Welcome to August and NFHM

NFHM-logo

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

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

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

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

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

 

Graphing DNA

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

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

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

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

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

Graph 1 DNA

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

KUNKEL DNA Matches relnships2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Genealogy Delights: Unlock the Past Roadshows

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What a wonderful array of genealogy delights we’ve had in South East Queensland recently. Firstly we had the Footsteps in Time conference at the Gold Coast where Gould Genealogy and Unlock the Past had a stall promoting their books and cruises. Only a week later, it was a packed day of Irish content from the Ulster Historical Foundation hosted by Genealogy Sunshine Coast.

And the treats keep coming: In only a few weeks Unlock the Past is hosting another series of Roadshows: Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors.

Brisbane gets to kick off proceedings on 8th-9th August. It’s going to be a great couple of days, learning about Scottish, Irish and German records. With ancestry from all those countries I’m especially looking forward to the presentations. You can check out the video promotion here.

The well-known Irish-Scots presenter and blogger, Chris Paton is a featured speaker. If you haven’t heard Chris’s family history talks before, you’re in for a treat. He has a wealth of knowledge to share with us and an engaging way of presenting the information. Chris chats about the roadshow here.

20170210_102305(0)The other speaker is Dirk Weissleder, who will present on European and German genealogy. I was lucky to meet Dirk briefly in Salt Lake City at RootsTech 2017.  While I haven’t heard him presenting, he is an engaging character who thoroughly enjoyed the bout of madness from the Down Under mob’s RootsTech photoshoot. We’re lucky in Queensland that we have Rosemary and Eric Kopittke to share their knowledge of German ancestry and migration, so we have high expectations of what Dirk will share with us. Here’s what Dirk has to say about his upcoming trip. I’m especially keen to hear more from a new-to-me expert in German research. Who knows what insights it will provide into my Bavarian ancestor George Kunkel.

It’s pleasing to see that local family history societies are having the opportunity to share what resources they hold which can help with our research. It’s common these days for people to think it’s all online whereas societies can offer so much more in terms of indexes, libraries, microfilms and expertise.

With DNA high on many genealogists’ radar at present, it’s good to know there will also be information available from new DNA companies: Living DNA and My Heritage. Not to mention the opportunity to win some great prizes. You can read about all the sponsors here.

In short, it will be two days of high-level education combined with the fun of meeting other genimates – don’t miss it! If you’re near enough to travel to Brisbane, it’s only a month until this fantastic two-day event – best head on over and book now. If you live further afield click here to learn when the roadshow comes to your area.

Disclosure: I have been accepted as an Ambassador for the Road Show in exchange for a free entry pass. After, or during, the show I will be blogging about the content.

Brisbane event: 8th – 9th August 2017

Place: Kedron-Wavell Services Club, 21 Kittyhawk Drive, Chermside South Qld, 4032

Schedule for other states: click here.

Of cats and Callaghans at Courtown

Cottages Courtown Harbour edited

The mudmap sketch from the 1847 Quarto books, renumbered over time.

Well it has taken me an age to revisit my research discoveries from Ireland in September last year. One of my first research stops in Dublin was a flying visit to the Valuation Office to look at one of my favourite record sets – the Cancellation or Revision books from Griffith’s Valuation. I’d visited before on different trips but this time my focus was on unravelling those Callaghans from Courtown. As I didn’t have long, I focused (haha) on photographing all the relevant pages from the Courtown Harbour Revision lists.

I’ve mentioned previously that the first Griffith’s Valuation in 1853 showed an Anne Callaghan (at house #17)  and a John Callaghan (at house # 6) both living in Courtown Harbour in the new housing constructed for the town’s fishermen by John Oughton. I knew from earlier research approximately where this part of the village was located, so when we arrived on the ground in Courtown, we set forth on an exploration of the area.

Courtown 20160910_145629

Spoiler alert – the cat made me do it – outside either house #17 (Anne Callaghan) or #16 (David Callaghan)

Unfortunately I didn’t know, at the time, how those numbers translated on the ground so I satisfied myself with taking photographs. As we walked down one side of the cottages I spotted a black and white cat which needed a short pat (I’m sure other pet owners do this sort of thing too). Being in a small place this inevitably attracted some interest and the owner came out to say g’day and generally suss out what we were doing. I explained I was trying to find anything about the Callaghan families who’d lived there in the 19th and early 20th centuries, not long ago at all <smile>.

20160910_152921 Patrick Callaghan

The photo of Pat Callaghan and Kate nee Dunbar, generously shared with me.

