Beyond the Internet: Week 40 is a long voyage of immigration

Beyond the Internet

This is Week 40 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. The topic this week is Immigration records.

This post has become almost as long as the sailing voyage to Australia, but it’s such an important part of our research that I hope you’ll persevere to the end.

Imagine you’ve bought your suit of clothes, your sea trunk is packed, you’ve waved goodbye amid the tears. All that remains is the long weeks on board that sailing ship. Courage, determination and perseverance are required.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America all fit the bill for being migrant-attracting places: somewhere which offers, or is perceived to offer, better or different life opportunities.  Ireland shouldn’t be ignored either, as people came and went “across the pond” to north America in particular.

It’s easy to see that at some point you’re likely to come across an ancestor who is not native to the place where they lived for many years. Many of us Down Under could be called ethnic Heinz 57s as a mix of all sorts of nationalities have formed our gene pool and family tree. I’m quite proud of being a genuine Aussie mongrel with Irish, Scottish, English, German, and maybe some Welsh, ancestry.

IMMIGRATION

The Renfrewshire, State Library of Queensland, copyright expired. oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:49708

Once our path leads us back to our “original” ancestor in this country (whichever one that is), it’s safe to assume that most of us will try to pin down how they arrived here, whether they were sponsored by government or friends. The increasing digitisation and indexing of records is certainly making it easier to search for our ancestors’ immigration records.  But the risk is that it stops with the name of the ship. So what next?

What you’ll find will very much depend on the country of immigration and the time-frame of the migration. There’s not a lot you can do about this, you have to work within the parameters you’ve got.  I’m going to focus on Australia simply because that’s what I know most about, and in particular the eastern states.

Most of the records you’ll be looking at will be those for assisted passengers, those who arrived thanks to government sponsored schemes to boost our population.  Some schemes required the immigrant to work under contract for a fixed period. Unassisted passengers are much less likely to appear though there are some records. At some periods immigrants were entitled to a land grant in exchange for completing various conditions, so you should also follow that up.

In summary, once you’ve discovered your ancestor’s immigration, you need to do the background reading to learn more about the conditions of their migration.

The letter of thanks from the passengers of the Fortune to Captain Sanford. Interestingly the Gavins are not on this list, though my other ancestor, William Partridge is.

SHIPPING REGISTERS

For early Australia immigrants many of us will start with the State Records of NSW (SRNSW) immigration indexes as in the early days of Victoria and Queensland they were part of New South Wales. SRNSW has a good summary here. They have also digitised the indexes to the Assisted Immigrants Passenger Lists  together with images of the registers. This is a great innovation and definitely to be appreciated BUT if you stop there you are missing out on the chance to learn more about your ancestors.

Board’s Immigrant Lists

Not all of these wonderful documents survive but the clue will appear in old hard-copy references where two microfilm numbers are listed. This page gives you some indication but be aware that not every ship is listed: you will need to refer to the microfilm for that timeframe.  If your ancestor’s ship appears in the list, this should be a priority for your research. Why? Let me show you an example for one of my ancestral voyages, the Fortune arriving Moreton Bay in December 1855:

Assisted Immigant Lists (Reel 2137, [4/4792])

GAVIN, Denis 23, ag lab, born Kildare, RC, neither reads nor writes.

GAVIN Eleanor, 24, wife, born Wicklow, RC, can read

GAVIN Mary, 2, daughter, born Dublin, RC, neither. (It would be easy to miss Mary as she is over the page from her parents)

 Board Immigrant’s Lists (reel 2469 ARK)

GAVIN, Denis, 23, farm labourer, Kildare, Parents Denis and Mary, mother living in Kildare (ie father dead), RC, neither reads nor writes. Complains that the captain accused him being the doctor’s spy, substantiated..

GAVIN, Eleanor, 24, Wicklow, James and Annie Murphy, mother living in Wicklow, RC, reads

GAVIN, Mary, 2, born Dublin, neither.

Now I ask you which of these would you like to have for your family research? If you haven’t already done so, head out to look at the old-fashioned microfilm in a reference library or archive near you.

Languishing in the doldrums and making little headway.

The Germans on Bounty Ships

The sailing ship Peru on which some of the Dorfprozelten emigrants arrived. Image from the National Maritime Museum, no known copyright issues.

References to the Germans on the Bounty Lists are, if anything, more helpful as they were poorly treated in terms of food and cleanliness in comparison with the British ships which had learned from the years of convict transportation, so there are often complaints about the voyage, as well as a higher mortality rate.

