The Three Rs of Genealogy

Revisit record reviseThis is a re-post of one of my submissions to the Worldwide Genealogy blog nearly three years ago. I thought it might be worth a re-share here for National Family History Month 2017.

As family historians we need the traditional three Rs of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, after all how else to locate our families’ records, write their stories and calculate and cross-check their ages, dates of births, deaths and shot-gun marriages.

But today I’m going to propose that another three Rs are also needed for our family history research.

REVISIT

Traditional wisdom suggests we maintain a research register/spreadsheet which documents every record set and document we’ve checked in the course of our research, either online or offline. This practice, or some variation of it, is certainly helpful to ensure we don’t waste valuable research time searching the same records again and again.

However, I’d argue there’s a benefit to visiting at least some of the records more than once. Certainly we should revisit those documents we’ve stored in our files, databases or trees.

Why?

Because I firmly believe that research findings, and our perception and understanding of them, are not static. The documents themselves will not change but the research “glasses” we’re wearing will certainly change how we see the detail on them.

shutterstock_137910917

Shutterstock Image ID: 137910917

What we know of our history changes over time, either incrementally or in large leaps forward. Things we haven’t noticed about a record will suddenly leap out at us as having a new or additional meaning. The significance of names will become clearer as in the interim we’ve learned of family connections. If we only look at the record the first time we find it, and don’t squeeze it for every single drop, we run the risk of missing the key to a brick-wall breakthrough.

And then there’s the one-time search of a particular record set, especially online. I’m sure we’ve all had searches that we’ve rejected as unsuccessful on one occasion, only to revisit the search and see, with those new glasses on, something important that turns it into a relevant record for our research.

And what of looking at adjoining pages to see who’s living nearby? We used to do this automatically when searching offline but the downside of an online search is that it takes us straight to our ancestor’s document and tempts us just to exit to the next search without checking out the broader context.

RECORD

Each of us has our own way of recording our family history. Most will keep at least key information in family history programs or trees, either online or offline. Others have their own family websites. Others again will publish the family’s story in a book. It’s probably a fair bet that the participants of this Worldwide Genealogy blog are also writing their family history online ie writing a genealogy blog. I’ve noticed that when we say “blog” people sometimes conclude we’re just playing around on the internet, telling others what we had for breakfast etc. Some time ago I wrote a post suggesting that we should start reframing how we refer to our blogs, by “telling it how it is” and saying we write our family history online.

Blogging is a great option for recording our family’s history and revealing the grassroots of history by contextualising it within the broader framework of traditional history.

I feel sure that the centenary of World War I will produce many micro-stories of the impact of war on families and communities as well as the contributions made by individuals on both sides of the military fence. This reveals a more nuanced tapestry of history than the big-picture, important-people version that we all learnt at school. It also exposes the sheer scale of war’s impact at the grassroots level. We can do the same for so many aspects of our family history by revealing more about a community, which in turn might lead to a One Place Study.

Blogging also provides a less threatening way of starting to document a family history rather than the daunting prospect of writing a book. From a personal perspective blogging suits my approach to a narrative recording my family’s history and allows me to add new information to the family history I’ve published. Of course to a large extent I’m preaching to the converted on this topic.

REVISE

Having identified and documented your research findings, do you look at what you’ve actually written or recorded? Do you check you’ve not leapt to conclusions and blipped over an assumption you’ve made? You know what they say about assumptions…

I recently wrote a story on my blog about my research into the Callaghan family of Courtown near Gorey in Wexford. In my research I’d looked at the 1901 and 1911 census records from the National Archivesof Ireland online. The family comprised head of house, David Callaghan, son David, daughter Bridget, daughter-in-law Kate and grandson, another David. Even though it was staring me in the face, I made a stupid mistake and jumped to the conclusion that Kate was son David’s wife whereas it was very clear she was a widow. If I hadn’t gone back to revisit the document, and review what I’d written, I’d have left myself following an incorrect research trail and potentially led others astray as well. A really stupid beginner’s error despite years of experience. You might be interested in my post about the success, the surprise and the assumptions stupidity.

I certainly hope I’m not the only one to make such a silly mistake which is why the revisit, record, revise steps are so important. We need to do them in a cool moment not while we’re in the thrill of the hunt for more data and excited by each new discovery.

RECAP

revisit record revise circular_edited-1Of course with so many records coming online it’s tempting to just keep searching for new and fascinating titbits about our families. Still we’d be wise to stop every now and then, and revisit what we’ve written or recorded in our family trees.

Revisit those documents we have stored, look again at that photo we’ve been mystified by, and assess whether there are certificates we need to purchase,  microfilms to be ordered in or another avenue of research to be explored

Record each new discovery and assess what its impact is on the discoveries we’ve made before.

Revise our assumptions and family links. There is a constant flow between revisiting, recording and revision.

How do you approach your research and do you use any of these steps? Have you made silly mistakes that needed revision?

No glory for the Melvin family

NFHM AlexThis week is the finale in Family Tree Frog’s NFHM blog challenge and the theme is “Power without Glory”. Sadly, my family branches are singularly lacking in powerful people – at least beyond their own kin. So let me tell you another story about last week’s ancestor, Stephen Gillespie Melvin, and the events that would turn 1887 into his family’s annus horibilis.

In last week’s post we saw how Stephen had been rescued from the flooded Bremer River in Ipswich on 22 January 1887 by Thomas Shedrick Livermore. We also learned that by mid-year his business was in liquidation. What came between those two events and indeed what followed?

MELVIN Qld Times 23 Sept 1886 p8

1886 ‘Advertising’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 23 September, p. 8. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122559893

In September 1886 Stephen G Melvin had instructed Elias Harding Jnr to offer the contents of his confectionery plant and sawmill for sale[i], due to the expiry of his lease. Was he already feeling a financial pinch? Had he over-extended himself? How would he continue his business without these assets? It doesn’t quite make sense.

Stephen meanwhile advertised a property for rent[ii] and his wife Emily advertised for a general housekeeper[iii]. Perhaps the family was living beyond their means and SGM (as I call him) had over-extended himself financially.

By March 1887, the case of Hunter v Melvin and Finch[iv] was about to be heard in civil sittings of the Queensland Supreme Court on a claim “that partnership accounts be taken”. This case was to be heard by His Honour Sir Charles Lilley. Little did SGM realise that he was now on a very slippery downward legal slope.

