Angling for Ancestors Seminar – Gold Coast Family History Society

I had a great day today attending the Gold Coast Family History Society‘s seminar, Angling for Ancestors.

It was a full day, (my 6 year old actually tried to make me promise when I came home tonight that I wouldn’t ‘go away again for 10 hours’), including driving time, and so worth going to.

Jan Gow and Graham Jaunay gave three presentations each that were full of very helpful tips for extending your family history research, as well as some great reminders! I think this is why I like seeing experts speak because you always learn something new, and quite often are also reminded about tips and tools that you have forgotten are there.

Jan began the morning by speaking about “Ten ways to research your family tree – with and without a computer”. Initially I was wondering where this talk would go as it seemed to be directed towards those who did not use computers for genealogy, however, Jan had many tips that related to records regardless of whether or not you use a computer to access them. The main tips, and things I didn’t know, that I took away from this talk were:

  • it is essential that you understand the records you are using to get the most information out of them that you can. Research the background of the place, society etc of when and where you are looking for your ancestors.
  • the 1911 English Census collection was not completed until Dec 1916. Many deaths and births could have occurred during this time.
  • how to fold your own pedigree chart using an A4 page – this is a secret!
  • Reminder to me – check online cemetery sites for ancestors headstones. It is going to be a late night.
  • You can upload images to Google, and it will search for a match to that image.

The next talk was by Graham on “Research in England prior to civil registration 1837″. I was interested in this talk because I have done very little in the way of research into these types of records, and what I have done is online so that is completely restricted by what records have been digitised.

There was a great deal covered in Graham’s talk and he stressed at the beginning that he usually takes about 16 hours to cover this material in detail, rather than 45 mins. Fortuitously, for he and I, he has a book on the topic that I could buy so that I could refer to it when I need to. Some interesting points from this talk:

  • always use the standard County Codes
  • apprenticeship records can be held by the Parish – in the Parish Chest
  • ‘terriers’ is an old word for documents

There was so much more to this talk, but I listened rather than writing because I found i couldn’t do both!

Next we had a morning tea break and I had great fun chatting to Helen Smith who I have ‘known’ for a few years via social media but not had the opportunity to meet in person. Here we are.

Helen and me

The next talk was I think the one that I gained the most from. Jan’s talk “Delving deep in FamilySearch” gave us many tools to go away and try.

  • Research Wiki – if you are not using it you should! A good reminder to those of us who have forgotten…including me.
  • Learning Centre – watch the videos. There are also key presentations from the RootsTech conferences
  • The Source Box is a great tool where you can save your searches, and view them to you remind yourself of what you have searched for.
  • Use filters when searching.
  • Check first for the records that you want to search to see if they are even there – use the Catalogue. Once you find the record series you want, check what the coverage is to make sure the years you want are there. you waste time searching records if the years you want aren’t even there.
  • Only use the Mother’s maiden name when searching for Scottish records, because they used the maiden name and not the married name – NOT the same in England and Wales.
  • Use the Books search. You may find books on localities or your various family lines.
  • Maps. Type in a place name to see the Parish and Registration Districts. There is a lot of information to be found that is very useful in the maps on FamilySearch.

Next Graham presented “Researching the maternal line”. This was very interesting because Graham gave some great tips about going further towards finding those elusive maternal ancestors.

  • Find out how women of that time lived: social history; socioeconomic circumstances and how/where was she employed
  • Focus on the women: records they created such as diaries and letters; find your distant cousins and ask them for information and photographs; seek out BDMs and Census records; look for subsequent marriages; look for any local records that may include her maiden name – Parish Chest again; look for headstones and obituaries.
  • Check out the people around her: letters, diaries etc; check out her husband’s military records, any contracts her husband may have had with her in-laws; wills of relatives; newspaper notices of wedding; diaries kept by other immigrants that may have mentioned your ancestor; Parish Chest items such as school records etc.
  • Check out the associates of her husband: school mates; business partners – guilds and apprenticeship records, business licenses; friends – check marriage witnesses, death informants, diaries, witnesses in court cases, newspaper personal columns etc.

Graham then talked about ‘deductive research':

  • expand your search for records of all your ancestors children in the hope that one would contain her maiden name
  • look for unusual second given names, quite often the mother’s maiden name
  • search for a will, if she outlasted her husband
  • census records may record widowed maternal grandparents living with their family
  • hunt out less obvious government records that may contain required personal information
  • search out the census records of siblings

Jan’s last talk was a case study about serendipity and searching. This was a fun talk where she explained how she conducted a search for a friend with positive results. There were many useful titbits in this talk, the most useful for me was in regards to the FreeBMD site where you can add something called a Postem. I have suggested corrections before on FreeBMD but not used the Postem tool where you can add a comment to help future researchers and even include your email address so they can contact you if you wish to. I need to go back and look at this feature to see if I should leave a few details on records I know are there.