Another trap lies with the German immigrants’ references to parents’s names where the parents are reported in the German manner where the father’s name is often not stated because the woman is referred to by her maiden name. This leads to potential confusion in the migration records. For example Juliana Diflo’s parents are reported as “John and Cath Kirchgessner, both dead”. In fact her maiden name was Löhr and her parents were Johann Löhr and Catherine Kirchgessner. A researcher trying to find her baptism would be looking for Kirchgessner when they should be searching for Löhr, which was only discovered by a careful analysis of the Dorfprozelten local history. Similarly, the wife of John Hock was called Rosina on arrival but later Clara. The immigration lists record her parents as ” Nicholas and Margaretha Kuhn”. In fact her parents were Nicholas Günzer and Maria Anna Kuhn.

This problem is by no means universal in the Australian records but it is worth bearing in mind,

After weeks at sea, you’re wondering if this migration lark really was a good idea.

Related names

When looking for your ancestor don’t just give up when you’ve found them in that shipping list. Do check for others with the same name and see whether the parents’ names reveal a relationship. As young men and women were listed separately from their families, because they were assisted passengers in their own right, you may find the family in quite different parts of the shipping list. For example, my Kent family are split into four on the one manifest: parents Richard and Mary, and their son Richard, his wife and infant daughters, are among the family groupings, while daughter Hannah and sons Thomas and John appear under the “Single Females/Single Males” categories.

With Irish migration it’s quite common to find single women seemingly travelling alone, but look closely and you’ll find others from the same village or townland or perhaps even cousins.

Employment and dispersal on arrival

Emigrants landing at Queens Wharf Melbourne. Image IAN25/08/63/1, State Library of Victoria, copyright expired.

Are you aware that these records might exist for your ancestor’s ship? I certainly wasn’t for a long time until I was clued up by one of Richard Reid’s articles[i]  (see the Visible Immigrants series on the reading list below). If they exist, you really want to pursue the Surgeon’s Disposal Lists which document where passengers went on leaving the ship, either to an employer or relative; the Memorandum of Agreement they may have signed with their employer; or Matron’s Diaries, which can be invaluable for learning more about the voyage and your ancestor’s experience on board ship.  For example, did they take the opportunity to attend school classes. Or were they occupied in some form of needlework: just think of those women on the Rajah stitching up the quilt.  I found all of these particularly helpful in my broader East Clare Irish research, especially for the 1860s.

Emigrant prior to and after departure. State Library of Victoria Image H40398, out of copyright.

You may wish to look at this SRNSW link to see if any of these documents exist as they are by no means universally available. The documents are only available at Kingswood and if you have difficulty I suggest you talk to an archivist while you’re there.

Interstate Comparisons

As many ships came via Port Philip in the early days I’ll often cross-refer to the Victorian PROV indexes for shipping. If you do this you need to remember that a person who is an assisted immigrant to NSW will be unassisted to Victoria, as the colony of Victoria is not paying for their voyage costs.  I’ve found the comparison on information to be invaluable on many occasions as it turns up additional (sometimes contradictory) information.

You’ve just about reached the trade winds so your voyage is speeding up.

 SPONSORED MIGRATION

 As is more common these days, the population reached a point where it became possible to devolve responsibility to family and friends to encourage chain migration.  This opens up further points for exploration.

My McCorkindale great-grandmother and her son appear in the Queensland indexes but to this day, her adult daughters do not.  I came across their record cards entirely felicitously one day back when the archives were at Boggo Rd: the card drawer was just sitting on the bench and I decided to have a snoop, and there they were! Perhaps the cards had been used by Judy Webster or Shauna Hicks, both long-time Queensland researchers.

New from Australia, George Baxter. Image from State Library of Victoria Image H97.42/2, out of copyright.

 Immigration Deposit Journals

One of the goldmine resources for NSW is the Immigration Deposit Journals which list deposits paid for family members or friends to emigrate.  These have been indexed by Pastkeys (check out their other indexes) and are now available via Ancestry.

Sure this makes for easy searching, so why bother to look at the original microfilms?  In my own case, without winding my way through the film I would never have noticed just how many deposits mentioned the parish priest of Broadford, Co Clare or how many times the one depositor is mentioned, which led me down another research path. This revealed what was likely a scam to ensure as many willing emigrants could emigrate as wished to and was particularly prevalent during the years of the American Civil War.  If I had simply been able to find my Mary O’Brien without trawling all the O’Briens it’s likely I’d never have found this out. Mind you, as I later learned from his thesis, Richard Reid had trodden this path before me, but even so it was a fascinating discovery.

