Time for a new blog look

If you’ve previously logged into my page and are bewildered today, it’s because I’ve introduced a new look to my blog. For some time I’ve been feeling that my blog is a bit “squashed” and made it harder to read. Hopefully there’s not too much open space now.. Let me know what you think…is it easier to read?

The header takes up a bit more space than in my old-style blog but nearly all the images relate to my family history as I’ve used images of ancestral sites. I’d like to be able to link specific images with specific pages but that doesn’t appear to be possible. Happy for any tips if other WordPress people can offer some.

So what images will you be seeing:

The old red-roofed shed on my O’Brien family land in Ballykelly, Broadford, Parish Kilseily, Co Clare, Ireland.

Shore in Leith, Scotland, where my Melvin ancestors lived for many decades before emigrating: they could return now and be familiar with all these buildings.

Dorfprozelten, Bavaria from across the River Main, showing the village church, boats and vineyards: home of my Kunkel ancestor.

A beach scene from Achill in County Mayo because for me it typifies life on Ireland’s coast even though none of my rellies come from here.

A view over Dorfprozelten on the River Main, Bavaria. The river is a boundary and across the river is Baden.

Snow capped hills not far from near Drimuirk on south Loch Awe, Argyll, Scotland: McCorkindale country..

A view over Loch Awe from Kilchrenan parish: my McCorkindale ancestors moved from one side of the lake to the other but the north side (Kilchrenan) is where the McCorquodales came from in the long distant past.

A typical Irish scene in County Clare:patchwork fields.

Inveraray in Argyll, Scotland, home of Clan Campbell, and a focal point for families living in the area -they were inevitably influenced by this family. It is situated on Loch Fyne and my McCorkindales also lived at Ardkinglas at the top of Loch Fyne while my Morrisons lived across the loch from Inveraray.

Hmm, not sure all the images are scrolling randomly as intended, so please bear with me on that one..but at least you’ll get some.

I do hope you enjoy the new look.

Ancestor Approved Award

Ancestor Approved Award

I am delighted and honoured to receive the Ancestor Approved Award from Kim at Footsteps of the Past at http://footstepspast.blogspot.com/. It was a real treat to receive this in an emotional week as I watched from afar as my home town, and others with links to my family’s heritage, were flooded, lives lost, homes demolished and heritage destroyed.

The Award was created by Leslie Ann Ballou At Ancestors Live Here and asks two things of those who receive it:

  1. They should write 10 surprising, humbling, or enlightening aspects of their research
  2. Pass the Award on to 10 other researchers whose family history blogs are doing their ancestors proud.

So here are my 10 surprising, humbling or enlightening findings, in no particular order or indeed order of importance:

