52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 38: Hooked on Hobbies: books, shells and photos

The topic for Week 38 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is: Did you have any hobbies as a child? Which ones?

This little book was my guide when collecting and identifying my shells.

My childhood hobbies depended in part on circumstance. Throughout my life reading and books have been my constant leisure time activity. Life just wouldn’t be the same without books in any form. This topic was my theme for Week 23 in the 52 week series, so I won’t go back down that path. The other lifelong hobby which I’ve enjoyed has been photography – this love affair started with my first camera when I was about 10 and has continued every since: hence all those images I still have to scan.

One of my favourite hobbies was collecting shells but this of course depended on being near the beach, so it was a periodic hobby rather than an everyday one. I was lucky that every few years we would holiday on Magnetic Island, which I’ve already talked about previously. Although quite close to Townsville it also has off-shore reefs and tidal flats where it was possible in those days to see and collect shells. While we stayed at Picnic Bay, the best place for shell hunting and collecting was usually Horseshoe Bay where low tide exposed rocks and reef and shells. Cowrie and olive shells were especially prized for their glorious sheen and colours while the potentially deadly cone shells had to be treated cautiously. Their poison darts had to be carefully avoided so there was definitely a right way to pick them up. Also on the tidal flats were quite a lot of stone fish which are nigh on impossible to detect until your eyes adjust to spotting them. With their poisonous spikes they would inflict a major injury if you were unwary enough to stand on them.

The beautiful book I bought with my shell cataloguing prize money.

Now I cringe at the environmental impact of collecting the shells, but in those days I suppose we didn’t know any better. The smell of decaying molluscs in the sun is an abiding childhood memory. In high school I catalogued a series of shells for a science show and was proud to win a prize though it was pretty tame in comparison with the high-tech scientific experiments which others presented (most of them boys I have to say, also reflecting the era perhaps).Still I got a £7 (today about $160) prize from the competition (thank you the donors Peters Arctic Delicacy Co) and with it I bought a gorgeous book on Shells of the Western Pacific. On my shell wish-list is seeing live paper or pearly nautilus shells “swimming” – they are just so gorgeous.

Some of the lovely shells we looked at this afternoon.

I still have some of the shells I collected (and in a few cases bought) and my grandchildren enjoy seeing them when I unearth them from the cupboard. Perhaps because the shell book was on the table today my eldest grandchild wanted to see the pictures of the shells then look at the real thing so we spread them out and inspected the different varieties….building up memories I hope.

Sandon, Hertfordshire enclosure and the Kent family

Sometimes with family history it’s one small fact that is the key to opening a door. Such was the case with the enclosure documents I’d photographed while visiting the Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) last year.  Despite having the information for nearly a year I hadn’t got round to looking at it in detail until I took the Pharos  course on Enclosure Maps and Records for Family Historians.[i]

I won’t attempt to go into the details of enclosure here except to say that it was the process, put simply, whereby formerly common lands were enclosed for private use usually by the bigger landowners of a parish. Also during this process the landowners may have “swapped” their land plots with others in order to consolidate their properties in a more rational and productive way. The National Archives has this informative guide to Enclosure Records.

Roe Green a hamlet in Sandon parish, Herts, but no sign to my Kent family’s former home.

Sandon parish in Hertfordshire, where one branch of my ancestors lived, commenced this process in 1840 and the award was enrolled in 1842. [ii] At the conclusion of the enclosure process a detailed map was produced and all land adjustments recorded. This comprehensive map is available through HALS.[iii]

At the commencement of the enclosure process, a community meeting was held to discuss the ramifications and proposals around the enclosure. The meeting was advertised in advance by notices on the church door and also in the local newspaper, The Reformer. However it was the location of the meeting that was to be my gold key. It was held at the public house of Richard Kent known by the sign of the Anchor at Roe Green, a hamlet in the parish.

While I’d known from the 1841 and 1851 census enumerations that Richard Kent (and indeed his father) was a publican I had never known the name of the pub. This snippet giving its name was indeed the key to learning more about his life before he, his wife and adult family emigrated in 1854.

The next strategy I applied was to ascertain whether the pub was one of the UK’s listed buildings. I figured if it had been around for a couple of centuries, this might be possible.