The proceedings of the court case were extensively reported in the newspapers – one of the benefits of reporting on legal matters is that the journalist has to record accurate details. The jury found in favour of the plaintiff, J Hunter. Based on the decision and the testimony heard, Justice Lilley declared “he was strongly disposed to exercise my summary power by committing them for perjury – very strongly indeed.”[v]

MELVIN Qld Times 31 Mar 1887 p5 crop

1887 ‘BRISBANE.’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 31 March, p. 5. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122819744

The “them” to whom the judge referred were all those who had sworn to their testimony, now found to be invalid: the defendants Samuel Finch and Stephen Gillespie Melvin and witnesses Harry Jackson, Stephen Wilson and Susan Wallace. They were bound over on recognizance of £100 to appear in court the next day on a charge of perjury. The ground must have felt like it moved under their feet, and perhaps SGM felt he was back in the maelstrom of a flood, though this time is was a flood of legal issues.

The perjury case became a cause célèbre, widely reported in newspapers around the country. It was interesting that it was in Ipswich that those charged seemed to have a lot of support.

MELVIN Qld Times 27 Sept 1887 p5

1887 ‘THE PERJURY CASES.’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 27 September, p. 5. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122824946

The individual cases were heard in the Supreme Court in September 1887[vi]. I was particularly interested that Melvin’s barrister, Mr Lilley (not the judge) had submitted testimonials from 13 ships from when Stephen first went to sea at age 16, until he came to Ipswich. These testified to Stephen’s good character – how I wish I could see those documents but they don’t appear to have been retained by the court. Lilley also stated that he had been requested by those who knew the prisoner to extend to Melvin, and one other prisoner, the provisions of the Offenders’ Probation Act[vii].  Notwithstanding this, at the completion of the trials His Honour, Mr Justice Harding, passed the following sentences: Finch five years, Melvin five years and six months, and Jackson three years. Wilson and Wallace had been found not guilty[viii].

As you might imagine, at this point I was thinking “but what on earth happened?” Within that sentence period of 5.5 years Stephen Melvin’s wife had four children including my own grandmother. Something must have transpired as I also knew he’d been in Charters Towers within that time frame, so I kept hunting.

MELVIN Oct 8 1887 p8 extract The Week

1887 ‘The Perjury Trials.’, The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), 8 October, p. 8. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article182629807(extract only)

No sooner had the judge’s sentence been passed than a petition was circulated in Ipswich to gain a remission of the sentences[ix]. This arose because there were jury members common to the cases, who believed that they had been provided with different testimony across the five trials. Ultimately the petition went to the Queensland Executive Council[x].

And then on 12 December 1887, the judgement was passed: After a careful consideration of the petition praying for a remission of the sentences on Melvin, Finch and Jackson, recently convicted of perjury, the Governor in Council yesterday decided to accede to the prayer of the petition. The prisoners will therefore be released forthwith[xi]. The prisoners were then brought up from St Helena prison and released. St Helena is an island in Moreton Bay, a short distance from Peel Island where Stephen’s first wife, Janet Peterkin Melvin had died on arrival in 1877. As best as I can ascertain, the remission of their sentences did not come with the overturning of the guilty verdict, which must have been a difficult shame to carry, but at least Stephen was free and could go home.

Plan of St Helena 1887

Queensland. Parliament. Legislative Assembly. Votes and proceedings of the Legislative Assembly during the session of 1887 1887, Plan of the island of St. Helena, H.M. Penal Establishment, Queensland, Government Printer, [Brisbane] (Click to enlarge)

What a Christmas present that must have been for all the Melvin family! The arrival of my grandmother, Laura, nine months later is probably a clue <smile>. It had been a torrid year for the family and I’m sure a lot of pressure fell on the shoulders of Stephen’s wife Emily with the support of her father, William Partridge: parallel to the trials, they were dealing with liquidation of the business and the award of the bronze medal to Mr Livermore.

MELVIN July 16 1888 p6 Courier

1888 ‘SUPREME COURT.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 16 July, p. 6. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3480414

The legal process of sorting out contracts continued progressively through 1888[xii].  William Partridge provided financial support to the family as evidenced in news reports.

A further by-product of the trial was the amendment of legislation….now if only I could locate my notes. While I have used newspaper articles to tell this story, I have also traced the clues through a myriad archival sources at Queensland State Archives. Although I reviewed these documents with an open mind, I felt the initial case seemed very much a case of “he said, she said” so I can only assume there was some non-verbal indications of guilt. How I sometimes long for an Aussie Legal Genealogist to demystify the legalese.

A family case of minimal power and no glory at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] 1886 ‘Advertising’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 23 September, p. 8. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122559893

[ii] 1887 ‘Advertising’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 26 March, p. 2. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122823758

[iii] 1887 ‘Advertising’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 1 March, p. 2. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122824339

[iv] 1887 ‘The Brisbane Courier.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 21 March, p. 4. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3465267

[v] 1887 ‘BRISBANE.’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 31 March, p. 5. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122819744

[vi] 1887 ‘Perjury Trials.’, The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), 27 September, p. 4. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201025066

[vii] 1887 ‘SUPREME COURT.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 16 September, p. 3. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3478852

[viii] 1887 ‘THE PERJURY CASES.’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 27 September, p. 5. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122824946

[ix] 1887 ‘The Perjury Trials.’, The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), 8 October, p. 8. , viewed 21 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article182629807

[x] 1887 ‘LAST NIGHT’S PARLIAMENT.’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 8 December, p. 3. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122819651

[xi] 1887 ‘The Perjury Cases.’, The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), 13 December, p. 4. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article174766614

[xii] 1888 ‘SUPREME COURT.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 16 July, p. 6. , viewed 22 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3480414

Genea-learning and touring

We’re not long home from a week of genealogy indulgence…what’s not to like about genie-adventures? Especially when they take you on a road trip!

First up was two days at the Unlock the Past Roadshow in Brisbane with Scottish/Irish guru Chris Paton, German expert, Dirk Weissleder and local speakers. Learning new strategies and sources for research is always fun and even better when you get to catch up with genimates. The Roadshow is heading to other cities too, so you might want to consider booking.

270px-Qld_region_map_2

Image from Wikipedia.

From Brisbane we ventured west towards Toowoomba and the Darling Downs. We were no sooner on the Darren Lockyer Way[i] when my spirits soared with the wide open vistas of the Lockyer Valley and the sense of moving away from the urban coastal belt. Don’t get me wrong – we love where we live near the coast, but this trip made me realise how much I’ve missed being away from the open spaces we used to enjoy in the Northern Territory.

We made our way up the Range via the obligatory ancestral route through Murphy’s Creek and a wander through the cemetery saying g’day to my Kunkel 2xgreat-grandparents and great-grandfather.

