Beyond the Internet: Week 42 Naturalisation Records

Beyond the Internet

This is Week 42 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. The topic this week is Naturalisation Records.

I was reflecting the other day that these are perhaps the most poignant of our ancestral family’s records. It was the point at which they committed to their new country, put their psychological and emotional roots deeper into its soil, and in a sense rejected the land of their birth. It must have been a very difficult choice for some of them to make, simply because in essence they were leaving everything behind a second time.

A switch of allegiance to the new colony of Queensland.

British settlers were not confronted with this choice for a very long time. Settling in a British colony they remained British without any other fanfare. I’ve often wondered whether this affected their sense of loyalty and affiliation to their new country, perhaps why for such a long time many Australians thought of Britain as “home”. Settlers from other nationalities had ultimately to make a choice and so at this point they took on naturalisation or citizenship in their new country. If, like me, your ancestors come from places other than Britain you will need to see if you can find what choices they made.

 WORDS OF WARNING: No Naturalisation = no vote + no land?

No longer to be part of the Kingdom of Bavaria must have been a wrench.

In the early days of my family history I was told that no non-British person could vote or own land until they were naturalised.

I was puzzled because I couldn’t find George Kunkel’s naturalisation anywhere, yet there he was on the electoral roll and also owning land. Not only that but he was happily signing all sorts of petitions to Parliament. It wasn’t until after Australia became a nation in its own right in 1901 that George took the step separating him from his beloved Bavaria forever[i]. Perhaps the unification of Bavaria within the German Empire also made it easier to let go.

From 1904 when the function of naturalisation was taken on as a federal matter, new citizens were to be required to provide far more information on their background including arrival etc. Was this why George finally signed the Oath of Allegiance in 1902? Luckily he did, or there’d have been even more consequences for him when World War I broke out. Despite having citizenship he was still legally required to register where he lived and his movements. By then he was in his eighties and no security risk, either in reality or perception, but he must surely have felt betrayed by his new country.

Researcher David Denholm[ii] also discovered that in repeated instances land purchase came before naturalisation. In the case of some of my Dorfprozelten Germans, their applications for naturalisation explicitly states that they are desirous of remaining in Queensland and wished to buy land.

WHERE WILL YOU FIND THEM?

Of course the super-lucky of us may find these documents within the family’s collection. I would imagine these are records which the individual would have carefully preserved, unfortunately disasters or indifferent family members may have destroyed them over the decades.

For the rest of us, Cora Web’s wonderful site provides a gateway into the online indexes for Australia and New Zealand. Whether you use this step first or go directly to the archives in the state where your ancestor lived, a visit to the archives will be needed to find the original documents. If you live too far away you will need to request a copy from the archives for a fee.

The Australian National Archives offers a variety of resources especially for later immigrants.

As you know Queensland is my own focus, and I’ve just learned that their naturalisation kit is available in many places, including the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory. (You learn something new every day in this hobby).

Another search which is interesting although perhaps not specific to your family (unless you’re lucky) is to do a Google image search for naturalisation/citizenship certificate. Just looking at the images is intriguing.

WHAT WILL YOU FIND?

Queensland State Archives PRV11623-1-32 SCT/CF32 folio 1257

This seems to be fairly variable but of the ones I’ve looked at, tend to tell us little new information. For example George Kunkel simply says he’s a farmer from Murphy’s Creek and originated from Bavaria.  I wish he’d waited until 1904 and provided me with more detail but I suspect it was his intention to avoid doing precisely that perhaps because of the family story that he’d jumped ship.

“Thanks” to Australia’s policies and attitudes to non-white immigration, citizenship was not available to Asian immigrants after 1904. However if you are lucky you may find them in state records before then and having seen some of these being researched by others you may find far more information about them there. (Also look at their arrival/departure records). A friend who researches her son’s Chinese ancestry has found a huge range of detail: to see an example click here.

