Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Geneameme: Accentuate the Positive



Once again the lovely Jill over at GeniAus has given us a geneameme, this time challenging us to think about the positives of the past year. So here is my 2013 in review.

An elusive ancestor I found was Thomas Henry Tozer, my maternal great-great grandfather. After having a hissy fit of frustration over his elusiveness I posted to a couple of rootsweb mailing lists asking if anyone had any suggestions or clues and TADA! A bunch of lovely people suggested I check out the record in the Victorian BDM indexes for a Thomas Toyer. Yep, transcription error. I paid the immediate gratification fee (I love the image download facility of the Victorian BDMs, I really do) and there it was a z like I write mine, easily mistaken for a y. So instead of feeling silly that I had passed over that record a million times I am instead glad that I reached out and people were willing to help. Genealogists are pretty generous people.

A precious family photo I found was of the above mentioned Thomas Henry. Well I didn't find it as such, a lovely lady who turned out to be my first cousin twice removed posted it to her ancestry tree. It popped up in one of my searches and I had a MUPPETFLAILPANIC because I knew immediately who it was. The pose, the facial features, everything was a dead ringer for the photo of my great grandfather my mother keeps on the mantelpiece. Then, once I had made contact and we started sharing I was inundated with other family photos of never before seen relatives. Again with the generosity.

An ancestor's grave I found was again the result of genealogy generosity. I'm sensing a theme here. I'm a New South Welshman and don't have the time or funds at the moment to make it to South Australia. Now South Australia has that funny system of grave leases and the leases on Thomas Henry and his wife Lucie Adele (nee Black) is up. Given that they are interred at Cheltenham Cemetary I was pretty fearful. Luckily after I posted on BillionGraves asking if anyone had taken photos, a lovely lady took time on her own trip to Cheltenham Cemetary to stop by the plot and take photos for me and email them.

An important vital record I found was Thomas Henry Tozer's birth certificate. Another emergeing theme. Once I had this I could confirm who his parents were and that yes, the family story of them coming from the Channel Islands was correct.

A newly found family member who shared was my first cousin twice removed on my maternal side. The Tozer's were pretty big in my genealogy research this year.

My 2013 blog post that I was particularly proud of was perhaps my last post on John Philip Gail. I'm pretty proud of the research I've done trying to sort him out.

My 2013 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was my plea for help regarding Deciphering Old Handwriting. With 252 hits I did receive a lot of help. Proof again of the generosity of genealogists and my non-geni history buff twitter friends who found it a fun challenge.

A new piece of software I mastered was not related to my genealogy research as such but to my uni work. One of my courses second semester was on Digital Preservation so I got to learn about digital preservation tools and then have a complete freak out about all the advice out there for genealogists to 'go paperless.' NO! JUST NO! DIGITAL OBSOLESCENCE LIES AHEAD. Unless you get familiar with digital preservation techniques and programs of course. Luckily I was tasked with learning the NAA's XENA and Digital Preservation Recorder. Next stop Archivematica.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Google+. Having just discovered the possibilities of Hangouts, I've really enjoyed the collaboration factor.

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was held at Tuggerah Library, Gail Davis from the State Records of NSW gave a talk on "Locating an Ancestor by place." If you ever have a chance to go tyo one of Gail Davis's talks do so! The amount of knowledge she has to impart is amazing. This talk was particularly good in providing suggestions for alternative ways to approach brick walls or tricky genealogy questions.

A genealogy book that taught me something new was Carole Riley's Land Research for Family Historians. I can't wait to start looking at all the properties that have been named in family stories.

Another positive I would like to share is that I have finished all the subjects required for my Diploma in Archives and Records. 2014 is me completing the Masters :)

Friday, 27 December 2013

John Phillip Gale

Sometimes you come across a character in your research who for one reason or another sparks your curiosity. One such person is John Phillip Gail, the second husband of my 3x Great Grandmother Christiana Sophia Boss (nee Rusch). I have mentioned him in brief twice before in relation to a newspaper report and a gaol entrance record but as he is on my mind of late I thought I'd expand a little, who knows maybe someone in the ether knows something of him.

Born around 1810 in Germany and possibly died 1892 in Liverpool, NSW.  He married Christiana Boss on the 27th of July 1874 at the Presbyterian Minsters Residence in Scone, NSW. Like all documents related to my family it is pretty unhelpful and full of blanks. John Phillip is however listed as a Widower.

Now, by their marriage in 1874 Christiana and John Phillip had three children; Eliza born in 1857, Louisa in 1859 and John William in 1862.

Herein lies the first question. Why did John Phillip and Christiana not marry until 1874? Family gossip has suggested that he was married at the time of Eliza's birth, and as Christiana was only recently widowed herself, positively scandalous! The second question then; who was his wife?

