Monday Memories, NFHM and Milne Bay

postcard-1242616_1280Over the years I’ve often written about battles and family members who have fought in them. Today is a little more personal. As a young bride, I went to the then-Territory of Papua New Guinea with my newly-minted husband. Nothing all that strange in that perhaps, as many young women made the same migration for love, curiosity or a sense of adventure. The difference for me was that we were going to Milne Bay, my husband’s “place” in the indigenous sense, or in Pidgin “as (=arse) ples bilong en” where he lived for 10 years….at the time his longest residence anywhere. For him it was home, familiar, and in his emotional blood.

DSC_0419

For me it was confronting, exciting, confusing and isolated. My family and other friends were thousands of kilometres away, not as today at the end of a phone or an email, Facetime or Skype. Our communications were mid-20th century: snail mail letters (and sometimes the snail would be faster!) and radio telephone calls when the weather didn’t interfere, over, over. Everyday conversation was scattered with a proliferation of acronyms, wonderfully clear to those in the know but bewildering to the newcomer (the ADC said to the DC that the ETA on the DC3 was 0900, for example).

Alotau 1960s house1 1968

THEN: The Cass family’s first home in Alotau, taken soon after the move from Samarai 1968.

But all this took place in the most wondrous geographical environment. We lived for a few months in the government home of my parents-in-law who were in Port Moresby for work. The house had a magnificent view over Milne Bay and was near the school where my mother-in-law taught. Mr Cassmob’s father had chosen the site as he sailed up the bay in the Education Department trawler – perhaps the only site with a better view was the District Commissioner (the head honcho for the district administration). If that all sounds rather colonial, I suppose it was, after all that was the world they were living in, as was I briefly, though the tides of change were already coming. We were, after all, a tiny minority population responsible to Australia for its governance of an emerging nation.

NFHM Blogging challengeThe local people of Milne Bay are among the nicest you could meet in PNG – open and friendly. However, only 74 years ago their world was turned on its head with the invasion of Australian troops sent to defend the then-territory of Papua against the wave of Japanese invasion. Milne Bay was to be the first place on land that the Japanese troops would be defeated, and yet it has long been overshadowed and forgotten in a similar way to the predominance of Gallipoli in our nation’s military historiography.

Plane Milne Bay fighting 026648

n.d. Milne Bay, Papua. 1942-09. Fellow pilots of 76 Squadron RAAF, lend a hand to push Squadron Leader Truscott’s plane back into the dispersal bay, as he steps out of the cockpit. Australian War Memorial image. (The plane is on marsden matting)

You have to have seen the jungles of Milne Bay (or north Queensland) to have an appreciation of how dense it can be. And you have to have lived there in a Wet Season to know how muddy and claggy the red clay could get, or how fiercely the creeks and rivers run. The clouds come down over the ranges that encircle Milne Bay and take up residence over the bay foreshortening the view and making flying hazardous today, let alone in the thick of battle. Pilot skills and aircraft readiness are challenged to the maximum and when we were there, a small aircraft was lost with all souls including people we knew. This brings home earlier realities for those at war.

Milne Bay ships war

Argus (Melbourne, Vic) & Australia. Department of Information 1943, NEW GUINEA. Milne Bay. State Library of Victoria collection.

Between Alotau (the district capital) and the airport, you could see the remains of war – marsden matting on the bridges or elsewhere, and the remains of boats half-buried. The Australians were stationed near the current-day airport (only an airstrip when we were there) and as a teenager Mr Cassmob worked on the adjacent coconut plantation, Gili Gili. One day at work he found an old street sign for Sadds Ridge Road which we’ve had on our houses at various times. It was some years before we found it came from Charters Towers and we still wonder who took it with them as a souvenir or reminder of home.

World War I discovery in Milne Bay, Papua

There is something that cuts to the heart of your understanding when you live near where the Australians fought for their lives, and quite genuinely, for the safety of their own country and that of PNG. And nearby, a Queenslander, Corporal John French from Crows Nest, won his Victoria Cross.

Milne Bay during World War II ca. 1942

Unidentified 1942, Milne Bay during World War II, ca. 1942, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

I’ve written many times about Alotau, Milne Bay and the battle that was fought there, so I’ll just include the links and those who wish to can (re-)visit them. If you’re looking for a better understanding of jungle fighting, you can read The Last Blue Sea which gives you sense of what fighting was like in PNG. Current Australian author, Peter Watt, also writes a fictional series which includes a family who lives in Papua and fights during the war.

Those genealogists taking the Unlock the Past cruise to PNG and Milne Bay in 2017 will get a taste of the place – but beware, like family history, it can be addictive. Thanks Alex from Family Tree Frog for this prompt in National Family History Month.

Return to Milne Bay

Milne Bay: the people and old and new friends

Home again

The Battle of Milne Bay remembered in stained glass

The Anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay

Lest We Forget: The Battle of Milne Bay

The McKenna maze Part II

Let’s return to the McKenna family of immigrants: Elizabeth McKenna and her children William, Sarah, Mary, Catherine and Peter. What happened to them? Who did they marry and where did they settle?

I will leave William for a moment and address the others first.