It was my lucky day as apparently this had come up not long before in relation to some property arrangement. We were taken off to meet an older gentleman who would know all about it. We found him in the nearby park. A short discussion ensued and we both recognised the story of Pat Callaghan who’d drowned near Dublin. We were invited to his place for a cup of tea and biccies so we could see a photo that he held of Pat and his wife, Kate Callaghan. We had a lovely chat about a variety of topics, but it still wasn’t clear what the connection might be to the Callaghans, if any. When visiting Ireland it always seems imperative to ensure people don’t think you’re after the land, farm or house, so I tend to be over-polite.

On our way back to the car we went via the original lady’s house and thanked her for her assistance and were invited to come back again. Of course, travel being what it is, we had commitments elsewhere and didn’t make it back.

So what of all this sideways chatting and its relevance to my research?

Original mudmap Pauleen

My own mudmap of the village, based on the original house book numbers,  1846.

Well my sleuthing through the valuations books has left me with a clear idea of where John Callaghan and widow Ann Callaghan lived, as well as my ancestor David Callaghan. I retain the conviction/assumption that Ann may be my David’s mother, and that David and John may well be brothers if not cousins.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Quarto books included a mudmap of the village, much-amended over time. Combining this with my own examination of the valuation books I’ve made a couple of maps to show the houses and their occupants. (click to enlarge)

Anne Callaghan resided in house #17, which changed its number along the way from the number on the original mudmap #14 and the house book number of 20 then 19. She didn’t play musical houses – it was just the way they re-coded the sequencing. So where was house 17? Actually, it was either the house with the cat we cuddled, or the very one next door. Now why didn’t the cat tell me that outright?!

Courtown mudmap Pauleen GV

The mudmap based on occupants at the time of the published Griffith Valuation in 1853. John later moved to house 35 while David moved to house 34.

John Callaghan initially lived at house #15, two doors from Ann, but prior to the revision of the 1846 house list, he is shown on the other side of the quadrangle at #6. When John relocated, David Callaghan moved into John’s old house #15. Interestingly this occurred at the time of the 1865 revisions, so about the time he likely married. We had been standing just metres from where my ancestors lived!

In about 1868, John moved to a larger house in the same area, #35 where the family remained for many years. After John’s death in 1911, the tenancy is transferred first to his widow Catherine (1912 revision), then to son Pat (1926), after which it passed to Mary Redmond.

David makes a similar move to house #34 in 1901, and again the family remains there for many years passing to his daughter-in-law Kate Callaghan (1916) then his grandson David (1936), and later to a Mrs Sarah Mitchell (is she a relation or just the new tenant?). Once again, house #34 is either the house we visited or adjacent to it. While the original property tenancies were house only, by the time of the 1914-1935 revision lists, there are small land parcels being leased. Unfortunately the amendments and annotations on these proved a challenge too far for me, and not one worth pursuing.

Have I answered my relationship questions about the Callaghans? Well, no, not really. I still think David and John must be close kin and that Ann is likely the mother of one. She is almost certainly the widow who died in 1870. The transfers of tenancy confirm the linkages within each family as shown the 1901 and 1911 census data.

Are the valuation books a “silver bullet” for your research? Only to a point, though they can be invaluable. Unfortunately, there’s still nothing to say whether or how the various Callaghans are related….except maybe a DNA trail or local oral history which I’m exploring. Pending another feline encounter on another trip, perhaps.

And a final piece of amusement: we had just flown the long haul from Brisbane-Dubai-Dublin so were a tad weary on arrival at the Valuation Office. It was something of a shock to be told they were closing in 10 minutes. Now I knew my brain was befuddled but didn’t think it was quite that bad, or that I had my watch set incorrectly. Turns out the person at the desk was also confused – she was an hour ahead of herself. A heart-starter and then a bit of a chuckle.

 

Of rabbit holes and Irish valuation books

Courtown harbour marked

Courtown Harbour with the Oughton cottages marked. Google Earth view.

My week started with the attempt to unravel my Callaghan ancestors from the Griffith Valuation and revision books. It turned into something of a marathon as I got lost down the rabbit hole of tracking the change in occupants of the small quadrangle of buildings constructed by John Oughton in the early 1840s.

What sources was I using?

20160910_144814These small cottages were valued at £1/-/- (or about $2), however they rented for £4 a year (not a bad profit!). The valuer annotates the house books: “houses from No 7 to No 34 inclusive are held from Mr Oughton. The tenants pay £4 yearly which is an extravagant rent but as they generally live by fishing, and the situation is convenient, the houses are seldom unoccupied”. Indeed, this quadrangle of buildings is a stone’s throw from the harbour and it would have been very easy to step outside and assess the weather and the state of the Irish Sea.

Logically speaking one might expect that the names of the occupants would trace from the 1846 house books, to the 1847 quarto books to the 1853 published GV and then to the revision books. It took some messing with spreadsheets to determine this was not the case. In fact, the most reliable correlation was between the names on the revised list of occupants from the 1846 house books, the mudmap drawing in the 1847 Quarto books, and the published Griffith Valuations. The original and revised names in the 1847 Quarto books actually (mostly) matched the original names in the 1846 house books.

