Q is for Questions

thinkingMy AtoZ theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.


 When you’re researching, you always need to have your thinking cap on and question yourself and your sources.

  •  Is this oral history accurate? Can I get some confirmation from other independent sources? Having said that, there’s nothing like hearing someone’s memories recorded in sound or writing.
  • What is this document telling me? What’s the background or reason why it was created?
  • What government legislation applied at the time?
  • Were the country/county/state/council/town boundaries the same at the time we’re interested in or have they changed?
  • What significant external events affected your family?
  • Did they have any major personal challenges to deal with?
  • Why did they emigrate?
  • Did they travel alone or with other family or friends?
  • Did they bring family out after them in chain migration?
  • Is your family typical of their peers at home or those who emigrated?


red question markAnd on and on it goes. The questions will lead you to other resources and back to more questions. I did say family history is life-long learning <smile>.

An academic once said to me “what’s your question?” and I confess I looked somewhat blankly at him. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been asking questions, just that I hadn’t articulated it that way.

 What other questions would you ask?

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1800-1924.


P is for Parish registers and Parish chests

PMy A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

P is for Parish Registers

 Parish registers are generally regarded as the registers of baptisms, banns and sometimes burials that the churches recorded in the years before civil registration commenced in your family’s country of origin. They continue beyond that date as well as a rule, giving you another option for learning more about the family. Brick walls? Don’t forget to check them out.

Many registers are comprehensively documented though you may find anomalies in spelling of names, or the use of nicknames instead of their formal baptismal name. You need to keep your mind open to the possibilities.

One thing I’ve found is that people fail to take account of the burials which the minister has documented. This can lead to a family member being attributed with a particular baptism date, when a look at the burials reveals that child died as an infant. In some cases the minister obligingly gives us locational details especially where it’s a common name. This plus ages, combined with census details, can help “kill your ancestors off” so you know you’re on the right trail – or the wrong one.

Not all parishes documented burials – in particular it’s a bonus to find them included in Catholic registers because burial is not a sacrament and so it’s not essential. And in Ireland, the sheer volume of deaths during the Famine made it impractical to document each person’s death and burial.


Church register baptism Mary Gavin_edited-1

Extract from the St Catherine’s registers which show Mary Gavin’s baptism from the IrishGenealogy site.

In Scotland, you may need to look in the kirk session records which may reveal the cost of renting mort cloths, the discontinuance of poor support, or even a comment in a neighbour’s witness statement about a different matter entirely.

Do registers belong only in the past? 

In my experience, it’s also useful, and sometimes critical, to locate the same details in your family’s more recent past, especially if they were strongly affiliated with a particular religion. This may or may not have been the religion which was the formally declared faith of the country. For example, in England, this is the Church of England. In times past, marriages were not valid unless performed in the relevant Anglican Church.

Ages ago I wrote a post about how using a parish register entry for a marriage revealed full details of my Kunkel ancestor’s place of birth – literally the only place I’ve ever found it documented. This led me back to his Bavarian village where I was ultimately able to confirm his baptism.

Where to look?

Think about Church Archives for your town/state/diocese. Some will be helpful, others less so. Don’t forget your research is not their core business and be prepared to wait, and to pay a fee just as you would for government records.

You should also use the Family Search research wiki, or read relevant books, to learn more about how these records worked in your ancestor’s country of origin. For example, German registers (and some other European countries) have family books which include essentially a pedigree chart listing all the couple’s children then cross-referring them to their own marriages and families.

Don’t forget that not every microfilm prepared by the LDS church has yet been filmed. Check out the catalogue on Family Search to see if there’s more information available by ordering in a microfilm – use the keyword or place search, check the church records and see if they’ve been digitised or not, and indexed or not.

However for other events you may have to look in the Non-Conformist, Roman Catholic, Quaker or Jewish records to find more information. Some families may even have vacillated in their allegiance to different churches. In short, as with so many things in researching your family, the net has to be thrown as widely as possible to pick up all sorts of information – some of it contradictory.