Sarah McKenna (20 years old on arrival) was employed by John Macpherson in Melbourne for L20 pa for three months. She married William Thomson in Melbourne in 1848. I wondered if he had arrived on the Adelaide as well but it seems not. Sarah died only a few years later, age 23, in Melbourne. She had given birth to one child, William, in 1849. No parents’ names are listed on her death index.

HORGAN Mary nee McKENNA funeral

Ballarat Star 9 June 1922.

Mary McKenna, 17 on arrival, was recruited by James Simpson in Melbourne for three months at L18 pa. She married Robert (Douglas) Horgan on 8 September 1851 in the Anglican church of St James in Melbourne. Mary’s sister, Catherine, was one of the witnesses.  Mary and Robert’s children were Mary (1861-), James (1863), Matilda (1869) and William (Henry) Owen (1871 – 1957) and possibly also Robert (1853-1933). Mary died in June 1922 and is buried in the Ballarat New Cemetery.  Her parents are listed in the indexes as Owen McKenna and Unknown mother.

KELLY William Mt Alexander Mail 9 April 1894

Mount Alexander Mail 9 April 1894.

Catherine McKenna and brothers William and Peter left the ship with their mother Elizabeth to find brother James. Catherine married William Kelly in 1853. They apparently had nine children though I can only find some of them. William and Catherine lived at Strangways near Castlemaine. William died in April 1894.  Catherine died on 2 January 1919, age 83, and was buried at Newstead Cemetery at Green Gully near Ballarat. Her parents are listed as William McKenna and Elizabeth.

William McKenna has been discussed in an earlier post about his wife Bridget Gallagher aka Gollagher, a Famine Orphan from Donegal (or Galway or Limerick or…) The witnesses to the marriage in 1850 were Mary Boyle and James McKenna. This links back to my previous post about James McKenna, who was whom, and when he arrived.

When their first son, James, was baptised in Melbourne, the witnesses were Robert Horgan (previously thought to be Hogan) and Sarah McKenna. It is almost certain that this is Mary’s husband Robert. Initially I thought the female witness was William’s sister but now I wonder if it was his sister-in-law Sally McKenna, wife of James, as by 1851 his sister had become Sarah Thomson.

At the baptism of their daughter in 1853 (registered as Elvia but seemingly known as Elizabeth), the witnesses were Patrick McGrath and Mary McKenna. This is a bit odd as by then Mary had married Robert Horgan. Were the women using their maiden names?

I am confident that the correct death for William McKenna is 27 June 1910 in the Austin Hospital, Melbourne. At the time he was working as a carrier and living at Holmwood Place off Cardigan St, Carlton. His death certificate clearly states that his wife was Bridget Gallagher, though an annotation incorrectly states she is still alive. Despite this, I have eliminated all other instances of deaths for Bridget Gallagher McKenna as being incorrect based on index information or actual certificates. As Bridget died from alcoholism in 1882, it seems most likely the family had lost touch with her and had no idea she’d died. I’m a doubting Thomas so other potential deaths would need to be convincing.

The children listed on William’s death certificate also match the children born to Bridget and William (a circular argument perhaps), with one exception: son Myles is shown as Giles.

Peter and Elizabeth McKenna have completely defeated me. I have been unable to find marriages or deaths which convince me they are the correct people. Several Ancestry trees attribute Peter to one who lived at Purnim near Warrnambool and who married Bridget McGinnis. However, this Peter seems to have completely different parents based on death indexes but more importantly on his marriage certificate where he states that his parents are James McKenna and Sarah Cassidy. He stated he was from Monaghan, lived at Purnim Springs Valley, Warrnambool and was 25 years old in 1855 (too old as well). So that pretty much eliminates him from consideration I think.  Given that there are a few McKennas at Purnim Springs are they related in some other way than as siblings?

I wonder if Elizabeth and Peter perhaps re-emigrated to another location? I did check New Zealand deaths without success.

What I find quite sad, is that despite Elizabeth travelling around the world with her family at age 44 (at least), her descendants seem to have completely forgotten her – her name only appears on one of her children’s deaths. This is a further reason for wondering if she moved away, because you’d think if she lived in Victoria, her grandchildren would have had a chance to know her.

Thanks for “listening” to my perambulations on the McKenna family. Putting it in writing was one way of sending the message into the ether but mainly getting my thoughts clarified and set out for future review.

Sadly for once, also, my good friend Trove did not add much to my family knowledge.

There are some research investigations that leave one completely muddled and this is one of them….feeling rather like a novice investigator. Bright ideas welcomed.

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Unravelling the McKenna family

It has long been thought in the Cass family that James McKenna, aged 17.5 yrs, arrived Marion 1848 was part of this family even though it was a leap from Melbourn, Cambridge to Newcastle where he was tried in January 1845 for stealing a hank of worsted. Then sent to Millbank & Parkhurst, thence to prison hulk before being sent to Oz as an “exile”. Sentence was 7 yrs, and pardon granted immediately on arrival.  (Various documents are available on Ancestry).

It now seems unlikely this is the case. I also suspect the Melbourn Cambridgeshire may be a mistake against the shipping records obtained by my father-in-law some 30 odd years ago. Another immigration document on Ancestry shows Catherine and Peter coming from Monaghan but immediately under someone from Melbourn and I suspect this may have muddled the picture.

