‘Tis the season, for gifts – 3rd Blogiversary competition

present‘Tis the season to be jolly (and give presents!) and as my 3rd geneablogging birthday is coming up in  on 27th December I decided a while ago to celebrate by sharing two gifts with my readers.

It’s your commitment to visiting my site, reading my stories and sharing your comments that has made blogging such an enjoyable and rewarding experience for me. Thank you!

So, I have two small gifts to send out to two randomly selected, readers. Both gifts have a local Northern Territory Indigenous “flavour”.

The first is an iPad case made by Aboriginal women from Central Australia. It will fit an original iPad as a sleeve but would also fit other tablets or even just your notebook and pencil or whatever.

DSC_0287

The second gift is a little purse by the Tiwi women from across the water north of Darwin. Again, you choose what you’d use it for.

Tiwi purse

Tiwi purse

So if you’d like to be in the draw for either of these gifts, please leave a comment below and I’ll announce the winners on my blogiversary, 27th December. I may use random.org or I may just decide to be old-fashioned and put all the comments in a hat and get Mr Cassmob to draw one out.

This little “competition” is open to all my readers wherever you may be, I’m happy to post around the world as both items are very light-weight.

Deck the Halls – Christmas geneameme responses

advent candlesTwo weeks ago I suggested we play a Christmas Geneameme to get us in the mood for Christmas.

I was particularly pleased that Randy Seaver from Genea-Musings made it his theme for last week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (if you haven’t tried any of Randy’s suggestions before why not give it a go, like he says, they’re fun).

Here are the responses to the meme and it’s great to see such diversity in the places, cultures and traditions represented. I think it’s safe to say that family is indeed the common thread. It I’ve missed anyone please forgive me and leave a comment.

If you’d still like to play along but haven’t had time (yes it’s crazy busy I know), then please just let me know & I’ll add your link to the list.

A Pocket Full of Family Memories from Deb on Australian and UK Christmases

Angler’s Rest by Julie in England

Family History 4U from Sharn in Sydney.

Family History across the Seas my own response

Family History Fun by Sue in Scotland

Family Stories Photographs and Memories from Diane in Sydney

Finding Eliza from Kristin in the USA.

Geniaus by Jill in Sydney

Geneamusings by Randy in San Diego as part of last Saturday’s Genealogy Fun (thanks Randy)

Hanging from the Family Tree by Donna in the USA.

Jenny’s Genealogy Blog from Jenny in Sydney.

Jottings Journeys and Genealogy from Judy in Queensland (with a bush-Christmas slant)

Lone Tester from Alona in South Australia

Red de Antepasados by Sonia in Madrid, Spain (use your friendly Google Translate button to read Sonia’s responses, unless your Spanish is better than mine!)

Round Tuit Genealogy by Linda in Illinois, USA

Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family by Catherine in South Australia

Shauna Hicks History Enterprises from Shauna in Queensland

That Moment in Time by Crissouli in Queensland

Tracking Down The Family from Jennifer in Bendigo, Victoria

And an absolutely delightful post about Christmas in Donegal, Ireland in the 1950s which The Silver Voice kindly said was inspired by this geneameme.

Thank you so much everyone for joining in this geneameme. I really enjoyed reading your stories and I hope you all had fun too and learnt a little more about your geneabuddies’ lives -the similarities and differences.

Blog Carolling

BlogCarolingI just had to include this Aussie Christmas song/carol in a last minute response to FootnoteMaven’s  Blog Carolling event. While it may be Saturday in Australia and we already have the airconditioning on at 8.30am, I’m going with the theory that it’s still Friday in the USA <smile>.

It’s not really my favourite but I thought it might make a change for many of my overseas readers. Personally I much prefer the lyrics and rhythm of The Carol of the Birds but Six White Boomers is kind of fun and besides which my feeble singing copes better with it <wink>.

Here it is on YouTube sung by the iconic Rolf Harris, and the reason for the use of “mommy” instead of the Australian “mummy” is on this website.

And the lyrics are:

In Australia, christmas comes in the middle of a very hot summer
so when Santa Claus delivers his presents
he’s not taken around by reindeer because
they can’t stand the terrible heat

he’s taken around by six big, white, old man kangaroos
called the six white boomers

early on one Christmas day
a joey kangaroo
was far from home and lost
in a great, big zoo

mummy….where’s my mummy?
they’ve taken her away

we’ll help you find your mummy, son
hop up on the sleigh

so up inside the bag of toys
little joey hopped
but they hadn’t gone far when santa stopped
unharnessed all the reindeer
and joey wondered why
then he heard a far off booming in the sky

(boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom)

[chorus]
six white boomers
snow white boomers
racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun
six white boomers
snow white boomers
on his Australian run

pretty soon old Santa began to feel the heat
took his fur-lined boots off to cool his feet
into one popped joey
feelin’ quite okay
while those old man kangaroos kept pullin’ on the sleigh
hey!

