Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday : Carol Judkins and her Headstone Photograph Collection

I have been doing a small amount of research into my husband's family - why he doesn't do it himself, I don't know - he is always interested in what results I find! But I digress. Being limited in our mobility, travelling to cemeteries, either near or far can be a difficult prospect for us. My husband grew up in rural Victoria, Australia and luckily  for us there is a wonderful person named Carol Judkins who spends her weekends roaming Victoria, photographing and the adding pictures and names to her database at "Carol's Headstone Photographs" which can be searched by Cemetery name.

I'm unsure as to whether this fabulous resource, one that is provided free, and carried out as a labour of love has been written about before, but for those of us who are less mobile, and have ancestors who lived in rural Australia, this site is a must!

When I emailed regarding some photos listed for my husband's Jesser Family (His Paternal Great Grandparents) who are buried at Chewton Cemetery, I had a reply within the hour!

These are the results of my two minute search plus an email.

Charles and Mary Jesser (Sands) and their daughter Faney

Leonard Herbert Jesser and his wife Francis Louise Fraser

Hilda and William Douglas Jesser

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Michael Dillon from Ireland : Origins lost in transcription

My 3x Great Grandfather, Michael Dillon whom I had previously listed as one of my "Most Wanted" ancestors, along with his wife Mary (O'Grady) and son Michael, my Great, Great Grandfather, arrived in Australia on the 12 April 1848, aboard the barque "Subroan", carrying 209 Bounty Immigrants. According to the transcription of the ships arrival into Sydney by Ancestry, they had departed from Scarriff in County Clare, and the family's place of origin was Baher, County Galway in Ireland. records

Place of origin from the original record hosted by ancestry
Looking at the original record from the New South Wales, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 collection, it still states that the family's place of origin was Baher, Galway. Ireland.

Scarriff (A) to Barna (B) from Google Maps

However, searching Google Maps, no such place existed. The closest I could find is Barna (Baher), Co. Galway which is a coastal town, while Scarriff, Co. Clare is an inland town, 80 kilometres away.

I believe that the family must have had a very strong brogue, as Michael's daughter's surname was written as Denham on her birth certificate. The record shows that Michael's parents could neither read nor write, thus the possible misinterpretation of the place of origin

This discrepancy of place names and misspellings, put beside the evidence of the map, leaves me wondering just how wrong the transcriptions can be, and how vigilant we must be in checking out just what is the reality of our history, and what is meant by such terms as "place of origin".

I have had to change many of my original assumptions as to where Michael Dillon was born; Instead of being born in Barna / Baher in Co. Galway, he was born in Scarriff in Co. Clare, while the ship, (spelt Subraon on the record and Sobraon on the transcription)  departed from Barna / Baher. If I had done this simple check it may have saved me quite a few Euro's, searching Irish databases for birth and marriage certificates.

Michael Dillon, 1843-1906, Memorial Card

Monday, November 14, 2011

Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

Following Geniaus' suggestion about adding our "most wanted" ancestors from Australia and their homeland, adapted from Thomas MacEntee's Surname Saturday blog post, I have created a new blog. Here are the (public) answers to my very first meme regarding my most elusive ancestors.


1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:

[SURNAME]: State/Province (county/subdivision), date range
as in:

AUSTIN surname: New York (Jefferson County, Lewis County, St. Lawrence County), 1830-present; Rhode Island (Kent County, Washington County), 1638-1830

2. At the end, list your Most Wanted Ancestor with details!

Aston, Mary: Armagh, Ireland, ?-1903; Emigrating to Australia at some unknown time

Cook, William Henry or Henry William: Shoreditch, Middlesex, England, 1819-1869, Emigrating to Australia at some unknown time

Dillon , Michael: Baher, Galway, Ireland, 1811-?
Michael Dillon arrived in NSW, Australia in 1848 aboard the "Subroan" with his son Michael and wife Mary.

Jones, Mary: Tredegar, Wales 1831-1889
Mary Jones married Thomas Pugh Morgan in Abergavenny in 1851. Together with their children, they immigrated to Queensland, later settling in Wallsend NSW

King, Olive: Brighton, Sussex, England, 1820?-1898
Convict, Olive King was transported to NSW for 7 years aboard the “Mary Anne”.

Lefroy, James: Ireland? 1804-1884
Convict, James Lefroy was transported to Australia aboard the “Eliza” in 1832 for 7 years.

Matheson, Christiana: Isle of Skye, Scotland, 1815?-1895; 
Emigrating to Australia at some unknown time

Morgan, Thomas Pugh: Monmouthshire, Wales 1827-1881.
Thomas Pugh Morgan married Mary Jones in Abergavenny in 1851. Together with their children, they immigrated to Queensland, later settling in Wallsend NSW

Nicholls Henry: Rochester, Kent, England, 1818-?
Convict, Henry Nicholls was transported to Tasmania for 15 years, arriving aboard the “Gilmore” in 1843. There he met and married another convict, Fanny Norman in 1852. Sometime after 1854, the family moved to, and settled in Sydney NSW. Henry then disappears from the records

O’Connor, James: Ballinalack, Westmeath, Ireland 1837-1902; 
Emigrating to Australia at some unknown time

O’Sullivan / Sullivan, Julia: Boherbue, County Cork, Ireland, 1833-?; E
migrating to Australia at some unknown time

Smith, Owen – total brick wall – only named on son’s baptism certificate as a shoemaker, at Boorolong Station near Armidale NSW, Australia

Wotton, William: Bridford, Devon, England 1830-1870; Emigrating to Australia at some unknown time

My Most Wanted? Owen Smith (see above) and his wife Christiana Matheson by a long shot. My Mother started her search for this couple over 40 years ago, and it was only recently that Christiana's surname and place of birth were discovered. But even contacting a researcher on the Isle of Skye, nothing can identify her parents or when she would have arrived in Australia!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Counting our Blessings : Living with Parkinson's Disease

This is not really a genealogy blog about ancestors; It is about the life my husband and I have lived over the past years and will serve as a story for generations to come. 

