Grandad goes to war: Remembrance Day 2017

One hundred years ago today my grandfather, Denis Joseph Kunkel, was at sea en route to England thence  to the war in France.

dinny jim & friend

James Edward (Front left) and Denis Joseph Kunkel (centre) and unidentified friend or relation c 1917.

He had volunteered with his younger brother, James Edward, on 22 October 1917[1] probably as part of a push at the time to recruit qualified railway workers to work on the lines to the front in the north of France. I wrote about his life-long railway career some time ago. Denis would join the Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company and given the rank of Lance Corporal.

We don’t know why Grandad left it until 1917 to enlist, as his much younger brothers had already joined up along with their cousins and he had already lost two cousins in the carnage of France and Flanders (James Gavin and James Paterson). Perhaps he was older and wiser, or perhaps he’d been reluctant to serve in a war against Germany while his Bavarian-born grandfather was still alive. Perhaps it wasn’t until the call for railway expertise that he thought he could contribute. We will never know.

At the time of his recruitment Dinny was already living on the Ballymore Estate where I’m told he was renting a room at 33 Bally Street.  His attestation records document that Dinny was aged 37 years and 1 month, 5ft 6inches tall[2], weighed 165lbs, had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His chest measurement was 36-39 inches. He had a scar on his right thigh and another on his left knee. He was regarded as medically and dentally fit. Denis gave his religious denomination as “None” though a later notation has been made to suggest that on the rolls he had given Church of England as his religion. From a family point of view this is interesting because his parents, and grandparents, were devout Catholics. Family anecdote tells that he had a major falling out with the clergy out west (obviously pre-dating his enlistment) and he never returned to Catholicism.

Denis left Brisbane by train for Melbourne and was accompanied by his brother, James. Gossipy war news was part of the journalism of the day and on 5 November 1917, The Toowoomba Chronicle reported that “On Tuesday’s troop train, Privates James and Denis Kunkle (sic) passed through Toowoomba for the front. They are sons of Mr Geo. Kunkle of Toowomba and well known in this district. They are also nephews of Mr Gavin, of Pechey, who has five sons[3] at the front”.[4]  Their much younger cousin, Anne Kunkel, who was only a child at the time of the war, remembers that the Murphy’s Creek school children would see long trains with “carriages of khaki-clad young men going off to war” as they passed through en route to the south. She also remembered meeting Dinny at some stage when he returned safely from the war.

Port Sydney AWM 4029449

This photograph shows the interest of the men in the Crossing the Line ceremonies. Image by C.W.L Muecke, copyright expired. Image J06289 Australian War Memorial.

Denis sailed to war on the ship Port Sydney which left Melbourne on 9 November 1917. I was fortunate that there was an enthusiastic photographer on board, documenting some of the sights and events along the way. Today I’ve also discovered a digitised copy of The Limber Log, a souvenir journal on the voyage edited by Lt H Garland. (As it’s under copyright, those who are interested will need to follow the link). It includes references to the joy and pangs of the departure, the sad death of one of the railwayman soon after leaving Colombo, and his burial. Many of the comments will raise eyebrows today with their political-incorrectness and racial slurs, but it’s well worth a read if you had relatives on this voyage. At the end of the journal, they included a Roll of Honour of all the men on board, including one Corporal, Kunkel, D J.

 

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Unidentified soldiers, probably British, grouped around two 12 inch howitzers on Railway Hill used to support the Australian troops. The howitzer in the foreground is mounted on railway tracks, which allowed it to be moved to take up different positions along the railway line. Note a railcar on the right and piles of sandbags in the background. Australian War Memorial image E04615 out of copyright.  While this is an Allied weapon, there would have been similar on the German side.

Railway WWI Goulburn Evening Penny Post 2 Feb 18p4

1918 ‘The Railway Unit.’, Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW : 1881 – 1940), 2 February, p. 4. (EVENING), viewed 11 Nov 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article99019997

My father recalled that Denis, as part of the ABGROC, was responsible for taking the heavy artillery to the Front along the railway line, unloading heavy weaponry, then quickly re-hitching the engine to make good their escape before the German’s “Big Bertha” gun could get a “line” on them.  The 49th Battalion’s historian tells us that the Australian military had railway lines as extensive as those of the British.[5] The threat may have been very different from that experienced by the front-line troops who had to go over the dugouts, but having heavy weapons taking a line on a large piece of rolling stock would surely have made the heartbeat race! The railways were pivotal to the movement of men and supplies and the railwaymen played their part, however mundane, and largely forgotten.[6] The war diaries provide a surprisingly rich description of life for the members of the ABGROC.

