Thinking “out loud” online

Do you ever have the feeling that your more distant branches on the family tree are rather like Swiss cheese, full of holes with tenuous structure? Please bear with me while I think online – I’d be interested in any feedback other genimates can offer.

I’ve been revisiting my McCorkindale (aka McCorquodale and many variants) branches and correspondence with a Canadian cousin. In a lightbulb moment I’ve concluded, tentatively, that I was missing a sibling for my 2xgreat grandfather, James McCorquodale later McCorkindale.

I absolutely love Scottish Records for their broad information especially when one gets to civil registration from 1855. Another virtue is that the woman’s maiden name is retained in the documents (generally). McCorquodale etc is a relatively uncommon name except in their heartlands of Argyll so maiden names can be very helpful. And then there’s the traditional Scottish pattern for the children’s names. However, can you be sure you have the first, or only, marriage for your person?

Let me get down to nuts and bolts, but first let me give you a summary of the cast of this story. Throughout this post the surname McCorquodale can be implied unless otherwise stated.

The cast

I was lucky to have received a copy of my great-grandfather’s (James’s) baptism record from my grandmother. It was also obliging of him to state his birth place, on the census, as Inistrynich near Cladich on Loch Awe. This gave me confidence that Duncan McCorquodale at Cairndow was my correct ancestor.

This enabled me to find his parents Duncan#1 McCorquodale (aka MacQuorquodale etc) and Anne Campbell who married in the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail on 25 April 1791. Son James was born on 14 March 1808 and only today have I deciphered where the register says his parents lived: the Gatehouse near Cladich. Previously I had Drimuirk.

Given we’re in Campbell country my chances of pinpointing the correct parents for Ann are slim to none. Searching the LDS microfilm for the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail, I long ago identified the following children to Duncan #1 and Ann[i].

  Birth Christening Place Parish Married
Hugh 7 Nov 1791 9 Nov 1791 Tervean G&I Ann (Nancy) Bell
Mary 19 Jan 1794 20 Jan 1794 Achnacarron G&I Nicol McIntyre in Glasgow in 1823
Anne* 27 Dec 1798 Illegible G&I Unknown
Sarah** 4 April 1802 4 April 1802 Cladich G&I Unmarried to 1851
Betty 12 Feb 1805 13 Feb 1805 Cladich G&I John McDonald
James 14 Mar 1808 Drimuirk G&I Isabella Morrison

But wait, was Duncan’s marriage to Ann in 1791 his first marriage? And was his father therefore called Hugh?

There is another marriage of a Duncan#1 McCorquodale to Margaret Keith/McKeich and this couple had two children: Dougald b 8 March 1788 christened 20 March 1788 and Sarah b 2 Jan 1790 christened 4 Jan 1790, both in Glenorchy and Inishail.

There are no further children to this couple and for some time I’ve considered the possibility that Margaret died after Sarah’s birth, and that Duncan’s marriage to Ann Campbell was his second. Unfortunately, our research at this time is constrained by the absence of burial registers and I found no indication of mort cloth rentals in the Kirk Session records for Inishail. This ambiguity will probably remain into the future.

I’ve managed to find marriages and/or death records for James’s siblings and there is a track record of longevity in the family.  Duncan#1 is shown as 80 on the 1851 census[ii], making it feasible that the marriage to Margaret could be his. Unfortunately he dies between 1851and the comprehensive certificates of 1855….drat!! However, his children’s death certificates (from Scotland’s People[iii]) all show his occupation as a weaver, even though he listed himself as an ag lab on the census records…possibly seasonal occupations.

