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.