Cottages Courtown Harbour edited

The annotated mudmap of the Oughton cottages -complete with revised numbers.

So what else did I learn from this marathon of rabbit-hole-ing?

  • Wise Irish genealogists will hope for extant house books or quarto books for their ancestor’s townland (sadly not always the case)
  • These earlier books may provide the names of previous generations of ancestors and when a male ancestor may have died, as his widow’s name then appears
  • The Quarto books for this area include mudmap drawings of the villages eg Courtown Harbour and River Chapel (Yay!!)
  • The number of the houses is annotated but because it’s overwritten by changes over time is very confusing without the spreadsheet analysis
  • The spelling of names is definitely variable – both surnames and first names eg the tenancy for Carty is variably Mogue or Morgan but on the annotated mudmap, it shows MaryAnn. Then there’s Darby/Dermott, Neale/Neil or Kavanagh/Cavanagh
  • Some names are just plain difficult to decipher especially when over-written
  • As already known, the changes in the Revision books can highlight an approximate year for an ancestor’s death
  • They can also confirm the line of descent eg Kate Callaghan, the widow of David Callaghan’s son Patrick, takes over David’s property. It is this that leads me to believe Patrick may have been the eldest son.
  • The numbering of the houses changes somewhat over time – a spreadsheet makes it easier to track this. After all, while people did move from one house to the other, it wasn’t a routine case of musical houses.
  • Many of the houses were held “at will” meaning their tenancy might be precarious
  • In some cases, the tenant may be referred to as “Widow Callaghan” but a later entry may reveal their first name eg Widow Callaghan in 1846 is shown as Anne Callaghan in 1847.
  • Annotations will reveal where a property is in ruins – doesn’t say much for the conditions under which the previous tenant may have had to live.
  • Using different search parameters for place can make a difference to results: try Barony, townland or just county.

Although inordinately time-consuming, this has been a worthwhile exercise and one that I’d recommend to others who are lucky enough to have a range of early valuation books available for their townland.

In terms of the revision lists, these can be viewed at a Family History Centre near you, but it comes with a warning – on the originals, the revisions are (generally) different colours. On the microfilm it’s possible, but much harder work and more ambiguous, to follow the changes. I haven’t used the online version at the Family History Centres so not sure whether they are in colour or not.

If you’re heading to Ireland, do put the Valuation Office on your must-visit research places. I first learned of these books from a tiny little book back in 1992, and it has been invaluable. Perhaps one day we’ll be lucky enough that the revision lists will be digitised as well. After all, Irish research is on a winning streak lately.

Come back soon for the conclusions I reached about my Callaghan clan.

Courtown Callaghans revisited

Courtown harbour 20160910_145048I suppose it’s not surprising that Murphy and his law have a particular fondness for researchers of Irish genealogy. While it’s far more accessible than was the case for many years, thanks to all those recently digitised records, stumbling blocks still abound to challenge our research confidence.

Such is the case with my Callaghans (aka Callahan/Calligan etc) from Courtown near Gorey in Co Wexford. Each step forward seems to come with a shaky step to the side…or backwards.

In my earlier post, I discussed my aspirations for research discoveries in Ireland last year. Sad to report, much of those questions remain unanswered or have generated more questions. Despite my best endeavours I’m still unable to find the following for my ancestor, David Callaghan and his wife, Anne nee Callaghan.

I cannot find:

  • Baptisms for either Anne or David
  • Names of parents for both
  • Place and date of marriage
  • Baptism of children before 1868, though other clues have provided me with three children’s names: my ancestor Mary, born ~1860 who married Peter Sherry in 1881 and was of “full age”; Patrick drowned 1893 aged 33; and Bridget (unmarried).

Ballygarrett parish yearsIt does not help that the Callaghans were fishermen and/or sailors so could have married and had children far from Courtown. Nor does it help that they were typically illiterate and may not have completed the necessary documents, or been blasé about meeting imposed reporting deadlines. I find it highly unlikely that they did not baptise their children however, so why are missing from those? The notation on the church registers that “no baptisms were recorded in 1863-65” may be part of the problem.

Although the parish registers for Ballygarrett cover a wide range of years, the presence of Callaghan names appears to be haphazard. You might expect that it would be perfectly possible to do family reconstructions quite easily but sadly, no. While I’ve indexed any I found, it still leaves me with lots of questions and ambiguities.

Given these limitations, this is my current reconstruction of my ancestral family:

David Callaghan #1 (b? date/place?)  married (date/place?) Anne Callaghan (same maiden name confirmed) (b date/place?)

Their known descendant lines are:

Mary Callaghan b ~ 1860 married Peter Sherry (later McSherry) 1881 in Gorey Wexford. This family emigrated to Queensland in 1884. They have many descendants.

