Friday, January 30, 2015

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 28 - Tombstones

In her 52 Weeks of Genealogy challenge Shauna has chosen Tombstones for her topic for Week 28.  She is so right when she says we all get excited if we discover a tombstone sitting over an ancestor’s grave - I know I certainly do. But she is also right when she warns us that "like all genealogical records we should check the information against other documents. There can be errors in dates, spelling of names and just because someone is on the tombstone, does this mean they are buried there?  Burial records, funeral directors records and death certificates can all confirm what is engraved on a tombstone. We should get into the habit of checking all of these resources for deaths as there may be new or slightly different information on each."

I have been lucky enough to acquire photographs of the headstones of several family members, some during personal visits and others sent by relatives or located online through sites like BillionGraves.  The quality and amount of information on them varies a lot, as does the legibility and the state of preservation of the headstone.  As you can see, the tombstone of Susette Beseler (right) has weathered over the years and now some of the text is quite hard to read.

Other tombstones I have found contain the details of several people, such as the one on the left which is primarily for the Morgan family but also includes one of my Beseler clan, as well as 2 more people with the surname Foran. Given the condition of the tombstone photographed, I would also like to know exactly when it was erected, and by whom.  Certainly the date range covers quite a time period, and the stone probably dates from the time of death of the last person included - was there an older tombstone in place at some time that has now been replaced, or is this a more 'general' tombstone that commemorates several family members buried in the area over time??  Who erected this stone, and where did they obtain the information they have included on it?  I need to delve into the cemetery records for this particular tombstone to find out more - another little project for 2015 to add to my list.

It is worth noting that not all tombstones will actually date from the time the gravesite was actually used - the stones themselves could be installed at a much later date by relatives, or be replcements for older stones which have been damaged or destroyed.

My final tombstone that I will include here it that of my maternal grandmother, Gladys Pummeroy (nee Clark).  When she passed away in 1995 she was buried in Brighton Cemetery in the same plot as her father, James Nicholas Clark, who died in 1924.  Before this the grave had no tombstone at all - for over 70 years James lay in an unmarked grave - and while I am confident the information my family has included is correct (birth and death certificates, burial records etc all agree) this may not always be the case.

Thanks Shauna for another great topic - click here to read Shauna's full post on Tombstones.

Friday, January 23, 2015

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 27 - Census

Shauna has chosen Census Records for Week 27, and I must confess I do love England's wealth of census records, and have often railed against their loss in Australia.
In her blog Shauna says "I am sure all of us have benefited from being able to search the digitised copies of the UK census for ourselves. We can simply look up the indexed records in Ancestry or Findmypast and go straight to the correct image. But and there is always a but, not everything is straightforward or we don’t have instant access to subscription databases."  She adds that "Poor handwriting and indexing errors are an issue although we can search on given names and perhaps discover the surname that way."

I have spent quite a bit of time searching various branches of my family, and it is always fascinating to follow a family or individual through several censuses - children are born, grow up and leave home, a spouse might die and the survivor remarry, the family might move, and so on.  I also have a few gaps in the census records for my family - where were they on census night??  Hiding?  Abroad?  Or is the handwriting so illegible or the name so misspelt that thus far I simply can't track them down?

One family I have followed through the census is my Hines branch of the family tree.  In the 1841 census (right) parents James and Susan are alive and children John, Samuel, Albert and Hannah are listed with them.  Eldest daughter Susannah is not home on census night and so not listed here.

By the time of the next census in 1851, circumstances have changed for the family.  Both parents have died, and the five siblings have been split up.  The two eldest children, Susannah and John, now aged 18 and 16, are living with their maternal grandparents and are listed below as house servant and farm servant respectively.

Middle child Samuel, age 14, has been found a home with relatives, and is listed as a lodger in the house of James Prentice.  His maternal grandmother Susannah's maiden name was Prentice (she is the Susannah Woollard listed above, who took in the two eldest children), and James Prentice is her nephew.

The two youngest children, Albert, now age 12 and Hannah, age 10, have been less fortunate.  Apparently there were no relatives willing and able to take these youngest children, and they are listed in the census as paupers in the Cosford Union Workhouse.