Duncan and Ann’s son, James, my ancestor, married Isabella Morrison from Strachur in 1832. The family lived on/near the Ardkinglas estate on Loch Fyne for many years. James and Isabella’s children were:

Name Birth date Christening Place
Catherine 16 Aug 1832 Strachur
Anne 21 April 1834 Strachur
Euphemia 3 July 1836 Kenmuir
Malcolm 15 Sept 1839 Strachur
Duncan #3 31 Oct 1841 Baichyban
Janet (Jessie) 16 Feb 1845 Kilmorich
Isabella 14 Sept 1847 Kilmorich

You’ll notice that Duncan #3 here is the second son, named after his father’s father whereas the first son is named after Isabella’s father, Malcolm Morrison. James’s brother Hugh had also had a son named Duncan #2 who was born on 20 Feb 1832 at Inveraray.

My Canadian cousin sent me two transcribed letters ten years ago. Somehow, at the time I missed the relevance of a key point in the letters. In 1851 Duncan McColl (Duncan #4) writes to his cousin Duncan#2 McCorquodale at Inveraray Castle where the latter worked as a gardener. In his letter Duncan#4 McColl speaks of his own family and their experiences since arriving in Ontario, Canada in 1850. His cousin had asked him about gardens where he lived in Ontario and Duncan#4 McColl refers to Kenmuir (Kenmore) where his family had lived before emigrating. He also tells his cousin that “We all join in sending our kind love to your Father, Mother and Sister not forgetting yourself and our friends at Cladich and Grandfather and all enquiring friends”. The mention of Cladich and grandfather in one sentence rang bells with me and sent me off tracing Duncan McColl’s family. But first…

The cousin written to, Duncan McCorquodale #2, is the son of Hugh (above) and grew up near the McColls and was a similar age to Duncan#4 McColl. Duncan#2 was a gardener. He is found with is another cousin, Malcolm (born Strachur, son of James) working as a gardener with Duncan #2 (born Inveraray) at Kilbride in the parish of Dunoon, Argyll in 1861. Malcolm and Duncan#2 are cousins[iv], which tends to imply that Duncan#4 McColl is also a cousin of Malcolm’s[v], my ancestor James (Malcolm’s brother), and Duncan #3[vi]. The nice thing is that Duncan#2, who received the letters, is the great-grandfather of my Canadian cousin.

1861 Census McCOrquodale Duncan and Malcolm

1861 Census Piece: SCT1861/510 Place: Dunoon & Kilmun -Argyllshire Enumeration District: 3
Civil Parish: Dunoon & Kilmun Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: Dunoon
Folio: 0 Page: 58 Schedule: 318, Address: 12 Kilbride on freecen.org.uk

So, my question became: Is Duncan#4 McColl a cousin through his father or his mother? Allan McColl had married Catherine McCorquodale in 1829 in Inveraray and Glenaray Parish. By the time of the 1841 census, they had four children: Duncan#4 born 1830, Dugald born 1833, Nancy b 1835 and Evan born 1838. Catherine was 35, making her YOB between 1801 and 1806[vii].  The family don’t appear in the 1851 Scottish census and this is clarified by the notation on Canadian census records[viii] which state Duncan#4 McColl arrived in 1850.

1841 freecen McColl

Image from freeCen.org.uk

Allan McColl is the son of Dugald McCall and Mary Cameron so that eliminates the cousinship at paternal first cousin level at least. This in turn adds weight to Catherine McCorquodale being a sister to Hugh and James, and daughter of Duncan#1 and Ann Campbell. The birth years of the other children don’t preclude her being part of this family, but it’s unfortunate that I’ve not found a suitable baptism for her when I trawled the parish registers. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate a death for Catherine McCorquodale McColl in Canada…this may be down to my novice experience with Canadian records, or her death may fall in the pre-1869 period when civil registration didn’t apply (experts please feel free to add/correct).

I’ll be writing more about the McColls in another post. However, meanwhile I’d appreciate my genimates’ opinions on the logic behind my argument, thoughts for proving it somehow, and any other feedback. And if you’re confused about all those Duncans and Hughs, you’re not alone…and that’s without getting into the Catherines, Euphemias etc. How I’d love to visit the Duke of Argyll’s archives at Inveraray Castle…one day.