WORLD WAR I

I don’t intend to delve into the complexity of this here but the conditions placed on German residents whether naturalised or not, were both insulting and onerous. The National Archives of Australia does have boxes of information on German-born Australians from this era. Many years ago I trawled through the “K” boxes looking for George Kunkel to no avail (on the plus side it meant he kept a low profile and wasn’t in trouble). I was quite shocked by the animosity and envy manifested by some of their neighbours eg bought a piano so must be selling guns!

SUMMARY

Whether you learn a great deal or only a little from your ancestor’s naturalisation records, if they were non-British (Aliens) then obtaining copies of whatever is available should form part of your research repertoire.

What experiences have you had with these records either in Australia or elsewhere? Please post on your own blog or leave comments here so we can see what other insights may have been discovered.


[i] Naturalisation at Queensland State Archives PRV11623-1-32 SCT/CF32 folio 1257 reference 215/2, microfilm reel Z2212.

[ii] Denholm, D. The coming of the Germans to the Darling Downs 1852-1860, unpublished BA Hons thesis 1967 The University of Queensland, p24.

New Gavin family blog

Long-term followers of my blog will have read many posts about the Gavin family, either searching for them in Ireland, their links to the convict Gavans, or the young men who went to World War I.

Thanks to my recent posts and last year’s Anzac Day post, a 3rd cousin has got in touch with me. She holds many photos of her branch of the Gavin family and we’re hoping we can sort out some blanks on photos we each have. She’s been inspired to start her own blog and has put up some wonderful photos of the young Gavin men in uniform and their parents. I’ve been thrilled to finally put faces to the names of these people I’ve known about and been researching for so long. Louise also has lots of family anecdotes so it will be interesting to learn more about the family through her stories rather than just through documents.

I’m really hoping I may yet be able to put names to some of the faces on  this Wordless Wednesday photo.

This is the link to the Gavin Coman blog. Why not pop over and have a look at the photos and say g’day to Louise.

Beyond the Internet Week 15: Battle, Battalion and other military histories

This is Week 15 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. This week’s topic is Battle and Battalion histories and military reference books.  I’d love it if you wanted to join in with your thoughts on this topic, especially if you live overseas and have a different set of records to tell us about. If possible please provide a link to your post on this page.

Book references on Battalion and Battle histories, or more general background history, can be illuminating not just for context about your ancestor’s military life, but may also provide specific information on him personally. I’ll include my bibliography of relevant histories below but no doubt others will have favourites to add.

Battle histories

Given my interest in the Battle of Fromelles, I have two excellent books on this in my library. Both provide a wealth of detail about the circumstances of Australia’s Darkest Day[i] and the military strategy, or lack of it, that around this battle. Both books also have innumerable references to my husband’s great uncle, Lt Col Walter Edmund Hutchison Cass, including information which we did not know previously. At the 2003 Australasian Genealogy and Heraldry Congress, Roger Kershaw and his colleague from The National Archives (UK) spoke first on Anzac Day. They showed a backpack with a bullet hole in it and other documents. At the time the service records of Australia’s regular army had not been digitised and the TNA people assumed he’d been killed at Gallipoli. After the talk I managed to catch up with them, and let them know how much was in the Fromelles book that I’d bought the previous day. His military history is spread across the Australian War Memorial (AWM), The National Archives UK and the National Archives of Australia, and entirely possible in other locations as well.

These histories are very useful to learn more about the background to my grandfather’s cousin’s death at the very start of the battle.

Battalion Histories

Battalion histories are likely to provide a bird’s eye view of their battalion’s significant battles. Some will be more comprehensive than others but it’s worth searching the National Library of Australia catalogue to see what they have, remembering you can get an inter-library loan for any of the books they hold to the nearest reference library. If you don’t live near a reference library and have a specific question, perhaps a page reference, then the Ask a Librarian service may be able to help.

Official Military History

The benchmark history for World War I is Bean’s history which is now digitised on the AWM site here.

