Thursday, June 28, 2018

Week 24 - Father's Day - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 24 is Father's Day, and like Mother's Day in Week 19, it was a special day in the family calendar.
Father's Day was probably less stressful for Dad than Mother's Day was for my mother, as it didn't involve children invading his domain and creating a mess.  Like Mother's Day, Father's Day involved a special breakfast followed by handmade cards and handmade gifts, after which Dad usually disappeared into his shed and his garden.  As my sister and I grew older the gifts generally improved, although Dad always insisted that he didn't want a fuss, didn't want presents, didn't need anything and we weren't to waste our money.  We always made a fuss, however, and I think Dad looked forward to his special day each year.
The Green family c1974
Even after we left home, we always acknowledged Father's Day and tried to make it home whenever we could.  Father's Day when we couldn't make it back was somewhat problematic, as Dad was profoundly deaf and virtually never used the telephone, so it was generally up to Mum to relay messages and pass on our thanks and good wishes.
Gifts for Dad were often practical - knitted gloves and beanies, books and magazines, plants and goodies for his garden.  Usually a cake was made at home (with Mum's help until we grew older) and iced and decorated with much more enthusiasm than skill.  It was still a chance to say thanks to Dad, for whom family was the most important thing in his life, and acknowledge how much he did for us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Week 23 - Going to the Chapel - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 23 - Going to the Chapel - immediately brings to mind the church my father's family regularly attended in Fordham, Essex. 
Old postcard featuring Fordham Church
Fordham All Saints church was build in approximately 1340 and restored in 1861.  In 1965 it was designated a Grade 1 listed building.  It was my father's family church for many generations and their home was only a few minute's walk away.
Chelmsford Chronicle, Friday 1 Jan 1904
As in many small villages, the Church was at the centre of village life.  Many of the records I have for my family centre around the church - baptisms, weddings, funerals, Sunday School, fundraising and poor relief - and several such events were not only to be found in the church records but also reported in local newspapers, such as the funeral above.
Fordham Church - several of the old headstones belong to my Green family 

It is wonderful that the old church still stands and is used today by new generations, and I hope one day to make the journey back to England and visit it myself.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Week 22 - So Far Away - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

The prompt for Week 22 is "So Far Away", and it makes me think of how brave some of my ancestors were to leave their homes and move to the other side of the world to Australia.  The were so far away from everything familiar - family and friends, the locale and society they were used to.  Everything would be strange to them - the weather, the landscape, the plants and animals, in some cases even the language would be different.  Who would find it most difficult - those how came alone, or those who came with a family group?  Each would face different challenges.  Those who came out to Australia alone faced extra loneliness and isolation, while those who came with family had the additional responsibility of dependents to look after.  How brave - or how desperate - must parents have been to pack up their children and head off into the unknown?

I have had several ancestors make the decision to emigrate to Australia.  Several came from England, the most recent being my father's parents who arrived in Victoria in 1907 on the ship 'Essex'.  Ancestors on my mother's side arrived in Australia earlier, and came from England, Ireland and Germany.

One ancestor, Alexander Davis, emigrated from England with his wife Margaret and their 5 children.  Alexander and Margaret (nee Farmer) had married in 1843 and ten years later they chose to make the journey to the colony.  Tragically, Margaret died at sea during the voyage giving birth to twins.  Neither twin survived, and Alexander found himself in the colony of Victoria, sole parent to five children, all under 10 years old.  Home and family must have seemed very far away indeed, but Alexander and his children built new lives for themselves and thrived in Victoria.

Another ancestor Friedrich Beseler was born in Germany in 1810, and married Susetta Farkins on July 17th 1838.  They and their 5 children emigrated to South Australia in 1848 on the ship Pauline, spending a few years near Adelaide before traveling overland to Ercildown in Victoria.  Friedrich, known as Frederick in Australia, was a shoemaker by profession, but the family settled on the land and farmed.  Friedrich died December 11th 1862, just 2 years after his wife Susetta, who died September 29th 1860.  Their eldest son Edward (born 1837 in Germany) married Emma Flower in Victoria in 1865, and they raised 9 children before Edward died December 7th 1918 in Ararat.  For this family the decision to settle in Australia would not only mean traveling to the other side of the world but also learning a new language as well as a new way of life.