  1. Enlightened, surprised and humbled that I was able to find the birthplace of Mary O’Brien from County Clare through meeting up with an elderly lady from Toowoomba who gave me one contact name. This distant relative provided clues and links that let me build a history of this whole clan of the O’Briens from Ballykelly, in Ireland, Australia and the United States.
  2. Surprised to find my great-grandfather Melvin was saved from drowning by Thomas Livermore, a blacksmith’s labourer during the Ipswich floods of January 1887. Humbled because if he hadn’t been saved, my line of the family would not exist.
  3.  Enlightened by finding the church marriage register for my Kunkel-O’Brien gt-gt-grandparents (this will be a blog for Australia Day –a topic suggested by Shelley at Twigs of Yore http://twigsofyore.blogspot.com/-so I won’t elaborate further here).
  4. Humbled by the day-to-day courage and commitment of my many Queensland pioneer families as well as “my” Dorfprozelten pioneers.
  5. Humbled by the many young men of my families who went to fight for the Empire in France and the Middle East during World War I, World War II, and Korea especially those who lie in foreign graves or whose bodies were never found. Also humbled by the determination with which the families left behind pursued every option to find out more about the men who were killed and sought to get keepsakes for their father-less children. Enlightened to read War Diaries which explained the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
  6. Surprised to discover that my great-grandfather married a woman who was a bigamist twice over (at least that’s what the evidence to date indicates and certainly once).
  7. Humbled and surprised, but not in a good way, to learn that my great-grandmother Julia Kunkel was operated on without anaesthetic in 1901 because her heart was too weak! Unsurprisingly she died of the childbirth-related illness, and the shock of the surgery. Six weeks later my great-grandfather also died. All their 11 children, aged 21 down to 2, were left orphans (the recently-delivered child appears to have died although not shown in indexes). Enlightened to read a novel which dealt with the horror of puerperal fever.
  8. Surprised to discover that the woman who is buried in the Toowoomba cemetery with my great-great grandmother, Ellen Gavin, and her daughter, Julia Kunkel (see above), is not a relation despite sharing the same surname. Why it was so, remains a mystery, except that she had also lived in Dalby in the early days and was estranged from her husband.
  9. Enlightened, humbled and delighted to stand on the lands where my ancestors walked in Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany so that I could “feel” their lives and connect to them. Humbled by internet “strangers” going out of their way to show me over their land where my ancestors lived in Argyll in the early 19th century and explain the remains of the small buildings where they had lived.
  10. Surprised (more like astonished) to connect with the inheritor of my O’Brien family’s land in Ballykelly and to be shown over the land by Paddy. Enlightened to know oral history meant he knew that they had Mass said in their homes in Australia’s pioneer days. Enlightened to be able to track the transfers of the land through the Griffith Valuation revision books. Humbled to be welcomed by distant family in Ireland.

Now for my honour list of 10 other bloggers doing family history proud. I’ve chosen to focus on Australian blogs, some of whose authors have been contributing to family history for many years. I’ve also chosen to bend the rules somewhat and add two web-pages that I think deserve to be here for their extensive contribution to family history research for all researchers…a research Honour Badge.

  1. Shelley, Twigs of Yore at  http://twigsofyore.blogspot.com/
  2. Geniaus http://geniaus.blogspot.com/
  3. Judy Webster, Queensland Genealogy at http://qld-genealogy.blogspot.com/
  4. My Family History Research at http://baker1865.wordpress.com/
  5. Carole’s Canvas: http://caroleriley.id.au/
  6. The Family Curator at http://www.thefamilycurator.com/about/
  7. Irish Family History at http://irishfamilyhistory.ie/blog/
  8. Family History Research at http://famresearch.wordpress.com/

The next two are my “Honour Board” –they aren’t blogs specific to families but they are websites which provide a truly invaluable resource to family historians:

  1. South east Queensland cemeteries headstone photos: http://www.chapelhill.homeip.net/FamilyHistory/Photos/
  2. Clare County Library at http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/genealogy/genealog.htm

Irish Ancestry and County Clare research

It’s popularly believed that Irish research is nigh on impossible and that all the records were “lost” in the Troubles.

Not so, there are a range of records which can be used but it does require a little lateral thinking. Of course it is critical to know where your ancestor came from, and in particular their nearest town or preferably their townland. Without this all the O’Briens, Byrnes, Hogans etc meld into one undifferentiated mass. So if you strike this problem, don’t focus only on your own immediate ancestry. The Irish are famous for migrating as families -either in one migration or in sequences (known as stage migration). Australians are very fortunate to have at least the possibility of  a wealth of information on their birth, marriage and death records. However if you find you’re unobliging ancestor repeatedly says they’re born in Ireland or just “Co Clare” try to follow up whether other siblings came. You may be more fortunate if you obtain the certificate for their sibling. eg my ancestor Mary O’Brien Kunkel (or her husband) was very fond of the easy “Co Clare” option, however her sister Bridget O’Brien Widdup’s death certificate stated clearly that she had been born in Broadford, Co Clare. All of a sudden the oral history that she came from somewhere like “Longford, Co Clare” made some sense and the records could be verified to establish the link. Also the presence of other siblings lets you triangulate the children’s names and their connection, verifying that you have got the right family.