A NSW BDM search pf marriages of John/Phillip/Gail/Gale's prior to 1874 gives the following; a John Gale who marries a Mary Jane Bourke in Maitland in 1861 and a Phillip Gail who marries a Jane Watson in Cobbitty in 1840. Following up the first we find he dies the same year leaving a young pregnant widow. Not our John Philip then.

Philip Gail however, is a convict born around 1810 in Germany. Coincidence?

Philip Gail the convict arrived on the Norfolk 2 in 1829, and according to the gaol description and entrance books, John Phillip arrived in Australia in 1829 on the Medway. Unfortunately the Medway's passenger list does not give the names of steerage passengers and John Phillip is not listed as a cabin passenger. No help then from this quarter.

Now the only death for a Gail in the NSW BDM between 1829 and 1874 is for a 60 year old Robert in Bourke. There is no death recorded for a Philip Gail/Gale in NSW, that has turned up so far in my searches. Of John Gale's there are many. It is going to take some time for me to go through them all. But there is a John Philip Gail who died in the Liverpool Asylum in 1892. And yes, he too was born in Germany.

Mashing everything together into a handy dandy timeline of everything I have found so far:


It is certainly possible that these men are the same, but I'm not yet ready to call it.




Saturday, 30 November 2013

Ancestry Public Trees and 'Cousin-baiting'

I have to admit, I am more than a little ambivalent about Ancestry.com public trees.

*Puts on Curmudgeon Hat*  They are, I am afraid, possibly the most significant source of the proliferation of lazy research in the genealogy world not to mention all the circular reasoning and just plain wrongness that is spread by the mindless copying that occurs. *Takes off Curmudgeon Hat*

That said, I have found relatives by following those shaky leaves to other people's public trees. This has made me feel a little guilty about not having a public tree of my own. You see to date, the trees I have kept on Ancestry are ones that I call 'Kitchen Sinks,' those working trees where I put all the people that may or may not be related or I've ever come across in my research to see what shakes loose. I do this to make use of the automated searching capabilities programmed into the website. It is not what I would consider as good genealogy. It is a research tool only.

My 'proper' tree, that is, the one that is carefully researched, reasoned and fully sourced is kept on my computer. I will happily share printouts from this tree with lists of sources and discussion/reasoning but, no I will not give you my GEDCOM unless I know you well enough to know that you share my research ethic. I trained as a historian, I have taught history at a university level. I am not going to be responsible for anyone's lazy research.

But by not having a public tree I am not properly 'cousin-baiting.' It's a bit of a dilemma. As a compromise, I have for the moment, uploaded a pedigree file. Just my direct ancestors, no extra relatives, no linked sources, just names and dates.

Is this unfair? Am I taking advantage of people who do post their full trees publicly?  Am I being an ungenerous research snob, as someone suggested?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Trove Tuesday: Letters from the Front

Yesterday was Remembrance day or Armistice day, commemorating the end of the First World War. I have a quite a few soldiers in my tree one of whom is Reginald Faithful Muffett, the youngest brother of my Great Grandfather James. Rex was a member of the 6th Light Horse and his service included time at Gallipoli. He was also a conscientious correspondent writing often to his brothers and sisters. One such letter was extracted in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post.

"LETTERS FROM THE FRONT." Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW : 1881 - 1940) 21 Aug 1915: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. 12 Nov 2013 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article98846448>
You can find all the #TroveTuesday posts over at Branches, Leaves & Pollen or search the hashtag on twitter

Thursday, 7 November 2013

John Green: Candidate #1

The search for the elusive John Green continues. Following from Anne Young's guidance and advice, I've been chasing convict John Green's. There are a just a few listed in the State Records Convict index. [Do I get an award for understatement?] 

Given that Thomas, a likely son of John was born in 1825 in England any John Green's transported between 1824-33 when the family made their way out became a likely suspect. 11 suitable candidates were identified. After dismissing those who were way to young, married to other people or Irish, 3 were left.



The John Green born in 1786, tried in Gloucester and sent out in 1826 on the England seemed a good match. But turns out he was a bit of a gaol bird over here as well and as such was pretty traceable in his exploits around the Hunter Valley. On to the maybe but not likely list he goes. 2 left.

Introducing Candidate #1 :

John Green #1 was born in Bedfordshire c. 1791. Married with 2 Girls and 2 boys and working as a farmservant/groom he was convicted with 3 others in Buckinghamshire for sheep stealing. Thus earning a one way trip on the Camden at his majesty's pleasure. In 1841 he writes to the Governor from his assignment at Goulburn and is granted a ticket of leave. What he wrote and whether it links him to any of our known individuals will be explored in a special episode, "The Colonial Secretary's Correspondence: Blindness by Microfilm." Remember to tune in next time for Candidate #2!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The definition of insanity

I'm sure you've all heard the axiom "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Setting aside the utter ridiculousness of that statement in general, in genealogy you often do the same thing over and over and get different results. I, for example, have a series of names I run through various search engines every couple of months and today one has borne fruit.

