Friday, February 19, 2021

Filling in the Details

A few weeks ago I published a post about the divorce of my great grandfather James Nicholas Clark from his first wife Eliza (nee Hawley).  Until recently my only documentation of this divorce came from newspaper reports of the court proceedings and James's marriage certificate to his second wife Pricilla (nee Mulholland) which describes him as a divorcee.

Then I was exploring new records available on Ancestry and saw they had listed Victorian Divorce Records 1860-1940.

I immediately did a search of this specific record set for James Clark and came up with a listing for his divorce, complete with a link to the original documents.

Viewing the record was the bonanza - some 55 pages of statements and court proceedings and other documents.  Full details of the circumstances of the marriage and its breakdown, dates and addresses, and the final Decree Nisi that dissolved the marriage.  

These documents fill in the detail of the marriage breakdown and subsequent divorce and are a wonderful find!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

What's New on Ancestry

It has been a while since I have taken the time to have a look at what new records are available on Ancestry, and thus searchable on Ancestry Library Edition.  Over  the last months, quite a number of record datasets have been added, updated or expanded, and it is well worth another look.

Recent additions for Australia include graves, obituaries, funeral and death records ; Victorian passenger lists, Air Force personnel records, Divorce records, Coroners Inquests and more. 

Recent additions to the United Kingdom records include prison records, burials at sea, pension ledgers and non-conformist records.

While any of these records may turn up during a general search, you can also click on the tab in Ancestry for New Collections to see what is available.  You can narrow down by type of record, location or year range, then click on any specific collection of records to search them specifically.

So have a look at what is new since your last visit to Ancestry that may have records for your family history.  You never know what may have just been added that will fill in more detail for your family history.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

WDYTYA Magazine

The latest issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine is now available free online for Campaspe Library members via our subscription to RB Digital eMagazines.

Inside this month's issue

  • 17th century research Janet Few explains how our Stuart ancestors lived, and how to trace them in the records
  • One-name studies Debbie Kennett explores the many benefits to researching a single surname in depth
  • Regency etiquette Take a trip back to Bridgeton-era England with Mallory James' guide to the dos and don'ts of Georgian times
  • Baptism registers Paul Blake gives his expert tips on finding the earliest records of your ancestor's life
  • My family heroHelen Brooks' great aunt was a nun who died saving lives
  • Plus: How to find muster rolls, understanding Freemasons' records, the lives of nail-makers and much more...

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Family History Down Under goes Virtual

Yet another genealogy conference has made the decision to 'go virtual' as the Covid-19 pandemic and accompanying travel restrictions continue to impact our daily lives.  This time it is the Family History Down Under conference, scheduled for the Sunshine Coast next month.

Now completely online, the conference is split into 4 streams - DNA ; Researching abroad ; Australia and New Zealand ; Methodology / General.  Attendees can book either for particular streams at $145 each or all 4 for $375.

So what does you money get for you?  According to the conference website, the following is included

  • Access to presentations during the conference
        - 6 presentations for each track / day booked
        - 24 presentations for the whole conference - if booked
  • Access to the conference recordings - until 31 July 2021
        - 20-25 for each track booked
        - 70+ for megabundle (all 4 tracks) - if booked
  • Entitlement to join the digital hubs (Facebook groups) for tracks you have booked for - for Q&A and with speakers and other experts for a limited time after the conference,
  • FHDU special offers for our sponsors
  • Inclusion in the prize draw (all who pre-book) - expected to be over $10,000 in value
  • Ehandouts (notes) from speakers
  • A (real) conference kit posted to those who pre-book by 9 March, with
        - printed conference program and guide
        - printed discount coupons booklet - with a variety of sponsor discounts and special offers
        - printed conference bookshop catalogue - hundreds of products with discounts up to 50%
        - other items offered by sponsors (bulky items may be excluded from kits posted outside Australia)
  • Discount vouchers towards FHDU Online events
        - one coupon valued at AU$49 - with a single track booking
        - two coupons, value totalling $98 - with a megabundle booking (or two or more tracks)
  • Genealogy ebooks discount voucher
        - AU$50 - with a single track booking
        - AU$100 - with a megabundle booking (or two or more tracks)
While nothing beats the atmosphere and networking of a live conference, having so many conferences and classes going virtual over the past year has prompted a dramatic rise in the number I have actually attended, as usually for many I cannot afford overseas travel or cannot take the time off work.  Now I attend from the comfort of home, usually at my own pace, and often revisit particularly interesting talks to take more notes.  It is great for my learning and research.

So have a look at the topics and speakers for FHDU, and see if it is a conference you might like to attend.  From the comfort of home.