Believe it or not, Roe Green really was this green! But which of these heritage houses might have been where my ancestor lived? © Pauleen Cass

There were two pathways to this information:

1. The first, through British Heritage, enables a search of a locality http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/. I used the advanced search to locate Sandon in Hertfordshire and not others.

2. The second provides the same information but you go directly through the Listed Buildings site at http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/england/hertfordshire which let me then choose the parish and the building.

Both provided me with a listing for The Old Anchor as it was also known in subsequent years. Both also provided me with detailed descriptions, but overall I think I prefer the first option as a search tool. So what did I learn about the building? The full description is subject to Crown Copyright but you can read it here. In essence, it is a former public house dating from the 17thcentury and is grade II listed. It also provides its grid reference and a local map. It must be said though that the location of the building on the map can be a little imprecise.

The (Old) Anchor on Roe Green, Sandon, Herts in 2010. © Pauleen Cass

Armed with this additional information, and the alternative title, I googled the name for more information, using various search combinations. This turned up a range of information ranging from real estate sales to renovation approvals, hiking/walking trails and general information. All of which are grist for the family history mill.[iv] One site in particular deals with the common lands, remaining after enclosure, in Sandon parish and specifically in the locality of Roe Green.

Google images provided me with a great photo of the house taken by Mark Jordan for Panoramio. It was so evident it was the Anchor, that I went back to my own photos, taken on a scattergun approach before I learned the name of the family’s public house and knew its location.  Lo and behold I had taken a photo which did show the anchor over the front door but it is nowhere near as obvious as on Panoramio. I’m indebted to Mark and his photo for giving me the “tipoff”. (Rhetorical question: why do you always learn pivotal information after you’ve visited the place??)

Another useful site I came across shows images of listed buildings circa 2001, at the turn of the 20thcentury.  Images of England is linked to the National Monuments Record website. The Old Anchor is photographed on this site and the copyrighted image can be seen here.

There are also a couple of sites which deal with old pubs or inns in Hertfordshire and mention this public house. They are a Flickr discussion site and Dead Pubs though both discuss later periods. Previous to learning the pub’s name I hadn’t had enough detail to know in which property at Roe Green the Kent family had lived. Now I could go back and trace it through all the decennial census records from 1841 through to 1911 using Findmypast UK: while not every census gives the actual name of the building, a couple do, which makes it possible to link them up. Historical Directories also provide useful information on the inhabitants over time.

What becomes apparent is that while Richard Kent classed himself in 1851 as a publican, as well as a farmer of 40 acres, presumably through a lease agreement. This was not the case with subsequent owners/tenants of The Anchor. Why was this so? Had his land lease been taken away? Was this one of the reasons the family left for Australia in 1854? Did the next tenant simply not want to take on the farming lease given they already had a trade? So many questions which only further research both in reading and in the archives might address.

Meanwhile I’m looking forward to learning more about the background by reading Behind the plough: agrarian society in nineteenth-century Hertfordshire by Nigel E Agar and Brewers in Hertfordshire – A historical gazetteer by Alan Whittaker.

This research is © P Cass September 2011.

———

[i] These courses provide historical context for family history research and are excellent.

[ii] The Award is also available from The National Archives at Kew at CP 40/4003.

[iii] HALS reference QS/E/85. Sandon parish is also fortunate to have the Tithe map from 1840 as well. DSA4/90/2

Great tech resources for Family History: Scanners: film, slide and Flip-Pal

Prompted by a friend’s request I’ve recently been on something of a mission to scan some of the slides from our family’s days in Papua New Guinea. Back in the day we used slides rather than photos and have literally thousands of both family and places.  Some time ago I had the “Top 100” travel and PNG scenery photos put onto a Kodak CD which brings its own technological warning:  I can only open these now by buying a program online which says it can read these files. I think I’ll just settle for rescanning them.