You can see land for the first time in weeks, you have butterflies in your tummy as you get ready for the voyage to end.

OTHER

Here are some quick final suggestions.

For the wide variety of immigration research possibilities, you might find this page of links on Cora Web’s site to be invaluable.

Migration Museums such as those in Melbourne or Adelaide can provide wonderful insights to the migration experience (for example on a recent trip we saw a photograph of the immigration depot where my husband’s ancestor died.

Newspapers: for stories on the voyage, which ships they “spoke”[ii] and the weather conditions. Have a look at what cargo they carried, and see whether the captain or surgeon was sent a letter of commendation by the passengers.

Diaries: check whether there any diaries from the voyage in your local reference library.

Commemoration Walls such as the Welcome Wall on Sydney Harbour.

Books: see my “best of” list at the very end of this post (cheeky to add my own articles I know).

SUMMARY

 You really do have to squeeze every bit of juice you can out of all these records to build up a rounded story of your ancestor’s migration.  In-depth migration research can be hard work but it will richly repay you with stories for your family history.

In case you’re feeling frustrated in your migration search, you’re not alone. Don’t forget that it’s not impossible that they came in lieu of someone else and travelled under a different name.

After 26 years I still haven’t been able to find the migration records, of any sort, for my George Kunkel and his future wife Mary O’Brien or her sister Bridget and husband John Widdup. But I believe that it’s been the pursuit of their story that’s taken me well beyond my own ancestral migration stories, so ultimately it’s been a great learning opportunity.

The voyage is over, now your new life begins.

Reading List

Farewell my children: Irish Assisted Emigration to Australia 1848-1870. Reid, R.  Anchor Books, NSW 2011. (My all-time favourite and yet I omitted it…thanks Kerryn for the reminder)

Ances-Tree: the journal of the Burwood and District Family History society. Articles by Jenny Paterson on the German emigrant ships: excellently researched, informative, fantastic! You must read these if you have mid-19th century German immigrants to Australia.

Emigration and the Labouring Poor: Australian Recruitment in Britain and Ireland 1831-1860. Haines, R, St Martins Press, Basingstoke, 1997.

From East Clare to Eastern Australia: the Parish Priest, the Middle Men and the Emigrants. Cass, P. Published in the Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry, Darwin, 2006.

Farewell My Children: Irish Assisted Emigration to Australia 1848-1870, Reid, R. Anchor Books, Sydney 2011.

 Life and Death in the Age of Sail: the passage to Australia. Haines, R, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2003.

Oceans of Consolation. Fitzpatrick, D. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 1995.

They weren’t all Lutherans – A case study of a small group of German Catholics who emigrated to Australia from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria. Cass, P. Published in the Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry, Darwin, 2006

Visible Immigrants: Neglected Sources for the History of Australian Immigration. Richards  E, Reid R, Fitzpatrick D. ANU, Canberra 1989.

Visible Immigrants 2: Poor Australian Immigrants in the 19th Century.  Richards, E (ed). ANU, Canberra, 1991.

Visible Immigrants 4: Visible Women, Female Immigrants in Colonial Australia. Richards E (ed), ANU, Canberra,  1995.


[i] Visible Immigrants: Neglected Sources for the History of Australian Immigration. Richards  E, Reid R, Fitzpatrick D. ANU, Canberra 1989, pages 36-38.

[ii]  Speak: to communicate with a vessel in sight. http://www.usmm.org/terms.html#anchor255472; to communicate with (a passingvessel) at sea, as by voice or signal: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spoke

C19th Dorfprozelten emigrants in “America” Part 2

Now that I’ve set the scene for this Bavarian family’s lives, and deaths, we can turn to their American experiences.  No doubt there’ll be more to come but I wanted to publish yesterday’s discoveries while it’s fresh in my mind.

Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.

C19th Dorfprozelten Emigrants in “America”

Instead of single-mindedly pursuing Philip/Joseph/Philip Joseph Kunkel, this time I turned my searches to George Mathias Kunkel’s half-brother’s children, the Ulrichs. I’d known that two of them emigrated to the States thanks to the local history of Dorfprozelten[i]. My theory was that perhaps if I found them I’d also find a link to Philip Kunkel (good luck with that!).

Bertha Ulrich and husband William Kuhn

There is still a Kuhn Metzgerei (Butcher’s) opposite the site of the Happ’s inn, Das Goldene Fass, but now a bank.

