52 weeks of Genealogy Records: Internal Migration

libraryShauna Hicks has initiated a new 52 week series of prompts, Genealogy Records. We’re only into Week 3 but there have already been some interesting topics: Military Medals, Internal Migration and Probate.

Over the past few years I’ve done several 52 week series: Personal Genealogy and History (2011), Abundant Genealogy (2012) and my own Beyond the Internet (2012). I’m currently signed up for Angler’s Rest’s Book of Me 15 month series as well, with which I’m very much behind. Combined with various A to Z April posts and other daily or monthly posts I’m reluctant to get involved in more as it starts to feel like I’ve got a tiger by the tail.

However Shauna’s topic is a great opportunity to personalise my own stories to her theme so I will probably join in from time to time where the topic is relevant to my own history.  I have such a migration mania that I couldn’t possibly not participate in her second topic, Internal Migration. Whenever I get on the topic of migration it turns into a long yarn, so grab a coffee and a comfy chair, and read on for a while.

THE McSHARRY/McSHERRY FAMILIES

With so many railway people in my family tree, it’s inevitable that they’d be a peripatetic lot. Some moved across vast distances, others only relatively short postings when in their early years.

Image from Office online.

Image from Office online.

My greatest internal migrants would be the Sherry family who arrived in Rockhampton, Queensland, from Ireland where they also worked on the railway: the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway line judging on their progressive movement through those counties. On arrival, the patriarch James Sherry, changed most of the family’s name to McSharry. Oral history suggests this may have been to piggy-back on the fame of James McSharry from the railway construction firm, O’Rourke and McSharry.  Who knows whether this is fact or fiction. I suppose it’s also possible that the two families may have been connected but that’s an exploration I’ve yet to undertake.  Whatever the reality it has certainly caused immense confusion when trying to unravel what happened to my own family over the years, especially the mystery of what happened to my James McSharry.

The McSharry family moved from Rockhampton where they arrived, to Maryborough (why?) for a number of years, then back to Rockhampton where wife/widow, Bridget McSharry, settled and ran a boarding house until her death in 1900.

The adult children of this family moved around Queensland in response to work. Early family events revealed at least some of these through death certificates, police staff files, Post Office Directories, electoral rolls, and marriage records.

The eldest son of the family, Peter Sherry, arrived with his family a year after the rest of the Sherry family. Strangely he changed his name to McSherry rather than McSharry. Within weeks of arriving in Rockhampton he had been recruited to Queensland Government Railways and so began his migration around the state. The family spent a long time in Longreach, then moved on to Hughenden and Townsville before being transferred to Rockhampton where they put down roots.

Tracing this family’s internal migration has been greatly facilitated by Trove as it has revealed stories that would otherwise never have been known. I have a full copy of Peter’s railway staff record which tells the bare bones of his positions and postings over the years: a great base for knowing where they migrated internally.

Obviously the children of this family moved with Peter and Mary McSherry in their childhood, but even in their adulthood, the migrations continued. My grandfather James, worked in Hughenden then later Townsville before moving to Brisbane so his children could obtain jobs, or so the oral history goes. Given the move occurred in 1942, mid-war, in the thick of the Brisbane Line concept, I have to wonder whether it was because he was needed to build the railway carriages further from risk of Japanese invasion.

Once again my sources are: railway staff files, Trove, oral history.

THE KUNKEL FAMILY

George and Mary Kunkel, of whom you’ve all heard often, settled in Ipswich after their marriage there in 1857. While there George worked in a number of occupations: servant (pre-marriage), pork butcher and boarding house keeper. To all extents and purposes he was there all the time, after all there were children being born at regular intervals.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

It was a court report, that enlightened me differently. While the family was settled, George was also working on the Tooloom goldfields in northern NSW as a butcher. Further reading on Trove revealed that there were regular coaches between Tooloom and Ipswich so plainly he could get home fairly often, perhaps to restock his supplies.

Recently I posted how he’d had a financial setback and this may have prompted their move westward, reportedly working on the railway, or perhaps again supplying meat. The next precise confirmation of where they lived was at Highfields, via the school admission registers and through church baptisms and birth certificates.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain's Camp at Murphy's Creek.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain’s Camp at Murphy’s Creek.

