Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week 4: Free offline Genealogy Tools

Without a doubt my most favourite offline genealogy tools are public libraries!

My husband laid the law down a few years ago about my spending on books.  He is quite right of course...there are only so many books one can store in one's home and we have surely exceeded our quota.

The other point is that often I will buy a book and it's not what I thought it was going to be or I only use it once and then it sits there collecting dust.  So why not go to your local library and check out their genealogy collection.?

Genealogy books can be found under 929 in the Dewey Decimal system.

But more importantly libraries are about so much more than books.

There's there's a saving if ever there was one.  Australians are famous for their consumption of magazines.  Check out the ABS statistics here.  Here's a way to save money AND the environment.  Some popular titles are Your Family Tree and  The Australian Family Tree Connection.

Libraries have DVDs too.  You can check out all the series of Who Do You Think You Are? and other historical titles.
Local and Family History Room at Caboolture Library

Your local library might be lucky enough to have a local and/or family history section.  I have just started working for Moreton Bay Regional Council and Redcliffe, Strathpine and Caboolture residents are very lucky to have such rooms.  Patrons can access the Library edition of Ancestry for free and other great resources such as CD-ROMs, newspapers, microfilm, microfiche and maps.

Your local library may run workshops, often for free, aimed at beginners or in specialist areas.  There you can meet other researchers and share the trials and tribulations of your research journey.  Some libraries provide a place for family history groups to meet.  The Brisbane City Council's offers some workshops in Family History too - search their Library events page here.

The State Library of Queensland family history section is located on Level 3 of the Southbank building.  You can read all about their collection here.  SLQ also has a digital community noticeboard for family historians called Nnub.  If you sign up you will receive a weekly newsletter telling you what's on around the place in terms of events, talks etc.

Have I mentioned the fabulous people that work in libraries?  Don't be shy to ask them for help will you?  They are usually very friendly people and love a challenge.  They  might not have all the answers but they usually know where to go to find them. And they can dance!

I love public libraries.  Do you?  

The Bucket List - Geneameme

Happy domesticity (1936)
Real photo postcard. Postally unused.
Found at the Camberwell Markets, Melbourne, Australia.
From Pellethepoet on Flickr

Jill from Geniaus suggested this meme.  Here are the guidelines:
The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you would like to do or find: Bold Type
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments after each item

  1. The genealogy conference I would most like to attend is...
This may seem a little ethnocentric but I would like to attend the 13th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry so I can catch up with old friends in Adelaide.

  1. The genealogy speaker I would most like to hear and see is...
It’s a toss up between Jenny Higgins and Paul Nixon.  Jenny works at the National Library of Australia and I am really interested in the family history reference training courses she has developed for National reader services library staff.  Paul works for findmypast and also has an interest in military history so I think he would have lots of useful tips and advice to give.

  1. The geneablogger I would most like to meet in person is...
 Now see this is tough because I would like to meet all my fellow Australian geneabloggers particularly Jill and Pauleen but I confess I would really like to meet Thomas MacIntee because he is so amazing in terms of productivity and I would like to thank him for all he has done.  I would also really like to know how he self-organizes because it must be poetry in motion to watch!!

  1. The genealogy writer I would most like to have dinner with is…
 Dan Lynch…he sounds a really nice guy….

  1. The genealogy lecture I would most like to present is….
Well I don’t know that like is really the operative verb… most people I find public speaking a challenge and seem to discover a new speech impediment every time I have to present in public – but – if I had to do it – I would probably feel most comfortable with Beginning Your Family History….

  1. I would like to go on a genealogy cruise that visits….
I really don’t care where it visits though if I am to be realistic about what I could afford we’re probably talking New Zealand or the Pacific.  I live in eternal hope that one day I will be able to go on one of these cruises…..