Courtown 20160910_133624

May they rest in safe anchorage. Photo Courtown Harbour, P Cass 2016.

Patrick Callaghan b ~1860 married Catherine (Kate) Dunbar in Dublin South in 1886. They had one son, David Callaghan #3, in 1893, only five months before Patrick was accidentally drowned.  Both Patrick and later young David were sailors. I can find no record of David (b 1893) marrying so perhaps he had no children.

Bridget Callaghan b~ 1867/68 unmarried, died 1937.

Ellen Callaghan born March 1870 at Courtown died 1870.

David Callaghan #2 born April 1873 at Courtown, died 1950. He too became a fisherman and sailor. David married Mary Kinsella, also from Courtown, in 1908. Mary died in 1956 and the witness was a nephew. It seems this couple had no children.

20160910_152921 Patrick Callaghan

Patrick and Catherine (Kate) Callaghan.

Even though I can find no record of the marriage of David and Anne Callaghan, or births/baptism for their earlier children, I suspect that son Patrick may have been the eldest son. I base this theory on the fact that it was Patrick’s widow, Kate, who became head of the household by the time of the 1911 census and “inherited” the house. When I visited Courtown, in September last year, I was very fortunate to be introduced to an older gentleman who kindly gave me a photograph of Kate and Patrick. I think I tend to be too polite when visiting with random acquaintances as I don’t want to convey the impression that I’m “fortune hunting” or interested in getting the land, rather than the family ancestry. I’m also reluctant to strain their hospitality.

CALLAGHAN David grave 20160911_114024

Photo P Cass, Sept 2016

David Callaghan #2 (d 1950), his wife Mary and nephew David Callaghan #3 are all buried in Ardamine Cemetery near River Chapel, south of Courtown Harbour. David #3 (d 1971) is buried with Thomas Turner and Mary nee Dunbar. I cannot determine what his connection to them might be, although David’s mother was a Dunbar but not from this area.

Another connection I’m curious about is Mary Callaghan, daughter of a David Callaghan, born about 1838, and hence an age peer of my David Callaghan #1 (brother, cousin, no relation?). Mary married Luke Doyle in Courtown in 1868. Mary Doyle is witness to many of the various Callaghan births and some deaths. It may be that she was simply the local midwife or “nurse”, but she could also be a relation.

I am still mystified how the various Callaghan families from Courtown connect, or even if they do. I suspect that the claim made in Ace of Spies, that David #1, John and Edward were siblings, is incorrect. Certainly, the children’s naming patterns don’t suggest that. They don’t seem to follow the predicted pattern of father’s father, mother’s father, father and mother’s mother, father’s mother, mother…or is it just that I’m missing children.

I’ll leave this mystery here for now and live in hope that I may get a random “hit” one day, that explains not only these ancestral links but also a couple of strong DNA matches I have from the general area. I’m also going back to one of my earlier posts to add in new info rather than recreate the wheel.

Resources used:

General Register Office, Dublin, Ireland an in-person search netted me a reasonable number of certificates only to find Murphy’s Law struck again with the free release of many digitised images (see link below), the very next day. Luckily some of those I obtained are yet to appear online. And while the walk there gave me some sight-seeing and exercise, it would have been good to catch the bus 50 metres from the hotel and arrive outside the door of the GRO! Ah well, next time.

Irishgenealogy.ie  – Civil Records (FREE)

Catholic Church registers at National Library of Ireland – FREE – Ballygarrett Parish

Ancestry.com  and Findmypast.comabove Catholic Church records indexed and searchable

1901 and 1911 census – FREE online at National Archives of Ireland

Billion Graves – Ardamine Cemetery

North Wexford Historical Society

The kindness of strangers, and a cat, in Courtown.

Riverchapel Ardamine cemetery

Ardamine cemetery and St John’s Episcopal church. Photo P Cass, Sept 2016.

 

Genea-conference excitement

The last two weeks have been packed with genea-adventures. Firstly it was the Footsteps in Time conference at the Gold Coast which was extremely well organised by the Gold Coast Family History Society and History Queensland. Thanks also to all the sponsors who helped make it a successful event.

If you ever needed proof that conferences can add to your genealogy research offline, this was further confirmation. I don’t intend to single out any one speaker for fear of getting myself in strife – suffice to say I enjoyed them all and I always get a new tip, or a thought to pursue. I was fortunate enough to present on one of my hobby horses “Beyond the Internet” and if you missed it, you can get my handout list of suggested topics here. While my examples were focused on my own research discoveries, each and every one of us can find some discoveries among the records – they will just be different to some extent for every researcher.