A few years later and the family would move a short distance to the Fifteen Mile between Highfields and Murphys Creek where they would take up farming and settle. George supplemented the farm income by working for the railway as a labourer.

Kunkel descendants, many of them railway workers, also moved around south-east Queensland and west as far as Roma with postings as the railway was constructed. One family branch moved to Mackay in northern Queensland and set down roots cane farming.

Records: court reports, school admission records, baptisms and birth certificates, railway staff files, land selection records.

THE GAVIN FAMILY

The Gavins were short-migration people. Denis came from Kildare in Ireland and his wife, Ellen, from Wicklow. They married in Dublin before they emigrated though it’s not known when they each made that internal move.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

On arrival Denis went to Binbian Downs station (per his obituary) as a carrier, then to Dalby, Toowoomba and Crows Nest. Although the distances are short by Australian standards he would have covered a lot of ground carrying wool on the bullock dray from Binbian Downs which is out near Wallumbilla.

Like the other Gavan/Gavin families with whom they interweave, but are unrelated, they remained on the Darling Downs.

Records: Convict records (the Galway Gavins), birth certificates, employment records, death certificates, re-marriage certificates, obituaries, maps, Trove.

THE KENT, PARTRIDGE AND McCORKINDALE FAMILIES

These families were my stay-at-homes. The Kents and Partridges both went straight to Ipswich on arrival as far as I can tell. There they remained until their deaths, though descendants moved around the state.

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

The McCorkindale exodus from Glasgow commenced with Peter and Duncan’s arrival in Sydney in 1900. Well actually I eventually discovered it commenced with an uncle’s arrival quite a bit earlier. After the death of their father, their mother (Annie Sim McCorkindale) emigrated with the rest of the family excluding one stay-put son, Thomas Sim McCorkindale who’d moved to London. Close analysis of the shipping lists showed that other family members had arrived as well.

Once settled in Brisbane on arrival, Peter joined them, and the family remained there except for country excursions to decimate the opposite in bagpipe and Highland Dance competitions. Duncan McCorkindale moved between Sydney and Canberra where he was part of the teams that built the nation’s capital, and their Caledonian Society.

Records: Trove, shipping lists, BDM certificates, church registers.

 THE MELVIN FAMILY

Stephen Gillespie Melvin’s family was tied to the sea, with generations of merchant seamen. No surprise then that they were born to be migrants, both internal and international.

After the death of his wife, Janet, soon after arrival SGM settled in Ipswich, Queensland where he promptly established a well-regarded confectionery shop. He must have gadded around a bit though because his land portfolio was scattered around the south east of Queensland. But it was his foray into mining that brought him undone, resulting in insolvency and a little jaunt to jail.

Not long after being released from jail, the family moved to Charters Towers which was then experiencing a gold boom. No doubt escaping his notoriety would have been on his mind as well, though the coverage of the trial was so extensive that it would have been known in Charters Towers as well.

Around the time of his second wife’s Emily’s death, SGM started acquiring businesses and land in Sydney and thus the younger members of his family set down their roots in New South Wales. Meanwhile he continued his migrations on a temporary basis, as he travelled back and forth to the UK for business. One such migration became permanent however when he died in London.

Records: BDM certificates, church registers, shipping records, Trove, court reports, gaol records, insolvency records, wills.

THE O’BRIEN WIDDUP FAMILY

I know from my Irish research that the emigrants were keen to follow their own destiny even at the expense of family connections, but the internal migration of Bridget O’Brien (later Widdup) is one that puzzles me.

Bridget (O'Brien) Widdup's grave in the Urana cemetery.

Bridget (O’Brien) Widdup’s grave in the Urana cemetery.

If Bridget was in Ipswich with her sister Mary after their long emigration journey, why did she decide to move south to the Albury area, and to Urana? This has always mystified me, since I knew from her death certificate that she’d spent one year in Queensland.

The possibilities seem to be:

  • She didn’t like the Queensland environment or climate
  • Friends were moving interstate
  • She had met her future husband, John Widdup, on the ship as the story goes so she moved to be with him.
  • Her employer in Queensland relocated and offered her a position elsewhere.

It’s the Whys of family history research that keep us on our toes.