Ancestry.com spat out a Gaol Entrance record for John Phillip Gail, for this incident that I have mentioned before. I now have a country of birth, Germany and an arrival year, 1829 and a ship, the Medway. If only he was actually named on the passenger list.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The elusive John Green

Last night I was fortunate enough to be a participant in the first GeniAus Hangout on Air, it was a lot of fun and will be a great collaboration and learning resource. One of the questions I got to throw out into the ether was what do you do when you come across an absolute bog standard name, in my case John Green.

So what do I know about John Green.

John Green is the father of Louisa Green (b. 21 Jul 1821 - d. 27 Jun 1897)
Before he passed away, I was fortunate enough to be in contact with Ken Muffett who had devoted a lifetime to researching the descendants of Louisa and her husband Charles Robert Muffett in Australia. He had passed along some images of a Family Bible.
Muffet Family Bible, from the collection of the late Ken Muffet
Someone, and it appears to be a similar hand to that of the Family Register, has kindly written on the death information page.

Starting then with the information given about Louisa, there is a Louisa Green christened in Oakley, Bedfordshire to a John and Mary Green on 11 Aug 1822.1 There is a William and a Jane christened on the same day to the same parents.2  Now, I am not entirely convinced that this is a perfect fit, but with the information from the Bible it is at least plausible.

Now Louisa's husband was a convict. Being a convict there is Applications to marry for the couple, who were refused twice before obtaining permission. 
"Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851" State Archives NSW; Series: 12212; Item: 4/4513; p. 88
Looking now at the shipping record of the "Enchantress"
Ancestry.com "New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922" [Database Online] http://interactive.ancestry.com.au/1210 /imaus1787_081196-0340 retrieved 31 Oct 2013
Mary Green. Ann Green 15 years of age. Louisa Green 11. Thomas Green 8. There is no John Green. There appears to be no male adult travelling with them at all. So why am I at least sure that John Green is Louisa's father?

Using the information from the Family Bible I ordered a transcription of John Green's death certificate via NSW Family History Transcriptions Pty Ltd (excellent service by the way, would highly recommend.)

John Green died 26 Aug 1868 at Rose Vale, Yarralaw District of Goulburn. He is a Farmer aged 81, therefore born approx 1787. Hi place of birth and marriage are listed as England but his conjugal status, age at marriage, name of spouse and children were left blank as was his time in the colonies. Information about his parents is listed as Unknown. The informant for his death is Charles R Muffet, Grandson, Rosevale, the undertaker Robert Muffet and the witnesses Charles R Muffet and Thomas M. Middleton, the place of burial Yarralaw. That Charles R Muffet is listed as his grandson supports the idea that he is Louisa's father as does the other witness who is one of Louisa's son-in-laws. Robert Muffet is one of the names by which Louisa's husband was known.

What we know is that John Green is the father of Louisa Green and he died in 1868.

This isn't the first time I'm tried to trace the Greens. The first aborted attempts were as a 15 and an 18 year old. I didn't get very far, but written on a scrap of notepaper in a big pile of group sheets I had at some stage jotted down the following information. Louisa Green had been in NSW 67 years at death. John Green was 43 years old on arrival. Green, John and wife Mary arrive 1/1/1835 from London listed as passengers Mary 21 years, John listed as soldier /50th Reg. Mary's maiden name was Clifford or Clifton.

Yeah, first thing I'd like to do is go back and slap my 15 year old self for not keeping better notes. Or any source notes. Although this was long before my history degree and the compulsive citation habits it imposed. The second this is a vague memory of some of this information coming from a phone call with Ken but him not being very sure himself. Too late now I'm afraid to ask him again. The last comment about Clifford/Clifton is also referenced in Ken's published family tree. I wish I knew where I got the 1/1/1835 from as a recent search identified this as the Henry Porcher and I could not find a John and Mary Green at all, although listed was stragglers and families of the 50th Regiment of Foot. Is this where that idea came from?

Where now?
I have started the slow process of going through every Green in the colony starting with the Argyle district, and the names John, Mary, Thomas, Ann, William or Jane.

I have Trove'd and continue to Trove. The Muffet's are constantly in the papers during this period. I might get lucky and find a Green reference.

I am considering the possibility of tracing the other immigrants from the "Enchantress" on the off chance they were travelling with another family.

Hope desperately that one of the other descendants has had better luck than me.

Find a Medium and ask.

Does anyone have any better suggestions?