I started out tracing Bertha Ulrich and her husband William Kuhn and found them easily enough in the US census records living in Syracuse, New York.

Now I’d heard of Syracuse but honestly didn’t know where it was precisely so of course there was a quick trip to Google maps (next stop Google Earth). I hadn’t realised how close it was to the Great Lakes and Canada. The local history told me they’d had six sons which was confirmed by progressive censuses, but so far I’ve found no mention of their daughter who died aged six, presumably in an inter-censal period. The photo of Wilhelm/William Kuhn in the US gives every appearance of a successful man. This is borne out by the census details.

William’s father was a butcher (Metzger) in Dorfprozelten and their house was almost directly across from the Happ’s inn[ii]. These days there’s still a sign for a Kuhn butcher’s shop but the inn no longer exists, replaced by a bank in the 1960s or 1970s. William Kuhn followed his father’s occupation working as a butcher in the market.

Doing a Google search I came across links to newspaper articles on the Newspaper Archive site. This was the second time in a couple of days that I’d wound up here so decided I’d best follow up the nudge, and signed up. It has proven to be very helpful for some notices and there are no doubt more tucked away when I persist with trickier searches. The site’s terms and conditions preclude you doing almost anything with the information apart from reading the articles in a dark room on your lonesome, so I can’t (on my current reading) add as much as I’d like here, though I’ve emailed for clarification.

When you come across sites like this you realise just how great, and unique, Australia’s Trove site is. Not only is it free, accurate, highlights the precise wording and is easy to use, you aren’t as limited by terms and conditions. However it is curmudgeonly to complain when you have no opportunity to read newspapers from far away.

Without going into the prohibited detail the obituary for William Kuhn confirmed that he had been a successful butcher for over 50 years, gelling with the census. It refers to his brothers Ludwig and John Kuhn, both in the States, and his sister Marie Seus in Germany.[iii] Ludwig’s migration is not listed in the Dorfprozelten history so is new information both in terms of this story as well as the local history in Bavaria. William and Bertha Ulrich had 5 children in 1900, all surviving[iv]. They were Joseph P Kuhn, William Kuhn, Jacob G Kuhn, John P Kuhn and George Kuhn. At the time of the census William’s brother John (Jacob) was living with them and also working as a butcher. They were living at 208 Jackson St, Syracuse, not far from Bertha’s sister Josephine of whom more anon.

The William Kuhn and Beuttner families lived in the same street which appears to have been affected by the freeway. Image from Google Earth.

John Jacob Kuhn and Ida Rippberger

The Dorfprozelten history reveals that John was uncertain about his migration and returned to Germany before emigrating once again to the States. He married a Stadtprozelten woman, Ida Rippberger, and had two daughters. So far I haven’t pursued this family in the records as they are part of my general Dorfprozelten interest rather than my specific family research.

Josephine Ulrich and Peter Buettner

Further searching for Bertha Kuhn’s obituary has been unsuccessful so far, but turned up another Dorfprozelten link: the death of Josephine Ulrich, eldest of the children of Georg Jacob Ulrich and Elisabeth Fermbach. Josephine Buettner nee Ulrich died in March 1916, a few weeks before her uncle George Mathias Kunkel in Australia[v]. The obituary confirmed that brother Jacob and sister Bertha had also emigrated but revealed the migration of another brother, Lothar, living in Niagara Falls. Lothar had appeared in the Dorfprozelten history only as “Kind” (Child) b March 1858.[vi]

The various US census reports Josephine living with her husband Peter Buettner (aka Buttner), and children Bertha, Lizzie, Peter, August, George and A(u)gusta. They lived at 307 Jackson Street, Syracuse.[vii] At the time of the 1900 census Peter Buettner was working in real estate. They had been married 27 years and all eight of their children were still alive. On the census documents Josephine records that she arrived in America in 1873. Peter was also German and had arrived in 1869. He had been naturalised but I’ve yet to pursue that thoroughly.

George Jacob Ulrich

George Jacob emigrated circa 1883, following his sister Bertha, and as we now know, his sister Josephine and brother Lothar.

George (aka Jacob), born 13 May 1865, was known to have married an “Englishwoman” and while we don’t know her surname, the census reveals that her first names were Mary E.  She had been born in England and her father was English but her mother was Irish. George and Mary also lived in Syracuse at 310 Jackson Street in 1910 and at 519 Tallman St in 1930.  George was (another) butcher working in the markets. He was also naturalised. George and Mary had no children from their marriage.