Records: Death certificates, oral history, Trove

So there you have it…the peripatetic wanderings of my families over the years. It has always seemed to me that having made the long journey to Australia, rather than the comparatively short hop across the Atlantic, they were not daunted by further moves if they satisfied their occupation or life goals.

It’s All in the Numbers Geneameme

A while ago Alona from LoneTester HQ blog launched the It’s All in the Numbers Geneameme. For ages my mind was blank on what numbers would be relevant, but eventually the lightbulb went from dim to bright and here is my contribution, focused as so often, on my immigrant ancestors.

But first I want to remember my great-great grandmother Mary O’Brien Kunkel who was buried in the Murphys Creek (Qld) cemetery on this day 95 years ago. You’re not forgotten Mary.

My McSherry great-grandparents and some of their children, kindly provided to me by a cousin.

My McSherry great-grandparents and some of their children, kindly provided to me by a cousin. My grandfather on the left, and his sister beside him seem to be an addition to the photo.

My McSherry/Sherry/McSharry family gets the guernsey for the greatest number of winning entries and here they are:

3             most name changes – from Sherry on arrival to McSharry for the parents and most children (many adult) and McSherry for my own great-grandparents (2nd phase arrivals a year later).

15           most children in one family, to Peter and Mary McSherry; with Stephen and Emily Melvin in second place, with 14 children.

5             most direct immigrant ancestors: two great-great grandparents, two great-grandparents and my grandfather (James and Bridget, Peter and Mary, James Joseph)

2             the age of my youngest immigrant ancestor on arrival –my grandfather

The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929), Saturday 12 March 1887, page 17

The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 12 March 1887, page 17 The unidentified man was John McSharry, aged 22.

2             set of twins to my great-grandparents – one set died as still births, another daughter died in infancy, but one survived.

10           children in my McSharry 2xgreat grandparents’ family

3             “children” (ages 7, 9 and 22) who died within 7 years of arriving

15           largest number of immigrants from one family (two phases 11 + 4)

1             most elusive ancestor – James Sherry aka James McSharry  – but not to be confused with the man of the same name who co-owned O’Rourke & McSharry, a big railway construction company.

And some of my other family history numbers:

92           the oldest age at death (Martin Furlong –father of my McSharry 2xgreat grandmother)

11           children born to my Kunkel 2xgreat grandparents and great-grandparents. 10 to George and Mary survived infancy and 11 to George and Julia.

6             number of families who arrived in Australia (Kent, Melvin, Gavin, Sherry x 2, McCorkindale)

3             number of singles who arrived in Australia (Kunkel, O’Brien, Partridge)

8             Irish immigrants – direct ancestors (McSherry, O’Brien, Gavin)

4             English immigrants – direct ancestors (Kent, Partridge)

3             Scottish immigrants –direct ancestors (McCorkindale, Melvin)

1             solitary Bavarian (German) ancestor (Kunkel)

10           2nd largest immigration of family – McCorkindales -2 phases (2 + 8)

Thanks Alona for suggesting this topic. It took a while for me to get my head around it but once I settled on the theme I really enjoyed it.

And here is the grave of my Mary O’Brien, husband George Kunkel and two of their children including my great-grandfather George Michael Kunkel.981 George and Mary Kunkel grave

Advent Calendar: Day 2 – Christmas Cards

christmas-card-280x170Initially I was disinclined to post again on the topic of Christmas cards as I wrote this story back in 2011. Then I started thinking about the background of card-sending and the potential importance to family history.

I’d guess that in most families there’s at least one person who writes to every member of the family as well as friends, each and every year. In my family that would have been my Aunty Mary who faithfully sent cards despite the ups and downs of her own, or the recipients’, lives that year. Certainly she was a family lifeline through some difficult years for me.

Grandmas address book_edited-1

A page from my grandmother’s address book.

Another distant, fourth, cousin also sends out masses of cards, keeping up the links with extended families both in Australia and overseas. This is the cousin who broke open my links back to County Clare with my 2xgreat grandmother Mary O’Brien. Nora’s family were master achievers of staying in touch with family and had all the oral history as well as relatively current contacts.