1 "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JMRS-FMQ : accessed 31 Oct 2013), Louisa Green, 04 Jun 1822
2 "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N5WL-QQS : accessed 31 Oct 2013), William Green, 17 Mar 1816, "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NB3J-BH3 : accessed 31 Oct 2013), Jane Green, 16 Jul 1818.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fromelles Project

Having worked in the same department as specialists on military history and being, in general, interested in history that makes the news; I was peripherally aware of the Fromelles Project and the attempts to identify the remains of the soldiers from this WWI battlefield. Today however, it became rather visible to me.

An elderly lady I visit received a phone call yesterday asking for her help (via DNA sample) in the possible identification of her Uncle as one of the unknown soldiers. She is rather pleased that he will (if identified) finally have a proper resting place and cannot wait to share this news with the rest of her family. I do hope for her sake that they manage to make a match.  

Monday, 14 October 2013

Amanuesis Monday: In Loving Remembrance of Eliza Muffett

As a codicil to the post Burial in the Bush, I offer the poem written by M.L.M in remembrance of the departed Eliza.

"Advertising." Goulburn Herald (NSW : 1881 - 1907) 11 Dec 1886: 5. Web. 14 Oct 2013 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article99908550>

In Loving Remembrance
OF
ELIZA MUFFET,
Who departed this Life on November 9th 1886;
Aged 27 years and 11 months,

A life of suffering she bore
From infancy till death,
But now she is set free from all -
A home in heaven she hath,

Through all those many years of pain
Her loving parents o'er kept
A watchful eye, when she awoke
And also when she slept.

It would be very wrong to grieve,
To wish to have her here again,
For now we know she's safe above,
Where sorrow is unknown.

And when our life on earth is done,
 We hope to meet her there,
And with the angels praises sing -
In that bright land no partings are.

November 17th.                                                          M. L. M.


The M.L.M responsible for the poem could be her niece Mary Louisa Muffet or perhaps one of the related Middleton's.

Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers

Thursday, 3 October 2013

GEDCOM vs XML: Or Should I try out GRAMPS?

Was the topic of last nights "I can't get to sleep and my brain insists on being ridiculously chatty even though I am really tired" ramble. So I was pleased that when I googled it this morning bunches of articles came up.

Since I'm studying for my Masters in Archives & Records, XML is something I've come to be pretty fond of and honestly GEDCOM has always seemed unnecessarily complicated and inflexible. Is it enough however to convince me to change genie software? 

At the moment I switch between TMG and Family Historian, TMG for my 'serious' research stuff and Family Historian for when I am showing non-technical, non-historians my research. Cause it's prettier. TMG is for me, by far the better program. But I haven't tried GRAMPS and the open source nature of it does appeal being in general easier to migrate and preserve over a longer period of time than proprietary software. I mean who doesn't have inaccessible files sitting around because they no longer are supported by software or hardware and you can't find an emulator? My poor original PAF files will soon fall into this category *sniff*


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Trove Tuesday: Burial in the Bush

I did have a different item prepared for today - an article containing a lovely sketch of one of my forebears - however, during one of my general surname searches I came across this essay.


ESSAYS, SKETCHES, &c. (1886, November 20). Goulburn Herald (NSW : 1881 - 1907), p. 6. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article99903863

Mr & Mrs Robert Muffet are my 3x great-grandparents, their eldest son Charles and his wife Mary Matilda (nee Reader), referred to in the article as Mrs Charles Muffet are my 2x great-grandparents. The funeral is that of their daughter Eliza.

There is a published tree of the descendants of [Charles] Robert Muffett & Louisa Muffett [nee Green], a copy of which originally helped to feed my love of family history (I'm on page 72). No mention of Eliza's disability is mentioned. I wonder if it was not known or just conveniently forgot?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

You look like your mother

Although I haven't been posting my responses online, I have been playing along with Julie Goucher's Book of Me, Written by You this week's prompt asked us to describe our physical self and this got me thinking about family resemblances.

It's something that I have thought about before - especially when using the face recognition tools in Picasa as it struggles to work out who is who - so I thought I'd post some family photos to see what you all think. Are the resemblances that family and friends comment on noticeable to virtual strangers?

I look like my Mum who looks like her Dad.

Me at 26
Mum at 16
So can you pick my Grandfather out of this photo from the National Archives?

Grandpa & Mum on her Wedding Day

Grandpa's genes are pretty dominant

Two of My Cousins at the elder's graduation

My nose may also be the fault of my father's genes, specifically his paternal grandmother

My Great Grandma Rebecca Sinclair
Noses are a matter of serious discussion in our family. I happen to think both My Dad and my (half) brothers noses are worse than mine and they can't blame my Grandfather for that. 
Dad, earlier this year

Brother #3 earlier this year
Brother #1's nose is worse but I can't find a photo of that ski jump that isn't 25 years old.