'So far away' indeed.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Week 21 - Military - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 21 has the theme of Military, and I have a number of military records from my family.  My father, several uncles, great uncles, cousins once and twice removed, and other various family members served in the two World Wars, and we were incredibly lucky to have the majority of them return.  In fact, with the exception a second cousin once removed, all those who fought in the war,  on both my mother's and father's sides of the family, returned home.  Our only immediate loss was my mother's middle brother, James Pummeroy, who died in 1947 in Argentina, while serving in the Merchant Navy.  Clearly in our family, you were safer on the front lines!
James Pummeroy, last photo taken before his death.

James Pummeroy was born 6th July 1927 and was killed in Argentina 5th October 1947, technically after the war was over, when he fell between his ship and the wharf and was drowned.  The ship was in Argentina to pick up a load of horses to transport to Poland as part of the rebuilding of Europe. 

While my grandmother would very rarely talk about his loss, my mother, who was only 5 years old when her brother died, could remember the arrival of the telegram informing the family of his death.  Although the family had very little money, my grandparents spent several years sending money overseas to pay for the grave plot where he was buried, although I do not know if the grave still survives.  Although all the family were Anglican, James was buried in a Catholic cemetery, and the Argentinian priest who officiated sent the family a set of black and white photographs of the funeral, complete with black hearse drawn by four black horses with large feathered plumes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

WDYTYA Magazine

The latest issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine is now available to download and read electronically free via RB Digital for our Campaspe Library members.
Inside this month's issue :
  • Parish registers
    Jonathan Scott reveals how to track down digitised parish registers across the British Isles
  • Ruled by the Reich
    Duncan Barrett shares Channel Islanders' remarkable memories of five years under German occupation
  • Future of UK archives
    Rosemary Collins investigates the unprecedented challenges facing local archives, from spending cuts to new technology
  • Reader story
    Jan Saunders celebrates her gran's work as a Red Cross nurse in WW1
  • Suffrage ancestors
    Nell Darby reveals her top tips for tracing your suffragette and suffragist ancestors, like Michelle Keegan
  • Plus...
    The best websites for tracing American ancestors; the history of school exams; the lives of ancestors who worked as lady's maids, and much more...

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Week 20 - Another Language - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

One of the biggest challenges I have found in researching my family history is when I find myself faced with researching in another language.  I'm sure this is a fairly common problem - there would be very few of us who have 100% English ancestors.  And even is you do, eventually you will start to find old documents and records written in Latin - assuming you are lucky enough to trace your family far back enough. 

Currently among my ancestors I have a branch who came from Germany - and I find my one year of high school German is simply not enough when working with many of the documents I have which are written in German.  Google translate is a huge help when I am drafting letters, visiting German websites and so on, but many of the old  documents I have are hand written, and it simply cannot translate them for me.  I sit there with my English-German dictionary and work through the document word by word, writing out an English copy, frequently muttering away to myself as I work.  At least my year of study - so many years ago now - helps a bit.

The further I go back, the more the old hand written documents I find look like another language, even when they are written in English.  Handwriting can be a challenge because not only has the English language evolved over history, spelling changed, the way we abbreviate words changed, just being able to interpret someone's unique style of writing can be a mystery and challenge in and of itself.  Add in some fading of the ink or damage to the document itself, and some old handwriting may as well be in another language for all the sense it makes to me on the first read.