Cassmobs including cat: government house in the backgound. Goroka PNG

The current focus has been on people, trying to find evocative pictures of family and friends from PNG. While it’s all been about the people, it’s also amazing how important a role the background plays in describing the scene, so tempting as it can sometimes be, I didn’t crop the photo. The background can tell you about furniture and fittings (Oh those 70s curtains with wild geometric patterns!), and show the surroundings be it the back garden, a remote picnic, scenery etc, not to mention fashions (those “hello officer” super-short minis). But they also evoke the memories behind the film –what happened on the way, the crowds of locals sitting watching us picnicking etc, warriors passing us en route.  It can also be a vaguely depressing experience as you see family and friends who are immortalised on film but are no longer with us in the world.

Queen Elizabeth II visited Goroka in PNG in early 1974. Not a superb photo but can you imagine being allowed to get this close today?

Having discovered that my old Canon scanner’s film feature was no longer working, I thought I’d best strike while someone wanted the images from me. In the end I bought an Epson Perfection V500 after reading online reviews for its film scanning capacities. Last weekend I scanned about 1000 slides with an emphasis on people photos, especially our family. The scanning turned out well and the colours were very faithful. There are some that could do with a trip to Photoshop® but that’s because of the original photo. This is particularly good considering these slides have lived most their lives in hot humid conditions subject to mould. Scanning also meant I could also adjust the exposure for those where the flash hadn’t worked properly.

It was kind of freaky to see some photos where my grand-daughter looks just like her mother at the same age and even more so realising how much my youngest looks like me at a similar age (don’t tell her, kids hate that!).  There are still lots of photos of PNG places and scenery from overseas trips but at least I have the key family ones done – and backed up!  And before the cyclone season as well, now to send a copy out of Darwin.

The other lovely thing that’s come out of all this scanning is that this Gerehuligan[i]group, most of whom had lost touch for many years, have been swapping emails and photos which we hadn’t seen the first time round. It’s been good fun.

A decades-old baby photo has come up well with the scanner.

Another of the reasons to buy this scanner was that it could do old size negatives. I had negatives that I’d taken as a young girl as well as negatives from my own baby photos and my parents’ wedding. I’m absolutely delighted that these have come up perfectly. Despite being decades old they look as good as new and true to the original standard.  I’m absolutely delighted to have recovered these childhood photos in particular as I have very few actual photos.

I can’t say the Epson manual is much use – if you can’t use the scanner intuitively I think you’d be in for a difficult time. It has performed well despite the fact my laptop runs on Vista 64 bit which can cause other programs to have a hernia. There have been a few “fun” moments along the way as each “weird” negative size brings its own challenges, but I’ve managed to figure out how to get what I want from it. What I’ve found posting this story, is that the image sizes are too large so I may need to rescan them at lower res. Even feeding the photos from these old negatives through Photoshop® does not reduce the size sufficiently. Overall it’s a big thumbs up for the Epson scanner.

Turning briefly to the Flip-Pal scanner, which is currently not available in Australia unless you have someone in the USA willing to take delivery of it. Luckily my daughter went to the USA for work so I was able to order one through Amazon and have it sent to her hotel (letting them know first that it was coming)[ii]. It’s not too heavy or large so not onerous to carry. I love the fact that it’s so portable and I can just quickly scan something without having to go back and connect to the flatbed scanner. The results are fantastic and it’s super easy to use. I really love it and it will definitely be going with me whenever I travel for family history.

Now for all those photos!


[i] Named for where we lived.

[ii] You can’t order through the company and have an Australian billing address even if the delivery address is in the States. Using Amazon got around this as I could use my current account and just add a new address.

The Tech Savvy Genealogist’s Meme

Geniaus has set us another meme challenge to test whether we’re tech savvy genealogists. Here is the list with my own responses. I notice there are quite a lot more items I don’t really aspire to, plus some that I might want to do, just not high on my list.

I’m not sure frankly how others manage to tweet, blog, Google+ etc and do research as well. I’m probably a twitter-tart because while I find the twitter feed convenient for my blog, and I read others’ tweets, I don’t often feel I have anything unusual to contribute.

Similarly with blog reading which mostly tend to be done in large batches and not day-by-day. I really enjoy reading the blogs I follow. It helps to feel engaged with fellow genealogists elsewhere and overcomes a sense of isolation from living in the far north. I thoroughly enjoy my favourite blogs and like to leave comments on a regular basis as it’s a way of letting the blogger know they’re being “listened” to.

