Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Bucket List

Jill Ball, better known as Geniaus, set a task in motion just before she jetted off the RootsTech. The weather has been hot, I have been spending time with my family and at the beach, so better late than never, I have completed Jill's challenge and the results are as follows:

The Bucket List GeneaMeme

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you would like to do or find: Bold Type
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments after each item 

1.                  The genealogy conference I would most like to attend is the 13th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry 2012, however I won’t be in Oz at that time. Oh well, next year!

2.                  The genealogy speaker I would most like to hear and see is Chris Paton to learn all things Scottish and Irish

3.                  The geneablogger I would most like to meet in person is Thomas MacEntee – what a great smile he has and what a lot I could learn, but as he lives in the USA, and I live down under, perhaps Sharon from the Tree of Me or Carole Riley who both have expertise in areas I am interested in and sound like interesting people as well

4.                  The genealogy writer I would most like to have dinner with is Dan Lynch – dream on!

5.                  The genealogy lecture I would most like to present is none, ever or maybe on convicts

6.                  I would like to go on a genealogy cruise that visits dry land (I get very seasick) - how about a genealogy train trip!

7.                  The photo I would most like to find is that of the wedding of my paternal grandparents  - I have only one photo of each of them, and they are being a grooms man and a bridesmaid at one of their siblings weddings

8.                  The repositories in a foreign land I would most like to visit are TNA and the National Archives of Scotland
9.                  The place of worship I would most like to visit is St Martin in the Fields – lots of ancestors were married there and it is such a famous church

10.              The cemetery I would most like to visit is Rookwood in Sydney, I have so many ancestors, from so many lines buried there

11.              The ancestral towns or villages I would most like to visit are in Co. Clare, Ireland, The Isle of Skye, Glasgow……

12.              The brick wall I most want to smash is my Great, Great Grandfather, Owen Smith – where did he come from and where did he go?

13.              The piece of software I most want to buy is the full suite of Adobe Products

14.              The tech toy I want to purchase next is an android tablet – Hello Galaxy Girls!

15.              The expensive book I would most like to buy at this point in time from my “book wants” list is History of Glasgow”- Three Volumes by Robert Renwick and Sir John Lindsay, Volume 1- George Eyre-Todd, Volumes 2 & 3, at about $300. I have been known to pay more though for a rare(ish) book when I was working. 

16.              The library I would most like to visit is the British Library and the Bodleian  Library in Oxford – such history – LC was on the top of my list until a few years ago, when I had the pleasure to be blown away

17.              The genealogy related book I would most like to write is swirling around in the back of my mind, probably about the life of my mother who set me on this path

18.              The genealogy blog I would most like to start would be about, something I haven’t thought of yet

19.              The journal article I would most like to write would be about one of a thousand things

20.              The ancestor I most want to meet in the afterlife is Christiana Matheson, to find out why a single woman of 30 emigrated from the Isle of Skye to the New England Tablelands of NSW on her own, and perhaps she could fill me in on her husband Owen Smith as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wealth for Toil : a Lament

I have already created a post for the Australia Day 2012 Challenge, set by Shelley of Twigs of Yore; but sometime through the night I remembered a poem written in 1888 by Henry Wilson, a pioneer of Long Bay, better known as Malabar, a seaside suburb of Sydney, and though he seems a bitter man and the rhyme forced, I thought it was a fitting addition on this day, given its title, "The Toiler's Lament" It is unlikely Henry gained any wealth from his toil.

Henry is related to me indirectly in two ways; he was the grandfather of my Great Aunt Vera Morgan's husband another Henry Wilson, and also the Great Grandfather of my mother's cousin, Sheryl, through two different paths. A copy was sent to me by Sheryl's son Nathan.

The poem, as transcribed by Nathan goes like this:

The Toiler’s Lament
By Henry Wilson
Written 1888

"Why should the wealth of this Earth
In scattered heaps be placed, for the Human Race
To those whom revel in wealth and ease
Are given the fruits of the earth and seas
While from early morn till set of sun
The labourer’s task is never done
One ceaseless round of care and toil
He battles bravely with the soil
Small joys he has, One of Heaven
Life’s dark hours with something leaven

As he looks on those he has given life
It nerves his arm for future strife
But when his Earthly task is O’er
When hand and brain will wrought no more
No power he had in the past to save
His resting place, a pauper’s grave
And those who fattened on his toil
Base usurpers of the soil
What care they have for Human Life
For orphan born or stricken wife
Their only aim is power and place
Vampires of the Human Race"

I haven't researched Henry Wilson's life, but an entry by another of my mother's cousins, Darcy, published in the book "Maroubra & District Pioneer's Register" by the Cape Banks Family History Society has this to say about Henry.

