Monday Memories: Flying and travel

postcard-1242616_1280Yes, it’s Tuesday, but unfortunately my internet was on strike yesterday.

This (Monday) morning, I was reflecting on the changes over the decades to flying and travelling internationally (and domestic).

My mother-in-law had a mantra which we maintain: “tickets, passport, wallets, kids”. Now that the latter are adults and we’re empty nesters, we can automatically tick one box at least. Of the other three, perhaps passports have changed the least, but we’ve seen a great many other changes. I wonder how many you remember?

1974 Europe tvl001.jpg

Many of our early international trips were on Boeing 707s.

  • Tickets were multi-leaved flimsy documents and each page or leaf covered one sector of your flight booking. As you checked in, that leaf was torn out.
  • You were checked in by real humans -some scary (if you were worried about luggage allowances) and some all smiley and happy. The check-in process didn’t yet make you feel like a rat in a maze.
  • The in-flight cabin crew were usually men and women but the women were always young and beautiful. Qantas was renowned for having many male stewards. Of course there were no female pilots on any of the airlines at the time.
  • Economy was still cattle-class but at least it hadn’t progressed to chicken-coop-class (3C) where your knees are against the seat in front (if you’re more than 5ft 4ins) or your hips are wedged against the armrests (if you’re not a stick insect any more).
  • You were plied with large meals at every turn and received a glossy printed menu for each meal. The rationale that it’s better to have small, infrequent meals seems to have a lot less to do with health, than business economics.
  • There were no long-haul flights per se. Aircraft had not yet been developed to fly Australia to Europe in two hops, or even one, with the new Dreamliner. Our most memorable trip in 1977 was Port Moresby, Manila, Bangkok, Karachi, Teheran, Rome. Kangaroo flight indeed. It got very tedious when you’d just got your kids to sleep then had to wake them up at that transit stop.
  • In-flight entertainment was a whole other ballpark. The crew would offer you a variety of newspapers and magazines – of course the women were automatically offered “women’s” mags and the men the business papers and magazines. You carried the books you thought you’d read en route but obviously weight was an issue. Tiny packs of playing cards were sometimes handed out and the children got kid’s packs of colouring books etc. If they were lucky they were (rarely) taken up to the see the flight deck.
  • FrommerYou carried your Frommer’s “Europe on $5/$10 a day” because there was a limit to how much pre-planning and pre-booking you could do in advance. What’s the internet? What’s a computer?
  • If you worried about safety it was more to do with weather and potential crashes (especially flying in Papua New Guinea). While terrorist attacks happened in those days, they seemed less of a threat than they do since 9/11….or perhaps the powers-that-be have hyped up this fear.
  • Smoking was permitted on the aircraft and even when there was a no-smoking section it did little to improve the overall air quality.
  • Alcohol was free (I think) and many people made sure they took advantage. I was not impressed with the family behind us en route to Rome when the couple drank and drank, leaving their children to pester those in neighbouring seats.
  • The toilet facilities had toiletries even in economy – but then I guess they were long flights!
  • You received a proper in-flight pack of socks, eyeshade, ear plugs and toothbrush.
  • You could carry water through check-in and on board.
  • You had no clue where you were between transit stops – there were no in-flight maps or camera in the aircraft nose etc – but you looked out the windows and gained a sense of the world. I still remember flying over vast tracts of north-west India into Pakistan and seeing little villages lit-up in a sea of darkness.
  • There were no in-flight TVs (or streamed to an iPad – what’s that?) hence no music, TV shows, movies, games etc.
  • There were no eye-scanners at Passport control.
  • Vaccinations were still required for smallpox and cholera, even for trips to Europe.
  • International flights were something many people could only dream of because of the expense. We were lucky that our PNG employment conditions enabled us to convert our Australian flight entitlement to a (partial) overseas fare.
  • We’ve paid for cheaper fares and accessibility to overseas flights with many of the economic cost-cutting measures the airlines have implemented: fewer meals, more squashed seats, paying for checked-in luggage etc.
  • Of course the truly brave souls, including some of our friends, backpacked from London to Australia through many of the countries that are now international hotspots.

After 30 odd hours you arrived

  • On the ground in Europe, your passport was stamped as you crossed each border. If you were on an overnight train, you were regularly woken by immigration and train officials for ticket and passport inspections. This could get very tedious.
  • You had to check you had visas for the relevant countries you were visiting and also, for us, re-Entry Permits back to Papua New Guinea.
  • Every country had its own currency so it gave your mental arithmetic a work-out. Credit cards took weeks for payments to be processed. You carried travellers’ cheques as there were no ATMs or bank cash cards.
  • 1974 Europe tvl035 (2)You wrote aerogrammes home and sent postcards, not emails. If you needed to get in touch with home, you went to a large post office, booked an international call, and were sent to a particular cubicle.
  • You took slides or photos and sent the film home to be developed.
  • And when you flew back into Australia, before you could disembark, two men would come up the aisles with spray cans aloft spraying any wayward insects that had tried to hitch a free ride to Australia.