20170810_112159

The renovated Kunkel grave at Murphy’s Creek.

However, on this trip we also made time to lunch at Spring Bluff Railway Station. Of course we’ve known forever that it’s there, but there always seemed to be other priorities. I imagine it’s busy on the weekends but it was tranquil on a lovely mid-week Spring-like day. With the burst of warm weather, the flowers are coming into bloom early.

On Friday, I toddled off to the Catholic Diocesan Archives in Toowoomba where I’d made an appointment. I’ve rattled on many times about the benefits of checking parish registers for additional information…it’s amazing how much you can discover.

Lockyer and Toowoomba

This Google map could be called “Ancestral Pathways” as it lists so many towns and settlements where my family lived, worked and died.

Golf (or surf) widows are a common phenomenon, but for a few days Mr Cassmob got another large dose of being a genealogy widower. His Aussie ancestry is all from Victoria so there was nothing specific for him to follow up. However, he’s had lots of practice with my meanderings and this just one more. We tried to balance some of the genea-obsessiveness with touring options we haven’t taken up before. Our wander through the Japanese Garden at the University of Southern Queensland was a delight! Some of the trees were already in blossom, azaleas were starting to peek out and the landscaping is beautiful – definitely on the agenda to see it again a different season.

20170811_141000

Japanese Gardens at USQ.

Saturday was spent at the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society. I love that it’s aptly located adjacent to the enormous Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery (search burials here). The Society launched its third volume of Our Backyard, containing stories of those buried in the cemetery. Most are submitted by family members but some have been researched by society members. My submissions for Kunkel and Gavin family members, plus a few Germans, are in Volume 1. The Society has some great publications if you have Darling Downs ancestry. They are also very good at catering for their remote members.

After the book launch, and morning tea, we were treated to a very thought-provoking presentation by Queensland local and family historian, Janice Cooper. Janice encouraged us to think about scrutinising our sources and their merits, as well as seeking the content and analysing them for our conclusions. Very much worth listening to and something I’ll be revisiting.

A speedy AGM was followed by lunch. I was the post-lunch speaker and presented on The Marriage of Family and Local History as applied to Murphy’s Creek and using a variety of sources, of which it’s impossible to cover the whole spectrum. Like most marriages there might be offspring – and a One Place Study is one of them. I found it interesting to talk to a group familiar with the township and my mention of the former publican, Mr Bloom, certainly grabbed one member’s attention. My thanks to the society for giving me this opportunity.

20170814_102242

After our few days in Toowoomba we’d decided to stay out of town for the next couple of nights and booked a delightful cottage adjacent to the Ravensbourne National Park. It was chilly at night but we were cosy inside with a gas fire and it was a pleasure to wake up to the sound of kookaburras and honeyeaters in the grevilleas beside the deck.

Touring the area, we visited the Woolshed at Jondaryan as it was decades since we’d last been there. I’d known for some time that some of my relatives had worked there but we met up with the historian to see if he had any new information – strangely that included the letter I’d sent him with Kunkel and Gavin details many years ago <smile>. I’ve brought away some print-outs so that I can send him further information on some of my other interests eg Stephen and Mark Gavin. The station ledgers have been preserved for long periods of time, especially in the earlier times, largely because the property was in the same hands for a long time. You can check out the list of names in Mr Eggleston’s book or write to him at the Woolshed if you think your ancestor worked there. Don’t forget to provide him with some details of your family to add to his database.

Jondaryan was an enormous property back in its day and you can read some of its history on the website. Merino sheep were its forte and my great-grandfather George Michael Kunkel worked as a lamber for a few months in 1875, paid £1 a week. Lambs were valuable assets and hence the role of the lamber was important -he had to watch over them to protect them from animal marauders, help the ewes if there were difficulties with birthing and generally ensure the lambs well-being.

The Woolshed has some wonderful old buildings, not least being the woolshed itself which is the largest oldest still operating anywhere in the world. However, I was most interested in the shepherd’s hut since this is the type of accommodation inhabited by some of the early Dorfprozelten immigrants during their first employment contracts.

Along with sightseeing we enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Woolshed’s cafe: meals with bush tucker ingredients. We’ve also flagged Jondaryan as somewhere it would be good to camp – but perhaps not at a busy time. Nearby, the little Anglican church, St Anne’s, is simple yet beautiful so of course I had to buy the book on its history.

An error in navigation took us back to Murphy’s Creek which was fine as we wanted to check out the Fifteen Mile again. It was interesting to see that the old Kunkel property seems to be being expanded and now I’m dying of curiosity to know what’s happening and if it’s changed hands again.

DSC_0233

The old Horrocks’ barn – in a state of collapse, and the brick chimney of the house behind.

I also took a current photo of the old Horrocks’ barn, which appeared in my slideshow for the presentation. It is now “on its last legs” so I was pleased to take some photos while I could. As always the nearby cows looked on suspiciously, as they’ve done on every occasion when I’ve driven there.

All in all, a wonderful short holiday: learning + genealogy + genimates, balanced with touring on the Downs and chill-out time with Mr Cassmob.

[i] Named after a popular footballer who shares his surname with the region. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/rugby-league-legend-darren-lockyer-honoured-with-a-stretch-of-road/news-story/dee213cd3bb5c255d5430b3e6405a9e4

Flooding rains: Ipswich 1887

NFHM AlexThis week’s topic in Family Tree Frog’s NFHM Blog Challenge is All the Rivers Run. Australia alternates between extremes of weather as illustrated by the famous poem by Dorothea Mackellar: My Country[i].

I love a sunburnt country

A land of sweeping plains

Of rugged mountain ranges

And drought and flooding rains.

This is just one story of my ancestors’ experience with the dramas and dangers of flooded rivers. Some resulted in fatalities, others in property losses, but this is the most well-covered in the newspapers, and also a story lost (or hidden?) by the family.

Floodwaters rise in the heart of Ipswich January 1887

Unidentified (1887). Floodwaters rise in the heart of Ipswich, January 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

On 22 January 1887, the Queensland town of Ipswich was deluged by a severe flood. Some said it was the worst in European memory, others that it was only exceeded by the 1864 flood. The newspapers document that it had also passed the level of the 1841 flood[ii]. It would not be the last time the town was hit, as even in recent years Ipswich has been inundated by enormous flooding.