  1. The photo I would most like to find is…
Hmmm, that’s a tough one…for a while there it was a photo of Thomas Daw, my husband’s great-great-grandfather but now I reckon I would know what he would look like…the Daw men tend to be peas in a pod.  I would like to find a copy of either of my grand-parents wedding photos but I’m not holding out much hope as I was an only child and my mother was an only child and my paternal grandmother was famous for popping stuff in the incinerator to clean stuff up when people died….sigh.

  1. The repository in a foreign land I would most like to visit is…
 Ooh the Archives in Barbados  or the Museum and Historical Society please…..

  1. The place of worship I would most like to visit is...
I confess that this is not really a priority for me.  I’ve been to many many places of worship over the years.

  1. The cemetery I would most like to visit is ......
Once again…not a huge priority for me though I would like to get down to Ballina and check out Martha Sarsfield Johnson (nee Donovan) and William Johnson’s graves.

Stirling Scotland
Valentine's postcard of Stirling, Scotland, c1940
from Adelaide Archivist Jenny Scott on Flickr

  1. The ancestral town or village I would most like to visit is......
I am a complete sucker for Scotland so let’s say St. Ninian’s and Inverary.  Though I really would like to go back to Portsmouth again.

  1. The brick wall I most want to smash is...
 Whatever happened to Robert James Daw - my husband's great-grandfather?  After he spent some time as a guest of His Majesty....where did he go - leaving three sons behind him in an orphanage?  What did he do?  Where is he buried?

  1. The piece of software I most want to buy is....
 I think I’m all softwared out at the moment….

  1. The tech toy I want to purchase next is .....
Oooh – tough one….maybe a portable recorder for recording oral history interviews would be the most sensible…though a portable scanner is tempting too…

  1. The expensive book I would most like to buy is...
So many books and you ask me to choose one????  Tracing Your Ancestors in the NationalArchives or Ancestral Trails.

  1. The library I would most like to visit is.....
Can I only pick one library?  Really?  Well….this library has absolutely nothing to do with my genealogy (to my knowledge) …I’d just like to visit it because it looks fabulous – Trinity College Library Dublin.  If you want to waste some time check out this blog.

  1. The genealogy related book I would most like to write is....
 A history of Robert’s or my family.

  1. The genealogy blog I would most like to start would be about....
Another blog…..noooooooo!  Okay let’s be serious for a second and say that I would like to write a better looking blog….I suspect this is only possible with WordPress but I love the ease of blogger…..I need to read Thomas MacIntee's hints more closely here..and also read the e-book I bought from Amy Coffin here.

  1. The journal article I would most like to write would be about...
Well there’s a bit of me that thinks I should write one about my research in Barbados because there isn’t much on that and other researchers might think it is impossible to do…and then there’s another one that I think I could write about which is being a teacher in country Queensland in the late 19th and early 20th Century.

  1. The ancestor I most want to meet in the afterlife is....
KateAmelia Forfar (nee Ellis) – I reckon she was one helluva character!

Is there anything else on your Genealogy Bucket List?  

No, I think I’d better get a bigger bucket if I want to put more in it!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia Day 2012 - Wealth for Toil: Harriet Rowland (nee Conner)

 Springsure State School student group, 1884
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

The lovely Shelley from Twigs of Yore came up with this great meme for Australia Day.

Shelley proposed the following:

Choose someone who lived in Australia (preferably one of your ancestors) and tell us how they toiled. Your post should include:
  1.     What was their occupation?
  2.     What information do you have about the individual’s work, or about the occupation in general?
  3.     The story of the person, focussing on their occupation; or
  4.     The story of the occupation, using the person as an example.  
I chose my great grand aunt - Harriet Rowland (nee Conner)

Harriet is pretty emblematic of how I tend to jump around in family history.  She is not a direct ancestor as such - she is in fact the older sister of my paternal great-grandfather.  Of course I never knew her.  When I grew up the Conners I knew had always lived in Sydney, but there were rumours of family in Queensland.  When I moved to Brisbane it was in the back of my mind to find them. 