McKENNY aka MCKENNA Cath and Peter 1848 per Adelaide

Catherine and Peter McKenna at the bottom of image, on the Adelaide to Melbourne in 1848.

The situation now seems to be that the family most likely stayed in Ireland the whole time before emigrating some time after Elizabeth’s husband (Owen or Bryan?) died, pre 1848.

Elizabeth’s immigration says she’s leaving on her own account and looking for her son James McKenny.[i] Other researchers suggest that James McKenna who died in 1907 was part of this family.

McKENNA Elizabeth to Jas McKenny

Disposal list of immigrants on the Adelaide 1848, extract for Elizabeth McKenna, William and Catherine.

The immigration records also show that the family comes from Arragall Monaghan. This is neither a townland or a place and we have concluded that it is actually Errigal, Monaghan. Some family trees indicate that it is in the townland of Mullanacross aka Mullinacross in the Errigal Trough Civil Parish, but I can find no source for this information, which doesn’t mean it isn’t correct.

On the immigration records obtained by Les Cass back in the late 1980s, the family is shown together under the surname McKenny. The two youngest, Catherine 13 and Peter 12, are listed as having been born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. As per above I now believe this may have been an error. This is further reinforced by the fact that I’ve been unable to find Elizabeth, Peter or Catherine on the 1841 English census, even searching by first name and age.

So what was the family which arrived in Australia per the ship Adelaide on 22 June 1848. They had sailed from Plymouth on 1 March 1848[ii].They had been enumerated on the nominal lists as follows:

McKenna Elizabeth 44    house servant    neither

McKenna William 22       farm labourer    both read & write

McKenna Sarah 20           farm servant      both

McKenna Mary 17            housemaid         both

McKenna Catherine 13   daughter             read

McKenna Peter 12           son                         read

All were Roman Catholic and depending on which immigration documents, all state their home place as Monaghan.

Now let’s look at which James McKenna might have been the son who Elizabeth was looking for. We’ve discounted (at least for now), the convict from the Marion.

And in an oops moment I missed this notation on the bottom of the disposal lists.

McKENNA Elizabeth see re children 1848

Ancestry trees suggest that James McKenna arrived ahead of the rest of the family (which fits with the annotation mentioned). There are two possibilities then:  the George Fyfe on 23 July 1841 or the Frankfield also in July 1841.  James McKenna on the George Fyfe is aged 21, a labourer and a Catholic, who can neither read nor write. He is travelling with a Sally McKenna also aged 21, a dairymaid who could read and is also Catholic. At 21 he would be the eldest of Elizabeth’s children that we know about.

The James McKenna on the Frankfield is 19 and is Presbyterian. Given the religion of the rest of the family, it suggests to me that he is likely not the right one.

The James McKenna on the George Fyfe is 21 and is accompanied by his wife, Sally (not his sister as some seem to think[iii]) also 21, both Catholic and both from Monaghan[iv].  Sally is a nickname for Sarah so I went searching for (1) children and (2) her death. I was also puzzled (still am, really) about the listing of marriage details and children for James McKenna and Mary Tyrell. Is this the same James McKenna or a different one?

MCKENNA Sarah and Mary per Adelaide 1848

James and Sally McKenna on the George Fyfe, 1841

 

But first let’s look at Sarah McKenna. I found her death, aged 77, in Purnim shire, Warrnambool, Victoria on 20 October 1894. Her parents were Arthur McElmeal, farmer and Margaret Hacket. The informant is her grandson whose name is illegible due to fading. She is stated to have married in Donagh, Co Monaghan, Ireland at age 22 years to James McKenna[v].

James McKENNA & McELEEL Sarah Donagh parish Monaghan

I then looked at the Ancestry Catholic marriage records for Donagh (from the National Library of Ireland registers). I found the marriage by banns of James McKenna and Sarah McElmeel of Donagh on 17 February 1841 in the Catholic parish[vi].  It’s unclear to me whether it’s James or Sarah who comes from Donagh. The marriage had taken place just under a month from when the couple would sail on 15 March ex Plymouth.

Victorian indexes and Sarah’s death certificate provide the names of children to this couple: James 1841, Sarah (later McDonald) c1844, Mary Ann 1846, Susan (later McGrath) 1848, John 1849-1864, Peter c1852, Eugene c1855 and Margaret c1857. To confound things further, Sarah is stated to have spent three years in Tasmania and 50 years in Victoria – the initial year of arrival fits but not the stint in Tasmania for which I can find no records. I also can’t find the death of Sarah’s husband James in Warrnambool or buried in the cemetery.

Returning to the second option for James McKenna. There is a marriage for James McKenna in Victoria in 1846 to Mary Tyrell (various spellings in indexes). From the death certificate and the Victorian indexes their children are: William 1845, Elizabeth 1846, Sarah 1846, Thomas 1850, Owen c1852 , Peter c1852, Catherine c1860, Mary c1864, and James 1848 deceased. James died, aged 85, in 1907 at Penshurt, Victoria and was buried in the Boram Boram Cemetery by Rev Fr Walsh. James had been born in Monaghan and spent 66 years in Victoria (making his arrival c1841).  His father is stated as Owen and his mother as unknown.