"Great Great Grandfather was granted a parcel of land in the 1850's by the Queen [Victoria] which was on the South side of the Rifle Range. The Wilson name is on the plaque twice on the oval opposite Malabar Public School gates in Franklin Street"

Plaque in Pioneers Park, Malabar

Australia Day 2012 - Wealth for Toiling in the Tobacco Fields

This year, my first year of trying to complete challenges and memes set by the Geneablogging community, I decided to take part in the "Australia Day Theme" for 2012 of "Work for Toil", set by Shelley from "Twigs of Yore"
The outline was simple (or so I thought) and excited me to do some research 
Australia Day 2012: Wealth for Toil

To participate, choose someone who lived in Australia (preferably one of your ancestors) and tell us how they toiled. Your post should include:
  1. What was their occupation? 
  2. What information do you have about the individual’s work, or about the occupation in general?
  3. The story of the person, focussing on their occupation; or
    The story of the occupation, using the person as an example.
Here is my contribution:

It was a difficult decision trying to pick an interesting ancestor who "toiled" for his daily bread, if not "wealth". However I noticed a pattern in my maternal line, in that many people, through many generations followed in their parents footsteps and worked in the one industry, so I decided to look at the industry rather than the individual.

Tobacco is a dirty topic in these modern times and I will not debate the rights and wrongs of this difficult to research topic. However without the Tobacco Industry in New South Wales, at least three or more generations of my direct ancestors, (I am unsure of the work my mother's many cousins undertook) their spouses and siblings, children and grandchildren;  in fact nearly all the men, and in one case I found, an aunt from my Roberts family line, worked in the Tobacco Industry in NSW; from the mid 1800 until the early 1970’s. So for about 120 years the Tobacco industry employed and sustained my family.

A Tobacco Twist
My Great, Great Grandfather, John Thomas Roberts (1845-1921), the son of two transported convicts, John Roberts (1817-1849) and Sophia Lawrence(1815-1903 nee Chapman), along with his brother-in-law John Clifton (1845-1912), husband of John Thomas’ sister Mary Ann Roberts (1849-1917), who were all born in Maitland NSW, worked as Tobacco Twisters in the Hunter Valley. John Roberts himself, who was assigned to John Stephen Ferriter in 1837, worked on his property "Drayton" near Singleton in the Hunter Valley; perhaps the crop grown on Ferriter's property was Tobacco, thus the beginning of a family tradition.

A description of processing Tobacco leaf appears in the "Illustrated Sydney News" published on September 16, 1864 under the title "Colonial Industries - Dixon's Tobacco Manufactory" The article has this to say:

"... leaves being separated are dampened with water to render them pliable for working; they are then left in this state till the moisture has permeated every leaf, which is then said to to be cured. The manipulators.... [then] receives it, and it passes through these hands:-  The first, the stripper who opens the leaves completely picking off the detached small pieces; the Strandmaker next receiving it, rolling the leaf round and round, and working the small pieces or fillers inside. The scrapper, forms it into a rope about eighteen inches long, and passes it onto the twister, who cutting of the fags, tucks in the end very carefully and the [completed] fig makes its appearance..."

Maitland, in the Hunter Valley, seemed to be one of the ideal places for the growing of Tobacco. The site, Tobacco in Australia quotes that "Tobacco growing commenced during Australia's early years of settlement. Governor Macquarie experimented with plantings at Emu Plains in New South Wales in 1818, and by the 1820's tobacco was cultivated by farmers in the Hunter Valley. During the 1850's growing extended to Victoria and Queensland."

The history of Tobacco growing in New South Wales is sketchy and hard to come by, however the W.D & H.O Wills website has this to say:

By 1840, about 160 hectares of tobacco were under cultivation within 160 kilometres of Sydney; mainly in the Hunter Valley. Manufacturing activity goes as far back as the 1820s and, by 1901 Australian manufactured tobacco products supplied 40 per cent of the local market.
Domestic manufacturing boomed during the early 20th century, expanding to supply more than 90 per cent of the Australian market by the 1920s”

One reason for the burgeoning of the Tobacco industry in Australia during the 1860's was the advent of the American Civil War. Naval blockades by the Union forces, prevented much "Virginia leaf" being exported. Previous to that event, much of the tobacco used as snuff, chewed or smoked in Australia had been imported, with the local industry supplying only a small quantity of the colony's needs.

In searching Trove (Australian newspapers online from the National Library of Australia), there are many articles detailing how much tobacco, by tonnage, was shipped from the Hunter Valley to other destinations, and a great debate went on for many years regarding the duties attached to the export of tobacco to other states. Other debates raged over the quality of Australian grown Tobacco over imported Virginian tobacco, but very little is said of the industry and how it worked. 