 

A few years ago we did a tour of the Western Front and I asked if it was possible to visit Poperinghe, near where my grandfather had worked at Peselhoek. At the railway station, I went down the platform looking for someone to speak to. My first reaction was to speak in German (hmm, perhaps not a good idea), and as my French is very poor and my Flemish non-existent I was dithering about what to do. Along came our tour guide and did the obvious: spoke in English to the railway worker we saw.

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Ellarsyde. Broad gauge and light rail tracks and rolling stock at a railway yard near Ypres. On the far left some wagons are standing on the heavy gauge rail tracks; on the adjacent light rail tracks are several sets of flat cars, some loaded with building materials. On the right are some locomotives. Australian War Memorial Image C01384 out of copyright.

In a bizarre Who Do You Think You Are moment, the gentleman went into his office and then handed me about six photographs taken around 1917-1918, as well as talking to me about where the lines went. I was beyond thrilled and quite blown away by it. The guide swore blind he had not organised it, and as he was very chuffed with what I’d got, to this day I don’t know if it was serendipity or pre-arranged. Either way I was extremely happy to have a better sense of where Grandad had been during the war.

Poperinghe 13

Poperinghe Railway Station near the time when my grandfather served there.

Peselhoek Poperinghe

It has to be said, that compared to many, Grandad’s war was a short one, less than one year, although he did not return to Australia until August 1919 on board the transport ship Karmala. It seems the men had a fairly lively time of it on the way home with a wide array of activities. An orchestra was established and dancing took place every night. An on-board newspaper was established called the Karmala Kuts.[7] No doubt Dinny, who liked a good joke, rather enjoyed the railway-based story which appeared in Vol 1 No 2. Sports were held daily and chess, bridge and drafts competitions occurred. The men also had four lectures from the ship’s master who had been a member of Scott’s polar expedition. Education classes were also offered. Yet again the men were given gifts from the Comforts Funds with 1000 pairs of socks distributed. The ship stopped at Cape Town, Fremantle and Adelaide on the way home. “The people of Cape Town were very kind to the men who had a splendid time there with picnics, dances, motor trips etc”.[8] It is difficult to imagine in this day and age how mature men would respond to such simple pleasures. Denis disembarked in Melbourne on 17 August 1919. His military service was at an end.

To the best of my knowledge, Grandad never went to Remembrance Day ceremonies, though he was elderly when I knew him and perhaps did so when he was younger. His service medals and his RSL membership badge have been safely preserved in the family. As far as I know no photographs of him in uniform have survived.

LEST WE FORGET

Check out the treasures to be found at the Australian War Memorial including war diaries, photographs and personal diaries. I wrote about them here.

Are you looking for the service records of your WWI soldier? You can search through this link (select WWI) where they have been digitised.

There are also often letters/stories home in the local newspapers of the day. Our good friend Trove may have the answers.

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[1] The Courier-Mail, 23 October 1917, p. 8 reports on the previous day’s volunteers including the two brothers. Denis Kunkel’s service number is 2311.

[2] This was atypical of the Kunkel height genes.

[3] Sons were James, Stephen, Patrick Joseph, George and John Joseph. James was killed in action in the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916 and is buried in the War Cemetery at Rue Petillon, near Fleurbaix. He is remembered on the War Memorial in Crows Nest.

[4] Toowoomba Chronicle, 5 November 1917, p. 5.

[5] F Cranston, Always Faithful: The History of the 49th Battalion, Boolarong Publications Brisbane, 1983, p. 18.

[6] “Any activity out of the ordinary, such as …a light railway at work… served as a tonic for the Diggers”. D Winter, Making the Legend: The War writings of CEW Bean. UQ Press, Brisbane, 1992, p. 154.

[7] AWM 31. Karmala 306.

[8] AWM7. Karmala 4. Report on the Karmala 17 August 1919.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Graphing DNA

My geminate Shelley from Twigs of Yore blog has been giving us all lessons in how to graph or group our Ancestry DNA matches. She’s done a great job of simplifying each step so it’s hard to make mistakes (but it occasionally happens, due to user-error).