However I’ve decided not to beat myself up over my failure to be on the ball with all the social media. Working on the “if I were to die tomorrow” hypothesis, my own priority is to leave some more documented research for my family. How do you balance your research with following social media and blogging?

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
  3. Have used Skype for genealogy purposes
  4. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor’s home
  5. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree (reluctantly –I prefer to incorporate into a narrative)
  6. Have a Twitter account
  7. Tweet daily (struggling to keep up with it all)
  8. Have a genealogy blog
  9. Have more than one genealogy blog (setup ready to go with #2)
  10. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic
  11. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise
  12. Have a Facebook Account
  13. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
  14. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page (been considering this in relation to my 2nd blog but undecided as I’m not a Facebook fan)
  15. Maintain a blog or website for a genealogy society
  16. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site
  17. Have registered a domain name (I’m finding my blog serves my purposes)
  18. Post regularly to Google+
  19. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers
  20. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project
  21. Own a Flip-Pal or hand-held scanner (LOVE MY FLIP-PAL!!)
  22. Can code a webpage in .html
  23. Own a smartphone
  24. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases
  25. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures (have it, haven’t used it for this)
  26. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
  27. Use Chrome as a Browser
  28. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
  29. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes
  30. Have a personal genealogy website (I like using the blog, I don’t want to upload all my FH data).
  31. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive
  32. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture (prefer to listen instead)
  33. Have scanned your hardcopy genealogy files (some: a 20 year backlog)
  34. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs
  35. Have uploaded a gedcom file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage or Ancestry (don’t want to)
  36. Own a netbook
  37. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes (sometimes)
  38. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit
  39. Have developed a genealogy software program, app or widget
  40. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
  41. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening
  42. Backup your files to a portable hard drive
  43. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored offsite
  44. Know about Rootstech
  45. Have listened to a Blogtalk radio session about genealogy
  46. Use Dropbox, SugarSync or other service to save documents in the cloud (inconsistenly)
  47. Schedule regular email backups, as well as favourites and contacts
  48. Have contributed to the Familysearch Wiki
  49. Have scanned, named and tagged your genealogy photographs and personal heritage photos and digitized old super 8 movies. All I need now is to work out how to cut extracts from the latter.
  50. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format
  51. Keep family history contacts in an Access database. (mostly on-track)
  52. Keep a record of your genealogy library in a suitable program. (I use Collectorz).

Can never help adding a few more that I like to use (or some commentary). Thanks Geniaus for another thought-provoking challenge.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 37 Earliest Memory of school days

The topic for Week 37 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is: Earliest Memory What is your earliest memory?

I’m always surprised when people can tell me things they remember as toddlers. Sadly such memories are lost somewhere in my mental ether. Perhaps the closest I can come to these is remembering my paternal grandmother brushing my hair and telling me I was a “bonnie wee bairn”. I’ve always thought that a later memory but perhaps it was a continuous one from being a small child.

My maternal grandmother died when I was under four but I do have vague memories (sensory memories really) of her being kind and quiet and cuddly. (It’s always hard to disassociate real memories from family photos and anecdotes). She would visit us and bring biscuits for morning tea.  This must have happened quite often as I still associate a particular biscuit with her memory.

My earliest precise memory is my grandfather taking me to primary school at the nearby Catholic School when I was in Prep 1, aged 5.  Although my grandparents lived next door to us, this was an exception and occurred because my mother was quite sick and presumably Dad was at work. I remember us walking up the hill together, and I remember that not long afterwards I headed off home on my own down another hill. I guess I was anxious because life was slightly out of kilter.

Another memory from that year is learning the alphabet and the mental image of the big banner with the images and letters on it. I can easily see the class room in my mind’s eye but that is probably easy because it was on an enclosed verandah adjacent to the church.

Some years later at primary school and not looking so keen to "do a runner".

Yet again that year Brisbane felt the impact of a cyclone and I remember being one of only a handful of children who went to school. I think because Mum came from tropical Queensland she thought it was just a bit of rain so off to school I went. Personally I thought it was a great adventure splashing in the puddles….loving the rain runs in the family.