I must also apologise to the poor speaker about Trove on Friday morning – I was trying to make a discreet exit when I tripped and landed flat out in the aisle….oops, and a very sincere thank you to the gentleman who rushed to my aid. My self-inflicted drama explains Martyn Killion’s cryptic remark re Congress 2018 that I may be able to stay on my feet….he wasn’t alluding to me indulging too much in alcohol.

The conference was followed by a delightful few days at home with my good friend and geminate from Darwin, and showing her some of the local sights.

Before we knew it, the weekend had rolled around again and it was off to Nambour to listen to the visiting experts Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt of the Ulster Historical Foundation. Both Fintan and Gillian were enormously knowledgeable. The venue was packed with people travelling from as far afield as Melbourne (omitting the speakers). Once again it was a fabulous learning opportunity. You don’t realise how unaccustomed you are to intense and constant thinking until you need to absorb a vast array of information in one day. Heaven knows how the newbies felt. Again it was meeting up with a cousin and genimates that was the icing on the cake. Congratulations to Genealogy Sunshine Coast for a great opportunity for learning.

Congress 2018 image

Then a few days ago we had the anticipatory excitement of the launch of the Congress 2018 program and registration. It’s already generating lots of enthusiasm so don’t procrastinate – get in there and book rego and accommodation asap. Yes, the dollars add up, despite the best efforts of the convenors, but that’s Sydney for you and luckily you can split your registration costs over two payments. As speakers register, they are being linked to the presentations in the program. Some of my genimates’ topics are already linked as are my two: Uncovering your Irish roots, a beginner’s guide and  Parallel lives, Irish kin Down Under and Abroad.

Helping to build the excitement and connect attendees at the Congress, Jill aka GeniAus, has launched a new Facebook group page called Genimates at #Congress_2018. Why not join us and get the buzz and good tips about what’s happening or advice about Congress generally? I also publish a weekly newsletter with some snapshots being talked about by Congress participants (unfortunately limited by the number of people I can add).

Today’s Facebook news came with the announcement of another innovation for genealogy bloggers called Geneabloggers Tribe (great name btw!) Great to see genimates GeniAus and Caitlin Gow will be the Aussie team members!

In between all this conference excitement I’ve finally got around to putting time into my Callaghans from Courtown…a blog post or two coming up.

And…my long-awaited Living DNA results have arrived this past week. Whew! No wonder it’s been busy here.

Beyond the Internet

During my presentation at the Gold Coast Conference, Footsteps in Time, I used dot points to provide way finders for offline research.

These are the points listed during the talk, by life heading.

Please note this file is copyrighted to me and cannot be reproduced elsewhere.

Beyond the internet checklist 2 of 2017

You can contact me using the Contact Me tab above, or by commenting on this post.

Red Cross cards and Vatican Archives WWII

Red_Cross_Parcel

Image from IWM and Wikimedia. Copyright expired.

In exciting news received via Facebook genimates, I learned yesterday that the University of Melbourne holds the Australian Red Cross cards for World War II until 1973. They’ve now been digitised and indexed and can be seen on the University of Melbourne’s Archives site. They also maintain a blog which has two posts about these records here and here (it’s a blog worth following).

“In 2016 Red Cross Australia donated its historical collection to the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) as a ‘Gift to the Nation’. Part of this collection included the Missing, Wounded and Prisoner of War Enquiry Cards dating from World War Two to 1973. Since the transfer, UMA has been working to make all of the cards relating to World War Two available online. There are now over 58,000 cards available through UMA’s online catalogue. To find a card, just type the surname into the search box”[i]

The best link to search is in the digitised items at: http://gallery.its.unimelb.edu.au/imu/imu.php?request=search

You can search by (surname) only, (surname, initials) or (service number). All of these options have worked for me.

When the list (or single item) comes up, just click on the name (underlined) and it will give you another image, with an Acrobat icon on the left. Click on that to see the digitised card(s). I’ve found cards for Hugh Moran, about whom I’ve been writing recently as well as my dad’s cousin, Robert Kunkel, who was MIA in Korea, later presumed dead.

The file on Hugh Moran[ii] gave me additional information to what I had already found so that was useful. For example, it confirmed that he was at Campo Isarco at Capua[iii] prior to Campo 57 at Grupignano.  It also confirms that Hugh did not receive parcels sent to him – possibly because he wasn’t actually in Stalag VIIIB most of the time, but far away in the work camps (Arbeitskommando).

NOTE: You need to be aware that the copyright to the Red Cross documents is owned by the University of Melbourne and can only be published with permission.

Another discovery I’ve made is that the Vatican Secret Archives has indeed maintained records for its interactions with World War II Prisoners of War, their families, and the camps. They hold an astonishing 3 million cards in 2500 archive boxes[iv]. Sadly, and frustratingly, they are only accessible to postgraduate students or academics with a referring letter from their university[v]. Just imagine the wealth of data in there, the tragedies, the heartache and the joys.