In following this process I was lucky on a few counts:

  • I have only 64 matches for 4th cousins or closer
  • I have readily identifiable cousins in the short list at 2nd or 3rd
  • Overall I have about 1000 matches.
  • My ancestors mostly come from different countries or regions so I expected little overlap between groups/graphs.

As a result I have yet to need to do much to play with graphs which are crazy busy with lines. As yet, I haven’t updated my matches download, so I haven’t tackled the deletion of duplicates. I decided to take the process one step at a time.

Having followed the process, I ended up with 12 graphs in my screen (see below). There are another 12 as well which I can focus on, but they have only one or two linkages, and no identified cousins, so I’ve left them for the time being.

Graph 1 DNA

A quick glance showed me some decidedly interesting clusters within particular graphs connecting cousins who I know to be on particular lines. I decided to use the Kunkel graph as my example here, partly because I’ve followed up some of the connections and because I had known cousins in the mix.

KUNKEL DNA Matches relnships2

With Shelley’s guidance I removed names from the graph, cut and pasted the graph into Photoshop, and added some relationships. For these lines to link up, I’m assuming (yes, I know!) that they belong to one of my Kunkel lines but it’s important to realise that some links might be through the other surnames on that line: Happ (Dorfprozelten, Bavaria) Gavin (Kildare), Murphy (Wicklow), O’Brien and Reddan (Clare). Is this a logical assumption?

The known 2C and 3C cousins in the single graph above are on different branches, descended from George Kunkel and Mary O’Brien. The a2C cousins are on my Kunkel-Gavin branch while the b3C cousins are on the Lee branch, and the c3C are on another branch. Interestingly some of those intersect with matches who seem to be descendants of my Mary O’Brien’s sister, Bridget Widdup from New South Wales.

I find it fascinating how the DNA “lottery” varies so that some will match while others don’t. Similarly some link to the cluster in the coloured lilac area (more anon). What I need to remember is that they also match me, since these linkages derive from my results. What the graphs introduce are links which may be weaker for me and stronger for other cousins. Shelley reminds us that when we search ICW on a match, it only gives up to 4th cousins on that match. These graphs extend the links beyond that.

I’m most intrigued by the lilac cluster, all from the USA as far as I can tell. Many include the surname Kunkel, though unfortunately many do not know where their Kunkel ancestors were born. As you can see from the size of the dots there are strong links with a couple of these in particular. Despite emailing and working on their trees I’m still no wiser about where they fit into my Kunkel family but it seems inevitable that they do, because of the geographic separation. It seems likeliest that they tie to the Kunkels who lived in Laufach or Neuhütten in Bavaria, where my own earlier ancestors came from, and it fits that they would be at the 5th cousin or upwards range. I am fortunate that I should be able to identify relevant 4th cousin families – provided they are shown on a match’s tree.

Has this helped me? Yes, I think it has, because it’s identified where the strong links are. It also lets me target matches who I might otherwise ignore because they’re too far down the match ladder. The clustering with known cousins on particular lines gives the researcher confidence that they are focused on the correct area of their tree.

As always it’s not easy when the matches you want to look at have private trees (or don’t respond), no trees or minimal trees, or when the background information just can’t be found easily. I do feel some sympathy for American researchers because with Australia’s semi-centralised civil registers, it generally makes it easier to track ancestry (more assumptions behind that). On the other hand the US has decennial census records (apart from that very annoying 1890 census) and wider naturalisation information. Swings and roundabouts I guess.

I wonder how often people use the local church records to find where their ancestor may have come from – if the register even states that. Without that one strategy I’d never have found my Kunkels in Bavaria. How appropriate that I wrote that post in response to a geneameme by Shelley all those years ago!

Thanks Shelley for coming up with this bit of Excel magic to help us out. Thanks also to my cousins who’ve tested, either at my request or off their own bat.

 

 

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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Monday Memories: Weekend picnics

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Hiking and picnicing at Brookfield c1965.

I’ve recently come to realise that one aspect of our family’s traditional life has faded into obscurity, due to a blend of improved circumstances, general disorganisation, and a social trend to eating out in cafes and restaurants. In our case, I suspect that it was the move to Darwin’s hot humid climate that contributed as well. So where are my memories taking me today? Why, on a picnic in the fresh air and sunshine on a day which once would have seen us desperate to pack an al fresco meal and escape.