Lothar Ulrich

402 Cedar Ave, Niagara Falls. Google Earth satellite view.

Lothar Ulrich was a totally unexpected ring-in as his existence wasn’t even known. It appears that he was the child born in May 1858 as this reconciles with the census details. Lothar had ventured a little farther than his siblings and was living at Niagara Falls. The Falls have been a low priority on my bucket list, but that may change with these discoveries!

Lothar also had a large US-born family and had obviously established himself successfully in his new country after arriving circa 1881. The census tells us he worked as a master brewer, which is an interesting diversion from other family traditions which focus on butchering or hospitality. Perhaps it too was a skill he learned before leaving Bavaria.

Lothar’s wife, Anna E, was the same age as him and also came from Germany. They had seven children of whom six survived (assuming my reading of the form is correct): Adolph J, Richard, Jacob L, William and Augusta. They also had their grandson Frederic Clock/Klock living/staying with them at different times. Lothar appears to have died between 1920 and 1925. This family lived for many years at 402 Cedar Avenue, Niagara Falls.

The city directories tend to reaffirm the information found on census records including whom the wives are, and where they all lived.

The white house appears to be 402 Cedar Avenue and looks likely to have been the one Lothar Ulrich’s family lived in.

Where to from here?

Well that’s lots of loopholes to close and questions to answer but at last I’ve made a start, and successfully tracked down some of these 19th century emigrants from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria to the United States. Many of them are related to my family through my 3xgreat grandmother Eva Catharina Happ later Ulrich then Kunkel. I’m hoping that by posting about these families I may flush out some distant cousins who can share information. So if you’re related to any of these families I’d love to hear from you.

There are two of George Kunkels’ nieces who remain unaccounted for: Maria Augusta (b 21 February 1856 and Ernestina Veronika (b 24 February 1863). Did they die young although not shown as such in the local history? Did they marry and move within Germany? Did they too emigrate, and if so where?

Was my ancestor George Mathias Kunkel the only member of his family to make the great migration voyage to Australia? How did he get here, given that 26 years of research have failed to turn up an answer?

Meanwhile I’m none the wiser about the elusive Philip Joseph Kunkel born 1840 in Dorfprozelten. If your US or Canadian ancestor fits the bill, please do get in touch. I’d love to see if the family tale is true.

I have found a number of trees on Ancestry which relate to these families, and have contacted the owners. It will be interesting to see what the next few days bring.

I am greatly indebted to Georg Veh and the other local researchers in Dorfprozelten for the background to this story. If you have Dorfprozelten heritage please leave a comment so I can give you the details on ordering their excellent local histories.


[i] Dorfprozelten am Main, Teil II. Veh, G. 2002.

[ii] House #52 in the Dorfprozelten book, ibid.

[iii] Syracuse Herald 28 December 1939, page 6 column 2 per the Newspaper Archive.

[iv] His obituary lists his sons, adding one who does not appear on the census (Albert E) and omitting another (George) as well as his daughter Augusta.

[v] Syracuse Herald 6 March 1916, page 8 per the Newspaper Archive.

[vi] Dorfprozelten op cit, page 143.

[vii] 1900 US federal census.

Library Loot: Migration experiences and learning Gaelic

Once again I’m following in the footsteps of Julie from Angler’s Rest and reporting in on my recent Library Loot.

When I pick books up from the library I’m less selective than when I’m splashing my own cash: I figure that I can try something new and even if I’m not rapt in it, then it doesn’t really matter. On the other hand sometimes I get lucky and discover something that really appeals to me.

Two books from the Palmerston Library which I’ve read recently  might be of some interest to my readers and fellow family history junkies.

Titanic Lives

Titanic Lives may seem like it will be yet another beat-up about the well-known sinking of the Titanic, but it actually offers a much deeper perspective.  The author, Richard Davenport-Hines, is an historian and biographer and his skills shine through as he writes about how the passengers on Titanic, and their lives, were a microcosm of, and reflection of, life in the era. He also documents the sources behind his story. What I most liked about the book is that it personalises the saved and the lost: they become real people not just “steerage” or “rich”. I wasn’t especially interested in the wealthy Astors, Wideners or Guggenheims but there were riches indeed in the stories of those in 2nd class or steerage/3rd class passengers.

If your ancestors emigrated in this time frame (early 20th century) there is much in this book to illuminate your ancestor’s travel and migration experience as well as the challenges of gaining entry to the USA through Ellis Island. The author also devotes a chapter to the crew of the Titanic, providing great insights into the working lives, and safety hazards, of the merchant seaman. As I have several of these in my family this chapter was very interesting on the responsibilities of stewards and firemen. Admittedly my ancestors were working on rather less glamorous ships than the Titanic but nonetheless there’s useful information there.  I found this book very interesting and learnt a good deal from it. This is not just another reiteration of the story of a major tragedy.