At the time of the 1887 flood, my ancestor, Stephen Gillespie Melvin, had a confectionery store in Ipswich as well as various other business interests. He had worked hard to establish himself after the tragedy which accompanied his arrival in the colony when his first wife, Janet Peterkin Melvin had died in quarantine on arrival. He had won prizes at the local Agricultural Show[iii] and established a surprising portfolio of property…almost certainly to the overall detriment of his balance sheet.

MELVIN SG location shop

1886 ‘Advertising’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 27 April, p. 6. , viewed 18 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122553790

The 1887 flood came powering in just days after the 10th anniversary of Stephen’s arrival on 18 January 1877, not exactly an auspicious anniversary. Perhaps he was already feeling down, remembering his young wife’s death, or perhaps he was increasingly aware of his precarious financial position.

 

MELVIN Telegraph 8 July 1887 p3

1887 ‘Royal Humane Society.’, The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), 8 July, p. 3. , viewed 18 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201023744

It was through news stories about the Royal Humane Society Awards that I became aware of Stephen’s near-tragedy. Trove documents that “The (Bremer) River was in flood, and Melvin, who had been assisting to remove goods from a store (his?) which was surrounded by water, got into the vortex on the edge of the roaring current. Livermore swam out at great risk, took Melvin by the collar, and brought him back to the building in safety. The current was running very strong. Awarded a bronze medal.”

Stephen’s courageous rescuer was Thomas Shadrach Livermore, a 26 year old blacksmiths’ labourer[iv]. (Following his entries in Queensland Births, Deaths and Marriages it appears his correct name was Thomas Shedrick Livermore). The stories place Stephen’s age as 45 years but this overstates his age, as he was born in 1854 in Leith, Scotland.

Naturally I returned to Trove to search newspaper dates closer to the event to see if I could find the rescue mentioned. None seemed to match the award details exactly, however this one stood out for me:

Qld Times 25 Jan 1887 p5 MELVINWe have heard of some acts of recklessness and even foolhardiness-in fact, one was so glaring, on Saturday last (22nd January), in Bremer-street, that many persons who were witnesses of the scene thought the man referred to was trying to commit suicide, and said it was not worthwhile venturing their lives to save his. However, two men went into the river after him, and dragged him out of the water, and thus saved him from drowning, though he almost drowned one of his rescuers in the struggle.[v]

 Perhaps I’m misjudging my ancestor, though while there are anomalies in the report, it fits with other factors affecting him at the time. Perhaps it really was an accident and he got caught in the vortex, which makes sense if he was trying to evacuate his store. In his earlier life he had been a merchant seaman, and it was common for them not to be able to swim.

MELVIN Qld Times April 1887Only a few months later in 1887, Stephen’s estate had gone into liquidation, as detailed in a news story[vi]. He specifically cites the impact of the flood on his business[vii]. I’ve also referred to the Insolvency files at Queensland State Archives, and Stephen’s holdings of property were quite amazing for a relatively recent immigrant. It’s also interesting to see that his father-in-law, William Partridge, was one of his creditors. These events were not to be the end of Stephen’s annus horribilis but those stories will keep for another day.

There was much made about the proposed presentation of the medal to Thomas Livermore including a description of the medal.

MELVIN Qld TImes 3 Sept 1887 p5On the obverse of the medal is depicted a female figure, representing Australasia, in the act of placing a wreath on the head of one deemed worthy of honour, while around is stamped the motto, ” Virtute paratum.” The Southern Cross above fixes the locality as being in the Southern Hemisphere. On the reverse is the name, date, etc., and a wreath supposed to be composed of eucalyptus and laurel leaves. The Police Magistrate is directed to present the medal and certificate to Mr. Livermore in as public a manner as possible; but he has not yet fixed a date for this ceremony…[viii]

Personally, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Thomas Shedrick Livermore. Had he not saved my great-grandfather from the flooded river, my grandmother, mother and I would not have been here, nor would seven other branches of Emily Partridge and Stephen Gillespie Melvin’s family.

I certainly hope that the medal has been preserved in the Livermore family, along with the story of their ancestor’s bravery. The presentation was held on Tuesday 6 September 1887[ix] and the Police Magistrate Mr Yaldwyn rightly summed up Mr Livermore’s courage when awarding the medal[x].

Telegraph 8 Sept 1887 p3 crop

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[i] http://www.dorotheamackellar.com.au/archive/mycountry.htm

[ii] http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122819295

[iii] The Ipswich Show. (1882, December 16). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 856. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19788354

[iv] Queensland Births

1862 C385 Thomas Shedrick Livermore George Mary Ann Haydon

 

[v] 1887 ‘Advertising’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 25 January, p. 5. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122819289

[vi] 1887 ‘Supreme Court.’, The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), 11 July, p. 2. , viewed 18 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201021946

[vii] MEETING OF CREDITORS. (1887, April 30). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 6. Retrieved August 18, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3468421

[viii] 1887 ‘LOCAL AND GENERAL NEWS.’, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), 3 September, p. 5. , viewed 18 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122820644

[ix] LOCAL AND GENERAL NEWS. (1887, September 6). Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1908), p. 5. Retrieved August 18, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122821625

[x] Our Ipswich Letter. (1887, September 8). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 3. Retrieved August 18, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201023537

The orphaned Kunkel children

NFHM AlexIn Week 2 of Family Tree Frog’s NFHM Blogging Challenge, Alex asks us if there were secrets in our families, or were there tales of the Depression. However, as this week’s book, Careful He Might Hear You, focuses on an orphan and what happens when his aunt comes to take care of him, my thoughts immediately turned to my Kunkel orphans.

In November 1901, my great grandmother, Julia Celia Kunkel nee Gavin, died of a post-natal complication.  Just six weeks later, on Christmas Day 1901, her husband George Michael Kunkel died of a heart attack. All of a sudden their ten surviving children were left orphaned.

george &amp; julia possiblyADJ

I believe this MAY be a photo of Julia Gavin and George Michael Kunkel, based on dress styles, family resemblances and that it was with a group of Kunkel family photos.

The children and their age at the time they were orphaned were:

Denis Joseph Kunkel born 23 September 1880 at the 40 Mile Camp, Dalby (my grandfather), 21 years

Mary Ellen Kunkel born 7 December 1881, 20 years

Julia Beatrice Kunkel born 9 July 1883, 18 years

George Michael Kunkel born 18 October 1884 died Jimboomba 1 May 1899

Bridget Rose Kunkel born 9 July 1886, 15 years

James Edward (Jim) Kunkel born 6 June 1889, 12 years

Elizabeth Ann (Lily) Kunkel baptised 26 January 1891, 10 years

William Thomas (Bill) Kunkel born 7 November 1892, 9 years

Matthew David John (John) Kunkel born 28 April 1894, 7 years

Kenneth Norman (Ken) Kunkel born 27 August 1896, 5 years

May Camellia Kunkel born 30 April 1899, 2 years.

