Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Accentuate the positive .... 2013 in review

Accentuate the Positive 2013 Geneameme.

In 2012, Jill, aka Geniaus pointed out that many of us set goals for our genealogy output for the upcoming year. By the end of that year, we feel that we have not achieved what we set out to do. Whereas in reality we have often achieved more than we think. So this Geneameme is meant to make us look back over the past year and take stock of just how much we have accomplished. She has set the challenge once more looking over the year just passed, 2013

Thanks Geniaus, I will attempt to answer some of your questions
Remember to accentuate the positive.

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was:
The origins of my Dillon Family in Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

2.  A precious family photo I found was of:
My Great Aunt, Eliza “Pearl” Smith, as a young woman, artfully seated on rocks beside a river

3.  An important vital record I found was:
The workhouse records of my convict ancestor Olive King of Brighton, Sussex, UK from the East Sussex Record Office. I had found some information on her from just doing a Google search and became intrigued. This information came from "The Workhouses an Institution : Brighton (Brighthelmstone), Sussex"
"In April, 1839, Sophia Clifton aged 17, and Olive King aged 16 charged in the local courts with the theft of a Brighton Workhouse uniform (the clothing they were wearing after absconding), and, the attempted theft of alternative clothing valued at 7/-. Having been found guilty on both counts, the two were transported to Australia for 14 years for this "wicked" crime. At this time, it is said that young females who were deemed to be "less sullied" by the male workhouse inmates, to be sent to the colonies for long periods in the hope that they would remain and become brides for convict labour who had completed their sentences"

4.  A newly found family member who shared:  
Both my mother’s cousin from Queensland, Pam, and my father’s cousin’s daughter from Glen Innes were very generous with their time, information and were just plain fun to talk to and get to know

5.  A geneasurprise I received was:
Being interviewed by Gini Webb  to be featured in Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBlogger site, entitled “May I Introduce you to…. Linda Ottery”

6.   My 2013 blog post that I was particularly proud of was:
Lost in time. After such a long break from blogging (Over 12 months), I was quite hesitant; it took a great leap of faith to just write something and try and get back into the swing of things - it worked; the network of Geneabloggers was still there and very supportive - Thank you all!

7.   My 2013 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was:

As I only composed 4 posts this year, I am not sure how to judge this. Some had lots of hits, while others had more comments and "+1" on Google +. I think that is for my readers to decide.

8.  A new piece of software I mastered was: 
Evernote and Google Hangouts on Air

9. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was:
Facebook; previously I had only used it for sharing stuff with friends and Family

10. A genealogy webinar on YouTube from which I learnt something new was:
From regularly watching  DearMYRTLE'S Monday’s with Myrt regularly each Tuesday morning

11. A great repository/archive I visited was:
One of my very own treasures which is comprised of two albums full of postcards collected by my Grandmother since she was a child. The first album was presented to her in 1908. From that time on, all family postcards which had such simple messages as “See you Saturday for lunch” to extensive messages home from her wounded uncle recovering in an English hospital during WWI, were passed onto Nana and is now a mighty treasure trove and insight into my Morgan family. I have scanned one of the cards  [n.d.] iespecially for Jill, as most of us are aware, her family has a close connection to Cobar in NSW, so I thought she may enjoy this little treasure.

The "Beauties" of Cobar cannot be exaggerated
To busy to write
12. A new genealogy / history book I enjoyed was:
A history of the Holder Family of Inverell (NSW), written, compiled and published, by a distant cousin. As I had contributed information and helped in some corrections over the 18 months from it's inception to publication this December, I received a thank you in the acknowledgments. And if I do say so myself, it is one of the better quality  self published family histories that I have seen

13. Another positive I would like to share is:
Though it has been a difficult year, and the amount of time spent on Family history severely curtailed, by completing this meme, it shows that though I felt the year was unproductive, in reality that is far from the truth – so thanks Jill for making me see the positive!

Monday, December 30, 2013

An Australian New Year's Eve.... 1912 Style

Australians are a "Weird Mob" as John O'Grady aka "Nino Culotta" once said.