Harriet was born 24 June 1866 at Landport, Portsmouth in England.  She was one of six children (that is to say, six that I have been able to find) of Edward Conner and Rebecca FoyneEdwin her younger brother was my great-grandfather.

Harriet and her older sister Clara Rebecca trained to be teachers.   Harriet was a pupil teacher at Roberttown Board School, in the township of Liversedge, Yorkshire from the age of 14.  She worked there until 31 December 1884.

Harriet's older sister Clara had married William Smith just two months earlier at Mirfield in Yorkshire.  Clara was eight years older than Harriet.  William had just matriculated from London University and sailed for Australia less than two weeks after he married Clara.  Clara and Harriet followed William in March 1885 on the Duke of Buckingham  for Rockhampton.

They  arrived in the colony of Queensland in May 1885.  Harriet came recommended by Mr Harry Horrox, Clerk to the School Board of Liversedge and Mr R Vickers Head Teacher.  She was described as being competent in Music with a fair knowledge of drawing.  She was appointed assistant teacher to William in January 1886 at Cometville.  Her sister Clara was expecting her first child - a daughter (also to be called Clara) who was born in April. 

Whilst the photo above is not of Cometville,  I thought it gave us a great sense of the dress of the times and Springsure is in the same region as Cometville, now Comet, being near Emerald.  Keep in mind that temperatures in that area can get up to 42 degrees Celsius in summer - a vast difference from West Yorkshire!

Harriet earned 40 pounds per annum in 1886 which I imagine was a decent wage for an unmarried woman in those times.  Her brother-in-law William was of course earning much more as the Head Teacher - 150 pounds plus capitation to be precise!  

At her inspection in October 1886 Harriet was described as "Patient, gentle, and painstaking with the pupils with very good order and a very capable teacher of young children."

Harriet resigned on 31 May 1888.  I then lose her for a bit.  Clara was appointed assistant teacher a day after Harriet resigned, so I wonder if they shared the care of the children which followed in quick succession over the years. Clara was to have William Henry in 1889, Esther Leilian in 1890, Sydney Smith in 1894, Dorothy Evelina in 1895 and Eleanor Florence in 1898. Sadly Sydney, Dorothy and Eleanor died at a very young age.  William was appointed Head Teacher at Glencoe then Toowoomba South Boys School and Monkland before passing his BA exam in 1901.  Eight years later he was appointed District Inspector of Schools and he and Clara moved to Kelvin Grove and then Toowong in Brisbane. 
Lighthouse keepers' families at Bustard Head Lighthouse, Queensland, 1898
Worthington, W. C.
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Harriet was re-admitted to the Department in September 1902 to teach at the Bustard Head Lighthouse school for a short while before moving to the Blackall Range Provisional School in 1903.  There she taught 14 children - two were under the age of 6, most were aged between 6 and 12 and four were aged over 12.

In June1907 Harriet transferred again - this time to Readville Provisional School via Beaudesert.  Department of Public Instruction correspondence shows that accommodation was found two chains from the school at a cost of 14 shillings per week.  On the 1905 Electoral Roll her place of residence is shown as Pinelands, Widgee Creek.  In the process of googling that location, I found this interesting paper on Sawmills of which it would seem, Pinelands was one.  Harriet taught 19 children at Readville..

Harriet stayed at Readville until 31st December 1908 when she left at the age of 42 to marry John David Rowland aged 26.  They married at her brother-in-law's home in Monkland.

What was it like being a teacher in those days?  Pretty tough I should imagine.  Harriet signs her resignation letter "I have the honour to be, Sir your obedient servant H. Conner"   So very formal in what is now very laid-back Queensland.

Stuart Buchanan in his book Lighthouse of Tragedy says that in the twenty-four years since the School started at Bustard Head there were thirteen teachers.  He quotes an internal memo at the Department saying:

"It is very difficult to get persons to take such places, difficult to get persons suitable, and difficut to get suitable persons to stay for any length of time, without complaints and petty quarrellings and squabblings, seeing the life is of much the same nature as life on board ship, with only a few on board."