It would suggest that there are two different James McKennas from Monaghan yet they don’t match up with the immigration records. I remain befuddled. There is nothing on either certificate to indicate whether Sarah was a widow or James a widower.

So which James McKenna is which, and does either belong to the family of Elizabeth McKenna?

Does it even matter, given that Mr Cassmob’s ancestry is through William McKenna from the Adelaide?  A further subject for analysis.

Thanks for listening. I’ll be back with Part 2 of my ruminations.

[i] Series: VPRS 14; Series Title: Register of Assisted Immigrants from the United Kingdom (refer to microform copy, VPRS 3502) on Ancestry

[ii] 1848 ‘Shipping Intelligence.’, The Port Phillip Patriot and Morning Advertiser (Vic. : 1845 – 1848), 20 June, p. 2. , viewed 23 Aug 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226354034

[iii] James and Sally are among the couples and families, the unmarried males and females are listed separately and neither name appears there.

[iv] Series: VPRS 14; Series Title: Register of Assisted Immigrants from the United Kindom (refer to microform copy, VPRS 3502) Original data from Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (British Ports). Microfiche VPRS 7666, copy of VRPS 947. Public Record Office Victoria, North Melbourne, Victoria.

[v] Victorian death certificate 116/1894 #14731.

[vi] Through Ancestry or Findmypast from registers held at National Library of Ireland and digitised at registers.nli.gov.ie Catholic Parish Registers, The National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Microfilm Number: Microfilm 05574 / 09

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My Top 10 Genealogy Gateways

My Top 10Some days ago esteemed genealogist James Tanner wrote about his top 10 programs for his family history work. Although I use different programs from James, I agree that even programs which are not designed exclusively for genealogy can be an important part of our research toolkit.

For example, I use the Office suite of programs extensively and couldn’t manage without them (or something similar like Google Docs etc). I have my contacts, my Kunkel database, and my East Clare Irish research in Access. Innumerable Excel spreadsheets of information help to make sense of discoveries that I’ve transcribed from various sources eg Family Search microfilms. Since I much prefer to document my family stories in narrative format, I also routinely use Word.

Observant readers over time will notice I’m not a big fan of genealogical programs per se. Nor do I greatly like having my tree online, though I’ve recently succumbed. I’ve been using the wonderful Australian-designed Relatively Yours for decades but sadly it’s no longer being maintained in any shape. When I get a stretch of time I plan to learn either Family Historian or Roots Magic.

Randy Seaver’s Top 10 list reminded me how different our genealogical gateways can be, depending on our family heritage and how recently our ancestors arrived in their new country.  So here is my list – I wonder how many Aussies will use similar sites?

  1. *** TROVE. *** Trove just has to be #1 because it’s a world-leader and gives us insights into our families that are unavailable elsewhere, or so serendipitous as to be un-findable otherwise. Not only does it offer digitised newspapers from around Australia, it has digital images, links to relevant books, journals etc. You’d be surprised how often family from other countries are mentioned.
  2. State and County Archives & Civil Registration: which ones I’m using will depend on which bit of my research I’m tackling at the time, but most typically I’ll use the Queensland (Archives/ BDM) or New South Wales options with diversions to other states or UK counties/shires.
  3. Scotland’s People. I love this site almost as much as Trove and I’ve been using it “forever”. It lets me see digitised versions of original records so I know they’re spot on. I don’t get the concern over cost, because used in conjunction with other programs to narrow the options, it is cheaper than a cup of coffee.
  4. Irish Parish Registers (National Library of Ireland) and Irish Genealogy (indexed for some counties including Dublin..YAY!)
  5. National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial for military records and war diaries.
  6. Clare Library Genealogy & Family History site. This has long been an innovative leader in Irish research – you know how good it is when you need to find ancestors in other counties. Another I’ve been using “forever”.
  7. Ask about Ireland for Griffith’s Valuation maps and listings (Can be temperamental at times, but is invaluable for Irish research). Use this in conjunction with the surviving Irish census records for 1901 and 1911 from the National Archives of Ireland.
  8. Find My Past (world) for its excellent and diverse records from Ireland, great migration records and UK and Irish newspapers.
  9. Ancestry (world) – I often use my subscription to “work the system” and narrow down other options to search elsewhere. I find it more useful than FMP for searching the Irish parish registers because of the option to search by place only. I also use it for DNA.
  10. Family Tree DNA & GEDmatch for researching my DNA links – not always successfully.

Thanks to both James & Randy for getting me to reflect on which gateways work best for my research on a regular basis. I found it interesting how much our needs vary depending on our ancestry and how recent the immigration.

I wonder which gateways my readers find most useful in their research.