The last talk of the day was “Identifying and dating 19th century family photos” by Graham. This was a very informative talk where he gave 5 key steps to identifying photos:

  • determine the type of photo
  • analyse the mounting board itself
  • examine the back for printed information
  • examine the composition of the image – the pose and background
  • review costumes

Graham then went through each decade from the 1860s to the 1900s showing the key things to look out for when identifying and dating photographs. I learnt a lot from this that will help me narrow down the dates of a few photographs I have.

The seminar was extremely well run by the Gold Coast Family History Society. The food, venue and friendly volunteers were a credit to their organisation. I will be looking out for their next event.

Thomas Honey NOT Johnny Honey

I recently made a very exciting discovery. One I would have blogged about then if our internet had not been messed about by the last lot of torrential rain to visit us on the Northern Rivers.

I had visited our local Family History Centre in Goonellabah, NSW a couple of years ago with my friend Tracy to see what they had there and how we could use their services. It was an interesting for both of us to discover what we could potentially use. It took me another couple of years to organise some films to view.

I had ordered 2 films from Family Search. Both, I hoped, would help me find out more about my husband’s ancestors in India. I arrived at the Family History Centre quite excited, nervousy anticipating what I might discover. (I wondered more than once if this was really weird…and decided no, genies are like that!)

The team at the Family History Centre at Goonellabah are extremely helpful and had me organised very quickly with a microfilm reader that could print to a USB. Love it! No extra work required as I can copy directly what I am seeing. A bonus is not paying for the printing charge, but I am more excited about having a digital image to keep and be able to manipulate if I want to.

I began looking at the films I had ordered and the first film, which was actually the second one I looked at, confirmed a birth I already had details of, that is, John Samuel Westcott DYSON. Good to have extra evidence, but not that exciting, tingling feeling you want to have looking at microfilm you have been waiting to arrive for weeks.

So, that was the second film. What was on the first film? Hopefully someone out there is still reading…

About two years ago we were in Adelaide visiting my husband’s family and whilst everyone was talking I did searches on Family Search to see if I could find out anything about the boys, (4 brothers), great grandfather Brian St Clair HONEY. I found a small number of records relating to him, suggesting dates and events that we already had recorded and believed we had evidence of, and then saw a marriage index record that stated that Brian’s father’s name was Johnny HONEY. This was a name that no one, at least in the immediate family, recognised – not because it didn’t necessarily make sense, moreso because that did not have any family history on this man. (Or his wife, but that will be a harder nut to crack).

So the second film I looked at that day included the marriage record of Brian St Clair HONEY to Violet Helena ROACH in Bombay India in 1910. This was the record that suggested Brian’s father’s name was Johnny HONEY. When I looked at the microfilm I wasn’t immediately convinced that the first name was in fact Johnny, and as I looked longer and closer to it, I became quite sure that the first name of the father was actually Thomas. What do you think?

Thomas HONEY

Thomas HONEY’s signature on the wedding register of Brian St Clair HONEY’s marriage.

I was very excited to make this discovery, although I knew I had research at home from other descendants of my husband’s who surmised that Brian’s father was actually called Thomas and not Johnny.

The most important discovery I made that day, however, was that you should always look at the primary source if possible, because transcriptions or interpretation errors can occur.

It is also much more interesting to look at the originals to see your ancestor’s handwriting and any other historical context that may be there.

A week later, I discovered an image of this register entry on FindMyPast. :) It had probably been there for quite a few months, but I think I got more of a thrill out of finding the record on microfilm than in a database.

Trove Tuesday – Rat causes car accident

I came across this article on a Facebook page I follow called Know What I Miss About Byron Bay and thought it was interesting and funny enough to share for Trove Tuesday. As we have had a few rats in our ceilings over the years, I sympathise with anyone who has to deal with them!

"RAT IN MOTOR CAR." The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) 18 Apr 1939: 2. Web. 20 May 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2488665>.

“RAT IN MOTOR CAR.” The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995) 18 Apr 1939: 2. Web. 20 May 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2488665&gt;.

Trove Tuesday – Christmas Eve in Bangalow

Excitement is building in our household in anticipation of Christmas and the Christmas Eve celebrations that are held each year in the town we live in, Bangalow. The main street of Bangalow is closed to traffic, everything other than foot traffic, and locals and visitors enjoy buskers, food and catching up with family and friends. The Christmas Eve celebrations have a wonderful party atmosphere and as long as there are no thunderstorms, unfortunately this happens more often than we would like, it is a lovely Christmas tradition to enjoy.