A couple of examples I did come across include the following "snippets" from articles found in the Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 1860

Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 21 March 1845, p. 2
Note: The Maitland Mercury of July 29, 1843 mentions a visit made by the editors of the Mercury to Mr. Walthall's Tobacco Manufactory. It employed 35 (of whom 14 were children 8-14 years old) and produced 1800 to 2000 lbs of tobacco per week.

In searching my family database by looking at occupations from birth, death and marriage certificates, as well as checking occupations from the Australian Electoral rolls, I found nearly 50 Tobacco workers in my family, and this was nowhere near a comprehensive search!

When my direct and extended family moved to Sydney around 1890, the families settled in Surry Hills until my Great Grandfather moved to Long Bay in 1911, (renamed Malabar in 1933)

From the very beginning, most of the family living in Sydney worked for various Tobacco companies, then on its completion, almost exclusively for W.D & H.O. Wills in Kensington. By then the work would have changed from being agricultural or small scale skill based manufacturing, to a large workforce using mechanised, production line type manufacturing. An example from the Australian Electoral Rolls during the 1930’s shows the occupation of two of my great uncles and an aunt as being a Tobacco Worker. 

Two of my Tobacco working Great Uncles,
Tommy and Harry (Henry) Roberts, c. 1930
Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954 
New South Wales > 1930 > South Sydney > Maroubra
Roberts, Elizabeth Olive, Austral Street, Long Bay, Maroubra - home duties
Roberts, Myrtle Elizabeth, Austral Street, Long Bay, Maroubra - tobacco worker

Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954 
New South Wales > 1933 > South Sydney > Maroubra
Roberts, Elizabeth Olive, Austral Street, Long Bay, Maroubra - home duties
Roberts, Thomas Herbert, Austral Street, Long Bay, Maroubra - tobacco worker

Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954 
New South Wales > 1936 > Cook > La Perouse 
Roberts, Elizabeth Olive, Austral Street, Malabar - home duties
Roberts, Henry Francis, Austral Street, Malabar - tobacco worker

Note:– Elizabeth Olive was their mother.

W.D. & H.O. Wills first built their factory “Raleigh Park” at Todman Avenue in Kensington in 1911, beginning operation in 1913. The picture collection of the State Library of NSW and the Randwick City Library Service, Photo Gallery, apart from showing the manufacturing process, includes images showing the many social activities that were provided for employees. Clubs included, Lawn bowls, Basketball [Netball] team, a Cricket team, a large general recreation area, a first aid dispensary and rest area, and a large canteen. It seemed that they were very good to their employees, and a good company to work for, which perhaps accounted for the loyalty shown by family towards this company. My search terms included "Raleigh Park" and "W.D. & H.O Wills", however these images have a copyright attached, and as such I am unable to include them here. I have also found out that British American Tobacco (who took over WD & HO Wills) has an archivist, whom I have been told would be able to help trace the working lives of my family members, though I am still waiting for a reply to my weekly messages - 'tis the holiday season after all!

Women at Work. W.D. & H.O. Wills, Kensington NSW
Another Tobacco worker was my mother’s Great Grand Uncle, John Grey Clifton. Below is a Funeral Notice placed in The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 19, January 1895 - p. 16

The archives relating to the NSW Tobacco Operative's Trade Association mentioned in the notice above, are held at the University of Melbourne, but the 68 boxes held, have restricted access. So quite a bit of research needs to be done if I want to delve further into the working lives of my ancestors.

Not many of my ancestors smoked; I have vague memories of jokes being made at Christmas and family gatherings about cigarettes "... wouldn't touch the things - they're made from sweepings off the floor, you know..."; and I guess with so much involvement they would know.

Walter John Clifton
Even the  more notorious members of the family worked in this trade. My mother's first cousin twice removed, Walter John Clifton's Police report notes his occupation as a Cigar maker.

New South Wales Police Gaol Records
No. 10586
Name: Walter Clifton alias Walter J. Clifton
Date and When Portrait was taken: 4-3-1908
Native Place: West Maitland
Year of Birth: 16 June 1868
Trade or occupation: Cigar maker

Water P.C. (Police Court) - 5/6/93 Riotous behavior  45/- or 7 days Impris. served
Central P.C. - 8/2/94  Assault   24 hours impris. served
Central P.C. - 6/11/00  Drunk and disorderly 1 pound or 7 days impris.

So for better or worse; the good and the bad, tobacco has been a mainstay and the life blood of my family for a very long time, and Tobacco is not such a dirty word after all.

Australian Electoral Rolls from
British American Tobacco
Illustrated Sydney News
Maitland Mercury
Personal papers and photographs held by myself
Sydney Morning Herald

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lavinia Ann Roberts : an addition but no relation

I  have noticed that many online trees, linked to my family have recorded a Lavinia Ann Roberts, as a daughter of John Thomas Roberts and Emma Clifton (my Great, Great Grandparents), born in Hartley NSW on the 8th July 1870. Lavinia married Thomas Veal Lawry in Orange in 1895, and died in Auburn (a Sydney suburb) in 1949. There are many records on Ancestry that verify these details; and only one tree that gives her different parents.