———————————

[i] Parish records of Glenorchy and Innishail, microfilm 1041008, Items 1 – 3

[ii] Piece: SCT1851/512 Place: Glenorchy-Innishail -Argyllshire Enumeration District: 6
Civil Parish: Inishail Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island:
Folio: 401 Page: 7 Schedule: 31 Address: Drimuirk on freecen.org.uk

[iii] https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[iv] Verified by Scottish Marriage certificate 1859 644/7 124 of Duncan (#2) McCorquodale and Jane Ann Shaw in Glasgow.

[v] As an aside, Malcolm and his wife would later migrate and raise his family in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire before emigrating to Sydney, Australia. Throughout Malcolm retains the original surname spelling of McCorquodale. I wondered sometimes if this was too big a leap of faith in the connection, however his death certificate in Sydney records his parents correctly as James and Isabella. Not at all coincidentally he had named his home “Cairndow” after the home of his youth.

[vi] Meanwhile, James’s second son, Duncan#3 (confused yet?) migrated from Argyll to Glasgow, typical of the era. Duncan#3 was my great-grandfather. He died in Glasgow but his widow and all but one of his family emigrated to Australia in 1910.

[vii] This census rounded down the ages of adults to the nearest 5 years.

[viii] 1901 Census, Ontario, District 95 Northumberland, Village of Campbellford.

Sepia Saturday 210: Award-winning relatives

This week’s Sepia Saturday focuses on old books and the treasures (photographic or otherwise) found in them.Sepia Saturday 210

I don’t think I’ve ever found photos tucked away in old books but we did find a group photo behind another picture from my Grandparents’ house and I talked about that in my Moustaches and Mystery post recently.

Instead I thought I’d share a few book inscriptions with you. Over the past year I’ve acquired some of the family’s old books, including my childhood books, thanks to Mum’s move to an independent retirement unit.

Book inscriptions can be interesting I think as they reveal otherwise hidden parts of an ancestor’s or relative’s life. Back in the days when books were expensive and only rarely bought by families who weren’t affluent, they were often gifts or even school prizes.

Two of the books I have included prizes awarded to family members. One was for Mr Cassmob’s grandmother, Katie McKenna, for writing in 1901.

Katie McKenna

Another was for my grandmother’s brother, Duncan McCorkindale, who was awarded the prize for passing second stage physiology and physical geography in his Glasgow school.

Duncan McCorkindale

In fact it was something about Duncan that was one of the few things I found tucked away in a bible: the notice of his rather gruesome death in Sydney. Which makes me realise that I’ve never written about that story, or his role in the building of the nation’s capital, Canberra. I need to put that on my blog post list.Irish book

I’m curious who this book belonged to as there’s no inscription, and no publication date. My best guess is that it belonged to my Irish grandfather or one of his children.

A while ago I wrote about a prize that my grandfather’s young brother had won, but I’ve no idea what his prize was. I wonder if it too was a book.

Have you found prize inscriptions in books you’ve inherited, either from your family or a used-book store?

To read the stories other Sepians have submitted this week you can click here.

Some days are diamonds for Cairndow

Some days are diamonds” as John Denver once sang. This morning I received an email from my 3rd cousin, Sheila, in Canada. We share common ancestors Duncan and Annie McCorquodale (various and many spellings).

I had sent Sheila a link to an amusing parking sign for McCorkindales and she repaid me with a gold mine! Don’t you just love family networks!!

Sheila had unearthed a wonderful web site for the village of Cairndow which lies at the top of Loch Fyne in Argyll/Argyle, Scotland. It’s called “Our Houses, Their Stories” and has been supported by the Lottery Fund UK.

The postcard from my grandmother's collection.

The postcard from my grandmother’s collection.

Now I’ve been researching my McCorkindales/Macquorqodales/McCorquodales for over thirty years and I’ve also fortunate enough to have visited Cairndow several times. And yet, this web site has opened up our family history in a completely different way. Despite my previous background research into various documents, this site has made the actual location of some of the houses now unambiguous.