 

Monday Memories: Old-time Courtesies

small courtesies

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 27 May 1939 p34

It’s traditional for the older generation to bemoan “things aren’t how they used to be”. Well of course not…life is one long process of change. For no particular reason I’ve been reflecting on some of the little courtesies that were prevalent in my youth, some of which have faded from sight, and some still remain, perhaps in a changed form.courtesy quote

  • Men walking on the road side of the footpath (pavement). As I recall the intention was they would deflect the dangers of a runaway car, or earlier, a horse and cart.
  • Children standing up for adults on public transport. This one definitely seems to have gone the way of the horse and cart. Small children might have been bundled on to their parent’s lap, but older children were always, always expected to stand if an adult needed a seat. Similarly, men would stand for women, and anyone would stand for a pregnant woman, older man or woman, or someone who had a disability.
  • Men opening the car door for women. I still see this happening – but not in our family. As my husband quite rightly points out, he’d have Buckley’s chance of getting there before I’m out <smile>. However, there are some of our friends for whom this remains de rigeur.
  • Men raising their hats and people standing silent when a funeral passes. This too has passed except in country areas where I think it does continue.Good manners
  • Men doffed their hats when meeting a woman. Now men rarely wear hats.
  • Women not shaking hands. Men were definitely not to offer their hands for a handshake to a woman without first being offered theirs. This has changed with the presence of women in the workforce, though for many years men were left with the confusing question – to shake or not to shake. For men of course the handshake is compulsory – and for some the stronger the better. Personally I don’t like a wishy-washy handshake, but I don’t like it being a test of power or strength either.
  • Women wearing gloves and hats. Not really a courtesy but a lady would never be seen out in the public domain without her gloves and a hat – and wearing stockings.
  • Women were never to be congratulated on getting engaged as it implied they were lucky to have finally achieved this transition to marital status.
  • Never discuss religion or politics. Perhaps we’d have been wiser to maintain this courtesy these days…fewer “debates”.
aww 25 Nov 1970 p29 dancing

The Austalian Women’s Weekly 25 Nov 1970, p29

  • Men never swore in front of ladies, and ladies, of course, never swore. In my family that was certainly true. As for myself these days…”no comment”.
  • Children were everyone’s responsibility – a badly behaved child would be reprimanded by whichever adult was close by. Of course children were often expected to be seen and not heard too.
  • Writing letters to friends and family to thank them for gifts.
  • All adult friends of the family were called “aunty” or “uncle” irrespective of kinship. Otherwise they were Mr or Mrs or Miss. Does your family still do this?
  • Men opening doors for women. I notice this still happens often. My personal habit is to always thank them for the courtesy, rather than just sail through. One of my pet bugbears is opening, or holding open, a door for people who just walk through without a sideways glance as if you’re a paid doorman.
  • Women were allowed on the bus/tram first. And look where that got the men on the Titanic!
  • Thanking the bus driver when you got off. I’m pleased to say that this still happens most of the time on public transport in Brisbane.

I’m sure my genimates will come up with some other old-time courtesies that I’ve forgotten…I’d love to hear from you.

Do you think courtesy still matters and is practiced in the 21st century?

Are good manners the same thing as courtesy? What do you think?

 

Sepia Saturday: Sleeping zum Fass

SS 340Ah the joys of sleep….contented from a good meal, snuggled up warm under a fluffy eiderdown and lying one’s tired head on a soft feather pillow. This week’s Sepia Saturday takes us on a journey back in time.

How this image transported me back to my ancestor’s inn in the tiny Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten on the River Main. Sadly I never got to stay there as it was demolished in the 1970s, but I’ve stayed in others so my imagination can make the leap. The postcard was sent to me by the local historian Georg Veh, and the history of Das Goldene Fass is summarised in his book Dorfprozelten am Main, Teil II (2002).

fass postcard

A postcard for Das Goldenes Fass, owned for many years by the Happ family.

The inn is first mentioned in the 1730s when it was owned by my 5xgreat grandfather, Johann Martin Happ. It wasn’t until the marriage of my 3xgreat grandmother Eva Catherina Happ to her second husband, Adam Kunkel, that the Kunkel name is associated with the inn. Catherina had inherited the inn from her father and lived there until her death in 1868. Prior to her death, her eldest surviving son from her first marriage, Jakob August Ulrich, was managing the inn and lived there with his mother and family. It was the sad death of  Jakob August, his wife Elisabeth Firmbach, son Karl and finally Eva Catherina, within a few months of each other in mid-1868 that the inn passed out of the family’s hands. Jakob and Elisabeth Ulrich’s family dispersed to America, settling mainly in the upstate New York. The inn may have been a golden barrel for visitors, but the luck had run out for the Happ family and its descendants.

A postcard of Das Goldene Fass mid-20thC. Kindly provided to me by Georg Veh, local historian.

Das Goldene Fass before its demolition for a bank in the 1960s. Image kindly provided by Georg Veh.

Meanwhile Catherine’s next son, George Mathias Kunkel, had emigrated to Australia and by 1868 was settled on his farm at the Fifteen Mile near Murphys Creek in Queensland..miles away in lifestyle, community and accommodation from the inn.

back of kitchen

The kitchen for the old Kunkel house is on the local heritage list.

Thanks to Georg Veh’s book I have some information on what was served at the inn and from that I was able to write this excerpt from my Kunkel family history (pp 22-23).