[chorus]

then joey said to Santa, “Santa, what about the toys?
aren’t you giving some to these girls and boys?”

“well, they’ve all had their presents, sonny
we were here last night
this trip is an extra trip
joey’s special flight

[chorus]

soon the sleigh was flashing past
right over Marble Bar
“slow down there!” cried Santa
“it can’t be far
hop up on my lap here, son
and have a look around”
“there, there she is!
that’s mummy! bounding up and down!”

[chorus]

 well, that’s the bestest Christmas treat
that joey ever had
curled up in mother’s pouch feeling snug and glad
the last they saw was Santa heading northwards from the sun
the only year the boomers worked a double run

[chorus]

Our family’s Christmas miracle

This week our family has been gratefully blessed with a Christmas miracle, not a term I use glibly. Our smallest grandson did something of a Humpty Dumpty, head-butting concrete in one of those hideous quirks of fate that spin our worlds from their normal orbit.

shooting starSo many terrifying outcomes have been averted and after a few scary days as his little body coped with the injury and shock, he is blossoming back into his “old” self, chattering and fully engaging with everyone.

The doctors and nursing staff at Royal Darwin Hospital have been absolutely fantastic and we are so grateful for all their professional expertise. RDH sometimes gets bad press, but unlike Jack from the nursery rhyme his medical regime has included far more than “vinegar and brown paper”. Apart from all the techno-gizmos in the hospital we’re so lucky that the local surgeons can also draw on the specialised expertise of neurosurgeons in Adelaide via video-conferencing and email. I’m also grateful for the support of my virtual and real friends for their support over the past few days.

We are all giving thanks that our baby has survived this ordeal so well…we can’t imagine life without our little man and a practical way we’ll give thanks is to help others whose lives, or that of their little ones, are at risk, probably through Kiva and Medicins Sans Frontieres.

The tree may not be up yet, the cake and pudding are in the early stages and cards may not go out, and my blog posts may be really late, but we’ve been blessed with a very personal Christmas miracle and the strength and support of family and friends.

hearts and stars

Pauleen Decks the Halls -my Xmas Geneameme response

Baby Jesus in mangerLast week I invited everyone to join in with the Christmas Geneameme and this is my own response. There’s still plenty of time to participate as I won’t collate all the responses for a week or so. Please leave a comment to make it easier to track your reply or you can use the twitter #xmasgeneameme tag. The more the merrier!!

Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family? We traditionally set up the Christmas tree on one family birthday and take it down on another. A tree is a must, as is my grandmother’s Christmas shortbread.

 Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day? It was for many years and we’d always go to Midnight Mass wherever we lived – the music and atmosphere was very special. It was also a good way to ensure the children slept in a little despite the excitement of Santa <grin>

 Did/do you or your grandchildren/children believe in Santa? Yes, they all do/did…I don’t recall when that changed but this year my smallest grandchild keeps whispering his Santa wishes to me…too cute….I just hope Santa’s factory has the right toys <smile>

 Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood? My singing would frighten away werewolves so no. I was reading an old diary a while back and was reminded that we had carollers from the United Church (Presbyterian and Methodists) visit our Port Moresby streets at Christmas. It was a memory that had completely disappeared.

What’s your favourite Christmas music? Ode to Joy, hands down. But I also have to listen to the Messiah at least once over Christmas. Beautiful chorale versions of carols – I have a lovely one from Oxford which is great background music.

 What’s your favourite Christmas carol? This one is tricky: Oh Tannenbaum in German (for my ancestry, and because it was on one my family’s earliest Christmas LPs); Mary’s Boy Child, for the words and music and because my husband loves it; Little Drummer Boy because it was on the first Xmas LP we bought after we were married and I’d never heard it before; and Feliz Navidad for its sheer exuberance.

Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read? Not really, but I always love the scenes in When Harry Met Sally with the tree and the New York lights…it reminds me of our pre-Christmas visit to New York back in the early 90s.

 Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)? We do gifts for the littlies and Secret Santa for the adults in our family, with a fixed price limit.

 Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away? Indoors with the air conditioning going! When we’ve been at our daughters who has a pool we may be outside as there’s an option of a swim to cool down.