An article I found on Trove from the The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Saturday 28 December 1912, page 14 describes a very "proper", though community spirited New Year's celebration.

National Library of Australiahttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1983053
"New Year's Eve at Sandgate
A novel entertainment is to be held on the Rectory Hill at Sandgate Central on Tuesday evening (New Year's Eve). The hill, which is just above the Post Office, is to be illuminated with 400 coloured lamps and by the local Gas Company. An ox is to be roasted whole, and there is to be "a grand parish feast" in the old English style. The ground will be open at 6 o'clock and supper will be served at 10. The menu will consist of roast beef, plum pudding, and home brewed ale, and also other other refreshments and amusements, with open air promenade concert, band music, and village dances. At midnight, a watch-night open air service will be heralded by the chiming of a peal of bells, which will ring the old year out and the new year in, followed by Christmas carols, sung by St. Nicholas's choir. The Railway Department has arranged for a special midnight train to leave Sandgate Central at 12:15 for the city and intermediate stations."

While a post card sent to my Great Grandmother in December of the same year, 1912, and passed onto my Grandmother for her collection, shows the irreverent and larrikin side of Australian humour

Hoping you may fall into a good thing in the New Year 
So whether you are having a civilized and quite New Year's celebration, with fiends and family, go to bed early with a cuppa, or go a bit wild and let your hair down, I wish you all the best for the New Year, and may many brick walls tumble down and new friendships be forged.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Question of Storage

I have been reading the Olive Tree Genealogy blog regarding the storage (and sorting) of original documents that are important to keep for further generations. Sadly, not many of the old documents come in a standard size like today. The pages were foolscap size, certificates almost square, writing paper came in all shapes and sizes and not a lot of my precious documents fit neatly into the archival sleeves, binders or boxes that I have purchased.

I have an insurance policy bought for my Grandmother, by her mother, when she was one year old in 1903 and is way bigger than A3 size, and I hate having it folded. I also have a wedding invitation that is about two inches high, and about 8 inches wide; it is meant to fold over on two sides with the invitation in the covered middle space, but again, I'd rather have it unfolded. Neither of these items, nor a myriad of other documents, such as the blueprint for my grandfather’s house will fit into the average archival box or sleeve without retaining the damaging folds. My ultimate aim is to keep these documents in as good a condition as possible for many, many years to come. Many of them have not been treated kindly in the past and it is now time for some TLC.

When reading about the conservation of paper materials, it is always made clear that items should not be folded, staples and paper clips should be removed, and any even minor folds of the corner of documents should be straightened out. This is the absolute basic rule; before they even start to discuss the types of archival sleeve and container, where best to store fragile papers to protect them from heat and humidity... it is quite a complex topic, and let's face it, our private collections are valuable assets and should be treated with as much respect as any national depository treats their collections.  

Many of these documents such as the blueprints have not been scanned, I will have to find a place that has a scanner big enough to accommodate such oversized pages, and probably have to pay a premium to have it done – the blueprint is massive – almost the size of a single bed!

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to store really oversized documents and odd shaped ones?

Any and all ideas welcome, and many thanks to Lorine for her blog and interesting thoughts on this overwhelming subject.

For information about best practice in dealing with paper the following two sites are most informative

·         National Archives of Australia

·         Library of Congress

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Owen Smith, Shoemaker.... and Drunkard

A brick begins to fall from my wall 

To date, Owen Smith has been my most difficult ancestor to trace in Australia. At last a clue has appeared as to the death of my elusive paternal Great, Great Grandfather, with my scant knowledge of him being that he was a shoemaker on the station “Boorolong” located near Armidale in New South Wales. I can now add that he was a drunkard!

The only clue to Owen’s existence had been his name, occupation and place of residence, which appeared on the Baptismal certificate of his son, William Smith, born on May 11, 1854





Quality or profession


Christiana SMITH



Received after requesting certificate registration number: V18541034 40/1854
Name: William Smith
From: NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages – Historical Index

However recently, I discovered a list of deaths dealt with by the NSW coroner from 11 October 1853, where an Owen Smith died in the Armidale district of “Excessive drinking”; the inquest taking place on the 30th of November 1853. No other information as to age, occupation or any other identifying clues are included, but it does fit the timeline and location. 