P is for Parish Chests and records

 In earlier centuries the parish documents were kept under lock and key in huge chests like the image shown, hence the name parish chest. The documents included all matters pertaining to the church’s operation, from the registers discussed above, to the day-to-day operation of maintaining the roads, collecting taxes and tithes and supporting the poor.



The parish chest in the Hook Norton church, Oxfordshire. P Cass 2006

Not everything survives but you can find fascinatingly diverse documents. In one Northumberland parish I found what was essentially a partial census when the tithe collectors went from door to door. In another case, the minister listed all the people in the parish, their religious affiliations and a commentary on the family and their living conditions – genea-gold if your family is living in that parish – unless he was particularly rude about them.

Once again it’s worth checking out the regional archives to see if they perhaps have relevant documents in their holdings.

How can they help?

Let me give you an example from my own family history of the usefulness of the parish records.

In Australia my Kent ancestors from Sandon, Hertfordshire were variously Anglican, Baptist, and Methodist in different events. This led me to think that they were possibly non-conformist while in England, and only using the Anglican Church as required, under sufferance. However, this proved not to be the case.

Year after year, generations of my Kent ancestors had responsibility in the roles of poor law, road supervision and the like. I don’t imagine this would have happened if they’d been on the periphery of the church.

Also among those documents were all the details of the enclosures proposed for the parish and the meetings held about the enclosures. Where were they held? In my ancestor’s pub.

Do yourself a favour head on over to the Family Search catalogue to see if you’ve missed out on hiring in one of the films. It might be the best $8 or so you’ve spent on your research. You might even find an ancestor’s signature from centuries ago…what a thrill!


Erle Victor Weiss KIA

Erle Victor Weiss

P is also for photos but you probably don’t need me to tell you just how important they are to your research. Ask around the relatives – in my view, someone, somewhere is likely to have what you’re looking for. But will they have names on them?

You might be lucky like my genie-mate, Prue, who got a photo of a relative, thanks to a postcard which I was given by my fourth cousin from her suitcases of photos. Serendipity might strike!

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

 There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1700-1824.


O is for Occupations and One Place Studies

My A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.


View of the Roma Street Railway Station in Brisbane 1931 SLQ

A view of Roma Street shunting yards 1931, John Oxley Library Image 63242. Copyright expired.

Where, how and what we work at can be an important part of our identity and certainly takes up a lot of our waking hours. How much more so for our ancestors who started working when they were only children, or if they were lucky, early teens and worked as long as they were physically able, given limited access to assistance.

It’s no surprise then that finding out as much as we can about our ancestors type of employment. This can be in two types: specific staff registers and more general information.

If your person worked for a large business perhaps that still exists, they may have their own archive and have retained staff records or even have photos as part of their history.

Military service and government service are usually well documented. Governments do tend to like to know where their money goes <smile>. In fact “follow the money” is probably a great tip to apply with all your research. Government archives, state or national, are your best bet for finding these records if they still exist.

Decades ago I got staff card copies of past generations of my railway workers, as well as further information from the archives. And yet, when I applied for my father’s records, those more recent ones had been destroyed…go figure. It’s a research lottery but you “have to be in it, to win it”.

teacher 2Government gazettes may also give clues to occupations associated with government employees as they list succinct information.

For professionals (nurses, doctors, teachers, clergy etc), look at the relevant registration agency as well as checking out what records the archives hold.

For labourers, consider whether they were part of a union. Is there oral history about it? Newspapers can be a source of great clues about Union work…I had no idea about some of my grandfathers’ union commitments until I found newspaper stories.

If you would like to read more about specific types of occupation records you can do read some in my Beyond the Internet posts.


Often people come to One Place Studies (or OPS) as an extension of their family research. Others start from a long-held interest in the place where they live, or where their ancestors lived.