 

[i] http://archives.unimelb.edu.au/news-and-events/red-cross-ww2-cards-now-online

[ii] Surname: MORAN. Given Name(s) or Initials: H A. Military Service Number or Last Known Location: QX7775. Missing, Wounded and Prisoner of War Enquiry Card Index Number: 3607

[iii] Cairns Post, 29 July 1941., p4. List includes HA Moran.

[iv] POPE PIUS XII AND WORLD WAR II: THE DOCUMENTED TRUTH by Gary Krupp. page 296

[v] Access and Consultation: Research in the Archivio Segreto Vaticano is free of charge and open to qualified scholars conducting scientific studies. All researchers must have a university degree (five-year course) or an equivalent university diploma. http://www.archiviosegretovaticano.va/content/archiviosegretovaticano/en/consultazione/accesso-e-consultazione.html

 

Pte Hugh Moran, POW: his own words

We rarely have the opportunity to hear about the wartime experiences of a family member in their own words. You can imagine my surprise, and pleasure, to discover that Trove’s digitised newspapers included interviews with Pte Hugh Moran (my mother’s cousin), about whom I wrote on Anzac Day this year.

Settle in, grab the drink of your choice, and follow his story.

What worked in my favour was the fact that (1) Hugh had been a Prisoner of War (POW) and (2) had been among the early troops repatriated to Australia. He was obviously not bashful about being interviewed and provides quite a lot of detail on his POW experiences. This story is from Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper (26 July 1945, page 3):

MORAN Hugh Courier Mail 26 July 1945ITALIANS USED P.O.W’s TO BOLSTER MORALE

THREE hundred Australians, the first captured by the Italians at Derna, in 1941, were used as ‘propaganda prisoners’ ‘ and marched through every large town in Italy. Their photographs were taken thousands of times, superimposed on top of each other, to make their numbers appear the strength of several divisions.

Pte. H. A. Moran, of Charters Towers, one of the 16 repatriated prisoners of war, who returned to Brisbane yesterday, told of his experiences as a propaganda prisoner with the first captured Australians. ‘When our group arrived in Italy we became a great novelty. We were photographed incessantly the day we landed, and issued with brand new Italian P.O.W. uniforms,’ said Pte. Moran. ‘For propaganda reasons, the Italians treated us very well in the first six months. ‘We were fed well, kept tidy and healthy, because the tougher and fitter we seemed the harder it made the task of capturing us. The Italians moved us from one camp to another, and marched us through all the large towns. These marches were always accompanied by a blare of publicity, in which the Italians announced that they had captured thousands of Australians and would march a section of them through the town’.

‘Later we saw the photographs in the papers, and realised they had superimposed group snaps of us in all different positions so that our numbers appeared multiplied many hundred times. After six months of this roadshow life our publicity value began to wear off. We were herded into a camp at Bolzana (sic) [Bolzano], near the Brenner Pass, and treated like ordinary prisoners. This was a concentration camp guarded by the Carabinieres [Carabinieri] — the Italian equivalent of the German Gestapo. The guards were frightened of Australians, and punished them severely for petty offences.’ Pte. Moran was taken to Germany on Italy’s capitulation and liberated by the Americans early this year [my emphasis]. With 1000 Dominion ex-prisoners of war he was entertained by the Royal family at an afternoon party at Buckingham Palace during his recuperation in England.

That last little snippet was a “Wow!” moment but I notice that there was no mention of the Death March/Long March west from Stalag VIIIB.

However, let’s press the pause button on that for a while. Knowing that men were often feted in their home communities when they enlisted I went looking for any such news. The Townsville Daily Bulletin of 12 June 1940 revealed that:

MORAN Hugh Nthn Miner 21 Dec 1940 p2

Hugh also received gifts in Charters Towers. Northern Miner 21 Dec 1940, p2

A meeting was convened last Thursday for the purpose of forming a committee to farewell the men resident in this district who had enlisted. Owing to lack of time it was found necessary to hold the send -off on Sunday night as volunteers were leaving on Monday. During the evening eulogistic speeches were made by Messrs. K. Hort, W. Watkins. T. Jamieson, K. Johnstone and M. Graham, and the volunteers: Messrs. J. Doyle, H. Moran, D. Turpin and H. Axelsen jnr., were each presented with a fountain pen as a small token of esteem.

I wonder if Hugh found that pen to be handy over the coming years? Perhaps not, as ink would have been hard to come by. Did it too survive the war?

POWs Capua Italy 29 July 1941 p

Cairns Post, 29 July 1941., p4. List includes HA Moran.

Twelve months after this eulogistic evening, the papers were displaying long lists of POWs including the name of Pte HA Moran from Cardwell. In my research I learned the significant role played by the Vatican in coordinating this news and in assisting men, and their families, to communicate with each other. Vatican representatives visited the camps and documented the men’s names which were then broadcast. Ironically the news could be received more promptly this way than through official channels.