So it seems that going to school made a really big impact on me in the year I turned 5 and dwarfed other earlier memories…that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

The old school and church (a combined building), as well as the convent, no longer exist. The school was closed in the late 1960s and the church replaced by a modern open building. It’s strange but I can’t find any images of the buildings online so that’s an addition to my research list for Brisbane. However I can still see it quite clearly in my mind’s eye, not surprising I suppose since I spent at least 6 days a week there.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 36 Road Trips, American soldiers and Natural Arch.

The topic for Week 36 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is: Road Trips. Describe a family road trip from your childhood. Where did you go and why? Who was in the car? How did you pass the time?

Road trips were mostly non-existent in my childhood as we didn’t own a car (Ironically Week 3 of this series featured “Cars”). However I do remember one of the day drives we did with our neighbours, Mr and Mrs Gay. He was a railway man like my father and for some strange reason whenever the car drove over a railway line they’d say “Pull up the railway line and sack all the men”. For the life of me I can’t figure out why and never have been able to! All I can think is that it may have been their equivalent of winning the Lotto and escaping work. Or perhaps it was purely ironic.

An image of American soldiers working at Camp Cable near Logan south of Brisbane c1942. Image from John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, no image number. Copyright expired.

Anyway when we went for a drive we’d have singalongs of old-favourite songs. Do people still do that as a matter of course? Somehow it seems symbolic of an earlier, simpler time when before in-car music systems and indeed DVD, when driving was leisurely. I know that Judy over on Jottings Journeys and Genealogy sings while driving long distances and that’s the likeliest time for me to do the karaoke-type thing….easily explained by being a really poor singer.

Returning to our day drive, our ultimate destination was Natural Arch and Springbrook National Park, south of Brisbane. These days it would be a short enough drive when the freeway wasn’t busy but I remember it as something of an adventure. I guess we just took our time. Along the way we stopped at a cairn which commemorated Camp Cable which had been a US base during WWII and named for the only American soldier, Sergeant Gerald Cable, killed when their ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine en route[i]. I suppose it was relatively new when we visited it. Camp Cable was near the railway line, close to Logan Village and less than 10kms from Jimboomba.  Dad’s grandparents, George Michael and Julia Kunkel, lived near here when George worked on that section of the line and I wonder if Dad knew this when we stopped to visit the cairn. He would certainly have known the area himself from the train line as his father had worked on the Gold Coast line and we travelled it en route to holidays at Currumbin.

Dad and I at Natural Arch all those years ago.

Natural Arch is, as it says, a natural feature in which a waterfall comes down through the roof of a cave. There is a short walk from the park through rainforest and you can see a waterhole and creek before it drops down into the cave. If you go to the mouth of the cave, you see the waterfall come powering down. I do remember being impressed with it – so much so that when we had access to a car while on holidays from PNG one year we went back there for a visit. Sadly it didn’t have the same impact as it had when I was a child and I don’t think we’ve ever been back, favouring nearby Lamington National Park instead. Perhaps the explanation is simple: the first time we saw it there had been plenty of rain and the creek and the waterfall were flowing heavily while the second time the creek was barely trickling.

It appears I was there even if I have no memory of it. How formal a photo for a picnic outing.

This 52 week series frequently challenges my memory, sometimes bringing things back with great clarity and other time highlighting vast blanks. For example I have no memory of a picnic that day though we almost inevitably had one. I surely don’t remember the glow worms the web sites mention. I don’t even recall driving to the New South Wales border that day which we apparently did. Frustrating!

I can’t resist a quick mention of road trips of a sort when we went on Girl Guide camps. We’d load up the girls and camping gear in the back of a four-ton truck then head off to the camp-site singing and waving and generally having a good time. Not only would it not be legal these days, I can’t imagine parents letting their kids do it even if it was.

[i] I’ve learnt more about this cairn through reading the website for the 32nd Infantry Division, the Red Arrows at:http://www.ozatwar.com/ozatwar/campcable.htm.

Another interesting history of Logan with reference to this cairn is here: http://www.logan.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/7336/richinhistory-military.pdf

St Saviours, Moorgate: the link between Monty Don and Cass ancestors

Yesterday for a bit of light relief we decided to watch the Who Do You Think You Are episode from a few months ago (here in Oz) featuring Monty Don, famous for the TV series Around the World in 80 Gardens, which I loved. Some comments on the episode were less than enthusiastic but I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and found him to be keen to learn, intelligently reflective, and genuinely enthusiastic about the discoveries to provide more balance into his family tree. What endeared me most was his emphasis on the fact that his female ancestry was an equal part of his tree.