Looking over Lough Doon from near Ballykelly townland, Broadford, Co Clare.

For more information about OPSs and where people are researching I can recommend the Society of One Place Studies website.

Some do it better and more extensively than others…you can explore the different studies through the link above. I have an interest in emigrants from the Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten, Irish Emigrants from East County Clare, Ireland and Murphys Creek in Queensland, Australia. It would be fair to say I’ve spread myself too thin. Perhaps a case of “do what I say, not what I do”?

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>  

There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1600-1699.


NMy A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

N is for Newspapers

Once upon a time, in those dark, pre-digital days, I wore my eyes out looking at microfilm after microfilm of newspapers like all good family historians.
  • Searching them was dependent on cross-matching clues:
  • Did they advertise a child’s birth?
  • Was there a story about their wedding?
  • What was the weather like that day and dId the bride have to worry about the rain?
  • What did the paper say about them after their death…not to mention if it was accurate.
  • Was their funeral advertised in the public notices and did it mention the surnames of married daughters?
  • How did major regional, national or international events affect them?


One clue led to another as we would weave our way from archive sources and BDM indexes to and from the newspapers. Imagine the time it would have taken to roll through page after page sleuthing for anything else, though occasionally we dabbled in that.Missing friends

We still ask these questions in our research, but what we had no hope of finding before was those blissfully random stories that we can now find, thanks to digitisation. For example, an advertisement by my 2xgreat grandmother looking for her sister; family in the old country seeking “missing friends”; the story of an agricultural show where one great-grandfather exhibited a range of local timbers and another’s baking took out a prize.

(above right) MISSING FRIENDS. (1864, February 17). Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1932), , p. 6.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128802223  

And then there are the advertisements for claimants to estate like this one, or the astonishing 50,000 names mentioned below. You can see that there’s plenty of US news in Australian newspapers.

Missing friends 50000 names cropAMERICA. (1879, February 8). Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), , p. 7. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170496665

Most nation’s have digitised at least some of their papers, but I honestly believe Australia’s program, Trove, is a world leader for all sorts of reasons: crowd-sourced editing of the OCR (Optical Character Recognition); providing highlighting of the search words; and the ability to tag or include in a list to suit your own research. Family historians, as well as academic and ordinary researchers, use it to research a wide variety of topics from life-saving clubs to dolls’ houses.

Incredibly our national government thinks this is not a priority to fund and thus diminish the preservation of our national heritage. There’s been a concerted social media campaign (#fundtrove) on Twitter and Facebook to fight this.

A few other online newspaper collections are as follows:

I’ve found some German newspapers available through Google Books – they’re very difficult to use but perhaps my tips from an earlier post may help.

Papers Past (for New Zealand)

British Newspaper Archives (includes Irish papers) is available through some subscription sites or sometimes, your regional library.

Chronicling America

The Scotsman (a pay-to-view site)

What others would you add? Thanks to my readers for these additions. Also read the comments for further tips, now included below.
Welsh Newspapers Online

Danish Newspapers (>100 years old)

Old Fulton Post Cards

While these focus on papers from their own country/region you might be surprised how often they reference events in other countries (the equivalent of an AAP syndication).

If I had to limit myself to one online resource I think it would have to be digital newspapers. Other records are available elsewhere, but the intimate stories in newspapers about ancestors are so random and found almost entirely thanks to digitisation.

For some handy hints on searching online newspapers try these tips from Ken at The Ancestor Hunt blog.

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

 There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1500-1599.



M is Maps and Microfilms

MMy AtoZ 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

We’ll have short meander into M as it ties in so well with the previous post.

M is for MAPS

Many of us just love browsing maps for the sheer pleasure of it, but this is business….we want to advance our research.

Maps can tell us so much about our ancestors’ lives. What the land was like where they farmed, where the nearest church is in relation to them or if there are hills, rivers or mountains between them. Did they live in a big 19th century city or a tiny hamlet that has long ceased to exist?