Cairndu postcard back

Back in 1989 I’d taken a left towards Strachur to check out my Isabella Morrison’s (later McCorkindale) birthplace. It was only on my return back to Oz that I had a lightbulb moment, looking at a postcard I’d inherited from my grandmother saying “does it put you in mind of puir auld Scotland”. You can well imagine I was ever so frustrated for not putting this together earlier – because Isabella is actually buried in the Kilmorich churchyard at Cairndow: pictured in the centre of the postcard.

Not the original Ardkinglas building but it shows the magnificent location.

Not the original Ardkinglas building but it shows the magnificent location.

Needless to say I’ve also done all the census records for the family, emailed and met with the estate manager for Ardkinglas estate and walked the property’s wonderful gardens. I’d visited the East Lodge gate house (thanks to the estate manager) and marvelled that widower James McCorkindale lived in such a tiny place with his adult daughter, Euphemia, before being moved to the Greenock workhouse where they both died.

Isabella Morrison McCorkindale's gravestone is right near the door to the Kilmorich church.

Isabella Morrison McCorkindale’s gravestone is right near the door to the Kilmorich church.

I’d asked where Baichyban was precisely (having acquired a topographical map). And yet, despite all this research, there were still ambiguities in my mind eg which house in Strone did they live in, was that Baichyban house too recent? The website also indicates that James, and another daughter, Isabella, had also lived in the North Lodge which appears to have been one of the houses at Strone. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing!

All of a sudden the magic box opened and so much became clearer. The website includes the location of each house mentioned on a topographical map (Alleluia!) as well as the names of all the residents since the 1841 census. My James McCorkindale (var sp) appears regularly as he lived there from 1841 until shortly before his death. My suspicions are even stronger now that his daughters are among those listed as servants in neighbouring houses and cottages.

A photograph of Duncan McCorkindale kindly given to me by a cousin many years ago.

A photograph of Duncan McCorkindale kindly given to me by a cousin many years ago.

There’s so much here for me to explore further but I couldn’t be more thrilled with this discovery and I’m so grateful to Sheila for bringing it to my attention. I’ll be offering to share my photo of Duncan McCorkindale, who was a young lad in the 1851 census, with the local committee. Duncan undertook the fairly standard migration to Glasgow where he became a cabinet maker. He died relatively young and his second wife and children emigrated to Australia. Waiting patiently for me in Mum’s new unit, is a chess table built by Duncan as part of his apprenticeship, or so the story goes. Other hand-crafted items have been shared with various Aussie family members.

Even if you don’t have relatives from Loch Fyne, do have a look at the website to see just what can be done by a collaboration of family and local history: you can follow the links below. I’m so impressed!

The Place (topographical map with houses numbered and links to the residents)

The Houses (with details of who lived in each house between 1841-2007.

The People (as yet the weakest link, but I have no doubt this will change.

Congratulations to all the people behind this fantastic enterprise and thanks again to Sheila!

Sepia Saturday 187: Prayer books, bibles and missals

Sepia Sat 187What an opportune topic for Sepia Saturday 187! Regular readers will know I’ve only recently returned from interstate where I’ve been helping my mother to move. In the process we’ve unearthed a number of liturgical memorabilia.

The first find, which I hadn’t seen before, was a New Testament given to my grandmother when she left Scotland as a young adult. I don’t know who the donor was, but I’m guessing it may well have been the local minister. It also makes me wonder if her sisters were given similar New Testaments. What I omitted to say when first posting, is that inside this New Testament were some family funeral notices and a brief note. Makes up a little for all the BDM clippings that “went west” when she died. Kate McCorkindale bible

Most recently we also found my own early prayer books, the little white hard-covered one I was given on my First Communion and the missal which was a gift from my parents on my Confirmation. It’s donkey’s ages since I’ve laid eyes on these two prayer books so it was a real treat to revisit them.

The Missal I was given by my parents and the holy picture which accompanied it.

The Missal I was given by my parents and the holy picture which accompanied it.