 What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal and do you have a special recipe? For many years now we’ve been eating ham and seafood (usually prawns) together with the fanciest salads we can make for our main Xmas meal. Sometimes we’ll revert to roast pork on Xmas Eve which will be a cold accompaniment on Christmas Day. Of course always accompanied by a nice wine.

Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited? The main course may have changed, but there’s always Christmas pudding –even if people are too full to eat much! I inherited my pudding recipe from my mother. We also have a new tradition for Xmas dessert –our daughter’s tiramisu.

 Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they? My paternal grandmother’s shortbread recipe is always on the menu and for many years I made my mother’s Christmas cake. These days I make a new recipe I discovered decades ago – my Green Peppercorn Xmas cake.

 Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas? Not much these days unless I have a flash of inspiration though the grandchildren and I usually do Christmas craft including our own bon-bons.

 Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa? Luckily we mostly live in the same city so we have every 2nd year together. Our other daughter will visit for Xmas most years where possible.

 Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ? Yes because we always had a hot Christmas dinner not cold. My father was often working shift work (as did our children through their uni years) so the timing would vary. Christmas was one of the few times each year when Dad would have a beer. We’ve both got small families so we’re used to small Christmas gatherings.

 How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins? Many of our friends now live a long way away but with those who are closest (geographically) we usually do a mix of these options.

 Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot? Yes – just a little, but enough to add a bit of sparkle.

 Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue? No, not many houses have lights at all (and with an upcoming 30% increase in power charges, that will drop even more next year!). The big Xmas light displays in particular neighbourhoods are beautiful and a real community contribution.

 Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where? This was a huge tradition in our family and our youngest daughter attended her first one when she was only weeks old. They were held on Wickham Tce in Brisbane for many years. It’s a while since we’d been to one so we joined family last week at the Darwin carols, only for it to be shut down by lightning, heavy winds and rain….the latter two are okay, but you can’t mess with lightning. Most years we listen to the televised Carols by Candlelight from Melbourne –sometimes while wrapping presents.

Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)? No, we prefer to stay at home for Christmas.

 Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue? Usually we’re at home but I’ve had one Christmas overseas.

Do you have snow for Christmas where you live? Not a chance in Australia’s tropical north, though if it’s raining and the air-conditioning is on, you can trick your mind into thinking it’s cold outside.

 Do you have a Christmas tree every year? Absolutely!

 Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation? In early years it was a live tree (either a small casuarina or a baby eucalypt/gum). Now we have an artificial tree, which we downsized as empty nesters then upsized again when they babies came along.

 Do you have special Xmas tree decorations? I have a “thing” for Xmas tree decorations and keep on buying them as if we have a huge tree. Some of these have special memories from trips near and far, but especially those from the Bavarian Christmas markets.

 Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving? Christmas is the main family celebration for our family (as well as birthdays). Australia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving which is probably as well because I think people would go into meltdown if there was one more thing to do in November on top of end of year at work/school/clubs etc.

Beyond the Internet: Week 47 Police and Railway Staff records

This week I’m writing Week 47 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens and this week’s topic is Police and Railway Staff records.

Archives can be a rich source of occupational records, ranging from publicans to police, railways or business, mariners or teachers. As always which records survive for your area of interest is variable and dependent on historical chance.

RAILWAY STAFF RECORDS

Firstly a word of warning: not all railway workers will have been employed by the government-owned railway even in Australia. Lengthsmen and gangers, the labourers of the railway line, may have been employed directly by large railway contractors such as O’Rourke & McSharry.

Overseas where the railway infrastructure and operations were undertaken by different companies it will be necessary to see if those business records have survived. Findmypast UK has some railway staff records online but others may remain elusive.

The steam train arrives at Murphys Creek station.

The steam train arrives at Murphys Creek station.

Where they exist, railway staff records can be rich in detail. My ancestral ones include dates of birth, commencement of service, progression through the ranks, commendations or penalties, relocations around the region and illness. Some of mine came directly from Queensland State Archives but others were obtained from dusty old card systems in Ipswich long before the Railway Museum was built.

There are also some excellent indexes to Queensland Railway staff and these may highlight the employment of women as gatekeepers or cleaners. It was not uncommon for married women whose husbands had a responsible role at a particular station to take on these duties, or for them to be given this type of work if a husband died at an early age. Government gazettes and parliamentary papers may also list railway workers.

Time does indeed make the heart grow fonder for Qld Rail as it seems the closer in time we are to the person the less likely we are to find staff records. While I have some from my 2xgreat grandfather, two great-grandfathers and my grandfather, my own father’s records were destroyed some time ago even though he retired less than 40 years ago!

Roma St Railway Station -the old shunting yards extended up to and beyond the right corner of this image. Photo taken P Cass about 2006.