Reiterating – libraries, along with their mates, the archives are where you want to search first. Do you live far away? This is when all that digitisation really comes to the fore.  There are some magnificent maps available online and my favourite is the National Library of Scotland.

Another intriguing resource is the Booth’s poverty maps of London which will give you wonderful insights into the area where your London ancestors lived: were they crooks and crims, or among the upper or middling classes?

Map Tullamarine,jpg(1892). Parish of Tullamarine Parish of Maribyrnong Retrieved April 9, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-232027555

And then there are the valuation maps which are so important in England and Ireland.

If you have ancestors who came to your country in its early days, check whether the archives (or libraries) have settlement maps which detail who owned which plot of land.

On my genealogy travels, near and far, I like to carry a copy of an old topographic map of the era. This enables me to look carefully at what I’m seeing for insights to the past.

microfilm reader

Old and new technology: image from wikipedia commons.


Old and new technology: image from wikipedia commons.

We talked about films from the LDS church in the previous post, but I didn’t mention that genealogy societies may also have films which haven’t been digitised.

One example might be funeral directors’ records: the index may be on a commercial site, but believe me, there’s a lot more on the films including (mostly) family names. Check out whether your local genealogical society has microfilms of the original records.

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1400 to 1499.

L is for Libraries and Local History

LMy A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.


 This is a snapshot view because I want to focus on libraries. What is local history and why does it matter to your family research? Put simply, it is the study of a particular town or area. Publications can be excellently researched but they can also suffer from being too anecdotal without supported research.

Why does it matter? Think of your own circumstances. Isn’t what happens in your town or region important in how it affects you: relevant government legislation, what societies exist, who is involved with them, what businesses operate, and has there been dramatic weather events. You get the idea and it will give you a clue why libraries are so important.


Library Dublin

The National Library of Ireland, Dublin. P Cass 2006

I can’t imagine doing my family history research without access to libraries. Along with archives they are the twin fountains of unexpected discoveries. They also come in all shapes and sizes, and often each type has something different to offer.

 Local Libraries

 Your local library is your easiest go-to place but will most likely have the more limited range. Usually there’ll be some introductory guides to genealogy and family history research. There will also be a selection of books about particular occupations or regions. Much will depend on the area where you live, and if perhaps, you live in the same region as your ancestors.

State and Reference Libraries

 These libraries offer a further step in your research. They will often have a dedicated genealogy area, with microfilms, microfiche and specialised books as well as, sometimes, access to the commercial genealogy sites. Among the library’s book shelves you will be bound to find books of relevance to occupation and place.

Think broadly and explore the shelves. Use whatever guides the library has prepared and be willing to ask advice the librarians about where to look for something – they’re Google in human form.

In the state or county where your ancestors lived you will also want to look in the reference section of the library. This is the white-gloves, pencils area where serious research takes place. There are all sorts of esoteric information mostly stored hidden away, and sometimes having to be ordered in with a time delay, so check before you make a long journey, and check if you need some form of ID.

The catalogue will certainly be of great help here, but remember you’re mainly looking for a topic, though if your ancestors are famous this is where you might find some genea-gold. Think about the clubs, societies, businesses and places with which your family may have been associated.

National Libraries

While state or regional libraries have that region as the focus, your national library is where you will look for items of importance to the nation. They are also usually the repository which have rights of legal deposit so that any book published in the country must have a copy stored with them. Something to remember when you’ve finished writing and publishing your family history <smile>.pc000054

Rose Stereograph Co (1920).THE NATIONAL LIBRARY, CANBERRA.

Image out of copyright. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/167680112

They store a diverse range of resources including oral recordings, maps, books, manuscripts, journals etc etc. You might want to check whether your national library, like Australia’s, lets you have a library card entitling you to use some online resources such as JSTOR (see J for Journals).

pandora_logoMany blogs have also been archived for posterity, including this one which thrills me no end that my grandchildren may one day still be able to read what I’ve written about our family through the National Library of Australia’s Pandora website.