Whether translating another language or simply deciphering old English that may as well be another language, I find the key is to go slowly, understand what the document itself is about, re-write the text myself letter by letter, even reading aloud can help me comprehend the details.  And throwing in a good dose of patience helps too!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Week 19 - Mother's Day - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Mother's Day has so many special memories attached to it, and this year was the third Mother's Day since my own mother passed away.
During my childhood, Mother's Day always started with a special breakfast for Mum, cooked by my father and, as we grew up, by my sister and I.  After one or two efforts at supplying breakfast in bed, we admitted defeat and allowed Mum to eat at the kitchen table - she hated eating in bed and after a few tries - "But its MOTHER'S DAY!!!" - we abandoned the idea of serving her a tray.  Presents were never hugely expensive as there wasn't much money to spend, but we always tried to make the day special, usually with something handmade.  Looking back, I sometimes wonder how much was special and how much was stressful for Mum, being made to sit aside while her husband and children messed about in HER KITCHEN throughout the day.  At least Dad always made sure we cleaned up afterwards.
Inexpertly made cards were received with enthusiasm and were often accompanied by equally inexpertly made gifts, at least until I learned to knit properly and could finally produce gloves, scarves and other articles that fit and didn't fall apart.  Equally, as we grew up the quality and taste of the Mother's Day meals my sister and I produced increased until Mum could actually look forward to something not just edible but actually enjoyable.  Flowers were usually from our own garden - Dad grew Chrysanthemums, and my mother wasn't the only mum in the area to receive a big bunch from our garden on her special day.
Sometimes our enthusiasm outstripped our ability, but Mother's Day was always a day to thank Mum for all she did for us.  We always tried to avoid the more commercial aspects of the day - rather than fancy, expensive gifts we focused more on time together, handmade gifts and cards, and spending time as a family.

Security Breach at MyHeritage

Do you use genealogy website MyHeritage?  If you do, the next time you log in you will be required to change your password because of a security breach which leaked the data of over 92 million users.
The breach took place on October 26 last year, and consisted of the email addresses and hashed passwords of users who signed up to the website up until the date of the breach, according to a blog post.
The company said it learnt about the breach on Monday, when its chief information security officer was notified by a security researcher who found a file with the email addresses and hashed passwords on a private server outside of MyHeritage.
MyHeritage said no other data was found on the server, and that there was no evidence of data in the file being used.  Information about family trees and DNA data are stored on separate systems and were not a part of the breach, the blog said.
The good news is this latest security wake-up call is that the passwords in the file were hashed. This is a form of data encryption that turns readable data into a scrambled cipher. Instead of allowing someone to decrypt that data with a specific key, as typical encryption functions do, hashes aren’t designed to be decrypted.  So far, there’s no indication that the hashing has been cracked at all, no indication that anything other than names and email addresses were in plain text, no financial or other data associated with the accounts included in the hacked data.
MyHeritage said it was investigating the breach and taking steps to engage an independent cybersecurity company to review the incident, and the company advised users to change their passwords.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Week 18 - Close Up - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 18 - Close Up should have been done several weeks ago - I will have to play a bit of catch up but I have a little time this week so hopefully I will be able to cover a few of Amy's prompts.

Taking a close-up look at a specific ancestor is an exercise I undertake fairly regularly.  Sometimes I get so caught up on filling in dates in my tree that it is useful to step aside and make one specific ancestor the focus of my research.  I create a timeline for the person, looking at the major events in the person's life, events that took place where they were living, and more.  I focus on where they went to school, where they worked, the places they lived, if they ever found their name in the newspapers.  I look for census records, electoral rolls, medical records, wills, church records - the list goes on. 

Once I start to drill down into the details of one person's life, it highlights not only what I know about them, but the gaps in my research - the details I have not filled in.  The missing baptism for one of their children, the missing census record, the gap in their employment history.  I go back through all the documents I already have for them and reexamine them, looking for any little details I may have missed earlier.  There is always something to find.

Without that close-up examination, my research cam end up being just a list of names and dates.  That may be all some people want - but I love finding the small details that bring my ancestors to life for me, and a close-up examination of a specific ancestor does that - it fills out the details and gives me a fuller and more detailed image of their life.