A few months ago, I was approached by Parkinson's Victoria, wanting to know if I would be willing to be interviewed for an article, describing life as a carer for someone who has had PD for 25 years. The article was used as part of Parkinson's Victoria's Christmas Appeal, 2011. This morning, without notice, I received the actual copy, sent to all Parkinson's Victoria members. It was a slight shock, to see your words on such a personal matter in print.

I was interviewed by a wonderful lady named Indira Kennedy. A half hour interview turned into a two hour chat. I described the problems we have faced, warts and all, and she came up with a wonderfully sensitive take on the difficulties we face on a daily basis. I have added some details to round out the story in italicized type.
Here is how she worked a terrible tale into a blessed life:

Counting Our Blessings

I may not have the man I married but I do have much to be grateful for

Living with Parkinson’s takes courage and strength, dedication and patience. It can also take the things you love - if you let it.

My husband Paul has lived with this challenging illness for over 25 years. He was only 32 years old when he was diagnosed, but probably had developed the disease a few years prior to diagnosis. It was so early in life and such early days in understanding how to manage it and live well with an ‘older person’s disease’.

I met Paul as a father of two girls. I have three boys. My own health is challenging, living with chronic pain from a bad fall,  and sometimes I wonder who is looking after whom! Between us, as a second marriage for both, you could say we had a lot on our plate.

At first Parkinson’s wasn't so noticeable. Paul had a lot of coping skills and hid the symptoms well. As a scientist he knows everything there is to know about the physiology of disease. Paul was a senior research scientist at CSIRO for 22 years, specializing in Molecular Biology. He also won many awards including the prestigious "Chairman's Medal". He loves history and immersed himself in the thousands of books lining our home; Seriously! He has an amazing sense of humour and a wonderful way with language. But at an emotional level, it’s another thing altogether.

You could say Paul doesn't want to know, to face up to what has gradually taken so much of him. But what I have learned is that Paul hates confrontations, always looks for peace and doesn’t allow his condition to rob him of his good nature.
At Cross Country, Benalla

For example, Paul was fabulous with the children when they were young. He took them to Little Athletics every Saturday during summer, and cross country during winter, despite his condition. When he could no longer drive, he took a taxi. He quietly soldiered on.

As for me, I have learned to express the emotion for both of us. I know what it is to go through the stages of grief, having lost both my parents around the same time Paul's health began to worsen, to feel robbed of the fit & strong man I married, to have the children struggle to confront the reality of a dad who was ill.

Many times I have fallen into total exasperation, burdened by the dependency on me. At times it was like looking after my father in the last months of his life - Paul had become an "old man". Sometimes it feels like I’m flying blind dealing with how Paul is feeling or what he needs to be comfortable. I’ve come home to find him frozen in muscle spasms on the floor, or in the full throes of tremors. I had to give up work, in 2008 just as he did, aged 49 two years previously, to try to live better with the progression of this demanding disease. 

My saving grace was contacting Parkinson’s Victoria when I just didn’t know how to go on. Their useful tips about simple things like shirts with press studs, tracksuits with no elastic in the ankles, slip on shoes, all gave me a new view of daily life. Getting dressed and doing up buttons on a shirt or tying shoelaces was beginning to take half an hour for each task, so I was dressing him, an embarrassing proposition for a man in his prime!

But more importantly, I learned what side effects to expect from the many drugs Paul needed to control his spasms, to know what stages to expect as the disease took its path, got referrals to other services, and I learnt what our options were. One of those options was a change in his drug regime which  included a 24 hour infusion pump of the dopamine agonist of Apomine, changed daily, until there was nowhere to put the butterfly needle as he was so skinny, and finally, Deep Brain Stimulation in May of 2010. Note: The solutions that suited Paul are not for everyone. Please talk to your neurologist!
Infusion pump and needle
Even more so, I was grateful to have a time to cry and let go when no-one else could truly understand. I’ve needed to speakup and have someone support us. Parkinson’s Victoria got us on the right track when another track wasn’t working. They referred us to the right agencies who arranged for easy access to the bathroom and install hand rails, and find respite care. They helped us to bring the whole emotional experience into one that became, ‘This is how it goes.’ I learned to accept and keep fighting on.

Charging across a Southern US battle field

We travelled to America for three months, driving 2500 miles, mainly looking at Civil war sites in the Southern states - one of his passions while it was possible, and had the trip of a lifetime together. And we can still holiday in places where we are still able to meet Paul’s needs.

These days Paul snoozes a lot during the day, and seems slower. But his mind is just as sharp and his love is just as powerful.

Thankfully, Parkinson's will not shorten Paul’s life - he can expect to live as long as any averageAustralian male. But Parkinson’s will continue to challenge us, and sometimesin unpleasant ways. We will still need Parkinson’s Victoria to help us, every step of the way.

There is no doubt Parkinson's has changed Paul a lot. I might not have the man I married, but I do have the man who in his own way keeps on fighting along side me, in the best way he knows how. And we constantly count our blessings.

Everyone has their own story, and their own journey. Parkinson’s Victoria remains dedicated to taking those steps with us all.

Please give generously to this appeal. We know, as most likely you do, the incredible difference this service makes to so many lives.

Thank you and please have a safe and joyful festive season.