University Libraries

If you haven’t been to uni, you may feel daunted by visiting a university library, but while you may not be able to borrow (check their rules) you can use their reading rooms to access more unusual books, older journals (new ones are mostly digital) and their reference area. Like other reference libraries they are donated materials from people and it’s amazing what you can find there. I’ve used them to great advantage back in the pre-digital era for old regional newspapers and even the Statistical Accounts of Scotland.



The genealogist’s delight – the Family History Library, Salt Lake City

Genealogy libraries and Family Research Centres 

I’ve already mentioned how varied the collections can be in a genealogy society library as well as offering access to indexes and commercial genealogy sites.

The Family Research Centres are run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) aka the Mormons. Because their religious philosophy centres of bringing the whole family to God (my understanding) they’ve contributed more than anyone else to the genealogy community.

While increasing amounts of their microfilmed records are being digitised and then indexed, that is still the tip of the iceberg. You can search their catalogue for the place your ancestors came from either using place or keyword (which I prefer) and see if you wish to order in an undigitised microfilm to read at one of their libraries. I’ve done so much of my research this way both in the pre-digital era and even now.

So join me on the library quest and see what exciting discoveries you can make. As governments the world over continue to place diminished emphasis (and funding) on these repositories of cultural heritage, let’s show them how wrong they are!

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1300-1399.

K is for Kirk Sessions and Kiva


My A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.


One of the great things about the Church of Scotland is their obsession with right living, sin, and public confession. They had a great skill of getting to the bottom of the story. In the course of this process it’s amazing what is revealed. When I was last in Scotland I wanted to look up the Kirk Sessions for this reason. In the end I spent far more time than I intended, reading page after page of the Glenorchy and Inishail parish Kirk Sessions. Apart from a huge scandal involving one of my ancestor’s siblings and her brother-in-law, there are more mundane snippets to be discovered like the following short extract:

…. declarant that he had seen the parties come out of a small house belonging to Duncan McCorquodale, declares further that this statement was made to declarant by Dugald Fletcher Balimore who is in the employ of Mr Campbell  Inverawe and under the charge of Andrew Davidson who is  grieve with said Mr Campbell Inverawe, … declares further that during the course of the night in question an Irish Pedlar who that night lodged in Duncan McCorquodale’s house …[i].

Not only does it give a place of residence, but also often the person’s employers. Even more special to me is that it identifies my 4xgreat grandfather’s house as a small one – meaning even by the local standards of small houses, it must have been especially small, as evidenced by the remains of the house’s footprints that we later saw. Not only was his family living there, but obviously he even accommodated pedlars from time to time.


The kirk at Bothkennar, Stirlingshire. Photo: P Cass 2011

If there’s one record I would absolutely love to have digitised, it’s the kirk sessions, though it would have to be as a paid subscription – just searching by name wouldn’t work for me.

If you’re looking for further information on Kirk Sessions and all matters genealogical relating to Scotland you may be interested in this book by Scottish researcher Chris Paton and published by Australia’s Unlock the Past.

kiva_logoK is for KIVA

You may wonder what a “charity” has to do with genealogy,  but it’s because of a group established by Australian professional researcher Judy Webster in September 2011, and which is called Kiva Genealogists for Families. In less than five years, over $181,000 loans in 78 countries have been made by 315 genealogists keen to make a difference in the world. It’s important to know these are loans to families, like our own, who want to work hard to help their families. As the loans are repaid you can choose to relend or take the cash back.  You can read my FAQs here.

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>
There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1200-1299.

[i] Kirk Session held at Inishdrynich June 5th 1839, Inishail Kirk Sessions, National Archives of Scotland.

J is for Journals

JMy A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

J is for Journals

Journals, letters, diaries…how we wish for such genealogical gold! Sadly most of us aren’t lucky in that regard.

