Digital Daze

Every now & then the astonishing changes in family history research hits me like a lightning bolt. We have come to take so much for granted, even those of us who started in the pre-digital era, yes sounds like the age of dinosaurs I know!

This evening thanks to a tip from Chris Paton’s blog,, I found out about the Clock & Watch Tax online at ScotlandsPlaces  I was reminded to look at the Horse tax as well and there among the names in Stirlingshire was my 3x great grandfather with a significant number of taxable horseflesh. Much as I’d love to show you the page, the copyright & reproduction conditions are stringent so I can’t. If you have Scottish ancestry (or even if you don’t) go to the webpage & just search on a place that interests you.  

Among the other things I saw on this website tonight were a photograph of the church where my 2xgreat grandmother is buried; an aerial view of the estate where her husband was employed and they lived; an aerial view of the village where her father lived; information about an historic site close by and other wonders.

Kilmorich Church at Cairndow, Loch Fyne © Pauleen Cass 2010

However I can show you a photo I took recently of the church while on a visit to Scotland.

When you think that in the “olden days” we’d have had to trawl the library or borrow a book on inter-library loan to learn more about the area -I remember the excitement when I first read about my ancestral haunts in a C19th Scottish Gazetteer! And if we wanted a map, we’d have had to order in a topographical map and only if we were very lucky would we find a time-specific one.

You have to love technology and the richness it gives to our research and family stories, and in particular you have to love the Scots who’ve done so much to make their (and our) heritage accessible.

Surname Sunday-my “families of interest”

It’s time to list my “families of interest” again: not just those on my own family tree, but those I’ve come to research:


George Kunkel from Dorprozelten, Bavaria. Photo from a relative's very old photo album.

KUNKEL:  George, son of Adam & Katharina from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany to Australia -mid-C19th.  Brickwall is his brother Joseph Philip or Philip Joseph Kunkel who reportedly went to “America”.

O’BRIEN: Mary from Ballykelly, near Broadford, Parish of Kilseily, County Clare, Ireland. Thanks to oral history and good fortune this tree’s branches are flourishing. However I’m also interested in her sibling’s families in Australian and the USA: WIDDUP (Australia), HOGAN (Sister Kate married Patrick Hogan -also believed to be from Broadford area- in Sydney);  McNAMARA (stayed in Ireland), KINNANE (believed to have gone to USA),  and GARVEY (Australia and US).

McSHERRY aka SHERRY: Peter and wife Mary CALLAGHAN. This family has links to Gorey, Wexford, Ireland as well as Tullamore, Kings County or County Offaly.

McSHARRY aka SHERRY: James and wife Bridget FURLONG: (see my post about the Furlongs). Bridget came from Tullamore but where did James come from? Name distributions suggest he came from a Northern Ireland County —but where and when was he born….the BRICKWALL. Also no information on where he died: might he have left Australia for NZ or elsewhere? He was a railway man. MYSTERY: why did one branch of this family call themselves McSherry and the rest use McSharry?

McCORKINDALE aka McCORQUODALE (many spelling variations): From Argyll: Loch Fyne but traditionally Loch Awe via Glasgow (like so many Highlanders). MYSTERY/BRICKWALL: See my post: what became of Thomas Sim McCorkindale and his family who lived in the Greater London area.

McCORQUODALE: Also the children of brother Hugh who emigrated to Australia, unknown as far as I’m aware to many of his great-nieces and nephews.

MELVIN: This close-knit family came from Leith, near Edinburgh to Australia. Generations of the family were sailors/seamen and true international travellers well ahead of their time.

GILLESPIE/GILHESPY and REED: From North Shields, Tynemouth, Northumberland- again a family with sea connections although the REEDs were miners. MYSTERY: Where did Stephen Gilhesy, weaver, come from or was he a native of the area?

PARTRIDGE: Originally from Coleford in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, with detours through London and Yorkshire. Possibly originally a Welsh family -they certainly lived on either side of the border. The ROSEBLADE family from North Queensland are related to the PARTRIDGES.

KENT: The whole family left Sandon in Hertforshire, England  for Australia in mid-C19th. MYSTERY: Why? They weren’t poor labourers like so many. Religion  may have played a part but were there economic reasons as well?

GAVIN: Denis from Ballymore, County Kildare, Ireland. Married and had first child in Dublin.

GAVAN/GAVIN: This unrelated family came to Queensland from Clifden, Galway, Ireland largely because one of their family was an “Exile” or one of the last convicts sent to NSW and thence to Moreton Bay. I used to research this family with my friend and fellow researcher, Carmel, since deceased. I continue partly from curiousity but also in her honour.

MURPHY: Ellen from Davidstown, Co Wicklow, Ireland (a nice easy name, Murphy!). Married and had first child in Dublin.

MORRISON: This family lived at Inverglen, Strachur, Argyllshire, Scotland for a very long time. I’ve not had much luck connecting with anyone from this family.

SIM: The Sim family lived at Bothkennar, Stirlingshire, Scotland for centuries with minor detours to St Ninian’s and Clackmannanshire. Nonetheless they held the lease on the Bothkennar property for a very long time. They appear to have been prosperous farmers.