Dorfprozelten has long been a place for visitors from the bigger cities to come for quiet relaxation beside the River Main. Towards the end of each day, the visitors from Berlin, or other faraway places, would return from their day’s explorations, adding a holiday atmosphere to the centre of town, and causing a flurry in the inns owned by George’s parents and their relations. The evening meals would be being prepared and no doubt George had his part to play in the activity. On offer would also have been a bottle of the traditional white wine of the area in its Bochsbeutel ( a bulbous-shaped bottle). There were culinary treats awaiting the visitors: fresh pike cooked with cardamom and mustard, salmon prepared with lemon, special beer, home-made apple-wine, bacon, roast pork, varieties of home-made sausages, and the local wine.[1] After meals like that, no doubt the guests slept well on the deep beds with their fluffy eiderdowns and feather pillows! The mornings would be no less pleasurable. Imagine waking to the smell of freshly-baked bread and pastries from the neighbouring bakeries.

(I don’t know about you but I’ve always found it intriguing how German eiderdowns are folded over while we have ours spread out).

dorf street bw1

The streetscape had remained very similar over the decades, but the Happ inn is no longer – overtaken by the bank on the left.

I have written several posts over the years about the inn and this family, including the American immigrants. You can find them here:

19th century Dorfprozelten emigrants in America: Part 1

19th century Dorfprozelten emigrants in America: Part 2

The Happ/Ulrich family emigrants Part 1 (to America)

Finding the Fass in Dorfprozelten

Lunch with Catherina Kunkel

The Happs: Innkeepers in Dorfprozelten

My book is Grassroots Queenslanders: the Kunkel family. P Cass, 2003.

[1] Veh, op. cit. pp. 193-195.

 

 

Honouring the Fallen of Fromelles

One hundred years ago, Australian soldiers were fighting the desperate battle for their lives near the tiny French hamlet of Fromelles. That 24 hours from the evening of the 19th July 1916 was to be the bloodiest and most disastrous day in Australia’s military history to date (and may it so remain). And yet, when I began my research nearly 30 years ago, this battle was poorly known and rarely mentioned.

Enlistment photo of Photograph of James Gavin in The Queenslander of 2 October 1915, page 24.

Enlistment photo of Photograph of James Gavin in The Queenslander of 2 October 1915, page 24.

In the beginning hours of his first battle, my grandfather’s cousin, James Augustus Gavin, was among the early, and perhaps fortunate, fatalities in this deadly and bloody nursery of war. His would be the first death among my grandfather’s cousins in World War I.

“Not as many lost as first feared…only 5533” wrote Lt Col Walter Edmund Cass. How I fumed as I read those words in the Australian War Memorial back in 1990. How dare this officer be so glib about such horrendous loss!

This number counted the casualties (killed, wounded and missing) but not the mental anguish to the men, who were sacrificed wastefully.

Cass was an experienced officer, a career soldier who’d been on Gallipoli and in the Boer War. He had been in the thick of this battle, in a forward position, so exposed that it was a bulge in the line, surrounded by Germans and exposed to their higher position.

A studio photo of Lt Col Cass perhaps around the time of his posting to France. AWM photograph A01470, copyright expired. The photo is shown as Lt Col ERH Cass CMG so it appears the initials are a mistake.

A studio photo of Lt Col Cass perhaps around the time of his posting to France. AWM photograph A01470, copyright expired.

Despite his experience, or perhaps even because of it, this battle was the last he’d ever fight in war. He was broken by the loss of so many of his men’s lives. “My boys, my boys! They’ve murdered my boys!”.  He was talking about the actions of the more senior “British” officers, not the Germans, and in acts of insubordination that may have seen him shot in the British Army (or perhaps without the medals he already held), he argued fiercely with his superiors.

Fromelles Pheasant Wood

The Pheasant Wood cemetery 2014. The Germans had lookouts in the church tower.

The Germans had offered a short truce so that bodies could be recovered (alive or dead), but knowing the British refusal to accept even this level of accord, McCay had refused. And so the men, who had managed to fall back, could hear their mates calling for help and pleading “don’t forget me, cobber“. How many men might have returned to their families if a different decision was made? How many men might have carried a lesser mental burden had they been permitted to help their mates?

This was how the Germans came to bury some of the Australian fallen in Pheasant Wood, below Fromelles. It would be over 80 years later that the men were found – the farmer’s crops never flourished in that area. The determination of individuals revealed this forgotten burial ground, German records confirmed it, and the modern science of DNA revealed the identities of the men.

Memorial plaque on the Cobbers sculpture.

Memorial plaque on the Cobbers sculpture.

Today, those visiting Fromelles can see the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) memorial with its beautifully maintained war graves. The Cobbers Memorial (do read the link) honours the fallen and the mates they fought with.

Peter stands beside the memorial which stands on the German bunker where his great-uncle WEH Cass fought with his battalion.

Mr Cassmob stands beside the memorial which is where his great-uncle WEH Cass fought with the 54th battalion.

 

And yet, for me, the cemetery at Rue Petillon near Fleurbaix tells the tale more starkly. The gravestones stand like teeth, tight side by side. Surrounding the cemetery are farmhouses and the fields for which the men fought, now so tranquil.

The location of James Gavin's grave in Rue Petillon cemetery November 1992.

