W wanders around the world

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which).

W is for West Drayton (Nottinghamshire, England)

West Drayton church where John Cass was buried. © P Cass 2006

My husband’s Cass ancestors were in West Drayton in the early 19th century where his 3x great grandfather, John Cass, was a teacher. John and his wife Suzannah had married in Southwark, London, so presumably there was a reason for them to relocate. We visited the small village in 2006 but didn’t manage to find out any more about the family’s life or work in West Drayton. We did hit it lucky with information for John Cass’s widow in Retford and Moorgate, thanks to a kind gentleman in West Drayton who referred us to the local library.

If any of my English readers have home-grown tips on how to pursue this further, I’d be very pleased to hear of them.

W is for Wewak (Papua New Guinea)

Another guest post from Mr Cassmob in the A to Z series on the places he lived in Papua New Guinea. Although we visited there for a weekend while we lived in Goroka, our memories of it from that time are hazy.

The beautiful crushed-coral beach at Wewak. © P Cass

Wewak is the capital of the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea where I lived at Brandi High School, 9 miles outside Wewak, when his father was Headmaster there in the late 1950s. The school – dormitories, classrooms, kitchen – was built on the river flats. All the buildings were on stilts 3-4 feet high, so that when the river overflowed after heavy rains, the floods ran under the buildings, across the soccer fields and down to the sea. From the Cassmobs’ house high on the hill, they looked out over the school and the jungle to the black-sand beach, where the incoming waves created an unremitting 24-hour roar which was deafening at first and then merged into the background.

This was the time of Indonesia’s konfrontasi with Malaya. Australia expanded its defence capabilities, including construction of airstrips in theSepik mountains and building a new barracks for the Pacific Islands Regiment at Moem Point between Wewak and Brandi. This meant goodbye to lazy Sundays picnicking on Moem Beach and snorkelling over the coral reef 10 yards offshore.

W is for Würzburg (Bavaria, Germany)

Rococo splendour in Würzburg. © P Cass

Würzburg is the home of the archdiocesan archives for the Catholic church in the Franconia region. I’m sure in my short visit I only scratched the surface of what was available, hampered by language as well as time. However among their holdings are the parish registers and family books (Familienbücher) for the various Catholic parishes. Würzburg itself is also a pretty city with lovely old buildings to view, but what is sight-seeing when family history opportunities await. I also visited the general archives in an attempt to find out whether there were any military records from the 19th century, or departure permissions, but I was told (I think) that there were none. Of course we may have mutually misunderstood what the other person was trying to ask/convey.

W is for Wales (United Kingdom)

My Partridge family hover around the Welsh-English border and my 3x great grandfather states his place of birth as Monmouth (county or city, is the question). I believe I’ve found the correct baptism in Monmouth itself based on naming patterns and if so, I do indeed have links to Wales. We passed round the perimeter of Monmouth on a recent visit to the UK but didn’t have time to sightsee.

W is for Wallumbilla (near Roma, Queensland)

The Paterson and Kunkel families lived in the small settlement of Pickenjennie on the outskirts of Wallumbilla, while another set of relations, the Lees, lived in Wallumbilla itself. There have been Kunkel descendants in or near the town since the late 19th century.

If you have an interest in Wallumbilla I can recommend these two books:

Onward with Honour: Wallumbilla Primary School history by Roslyn Stemmler, 1993

Prickly Pear Frenchman by Roslyn Stemmler, 2009 ( I get very jealous of Roslyn’s collections of letters)

L loves Loch Fyne and Loch Awe

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which).  Today I get to talk about some of my favourite L places.

L is for Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne near Inveraray © P Cass 2010

Do you think there’s a statute of limitations on how time-distant a place can be and still tug at your heart strings and speak to your DNA? Although I’ve visited lots of my genealogical heritage places and walked the land, there are only a few that truly make me feel like I’ve come home. Dorfprozelten in Bavaria comes close because the history is so close to the surface, but language and cultural difference stand between me and that feeling of home-coming.