The children were therefore split roughly into two groups, with the eldest three being of working age and the younger six ranging from toddlers to being almost of an age to work. There are some variations compared to the ages on the death certificate but that’s unsurprising given the level of stress and grief. What on earth happened to all these young children? Their father left an estate of £433, thanks largely to a life insurance policy, which must have helped a little.

dinny jim &amp; friend

James (left), Denis (Centre) and unknown friend/relative c1917.

My grandfather Denis never talked about these horrible early days, though oral history from my parents said that he had contributed to the children’s upkeep (debated by others) and that he had maintained young Ken at a woman’s house next to the block of land Denis bought in Kelvin Grove. Ken’s descendant told me that she had treated Ken poorly and he’d run away. Having said that, I remember Ken visiting my grandfather in his old age – he would turn up in his van, covered in health food signage so he obviously still felt some affinity with his eldest brother.

What else could I learn? I turned to the school indexes prepared by Queensland Family History Society which are also available through Find My Past. While I had some of this information, even more is being indexed, which is very helpful when you haven’t a clue where the family might have gone. Even better, many of the school admission books are being digitised by the Queensland State Archives, as I’ve discovered today.

My earlier notes record that Jim Kunkel was enrolled at Wallumbilla State School[i] in January 1902 and left in Sept 1902. This suggests to me that he had been taken in by his aunts and uncles, either the Paterson or the Lee family who lived at Pickenjennie and Wallumbilla respectively. I’ve also been told that Jim worked for them on their farms as he would have done at home. Oral history revealed that Denis helped Jim get a position as a lad porter with the railway in 1911. Around the same time, Jim would become a part-time competitive boxer, before marrying and having a large family.

Julia Kunkel

Julia Kunkel

Mary Ellen Kunkel had married in June 1901, before her parents died. She had three children but the marriage was not a success.

Julia Kunkel worked as a domestic and in a hotel though she also lived with her grandparents at Murphy’s Creek for some time and her wedding reception was held there. I wonder whether some of the smaller children also lived there with them, at least some of the time. Unfortunately, the Murphy’s Creek School Admission Registers are only available from 1907 so we can’t know for sure. Julia married in 1910 and had a very large, happy family.

Although Bridget Kunkel was 15 when her parents died, she no doubt missed her mother’s guidance. She worked in hotels and sadly had two children out of wedlock, one of whom died in a baby farm at New Farm in Brisbane. Family secrets have a way of coming out when one visits the archives and explores the indexes for civil registrations.

While Bill Kunkel was enrolled, with his siblings, at the Geham State School in the final year of his parents’ life, there is no indication of whether he continued his education beyond 1901 and if so, where. Nor do we know with whom he lived until of age to go out to work. He too joined the railway (the family business), as a lad porter in Warwick in 1913, aged 21 (seems old?). He remained with the railway for the rest of his life, but tragedy struck when his son Robert (William Rudolph) Kunkel was reported Missing in Action in Korea in 1952. Bill and his wife Rosetta never got over their loss. Bill was one of the few siblings to stay in touch with brother Denis, who had some sort of falling out with the rest of them, reportedly over religion.

ken kunkel

Ken Kunkel

There is a mystery surrounding the younger children, Lily, John, Ken and May. Lily, John and Ken are enrolled at Laidley state school[ii] in 1902, but no family members are known to have lived there, and the registers didn’t enlighten me when I looked at them years ago. The only familiar name I could find was that of Elizabeth Marks, who had been named Executrix of their father’s will. Young May appears in the index of Laidley admissions in 1904 and John in 1906. Who were they living with? Time for some more research.

In between times May appears in the registers for Crow’s Nest[iii] school (1905 and 1908) and also Pechey[iv] school (1905). Lily also appears on the Crow’s Nest admissions register in 1902 and John at Geham[v] in 1903 and 1905. These seem more able to be explained. The children’s maternal grandfather, Denis Gavin, lived at Crow’s Nest around this time, and their uncle James Gavin, worked for the railway (yes, again!) in Pechey.

john kunkel off to war

John Kunkel

I have no record of where young Ken went to school though if the oral history is correct I would expect at least some of his education would have been at Kelvin Grove state school.

John’s daughter told me that her father hadn’t received “any” education and had no shoes until he was 14. John had been fostered out and worked hard as a dairyman for his foster parents, though we have no idea who they were.

Annie Kunkel, a younger cousin to all these Kunkel orphans, told me that Bill Kunkel had spent a “good bit of time with the grandparents” at the Fifteen Mile, Murphy’s Creek, and perhaps all of them came and went at some time.

Lily and May Kunkel

Lily and May Kunkel

May Kunkel would have been only 13 when she was enrolled at the Cooran state school[vi] near Pomona in 1912. Her guardian was a baker in Cooran and the only entry on the electoral rolls for a baker in Cooran is a James Hubert Jordan. This name means nothing to me in the broader family context so I’m left wondering if she had been sent to work there. At the time he would have been 66 years old and appears not to have had a wife living with him. A mystery indeed. May married at only 17 years old but her marriage failed fairly quickly…hardly surprising given the emotional turmoil she’d lived through at such a young age.

The death of their parents had a significant impact on these Kunkel orphans. The younger ones seemed to have been taken care of by relatives mostly but moved around regularly – hardly a settled life. Apparently the older ones survived with fewer emotional scars, but the younger group certainly did it tough. Ken and John remained good mates throughout their lives, enlisting in World War I together alongside their Gavin cousins.

[i] Queensland State Archives Item ID637218, Register – admissions, state school

[ii] Queensland State Archives Item ID635275, Register – admissions, state school

[iii] Queensland State Archives Item ID625192, Register – admissions, state school

[iv] Queensland State Archives Item ID639187, Register – admissions, state school

[v] Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 28004

[vi] Queensland State Archives Item ID639824, Register – admissions, state school

 

 

 

 

 

Unlock the Past Roadshow: Brisbane Day 2

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Those with German ancestral research tend to get fewer international opportunities than the British and Irish offerings, so I was really looking forward to Day 2 of the Roadshow with Dirk Weissleder and others. I was pleased to see there was good support for Day 2 and that at least some of my genimates were also there.

Don’t you admire people who are bilingual (at least)? Even before learning a thing from Herr Weissleder I was impressed by his ability to present clearly in a different language.