Once again, thanks to Shauna for her 52 week challenge - she really makes me go back to my research and have a think.  The read Shauna's full blog on Census Records, please click here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Inside History Magazine

Issue 26 Jan-Feb 2015 edition of Inside History magazine is now available. Articles include:
  • How the hundreds of thousands of Wills now online can help find your family
  • The overshadowed Gallipoli campaign of Australia’s submarine AE2
  • Thomas Keneally’s top tips for writing history
  • Ludwig Becker, Australia’s unsung explorer, artist and scientist who aided Burke and Wills on their fateful expedition
  • How genetics and genealogy form our shared past
  • Discovering 1840s Tasmania through the recollections of a convict diarist
  • Plotting our climate’s history using the logbooks of early 20th-century voyages
  • The go-getting businesswoman whose prominent Melbourne photography studios flourished through the Depression and two world wars – and captured some famous faces
  • An exciting World War II oral history project underway in Perth
  • The oldest clipper ship in the world, soon to open for public tours
Inside History magazine is available through most newsagents, or can be downloaded FREE by members of Campaspe Regional Library through Zinio, our e-Magazines platform.  Ask our staff for more information.

Friday, January 16, 2015

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 26 - School Records

Shauna has chosen School Records for Week 26 of her 52 Weeks of Genealogy, which I have been following during the past year and will continue to follow in 2015.  A huge thank you goes to Shauna for creating this blog challenge - she had certainly prompted me to look more closely at some of the categories of records available and how I might use them better.
In her blog, Shauna tells us that "you can look for school admission or pupil registers and find out when ancestors went to school and where. If you have teachers in the family you can find out lots of biographical and career information on them. Finally when a new school was being established, the Education Department often did a survey of families to see which children might attend the school if it was established."
I have a few school records for my ancestors, including all my mother's school photos.  I have to admit this is not an area I have explored as thoroughly as I should - although I know a fair bit about my parents' schooling I haven't traced back further generations to find where they went to school. 
The photo below is of my father Peter Green, with older brother Les and younger sister Marjory on their way home from Bambill North Primary School, taken about 1935 or 36.  Dad would have been 9 years old, Les 11 and Marjory 7.

The children drove themselves to school from the farm where they lived and had to arrive early enough each day to care for their horse before the school day began.  For them and many other farm children, this was their only alternative to a long walk to and from school each day.
Click here to read Shauna's full blog post on School Records.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2014

 Jill Ball at Geniaus invited all we bloggers to look back on the year that was and reflect on the high points of our genealogy researching endeavours.  Anyone can take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post. Jill asks us to write as much or as little as we want or just answer a few questions.
Once you have done so please share your post’s link in a comment on Jill’s original post or via email to Jill will then do a compilation of responses so that we can all share in and celebrate each other’s successes.  So here I go :

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was - Great Uncle Percy Pike.  I have been looking everywhere for him in England (his family all lived in Suffolk).  Why could I find no trace of him??  Because he emigrated to Canada!

2.  A precious family photo I found was - copies of some old postcards from the village in Essex where my father's father was born.

3.  An ancestor's grave I found was - Percy Pike's (see point 1).

4.  An important vital record I found was - I actually did quite well here, with a gift subscription to Essex Ancestors netting me a huge amount of Baptism, Marriage and Burial records (and exceeding my download limit TWICE in a month!).

5.  A newly found family member shared - didn't do so well here.  Second cousins twice removed - where are you all??

6.  A geneasurprise I received was - all the new information coming online.  I am constantly amazed by just how much is being transcribed, digitised, and put online.

7.   My 2014 blog post that I was particularly proud of was - all of them!!  Just keeping going was an achievement in itself.  A big thank you to those who read my blog - and who come into Echuca library to chat to me about it.

8.   My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was - the timetable for my talks for Family History Month in August - and a huge thank you to all those who attended.  We all had a lot of fun and everyone's feedback was so positive.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was - Windows 8.1 and all the associated changes to my computer.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was - Blogger!!  But of course.....

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was - the Unlock the Past February 2014 cruise.  I am cruising again - what a great combination of genealogy conference and holiday.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to - The group at Echuca Library in Family History Month (see point 8).

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was - Not yet!

14. I taught a friend how to - attach an image to her Ancestry family tree.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was - Tracing your Family History on the internet by Chris Paton.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was - State Library of Victoria.  I don't get there as often as I'd like, so when I do I come armed with a LIST!

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was - my online subscription to Who Do You Think You Are magazine - no more waiting for it to ship from England - I receive it electronically the SAME DAY it is published over there.

18. It was exciting to finally meet - Jill Ball on the February Genealogy cruise - and everyone else I chatted to / shared a meal with / sat next to / shared stories with etc.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was - that cruise (really enjoyed it, you know).

20. Another positive I would like to share is - I was given a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive for Christmas (thanks Mum).  Fortunately the library is closed between Christmas and New Year.  Unfortunately I've exceeded my monthly internet download limit again...