I did a rough tally of the airlines we’ve flown with internationally since 1974: Qantas, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian (SAS), Air Nuigini, Malaysian, Philippines Airlines, Royal Nepal, British Airways/BOAC, United, Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Singapore Airlines, Thai, Japan Airlines (JAL), SwissAir, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Jetstar and others I’ve probably forgotten.

I’ve only flown Business internationally twice: once when we went finish[i] from Papua New Guinea and on a Los Angeles-Brisbane flight in 1989, thanks to a dodgy move they tried on. I look at the cost, then at what we can use that for in other travel and back to chicken-coop-class we go. Maybe one day when we’re older and grey-er.

What are your memories of those flights of our youth? Fond and rose-coloured, or tinged with horrors?

[i] “Going finish” was the term used by expats in Papua New Guinea when they left the country for good. It could be a very emotional and pivotal time for each family.

National Family History Month 2017

First of all many thanks to Coordinator of National Family History Month, Shauna Hicks. She does an amazing job single-handed but with great financial support from the Sponsors. Did you submit your interest in winning one of the excellent prizes? I did and we’ll all know the outcome soon.

The month has seemed quite crazy and reflecting on what’s happened that’s no surprise. What did I get up to?

On a personal note it was very exciting to meet up again with one of McCorkindale 2nd cousins after “only” about 55 years. We had a great chat and are looking forward to meeting again to swap more stories and family information.

Learning Opportunities:

During the month I indulged in quite a few:

  • Two days of the Unlock the Past Roadshow in Brisbane, with the focus on Scottish/Irish records by Chris Paton and German/European research by Dirk Weissleder and local speakers Helen Smith and Rosemary Kopittke. Not only did I learn heaps but got to hang out with genimates and meet new people as well. Thanks to My Heritage for the discount special from the Roadshow, and Rosemary for revealing its benefits.
  • At the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society, I was able to hear Janice Cooper’s thought-provoking talk about citations and how to assess sources. Lots to think about now the month’s dust has settled. The Society also launched the third volume of their “Our Backyard” books which tell the story of some of the people buried in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery. If you have ancestors on the Darling Downs you really need to look at the books they’ve published…they’re excellent.
  • Caloundra Family History Research Inc (CFHRI) had two presentations from members of Genealogy Sunshine Coast: one on DNA and the other on Google Photos and its usefulness. It seems that I’m progressively getting to grips with DNA for genealogy as it sometimes even makes sense! There was lots of potential in Google Photos and I’m going to have a play with it to see how I can use it to my advantage with both my family history and One Place Studies.
  • The Noosa library service hosted a presentation by Judy Webster at Cooroy Library on Court Records in Queensland…a subject that always offers many research opportunities and we benefited from Judy’s extensive archival knowledge. I was sorry that my jaunts to Brisbane and Toowoomba meant I missed the first two presentations this month by genimates Carmel Galvin and Shauna Hicks.

My contributions to NFHM:

  • I presented my talk on “The marriage of family and local history” in Toowoomba. It had a focus on my One Place Study, Murphy’s Creek which was well known to most attendees as it’s just down the range from Toowoomba.
  • Yesterday I was the final speaker in the Noosa library Services NFHM program. My topic was “Writing your family history…things I learned along the way
  • My genimate Alex from Family Tree Frog set us a NFHM weekly Blog Challenge which tested our creativity in telling our families’ stories.
  • Alona from LoneTester blog presented us with a meme: An A to Z of Ancestral Places. It was an interesting one to complete and a good reference point to follow up on research, as well as comparing notes on the overlap of places with our mates.
  • Jaunting around the Darling Downs gave me an opportunity to revisit some of my ancestral places in person. I had a good chat to the historian at the Woolshed at Jondaryan where my ancestor, George Michael Kunkel, worked for a while as a lamber.If you had ancestors who worked or lived there, the historian would like to hear from you at this email.
  • Of course we never go past Murphy’s Creek without visiting my Kunkel ancestors at the cemetery and later on a recce of the Fifteen Mile where they lived.
  • I rejoined the Genealogical Society of Queensland where I started my research in 1986. After my long sojourn in the Northern Territory it was time. I was amused that my new membership number is a scramble of my initial membership but in the thousands, not hundreds.

All in all, August has been a great month for family history…no wonder I feel a bit weary.

Now it’s time to focus on the living family and spend some time with them. Happy days.

 

 

 

 

The Three Rs of Genealogy

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

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

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

REVISIT

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

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

Why?