Owen Smith, number 95, 3rd from bottom
Although, again, there is no record of their marriage, this would have left his widowed wife, Christiana Matheson, pregnant and a single mother for three years before she remarried Jabez Smith (no relation), a worker on the same property, on February 17, 1857, giving her status as “Shoemaker’s widow”. I ask myself why though was Owen not noted as deceased on the baptismal certificate?

Portion of marriage certificate between Christiana Smith (Matheson) and Jabez Smith

Searching the death indexes of the NSW Births Deaths and Marriages Registrations for that year with for “Owen Smith” returns no results. Searching with just the surname “Smith” returns 61 results. Checking this list carefully finds that there are no Ewan’s, or anything other likely name that may indicate a misspelling.

Checking Trove (Australian Digitized newspapers) reveals only four mentions of an “Owen Smith” during 1853, none of them relevant to my search; though it is possible that the newspapers covering the New England area for period in question have yet to be added to Trove. I also checked the NSW Police Gazettes, which, as far as I can, tell only began in 1854, but perhaps that is just the digitized version.

There are only a few people named “Owen Smith” whom appear in the arrival search results. One, a child aged 15, who was allowed to come to Australia from Ireland with his family to be reunited with his convict father, Patrick Smith on the "William Jardine" in 1838, seemed the most likely candidate, however this Owen has a well documented life and family, and is definitely not my Owen. There were also at least four convicts with the same name, transported from Ireland and England during the years previous to 1853. Without tracing each of their lives and time in the colony, in would be impossible to say which, if any were my Owen. There are also no recorded births for an "Owen Smith" in NSW up to 1840.

I am unsure where to search next and would appreciate any advice as to finding a death certificate for my elusive Great, Great Grandfather, so that I can gather some information that may lead to discovering how and when he came to the colony or where and when he was born; when he was married and when he died. What is really needed is a trip to Armidale to check local records, but that is impossibility for me in my current circumstances. If there are any local researchers, I would be willing to pay for your time, so please contact me.

But there are tingles running up and down my spine, and I feel that now that a brick has come loose, it will not be long before the wall comes tumbling down


Certificates held by self
NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages; Historical indexes
State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. Registers of Coroners’ Inquests and Magisterial Inquiries, 1834–1942 (microfilm, NRS 343, rolls 2921–2925, 2225, 2763–2769).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thomas William Tracy : a Salvation Army man

Thomas William [de] Tracey / Tracy : Salvation Army Officer.

In search of descendants

In days gone by, it seems that communication was not so different from today. While today’s communication may take the form of a quick email or text, previously, especially with the advent of the photographic post card, many were whipped up and sent off to family members both close and distant, with message that seem obscure to many, the meaning only decipherable by the recipient. My husband’s ancestors seemed to be very prolific post card writers, and I have in my possession one sent from Thomas W. de Tracey to an unknown family member. Thomas William Tracy / Tracey was only very indirectly linked to my husband’s maternal family via the sister of his mother. I would dearly like to reunite this wonderful photograph, with its accompanying message to a direct descendant, instead it of lying idle in the bottom of my unknown photos box.

The photo, taken in Ararat, Victoria or its surrounds, shows Thomas de Tracey standing, dressed in his Salvation Army uniform, along with salutation, “Yours on service, Thomas W. de Tracey” across the front of the picture. The photograph was taken by “TRG Williams, photographer and picture framer ARARAT” This photographer's mark takes the form of a blue oval ink stamp, placed on the top left corner of the post card.