Having said that all is not lost. Once again, ask family members if they hold any of these treasures. Even old address books can be helpful in pinning down extended kin at a particular point in time.

Let’s make a likely assumption that our often illiterate ancestors left nothing of this nature behind. What do we do now?

J06286 Port Sydney Crossing the line

THE CROSSING-THE-LINE CEREMONY ON BOARD THE TROOPSHIP “PORT SYDNEY”, WHICH LEFT MELBOURNE ON 1917-11-09. (DONATED BY MR C.W.L. MUECKE.) This image (out of copyright) from the Australian War Memorial, gives me an insight to my grandfather’s voyage to France during World War I.

.Check your national or state library’s catalogue to see if anyone else on the voyage took photos or wrote a journal about the voyage they were on. Oftentimes you will have to visit the library to read the journals but increasingly out-of-copyright images are being digitised…but not all of them. Remember the ethics and cite your sources.

Academic journals can also have information which puts your family’s life in their historical context – look not for their personal name, but the place name or a topic eg illegitimacies in Scotland in the 19th century. These will all help to inform you about your family’s circumstances, tell you whether they were typical or atypical, and add richness to your story. The JSTOR facility, available through reference libraries, is another fantastic resource and you may be able to read the journal articles from the comfort of home if you have a membership card to the library (note, not your local library, if such a thing hasn’t been done away with, thanks to government cuts).

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>
There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1100-1199.

I is for Interviews and Immigration

My A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

I is for Interviews aka Oral History

IIf there’s one thing you will repeatedly hear among family historians, it’s the wish that they’d asked more questions of their immediate ancestors – parents and grandparents – about their lives and experiences. I’m certainly among those, as while I lived next door to my grandparents until they died in their 80s, I have no recollection of them ever speaking of much in this line. Like many of us in our childhood and teens I guess I was just too self-absorbed in my own activities. Now I curse my stupidity! Of course there’s another thing we fail to recognise which is that not everyone wants to share their life story. I heard more stories from my parents than ever before, once I started writing my history of the Kunkel-O’Brien family.

Nor can every person we speak to can be regarded as a “reliable witness”. We do still need to cross-check the stories with documentation where possible. Every time I say that I question myself…if, for example, I say I moved to the Northern Territory to live, surely I know whereof I speak. So balance what you follow with common sense.

Grandma and me reading

Reading with my grandparents – a bit young for interviews.

Don’t just focus on your immediate family – some family members have been more curious, or had a different relationship and so they may know more. I was lucky enough to track down a grandchild, Annie Kunkel, of my Kunkel ancestors and as I’ve repeatedly acknowledged she was a gold-mine of stories of their life on the farm, the names of kin who lived far away and the extended family names. She was an extremely reliable witness because I’ve been able to confirm certain details, lending more credibility to other stories.

Another interesting side-shoot is that when being questioned people are likely to focus their answers on the type of approach you take or the person who is asking the question. For example, Annie told the local historian a totally new story about her Bavarian grandfather than she ever mentioned to me, either because it had passed out of her memory or she was focused on family: “He [grandfather Kunkel] was a clever man and he could take a pocket knife and carve a thing. We had a pen handle carved from a bone. It was a perfect thing with a folded hand on the end of it like that on the end of it”.[i]

In most places there are organisations which specialise in oral history recording, so if you’re interested in becoming more expert in this field, I suggest you approach them. This is Australia’sAmerica’s, Canada’s, Ireland’s and the United Kingdom’s.

I for Immigration

Immigration information is one of those gold nuggets we seek about our earliest immigrant ancestors. Australia is blessed with fantastic records in this regard, especially up to about 1870.  This is one of the advantage of how many of our ancestors came under government funding – needed to tempt them to travel the great distances.

A further source of immigration information for Aussies is the great certificates I mentioned before. You have two chances to pin down the information: marriage and death, the latter being generally the less reliable, depending on the informant.