The location of James Gavin’s grave in Rue Petillon cemetery November 1992.

L/Cpl James Gavin's gravestone in Rue Petillon cemetery: the family's inscription can be read.

L/Cpl James Gavin’s gravestone in Rue Petillon cemetery includes the family’s inscription.

Among them lies the grave of James Augustus Gavin. It was a privilege to visit him in 1992 and it remains a privilege today to remember him. You have not been forgotten cobber.

Lest We Forget.

You might like to read these earlier posts about Fromelles, Gavin and Cass:

The Battle of Fromelles: In Memoriam L/Cpl James Augustus Gavin KIA

Fromelles, Lt Col WEH Cass and family collections

F is for the Fifteen Mile, Fromelles and Fleurbaix

Brigadier General Walter Edmund Hutchinson Cass

And a commemoration of military mate ship here.

There are a number of books available now on the battle of Fromelles:

Don’t forget me cobber by Robin Corfield

The Anzacs by Peter Pedersen

Fromelles and Pozieres by Peter Fitzsimons (includes quite a few quotes on Cass drawn from his letters and diaries, now held by State Library Victoria)

Our darkest day: Fromelles by Patrick Lindsay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Applying a lesson

A week or two ago, one of my Facebook friends (thank you whoever you were!) recommended this post by Mary from Searching for Stories blog: Spreadsheet Magic – Importing Data from Ancestry.com. Do go and look at the post, and Mary’s many other fantastic posts. I thought I knew a bit about Excel but it seems not.

This week I thought I’d try Mary’s strategies on my Irish research to see how it worked. Following her steps this is what I did.

Sign into Ancestry.com with your own subscription or at a library near you.

My Step 1:

Bring up the search dialogue box and I used the Birth, Marriage and Death records option.

I entered no names and no dates. In the place of birth I simply put “Clare, Ireland”. As I’m mainly interested in those who emigrated to Australia I put “Australia” against the place of death. I don’t care which state so I wanted to pick up as much info as possible. I also ticked the exact box for both, as I didn’t want anything random to come up. Finally, I chose records from Australia as I’m expecting that is the most likely source of useful information -though perhaps not exclusively. I made sure I had the maximum entries per page (50).

import into Excel

Of course, as with all record searches you need to understand (1) what records might include both birth and death information and (2) what records are held within the overall database. As it happens, for me this means a heavy focus on New South Wales. This will be only one component of my research strategies.

Following Step 2, I copied the very long URL into tinyURL.com to give me a short link.See what a difference it makes – from 399 characters down to 26! Thanks TinyURL!

make tiny

Step 3: I opened a blank excel spreadsheet, chose the Data tab and clicked “from web” on the left hand side. In here I pasted my Tiny URL, pressed “Go” to bring up the data, then ticked the box to the left of the data. (in this I’m following Mary’s instructions exactly). Then click “Import”. Voila!

excel import from web

A dialogue asks you where you want to paste it. I think it’s safest to put each batch into a separate page within the spreadsheet. You can do what you want with it later. With some whizzing and whirring, the data is imported to Excel.

Next step

I named that page “Clare no YOB page 1” (my first 50 details)

I repeated the process until I captured all 304 entries. This was pretty tedious I have to agree.

Step 5:

I deleted all the “padding” info at the top and bottom except the line that said items 1-50/51-100 etc.

Repeated this for all six of my page tabs.

Step 6:

As I wanted the names with other data in separate columns beside it, I dragged and dropped “spouse” “birth” and “death” into separate columns for each page, making sure each page was formatted the same.

Step 7:

Collated data extract 2

Extract from my collated spreadsheet of data. Notice the variable information.

I copied each page into one consolidated page so that entries 1-304 followed each other sequentially. I still have a problem with it because if I sort by name it will do so by first name so I will probably end up putting in another column with just surname to sort.

Similarly, the dates will sort by day rather than year and place by the first part of the entry. Is this enough for me? I will probably live with the dates, but will put in a column for state so I can see the dispersal patterns for their migration.

Summary

Was this helpful? Did it save time? Yes, I found it very helpful and I certainly got faster as I went along. The big benefit though is that it saves any transcription errors on your part (but not by the first indexer).

Mary has said the process works with Family Search but I haven’t tried that. I did try it with Trove and my “County Clare” + Obituary search. It worked okay but would require more fiddling with, and as there are MANY entries, there’d be lots of repeating of all the steps.

I tried it this morning with My Heritage but it kept giving me error messages which included that I needed to sign in, which I already was with my current subscription.

Similarly I tried FindMyPast but their search options don’t allow me to have the Clare + Australia option (or am I missing something?), so that didn’t work.

However, I believe this is a super-helpful process for anyone looking for FANs (Friends, Associates, Neighbours) or those of us working on One Place Studies projects.

thanks

MY THANKS!

Once again my very sincere thanks to Mary for sharing her expertise, permitting me to publish how I used her strategies, and giving me a new skill. I encourage everyone to check out her blog.