However, another child of John Thomas Roberts and Emma Clifton, Edward John Roberts was also born in 1870 - on August 25, in Maitland!

I was confused! Hartley is near Lithgow in NSW, almost 300km SW of Maitland where our family lived. How could Emma give birth to two children with in months of each other, in towns so far apart? Something was definitely wrong.

Maitland to Hartley NSW; from Google Maps

A cousin of mine, who has been doing research into our Roberts Family for many years, had previously sent me a CD with all his research notes, certificates and photographs - Thanks Mark! My main line of interest however lay in my own line, so I had previously not taken time to check the details of my Great Grandfather's siblings and their families. As I am currently "tidying up" my own tree off line, I finally came to Lavinia and the dilemma noted above became an obsession.

So out came Mark's CD, which I had decided to check more thoroughly and low and behold an absolute gem was staring me in the face - scans of pages from the Family Bible, which has come down through my Great Grandfather's sister's Line - Edith Roberts who married Percival Weeden. A brilliant find from an item I didn't know existed, but now know is the safe hands of my newly found cousin Stuart.

The first page details the marriage of John Thomas Roberts and Emma Clifton in 1865. The second page details the birth of all their children. It was from this evidence that my suspicions were confirmed - no mention of Lavinia Ann!

Cropped image from the Family Bible detailing the births of the 11 Roberts children

This was not really proof enough though. Why had Lavinia been added in the first place? Why had no one bothered to question the births? Why do people just COPY information from tree to tree without ANY evaluation of the information they are adding?  Just duplicating mistakes!

I eventually found a copy of the birth certificate for Lavinina Ann Roberts, born in Hartley in 1870. Her parents were John Roberts and Emma Jane Williams - not Clifton if she belonged to our family.

Birth Certificate of Lavinia Ann Roberts, showing parents as John ROBERTS and Emma Jane WILLIAMS

So please, when you think you have found someone who you think belongs to your family, do some checking first. John Roberts is a common name as was Emma - that does not mean that they are the same John and Emma that belongs to your family tree.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Genealogy Goals and Resolutions for 2012

After reading Jenifer Alison Jones post regarding her “2012 – Genealogical Goals & Resolutions”, I found that the majority of them rang strong bells and were true for me as well. So based on her responses to this question, I have kept many of her answers, and adapted them to my own circumstances

At GeneaBloggers the question was asked on Open Thread Thursday – What Are Your Genealogy Goals and Resolutions for 2012?
·         Keep up to date with other bloggers more than I have this year. The few that I follow, I really enjoy, and learn a lot from, but would like to extend that out to getting to know more bloggers
·         Get my office turned into a "den of genealogy". Lots of tidying, organising and sorting to be done yet to achieve that aim, AND stop using the spare bed as a storage / sorting table!
·         Start the Certificate of Genealogy
·         Continue to scan documents and get them organised
·         Continue to scan photos and organised them
·         Write articles about some of my “Brick Wall” ancestors and submit for publication to Australian Family Tree Connections
·         Write articles regarding my research into my Tasmanian Convict ancestors and submit for publication to the Founders and Survivor’s group’s newsletter “Chain Letter” or Inside History Magazine
·         Join the Inverell District Family History Group, The Glen Innes and District Historical Society and the Armidale Family History Society – Can I really afford all these as well as the Genealogical and Historical Societies I already belong to? These are the ones that would be able to help me the most in breaking down my main brick wall though!
·         Read all I can about Scottish and Irish history and research
·         Visit cemeteries at Rookwood, Randwick, Glen Innes &  Inverell to photograph and record grave sites – all these are in New South Wales and will require some travelling
·         Upload photos and certificates to Family Tree Maker and BACKUP
·         Learn more about Family Tree Maker 2012 and decide whether to upgrade
·         Ensure that all sources in Family Tree Maker are clearly cited and uniform
·         Keep in contact with family members who I have met recently through my online family tree
·         Do a “Research Trip” around New South Wales”, visiting all the local societies, small townships and  relevant cemeteries where my ancestors lived and were buried.
·         Continue to search for my brick-wall, the elusive Owen Smith, a shoemaker at the Station, “Boorolong” near Armidale, NSW
·         Keep in contact with family who are living now, as they are more important than all of the above, especially as I only have a few cousins, close and distant left. I am now part of the older generation, with all Aunts, Uncles and Parents passed away.
Thanks Jenifer for articulating my goals so clearly.
I do tend to get side-tracked quite a bit – as do I.