Military histories with an ethnic background

As is well known, Australians of German descent were personae non grata during World War I, with legislation governing their movements or internment. Neighbours were sometimes happy to “dob” on a German-born or German descent neighbour even with no true evidence of their disloyalty. I read a number of these long ago in the NAA in Brisbane, and there was definitely a sense of envy around some issues eg he has a new piano so he must be selling guns.

Despite this, or perhaps because, I found that the descendants of my Dorfprozelten immigrants were quite likely to join up, and to gain award and medals: perhaps they had a point to prove. The involvement of the descendants was more likely where their parents or grandparents were a German/other combination rather than German/German. This applied to the Catholic Bavarians from Dorfprozelten but really I can’t make generalisations about descendants of Germans from other areas. I chose to write about the German Anzacs in my Remembrance Day blog post last year.

The impact on the men

Last but far from least, there are many books, both fiction and non-fiction, which deal with the consequences of the war. Not only did the men suffer in all sorts of ways, so did their wives, children and families. Patsy Adam-Smith’s “Anzacs” and Bill Gammage’s “The Broken Years” are classics, but you may want to search the catalogues and bookstores to see what else you can find.

With the help of the National Library, your local reference library and bookshops with good military history selections, you will be able to find some excellent reading for your family’s military history.

Selected Bibliography from my bookshelves

Don’t forget me cobber, the Battle of Fromelles 19/20 July 1916, an Inquiry, Corfield, R S. Corfield and Co, Victoria, 2000.

Fromelles, Lindsay, P. Hardie Grant Books, Prahran Victoria 2008

The Great War, Carlyon, L. Picador, Australia, 2007

Always Faithful, the History of the 49th Battalion, Cranston, F. Boolarong Publications, Brisbane, 1983.

The 61st Battalion, 1938-1945, The Queensland Cameron Highlanders’ War, Watt, J. Australian Military History Publications, Loftus, 2001.

Anzacs and Ireland, Kildea, J. UNSW Press, Sydney, 2007

German Anzacs and the First World War, Williams, J F. UNSW Press, Sydney 2003.

Queensland and Germany, Corkhill, A. Academia Publications 1992.

Australia and The “Kaiser’s War” 1914-1918, Moses, J. Broughton Press, 1993.

The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War, Gammage, Bill. Penguin, 1975.

The Anzacs, Adams-Smith, P. Thomas Nelson Australia 1981.

The Anzacs: Gallipoli To The Western Front, Pederson, P. Penguin Australia, 2007

Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You, Hamilton, J. Pan Macmillan 2004.

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[i] Fromelles. Lindsay, P, Hardie Grant Books, Prahran Victoria 2008, cover publicity.

Beyond the Internet Week 14: War diaries, shipping and photographs

This is Week 14 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. This week’s topic is War Diaries, shipping and photos.  I’d love it if you wanted to join in with your thoughts on this topic, especially if you live overseas and have a different set of records to tell us about. If possible please provide a link to your post on this page.

This week’s topic is going to be a bit of “dollar each way” because I realise that many of these records are now available online. And yes, it beats having to schedule a trip to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, with all the associated expense, to read the documents themselves..but not always as much fun. Still and all, I suspect war diaries are not something that many people use in their family history, so I’m sitting on the virtual fence with this one.

War diaries

While war diaries can be succinct and uninformative on the day of the battle, the attached operations orders can be immensely useful to really add depth to your family history. This is some of the information I’ve found in them, taken from AWM 4, 23/66/1-37 for the 49th Battalion and AWM 4 15/6/1-18 ABGROC:

  • The men of the 40th walking 40 miles to Serapeum on the Suez Canal carrying full kits, packs and ammunition but limited water, in 110C heat.
  • The men of the 49th  referring to their colour patch as the “soccer ball” because they were moved so often.
  • Arrival of additional troops in the field may not mention names but when put with your family member’s service records you can see whether it was a big intake or only a few men.
  • Men going on leave may be mentioned.
  • Men injured or killed, usually only deaths of officers, otherwise numbers only.
  • Summaries of the battle.
  • Descriptions of the clothes issued to the men (sheepskin jackets, leather waistcoats, thigh-high gumboots).
  • The dispersal of companies across the battle field together with their list of responsibilities.
  • The Railway Operating Division’s nickname of “Right Out of Danger”. I’ve talked about their responsibilities here.
  • How the men spent Christmas, received special food treats, and their behind-the-lines activities.
  • Little asides about how the men dealt with being required to sleep on the ground under canvas while there were empty huts nearby.

If you’ve not yet used the war diaries of the AWM either virtually or in situ, I hope I’ve convinced you that there’s plenty there that will reveal the story of your family member’s service.

Of course this refers to the official war diaries for each unit, perhaps your ancestor left a personal diary or perhaps one of his fellow servicemen did. Just imagine what you might learn from those.

War transportation records

Another rich source is the files on the ship transportation of the men to/from foreign service. The men were probably well enough informed about the world (after all in those days schooling focused on the Empire’s history, not Australia’s) but it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t have been amazed by the sights they saw or the opportunity to go dancing or for picnics and motor trips in Capetown. On the way overseas the CO for the men on the Port Sydney[i] commended them for their excellent behaviour while on two days leave in Colombo. On the voyage over they also learned additional military skills but they also had a “fine brass band”, an orchestra and several concert parties. My grandfather returned to Australia on the Karmala[ii] in 1919 and the files report they had an orchestra, daily sports, chess, bridge and drafts competitions as well as a daily newspaper, the Karmala Kuts.

Photographs

J06286 AWM out of copyright. Crossing the line on board Port Sydney November 1917.

This is another fence-sitter as many of these have been digitised, however they’re probably worth mentioning here. Things to look for: names of people, ships to/from field, battle areas.

I was lucky that there was an amateur photographer on board the Port Sydney with my grandfather so I have photos of the Crossing the Line[iii] ceremony on that voyage. There are also quite a lot of my husband’s great-uncle. The photos of Milne Bay or Norieul are certainly much better now in digital form than the old thermal printed ones I got back years ago!

I hope I’ve managed to convince you that there’s lots out there which can enrich your family’s wartime stories, whether in digital or non-digital form.


[i] AWM 7, Port Sydney [5]. This now appears to be item 528138.  Not yet digitised.

[ii] AWM 31, Karmala 306. This now appears to be item 514921. Not yet digitised.

[iii] AWM negative J06286

F is for the Fifteen Mile, Fromelles and Fleurbaix

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which).

F is for the Fifteen Mile (Queensland)

The Fifteen Mile in Queensland would be unknown to most people except locals. Part way up the road between Murphys Creek and the Crows Nest road, it is mostly scrubby bush with little apparent activity. You can get a sense of its geography by clicking here. You can see that in amongst the trees and scrub, there is a cleared semi-valley and a smattering of buildings. This inconspicuous spot is where my 2xgreat grandparents Kunkel selected their land in 1874, paying it off over five years until the total £19/5/- was reached[i]. They had very nearly lost out on the land in a bureaucratic glitch when George Kunkel filed his claim in the Ipswich Lands office while Mr Pechey filed his in Toowoomba. By the time their land purchase was finalised in 1879, they had ringbarked 154 acres, cleared two acres and cultivated it with maize, stocked the land with cattle branded GK9, and a four room house had been built and was occupied by the “selector’s wife and family” while George himself was earning cash on the railways.

The old road down to the Kunkel property at the Fifteen Mile c1988 © P Cass 2010

Early land maps[ii] of the area from the Queensland State Archives, revealed the settlers who lived in the area. I was struck by the correlation of the names with some of those I knew had emigrated from Dorfprozelten. Further research proved this to be a small settlement of former Dorfprozelten people and their descendants. I doubt it was a deliberate ploy to settle together, rather that the land became available when they were eligible and they had saved some money. It was also not a well known area, but more likely to be known to those who had worked on the railway line through Murphys Creek.