Nora is also the one who holds a vast repository of family and friend photos, just like the one I posted recently for Remembrance Day. This led, as chains of thoughts do, to the reflection that in days past families, and friends, would sometimes (often?) send family photos together with their Christmas cards. So, have you thought about who might have your family’s photos as a result of Christmas-card exchanges?

Aunty Mary's diary became her address book. What's interesting about it is that includes a list of saint's days in the front.

Aunty Mary’s diary became her address book. What’s interesting about it is that includes a list of saint’s days in the front.

When my Aunty Mary died I helped to clear out her house, and to salvage any genealogy-precious items like photos and certificates etc. Among her things was her own address book and a couple of my grandmother’s. These would have been their source when they started sending out their cards each year, just as mine is my memory-check. If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit a relative’s address book have you tried to identify who each person is/was? And maybe think about making contact to see if they have any family photos?

Christmas memories may be about our own and our family’s lives but they can also open the gate to further family history research. One idea I’ve taken away from reading various posts is that I want to write a Christmas card with a special message to each of my grandchildren, each year. I still have a couple of cards my own grandmother gave me, and it’s precious to have her greetings handwritten in my card. She had a quirky way of signing on cards – she always wrote across the corner, diagonally, on the inside flap. Perhaps because in those days cards were often used for craft.

Would you like to read my 2011 post on Christmas cards?

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Sepia Saturday 192: A life in railway service

Sepia Saturday 192 smallToday’s Sepia Saturday image is “men in braces”, or perhaps working clothes, or newspapers.

In a way my post combines all of these elements. Among my photo collection is a photo of my grandfather taken for a news story.

James Joseph McSherry 1956

James Joseph McSherry 1956

James Joseph McSherry was an incredibly hard worker, having notched up a normal lifetime’s service with the Queensland Railways, building the old red rattlers at the Ipswich Railway Workshops and before that in the Townsville Workshops. Not content to just take his ease on official retirement, he signed up with Commonwealth Engineering (ComEng) to repair 1500 wagons in three years, completing the task (with his team) in two years. I suspect he was a demanding boss probably having high expectations of his working team.

News article JJ McSherry

By the time of this story he was 74 years old and had a staff of 254. Unfortunately the newspaper clipping is not identified by date or name but I suspect it may have been in The Telegraph and would have been sometime in 1956.

It wasn’t as if this was all he was doing either, because as an active member of the Hibernian Society he did lots of carpentry jobs for them and people in need. Even in his late 70s he was painting St Mary’s church West End in Brisbane and the Legion of Mary hostel in Indooroopilly. He was a dedicated worker for the Catholic church all his life, yet on his death there was very little representation at his funeral….sad.

An army marches on its stomach

Sepia Sat 180It seems that my uncle Pat Farraher is determined to have his moment in the Sepia Saturday sun. Pat appeared back in Sepia Saturday 166 and today’s topic is tailor-made for him.

The World War II nominal roll only gives bare details but it lists Patrick Joseph Farraher enlisting on 15 September 1942 in Enoggera, Brisbane at the age of 34. He was attached to the 4th Field Bakery (AASC) as a private. His next of kin was my Aunty Mary.

Among my aunt’s estate were some old family photos including some of Uncle Pat’s military service, including those mentioned above. Today we start moving into the field and the Australian War Memorial’s photographic collection places Pat’s photos in context. I knew he’d served in Papua New Guinea, and immediately recognised some of Pat’s place photos from his time there, but knew nothing about these service photos of his.

It may be this is field training prior to departing to Papua New Guinea -it looks like Australian scrub in the background.

It may be this is field training prior to departing to Papua New Guinea -it looks like Australian scrub in the background. Photograph from Pat Farraher collection.

The cook "train" -you can see this photo links with the one above.

The cook “train” -you can see this photo links with the one above. Photo from Pat Farraher collection.

I could see this was an Army Dukw (amphibious vehicle) photographed, I suspect, at Enoggera army camp by Uncle Pat but what relevance did it have?

Perhaps they were heading off to the ship to PNG.

Perhaps they were heading off to the ship to PNG. Photograph from Pat Farraher collection.