Friday, February 5, 2021

New Family History Library Webpage

FamilySearch International has announced the launch of a new webpage for its Family History Library, located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The new Family History Library webpage enables guests to better access existing site services, such as visitor information, collections and hours of operations, and introduces many new and expanded services. For example, patrons worldwide can now schedule 20-minute appointments for free personal research consultations with a specialist. And book look-up services will be coming soon.

David Rencher, the chief genealogy officer for FamilySearch and director of the Family History Library, says this resource is just the beginning of plans for the library’s updated web presence. “Moving forward, we will build out the webpage to help our patrons’ and guests’ expanding needs with a global reach.”

The webpage is available in German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Chinese. Japanese and Italian languages will be added soon.

“The Family History Library offers the largest collection of genealogical materials in one place, making it a premier destination for family history resources and genealogical expertise,” added Rencher. “Its mission is constantly expanding to meet the evolving needs of guests throughout the world—and at no charge.”

Although the library itself is currently closed due to a global pandemic, the new website allows it to deliver online many of its services for patrons worldwide.  So tame a few minutes to have a look at the new webpage and see what it can offer you in your family history research.

Friday, January 29, 2021

FHF Really Useful Family History Show

The Family History Federation are holding their second 'Really Useful Family History Show' on Saturday 10 April 2021.  The event will be completely online, allowing those of us on the other side of the world - or just down the road but in lockdown - to attend Covid safe from the comfort of home.  

They have lined up a great list of speakers and early bird tickets at £7.50 are available until 31 January. 

The current list of speakers includes :

  • Muck & muscle : canal & railway navvies – Ian Waller FSG
  • Wills Pre-1858 – Les Mitchinson
  • Missing from home – David Eniffer
  • Coram’s children : the history of the Foundling Hospital – Jane King
  • Searching for ancestors when you are adopted – Penny Walters
  • The family detective : a forensic look at the history of family photography – Stephen Gill
  • The Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Ian Everest
  • Deaths at sea – Simon Wills
  • Using Irish wills and testamentary records – Natalie Bodle
  • From Victorians to Elizabethans : some sources for tracing our English ancestors from 1901-1952 – Janet Few
  • DNA for dummies – Linda Hammond
  • Give your research the WDYTYA? treatment – Sarah Williams
 So take a look and consider attending another great online event.

Monday, January 25, 2021

A Sad Demise

Over the years of my research I have discovered several ancestors who spent time in institutions such as workhouses, orphanages and lunatic asylums.  Two of my Great Great grandfathers died in lunatic asylums, both from what we understand today to be dementia.

For many families, caring for an elderly relative, especially one who had developed dementia, was simply not possible, and before the rise of affordable nursing homes and old age care there were few places where the elderly could be cared for.  In times when dementia was little understood and any kind of mental illness carried a weight of social stigma for the family as well as the sufferer, hiding the person away in an institution was a frequent solution.  Others, unable to care for themselves because of their deteriorating mental state, were arrested for various reasons and ended up before the courts.  Many ended up in lunatic asylums, spending their declining years in conditions that today we would consider inhumane and totally unacceptable.  For my ancestor Edward Beseler, this was to be his fate.

Edward Beseler was born in 1836 in Neubukow, Germany and emigrated to Australia as a child with his family, father Carl Friedrich Beseler, mother Susetta Eva (Lisette) nee Farchens and 4 siblings.  The family arrived in Adelaide in 1847 on the ship Pauline, with the ship's passenger list describing Carl Beseler as a shoemaker.  The family lived in Adelaide for several years before travelling to Victoria, settling on a farm in Ercildown.

Edward was naturalised as an Australian citizen in 1863, and married Emma Flower in 1865.  Emma was born 19 September 1841 in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales and died 1 August 1882 in Donald, Victoria.  Together the couple had 10 children.

By 1900, Edward was in his 60s and showing signs of dementia.  Matters came to a head in 1909 when he appeared in court (see report below) on the charge of having insufficient means of support, was found to be insane and an order of commitment was made.

From the Ballarat Star, 4 February 1909

Edward was admitted to the Ararat Mental Asylum, where he was assessed, found to be suffering from senility, and committed to the wards.  In his asylum record below he is described at the time of his admission as being in fair bodily health for his age, clean and tidy but difficult to communicate with as he was quite deaf and illiterate, and described as suffering from delusions.  While there are only a few doctor's notes in his file, by 1917 Edward's health was deteriorating and he died in the asylum on 7 December 1918, only a few months short of 10 years after his admission.

Asylum Record page 1
Asylum Record page 2

Asylum Record page 3