As well as these I’ve found various certificates of one sort or another of my grandfather’s which I’ve scanned and filed. Do they have any intrinsic value? Not at all, but I’ll be putting all these items away in the memory box in the hope that one day my grandchildren will exclaim in pleasure to see them.

First Communion

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

4 x 7UP collage

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

Denis and Kit Kunkel

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

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

My paternal grandfather circa WWI.

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

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

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

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

My maternal grandfather was an incredibly hard worker.

My maternal grandfather was an incredibly hard worker.

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

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

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

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

My paternal grandmother and my neighbour.

My paternal grandmother and my neighbour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fab Feb image

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

Saturday Sepia on Sunday – Pipers

I don’t usually participate in the Saturday Sepia posts as I’ve often felt I don’t have enough suitable old photos. However the moment I saw the prompt for #158 I knew I had to take part (even though the photo has been hand tinted). After all it did feature Scottish pipers of which I have more than my share in my family tree.

Duncan McCorkindaleThis photo is of my grandmother’s brother, Duncan McCorkindale. It was given to me by my father’s cousin about 20 years ago and she has recorded the details from the back of her copy – interesting as none of the others have similar notations. I wrote about the McCorkindale brothers, all expert pipers, in my Trove Tuesday post here but on reflection Duncan’s story would deserve a future post as well, but not today.

Duncan and his brother Peter left Glasgow for Australia in June 1900 so logically the photo must have been taken before then. Certainly Duncan looks quite young and his emigration records (and his birth) show his age as 25. Both he and Peter were joiners, an occupation that would lead Duncan to the Australian nation’s capital, Canberra, to help with its establishment and construction, though online reports suggest he had a reputation for severity as a boss.

Along the way Duncan also was instrumental (smile!) in the establishment of the Caledonian Society in Canberra, a judge with their Highland Games in 1925 and 1927, and was an elder with the Presbyterian church.

The meeting commenced at 8 p m. (?) but shortly before that time the skirl of the bagpipes played by Mr. D. McCorkindale were heard in the clear still moonlight and attracted many.[i]

Duncan died a gruesome death in a Sydney road accident in 1928 when he was only 54.

Duncan McCorkindale reverse of pic


[i] Queanbeyan-Canberra Advocate 12 March 1925, page 2

S slips into Sandon and Strachur

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). My goal is to hand down the stories of the important places in our family history, and some travel memories, to our family.

S is for Sandon (Hertfordshire, England)

Sightseeing in Sandon © P Cass 2010

Sandon, Hertfordshire was the home of my Kent family for a couple of centuries and for at least some of this time they were publicans in Red Hill and Roe Green, nearby hamlets in this parish. Last year I talked about my discoveries in the enclosure records and how they helped knocked down some brick walls in my research.

Sandon remains a rural area, reflecting its agricultural heritage, but it’s also now in the “stockbroker belt”, close enough to commute to London and there’s no shortage of houses with heritage listings and big prices. The village seems to me to lack a “centre”, other than the old church which stands imposingly, solidly. Somehow the lychgate appeals to me as an entry point. The house opposite used to be a pub when we first visited, but no longer. I love the pond across the way with its ducks…very restful.

Roe Green is similarly peaceful, revealing only by its buildings that there’s a long history here. There’s a village green where no doubt cricket is played in summer, horses being walked and a general air of tranquillity; who wouldn’t want to live here.

S is for Strachur (Argyll, Scotland)

Strachur church.

My Morrison family lived in Strachur on Loch Fyne for many years on a farm called Inverglen. Like my Sim ancestors in Bothkennar, they were more established than others family lines, being involved in local business and community as well as farming. Luckily for me one of my 2xgreat-aunts was with the Morrison family on the 1841 census as a small child. I’d have liked it to be the 1851 census with relationships stated, but I’m reasonably sure that she was with her grandparents.