But the AWM website makes it clearer in its caption for this photo: A FIELD BAKERY BEING ESTABLISHED ON THE NORTHERN BANK OF THE BUMI RIVER. THIS PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS MEMBERS OF THE 4TH AUSTRALIAN FIELD BAKERY PLACING SHEER LEGS IN POSITION ON TWO “DUKWs” PREPARATORY TO UNLOADING THE BAKERS OVENS.

Photograph 61074 from the AWM Collection, taken in the Finchhafen area of PNG.

Photograph 61074 from the AWM Collection, taken in the Finchhafen area of PNG. Image in the public domain. Men from the 4th Field Bakery.

Armies need food as well as ammunition so the army bakers were kept busy making bread, rolls, meat pies and who knows what else. I don’t suppose that with people being shot at, any concerns for health regulations went out the window. I was lucky to find so many great photos of the 4th Field Bakery in the AWM collections.

Image 061258 AWM. 4th Field Bakery men preparing bread rolls.

Image 061258 AWM. 4th Field Bakery men preparing bread rolls. Image out of copyright.

In a hot and humid region, working in the bakehouse must have been incredible sweaty work though they were probably well-served by their bush-materials bake house. In the bigger scheme of things I guess the Diggers probably didn’t care too much about a salty addition to their bread rolls.

The AWM states on one picture “with improvised ovens and huts and the help of native boys, the men of the 2/4th Field Bakery baked thousands of bread rolls each day to supply the Division”.

Some bakers from the 4th Field Bakery heading back to quarters after a busy day’s work. The contrast between the featured image today and the men in this image is amusing, I think. No wonder the British officers complained about the casualness of Australian soldiers during WWI.

AWM Image 061613 of the 4th Field Bakery men leaving the bush materials bakehouse at Dumpu in the Ramu Valley, PNG.

AWM Image 061613 of the 4th Field Bakery men leaving the bush materials bakehouse at Dumpu in the Ramu Valley, PNG. Image out of copyright and in the public domain.

Sepia Saturday 166: Army bakers

Sepia Sat 166 2MarchThis week’s Sepia Saturday theme is about work, ideally it would include an image of a woman working but that seems to be so uneventful and ordinary that no one photographs it. Instead I’m including three photos which came to me as part of my aunt’s photographic archive.

Army cook, Pat Farraher, baking.

Army cook, Pat Farraher, baking.

The photos all feature Army bakers probably around the time of World War II. My uncle, Pat Farraher, is the main person in each. One is very serious and I’d love to know who the Visiting Dignitary was.

My uncle, Pat Farraher, on the left meets an unknown Vis Dig.

My uncle, Pat Farraher, on the left meets an unknown Vis Dig.

Another is the complete antithesis –a frivolous one. Would you want these men making your bread and pastries? Unfortunately I don’t have the background story behind any of the photos.

Uncle Pat and a mate "act the goat".

Uncle Pat and a mate “act the goat”.

Inventive Sepians might conclude there’s another link, because after all in the real world, cakes are often carried in boxes just like the women were packing in this week’s theme photo. Not to mention that it would be as never-ending a task to feed many hungry soldiers as to fold all those boxes!

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 12: Cousins, aunts and uncles

4 x 7UP collageI’m not going to change the image I’ve posted in this collage but I am going off on a lateral tangent yet again. I had thought to write (even more!) about Magnetic Island but then I thought “why? I’ve done that to death”. Then in another of my midnight mental rambles I was thinking about relatives and so this post is about cousins and aunts and uncles.

Kunkels and Farrahers Cairns

My aunt and uncle, my parents and I, Cairns, Qld.

In the collage photo we were standing outside the Sunlander train, probably leaving Cairns for Brisbane. Earlier we had visited my aunt and uncle and cousins in Cairns where they were then living at the time. My uncle had something of a habit of changing bosses jobs and they moved from out west (Augathella comes to mind), to Far North Queensland, Tugun on the Gold Coast and Brisbane where my grandfather lived with them. At each move my uncle would chuck out my cousin’s toys and dolls…not exactly a therapeutic way of dealing with relocation.

army friends

Why is someone always doing rabbit ears?? My uncle is the cook in the middle (and possibly Mr Rabbit Ears).

Uncle Pat had been an Army cook for some time and been in Papua New Guinea during WWII. I’m lucky to have some of his photos which I found after my aunt died and without looking on the reverse (not all were annotated) I quickly realised they were from PNG. I hope to put these on my Tropical Territory blog in the near future.