We didn’t often do picnics in my own family as Dad worked shift work which wasn’t very family-friendly for school-aged children. We didn’t own a car so we were mostly dependent on the bus, train, or an outing with the neighbour down the back. I don’t recall ever eating out in a café on these outings – it was always a packed lunch of some sort.

Over the years we’ve picnicked in all sorts of places depending where we lived, and the age of our children. When Mr Cassmob and I lived in Papua New Guinea we picnicked rather more often, usually to explore some new place, and quite often with an entourage of interested villagers who would sit at a distance from us. Not entirely conducive to lolling around with a book, not that there was much time for lolling with a toddler!

Peter and girls at Buck Palace

We didn’t invite QEII to our picnic near Buckingham Palace in 1977.

 

After we moved to Port Moresby, on the coast, our weekend trips took us often to Ela Beach as we’d take the dog and check our mail box en route. We’d even hear the Police Band if we were there early-ish in the morning, or watch the beach-volley-ball players.

Our other favourite, but more distant spot, was  Varirata National Park. This involved the longer drive up towards the Owen Stanley Range and Sogeri, near where the Kokoda Track ends (or starts). The national park was such fun with open spaces, BBQ areas, and the tree house. All the family enjoyed the outing and we always took visitors there when they came to town. We have quite a few photos of groups of smiling families perched like starlings on a fence.

Variarata picnic view

Back in the Land of Oz, picnics were either by the beach (Sunshine Coast or Hastings Point) or in the ranges. One of our faves was Lamington National Park where we could camp as well. It could be chilly and you could have a camp fire at night. During the day there were bush walk and the chance to see the beautiful rosellas (birds) and regent and satin bowerbirds.

Depending on where we were going, the picnic would be fresh bread, cheese, ham and tomatoes (and a thermos of coffee!) Other times we’d take sausages (aka snags) and the portable BBQ. Last weekend we drove past one of the spots where we’d had a BBQ on the river bank. The name always amused us because Obi Obi Creek has multiple crossings. Our picnics were pretty lazy affairs – taking it easy, having a book or magazine to read – a way for the family to recuperate after the busyness of the workday week. None of those energetic cricket or footy games, unless we were camping…our best effort was a bush walk.

Peter and Louisa BBQ Obi Obi Ck

A creek-side BBQ at Obi Obi Creek.

Did your family go on picnics? What food did you take? Were you energetic or lazy like us?

Sepia Saturday: Aussie royalty – the koala

Sepia Saturday Header

How could I resist this wonderful Sepia Saturday prompt which had passed me by until I read Jollett Etc’s post today?

koala sign croppedThe koala is, of course, a key icon of Australia – they look cuddly and cute, even if all they do is sleep much of the day and between-times munch on a gum leaf or two. In fact, they’re rarely seen in much of Australia these days though I know LoneTester is lucky enough to have them near her home. Despite the local signs, I haven’t seen any koalas or roos as yet, and I surely don’t want to see them on the road!

One place I used to see them in the wild quite often was when we’d visit Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville. It was a tremendous koala habitat and patience was rewarded with regular sightings. In those days the old Kodak camera just wasn’t up to capturing their images though.

koalas at lone pine 1939 copy

1930. Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, photographed for Mrs Forgan Smith, October 1939, Queensland State Archives. Copyright expired.

German Shepherd and Koala Lone Pine

Photographed c1960 by P Cass

Brisbane has a long-lived tradition of showing its tourists the cuddly koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. While many similar places have limited access to them, they can still be handled by besotted tourists from Princess Alexandra of Kent(1959) or the Russian Ballet troupe (1961) to The Legal Genealogist (2016).  Luckily for all of them the koalas were on their best behaviour and didn’t piddle on royalty, British or genealogical, although it’s possible they were bored and yawned.

Of course it’s not just the tourists who would make the pilgrimage to see the koala at Brisbane’s iconic tourist spot. Back in the day it was a “special treat” outing for children during school holidays. We would catch the ferry from North Quay and arrive upriver at Lone Pine to be greeted by the German Shepherd with a koala on its back.

pauleen Lone Pine

oh my, look at those freckles!