Brother #2 is looking more and more like our Grandfather the older he gets

Pop & Brother #2
No, not that Grandfather (although there is some resemblance happening), this one:
Grandfather Walter
So there you have it, some of the family resemblances that people comment on. I have also been told I look like my brothers and like a step-cousin that I'm not genetically related to at all, and Mum has been told Brother #1 looks like her where again, there is no genetic relationship. It is a funny thing the similarities that the human eye picks out. 

What do you think? Can you tell we are related?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Procrastination, frustration and those bloody Tozers.

I'll admit, my family history research often gets more than its fair share of attention when I am avoiding something else, in this case a uni assignment I just cannot get into (Its ok, I still have a week and a half before it is due and I have been working on it, just not enough to have it knocked over by this Friday like I intended) but it seems that I have unintentionally hit upon one of the methods for dealing with procrastination that I was taught by a uni counselor during my PhD. The premise being that a certain amount of my procrastination is caused by frustration, so in order to overcome procrastination you just have to find something more unpleasant and frustrating in order to make the avoided task more appealing. Makes sense?

Now I haven't reached the point where I need to overcome the procrastination on this assignment - I still have time and I am working on it slowly - so my other more 'pressing' task has been the family tree. Now my father has always called the Tozer branch of my mother's family "those bloody Tossers" and right now given my level of frustration, I am a little inclined to agree.

My Great Great Grandfather is Thomas Henry Tozer, I know from his 1909 marriage extract that his father's name is Henry and from a death notice that he had died in 1948 at 61 years old. A little subtraction and you have a birth year of around 1887. Now Thomas Henry Tozer is actually a pretty common name, common enough that I couldn't confirm which was my Thomas Henry from this alone. I ordered a death transcript to see if that would narrow things down a little and yes, birth place was given as Gippsland, Victoria.

Off to the Victorian BDMs we go where there is a single Thomas Henry Tozer born to a Thomas Henry Tozer and a Mary Jane Grubb in 1888. The birth place however is listed as Ballarat East. Which is not in Gippsland. But death certificates are notoriously unreliable so we'll take both into account when continuing the search. Still, just to be sure I plug Mary Jane Grubb & Thomas Henry Tozer into the Victorian BDMs to see what else comes up and well, Houston we have a problem.

And I am really glad I was suspicious enough to search around before ordering the certificate. So the only Thomas Henry Tozer born in Victoria in the right age bracket is not my Henry bloody Tosser Tozer.

NSW then:
QLD?
WA?
A recheck of SA?
And back through all BDMs looking for Henry's or Thomas's of the appropriate age. Nada. So that's it. I give up. I am frustrated enough at the moment to work on the suddenly less frustrating assignment because hell if I know where I should try next.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Amanuensis Monday: It is Old, but Still Good.

In amongst the certificates and photographs documenting the family is two pages of hand-lined yellowing paper, covered in a careful script. My Nana gave it to my Father and I when I was 15 and first asked about my Grandfather (Walter Thomas Muffett, 9/4/1916-13/3/1958) and family history. She'd kept it for how much it represented his sense of humour, a trait that is certainly evident amongst his children and grandchildren.


It is Old, but Still Good
On the assumption that "a laugh will always win,"I am indebted to Albert Falk for the following. If anyone can read it without a laugh, I'll go quietly
I had twelve bottles of whiskey in my cellar, and my wife told me to empty the contents of each and every bottle down the sink or else -- So I said I would, and proceeded with the unpleasant task,
I with withdrew the cork from the first bottle and poured the contents down the sink, with the exception of one glass, which I drank. I extracted the cork from the second bottle and did likewise, with the exception of one glass, which I drank. I then withdrew the cork from the third bottle, and emptied the whiskey down the sink, with the exception of one glass, which I drank. I pulled the cork from the fourth sink and poured the bottle down the glass, which I drank. I pulled the bottle from the cork of the next and drank one sink out of it and threw the rest down the glass. I pulled the sink out of the next glass and poured the cork down the bottle and drank the glass. I pulled the next cork from my throat and poured the next sink down the bottle. The I corked the sink with the sink glass, bottled the drink and the pour;
When I had everything emptied I steadied the house with one hand and counted the bottles, corks, and glasses and sinks with the other, which were twenty-nine. To be sure, I counted them again, and when they came by I had seventy-four, and as the house came by I counted them again, and finally had all the houses, and bottles and glasses and sinks counted, except one house and one bottle, which I drank.


Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Bloggers' Geneameme

The lovely Jill over at Geniaus has posted a meme/questionaire for National Family History Month and I though I'd play along, so here goes:

What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s? 
My blog is titled 'gathering dust'  which I thought that was rather appropriate given my tendency to have a burst of activity over a short period of time and then letting things languish as I get distracted by more pressing matters. That, and if you have ever met any of my family you will note the genetic propensity for ignoring the housework (especially dusting). The URL is www.missmuffett.blogspot.com chosen out of fondness for my last name, I wasn't always enamored of it given the amount of spider jokes I withstood as a child but it is one of those ones that grows on you as you get older.

Do you have a wonderful "Cousin Bait" blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question. 
You know I probably do but haven't blogged it. I never know really know where to start, so many stories and tidbits of information. Suggest a good 'cousin bait' topic someone! 
 
Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging?
I've actually blogged on and off in different locations and on different topics for the past 13 years. It was new and innovative back then and I'm pretty sure I filled it with very late teenage agnst. This blog was started because I looked at the pile of genealogy & history of education research I had done and thought 'there really has to be something I can do with this.' Attending a couple of genealogy talks while on work experience at Wyong Library (including one by Jill) gave me that extra push. The best of intentions and all, I'm still terrible at the actual blogging part.

How did you decide on your blog/s title/s? 
See Above :)

Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they? 
I have a droid phone and a droid tablet. I have replied to, approved and posted comments from both but find the mobile interface just a little too finicky to properly compose a post which is a shame as I'd probably post a lot more if I used my time spent on public transport to write.

How do you let others know when you have published a new post? 
Twitter & Google+, if I think my brothers might be interested I post to Facebook 

How long have you been blogging? 
13 years on and off, this blog however is a mere baby started in Oct 2012.

What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog? 
I like a good surname list.

What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience? 
The purpose is pretty much brain vomit, getting some of the things percolating in my head and in my notes out there somewhere. Is it sad to say my intended audience is me? A little self-indulgent I know, but if I focussed on writing for others and worried about what they might think I'd be back in the sobbing mess of my shelved PhD (this girl has 'issues') Still, I do hope someone finds it a little interesting or helpful. 

Which of your posts are you particularly proud of? 
I am pretty proud of this one because it reminds me that stepping back and approaching things from an oblique angle can make a lot of difference.

How do you keep up with your blog reading? 
Feedly and I are old friends, I started using it back when it was in beta and never stopped. it is even better now I have a tablet as I sit and flip through the blog feed with a cuppa on the couch. It's like getting a new magazine everyday.

What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s? 
Good ol' Blogger

What new features would you like to see in your blogging software?
I miss the autopost to twitter plugin that wordpress had

Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers? 
It was this one begging for help deciphering the handwriting on an immigration list, it got disseminated pretty widely and lots of people helped me puzzle out what it said.

Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog? 
Sole

How do you compose your blog posts? 
Pen & paper, OneNote or via the blogger interface. It generally starts with something I have been thinking about or something new I have found. I really should consider posting some family stories and such.

Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. 
Not at the moment, one can only be slack in one place at one time before it is just overwhelming ;)

Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers? 
No. Should I? I'm really not that interesting.

Which resources have helped you with your blogging? 
Trove! And reading other genealogy blogs. All the years slaving away in academia probably helped a little too. Or hindered. 

What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger?
Don't focus too much on pleasing other people. Write about what you find interesting and others will find it interesting too.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Deciphering Old Handwriting

is not something I am very good at, and given my own atrocious handwriting you think I would be. Yesterday I turned to twitter to help me make out a place name on a board's immigrant list for the Commodore Perry 1855 - it was Heblos for those interested - today I am wondering if anyone can help me decipher the following "complaints" by Johan Winter and John Boss from the same voyage.

Source: Commodore Perry, Persons on Bounty ships to Sydney, Newcastle Moreton Bay, 1848-66, NSW Archives Kit, CGS 5317, microfilm 2469, 4/4946

I'm flummoxed.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Trove Tuesday: Where are you Walter Le Pelley?

My Great (x4) grandfather, Walter Le Pelley (c.1840-?), the youngest child of Ernest Le Pelley (1801-1849) the 16th Seigneur of Sark, migrated to South Australia presumably due to the reversal of fortune encountered by the family. He married Elizabeth Gunther, the daughter of John & Mary Ann Rendall in 1863, and the couple had two children: Louisa Elizabeth (1864-1941) and Frances (Fanny) Amelia (1866-1885).

In April 1869, Walter makes his first appearance as 'missing.' Going missing of course, is a curious thing. I doubt Walter himself considered himself missing, that is, if he wasn't dead. But he was un-contactable and people rather wanted to contact him.

Missing Friends. (1869, April 21). The South Australian Police Gazette (Adelaide, SA.), p. 55
Elizabeth died in childbirth later that year,  and it is rather ambiguous as to whether he had returned by then or not. In any case two years later, a warrant was issued for his desertion of his children.