I can't imagine that small country towns would have been much different.  Before Harriet was appointed to Readsville, the Secretary to the School Committee wrote to the Department complaining that:

"The committee have had a deal of trouble with her (the previous incumbent).  But being a widow we put up with her.  We built her a 4 roomed house for her and her sons and done (sic) anything for her but it was to no purpose.  I am sory (sic) to say she is not has (sic) temperate as she might be that is the fault that the parents take the children away.  But should you send up a suitable teacher the pupils would come Back to school has (sic) they live within 2 chains of the school.  I would like an answer has (sic) early as you can so that I can arrange about the House."

More information about being a teacher in Queensland state schools can be found here.

My sources include electoral rolls and the marvellous records held at Queensland State Archives particularly with regard to School Records.  Brief  guides to Queensland State Archives resources can be found here.
A link to a post about my finding Harriet's final resting place can be found here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 3 – Free Online Genealogy Tools

 Image by asenat29 from Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

Free online genealogy tools are like gifts from above. Which one are you most thankful for? How has it helped your family history experience?

I do like a list.  I do.  I do.

A couple of weeks ago, Genealogy in Time released a list of Top 100 Most Popular GenealogyWebsites.

They were quite specific about what they would and would not class as a genealogy website. For example:
  • Library, museum and general archive websites.
  •  University websites.
  •  Wide-ranging government websites.
  •  General knowledge websites (such as Wikipedia).

Well, my list is going to include a library website.  And I bet every red-blooded, Australian Genealogist knows which site I'm going to pick.  Yes.  Dear old Trove.   If you haven't heard from your genealogist friend recently, you can bet pounds to peanuts they're buried up to their neck in lubberly newspaper articles.  I thought I knew everything about my husband's great-grandfather - Thomas Daw - the butcher.  Barp.  Wrong.  He was also a Councillor at Windsor Shire Council in Brisbane.  Trove helped me discover that.

Other free genealogy tools are my Society's Quiklinks page or my Library's Genealogy page.  I guess they're both a bit like Cyndi's list really - the place you go when you can't remember where you want to go!!  They have all sorts of useful links.  Cyndi's list is Number 30 on Genealogy in Time's Top 100 list but I find it a bit messy to navigate. 

But the site that I blather on most about to all and sundry who will listen is GENUKI

I found out about it at a QFHS workshop.  It's great for helping you with your research in the UK.  I'm a bit of a hopeless git when it comes to being familiar with the geography of the UK.  I know where Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales are in relation to each other but then I vague out when it comes to counties.  This site is fabulous.  It helps you drill down according to places/counties and leads you to what resources are available in each place via links.....very, very, useful.  It is as they say, a virtual reference library of genealogical information.  It rates Number 52 on the Top 100 list.

Let's not forget the Family Search Research Wiki either.  Fabulous for when you're really stuck.

Last but not least the other website which I should use more is British History Online.   Gill Blanchard at Pharos recommended this site to us.  It is very rich in content and more deserving of my time. 

Enough from me.  What about you?  Which are your favourite free online tools?

Monday, January 9, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 2 - Paid Online Genealogy Tools

Amy Coffin of the WeTree blog came up with a series of weekly blogging prompts for each week of 2012.

This week's prompt is this question: "Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? What special features put it at the top of your list? How can it help others with their genealogy research?"  I'm a bit confused as to whether the tool has to be an online tool or any tool that you've paid for - so I'm going to choose two!!

Okay what do I pay for and use in the way of genealogy tools?  I pay for an online subscription to Find My Past (Australia) which I have been very impressed with in the first month or so that I have been using it.

I have just subscribed to the iPad version of the Inside History magazine.  It's probably a bit too early to judge yet, but once again I love the design and layout of the magazine.  It is very visually appealing and enticing.  And of course, the content is great too.