George Kunkel had been clever in his selection of land because the creek ran below his property (you can see it if you enlarge the map – a snake like curve marks his boundary) but stepped down from his buildings. This gave him natural irrigation for his fruit orchards and grape vines. In recent decades the creek had dried up in the drought and bush fires were a very real hazard. However the drastic January 2011 floods affected the Fifteen Mile in a way I hadn’t fully understood until we drove through in July last year. I couldn’t believe my eyes to see trees up in trees and debris scattered high up the creek banks.

The old Horrocks property at the Fifteen Mile is now semi-derelict. Photo taken 1988 © P Cass

This small community gathered with those close by to play tennis and hold dances in the Horrocks’s barn, and shared their excess produce[iii]. Few people live in the area now and the names of old are gone: Horrocks, McLean, Stack, Jerrard, Zoller, Bodmann, Ganzer, Kunkel.

F is for Fromelles and Fleurbaix (France)

Rue Petillon cemetery, Fleurbaix.

Last year on the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles I wrote about my grandfather’s cousin, James Augustus Gavin. James was also the grandson of Denis and Ellen Gavin who you’ve met in the “D is for…” post ( I think they’re following me at present). Fromelles is also a pivotal battle for my husband’s great uncle. Despite participating in Gallipoli, it was the Battle of Fromelles which destabilised him with the shock of the huge losses of his men. I won’t go into more detail here but if you have time, please read a little more about this fierce battle in which 5533 Australian soldiers lost their lives or were wounded or missing.

The muddy fields of Flanders 1992. © P Cass

In recent years DNA sampling has been used to identify Australian Diggers (soldiers) buried in mass graves after the Battle of Fromelles…an amazing and sobering use of modern technology to bring closure to families, and allow these soldiers to be laid to rest under a named gravestone, no longer missing.

Our James Gavin was fortunate in a sense (if you can say that) in as much as he died early in the battle, perhaps even before it officially commenced. Consequently he was laid to rest in a known grave in the Rue Petillon cemetery at Fleurbaix (about 5kms from Amentieres). In November 1992, my husband and I made a pilgrimage to see his grave, and that of another of my grandfather’s cousins (James Paterson) at Villers Brettoneux.

Rue Petillon Cemetery, Fleurbaix, amidst the farm lands of Flanders. © P Cass 1992.

The cemetery at Fleurbaix is so peaceful, set amidst French farm land. As we parked the car, a local farmer gave us a nod of acknowledgement…they take their debt of loyalty quite seriously, it seems to me.  All was tranquil with birds singing and the distant sound of farm machinery. Farm buildings lie across the road and beside the cemetery. If you must die at war, then surely this is a place where you can truly lie at peace.

Across the road, the agricultural fields gave a clue of just how difficult it would have been to fight in those conditions at any time, let alone as winter approached. The deep plough furrows showed just how clay-y and sludgey the soil was as it took on water. I couldn’t begin to truly imagine what it would be like to try to advance the German front line in those conditions.

We were pleased to be able to pay our respects to a distant family member, and indirectly to my husband’s relative, Lt Col WEH Cass. Since 1992 I’ve learned a lot about Fromelles, a battle that had long been overshadowed by Gallipoli. If I was to do a battle field tour, it would be to the Western Front, I think, rather than Gallipoli, and definitely not on Armistice Day or Anzac Day so I can have time and peace to reflect on all that happened.


[i] Queensland State Archives PRV9882-1-740 (LAN/AG739) Deed of grant.

[ii] QSA Map Parish of Murphy, County of Cavendish, A3/18 1932.

[iii] Oral history from Anne Kunkel, granddaughter of George and Mary Kunkel.