The card has no postmark, so the date it was sent is unknown, but with the inclusion of the “de” in his name it would most likely been taken around 1915-1920 based on the response received from the Salvation Army archivist, which is included below.  No postal address is recorded either, just the message written on the verso which reads:

“I hope you know who this is? It isn’t Felix O’Callaghan on his last legs, but simply your humble [illegible]
Hope you like it.
Ta – ta,
Be a good boy,

I carried out some research on Officer Tracey through the Salvation Army Archives, the Victorian Births Deaths and Marriages historical online indexes, and a quick search for any reference to him on any Australian Ancestry family trees, as well as Google. Enough information was gained from these sources to clearly identify him, without going to the expense of purchasing all relevant certificates for someone, who is so distantly related, that he and his family have not been added to my family tree - though I did purchase his marriage certificate, which I thought would give the most accurate information as it was provided by the man,  (along with his wife, who was herself a Salvation Army Officer) himself.

After my initial enquiry with Salvation Army Archivist, located in Melbourne, the answer I received states that:

“I have found that we had a Thomas De Tracey who was a Salvation Army officer. At times the 'de' was omitted and he was Thomas Tracey. It seems he became an officer in 1904, was married by 1915 and in 1922 was no longer an officer, but attended the Sunshine or Footscray Corps. It was in 1922 that an infant was dedicated. In 1904 he was appointed to Devonport, 1906 he was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. In 1907 he seemed to be a member of the Biorama Company, 1907 he was appointed to Beaconsfield, 1909 he was appointed to Rochester [Vic.], 1917 he was appointed to Preston [Vic.] We do not have any photos of him, so are not able to confirm him with the photo you sent. However, the initials T.W. in our database would seem to be the same person. It seems that after his marriage the 'de' was used.
Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can help further.
Dorothy Hill, Mrs.
Research Officer”

I fully understand the implications for the compounding of errors on many family trees that are found online, however having been in contact with some of the owners of the trees in which Thomas was found in trying to locate direct descendants, I believe that the majority of the information to be well sourced and correct.

The information I gained from ancestry.com.au indicates that Thomas William Tracy, the son of Thomas Henry TRACY (1857-1921) and  Alice Jane CUTTING (1862-1949) who married in 1883, was born in St. Arnaud, Victoria, during 1884, dying in Fairfield, Victoria, on the 19th June 1964. He was the eldest of nine children. His 8 siblings, all born in St. Arnaud, Victoria were named:

1.    Edward Ernest Tracy (1887-1963)
2.    Alfred Frank Tracy (1888-1889)
3.    George James Tracy (1893-1959)
4.    Ellen Martha Tracy (1895-1963)
5.    John Clifford Tracy (1897-1897)
6.    Alice Florence Tracy (1898-1898)
7.    Arthur Patrick Albert Tracy (1900- ?)

Thomas De Tracy married Eleanor Gertrude Barnett (born 1883 in Hamilton, Victoria, her parents being George William BARNETT and Elizabeth Ann ALDRIGE) at the Salvation Army Hall in St. Arnaud, Victoria, on the 22nd December 1914. Their children are unrecorded in any of the online trees, though as stated in the response from the Salvation Army, it seems they did have at least one child. The restrictions placed on searching births recorded in Victoria only prior to 1913, means that it is impossible to check how many children were born to this couple.

I find the decision to change his surname fascinating. The fact that his surname and that of his father and siblings were all spelt TRACY is obvious from the birth records. That he decided to not only add the “de” in front of his surname seems odd, but to also change the spelling to TRACEY seems even stranger.  This change of spelling is noted in his marriage and death certificate and indexes, as well as on numerous Australian Electoral Rolls after 1915 while previous Electoral Rolls for 1907 and 1909 have his name recorded as TRACY. I am sure this is the same man, as his occupation in each case is given as Salvation Army Officer.

If anyone with direct links to this upstanding young man would like to have this original photographic post card, I would be happy to pass it along to home were it can be truly valued. If a home among descendants cannot be found, I may donate it to the Salvation Army for their records, if they are willing to give it a good home.           

·      Ancestry Australia public family trees
·      Australian Electoral Rolls sourced on Ancestry Australia online
·      Photograph held by self
·      Salvation Army Archives, Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria
·      Victorian Birth Deaths and Marriages Index
·      Victorian Marriage certificate purchased by self