If you’re lucky enough to have ancestry from County Clare I can highly recommend the County Clare Library website.: http://www.clarelibrary.ie/

Check out the tabs for history and genealogy for a wealth of information, both general and family-specific, on Clare, its residents and its history. The site is not only fantastic but also reliable because information is cross-checked before publication.

While so many counties in Ireland are determined to extract maximum dollars from enthusiastic family historians, Clare is a beacon which shows its belief in the importance of its history and people. The Clare Local Studies Project or CLASP have published several fantastic books on Co Clare history.

Check them out, they’re great!!

This is my absolute favourite Irish site, probably because I have Clare ancestry but even so it offers so much information. The team at CLASP and the library in Ennis, and the powers-that-be who continue to fund the projects, can’t be commended highly enough! Well done County Clare!

Widdup Hodgson and Bracewell connection updated

One of the positive things about internet genealogy is the capacity to make connections with relatives or other family historians around the globe.

A couple of years ago I posted my research on the connection between the John Widdup family from Urana and his cousins John Bracewell (UK) and Jesse, Jonathan, and Joseph Hodgson from near Bendigo. This posting was on the One Guy from Barlick website which is great resource for people from that area of England. http://oneguyfrombarlick.co.uk/ It has become clear too in the course of the research that Jesse Hodgson who emigrated with his brothers Joseph & Jonathan was not a bachelor but had married prior to emigrating, leaving his wife and two sons behind.

A personal message from Anne in Yorkshire has now helped to confirm that the parents of John Widdup were James and Mary Widdup and that Mary was originally Mary Wright, sister to Amy Wright who first married Henry Bracewell and after his death, Daniel Hodgson. (thanks Anne for additional information on this family). The Hodgson family went to Glossop, Derbyshire with Mary’s brother, John Wright, where they set up as cotton spinners in a factory. Their involvement in the cotton industry was unsuccessful and they filed for bankruptcy.  They later moved to Bugsworth (aka Buxworth) where they took up running the Navigation Inn (1851 census) and later the Dog & Partridge Inn (1861 census).

John Widdup’s parents lived at Sand Holes a farm in Foulridge, Lancashire. This farm had previously been owned by Mary’s grandfather, Jonathan Wright, a yeoman from Oakworth near Keighley whose will required that it be sold after his death. John & Mary Widdup lived at Sand Holes over several decades. Thanks Anne for providing additional information on this family.

I also believe that John Widdup was probably the John Widdup a merchant seaman who was documented on the 1851 census living as a boarder in Hull and stating his place of birth as Salterforth (spelt slightly differently on the record).  The Widdup family anecdote is that he was a sailor from Denmark but educated in England. This seems highly likely to be one of those stories that become changed over time -perhaps he sailed to Denmark as part of his job, but as the Widdup name is heavily concentrated in the Yorkshire-Lancashire area and there are no indications of it in the Danish IGI records it seems highly probable it is a red herring.

My original purpose in pursuing John Widdup was to try to see if it led back to his wife’s (Bridget O’Brien) arrival in Australia which unfortunately it hasn’t done, but at least it appears to have expanded our knowledge of John’s own ancestry. It may be this John who arrives in Australia on 19 June 1853: Mr J Widdup, 23, sailor (but not crew), English is on the list of intermediate pax on board barque “Jane” from San Francisco via Auckland to Melbourne.

One day a photo of Bridget Widdup may turn up which will let us see whether she looks like her sister Mary O’Brien Kunkel who lived in Queensland and her sister Honora O’Brien Garvey who lived near Bodyke in Ireland.

Meanwhile it seems the puzzle of the pioneers Hodgson brothers from Eaglehawk near Bendigo and John Widdup a pioneer from Urana in southern New South Wales seems to have been solved.

Some mystery remains as to which John Bracewell we’re looking at in the English census and whether indeed he remained in England rather than emigrating perhaps to north America. However that puzzle remains for another day.