Dirk’s passionate vision for connecting the German diaspora is inspirational. My only concern is for those who speak no German or only the tiniest amount: how do we overcome the language barriers? Dirk wants to bring the descendants of Germans together wherever they are and that is what the DAGV is all about. What is the DAGV? Like many German words it’s what we’d call “a mouthful”: Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbände…got that? Hint: It would be so helpful to have a translation option on the website for those who understand no German.

After listening to the vision for this bringing together of the diaspora, I’ll be considering whether to attend the 2019 Germanic Genealogy Conference in Sacramento.

Key points I took from Dirk’s presentations were:

  • Remember Germany came into being as a unit in 1871 – before that you must consider Kingdoms and Duchies. I know that my George Kunkel only ever listed his place of origin as Bavaria on official documents. I have the sense they were very proud to be Bavarian.
  • There are cultural and religious variations between the regions which must be considered. People think of themselves first as Bavarians (for example) and only second as Germans.
  • Like Ireland, you may have to work to find out what records are still available and where to find them.
  • We are in the same boat as genealogy researchers in Germany so we need to learn along with them.
  • I got lots of new sites to follow up to see if I can winkle out more info on my Bavarian interests.
  • The talk on European research was extremely interesting and could be applied to almost any form of overseas research. Key focus: channel your inner German heritage and be organised and focused.
  • think Geneaglobally

Of course Mr Weissleder and Mr Paton were not the only speakers on the agenda.

Rosemary Kopittke’s talks on My Heritage have convinced me I should renew my membership after all – it helps that I’ve just found someone else with connections to my distant Kunkel tree in there. I learnt a lot more about how to benefit from a My Heritage subscription. So far, my DNA matches haven’t been as helpful, but as yet it’s a smaller player in the DNA world.

The Living DNA presentation was interesting but as I tested back in February at RootsTech, it was more familiar to me. I might even get round to blogging about my results.

The Genealogical Society of Queensland, the Queensland Family History Society and the State Library of Queensland explained what a wealth of resources they had available for genealogical research, especially for the UK, Ireland and Germany. Remember to go Beyond the Internet and discover more about your families.

Helen Smith’s talks on DNA and how we can use it were informative, as always. I find that each time I listen to an explanation of the benefits of DNA, a bit more clicks into place. Have you tested for DNA yet? Has it solved any brick walls for you?

Thanks Unlock the Past for this fantastic two days of learning…it was both informative and fun.

Disclosure: I have been accepted as an Ambassador for the Road Show in exchange for a free entry pass. My reports on the Roadshow are my honest opinions

 

Unlock the Past Roadshow 17: Brisbane Day 1

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Is there anything better than the buzz of a bunch of genealogists gathering for a day of learning? Even before the presentations begin it’s so much fun to hang out with genimates who you talk to online and only occasionally in person. The sponsors’ stands offer treats to buy or activities to get engaged with eg joining a society.

Day 1’s speaker was the well-known GENES blogger, presenter and researcher, Chris Paton. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Chris speak on the Unlock the Past cruise a few years back and to do a Pharos course on Scottish records, so I knew we were going to learn a lot.

I don’t intend to steal Chris’s thunder for those attending the Roadshow in other cities so I will limit my disclosures here though I can guarantee you’ll learn a lot and get lots of laughs thanks to Chris’s quirky sense of humour.

What are my take-away points:

  • Check multiple online versions of the same documents eg newspapers, check the editions
  • Browse around a date, not just rely on the specific search
  • Search beyond your ancestors’ names
  • There are more online sources than I have found previously and I thought I was well across the various websites
  • Scotland is not England: its legal and cultural structures are different and so are the records as Chris will explain in useful detail.
  • Enjoy your research

Finally, through our research we remember (and honour) those from whom we come.

Cuimhnichibh air na daoine bho’n d’thainig sibh

And if you’re still dithering about whether to attend the Roadshow, jump online and register now before it’s too late – you won’t regret it! I had so much fun I forgot to take photos of the event.

Disclosure: I have been accepted as an Ambassador for the Road Show in exchange for a free entry pass. My reports on the Roadshow are my honest opinions

An Irish family in Surry Hills c1880s

NFHM AlexAlex from Family Tree Frog blog has set us a genealogy challenge for National Family History Month in August, themed around Australian novels. Week 1 is “Poor Man’s Orange”.

What do FANS and angels have in common? Let me take you to Surry Hills in Sydney – a not-so-pleasant area of Sydney back in the 19th Century.

Surry Hills is the focus of the classic Aussie novel Poor Man’s Orange, and this quote would almost certainly resonate with my extended family, the Garveys and Hogans who lived there:

The Church in Surry Hills was no fountain of stone…it was foursquare, red brick, with a stubby steeple as strictly functional as the finger of a traffic cop….It was as much a part of Surry Hills as the picture-show or the police station, the ham-and-beef or the sly-grog shop.[i]

Kate and Mary Garvey

Kate and Mary Garvey.

In the 1860s, Catherine (Kate) O’Brien, the sister of my 2xgreat grandmother Mary O’Brien Kunkel, arrived in Sydney and married fellow Clare emigrant, Pat Hogan. Pat and Kate Hogan lived in Surry Hills. Two decades later their nieces and nephews would also emigrate from County Clare and live nearby, also in Surry Hills.

Kate and Mary Garvey (daughters of Honora O’Brien, sister of Mary and Kate), arrived in Sydney in 1881 on the Blairgowrie, citing their aunt Kate Hogan, as a relative in the colony.

Mary remained a spinster throughout her life but Kate married, yet again to a Clare emigrant, James Skein (or Skehan?) Keane. Although Kate moved to the goldfields in Western Australia for some years, she returned to Sydney for her children’s health. Her sister Mary continued to be a strong support to her for the rest of her life.

Kate and Mary’s sister, Bridget Garvey, arrived in Sydney, marrying Samuel Gill in 1906. Brother, Michael Garvey, also emigrated to Australia, and the last to arrive was sister Ellen who didn’t come to Australia until 1923 after their mother died. Most of Honora O’Brien Garvey’s other children would emigrate to the United States and live in Baltimore.

Joining the Garvey clan in Surry Hills was my own great-grandfather’s sister, Margaret or Molly Kunkel, who became part of this extended family, spending the rest of her life near the Garveys and Hogans, and later being buried near them.