The rather lovely organ at St Saviours. To its right is the edge of Monty Don's 2 x great grandfather's memorial. Unfortunately none of my husband's ancestors were baptised in this christening font.

However none of this is why I decided to post. There we were, happily relaxing, when the focus shifted to Monty Don’s 2 x great grandfather who was an Anglican vicar/minister/priest. Lo and behold he had been the vicar at St Saviours Church, then in Clarborough Parish at Moorgate near Retford, Nottinghamshire in the 1840s. “So what” you might say…well this is the church where Mr Cassmob’s 3 x great-grandmother worshipped. Not only that, but she would have been a parishioner (hopefully not one of the absentee ones) when he read a clerical riot act to his potential client base dividing them into church goers, chapel goers and nowhere goers. He really didn’t sound at all the pastoral type and I can agree with Monty saying he didn’t warm to the man.

Mr Cassmob with the graves of his 4xgreat grandmother, his 3xgreat grandmother and her sisters, Charlotte and Martha.

We were especially pleased when the camera panned around part of the churchyard, not quite reaching the gravestones we found for Mr Cassmob’s 3 x great grandmother and her sisters as well as his 4 x great grandmother. What a red letter family history day that was in 2006 as the snow-flakes started to fall.. We had no idea the family was there until, starting in West Drayton nearby, one trail led to another and we ended up at St Saviours.

Elizabeth Walker (d 1835) is buried with or near her daughters, Charlotte Linton (d1863), Susannah Cass (d 1868) and Martha Walker (d 1876). Susannah and Martha had run a school for young women in Grove St Retford for many years prior to their deaths.

Front view St Saviours Church, Moorgate Retford, Nottinghamshire March 2006

The next morning being a Sunday, we thought we’d take ourselves off to the church close to the time of the service so we could see the inside. St Saviours’ web page says “the most important thing about any church is the people. The members of St Saviour’s Church come in many different shapes and sizes, and range in age from 0 to 99. We put a strong emphasis on welcoming all people”. Now in many cases one might find this to be simply a nice mission statement (pardon the pun). Not so at St Saviours where the welcome was immediate, we were introduced around, taken to after-service morning tea and chatted to by everyone. Truly one of the highlights of our family history searches overseas in a number of countries.

So Monty Don’s own personal genealogy took him along the same path to the church linking his ancestor to my husband’s in such a strange but interesting way. And the nice touch was that while the Rev Charles Hodge was known to be a preacher but not a pastor, the 21st century ambience is completely different and welcoming. Not surprisingly this episode with such evocative memories of Moorgate and Retford and St Saviours is destined for a place in our TV archives.

Grove St, Retord where Susannah Cass and Martha Walker ran a school for young ladies for many years. Specific address is not known.

Labour Day: The occupations of my ancestors.

Geneabloggers has been running the 2011 Labor Day challenge to celebrate Labor Day in the US last weekend. Where I live Labour Day is celebrated on May Day, the first Monday in May. In other states it’s celebrated on dates in other months.

Even though I’m out of kilter time-wise, this challenge looked pretty interesting so I had a play with what I know of my ancestors back to my 3 x great-grandfathers and put their occupations into a pie chart. I had to make some assumptions behind the allocation of their jobs, because some did different jobs at different times in their lives, for quite long periods, while others combined skills in one job eg railway carpenter. If they only did a job for a very brief period I’ve omitted it.

So here is my Occupational Heritage Pie for the men in my family back to my 3 x great grandfathers. The three unknowns represent pesky unidentified Irishmen who are more than likely to have been farm labourers or possibly fishermen. The surprise was to realise how substantial the farming pie actually was.

The diverse occupations of my male ancestors back to 3 x great grandfathers.