Deserting Wives, Families, Service, &c. (1871, March 15). The South Australian Police Gazette (Adelaide, SA.), p. 43
Still considered to be in the land of the living later that month.
Deserting Wives, Families, Service, &c. (1871, April 26). The South Australian Police Gazette (Adelaide, SA.), p. 66
The Government had stopped looking by 1879, but others had not.
Advertising. (1879, June 14). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 37. Retrieved August 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70939164
Display Advertising. (1881, May 28). The Queenslander(Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), p. 676. Retrieved August 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20707260
Advertising. (1881, September 13.) New Zealand Herald Volume 18, Issue 6185 (Auckland, NZ.: 1863 - 1924) p. 1. Retrieved August 6, 2013, from http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NZH18810913.1.1&e=-------10--1----0--

James Robin and Co., was not a Law Firm as I first assumed, but a wholesale import business. James Robin too was Guernsey born, was there a family link? Was someone looking out for Walter's daughters when he so obviously was not?


POLICE COURTS. (1882, December 4). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 6. Retrieved August 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article43330536
Family Notices. (1885, June 18). South Australian Register(Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 4. Retrieved August 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44528961
Family Notices. (1886, February 25). South Australian Register(Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 4. Retrieved August 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50182423

Where were you Walter Le Pelley?


You can find all the #TroveTuesday posts over at Branches, Leaves & Pollen or search the hashtag on twitter

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Trove Tuesday: Shooting with Intent

Being on uni break and suffering from brain fog inducing sinusitis, I've spent the past couple of days meandering through my family tree research and following whatever tangents caught my interest. A pleasant morning was had searching for and reading about early German immigration to the Hunter Valley and it is that subject that lead me to this little drama.

"Maitland Quarter Sessions." Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) 11 Jun 1884: 4. Web. 18 Jun 2013 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107266484>

John Phillip Gail (shooting with intent)

John Phillip Gail was the second husband of my 3x Great Grandmother Christiana Sophia Boss (nee Rusch) - one of the aforementioned German immigrants - and the couple is already a little bit scandalous having had at least one child out of wedlock 2 years after Christiana was widowed, and unconfirmed family gossip indicating that John may have been married at the time, so 'shooting with intent' was something just a little too juicy to pass up. Searching through Trove I found a report of the original commital hearing. It did not disappoint. Threats, attempted murder, implied prostitution, the accused of course was minding his own business reading his Bible when the kerfuffle started.

Gail was found not guilty at trial, but Trove has shown him as no stranger to the courts, but that perhaps is the subject of a different Trove Tuesday.

You can find all the #TroveTuesday posts over at Branches, Leaves & Pollen or search the hashtag on twitter

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Trove Tuesday: Western Australian Newspapers, or Trove makes an appearance in my uni work

I have been rather remiss of late when it comes to Trove Tuesday and blog posting in general as my own research has been sidelined in favour of uni assignments and research tasks for others, but today's task has reminded me once again of the many ways in which I utilise Trove for things outside family history.

Today I am creating content and resources for a website that forms an assessable component of CSG4112. As part of a group I have been working on creating an e-learning website on the study Western Australian History (the website could have been on any e-learning type activity, our group just ended up being a bunch of history nerds and as the only non-Sandgroper I was outvoted when it came to the specific focus) so not only have I been learning a lot about Western Australian history, I have been researching and writing articles on available resources, and Trove cannot be overlooked.

I think when I am done with the article on Western Australian Newspapers available via Trove, I may have to write about the image search, there are some fabulous vintage travel posters.

You can find all the #TroveTuesday posts over at Branches, Leaves & Pollen or search the hashtag on twitter 

Or you know, if any of you has written anything on Western Australian history of any kind and wouldn't mind being a contributor (with full acknowledgements of course)...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Charlemagne Factor

The common ancestor is an idea with a long history, and if you have been around the internet or genealogy circles anytime since the late 1990s, the concept that westerners are all descended from Charlemagne is probably something you have come across. This concept originates in Darwinian Evolutionary theory and is pretty well supported by mathematical models, genetics (well mitrochrondial DNA), computer modelling and all kinds of other neat science-y stuff. (Mark Humphrys gives the most complete overview, it's pretty fascinating)

As a scientific concept I totally get it. Go back far enough and everyone on the planet right now has a common ancestor - Every one (in theory) has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 ggrandparents and so on until you have more potential ancestors than existed on the planet at that time.

I was still pretty skeptical when my grandmother showed me her family tree which included Robert the Bruce. Skeptical to the point where I found copies of Robert the Bruce's family tree and connected the dots myself. It goes like this.