I pay for and use Family Tree Maker as my software.  I have mixed feelings about Family Tree Maker now - I keep upgrading but think I need to attend workshops at QFHS to become more competent with navigating the layout now.

I have also subscribed to Origins.  This has all sorts of records and I should use it more than I do.  For fun, one day, I looked up the London Apprenticeship Abstracts.  The site had the most interesting information about Livery Companies.  I knew next to nothing about Livery Companies and was intrigued to see just how many companies there were -  including Makers of Playing Cards and Paviors (who dealt with paving and highways).

But for my money, the best value so far of online tools has been  Pharos Tutors.    I have completed two courses with them to date - one on Wills and Administration with Gill Blanchard and one on Caribbean Family History with Guy Grannum.  The teachers are very supportive as is the administration staff.  The courses are modestly priced but rich in content.  There is a really wide range of courses from Beginners right through to how to become a professional genealogist.  Pharos and the Society of Genealogists combined last year to deliver the Family History Skills and Strategies Long Distance Course which consists of ten modules which can be completed over an 18 - 30 month period.  Most courses are anywhere from 3-5 weeks long so quite digestible I think.  Even though it's been a while since I did my last course I still receive regular bulletins from Pharos with great information about all things genealogy.  I must declare that I recently entered a competition with Pharos and after a great deal of pencil sucking and straining my brain about significant dates including regnal years, I won a copy of the Oxford Companion to Local and Family History.  I have been thinking about using this marvellous resource as a prompt for future blog posts too.

And now for the second tool but by no means least important tool, which I have mentioned already - QFHS.  I have been a member of this society for - I don't know how long....over 20 years I'd say.  From the moment I joined the society I was made to feel most welcome.  The Society has a very well resourced library and bookshop at Gaythorne in Brisbane.  It has a prodigious output in terms of publishing and has won many awards for its contributions to family history research. Workshops are run on a regular basis and all sorts of services are offered to its members - both metropolitan and regional.  Even if you don't join, the website is useful - I refer to the Quiklinks page on a regular basis for reference to all things Gene in Australia and oseas.

There's only so much you can do at home on your own.  Joining a Society I think has to be a number one priority if you are new to genealogy.  You'll meet some of the most wonderful, generous, completely batty and gorgeous people there - just like you really !!  Do join in and participate in your Society's activities.  Volunteers are needed for all sorts of things - indexing, cataloguing, writing, speaking, helping others in the library etc. and you will learn so much from your colleagues.  I'm the kind of girl that only learns by doing.  Don't be shy or feel that you can't be of any assistance to anyone.  We all have to start somewhere and genealogists are the friendliest bunch of folk I've yet to meet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to compile your family history - ABC Queensland - Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

How to compile your family history - ABC Queensland - Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Tuesday's Tip: It's all Greek to me...

 Photo used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of archer10 (Dennis) on Flickr

And yes for all you Aussies out there, I do realise it is Wednesday - I'm just keeping time with our colleagues in the Northern Hemisphere.  So today's blog post is stimulated by Geneablogger's daily blog prompt.  It's also a bit of professional practice reflection so I'd be grateful for your comments.

"What advice would you give to another genealogist or family historian, especially someone just starting out? Remember when you were new to genealogy? Wasn’t it great to find tips and tricks that worked for others? Post your best tips at your genealogy blog on Tuesday’s Tip. This series was suggested by Susan Petersen of Long Lost Relatives and, in fact, this has been an ongoing series by Lynn Palermo at The Armchair Genealogist and by Miriam Robbins Midkiff at AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors."

Yesterday (which was Tuesday for us in Oz) a patron came into the library seeking assistance.  Now I know we need to protect client confidentiality and all that so - no names, no pack drill - but I don't think he'd mind if I told you that he came from Greek ancestry - let's call him the Greek God.

Well, the closest I get to Greek Ancestry is my christian name and it stops right there.  So I cheerfully confessed ignorance in this area and we sat down together and thrashed out a few ideas.