Paul Simon sings of “angels in the architecture”[ii], something that always strikes a chord with me and which is particularly pertinent to these Clare emigrants.

hogan and garvey wnidows

Stained glass memorial windows for the Garvey and Hogan families

St Peters Surry Hills Freemans Jnl 1918

Freeman’s Journal, 20 June 1918, page 40. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116774575

When the new Catholic church at Surry Hills, St Peter’s, was being built and the stained glass windows were being sought, the two O’Brien branches memorialised their own families. One window remembers Kate and Pat Hogan, while the other is a tribute to John and Honora Garvey. There is nothing to suggest that John and Honora lived and died in Ireland and it was simply their family who had emigrated.

All in all, a classic case of chain migration and the importance of considering FANs (Friends, Associates and Neighbours). It was from this family that I would acquire Kunkel photographs, genealogy details, and oral histories that linked the various branches both across Australia and the USA.

A “Rich Man’s Orange” in genealogical terms.

 

[i] Park, Ruth. The Harp in the South novels. Penguin Books, Melbourne 2009, page 418

[ii] Paul Simon, You can call me Al. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/paulsimon/youcancallmeal.html

Ancestral Places Geneameme

National flags of the different countries of the world in a heap. Top view

National flags of the different countries of the world in a heap. Top view

Alona from Lone Tester blog has set us this geneameme for National Family History Month. The ground rules are as follows:

What places do your ancestors come from?

Using the alphabet how many letters can you name ancestral places for? Some you will no doubt know well, some you may not … at least not yet (see my letter ‘I’ and ‘N’ examples below). I still have more research to do on those lines.

It doesn’t have to be where your ancestors were born, but it does have to be a place that they were associated with. For instance they lived or worked (or died?) in that place.

Here is my own list – luckily for me I’ve done some of this before with the A to Z challenge in 2012 and I’ve included some links below. It’s a lengthy post but not too “dense” (follow as few or as many of the links to earlier posts as you like).

A is for:

P1070724 edit_edited-1

The sixpenny gatehouse for Ardkinglas estate where my 3xgreat grandfather lived.

Australia where my ancestors arrived between the early 1850s and 1910.

Ardkinglas, Argyll, Scotland – my 2xgreat grandfather lived and worked on this estate

Argyll, Scotland – home of my McCorkindales/McCorquodales/Macquorquodales and my Morrison families.

Annandale, Sydney, Australia – my great grandfather Stephen Gillespie Melvin lived here and had a confectionery factory here after moving from Charters Towers.

B is for:

Ballykelly townland, Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland – home of my O’Brien-Reddan 3xgreat grandparents.

Binbian Downs (near Condamine, Qld) where my Gavin family worked and lived on their first employment contract in Australia.

Backrow farmhouse Bothkennar

Backrow farmhouse, Bothkennar.

Bothkennar, Stirlingshire, Scotland where my Sim family lived for around 200 years.

C is for:

Charters Towers, Queensland where my Melvin family set up their confectionery and pastry shop and refreshment rooms. In a strange coincidence there is also a link between Charters Towers and my husband’s work in Papua New Guinea.

Cairndow, Argyll, Scotland – my 2xgreat grandparents, James & Isabella McCorkindale are buried in the Church of Scotland church yard. Isabella Morrison McCorkindale has a lovely gravestone quite close to the door of the church.

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Pauleen visiting with Isabella. Daffodils planted on her grave, but snow still on the hills

Crows Nest, Queensland – Denis Gavin lived here towards the end of his life and is buried in the cemetery there.

Coleford, Gloucestershire, England – my Partridge family (incl John & Elizabeth, my 3xgreat grandparents and 2xgreat grandfather William) lived there.

Courtown, Wexford, Ireland – my Callaghan ancestors were fishermen here for generations.

D is for:

Dublin, Co Dublin, Ireland – Denis and Ellen Gavin, my 2xgreat grandparents married here and lived in the Liberties.

Dalby, Queensland – my great grandmother, Julia Celia Gavin, was born here when her parents lived in the town for some years. My grandfather was born at the 40 Mile railway camp outside Dalby.

Drimuirk, Argyll, Scotland – my 3x great grandparents, Duncan and Annie McCorkindale, lived in this hamlet in the mid-19th century.

E is for:

England: my Kent, Partridge, Thompson, Gillespie/Gilhespy, Reid families lived here.

Edinburgh, Scotland – my Melvin family lived in the Edinburgh port of Leith for generations.Leith shore and Melvins

F is for:

Fifteen Mile, Queensland – I’ve written about this small settlement outside Murphy’s Creek many times – home of the Kunkel-O’Brien family.

Fromelles, France – my grandfather’s cousin, James Gavin, is buried at Fleurbaix cemetery.

Fortune and Florentia – just two of the ships on which my ancestors came to Australia.

'Florentia', under Captain Wimble, passing through Telleberry Roads, coast of Malabar, on 1 February 1825

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

G is for:

Goroka, Papua New Guinea – where our family lived for some years. This will be ancestral country in the future.

Gorey, Wexford, Ireland – my great grandparents, Peter Sherry (later McSherry) and Margaret Callaghan were married here and my grandfather was born here.

Glasgow, Scotland – like so many Scots, my McCorkindale family came to Glasgow and settled there. My great grandfather, Duncan, was a cabinet maker, and he and his sons were pipers.

H is for:

Hughenden, Queensland – my Peter and Mary McSherry great grandparents lived in Hughenden for some time.

Highfields, Queensland – my great grandfather and his siblings were early enrolees at the new Highfields school when his family lived there before moving to the Fifteen Mile.

I is for:

Ipswich, Queensland: my Kent, Partridge, Kunkel and O’Brien ancestors all lived in Ipswich like so many early Queensland settlers.

shamrock and leprechaun

Ireland – whatever my DNA ethnicities tell me, my paper trail confirms I have a significant amount of Irish ancestry – Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, Offaly, Clare and my Mystery Sherry.

J is for:

Jondaryan, Queensland – where my great grandfather George Michael Kunkel, and his future wife, Julia Gavin, both worked for a while.

Jimboomba, Queensland – George Michael and Julia Kunkel lived here as part of his railway work.

K is for:

Knockina townland, Wexford, Ireland – my 2xgreat ancestors James Sherry and Bridget Furlong lived here, possibly in a railway house. This townland is mentioned on their children’s baptisms.

Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland – my grandparents and parents lived here for many decades.

Kildare, Ireland – birthplace of Denis Gavin, reportedly in Ballymore Eustace.

Korea – my father’s cousin, Robert Kunkel, was MIA in Korea and later registered KIA.

L is for:

P1070738

Loch Fyne near Inveraray

Laufach, Bavaria – home of a few generations of my Kunkel family.