Renfrewshire ship

The Renfrewshire, State Library of Queensland, copyright expired. oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:49708 Can you imagine months at sea on this small ship?

Once again speaking to close kin may help you take your family stories back in time, and obtain clues to search for your ancestor’s arrival from the ‘old country”.  I would guess that a common story of mid-19th century arrivals is that “he came as a sailor, jumped ship, and went to the gold fields”. Now I know this was often true but there must have been a lot of them!

One story for which I’d love to find the answer is the rumour that my George Kunkel came to Australia but two brothers went to “America”. Unfortunately, he didn’t have two full brothers, only one, though he had step-brothers, and I’ve managed to trace a couple of his step-siblings to upstate New York, but where, oh where, did his brother Philip Joseph Kunkel (b 1840) end up, given he didn’t stay in Dorfprozelten? Did he move within Bavaria, or Germany, or emigrate? Will I ever know?

Annie Kunkel told me her Irish O’Brien grandmother, from Broadford in County Clare, arrived on an old sailing ship, they were six months at sea, and she was 16 while her sister Bridget was 18.  Despite thirty years of searching I’d been getting nowhere until I found a newspaper clue….only to be frustrated by the documents. If you’re curious you can read about their likely migration on the Florentia here.

One of the things you learn as you research your family’s history is how often when one question is answered, another half dozen spring up – sad but true <wry smile>.

Immigration is a complex topic, closely related to naturalisation, and it requires learning more about the circumstances which applied at the time of our ancestor’s arrival. This is where that life-long learning kicks in.

For others who are keen to learn more you might have a read of my earlier Immigration (arriving in the new country) and Emigration (leaving the old country) posts.

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>
There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1000-1199.

[i] Oral history interview with Cameron McKee, local historian for Murphy’s Creek, circa 1984.

Sunday Summary – A to Z

This year’s A to Z Challenge hosts a plethora of blogs being written on a variety of topics. It’s a couple of years since I joined the challenge so I was pleased to discover how many of my genimates (and a few new ones) are participating. In case you haven’t tracked them all down yet, here’s my list – please let me know if I’ve missed one.


Anne’s Family History (Anne) *

CurryAus  (GeniAus/Jill)*

Family History 4U  (Sharn)*

Family History Across The Seas (Pauleen)* (mine)

Family Tree Frog  (Alex)*

Finding Eliza  (Kristin)

Family History Fun 


History Roundabout 

Jollett Etc. (Wendy)

Molly’s Canopy 

My Genealogy Challenges

Strong Foundations (Sharon)*

 Ties that bind 

Travel Genee (Fran)*

Tracking Down the Family (Jennifer)*

Wishful Linking (Maria)*

The Curry Apple Orchard (Linda)*

Family Wise (Kirsty)

Some additions from my genimates (see below)- thanks!!

Exploring Family (Maureen)*

Family Reunion Keepsake Book

Family Tree Blossoms (Judy)*

GenieQ (Helen)*

GenWestUK (Ros)

History Roundabout – ? – England

Lilian’s Tree (Lilian)*

Murch Surname Study (Ros)

My Genealogy Challenges  (Dianne – Canada)

Old Scottish Genealogy and Blog (Penny and Fergus – Scotland)

Our Life Picture by Picture (Shannon)

Roots and Stuff (Mary – USA)

Southern Graves (Stephanie)


The Past Whispers

The writing desk of Ros Haywood

* this is an Australian blogger

Just some of the fascinating blogs that I’ve visited over the past week. Aren’t there some great blog titles out there?

Diary of a Dublin Housewife 

Random Thoughts and Tender Mercies

Home, hugs and huskies 

Pastimes, passion and paraphernalia

Star lit stories 

Red woman lying on her side

Sukanya Ramanujan

Nickers and Ink 

Random thoughts of a sleepless mind 

Burggraf’s Blog 

The k9harperlee 

Parsley, Sage and Rosemary Time