I asked him what tools he had used so far.

Yes he has been back to Greece.  That's always an excellent start but not necessarily an affordable ongoing option.  He had managed to search some Council records but they seemed to come to a grinding halt in the 1800s.

He had also had some success with Facebook - something that I haven't really used yet for family history purposes.

He had tried to use Ancestry but with little success.  There are some records on there but not many.

What else could he use?  

This is what I suggested (and I admit to clutching at straws here and would be very grateful for your advice and suggestions too).
I showed him our library catalogue page with the quick link to our Genealogy page in the bottom right hand corner.  This page has lots of useful links on it.  

The one I suggested he might find useful is the Learning Resources of the Family Search page - in particular the Research Wiki.  If you put Greece into the Search box you get 218 fabulous results here.

I also suggested he join a bulletin board or two through Rootsweb.  Here is a link to the bulletin boards featuring the word Greece.

I checked our catalogue but couldn't find any books on tracing your ancestors in Greece.  We checked Gould Books catalogue but this was about the only general guide we could find.

Last but not least, I did point out that, given I had to ask him to spell his surname several times, it probably got a bit lost in translation over the years and perhaps he should consider different spellings.  There is some free software by Matthew Coombs called the Surname Suggestion List

So - what tips would you have given the Greek God?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Amenuensis Monday: Will - Edward Daw of Tingalpa

Photo of Edward and Alice Sophia Daw courtesy of Alan Gibbs

This story is about my husband's side of the family.  Edward Daw is not a direct relation.  He is the brother of my husband's great-great-grandfather - Thomas Daw - or in other words his 2nd great grand uncle.  Having said that, he was much loved by Thomas' grandchildren for helping them in their early adult years when they were trying to make their own way, without the assistance of their father or grandfather. 

Edward was a dairyman at Tingalpa, Brisbane in Queensland, Australia.  Thomas, his brother, was a butcher by trade.They were the youngest of five children born of William Daw and Mary Anstey of Bradninch, Devon, England.

We decided to obtain Edward's will to try and find out a bit more about this kind man who provided a sulky for my husband's grandather's wedding and who helped the family out financially when my husband's grandmother was ill.

We obtained a copy of the will from Queensland State Archives. You can find out about Wills here. Edward's will is Item Number ID743962 (SCT/P2147) - No. 20 of 1938.  One of the added bonuses about getting a will is you get the death certificate as well.  Including postage, it cost $12.60 in September 2009.

The will is brief and to the point and reads as follows:

This is the last will and testament of me Edward Daw of Tingalpa.  After payment of all my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, I give, devise, and bequeath unto my wife Alice Sophia Daw of Tingalpa the whole of my real and personal estate whatsoever and wheresover situated.  And as to the residue and remainder of all my real and personal Estae, I give, devise and bequeth the same unto my Wife Alice Sophia Daw and I hereby appoint Alice Sophia Daw of Tingalpa, Executrix as wintess my hand this ninth day of August 1902 Edward Daw in the presence of William Porter and John Porter.  

Edward died 23 November 1937 at Olive Street Morningside at the age of 84 of chronic bronchitis.  He was cremated the next day at the Brisbane Crematorium according to the rites of the Mehodist church.  He was married to Alice Sophia Gode at the age of 30 and they had one living child, Alice Ellen aged 53.  

An inventory of the personal estate and effects and affidavit was filed by Alice Sophia Daw in the Supreme Court of Queensland 18 March 1938.  
The inventory was as follows:

Furniture                                                             66 : 8 : 1

Australian Commonwealth Inscribed Stock        510 : 2 : 6

Amount due under Mortgage 830617
by J.E. McDiarmid including interest                     81 : 2 : 0

Amount due under Policy 3273 in
Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society
Limited and Bonuses                                          281 : 6 : 0

10 Fully paid Shares in Queensland
Co-Operative Bacon Association                            5 : 0 : 0

10 Fully paid Preference Shares in
Queensland Co-Operative Bacon
Association Limited                                              10 : 0 : 0

Amount due under Loan to Epworth
House Trust with Interest accrued                        101 : 12 : 0

                                     Total                          £ 1055 : 10 : 7

So this gives me some other avenues to pursue - e.g. who were William and John Porter?  And I need to research more into the Queensland Co-Operative Bacon Association (there's some great images here from the Fryer Library at University of Queensland) and the Epworth House Trust which seems to have been something to do with the Church.  Edward had a lot to do with the Church as you can see from this article found in Trove.

