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,
1937 ‘Bangalow Christmas Eve.’, Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), 23 December, p. 6, viewed 24 December, 2013,

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’.



1887 ‘Municipal.’, Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), 24 September, p. 19, viewed 17 November, 2013,

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,

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.


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

OBITUARY. (1918, April 26). Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 26, 2012, from

Many thanks Trove.

Trove Tuesday – Purple Haze

I grew up in Grafton and have some wonderful memories of Jacarandas and the Jacaranda Festival from my childhood.

My sister and I were talking about it last week and she reminded me of how we used to watch the parade on Jacaranda Saturday that wound its way through the streets of Grafton with the Jacaranda Queen and Princess gliding past…and this huge bizarre green turtle that used to spray water out his nose at the people watching the parade. I can’t remember what it was doing there, but presumably it had nothing to do with saving water!

My other clear memories are those of numerous Jacaranda Thursdays when we used to have the day off school, it was an official holiday for us in Grafton, and once we were old enough, we used to run around having all sorts of fun with water pistols, coloured hair spray and shaving cream – sounds very civilised doesn’t it? We lived in a country town, we had to have something to amuse us.

As young children we used to spend countless hours rehearsing in the heat and dust for the school spectacular when we would perform in front of (many?) people, usually wearing crepe paper outfits and hoping it would rain and transform our clothes into multicoloured disasters.

Last weekend was the big weekend in Grafton for the Jacaranda Festival, and whilst it has been many years since I have been to one I still think fondly of them and thought it would be interesting to see what was in Trove regarding it.

This was an article about the first Jacaranda Festival held in Grafton in 1935.

JACARANDA FESTIVAL. (1935, October 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 17. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from

So, it would appear that from the very beginning school children were very involved in the festival. There is no mention, however, of crepe paper or shaving cream. That must have come much later.

Trove Tuesday is an initiative of Amy Houston of Branches, Leaves and Pollen.

Trove Tuesday – The sticking up of the Goulburn Mail and a bushranger shot

I’m a little late this week for my Trove Tuesday post, seeing as it is now Wednesday, but here goes anyway.

I came across a story in some information my mother gave me recently about her GOODHEW ancestors. The story goes that my 3xgreat grandfather Henry GOODHEW (1830-1916) was a passenger on the Goulburn mail coach on the night of Tuesday, 25 May 1869 when it was held up by two bushrangers. It was such an exciting story I had to do a search and quickly found an article about the holdup on Trove.

STICKING UP OF THE GOULBURN MAIL—A PASSENGER AND A BUSHRANGER SHOT. (1869, May 31). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

Unfortunately, although details in the article, such as date and where it was going, match with the personal account I have a copy of, the article does not mention Henry specifically, so I still do not know if he was actually on that mail coach or not. Seems I have a little more digging to do.

John Smedes, where did he come from and where did he go?

John SMEDES, my ggg grandfather, is my current brick wall obsession. I have tried over a number of years to find out where and when he was born, and where and when he died, but just keep coming up blank.

John SMEDES, or (Frederick John SMEDES depending on which record you are looking at), first appears in English records as marrying Amelia Lydia Ann NEIDERMANN in the Parish of Christ Church, Middlesex on 3 July 1836.

His next appearance is in September 1837 on the baptism record of the first born of John and Amelia, Amelia Gagena, (or Gazenia), SMEDES. On this record John is listed as a labourer and resident of Brick Lane.

I should note here that I have not obtained every single certificate of birth, marriage and death records of John and Amelia’s known children, but have managed to acquire a few of them. To my knowledge they had five: Amelia Gagena, John Frederick born in 1839, George Henry born in 1843, Ann Rosetta born in 1845 and David John (my gg grandfather) born in 1847.

The 1841 Census John SMEDES is recorded as being 30 years of age, a sugar baker by occupation, and as being from foreign parts. John lives in Thrawl Street with his wife Emilia (sic), daughter Emilia (sic) and son John.

After this, I can find no trace of him. The 1851 lists his wife Amelia as a ‘widow’, still living in Thrawl St and with the occupation of ‘shop keeper’. So what happened to John??

I have searched in many places including Ancestry and Find My Past and was very excited when London Parish Registers were added to Ancestry, but cannot find his death recorded anywhere. My searches have been both narrow and broad, taking into account the many variations in spellings I have come across for SMEDES, including SMEEDES, SMEDIS and SMEDE.

I *think* he died sometime between 1846 and 1851, primarily because his last child was born in May 1847, so 1846 allows for conception (assuming of course he was even the father, but is listed as such on David John’s birth certificate), and 1851 because he does not appear on the 1851 Census and Amelia is listed as a widow, (I am still assuming at this stage that this was the case, but it also may not be). Amelia also remarries in June 1851 to Diederich LUTJEN, so unless he ran away which he could have done, I have assumed him to have died before this date.

My next step was to browse page by page through the GRO index for those years under S to see if I could locate him, particularly as some of those records were hand written and so may not have been correctly indexed for searching. I found ZIP. Then I looked right through the Christ Church Spitalfields Burial Register from 1846 to 1851. ZIP again. Interestingly I also did not find a record for the burial of Ann Rosetta who died very young in 1846, so I was not over hopeful of finding the father. Maybe they were both simply buried elsewhere. I can find Ann Rosetta in the GRO Index though, so why not John??

Where did he come from??? I have heard a few family stories that he was from Germany, but lacking any details on that other than the 1841 Census stating he was from ‘foreign parts’, I really don’t know where to start looking for his place of origin. I had hoped that David John’s birth certificate would list his father’s place of birth but it did not, it was too early to record that information.

I have also done some searching in newspapers, thinking that if he was a sugar baker he may have met with an accident and untimely death – again there was nothing, nothing with his name anyway. There are plenty of stories about deaths associated with the sugar mills of the area.

Time to take another break from him I think. If anyone has any suggestions for me please I would love to hear from you. I am still relatively new to this and would welcome any hints. The answer is probably staring me in the face.