 

 

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Wedding Wednesday: Denis & Kit

Trawling through my digitised photos at the weekend, I came upon this one which I’d quite forgotten. It is my paternal grandmother in her wedding attire. Doesn’t she look simply elegant? She was a professional dressmaker, working for Finney Isles store in Brisbane CBD, so I imagine she made the dress herself. I also love the shoes – they could be worn perfectly well today. I wonder if they went into the photographic studio after the wedding or if they dressed up again another day and were then photographed.

Catherine McCorkindale Kunkel wedd

My grandparents, Dinny and Kit, were married on Saturday 29 April 1922 at the Ithaca Presbyterian church at Red Hill. I discovered that a rather grand new church was opened in 1929. There is a clue on Trove that there may be an image of the old church, but it is not yet digitised and will have to be looked at one day when visiting the State Library of Queensland.

Denis and Catherine Kunkel wedding

My grandfather wasn’t a great one for big smiles so he was probably happier than this photo suggests. Neither Kit nor Dinny were young by the standards of the day – he was 41 and she was 35. My understanding is that he had met Kit before he went off to war in 1917 and perhaps even visited her kin in Scotland while on leave (a family yarn or fact?) I don’t know whether it was the conflict of religions that caused a delay in their marriage but it’s possible. Dinny had been brought up a strict Catholic but had already walked away from the church before then.

It’s doubtful that any of Dinny’s siblings attended the wedding, except perhaps his youngest brother (Ken) whom he helped to bring up when their parents died within six weeks of each other. Kit most likely had her mother and siblings there, and it’s highly likely she was given away by her older brother Peter. There may even have been bagpipes to celebrate since her brothers were all champion pipers.

The witnesses were Thomas Jinks, a friend of my grandfather’s, and Florence (Flo) Cumes and the minister was James Gitson. It is somewhat strange that none of Grandma’s sisters were her bridesmaids, so I wonder if perhaps there was conflict about religion on both sides of the marriage. Ironically although I lived next door to my grandparents, I don’t recall either grandparent ever attending church.

Given the trauma of Dinny’s mother’s death, I’ve often wondered if perhaps he deliberately delayed the marriage to avoid the risks of childbirth to his bride. Perhaps that’s just my imagination running away from me.

I also don’t know if they had a reception, or where it might have been, or if they went on their honeymoon somewhere. Sadly, unlike his younger brother who married only a few months later, there is nothing in the newspapers to enlighten me. It’s these little details of our ancestors’ lives that we miss when we have neither oral history nor new stories. So many things I don’t know for all that I knew them well on a daily basis.

This post is part of a Geneabloggers’ theme, Wedding Wednesday.

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Sepia Saturday: Strolling in the City

Sepia Sat 338

This week’s Sepia Saturday theme was a “gimme”. I’ve had this photo strip for ages but have never used it because I felt it made my grandfather look a little gormless.

However it’s a perfect match this week, so here is Dinny strolling through Brisbane city probably in the 1920s or 1930s (the car would be a clue for some, but not me). I can’t even pick which street he’s in, but there’s a barber pole in the background, so perhaps it was George St. Perhaps he’d even been to have a haircut himself and was feeling pretty spiffy.

Denis Kunkel walking in town

He’s got one thumb tucked into his waistcoast pocket and his hat angled so he keeps the sun off his face, but then he has to tip his head to see….not so wise Grandad. I don’t think he’s coming from work as he looks dressed for the day out, not in railway attire, though as a guard he would have been more smartly dressed than in some other roles.

Looking at his shadows he’s got it falling straight behind him, so I’m thinking he’s walking on an north-south street, so perhaps it is George St down near Roma Street station. (What do you think of my directional theory?) With this in mind, I went searching our good friend Trove for images of George Street, Brisbane circa 1920 and, by jove, I do believe she’s got it!

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Harvey, J. H. (John Henry) 1921, George Street, Brisbane looking south, June 1921 [picture] Out of copyright.

Can you see the barber’s poles and the verandah on the building opposite? Thanks to the magnificent old sandstone buildings, which remarkably for Brisbane, still stand, I know exactly where this is. The lady in the image is crossing the street to the lane which runs behind where Alan & Stark’s shop was, between Albert and George Streets (patriotic lot, with our CBD streets named for royalty!)

View of Trittons furniture shop on George Street Brisbane ca. 1935

Unidentified 1935, View of Tritton’s furniture shop on George Street, Brisbane, ca. 1935, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Out of copyright.

Grandad would have been walking out of the frame on the bottom right of this image heading towards Roma Street Station. If my memory serves me correctly, the old Trittons furniture store was on the right hand side before the barber’s. And above I’ve found an image from Trove which confirms my theory, and we now know the barber/hairdresser was a T McMahon.

Brisbane map 1878 extract

Unidentified 1878, Street map of the city of Brisbane, Queensland, 1878, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. (extract). The red dot is my estimate of the location of the photo.

He had a kind heart, my granddad, so perhaps he bought the photo just to help the street photographer out, perhaps he was a fellow Digger trying to make ends meet. I know my grandparents had a camera at home, or among the extended family, because I’ve got quite a lot of photos from the 1920s/30s among their collection.

Why not stroll over to see where other Sepians are off to this week? I wonder if they got caught up in the search like I did when I found myself taking several detours into Trove…I left my mental wanderings as a breadcrumb trail.

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