 

Pauleen Kunkel Valerie Carstens middle and Pauline Morris and brothers Lone Pine

A picnic with family friends by the river at Lone Pine c1960.

You can see from these photos that my family made occasional visits to Lone Pine. While our children didn’t get to go to Lone Pine, they’ve managed to cuddle a koala on a couple of occasions.

Rach Louisa and Bec and koala crop

My small bear is looking a little worried about that ‘bear”..perhaps she knew she was in the “firing line” if it decided to wee.

 

Koalas Lone Pine news fm TroveLone Pine has always been proud of its reputation, boasting proudly back in 1939 of four generations of koalas living there. The trend for popularity is long established as one was named “Princess” and another “Amy Johnson” and our own Aussie genearoyalty, Jill.  I notice that the sanctuary was still referring to koalas as bears, which they’re not.  Don’t you love the photo from our good friend Trove of a whole row of koalas?

So there we have it, one post combining “Trove Tuesday”, “Sepia Saturday” and a planned-for-another-day “Monday Memories” post.

Have you ever cuddled a koala? Are they on your bucket list? If so you might want to think about visiting Australia for Congress 2018, our triennial family history conference.

And if you think they’re always docile, check out this video which has been doing the rounds on Facebook and YouTube.

 

FOUR GENERATIONS OF KOALAS (1935, July 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), , p. 12. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36766724

Here are some photos of my aunt and cousins, Patsy and Jimmy, at Lone Pine. Sadly they are all deceased now.

Mary farraher with koala

Aunty Mary, perhaps circa 1995.

My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.

My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.

 

My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.

My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.

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Monday Memories: My life in cats

Pauleen in basket with kittenIn my daughter’s memory photo album I wrote “where there’s a Cass, there’s a cat”. Very true, but equally so of my own family as the various photos here will attest.

From my earliest days to today I’ve been without a cat for only a few short months – and felt myself off-kilter and at a loss. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, and as a child I’d often pester for one, but Mum was somewhat afraid of dogs. She didn’t greatly like cats either, but on that she was over-ruled. Mum preferred our blue budgie, called – wait for it – Bluey! He would sing away on the back landing and call in the wild birds.

I know that one of our cats had kittens at one stage and I suspect Dad had to drown the kittens in the creek (the way it was done in those days). He would have hated that, because he loved animals, almost more than (most) people.

Pauleen cats and kittens

Which cat had the kittens? Perhaps Tammy or Sooty.

ChippyOne of our cats, Chippy, used to walk down the street with mum and I when she went to ring her best mate in Townsville from the public phone box. I don’t recall how old I was when we got the phone on, but I would have been in my early teens, until then urgent calls came through our friends over the road – as a (railway) engine driver he needed the phone in case he was called in.

Many’s the time I would sneeze my way through Sunday Mass thanks to the cat being curled up beside me – I wasn’t going to let a minor allergy get in my cat-loving way.

One of the big attractions of Mr Cassmob when I first met him at uni was his love of cats – they had a white cat called Wizzle who’d splash in the puddles.

Valerie with Sooty and Tammy

This photo of a family friend with Sooty & Tammy would be about 1960.

After we married and moved to Alotau we acquired a female cat who we named Tabitha. She was a great leaper which was unfortunate given her predilection for catching large tropical butterflies. It wasn’t uncommon to wake up and find scattered butterfly wings on the floor, along with shredded tissues – the latter delivered by my in-laws’ daschund who we were minding. The locals were bemused how her ears would stand out in the wind when we drove along – Er wah, they’d say. Sanguma (magic) and they’d call Tinka “bat dog”.

Louisa in basket and Pedro Nth Goroka 1972

Daughter #1 with Pedro – echoes of the one above of me.

Tabitha excelled herself when she delivered her first litter of kittens. It was Anzac Day 1971, very early, when I woke up the technicolour image of a kitten being ejected right above my face. That was too much even for this cat lover! We left Tabitha and the rest of the kittens behind at the High School when the government decided we needed to be in Goroka “yesterday”, but we took one of the kittens, a handsome boy we called Pedro.

Some years later we suspect Pedro came to a sticky end and wound up either as a hat or in the cooking pot, given our home on the route to various villages and squatter settlements. The bossy neighbourhood cat, Brandi, had pushed him out. Ironically she was to become our next furry feline when her owners “went finish” (leave PNG). It was a common tradition to pass pets on, because in those days the quarantine period was very long -a year or more from recollection. In much the same way we acquired out cattle dog, Whisky, who loved going to the beach with us each weekend. We threatened to get a budgie and call it Rum.