My aunt and cousins

My aunt and two of my 8 cousins

His wife, Aunty Mary, was my favourite aunt. Sweet, kind with a quirky, cheeky sense of humour I always liked her. Mary’s daughter predeceased her and her son was far from well for many years and is now also deceased. As the eldest daughter, Aunty Mary was also privy to some of the family stories and shared (some of ?) them with me. Both before and after Mary’s death I was able to get scanned images of many of the family photos as well as my grandmother’s address book. As I cleared Mary’s house after her death I was able to ensure quite a few family “heirlooms” did not end up in the skip.

 Are you close to your cousins?

My grandchildren are enamoured with their cousins, and will hug and greet each other as if they haven’t seen each other for months, rather than only days before, regularly saying “I love my cousin.”

 My cousinly relationships are rather more haphazard. I was close enough to Aunty Mary’s daughter though she was a fair bit older than me. She used to paint my nails (purple) and let me have sleepovers at her boarding house when I was about 12 or 13.

My cousin Patsy (Patricia), named for her father.

My cousin Patsy (Patricia), named for her father.

Two of my cousins I have probably only seen three or five times. I wouldn’t recognise them if they walked through the door tomorrow. Their mother I would have seen only a few times more, though I would have recognised her if I came upon her. Her husband, again, I wouldn’t know from Adam.

But it was my male cousin from another aunt, with whom I have the closest long-term relationship rather than with his sister who was a year younger than me. We used to go ice skating together with our spouses and kids, and I’ve forgiven him for deconstructing my childhood Xmas toys to see how they worked. <smile> Their two much younger sisters, for one of whom I was the godmother, I also know a little, but life has taken us in different directions and to different places.

My non-cousin, daughter of my uncle’s widow’s second marriage, lived with us for medical reasons for about six months, but again we never persevered with our relationship. In many ways I think our longish time in PNG affected many of these family bonds.

(I do have photos of these cousins, but I don’t have permission to use them here as they are still alive).

Among my cousins, I was the only one of the first-born not named for their father.

For similar reasons Mr Cassmob has an even worse track record in the cousin stakes. In the decades that I’ve known him we’ve seen one of his cousins twice, some others only once: a consequence of his living far away from them. Another we met up with in Dublin years ago: they both thought “how will I know him” and found it no problem because both so resembled their fathers!

 Did you have close relationships with aunts, uncles and cousins? Are you still friends rather than just relatives?

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 10: Aunty Emily

4 x 7UP collageToday’s post is an absolute pleasure to write. The lady featured in this photo is my great-aunt Emily, sister to my maternal grandmother, Laura. Emily was Laura’s younger sister, the next in line, born in Charters Towers less than two years after her to parents Stephen Gillespie Melvin and Emily Partridge.Aunty Emily Williams nee Melvin

Sadly my grandmother died in her sleep from a heart attack when she was only 64. Our family was on holidays at the coast at the time, so you can imagine what a terrible shock it was to everyone. I’m pleased that I still remember small things about her, which is surprising given I was quite young.

Her sister Emily had lived in Cairns for a long time and memory tells me we’d seen her there perhaps on the eventful cyclone trip. However around 1960 or so, she moved to Brisbane where she lived at New Farm for a while. I have clear memories of meeting her with Mum and going to New Farm Park to look at the spectacular roses. Whenever I visit the park now I inevitably think back to those special days with her.

Aunty Emily became my default grandmother, showering me with love and affection and buying me special treats.  During Lent when she couldn’t buy me chocolates or lollies she would buy me teacups and I treasure these even though they have no commercial value. You might want to look at this photo of an Easter egg cup she also gave me. I associate her with lavender and violets and I’m not sure whether these were her fragrances.

Tiny teacups from Aunty Emily.

Tiny teacups from Aunty Emily: I’m saving them for my grandchildren.

Emily had two sons from her marriage to John Arthur Williams, and I think one grandson who was ill. I guess Mum and I were also daughter and granddaughter substitutes for her. Aunty Emily was one of those truly lovely people who you occasionally have the privilege to meet. I don’t remember her ever being nasty in any way, and always being kind and tolerant (as evidenced in part by her acceptance of our religion even though it wasn’t hers).

