs is now on a separate tab on my blog under Presentations. Here is a quick link to it.420 shreck

Day 6 of our adventure was a sea-day en route between Adelaide and Hobart. The Captain warned us there’d be “motion on the ocean” but it was pretty good. By the time we got to Hobart we were swaying on land, not ocean.

Although we were so preoccupied with the many presentations in the conference room I occasionally caught a glimpse of the featured DeamWorks characters which are a feature of Voyager of the Seas so I grabbed photos of them for the grandchildren.

Kerry Farmer: Convicts from trial to freedom

Although I have no convicts in my ancestry (no royalty here or abroad! Just a peasant), I just had to listen to Kerry Farmer’s talk on Convicts. Kerry is such a good presenter and sets out information clearly and concisely. Ancestry and FindMyPast both have good convict records. I was interested in the Parramatta Female Factory information and especially the Roman Catholic orphanage.

She reminded us too, that it was secondary offenders who ended up in places like Moreton Bay, Port Arthur and Norfolk Island. However, there were exiles (the later convicts circa 1840s) who went directly to Moreton Bay receiving a conditional pardon on arrival.

Key messages (for me): this will be useful when it comes time to do Mr Cassmob’s convict research. Convict deaths may not be registered in the normal death indexes for NSW.

Jill Ball: Free Australian Websites.

Jill gave us a whirlwind tour through the websites she loves to use and it’s amazing just how many wonderful sets of information are online. I’m sure some were familiar were to listeners while others were great reminders of ones we may have visited once upon a time, but had disappeared into the maw of our bookmarks or forgotten. Others provided new points of research. I found I was making notes to myself about following up different aspects of my own research through the websites.

Key messages: Try the ABC (radio) podcasts, searching for genealogy. Visit Mapping our Anzacs (an ANZAC site) which is apparently being taken down “soon”. You can download the whole file so if you want information from there, do it NOW. Don’t forget Family Search wikis for information on your places.

Jane Taubman: Family Historian – Reports

Strange as it may seem I don’t much like genealogy programs as I tend to feel straight-jacketed. I generally prefer to have narrative instead which allows for more nuances.

However I’ve been using an Australian program Relatively Yours for many years because it offers the opportunity to add more personal information and allows for nuances in relationships which the bigger programs don’t always do. Having said all that, I like the clean format of Family Historian which tends to appeal to me.  Because I have yet to decide between these two programs and The Master Genealogist, I attended some of Jane’s talks. When I get home I’ll be playing around with it a little while I decide.

Key message for me: Come to grips with which program I want to use, and which suits my purposes best.

Thomas MacEntee: Google Alerts and Books

817 Thomas MacEnteeAs always Thomas’s talk was full of tips for making our genealogy research more organised and efficient. I knew some of this already from reading Thomas’s and other blogger’s posts on the topic.

Do you have alerts in place for your family’s street addresses, towns, your own website or blog, your areas of interest?

Don’t forget you can set up a Bookcase of books which you find on Google Books and mark them private or public. Don’t shy away from “limited view” books and also use more common phrases to look at other pages.

Key message: Use alerts and Google Books to the max. Kudos to Thomas for always repeating the question from the audience so everyone knows what was asked.

Geneareaders Circle hosted by Jill Ball

This was such a fun activity with a group of people sharing their favourite genealogy or history books. It was interesting to see even relatively esoteric books were held by others in the group.

Apart from the joy of learning about new books to follow up, it was a pleasure just to share with like-minded people.

It was both heart-warming and amusing to see Maria Northcote from Genies Down Under nearly fall off her chair when one of the participants, Alan Jones, talked about his SAG thesis on Kilmihil, the very place in Clare where Maria’s ancestors came from. You can imagine the chat that ensued!

Genies Down Under

After the circle, Jill Ball and I were interviewed by Maria for the podcast which was fun as well. Maria’s included her chat with Jill and I, as well as Alan Philips, Chris Paton and Joy Avery in her March podcast here. It’s very obvious we were having a good time and no longer noticed the ship was working its way through the captain’s famous “motion on the ocean”. Maria is just a delight to chat with, and so calm and quietly confident.

Key message: A great opportunity for attendees to get involved and share their love of books. Thanks Jill for this inspired idea. If you’re going on a genea-cruise do make sure you add this to your list of “must attend” events.

Sorry this has been so long arriving – it’s been sitting in my drafts waiting for the photos to accompany the story..and now can’t find ones I’m happy with…except a great photo of Thomas on the welcome night. I did better when I was on board ship.

art work

Anne Daniels from Drawing on the Past, offered sessions on photo collage for family history.

Diary of a Genea-Cruise Day 5: Hot, hot, hot!!

Today is…..

Saturday 8 Feb

And it’s going to be hot, hot, HOT in Adelaide, South Australia!

welcome to Adelaide1

It can’t be said that the cruise terminal in Adelaide is the most astonishing port in the world with its array of industrial buildings and containers. However a very pretty sunset over the harbour was a beautiful offset between nature and industry which I enjoyed.

sunrise

Adelaide also turned on the best show for the arriving mega-liner and its 3500 odd passengers. I liked that it had a bush band playing old Aussie songs to welcome people and while a cynical person could say the shops were there to take advantage of the tourists, they had some lovely products. With my purple, aqua and green obsession (good feminist that I am!) how could I resist a beautiful hand-painted fine merino wool scarf.

Bush band

The Old Gum Tree-O. Permission received to publish photo.

None of us were too thrilled at the prospect of a 42C day but it wasn’t too bad. The train from the cruise terminal into town is both convenient and efficient, and even better, free for seniors!

I met a former colleague and friend for lunch at the Art Gallery, and who should be at the next table but Jackie from Jax Trax, mum Jan and “little brother”. Many genea-cruisers have taken the opportunity to meet up with friends and family at ports along the way.

Back on the ship and dinner completed, our only learning activity for the day was the choice of two talks: You use WHAT for genealogy by one of my dinner-table companions, Thomas MacEntee, or Tracing the history of a community: the Society for One-Place Studies by Kirsty Gray.

Kirsty Gray presents on One Place Studies.

Kirsty Gray presents on One Place Studies.

Given my obsession with Dorfprozelten, Murphys Creek (Qld), and Broadford (Co Clare, Ireland), I just had to go to Kirsty’s talk and I’m now even more committed to getting the last two registered with OPS. I love the marriage of family and local history and the diversity of understanding that can bring.

Blogger Beads

Blogger bead possibThanks to the inspiration of Thomas MacEntee and the spending spree by Jill Ball, the geneabloggers on the cruise have been wearing their blingy blogger beads. I did rather like these beads at the Art Gallery SA which I think would make pretty good blogger beads.

 Good night, sleep tight

This little piggy went to market….

This little piggy went to sleep…

piggy