Some years ago we met a very elderly man from the Morrison family in Strachur, but at the time we couldn’t be sure of our relationship. We loved that he offered Mr Cassmob a whisky (at about 10am), which he accepted to be hospitable. As several fingers of single malt were poured Mr Morrison announced he never touched the stuff…needless to say I was the chauffeur that morning. Mr Morrison had a memory of meeting a Fergus McCorkindale, a person who at the time meant nothing to me. It was only later that I established he was a grandson to my great-grandfather through his first marriage and so my grandmother’s nephew.

Outside Creggans Inn is a plaque commemorating the spot where Mary Queen of Scots came ashore.

I’ve posted about Loch Fyne and how it feels like home to me. Sometime I’d love to see it on a clear blue day rather than in its grey winter clothes with scarves of fog and cloud. One visit we stayed at the historic Creggans Inn in Strachur, with its view across the loch to Inveraray. We were amused during our stay when the waitress slipped us some fresh raspberries to accompany our porridge, with the injunction “don’t tell cook”.

S is for Sadds Ridge Road (Charters Towers, Queensland)

World War I discovery in Milne Bay, Papua

Sadds Ridge Rd sign

I wrote previously how my husband found this old street sign on a coconut plantation near Gurney in Milne Bay. This is where Australian troops were stationed around the time of the Battle of Milne Bay. We’ve always assumed it was a souvenir that a soldier too with him, but have never been able to unearth anyone who might know more.

Did you have a relative who went from Charters Towers to Milne Bay?

Two degrees of ancestral separation

Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun last weekend was Two Degrees of Separation. Obviously I’m not having much fun on Saturday nights that it takes me to Tuesday to respond to this challenge, which rather intrigued me.

So, how far back in time could I go with my ancestors by using an ancestor I knew as the pivot point.

As it happens not too far, certainly not as far as Randy managed. Despite many branches of longevity on our tree the furthest back my known personal linkages took me was the 1830s. There were two reasons for this: 1. the timing of my families’ migration to Australia and 2. (in some cases) the early demise of their ancestors.

I was surprised to discover just how recent and ephemeral was this grandparent-grandchild link that we seem to take for granted these days. But more on that another time.

I was lucky that I knew all four of my grandparents and these are the links which took me back.

My grandfather, Denis Joseph Kunkel b 1880, knew all four of his grandparents and would have seen quite a lot of them I imagine. Even though his family moved around with the railway, they spent most of their time near where the grandparents lived. I like the fact that he knew them well and perhaps was close to them. I only wish he’d told me about them …or was I not listening?  All these grandparents have birth dates in the early 1830s though only one is a confirmed date (the rest were Irish –say no more!). If Denis lived in today’s world, where international travel and Skype connect families separated by distance, then he would also have known two of his great-grandparents who were still alive in Ireland, and I could connect back to the c1804..

My paternal grandmother, Catherine b 1887, may have the record for the earliest connection, assuming (and it IS an assumption) that she met her grandfather, Duncan McCorkindale before his death in Greenock Poorhouse in 1889. She wouldn’t have remembered him though, as she was only two when he died. Still IF the family visited him from Glasgow then he would be the earliest contender for our “two degrees of separation”, having been born in 1808.

With my maternal grandmother, Laura, the story is the same. Her Northumbrian-born grandmother lived with them in Charters Towers and Laura would also have known as her Partridge grandparents but again, birth dates are in the 1830s. All earlier generations pre-deceased her birth.

My paternal grandfather, James, certainly knew his paternal grandparents (both born 1830s) as they also lived in Gorey, Co Wexford and the two families emigrated to Australia within a year of each other. Perhaps before they emigrated they travelled to Tullamore, Co Offaly to visit his great-grandfather Martin Furlong, in which case this link would connect back to the early 1800s.

Thanks Randy for a new way of looking at our ancestral families, and enlightening our current family experience.

2011: the Genie year in review: SLOBR

I’m not a great one for lists and New Year’s resolutions so I didn’t formalise what I wanted to do at the start of 2011. This may have been a mistake because there have been times when I felt I’ve swirled along without a clear direction whereas I’m usually fairly good at being task-oriented when I want to complete something. So what DID I achieve in family history during 2011? This is an aide-memoir for me as much as anything so feel free to skip as much as you like.