Home with Alice: A Journey in Gaelic Ireland

This book might be of interest to my readers who are keen Irish researchers with its exploration of Gaelic-speaking Ireland and the role, and threats to long-term survival, of the language.

When I picked the book up at the library I thought it might be another version of Brigid by Australian author, Jill Blee, which I had enjoyed for its focus on Co Clare. In fact this story had little in common with Brigid, despite the nominal role of the author’s aunt Alice in his journeying to Ireland’s Gaeltacht districts. I personally found Alice’s interventions contrived and unnecessary other than to explain the author’s initial decision to learn Irish.

Author Steve Fallon is a journalist and, inter alia, a travel writer for Lonely Planet, and at times the book takes on the tenor of a guide book. However I enjoyed learning more about the challenges of Irish as a language, especially as at one point I’d thought of learning it myself.  If anything the book convinced me this was a delusional aspiration due to the language’s complexity. I learnt that there were differences between the various dialects within the Gaeltacht regions, the new acceptance of Irish as a fashionable language with the rise of the Celtic Tiger, and the invasiveness of English into the Gaelic expressions.

It’s always a pleasure, too, reading a book which describes places you may have visited so that you can visualise where he’s talking about, whether Connemara, Kerry or Donegal. The impact of Gaelic television and radio also reminded me of the significance of Australia’s own ethnic broadcaster, SBS.

I do find the Irish-American tendency to identify as “Irish” a bit strange. While I too have an Irish passport like the author, and have many branches of Irish ancestry as well as a love of Ireland, my mongrel Australian ancestry means I feel it would be inaccurate and presumptuous to call myself Irish. Apart from the significance of the Catholic church to Irish emigrants in both countries, the experience of being a descendant of Irish emigrants in Australia seems to me to be quite different from that in “America”.

One Place Study -Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland

Okay enough of the frivolous business of Paris and Provence – back to some hard core family history.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been studying the coursework from another Pharos course, this one on One Place Studies (OPS). I was so tempted to focus on one of my easy ancestral places in England or Scotland where I know there are lots of sources, but in the end I knew I had to bite the bullet and look at Broadford in east County Clare.

A Google Earth map of Broadford and surrounding areas, including the townland of Ballykelly.

The main street through Broadford. P Cass 2006

Now I’m going to do some thinking “out loud” so to speak. My hope in doing that is to see if any of my readers have experience in this process and can offer some advice, especially around how to store the data.

As I mention on my blog page about Broadford and East Clare, I have an interest in the emigrants from this area. Some years ago as part of an online Advanced Diploma in Local History, I built a database of anyone I could identify as coming to New South Wales (including Moreton Bay and Victoria prior to separation) between 1848 and 1870. I used the NSW Board’s Immigrant Lists and the Immigration Deposit Journals[i] (both of which I’ll be talking about in a later Beyond the Internet post).

There are limitations to the data for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here, but in the early 1860s Broadford played a pivotal role in the Australian migration process.  Over the years I’ve played with my database trying to take the study a step further and make linkages between the emigrants and the records in Broadford with only limited success.  Every now and then I have another dabble then give up in frustration. Part of the problem is that I don’t like the database (no one to blame there but myself!). The One Place Study course was a strategy for making myself look at it further.

View towards the Catholic Church in Broadford, built when my ancestor Mary O’Brien was a young girl.

My ultimate goal is not to do a One Place Study per se. Even though I’ve visited Broadford four times, I don’t really have the in-depth knowledge of a local person born and bred. There is a researcher who has expertise in the area, Pat O’Brien (unfortunately not related to my O’Briens from the same area). Pat did his Masters thesis at Limerick University on Broadford 1830-1850[ii] and has also written several articles for the East Clare magazine, Sliabh Aughty.  Perhaps my contribution will be to analyse the emigrants, make some linkages, and crunch some data.

As a general rule, a One Place Study aims to reconstitute the families in a parish or village, revealing their kinship links and also learning more about population changes and who lived in that place. Of course other documentary sources are also used to build up the story of the village, its industry or occupations, migration patterns etc. The One Place Study website is useful but there aren’t too many studies for Ireland, though I was pleased to see a couple. Interestingly there are a few in Australia too which I’ve used without realising their formal role as an OPS.