Roma St Railway Station -the old shunting yards extended up to and beyond the right corner of this image. Photo taken P Cass about 2006.

These staff records can be used in conjunction with other sources to reveal more detailed information about their specific location location eg while posted to South East maintenance, a man might actually be working in a number of places in that area. School admission records are a great way to track movements within a region. Similarly Trove may provide useful tidbits about their lives.

Other Sources: If you want to know a little more about what life was life as a railway employee, or a member of their family member, this book, Living on the Line, provides first hand oral histories of railway life. You can also search my blog (top right hand corner) for search terms “railway” or “Queensland Rail” for my own experiences in a railway family. Also don’t forget to see if you ancestor was involved with railway operations during either World War I or World War II.

POLICE STAFF RECORDS

 Police staff files are generally even more valuable to family historians than railway staff records (especially if you have policemen in your family!). They include much of the same detail but are more likely to include pages of documents rather than just a card index summary.DSC_1877

I have made significant finds in police files so I’m pleased that some of my family members diverted from serving the railway to the police.

 Character references had to be obtained when applying to enter the police and one for Thomas Kunkel is elusively enlightening. A letter from Patrick O’Sullivan, MLA in Ipswich states that he had known my 2xgreat grandparents “so long and so well”. Had it perhaps been Patrick for whom George Kunkel had worked as a servant in his hotel? Or is this just my imaginings? Ironically nearly 100 years later I would know Patrick’s great-grandson who was the Jesuit priest with responsibility for the Newman Society at The University of Queensland.

Spouse checks: In the old days (not sure when it ended), Police had to obtain permission to marry. They advised the name of the woman they wanted to marry and there was then a character check on that person and her family.  One can only assume that he must have asked his bride-to-be before sending off her name, otherwise the proposal would hardly have come as a surprise!

Thanks to this, I learned that one of my grandfather’s uncle applied to marry a particular woman, whose family provided a glowing reference from Archbishop Dunne, previously their parish priest. What went wrong after that is lost to time, but Thomas never did marry her. Adding insult to injury she married his brother Edward not long afterwards.  Thomas’s performance record had been of a good standard before that but all of a sudden he was going AWOL, being drunk on duty, losing prisoners. Coincidence, I hardly think so.police hat and cuffs

Another relative’s file reveals his problem of “borrowing” a small amount of official money – when he volunteered this information and was repaying it, he was promptly discharged. I can imagine him confessing his sin to the priest and being told to make restitution only to then be tossed out – entirely justifiably, but no doubt distressing for all the family. The timing of this event coincides with his mother, Bridget McSharry, moving to Rockhampton and setting up a boarding house. Around this time or a little earlier, his father, James Sherry, entirely disappears from view – did he desert the family (not in police gazettes) or did he die but his death not get recorded? Was the timing a coincidence? Not sure.

Police staff files are subject to closure periods which may affect your ability to look at all or part of the file.

 Other sources: once again try Trove to learn about arrests or events your ancestor may have been involved with and also look at Police Gazettes or Government Gazettes.

I think you’ll find these sources to be very helpful if you are lucky enough to have railwaymen or police on your family tree.

Deck the Halls – 2012 Christmas Geneameme

It’s the start of the Advent season today and I thought it would be fun if we shared our different experiences of Christmas and how we celebrate it around the world. By doing this through a geneameme we’ll be able to compare our responses and see whether we do things very differently or if there’s lots of similarities.

For this meme, it doesn’t matter whether you’re religiously inclined or not, just tell us how important this season is to your family.

It would be great if you joined in from around the world– the more the merrier (and it’s the season to be merry!).  I’ve tried not to be Australia-centric so please pull me up if any of these are unclear…we should all be able to “have a go”.

THE 2012 CHRISTMAS GENEAMEME

  1. Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family?
  2. Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day?
  3. Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?
  4. Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?
  5. What’s your favourite Christmas music?
  6. What’s your favourite Christmas carol?
  7. Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read?
  8. Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?
  9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?
  10. What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal?
  11. Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas?
  12. Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?
  13. Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?
  14. Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?
  15. Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa?
  16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?
  17. How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins?
  18. Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?
  19. Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?
  20. Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?
  21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)?
  22. Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?
  23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?
  24. Do you have a Christmas tree every year?
  25. Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?
  26. Do you have special Xmas tree decorations?
  27. Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?

 Thanks for participating in this Christmas Geneameme and sharing your Christmas experiences!

Don’t forget to leave a link to your geneameme response in the comments section or on Google+ or on Twitter using hashtag #xmasgeneameme. Thanks!

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2013.