SHARING

Blogging has been my big sharing contribution in 2011. After a tentative first year, I dedicated a lot of time and energy to it this year. Some of what I’ve learned from blogging, I’ve talked about recently here.

I like to think that by helping out the people who’ve contacted me through the blog, especially those with Dorfprozelten ancestors, that I’ve contributed a little to the genie community. There has also been extensive email correspondence around a number of families I research (though not my own).

I’ve started in on my Blurb blog-to-book already and finding that I should have inserted my images at higher resolution…live and learn. I plan to get one book in hard copy then others in e-books for my family. The sharing of my personal history in the 52 weeks series was motivated by being able to pass that on to my family. My failure was not getting my husband to write more of his off-line.

LEARNING

A morning of talks by Suzie Zada in the middle of the year was a highlight for me. We were going on holidays that weekend and I kept saying I’ll leave after this presentation – and stayed to the end, even though the topics were not specifically relevant to my own research.

I learn every day through the blogs I read and the strategies and discoveries other make. Books, books and more books also add to my learning.

I enrolled in four Pharos courses, two great ones on Scottish family history by Chris Paton, one on enclosures which was excellent and one on old handwriting which was also valuable but because I had other commitments didn’t dedicate time to properly engaging.

RootsTech was a fascinating insight into a partially-online conference and I was able to learn a lot from the presentations I watched, including using cloud document storage. Looks like a few mid-night wake-ups in February 2012 for me!

Shamrock in the Bush was and is a great learning opportunity as well being companionable. Not Just Ned was not only a great reminder of aspects of my personal history but an insight into Irish lives in Australia (especially that voyage chest).

ORGANISING

This one teeters on being a fail. My weakness is gathering the information re disparate families and then not entering them immediately into my informal narrative. I don’t file until I’ve written them up – you can see the pitfall.

On the plus side I’ve started reviewing a potential book on my Melvin family – I wrote about 150 pages a couple of years ago and while I’d done some more research, the narrative needs editing, adding to, and reviewing for further research.

Also on the plus side I’ve been scanning lots of photos –some for the 52 weeks series, and hundreds of our old slides. This achievement gives me a big tick in terms of cyclone preparation as well.

Thanks to some house renovations and ensuing chaos, my library of books and family history references got catalogued. I used Collectorz but also dabble in LibraryThing. Still can’t decide which I prefer but I think Collectorz is quicker to find the book reference I need whereas LibraryThing is online and gives you tips on books similar or relevant to those in your library.

A couple of months ago I started documenting what I worked on each day. This has been a mixed success as I followed it faithfully for some weeks then dropped the ball. However I did find it useful in keeping me on-track with what I want to, and also not being distracted by emails etc as they arrive. When I do focus I am like a terrier in getting through something, so I need to find a balance there.

BREAKTHROUGHS

For the first time I found a trace of my Gavin family in Ireland.

Having chased up my grandmother’s brother’s family for years, I’m now almost certain that he has no surviving descendants. Ancestry releases of war records have also filled out his history.

Through a combination of my research last year in Hertfordshire, online resources and the enclosure course with Pharos, I learned about the pubs my Kent family owned in Hertfordshire.

New digitisation of newspapers with Trove gave me a full list of my great-grandfather’s property which was sold after his death, right down to the picks and shovels. I’ve confirmed his will is not held by the Queensland State Archives so this newspaper advertisement was a find.

RESEARCHING

Sadly, I didn’t get enough opportunities to get to the Archives interstate in 2011. While I’ve been in Brisbane a few times this year, research hasn’t been the primary purpose so archives visits have been all too brief and far too whirlwind. It’s been a few years since I’ve had good solid archives time. However with more information coming online there’s more background research that I can do from Darwin.

One of my favourite strategies is to use LDS films to read old parish registers, parish chest materials, land records or whatever else is available on microfilm for “my” parishes. I’d be lost without these.