I decided not to attempt the women’s jobs as I did not have enough information on them. Almost all were busily employed looking after the family after marriage but some also combined this with working on the farm, gatekeeper in the railway, working in the family’s tearooms, dressmaking etc. I did not feel it was possible to do their skill range justice in this type of activity. The exceptions are one maternal 2 x great grandmother who worked as a ship’s stewardess after her husband’s death (and perhaps before), and the 3 x great-grandmother who actually owned the family inn in Dorfprozelten, Bavaria inherited it from her family who’d been running it for centuries.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 35: Weddings

The topic for Week 35 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is: Weddings. Tell us about your wedding. You may also talk about your future wedding, the wedding of a relative or shape this question to fit your own life experience.

Having talked a little about my own wedding under the Fame topic, my thoughts turned first to the prickly issue of religion which affected many weddings in earlier generations. Unless the couple had the same religious affiliations there were often fallings out over family members who would not attend a wedding in another denomination’s church, no matter how close the relationship; families that split asunder over “mixed marriages” and the like. Fortunately, in my view at least, those issues are much less likely to cause family disputes in the 21st century.

My thoughts then turned to the marriage of my ancestors George Kunkel and Mary O’Brien over 153 years ago. He was from Bavaria and she was from County Clare, Ireland but both were Catholic and presumably this was a critical factor for them.

If I could have a magic time machine, these are the questions (among many others) that I’d like to ask them about their wedding and marriage:

This 1910 wedding of one of George & Mary's grandchildren was held at their home at Murphy's Creek. George & Mary are the elderly couple on either side of the flowergirls. Photo kindly provided by a family member from this branch.

  1. Could you both understand each other[i]?  Was George’s English good enough to communicate effectively? How and where did he learn English?
  2. Why weren’t Mary’s parents’ names and her place of birth put on the marriage record at St Mary’s Ipswich, Queensland? Did George even know this information at the time?
  3. Why didn’t the priest, who was Irish, have more interest in documenting Mary’s records?
  4. How did you meet? Was it at work? (He was a servant and she was a housemaid)
  5. Were you sad that no family members could be at their wedding?
  6. Did you write to your families afterwards to let them know? Who wrote to Mary’s family as she could not write?
  7. What was Mary’s relationship to her bridesmaid/witness, Sarah O’Brien?  My research suggests that Sarah was probably the daughter of Daniel and Winifred O’Brien who arrived from Tipperary in 1853 on the Florentia.  George and Mary had continuing links with this family over the years. Might they have been related however distantly or did they come on the same ship? (To this day I can’t find Mary’s immigration, or indeed George’s).
  8. Mary’s sister Bridget had been in Queensland for a year after arrival but married her English non-Catholic husband in or near Albury circa 1860. This couple are separated in death, in different denominational parts of the Urana cemetery. How did Mary feel about this mixed-religion marriage and did she feel sad when her sister moved interstate?
  9. George’s witness, Carl Wörner[ii], was another of the Dorfprozelten emigrants. Carl had been employed to work for John Ferret who owned properties on the Downs as well as Ipswich. Was Carl simply in town in time for the wedding or was he actually working there, if so he was lucky not to suffer the isolation of shepherding on  a distant property? Although living not far away from them in later years he never witnesses another family event. Why?
  10. Did Mary & George enjoy setting up home in Ipswich in those early years and being part of the town’s growth?
  11. Did Mary miss George when he travelled afield for work eg on the Taloom goldfields and possibly the railways?
  12. Were they proud to see all their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren before their deaths? The evocative photo above represents only a small fraction of their descendants in 1910. George and Mary were in their late 70s at the time.
  13. Their marriage lasted 58 years until George’s death in 1916 amidst WWI anti-German hysteria. Were they happy years? Had their culturally-mixed marriage been a success?

Questions reflecting a 21st century perspective admittedly, but nonetheless I’d love to know the answers.


[i] A friend we knew in PNG used to say “He knew no Dutch, I knew no Italian, so we made babies”.

[ii] His name is indexed as Mosrins or Blomai in some records. The Dorfprozelten local historian promptly identified it as this immigrant.