This graph gives a fairly good idea of the impact of the Famine in the Parish of Kilseily where Broadford is situated

Now I’m going to stick my neck out here, and say it’s pretty difficult to do family reconstitution in the Republic of Ireland. The primary reason for that is the paucity of parish records. For example in Broadford, the RC parish registers start in 1844 but they’re very difficult to read, and initially they don’t mention which townland the person comes from. The Church of Ireland registers are no longer extant. Add to that the absence of (almost all) census records until 1901, and family reconstitution takes on a whole new level of complexity. Throw in the Irish Famine, An Gorta Mór, with its horrendous toll of death and migration and it gets worse.

As a trial I have focused on my ancestral townland of Ballykelly in the hills near Broadford.  About 15-20  families lived there c1852, so as I work through initial phases of this process it’s manageable. The documents I have to work with are:

  1. My transcription of the RC parish registers for Kilseily parish from 1844 to 1866 (in Excel and also my DB)
  2. Transcription of the townland residents, and owners, from the Griffith Valuations (GV) of 1852 (in Excel).
  3. Some information on the changed inheritance under the GV revisions (more to come from the microfilm)
  4. Transcription of the 1827 Tithe Applotments (TA)
  5. Link between the GV and TA data.
  6. Analysis of 1901 and 1911 census data with a particular focus on those people who were born between 1840 and 1870.
  7. Australian migration data 1848-1870 which mention Broadford or east Clare parishes or townlands. It does however include parents’ names, whether they were alive or dead at the time of migration and relatives in the colony. I’ve also done some work on linking them to relatives on board the ship.
  8. I have occupation and literacy analyses from my previous study and drawing on the DB data.
  9. Findmypast Ireland has some records which in theory should be searchable by place but don’t always work and Ancestry can also be searched by place.
  10. Newspaper downloads after place searching.
  11. Valuation maps which can be annotated with residents in the Griffith Valuation.
  12. Census statistics from Histpop. I also have some data I collected previously through a site link that’s no longer active.
  13. Reference books, theses and journal articles.

Do you have any thoughts on how I can link these up?

I’m wondering if it would work to document each person in a genealogy program which would then let me link up those I know to be families, or have them as stand-alone individuals until I know more.

Could I link all the Broadford families under a hypothetical set of pseudo-parents, called for example, Male Broadford and Female Broadford? I thought this might be a way I could see everyone who comes from Broadford and slowly see what the linkages are. Has anyone else done this and found it will work? Perhaps for a One Name Study?

I love Excel and can use databases, but somehow there’s still a dysjunction between the data. I’m not a fan of genealogy software (yes, strange I know) which is part of why I’m floating these ideas.

Any pearls of wisdom or lateral thoughts would be much appreciated.


[i] Pastkeys originally indexed the IDJs. See http://www.pastkeys.com.au/Images/Irish%20in%20the%20NSW%20IDJs.pdf.  The indexes are now also on Ancestry, I’ve just discovered.

[ii] O’Brien, P. Broadford. County Clare 1830-1850: A study of a rural community. Unpublished MA (History and Local Studies), University of Limerick, 1999.

52 weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 18: Historical Books

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog, in conjunction with Geneabloggers, has a new series of weekly blogging prompts for 2012 and the theme is 52 Weeks of Abundant GenealogyWeek 18: Historical books.  This week we’re going to shine the spotlight on other historical books that benefit the genealogy field. Do you have a favorite book that falls in this category? What makes this book special to you? How can other genealogists benefit from its content?

As usual I find it impossible to restrict myself to just one book because the history books you’ll find useful will differ depending on where your families come from. So here are some of my Irish, migration and Scottish references.

IRISH HISTORY REFERENCES

I’ve written about a couple of these before so I’ll also refer you to my previous posts.

Oceans of Consolation, Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia, Fitzpatrick David

I regard this book as a truly unique insight into the Irish migration experience. Yes, it focuses on Australia but anyone with an interest in Irish migration generally would find it fascinating. Fitzpatrick uses a series of letters to/from Ireland by emigrants and their families. It gives us a unique perspective on these correspondents’ experience of their new life, the loss of family and mediated new loyalties against those of (Irish) home and family. A wide range of counties are represented among the letter-writers: West Clare, Down, Galway, Tipperary, Kerry, Cork, Meath, Kings, Armagh and Fermanagh. Sadly for me, nary a one from East Clare. If you didn’t already wish for a stash of emigrant letters, this book will certainly make you do so, and mourn their absence if they don’t exist. The spelling is often “exotic” but they managed to make their message very clear.