Brandi was a beautiful cat and we all loved her to pieces. She nearly came to a sticky end too, when the neighbourhood dogs caught her one day. Luckily we were able to rescue her, and with lots of TLC she survived. Very sadly we had to have her put to sleep when we left Moresby as, post-Independence, we had fewer friends left still in Moresby, and they weren’t really cat people. We were all in tears and I still regret that we didn’t bring her home to be buried in the garden rather than leave her with the vets. I still worry that dastardly deeds may have been done to my gorgeous girl.

Our lovely Brandi cat

Brandi – our much loved cat in Port Moresby, PNG.

Whisky was handed on to our neighbours when we left, but soon after went off to join the man who had done our ironing. She’d been taken to a village when she was very tiny and had an obsession with Mackerel Pike so I guess she’d have fitted in okay. It was very tough leaving special furry friends behind when we had to leave.

DD1 again with Socks Xmas 1978 with last week's chair in the background and my crocheted poncho effort.

DD1 again with Socks Xmas 1978 with last week’s chair in the background and my crocheted poncho effort.

Around the time we decided to “go finish”, Mum and Dad had adopted three kittens whose mother was completely wild. They kept one, as our old cat Sooty had crossed the rainbow bridge sometime previously. Another was allocated to us, and became another firm favourite (aren’t they all?), Socks. One vet suggested that she may have been part-Burmese – she had a beautiful colouring and a lovely nature.  She had an attitude though, when it suited her. When Ginger Megs came into our lives she swatted him across the face and established who was boss of this household! She also took on a Doberman which wandered into our yard one day – she could be quite fearless. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to a ripe old age but died of cancer aged about 10 years. Another sad day for the Cass mob.

Meanwhile Ginger Megs aka Gemma (AM = ack emma hence GM = Gemma) had arrived. Had we known his temperament in advance we’d have named him Garfield as he was very cheeky…and large. He grew to be about 10kgs (22lbs) and was totally quirky – when he wanted you to get up, he’d bat things progressively off the bedside table. And an afternoon nap was an excuse to lie on your back. He got cancer and he too was put to sleep and also brought home to rest in the garden.

Kizzle and Ginger Megs

A very tiny Kizzle with her mate Ginger Megs.

Kizzle was “just a tabby tat” but was immediately part of our family. At age 10, she came to live with us in Darwin, and boy did she give us heaps about her experience on the 4 hour flight. She had a couple of grand adventures in the drama of the house being packed and us relocating, but those yarns are far too long for here. She got very old (18) and wasn’t well, and we dithered whether to have her put to sleep before we went away to Europe in 2006. Sadly, she deteriorated badly and it was our daughters who had to deal with it. She rests in our Darwin garden.

Kizzie does Family history 1

Kizzle keeps an eye on the family history progress.

Despite a promise to myself to take “time out”, my cat-addiction took hold and Springer joined us only a couple of months after we returned home. You can read about this king of our universe here, and the follow up here. And yes, it does seem that we have a trend towards tabby tats.

Springer and craft

Springer in Darwin after “sampling” decorations from the Christmas tree.

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Tuesday Memories: the wicker chair

Somehow Monday passed me by in a flurry of Irish research…I really need to pre-program some Monday Memories posts. Today I’m just going to share with you some photos of a family heirloom which is now with my eldest daughter. Among her photos is also one of my granddaughter taken in the same chair. I really think that I have one of DD1 in it as well…but where?

Dad as a small boy in the chair with his parents Dinny & Kit.

Dennis, Catherine &amp; Norman Kunkel crop

This photo of Dad and his cousin Belle may have been taken on the same day. I have the little wicker rocker, which I played with as a child.

Norman &amp; cousin Belle

Dad as a young man in the chair with his mum, in the late 1930s/early 40s.

norman and kit in chair

Yours truly as an infant in the chair with my Mum.

Pauleen &amp; Joan Jan-Feb 1949

No chance that the chair would cope with someone sitting on the arms now, but it has survived 90+ years so it’s doing well.

All these photos were taken at my grandparents’ house, which was next door to ours, and was my second home. You can read my story about it here.

 

 

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