Aunty Emily's entry in my autograph book.

Aunty Emily’s entry in my autograph book.

Later on Aunty Emily had a stroke and went to live with her son at South Brisbane, on the former Expo 88 site at South Bank. In those days the docks were still there and I recall the building as being quite old with steep steps inside. She used to have to massage her hand using those stress balls which are now quite popular. A few years later she must have returned to Cairns to live, perhaps because that’s where another sister lived. She died there in December 1965 and is buried in the Martyn St Cemetery, separated in death as I suspect she was in life. At some point I was given a cameo and a filigree bracelet of hers with a matching pair of earrings. Again no commercial value, but very special to me because it came from her.

 Aunty Emily remains one of my most treasured family members: one of those people whose memory gives you a warm glow.

This story has reminded me that I need to do more research into this branch of the family.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 7 – Grandparents and family history

4 x 7UP collage

Why we pursue our family history is a common question among geneabloggers and other genealogists. I’ve reflected on this over the years and have never had an entirely satisfactory response to that question. Why I continue with it is so much easier: the search continues and the questions remain. I can’t simply say “my family history is done”.

Denis and Kit Kunkel

My paternal grandparents and also my neighbours growing up. I was very close to them.

In my midnight mental rambles the other night, at least one of the reasons came to me. Behind both of my grandfathers lay an abyss of silence. I knew so little about each of them and their families. My grandparents were between 61 and 69 when I was born yet they seemed so old to me. When our first grandchild was born, we were not dissimilar ages, only 57 yet this seems quite a sobering comparison.

My paternal grandfather circa WWI.

My paternal grandfather circa WWI, an old moth or cockroach-eaten photo.

About my paternal grandfather I knew his unusual surname, definitely another of the reasons for starting on this quest: I wanted to know where it came from in Germany and who the first Kunkel was to come to Australia. The sole bits of “knowledge” I had acquired over the years were:

  • my grandfather was brought up Catholic
  • He had walked out of a church in Roma (western Queensland) after being told to stand up for the local squatter (true or fiction I don’t know)
  • there had been a falling-out with all but two of my grandfather’s siblings (he had 10)
  • my ancestor (who???) had “jumped ship”
  • one Kunkel came to Australia but two brothers went to “America”
  • All Kunkels in Australia were related.
  • He had gone to war (I think I knew this from his medals) and perhaps because of the paintings of Egypt on their dining room walls.
  • He had sent back souvenirs from France and Egypt but they had been “pinched” somewhere along the way.

Put like this, I seemed to know a bit but these bare facts camouflage just how much I didn’t know. What is even more surprising is that for 16 years I lived next to my grandfather and was very close to him: as the eldest grandchild of the original immigrants to Australia there would have been so much he could have told me and which I may have know except for the religious disputes in the background. The family stories I uncovered as I researched were a revelation to me, but not necessarily to my father, who had always known his great-grandparents lived at Murphys Creek but hadn’t told me until I discovered it for myself. Have I mentioned my family’s oyster-like tendencies?

My maternal grandfather was an incredibly hard worker.

My maternal grandfather was an incredibly hard worker.

Of my maternal grandfather’s family I knew even less:

  • He was born in Ireland, possibly Cork
  • I had met one of his sisters in Townsville once (he had 14 siblings, some deceased as children)
  • He was a devout Catholic with strong ties to the Hibernian society and a ready volunteer for St Vincent de Paul society and local Catholic church members.

Little did I know that my great-grandfather had only died seven weeks after my own birth.

My grandmothers were slightly more informative and I knew more of their families even though my maternal grandmother had died when I was only three years old.

My paternal grandmother and my neighbour.

My paternal grandmother and my neighbour.

