Saturday, 30 November 2013

Ancestry Public Trees and 'Cousin-baiting'

I have to admit, I am more than a little ambivalent about 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 <>
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. 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.