Bolzano Udine

From Bolzano to Campo 57 near Udine.

A lengthy Christmas radio broadcast from the Vatican reveals the Pope’s care and concern for the POWs, which is endorsed in reports from prisoners, many of whom were not Catholics. We can only imagine these words would have provided consolation to Catholic families in Australia, like that of Bridget Moran nee McSherry whose son had been taken prisoner only a month after her husband’s death that same year. I’ve included much of the report as it reveals a variety of things about the prisoners and the Pope’s concern for them.

Christmas Message Concerning Australasian Prisoners of War in Italy Broadcast by the Vatican Radio Station[i].

In the name of the Holy Father Pope Pius XII. the Papal Nuncio to Italy has once more visited the Prisoner of War Camps, visiting thus those who are near arid dear to you. His commission is the outcome of the Holy Father s paternal Interest in the prisoners and of his unceasing solicitude for their welfare. It is his task to bring the men the Holy Father’s greetings and as his representative to help alleviate in every way possible their necessarily irksome lot. In the past fortnight he has seen your dear ones, commissioned this time in particular to convey to them the Holy Father’s Christmas Greetings and to present them with Christmas cards and gifts from him. To every prisoner he has brought a card on which is a reproduction of Raphael’s Adoration of the Magi, and this greeting in English— a greeting sprung indeed from the heart, of the common Father: ‘Christmas, 1941’.[ii] With ever greater paternal solicitude we turn our thoughts to each one of you who in your separation from distant. homes at this Christmas Season feel very keenly the absence of your loved ones. They are prayerful and affectionate good wishes. May they sweeten the bitterness of that separation and be to you all a source of Divine comfort and Christian hope. Pope Plus XII.’

Vatican diary and card 1942

1943 ‘Vatican Radio on Prisoners of War in Italy’, Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1954), 9 July, p. 1. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167778333

With the paternal wishes go the presents which the Holy Father’s generosity has provided — cigarettes, books, games of all sorts, and as prizes for Christmas raffles, handsome leather bound clocks (sic) [query books?]. This have (sic) the Holy Father’s representative and those who accompany him to tell of the men and their conditions. Your dear ones cannot but feel the dreariness that go with their lot as prisoners of war, but they are not unhappy and they are keeping their spirits high.

It continues with the following description of life in an Italian POW camp, which doesn’t quite coincide with Hugh’s recollections, but then in December 1941 perhaps things had not yet deteriorated. (see below for more details)[iii]

See, now, the picture of what is actually happening. In the person of his representative the Holy Father is among your dear ones, to wish them a Happy Christmas and brighten the celebration for them as far as ever he may. Their thoughts are directed to other Christmases celebrated in the intimacy of their homes. They think of you and so seize on the chance of the Nuncio’s visit to beg him to send you a Christmas message, and that message, still warm from their hearts, this marvellous gift, of God — the radio — enables us to give you now before it has time to cool.

They greet you all — parents, wives, children, relatives and friends, assuring you of their thought for you and for you they pray, through the Saviour’s coming, every blessing, spiritual and temporal, in the New Year. And may we join our wish to theirs, praying that the Prince of Peace may shorten the scourge of war, hasten the coming of a just and universal peace, and reunite you and your dear ones.

After Hugh’s transfer to Germany in 1943, he was shuttled through Stalag VIIIA near Gorlitz (now Zgorzelec, Poland) before being sent on to Stalag VIIIB.

Gorlitz to Poland LambinowiceSince my last post I’ve done further reading and found out a little more about his conditions and where he worked as an Arbeits Kommando. He was allocated initially to Paris Grube, at Sosnowitz (now Sosnowiec) near Dombrowa (Dabrowa) with Kommando group E543 of which nothing seems to be known. The fact that it was called Paris Grube suggests to me it was a mine called, ironically, Paris. Hugh was there for seven months from 2 November 1943 until 5 June 1944.

Camps Poland MORAN

This is the distance between Stalag 344 (8B) at Lamsdorf (Lambinowice) and Sosnowiec.

It is sickening to realise that Hugh was essentially slave labour at Sosnowitz soon after the massed deportation of its Jewish community to Auchwitz (Oswiecim).  Had he been transported from Łambinowice to Sosnowitz on these same trains which would have carried the despair like a miasma. It’s highly likely he was unfortunate enough to witness at least some of these horrifying trains en route to concentration camps from which few would return.