Longreach, Queensland – Peter and Mary McSherry lived here while he worked on the railway. He also taught the Longreach Brass Band.

Loch Fyne (and Loch Awe), Argyll – my spirit belongs to Loch Fyne, home of my McCorkindale and Morrison ancestors.

M is for:              

Murphy’s Creek, Queensland – the hub town where my Kunkel ancestors worshipped and worked. The Fifteen Mile (see above) is an outlying area.

Monmouth, England/Wales – my John Partridge was born here, if we can believe his census enumerations.

Moreton Bay, Queensland – the end of the long journey for most of my ancestors who came to Queensland.

N is for:

P1100363

North Shields is all about the sea, then and now. © P Cass 2010

North Shields, Northumberland – my Gillespie/Gilhespy family came from here and my 2xgreat grandmother Margaret Gillespie was born here.

Neuhütten, Bavaria, Germany – home of my Kunkel ancestors before the move to Laufach.

New York State, USA – my 2xgreat grandfather’s nieces and nephews emigrated here.

O is for:

Offaly, (Kings County), Ireland – my 3xgreat grandparents, Martin Furlong and Margaret Stanton lived here.

Oceans – my Melvin ancestors and my Callaghan ancestors were seamen for whom the oceans were their workplaces. Oceans also played an important part in the life of all my emigrant ancestors.

P is for:

Peel Island, Queensland – my great grandfather’s first wife, Janet Peterkin Melvin, died in quarantine here soon after arrival and was buried there.

Q is for:

Queensland, Australia of course! With 11 pre-Separation ancestors who arrived or were born here before 1859 I’m proud of my Queensland roots.

R is for:

Roma, Queenslandmy great uncle Joseph Francis Kunkel is buried there.

Rotterdam, Netherlands – my 2xgreat grandfather, Laurence Melvin, was buried there when he died during a voyage.

Rockhampton, Queensland – a key place for my Sherry/McSherry/McSharry family who arrived in Rockhampton in 1883 and 1884 and where my great grandparents, Peter and Mary McSherry celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary. They are buried in the Rockhampton cemetery.

Hmmmm. Should I be looking for appropriate cemeteries which start with R or avoid them?

S is for:

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Strachur church.

Sandon, Hertfordshire, England – home of generations of my Kent family

Strachur, Argyll, Scotland – home of my Morrison family for generations

T is for:

Tullamore, Offaly, Ireland -home of my 3xgreat grandparents and their family, the Furlongs.

Townsville, Queensland – my grandparents and mother lived here.

Tiaro, Queensland – my great aunt’s family, the Connors, live(d) here.

Toowoomba, Queensland – so many burials of family members in this cemetery, especially my great-grandmother Julia Gavin Kunkel and her mother Ellen Gavin nee Murphy.

Tooloom goldfields, New South Wales – where I confirmed the story that my George Kunkel (2xgreat grandfather) worked on the goldfields, and made other connections to fellow emigrants.

U is for:

Urana, New South Wales -home of my 2xgreat grandmother’s sister, Bridget Widdup nee O’Brien, with whom she emigrated. Pivotal to taking my research back to Broadford, Ireland.

V is for:

Villers Brettoneux, France where my grandfather’s cousin, James Paterson is remembered on the Australian War Memorial.

W is for:

Wicklow, Ireland – birthplace of Eleanor Murphy, possibly (probably?) in Davidstown.

Wallumbilla, Queensland – home of three branches of my Kunkel family: the Lee, Paterson and Kunkel families.

who-s-going-green-question-mark-md

Winton, Queensland – home of the Mellick family: Bridget Agnes Mellick was my great-grandfather’s sister.

Y is for:

Y, oh Y, can I not find the ancestral home of James Sherry – my ongoing brick wall.

Z is for: 

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.

DorfproZelten, Bavaria, Germany – my 3xgreat grandmother’s family, the Happs had an inn in the village for generations and my George Mathias Kunkel was born there.

I got a bit carried away with Alona’s great geneameme but it was fun. I’ve chosen to extend it from direct ancestors to ancestral family generally e.g. siblings, children and I’ve realised that I could write many more blog posts about them.

If you’re descended from any of these families I’d love to hear from you.

What are your ancestral places? Wherever you are, why not participate in Alona’s geneameme.

Welcome to August and NFHM

NFHM-logo

Welcome to August, Australia’s National Family History Month.  I don’t know about you, but the days are already skipping away from me. There’s a host of goodies in store for us and these are the things I’m thinking of for my own research.

National flags of the different countries of the world in a heap. Top view

  • On Tuesday-Wednesday this week I’m off to the Unlock the Past Roadshow in Brisbane and I’m looking forward to getting more tips for my Irish, Scots and German ancestry. I’m also hoping to pick up some clues for my friend’s east German research since that’s something I’m not knowledgeable about. The Roadshow is heading to other cities in Oz and NZ so don’t forget to check if it’s coming to somewhere near you.
  • Then it’s off to Toowoomba for a visit to the Catholic Diocesan Archives and to present at the AGM of the Toowoomba & Darling Downs Family History Society on the “Marriage of Local and Family History”. Inevitably there’ll be a side trip to Murphy’s Creek (Kunkel ancestral turf), Crows Nest and Dalby (Gavins) and some graveyard sleuthing even though I’ve been there many times.
  • The Noosaville Library on the Sunshine Coast is running a weekly series of talks with speakers Carmel Galvin, Shauna Hicks, Judy Webster. I wrap up the month with my talk on Writing your family history.NFHM Noosaville
  • If you want to learn more about all matters genealogy, then you could add a subscription to Legacy Family Tree Webinars to your wish-list: an annual subscription is 50% off until 13th August to celebrate their merger with My Heritage. These webinars are excellent learning opportunities and a subscription lets you watch at your convenience plus get presentation notes.
  • In my spare time this month (?!) I’m going to be following more of Twigs of Yore’s DNA graphing. It can look a bit intimidating when you first read each post, but Shelley’s made it super clear and you can readily follow it all if you take your time, step by step. You can see what I’ve done so far on this blog post. Thanks Shelley for the clever technique and inspiration!
  • And in a real-world scenario I was thrilled to meet up yesterday with a second cousin whom I haven’t seen for over 50 years. We had such fun chatting, comparing family stories and heirlooms and I know there’s more fun ahead.

IMG_2636What’s on your agenda for NFHM? Will you be doing any of these activities or participating in some other research.

Disclosure: I am an Ambassador for the Unlock the Past Roadshow in exchange for free registration in Brisbane.