My neighbouring Scottish-born grandmother had inculcated her love of Scotland, bagpipes and music in me. I have no memory of her trying to sway me from my Catholic religion despite her less-than-charitable comments to my mother. All that I experienced from her was the dedication to work hard, succeed in life, and her on-going love and devotion to me. It’s a surprise to me to discover that she was much the same age as I am in relation to my own grandchildren –like all kids she seemed incredibly old to me. I didn’t learn a great deal from her about family other than how close she was to her sisters but I did know:

  • Her brothers were champion pipers
  • She came from Edinburgh (actually she came from Glasgow though her mother came from Stirling. No doubt the capital did sound more refined)
  • Her mother’s maiden name (though I don’t believe I knew she emigrated with her mother and siblings)
  • She had three sisters with whom she was close and I knew of a couple of brothers
  • It was only later that among her newspaper clippings my mother found (and saved) her brother’s death notice in a vehicle accident in Sydney.
  • I knew nothing of her mother’s early illegitimate daughter or her emigration with them.
My grandmother as I knew her when I was a small girl.

My grandmother as I knew her when I was a small girl.

On my maternal grandmother’s side I “knew” only that:

  • Her father had owned a “chocolate factory”
  • That the family had lived in Charters Towers
  • She had not been a Catholic when she married
  • She had two sisters (one of whom you’ll meet in a few days, and another who was deceased) but of her eight brothers I knew nothing

Like my mother I did not know for many years that she had been divorced in 1913, nor did I know of her first child, Jack Tredrea.

I suppose a reasonable question would be “what have you learned from your family history?” The response is wide-spread and subtle. I now know so much about how my immigrant families came to Australia, where they originated, their joys and crosses, the ups and downs of life for people who were the grassroots of our founding society in Australia. I’ve learnt that I’m a Queenslander not just by birth but by virtue of being born in the place before it even became a separate state. I’ve learned that my genetic and cultural heritage comes from many countries and religions, though my surname is embedded in the former German kingdom of Bavaria, or Bayern.

My life is so much richer for these discoveries though occasionally I have to admit my brain is muddled from having to absorb all these facts. Would I do it again? Absolutely, without any hesitation!! After 27 years are there any discoveries still to be made and mysteries resolved? Absolutely!!! Is there any advice for other researchers? Yes, expand your search beyond your direct ancestors to their kith and kin who may well answer your questions, or open new avenues of research.

Were you close to your grandparents and did you learn about your family history from them? Did they play a role in your family history quest?

What genealogical bequest will you leave for your family? Or will they have to start anew on this quest?

Fab Feb image

Family Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fancy Dress for the Fab Feb Photo Festival – Day 3

When you were a child did you go to community Fancy Dress parties or concerts or had they gone out of vogue?

4 x 7UP collage

My “Local”

The local community hall was not too far from our house and had been built in 1929 when the estate was newly developed.  By then my grandparents had been living there for some years. As a child I went to kindergarten in the hall briefly, and dancing even more briefly. I also recall that my parents used to go square dancing there when I was a youngster. Even though my memory is fuzzy on the topic, I’m reasonably sure that a family in the next street minded me. I don’t think my grandparents ever did, probably because my grandmother didn’t approve of dancing, thanks to her conservative Presbyterian views.  Memory can be so unreliable about some things I find.

It seems that this hall had a tradition of hosting community events which included fancy dress competitions. In 1932 my father had won the “Most Original” prize as a baker at one of these events. I have to wonder how a baker might have been dressed originally but that will remain a mystery, and of course my grandmother was a professional dressmaker so that may have helped.

Do you remember the ice cream people who used to walk round the movie theatre in the intervals?

Do you remember the ice cream people who used to walk round the movie theatre in the intervals?

pauleeln fancy dress

Pauleen082A quick search of Trove reveals just how popular these competitions/balls/socials were at least until I was a child. They weren’t the same as dress-up performances for a song or poem or specific event, like Christmas or Easter. I certainly don’t remember that my children had special fancy dress events very often, though we do have a few photos -which I’m not allowed to share here <smile>.

My very vague memory suggests that prize winners in these fancy dress concerts/socials/whatever usually won some small prize. Like most children’s concerts, the pressure was on the Mums, and perhaps the occasional artistic father (not mine!), to come up with something that made their child feel special and maybe even win a small prize.

Mum in fancy dress. That's a train she's holding up.

Mum in fancy dress. That’s a train she’s holding up.

I remember feeling pretty special in my fancy outfits with a little bit of make-up. I have no recollection of ever winning a prize. Oh for Trove to be digitised a little closer in time.

Fab Feb image

Family Hx writing challenge

This post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.