I subscribe to the Australian version of  Find My Past.  Through this tool,  I discovered that Edward was appointed a Queensland State School Committee Member at Tingalpa on 18 March 1893 at about the age of 40.  His daughter Alice would have been seven years old.  He was appointed again in 1896 and in 1899.  (Queensland State School Committee Members 1876-1899)

Edward's farm was called Hillside (Queensland Horse and Cattle Brands Index 1872 - 1899) and his cattle brand was (Certificate Number E6DB24048, Date: 6 February 1886,Page:472)

My thanks to QFHS committee and its members for indexing these records and making them available on Find My Past.

Edward was certainly an active member of his community and missed for many years after his death as In Memoriam notices demonstrate here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday

This is my great-grandmother Kate Amelia Forfar (nee Ellis)
1872 - 1905

She and her husband - her second husband - Walter William Forfar have led me and my relations a bit of a merry dance over the years.

Earlier this year I had a bit of a breakthrough using one of my favourite tools of late i.e. Trove.

Well, it wasn't really a breakthrough - if anything, the discovery has just led to more questions.

We're not quite sure when Walter and Kate got married, if at all.

Let's go back a bit.  First of all, Kate married Alfred H Doe 4 April 1896 at the Congregational Church at Woollahra at the age of 24 according to the NSW BDM Index. I've just ordered the certificate.  Kerching.

There is a marriage notice that you can see on Trove here.

Kate and Alfred were granted a divorce in 1902, some six years later as per the notice in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

What is interesting is that by that time Kate already had two children with Walter William Forfar and the twins (one of whom was my grandmother) were on the way.

According to the eldest child's birth certificate Walter and Kate were married in 1897 in Perth Western Australia.  We have searched the index to BDM in WA with no success.  However there are advertisements appearing in the West Australian from July to September for a "girl, smart, at once, to mind baby and useful at Hawthorne, ....Mrs Forfar, Lincoln Street, Highgate Hill".

But - just to keep you on your toes.....Ernest Henry Forfar was born 12 February 1900 at Queen Street East Sandy Bay in Tasmania!  Anyone who knows the geography of Australia knows that Tasmania and Western Australia are not exactly close.  Ernest's father Walter is listed as a retired surveyor.  His mother's maiden name is listed as Sinclair - which was in fact her mother's maiden name. So - did they go from Tasmania back to WA?

Kate and Walter's second child, Dorothy, was born 4 June 1901 in Windsor, Victoria.  Her mother's maiden name is listed as Morrison on this certificate (???) and Walter's occupation is now Hotel Keeper.  Again, to keep you on your toes, the birth was registered in New South Wales in November! Walter is recorded as living at Richmond, NSW.

Eighteen months later my grandmother and her twin sister were born 8 December 1902 at 23 Bedford Street Newtown.  Walter is now listed as a pastry cook. 

Just over two years later, little Walter William Forfar was born in January 1905 but died only a couple of months later due to asphyxia - due to smothering by his father rolling on top of him in bed.

Less than twelve months later, Kate herself died of premature confinement and syncope on New Year's eve at Denison Street Arncliffe.  Shortly after the children were placed into Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children by their father.

And this is where the discovery comes in...just by changing my search terms i.e. from "Walter William Forfar" or "Kate Forfar" to "Mrs Forfar" I found this disturbing article.