99 Things meme

Along with the 99 Things Genealogy Aussie style meme, Geniaus has brought this more general topic to our attention. It has nothing to do with genealogy but it will tell readers something about me. Found on Stephen’s Lighthouse, Blog with this invitation “It’s harder and causes more reflection than you’d think. Play if you like. Stephen”

Of course I had to add a couple of things that were/are important to me:

THE 99 THINGS MEME

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to – leave in plain font

  1. Started your own blog.
  2. Slept under the stars. (in a swag in Kakadu National Park)
  3. Played in a band.
  4. Visited Hawaii.
  5. Watched a meteor shower.
  6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
  7. Been to Disneyland/world…but only so my daughter could go 😉
  8. Climbed a mountain. (Yes to cable cars, trains etc but on my own two feet, with a fear of heights and edges, I think not!)
  9. Held a praying mantis. (When I was a child I brought home a pupa and they all hatched in my bedroom…it was fun)
  10. Sang a solo. (can’t sing for nuts)
  11. Bungee jumped. (See #8..never ever, even to achieve #37)
  12. Visited Paris.
  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
  15. Adopted a child.
  16. Had food poisoning (thank you Kathmandu).
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (Been there, didn’t do that).
  18. Grown your own vegetables.
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
  20. Slept on an overnight train (as a child and with my Eurail Pass).
  21. Had a pillow fight.
  22. Hitch hiked (desperation measures –with my mother and a daughter, in Germany).
  23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
  24. Built a snow fort.
  25. Held a lamb.
  26. Gone skinny dipping.
  27. Run a marathon.
  28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. (romance at a vast price, happy to have just been there)
  29. Seen a total eclipse. (most recently in Renner Springs this year)
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (Both. Sunset-watching is a local hobby in Darwin)
  31. Hit a home run.
  32. Been on a cruise (only a few I’m interested in: Kimberley coast, Antarctica, probably PNG, and maybe Alaska #38 permitting)
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (I’ve been lucky enough to visit all my ancestral homes, at least the ones I’ve been able to identify)
  35. Seen an Amish community.
  36. Taught yourself a new language.(have learned a few, but not taught myself)
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
  39. Gone rock climbing.
  40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person.
  41. Sung Karaoke.
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
  43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
  44. Visited Africa. (a family member moving there, so looking promising).
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
  46. Been transported in an ambulance.
  47. Had your portrait painted (our daughters had a caricature done for our combined 50th birthdays). Who remembers those cut-out profiles you used to get at the Ekka/Easter Show?
  48. Gone deep sea fishing: but I wasn’t doing the actual fishing.
  49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. (do the rest of the galleries in one visit, then head straight to the Sistine Chapel at opening time one day: peaceful)
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  51. Done scuba diving or snorkelling. (Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef)
  52. Kissed in the rain.
  53. Played in the mud.
  54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.
  55. Been in a movie.
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
  57. Started a business.
  58. Taken a martial arts class
  59. Visited Russia.
  60. Served at a soup kitchen.
  61. Sold Girl Scout (Girl Guide) cookies/biscuits. (Jill, you missed out on this –they tasted disgusting, not unlike Arrowroot biscuits)
  62. Gone whale watching, and swum with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef.
  63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
  64. Donated blood.
  65. Gone sky diving. (possible, despite fear of heights)
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (too cowardly).
  67. Bounced a cheque.
  68. Flown in a helicopter. (over the Bungle Bungles)
  69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (for my children and now my grandchildren)
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
  71. Eaten Caviar.
  72. Pieced a quilt.
  73. Stood in Times Square.
  74. Toured the Everglades.
  75. Been fired from a job.
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
  77. Broken a bone.
  78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. (did I mention I’m chicken?)
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
  80. Published a book.
  81. Visited the Vatican.
  82. Bought a brand new car.
  83. Walked in Jerusalem.
  84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
  85. Read the entire Bible.
  86. Visited the White House. (well I saw it)
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (do fish count?).
  88. Had chickenpox.
  89. Saved someone’s life.
  90. Sat on a jury.
  91. Met someone famous.
  92. Joined a book club.
  93. Lost a loved one.
  94. Had a baby.
  95. Seen the Alamo in person.
  96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake
  97. Been involved in a law suit.
  98.  Owned a cell phone. (an early in-the-car one was a brick)
  99. Been stung by a bee
  100. Taken flying lessons
  101.    See Lake Eyre full of water, with lots of pelicans.