Loch Fyne in Argyll is that home-place where I can truly feel my roots deep into the land and scenery, and as I stood on its banks one day, that realisation came to me so clearly. I may identify more with the Irish people and love its scenery but it’s the sparseness of the Scottish highlands that call my name.

Strachur on Loch Fyne on a wintery March day. © P Cass 2006

Scattered along the shores of Loch Fyne are family places: Ardkinglas and nearby Strone where James McCorkindale and family lived; Cairndow where Isabella Morrison McCorkindale is buried; and Strachur where my Morrison ancestors lived back into the C18th. Inveraray, home of the ruling Campbells, is pivotal to anyone who lives in the vicinity, including my McCorkindales (earlier aka McCorquodales, various spellings). I love that when I feel the smoothness of a timber egg from the Ardkinglas Tree Shop I have a long-distant link to my ancestor who worked on this estate.

L is for Loch Awe

View over Loch Awe from Kilchrenan side © P Cass 2010

Loch Awe is another place which calls to my heart. Just over the hills from Inveraray my earlier McCorquodales lived along Loch Awe for what was probably centuries, later apparently moving from the parish of Kilchrenan on what is called the northside (though I think of it as west) to Inishail on the southside. There is something soothing about being on either side of the loch, despite what I know of its blood-thirsty history. In fact this northern end of Loch Awe was traditional country for Clan McCorquodales, centred on nearby Loch Tromlee, land-locked in Kilchrenan parish. I’m quite sure that my own McCorquodales are minor members of the clan, but equally I’m reasonably confident that they lived hereabouts for many years.

The history of Laufach is told on the carvings on this pole (don't know its correct name). © P Cass 2003

L is for Laufach

My love of ancestral places doesn’t quite extend to Laufach, pleased as I was to visit. Its railway role should have made me feel at home but it didn’t, making the town feel rather industrial. However I’m certainly indebted to the local historian from Laufach, also a descendant of the Kunkel family, who provided me with an ancestral pedigree stretching back many generations into 17th century. Our language barriers proved a challenge to real communication as he spoke little English and my German really wasn’t up to what was needed.

L is for Limerick

Although my O’Brien family were from Broadford in east County Clare, they belonged in the Limerick Union. Had the Famine driven them to a workhouse, which mercifully they weren’t, it would have been to Limerick Workhouse they’d have been admitted. As part of my east Clare research I spent some time looking at the early 1850s Board of Guardian minutes to learn more about emigrants to Australia who may have left the workhouse. Murphy’s Law being at work, these records are now online and you can read more here.

I think it’s almost certain that Mary O’Brien and her sister Bridget would have visited Limerick at some point and may even have transited through Limerick on their migration to Australia.  The Silver Voice blog has a wonderfully descriptive tour of Limerick here. My own photos of Limerick have vanished somewhere so no pics from me I’m afraid.

L is for London

We loved the interior of St Saviour's, Southwark where my husband's Cass ancestors married. It seemed quite simple despite the decoration. I know, makes no sense. © P Cass 2010

At different times I’ve had quick flits into London to read old census microfilms, or pull down the BDM registers in those pre-digital searching days, or a one-day visit to the National Archives. However the horrendous pound-dollar exchange rate ensured these were never going to be long stays.  Thankfully on our last visit the Aussie dollar was strong so a visit of a few days was possible. This time we played the tourist and were able to investigate some of my husband’s family history sites on the south bank of the Thames including St Saviour’s at Southwark. While I know I have some London ancestry, I’ve not found much about the specific locations so I gave myself permission to just go out and have fun!

L is my wish for a winning Lotto ticket…

It’s a bit of an Aussie pastime to plan what you’d do if you won the Lotto. Imagine the fun that could be had in all these heritage places, visiting the sites and spending days weeks in archives. Oh well, one can but dream!