At last year’s Not Just Ned exhibition, extracts of these stories were available in the sound booths on iPads and in heavy demand. I could have sat there all day listening to them.

Biddy Burke from County Galway is one of my favourites. She ends one letter Queensland for ever and agus an baile beag go brâth (and the small town forever)[i]….pertinent in relation to Hidden Ireland (see below), and demonstrating her loyalty to both her old and new homes.

The End of Hidden Ireland, Robert James Scally

Unless you have Irish ancestors from the townland of Ballykilcline in Co Roscommon, you’d be wondering why I’m recommending this book. While it focuses on the events and people in this townland, it provides a valuable insight into the life of one townland in the midst of the Famine. What I find fascinating is how it informs us on the nuances of townland life, obligations and familial and social obligations. Scally talks of it as baile, a settlement and landholding together, with community links often with specific family links [ii] while we’re more accustomed to only associating the townland with the geographic space/land. I’m about a third through re-reading this book and finding even more subtleties than on the first reading…you can tell by the annotations and the flags.

Farewell my children: Irish migration to Australia 1848 to 1870, Richard Reid

Sure this book applies to the Irish coming to Australia, but Richard’s approach to understanding more about the process and the immigrants is, in my experience, somewhat unusual as he complements the general history with personalised grassroots examples. I’d be surprised if anyone with Irish ancestry couldn’t gain insights into how their own Irish immigrant fitted into the broader data.

Mapping the Great Irish Famine, Kennedy L, Ell P S,  Crawford, E M, Clarkson L, (eds)

I mentioned this book briefly last year in a post on the impact of the Famine. It is a book I used extensively when researching my East Clare migration data, and it certainly provided some startling comparisons. Most books on the Famine, easily found, focus more on data for all of Ireland or perhaps one county. What I think is so valuable about this book is that it compares the before and after data for baronies or poor law unions, meaning you can drill down and make valid comparisons with your own family’s experience, and to see how typical they were of their place in terms of education, occupation etc. This article tells a little more about the book and the project.

SCOTTISH HISTORY REFERENCE

There are innumerable general histories for Scotland, but I am going to focus on a region-specific history.

Argyll: 1730 -1850, McGeachy, R A A

This book explains the ways in which Argyll changed across the important years 1730 to 1850 and includes such important aspects as Jacobitism, clearances, industrialisation, cultural change, and fragmentation of families and society. He addresses occupational changes and how this affected people at a grassroots level and provides many examples drawn from across Argyll. My own copy is annotated throughout and post-it notes sticking from the edges.

In the introduction, James Hunter (himself a noted Scottish historian) remarks “universal themes can sometimes best be understood by studying their local impact”. This runs contrary to how history was perceived for many years, but is an approach that I personally identify with, and have been inspired by in Richard Reid’s historical writings.

Judging on the prices you will need to shop around if you want this book, and will probably need to buy it used (unless you’re up for $413 for a new book). I paid £25 from a bookshop in Scotland in 2006.

MIGRATION TO AUSTRALIA: HISTORY REFERENCES

Two books which provide valuable insights into the experience of Australia’s immigrants from recruitment to arrival are both by Robin Haines.

Emigration and the Labouring Poor: Australian Recruitment in Britain and Ireland 1831-1860

This book focus on the pre-departure experience of the potential immigrant and the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners’ (CLEC) approach to recruitment. If you want to know how your immigrants may have been recruited and how they fit into the broader migration data, this is the book for you.

Life and Death in the Age of Sail: the passage to Australia, Haines, R

This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to learn more about the emigrants’ experience at sea. There is a broader overview into how the emigrants were provided for, and the care taken by the emigration commissioners in ensuring the voyage was as safe as possible. The book also discusses the migration experience in different decades, pertinent with the changes to medicine as well as type of shipping. It is interspersed with extracts of letters and individual examples which illustrate the experiences.

SUMMARY

Australian residents should be aware they can borrow these books from The National Library of Australia on inter-library loan to their local reference library, assuming it’s not already on the shelves there.

Another tip for genealogists everywhere is to see if your local university library has these books in its catalogue. You may not be able to borrow them, but you will be able to sit in the library and read them (yes, I know, no coffee or snacks!…I’m reminded of 84 Charing Cross Rd when I say that). You may also find some in your favourite online bookshop or real bookshop, new or used. I can see I also need to go into my blog and add these titles to my Reference Books tab.


[i] Oceans of Consolation, page 155

[ii] The End of Hidden Ireland, Scally, page 12