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

shutterstock_137910917

Shutterstock Image ID: 137910917

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

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

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

RECORD

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

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

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

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

REVISE

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

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

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

RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

No glory for the Melvin family

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

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

MELVIN Qld Times 23 Sept 1886 p8

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

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

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

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

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

MELVIN Qld Times 31 Mar 1887 p5 crop

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

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

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

MELVIN Qld Times 27 Sept 1887 p5

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

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

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

MELVIN Oct 8 1887 p8 extract The Week

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

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

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

Plan of St Helena 1887

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

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

MELVIN July 16 1888 p6 Courier

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flooding rains: Ipswich 1887

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

I love a sunburnt country

A land of sweeping plains

Of rugged mountain ranges

And drought and flooding rains.

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

Floodwaters rise in the heart of Ipswich January 1887

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

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

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

MELVIN SG location shop

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

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

 

MELVIN Telegraph 8 July 1887 p3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telegraph 8 Sept 1887 p3 crop

———————

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

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

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

[iv] Queensland Births

1862 C385 Thomas Shedrick Livermore George Mary Ann Haydon

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The orphaned Kunkel children

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

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

george &amp; julia possiblyADJ

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

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

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

Mary Ellen Kunkel born 7 December 1881, 20 years

Julia Beatrice Kunkel born 9 July 1883, 18 years

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

Bridget Rose Kunkel born 9 July 1886, 15 years

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

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

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

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

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

May Camellia Kunkel born 30 April 1899, 2 years.

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

dinny jim &amp; friend

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

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

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

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

Julia Kunkel

Julia Kunkel

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

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

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

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

ken kunkel

Ken Kunkel

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

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

john kunkel off to war

John Kunkel

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

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

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

Lily and May Kunkel

Lily and May Kunkel

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

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

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

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

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

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

[v] Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 28004

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

 

 

 

 

 

An Irish family in Surry Hills c1880s

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

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

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

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

Kate and Mary Garvey

Kate and Mary Garvey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

hogan and garvey wnidows

Stained glass memorial windows for the Garvey and Hogan families

St Peters Surry Hills Freemans Jnl 1918

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Ancestral Places Geneameme

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

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

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

What places do your ancestors come from?

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

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

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

A is for:

P1070724 edit_edited-1

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

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

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

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

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

B is for:

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

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

Backrow farmhouse Bothkennar

Backrow farmhouse, Bothkennar.

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

C is for:

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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

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

D is for:

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

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

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

E is for:

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

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

F is for:

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

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

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

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

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

G is for:

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

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

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

H is for:

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

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

I is for:

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

shamrock and leprechaun

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

J is for:

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

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

K is for:

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

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

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

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

L is for:

P1070738

Loch Fyne near Inveraray

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

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

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

M is for:              

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

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

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

N is for:

P1100363

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

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

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

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

O is for:

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

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

P is for:

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

Q is for:

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

R is for:

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

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

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

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

S is for:

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Strachur church.

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

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

T is for:

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

Townsville, Queensland – my grandparents and mother lived here.

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

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

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

U is for:

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

V is for:

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

W is for:

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

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

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

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

Y is for:

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

Z is for: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday Memories, NFHM and Milne Bay

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

DSC_0419

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

Alotau 1960s house1 1968

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

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

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

Plane Milne Bay fighting 026648

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

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

Milne Bay ships war

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

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

World War I discovery in Milne Bay, Papua

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

Milne Bay during World War II ca. 1942

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

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

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

Return to Milne Bay

Milne Bay: the people and old and new friends

Home again

The Battle of Milne Bay remembered in stained glass

The Anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay

Lest We Forget: The Battle of Milne Bay

Trove Tuesday: Good Manners

Sleuthing through Trove yesterday for articles on courtesy or good manners, it was interesting to see the results: a mere 46,061 containing the phrase “good manners” and 5391 including both “good manners” and courtesy. Plainly these issues were prominent discussion points over the decades.

So today I thought I’d share some of these with you. It’s fascinating to see how differently we view some aspects such as how men and women see each other, and interact, and how they changed over time.

 

The World's News 2 July 1921 extract

The World’s News 2 July 1921

AWW 29 Oct 1938 p17

Australian Women’s Weekly 29 Oct 1938 p17

 

AWW 4 Dec 1957 what's wrong with AUssie men

Australian Women’s Weekly 4 Dec 1959

 

AWW 11 Aug 1982 p52

Australian Women’s Weekly 11 Aug 1982.

And there you have it, a steady progression of change in “good manners” and courtesy.

I do feel for those poor “New Australian” men regarded, almost inevitably, as foreigners in 1952. Never let it be said that Australians are anything other than egalitarian…or not.

AWW New Australian  24 Sept 1952