  1. Me,
  2. My Mother, 
  3. Her Mother, 
  4. VM Tulloch, the daughter of
  5. LW Tulloch, the son of
  6. LT Tulloch, the son of
  7. John Tulloch, son of
  8. Ann Sutherland, daughter of
  9. Andrina Jamieson, daughter of
  10. Ann Fordyce, daughter of
  11. Hugh Fordyce, son of
  12. Andrew Fordyce, son of
  13. Alexander Fordyce, son of 
  14. Margaret Bruce, daughter of
  15. Laurence Bruce, son of
  16. John Bruce, son of
  17. Hector Bruce, son of
  18. Robert Bruce, son of
  19. John Bruce, son of
  20. Jean Steawrt, daughter of
  21. Isabel De Ergardia, daughter of
  22. Janet Isaac, daughter of
  23. Maud Matilda Bruce, daughter of
  24. King Robert I of Scotland. (Robert the Bruce)


now if you follow that, Alexander Fordyce [13], married his first cousin Elizabeth Bruce, whose father is Laurence Bruce's [15] son Andrew, brother of Margaret [14]. So Robert the Bruce is my great (x22) grandfather x 2. And as Robert the Bruce is himself descended from Charlemange...

There you have it. The Charlemagne Factor.







Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Trove Tuesday: The First Born, South Australian Male

I was rather amused to come across this series of correspondence within the Chronicle and The Advertiser  and even more amused to find two of my maternal grandmothers branches claiming ownership of this title, one on her mother's side and one on her father's. A nice little anecdote to share with the cousins.

THE FIRST BORN, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MALE. (1901, June 12). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 6. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4842932

THE FIRSTBORN SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MALE. (1901, June 15). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 11. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4843307
 The second letter appeared also in in the June 22nd edition of the Chronicle.

You can find all the #TroveTuesday posts over at Branches, Leaves & Pollen or search the hashtag on twitter 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Trove Tuesday: Location, Location, Location

I mentioned yesterday my desire to map out my family history in some way and to this end, Trove has been a fabulous resource. I've previously used a family notice found in Trove to begin a search of electoral roles and confirm some names, and again the family notices of Trove'd newspapers have turned up some wonderful gems.

"Family Notices." The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931) 25 Oct 1902: 6. Web. 5 Feb 2013 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4891551>
According to this, at the turn of the century, my great (x3) grandparents, Charlotte and Edward Black were living on Pulsford Road in Prospect, South Australia. According to Google Street View, there are still some delightful houses with period features along Pulsford Road. I wonder which one was the Black's!

You can find all the #TroveTuesday posts over at Branches, Leaves & Pollen or search the hashtag on twitter.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Mapping Family History

I have a bit of a weakness for maps, and lately I have been contemplating how to plot some of the never ending list of place names that appear in the course of digging around in genealogy and family stories. I know there is software out there intended to do this but I'm thinking more of a DIY approach using Google Maps in a similar way to HistoryPin (If you haven't checked out HistoryPin before you really should). The problem now is, where to start!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Family Photos

I headed to my parents for the Australia day long weekend, as not only was it Australia Day but brother #2 turned 40 on the 25th and an appropriate bash had been organised to celebrate. I'll admit it, he is and always had been my favourite brother. Sorry brother's #1 & #3, it's not like you didn't know this anyway.

Brothers, #1, #2 with me on shoulders, and #3

In any case, 40 is a big birthday and sharing the love of history and family history that both Dad & I have, we (that should really be I, as I pretty much steam-rolled over Mum & Dad to get my way) I decided that it would be a nice thing to give my brother copies of the family photos. That is, all the family photos we could find. Dad and I spent the 25th pulling the house apart and spent the better part of the evening scanning as many as possible. The portraits of our grandfather and two of our great-uncles were printed and framed as the main present and an CD included of all the rest. Dad had wanted me to make a collage of photos of brother #2, however I know what special meaning those three portraits have to all us kids.

Those portraits hung on my parents bedroom wall when we were growing up, a constant presence. Our grandfather died when my father was 10 and one of the great-uncles was killed during the Fall of Singapore, the other died in 1986 and my only memory of him is, I am sorry to say, of the dress I wore to the funeral (I was 4). My brothers have slightly greater recollection. But they were always there, in those three photos, a part of our lives.




Walter Thomas Muffett (9 Apr 1916-13 Mar 1958)
Lindsay Donald Muffett (28 Sept 1918-Feb 1942)
Archibald James Muffett (5 Mar 1920-29 Apr 1986)

As a present it was a hit. I know my brother. 

The tearing the house apart looking for photos did leave us with some problems though. Firstly, Mum was very unimpressed with the chaos and secondly, we now had a massive box of photos and the realisation we should probably do something about proper storage. So in a round about way, I have now come to the point of this little ramble; how do you store your photos and can anyone suggest a good archival grade solution?