DORFPROZELTEN families I research (albeit unrelated to me but part of my migration research) include: Zöller/Zeller/Sellars and Schulmeier, Brannigan, McQuillan, O’Brien; Günzer/Ganzer and Hock,Bodman; Diflo and Mühling, Ott, Erbacher; Diflo and Nevision; Bilz/Bils and Coe and Morse; Hennig/Henny; Krebs and Wisthof/Wüsthof, rose, Ambrosoli, Miller; Kaüflein/Kaufline and Afflick, Agnew, Worland and many others (Snowy-country, Hunter Valley and Northern Rivers) etc; Kuhn and Brigden, Rose, Miller; Dümig/Demmig and Füller and Sues/Seus.

East Clare: any families who came to Australia (in particular) from the eastern half of County Clare ie east of Ennis.

Book reading: Jondaryan Station: the relationship between pastoral capital and pastoral labour 1840-1890

During the holidays I was reading this book by Jan Walker, published by UQ Press back in 1988. It’s been on my “to do” list for some time & I finally got down to reading it. The book was easy to read but also very informative and insightful, adding new information to previous readings I’d done. There were two levels of relevance: one in terms of the historical context generally and secondly, the specifics applicable to the families I research. Some of the key elements for me were:

1. the ways the squatters used to ensure dependency on the workers on their stations -high prices for stores being one example

2. the co-dependency between workers and employers with the latter providing many of the services required for day-to-day living

3. the authority of the squatters in relation to the Masters and Servants Act due to their role, or that of their peers, as magistrates. I wondered about this one because I have definitely seen newspaper articles where the employer was the “loser” in the exchange though perhaps it’s the relative infrequency of this that is the main issue.

4. the difference in power, and approach, between the Darling Downs squatters/land owners compared to those holding land in other parts of the colony of Moreton Bay/Queensland

5. the “rigging”/manipulation of land sales and selections available to the workers/selectors leaving the latter with poor land, poor access to transport and worst of all in our climate, poor access to water.

Why were these issues relevant to me?

1. my great-great grandfather George Kunkel very nearly lost the selection he had selected because a local VIP had also selected it, but in a different registry some days later. My ancestor’s success was even more significant when seen in the context of the historical trend. Why was this land so important -it lay along a creek which provided fresh water to sustain crops and livelihood. George went on to grow excellent citrus fruit, and his oranges were among a trial shipment sent udner refrigeration to the “home market” in 1904. (The Queenslander 16 July 1904)

Newspaper Article.

2. George’s son, and his wife-to-be, both worked on Jondaryan station for a brief period during the late 1870s as did members of another branch of “my” research family, the Gavins. Jondaryan’s excellent station records document their employment and period of employment. They were not resident employees and so had rather more independence from the station and would have been working to bring in cash for their families.

3. Another unrelated Gavin family which I’ve also researched worked for nearby Jimbour station so this book provides direct and indirect insights into their lives as shepherds and washers on that property.

4. Some of the Dorfprozelten immigrants also worked on Downs properties so this provides further information to flesh out their story, especially those who were working in horribly isolated conditions as shepherds or hutkeepers.

5. a reference to the kin-relationship between William Kent from Jondaryan and the Kents in Maryborough -this requires further research as I have Kents in my family and don’t know as yet if this Maryborough Kent is the one the family thought belongs to our branch.

An interesting and thought-provoking book which will merit another reading in the near future with references (fully cited) included in my family stories.

52 weeks of personal genealogy & history- Week 1 – New Year’s Memories

In the past week I’ve been discovering other people’s blogs about family history, not just their specific families but general discussions as well. Among these I’ve discovered (belatedly) are Amy Coffin’s WeTree ( and Geneabloggers ( For 2011 Amy has put forward another year of topics for family history bloggers which is hosted on Geneabloggers and this year’s topic is “52 weeks of personal genealogy & history”.

I love the concept of writing up my own history for my family and will probably use the framework to make a gift for my family for Xmas 2011.

In general terms I struggle to reconcile blogging about family history, and especially personal history, with privacy concerns. Where to draw the line? How to maintain a balance?

Week 1’s topic is about New Year’s memories. New Year wasn’t big in my family -probably partly being anti-social but also affected by my father who worked shift-work and missed the “events” that other people take for granted. I do have a few memories of it though. One was an old-style party where people sang songs around the pianola (who remembers those?) and then sang Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight. Or another neighbourhood party which was a little livelier and for which my prevailing memory is the Seekers’ songs being sung loudly and enthusiastically.

My most memorable New Year was my first as a young bride. We were living in Alotau in the then-Territory of Papua New Guinea and we only had power for 18 hours a day. We were hosting a party (or so the plan went) for New Year so I was up early to do some preparations. I had no sooner lit the kerosene lamp and turned to go to the kitchen when the kerosene exploded, the lamp shattered, and my nylon nightie caught fire and melted! My husband arrived to see kerosene in flames all over the floor! As I was pregnant at the time this caused a little consternation and a quick trip to the clinic. People’s reactions were interesting ranging from “someone’s shot his missus” to “why’s she going down the street at this hour”.

I learnt my lesson…I never did plan (or host) another New Year’s Eve party!

My most fun NYE as an adult was a party which turned out to be a surprise party for me and from which we returned about 4am. Our teenaged children were shocked, stunned and not a little amazed!

Happy New Year

Fannie Bay is beautiful

Celebrating Darwin & the Top End….Sydney might have the best Oz fireworks but in Darwin  you can:

  • walk to the waterfront to see the fireworks at 5 minutes to midnight 
  • enjoy the fireworks display with only a handful of people in the vicinity
  • see the fireworks on one side of the bay accompanied by a lightning symphony on the other side
  • be home in bed 30 minutes later.

You have to be happy with that!

To all my friends, a very happy New Year and all the best for 2011.