There had been considerable underground activity among the Jews in Sosnowiec. The uprising, which began on 3 August 1943…The last Holocaust transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau with Jews forced to bury the dead, left Sosnowiec on 15 January 1944.[iv]

Hugh was apparently kept at Stalag VIIIB for five months until 7 November 1944 (perhaps this is when he was sick?). This time he was with Arbeits Kommando E42, working at a paper mill at Rothsfest (Rudawa). Hugh’s isolation in the work camps may explain why he did not receive either personal mail or Red Cross parcels.

MORAN Work camps

The location of the two work camps to which Hugh Moran was allocated..nearly 200kms from Stalag VIIIB (8B)

There is no indication of when Hugh returned to Lamsdorf but it seems likely that it predated the evacuation of the prisoners from VIIIB with the oncoming march of the Russian army. It is at this point that Hugh Moran and his fellow prisoners commenced the Death March that would take the lives of so many. It’s pertinent to notice that at no point does he make mention of it in his interviews – a typical soldier’s response to largely play down the true horrors of war.

AWM POWs ART25519

Australian P.O.W.s on the march through Germany. AWM Art 25519 in the public domain.

Just imagine the excitement among his family when the news came through that he had been repatriated and was safe!

MORAN Duke aka Hugh Ntn Miner 24 May 1945

Northern Miner, 24 May 1945, page 4.

Pte Hugh Moran (Charters Towers): English politicians have been battling against fraternisation, but they have reckoned without the human element. You can’t stop it. A soldier is a soldier no matter where he is. When I left England letters from English soldiers in Germany were appearing, in the Press urging relaxations. The Nazis had severe punishments for any German civilians who fraternised with us but some still talked to us. The older Germans have had their lesson, but we still have to watch the young Hitlerites.[v]…… Pte Moran was among 1,000 Empire troops who were invited to Buckingham Palace to an afternoon party. The King and Queen [and the Princess Elizabeth and Margaret] moved among them in the palace grounds. “I was very impressed by the informal way that our Royal hosts greeted us and spent so much lime talking to the men” he said.

His family, and Hugh himself, would have been buzzing with excitement at a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

download(1)

EMPIRE GARDEN PARTY AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE FOR EX-P.O.W.s OF THE EMPIRE. http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/182628782 Hugh Moran would have been somewhere on one of the trucks arriving at Buckingham Palace for the garden party.

MORAN Buckingham Palace AWW

The Australian Women’s Weekly had something to say about the shindig. 16 June 1945, p22. Right: Princess Elizabeth and HRH King George VI chat with returned POWs.

download(2)

There must surely have been times when he was overwhelmed by the change from being a POW, German slave labour and the long Death March. Perhaps the men were grateful for the sea voyage home, giving them a buffer between these extreme experiences and before meeting up with family. The excitement continued with Hugh’s repatriation to Australia when the car he was travelling in was mobbed by enthusiastic friends and perhaps relatives.

MORAN Hugh Telegraph 25 July 45 p3

Telegraph (Brisbane) 25 July 1945, p3.

So far, little is known of what happened to Hugh on his return to Australia, other than that he visited family in Charters Towers and Bundaberg on demobilisation. Further research is needed, and no doubt we’ll never know what his true thoughts were about his experiences as a POW.

We are very fortunate that Australian service records include both the German POW records and the soldier’s repatriation statements. The British (UK) service records have to be applied for under Freedom of Information (FOI) conditions.

For further reference you may be interested in reading some or all of the following: Hitler’s British Slaves by Sean Longden (available as an e-book), is excellent in revealing the horrors and degradation the men faced.

Stalag VIIIB/Lamsdorf Facebook Group

Campo 57 Facebook group

Previous posts on Pte Hugh Moran are here and here

[i] Catholic Freeman’s Journal, 2 January 1942, page 7. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146374770 Similar in The Catholic Press, 2 January 1942, page 7 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106361197.

[ii] See an image on this page http://www.grupignano.com/camp-life.html

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sosnowiec_Ghetto

[v] 1945 ‘”FRATERNISE, “SAY AIF REPATRIATES’, The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), 25 July, p. 3. (SECOND EDITION), viewed 09 May 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187496961

[iii] Continued: The food supplied them is good and sufficient, corresponding to what is given to the same rank in the Italian Army, and since the men run their own canteens and do their own cooking they can add to it something of the relish that comes from this serving in the ways they have known at home. They are well clothed and recently received an adequate supply of winter clothing. They are in fine health, and the visits have shown little or no sickness in the camps. For their recreation they have theatres where they stage concerts practically every week. For the past, month preparations for Christmas shows have been under way. Small libraries are gradually being built up in each camp. There are language classes for those who wish them and many have become proficient in Italian already [perhaps helped by the fact that Mass was said in Latin at the time]. Every facility is given for religious services for the men, and an Australian Anglican Minister, a prisoner, is allowed entire freedom in providing religious assistance for the men of his camp. Catholics, if they have not Sunday Mass, in the Camp itself, are given the opportunity of hearing Mass outside.