Thanks to Scotlands People I’ve added more information to my own families, and kick-started a friend’s family history for her. Love SP and all for the cost of a coffee.

SUMMARY

All in all not an unsuccessful year but I do want to have a more clear-sighted focus in 2012. More research and more documentation are on the agenda. Where to for 2012? Time to plan.

 

The Ancestors’ Geneameme challenge from Geniaus

Geniaus has set us another challenge with The Ancestors’ Geneameme. This is my response to the challenge.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents
  2. Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3. Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents
  4. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times
  5. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist (he wasn’t but his 4th wife was)
  6. Met all four of my grandparents ( I was lucky enough to have three of them into my teens or beyond.)
  7. Met one or more of my great-grandparents (all pre-deceased my arrival)
  8. Named a child after an ancestor (coincidentally though I knew it was similar)
  9. Bear an ancestor’s given name/s (not having an ancestral name was apparently intentional –ironically I’ve always felt like a Kate, a recurring family name on all sides: too late to bother changing it now)
  10. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland (all branches except my German one).
  11. Have an ancestor from Asia
  12.  Have an ancestor from Continental Europe (George Kunkel always said he was from Bavaria, not Germany)
  13. Have an ancestor from Africa
  14. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer
  15. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings (a few with centuries of property either leased or owned but not large land holdings)
  16. Have an ancestor who was a holy man – minister, priest, rabbi (with all those Catholics, no direct ancestors, and none in the Protestant denominations either that I’ve found though lots in one family serving as churchwardens, overseers of the poor etc)
  17. Have an ancestor who was a midwife
  18. Have an ancestor who was an author (oh, how I wish)
  19. Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones (but try googling Partridge or Kent)
  20. Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21. Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22. Have an ancestor with a forename beginnining with Z
  23. Have an ancestor born/died on 25th December (my great-grandfather died on Xmas Day, six weeks after his wife died. They left a large family orphaned ranging from 21 to 2)
  24. Have an ancestor born on New Year’s Day (not a direct ancestor, but a few siblings)
  25. Have blue blood in your family lines (blue babies with Rh- blood, but no blue-blood royalty)
  26. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  27. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth (two: Scots Presbyterian on one side and Irish Catholic on the other)
  28. Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century
  29. Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier
  30. Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents
  31. Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X
  32. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university (no, mine is the first university-educated generation as far as I know)
  33. Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence (he and a few others went to jail over perjury but released soon after appeals to the Qld Executive in relation to the court case)
  34. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime (only minor events: one ancestor had his chickens stolen, as he was a butcher this would have been a hassle, another had his horse stolen. However one was a witness to an event in one of Qld’s first court cases which gave me new evidence on his own life.)
  35. Have shared an ancestor’s story online or in a magazine (I use my blog to tell some of my ancestor’s stories, have had the story of my great-grandmother’s rather gruesome death published in GSNT’s Progenitor magazine, and published a large number of short family histories as part of the Q150 projects with QFHS’s Founding Families, GSQ’s Queensland Pioneer Families 1859-1901 and Muster Roll, and TDDFHS’s Our Backyard, Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery.)
  36. Have published a family history online or in print (Grassroots Queenslanders: The Kunkel Family tells the story of the Kunkel family from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria and the O’Brien family from Ballykelly, Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland. It was published in 2003. Time for another?)
  37. Have visited an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries: I’ve lacked the courage to door-knock current owners of most family homes overseas while in situ but we have stood on the land and among the house ruins where ancestors lived in Ireland, Scotland and Bavaria. Writing in advance to visit the surviving homes is on my courage wish list: one in Hertfordshire, one in Stirlingshire. And whoops, I forgot my Kunkel ancestor’s house in Australia which dates from the 1870s and which I have visited.
  38. Still have an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family
  39. Have a family bible from the 19th Century (I know one exists but no idea where it went to before my grandmother died).
  40. Have a pre-19th century family bible (again I could wish, and wish)