It becomes even more disturbing when Kate withdraws her allegations a couple of days later

Kate would have been four or five months pregnant with baby Walter William at the time. Ernest would have been aged 4 and a half, Dorothy just three and the twins nearly two years old.

I have tried to trace the steps of the locations mentioned in the newspaper article but street names must have changed over time.  It is difficult to work out what would have been Cooks River Road.

I am interested that there was shopping on Saturday nights.  Does anyone know anything about that?

And of course, it all begs the question - what was the truth of the matter?

The Forfars moved around quite a bit it seems - why?  My second cousin thinks it may have been something to do with the gold rushes at the time.  This brochure about the history of the suburb Highgate in WA seems to support that hypothesis.

I'm not sure what records to tackle next... perhaps electoral rolls and shipping records to try and trace their movements?  What do you think?

My mother only knew her grandfather as a pastry-cook - and enjoyed looking up the bakery in Sussex when we visited years ago.  However I think Walter's reputation as the black sheep of the family did not stand her in good stead.   This sweet dish is the one souvenir she managed to purchase from the shop and I was delighted to have it entrusted into my care.

Family Tree Blogs to follow

Just like tree frogs hitching a ride on bananas, it is sometimes easy to get lost or distracted whilst surfing the internet.

If you find a blog you like, it is great to be able to follow it or subscribe to RSS feeds and check on it on a regular basis.

I follow and subscribe to a number of family tree blogs such as Anglo Celtic Connections, Chris Paton's Walking in Eternity, GeneWebinars, Roots and Rambles, The Armchair Genealogist, The Turning of Generations, Geniaus and Family History Across the Seas.

Each blog has its own merits but the ones that appeals to me the most - or the ones that I find myself most often reading are Geniaus and Family History Across the Seas

I'm not quite sure why that is...maybe it is because they are written by Australian women and so I identify with their struggles and also am inspired by their passion.

Geniaus aka Jill Ball is very excited by new technology and Web 2.0 and her enthusiasm is positively infectious!

Cassmob is a very disciplined blogger who writes engaging stories with great photos on a regular basis. 

I am very grateful to these two bloggers and the geneablogosphere in general for inspiring me to start my own family tree blog and giving guidance on how to maintain and improve your blog. 

Which bloggers inspire you the most?


Jumping In

Graceful Tree Frog - Creative Commons Licence to teejaybee on flickr 

Hello and welcome to my new blog!

I have spent many hours sucking my teeth and trying to come up with a meaningful title/mascot for my new blog that will give some insight into my background and approach to the absorbing hobby of family history.

I live in Brisbane, Australia and the Graceful Treefrog is the faunal emblem of Brisbane.

Whilst I don't want you to think that I jump to conclusions in my family history research, it is fair to say that I probably do tend to jump around a bit in terms of location. My husband's and my own family tree can take me anywhere from Brisbane to Barbados and to Britain with a few other places in between.

Growing up I enjoyed watching The Muppets with my mother and laughing at dear earnest Kermit and all the other crazy characters such as Miss Piggy. I hope that I can be as earnest, conscientious and sensitive as Kermit in my reporting of family history research.

Sometimes I might be a bit of a lost frog - being whisked away by other tasty pursuits such as knitting or reading or studying. Bear with me won't you?

I am studying a Master of Information Studies (Librarianship) online through the University of Canberra and working casually at the Caboolture Library in the Local and Family History Room. Occasionally I undertake short courses with Pharos Tutors too and have found them very useful. I am also the Research Team Coordinator for the Queensland Family History Society as well as volunteering in the library once a month or so as a library assistant. All these pursuits should give me ample fuel for blogging.

My goals for 2012 are:

1. to blog at least once a week about local/family history research using such helpful sites as Geneabloggers for weekly and daily blogging prompts.
2. to visit the Queensland State Archives more regularly.
3. to visit other repositories such as the Brisbane City Archives for the first time.

I wish you all the best with your goals for 2012 and hope that you drop by sometime and find something of interest here.