In thinking about what to pop up as a Christmassy Trove Tuesday, I thought I would see if this Christmas Eve tradition in Bangalow has been around for a while, and it would seem that it is not a new event. (People who live in or visit Bangalow, however, would probably challenge the last sentence!)

Merry Christmas everyone.

1937 'Bangalow Christmas Eve.', Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954), 23 December, p. 6, viewed 24 December, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94707102
1937 ‘Bangalow Christmas Eve.’, Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), 23 December, p. 6, viewed 24 December, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94707102

Trove Tuesday – Mayor, James Simmons

My Trove Tuesday post this week is an article about my gg grandfather James Simmons. I have written about him here previously, however, this article from the Australian Town and Country Journal is one that I have not seen until recently, (tonight in fact!). James appears to have been a highly-thought of man in the area and well-respected as mayor of Ulladulla for two years in 1886 and 1887.

As a librarian, I particularly like reading in the article how he gave ‘…much attention to placing the Free Public Library on a sound footing, and strongly supported the levying of a special library rate for that purpose’.

simmons2

simmons3

1887 ‘Municipal.’, Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), 24 September, p. 19, viewed 17 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71089571

Trove Tuesday – I will pull your dirty nose

This is my first Trove Tuesday in quite a while so I thought I would try and make it a little bit off-centre. I have been doing some research into my HETHERINGTON  line and found an article about a distant cousin from that line who lived in the area I do now, although he was ‘active’ in the area in the first half of the twentieth century. It would appear that he was well-acquainted with the police and courts in Northern NSW and in this particular incident took umbrage with the local school teacher and threatened to “pull your dirty nose”. I wonder if that was a common insult at the time??

pull your dirty nose

1918 ‘LISMORE POLICE COURT. MONDAY, MARCH 11.’, Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), 12 March, p. 2, viewed 12 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92933506

Hanging out with Geniaus

I have just participated, in a very small way, in a Google Hangout organised by Jill Ball of Geniaus fame. Although I joined in about 15 mins late and missed the beginning, I enjoyed listening to the advice and ideas that other family history researchers were sharing. As a novice I didn’t feel I had a great deal to contribute, however, I was very happy to listen and learn from the others who participated.

As is so often the case with technology, Google Hangouts seemed to have undergone a major transformation since I had last used it about a week ago and it took me a little while to find where things were – there are a few I am still looking for! Jill did a great job running the hangout, even with the changes that had been made and I really liked how she asked everyone for their opinion each time she moved on to a new topic. It. Is a great way of giving people a chance to contribute to the conversation.

I am looking forward to more of Jill’s Hangouts and if you want to learn more about family history research, particularly Australian resources, then think about joining in too. You can watch tonight’s Hangout on YouTube.

Cranky!

I’m cranky, very cranky. I’ve just discovered that a lady has copied content from this blog and posted full blog posts to her Ancestry site.

I have read about this before of course, but more in regards to photos. Regardless, I am not impressed and have emailed her. I also posted a comment on one of those records but then removed it after thinking I should give her a chance to reply to my email. If she doesn’t reply, I will post the same comment on all the pieces of information she has copied.

I actually don’t mind other people finding my information helpful, in part that is why I choose to have this blog (when I have time), but have the decency to acknowledge your sources of information when you copy something! Say hello even, don’t just pinch and run – that is totally rude.

Did I mention I was cranky??

Trove Tuesday – Just what I have been looking for

A little while ago, it may have been around this time last year, Trove popped a digitised newspaper up that I had been waiting for, The Northern Star. It covers the area in which most of my father’s great grandparents established themselves, near Lismore in Northern NSW. Coincidentally I now live smack bang in the middle of where they all lived and drive past their old farms on my way to work. Almost as if I always lived here.

Anyway, where was I? Two days ago Trove loaded further articles from The Northern Star and I was very excited because I have been looking for a death or obituary notice for my 2xgreat grandfather George PEARSON. I have been very lucky to have access to the microfilm to the Northern Star where I work and have been successful in finding many notices and articles for my ancestors, but for some reason I have never found George as I scrolled through the microfilm – thank goodness for digitisation!! (I really don’t know how I missed it and am going to pull out the microfilm to see exactly where it is so I know what I did wrong – sometimes things just aren’t where you expect them to be).

Until 2 days ago I knew quite a lot about George as far as where he was born, married, died, how many children he had, where he lived, and that he was one of the first directors on the board of NORCO, however, I knew nothing of the type of man he is. His obituary has helped me gain a clearer picture of who he was.

OBITUARY. (1918, April 26). Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92917594

OBITUARY. (1918, April 26). Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92917594

Many thanks Trove.