Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Isabella Ellis nee Sinclair - Probate

Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 14 May 1918 courtesy of National Library of Australia

Some of you may remember me blogging about my 2nd great grandmother, Isabella Ellis (nee Sinclair) last month.  Lovely Jill Ball of Geniaus asked me if I had looked for her Probate files. I hadn't.  So guess what turned up in the mail yesterday?  The probate files.  Hoorah!!

It cost $34.13 to be precise.  Item 19/10252 Reel 3033.  No less than 11 pages for me to digest.  

I can see the signatures of her sons - James St Clair Ellis of Hurstville and Henry Victor Ellis of Bondi.  There is an inventory of her estate.  It was valued at less than one thousand pounds so was not subject to stamp duty.  

It totalled £783.0.10.

The debts were interesting.  The greatest of these was the exhumation and removal of her husband's body £27.6.  He had been buried a couple of years before at the Field of Mars Cemetery as per this notice found in Trove.

Sydney Morning Herald Monday 21 February 1916 page 8
courtesy of the National Library of Australia

They are now both buried at Waverley Cemetery.  Section 15 Ordinary Row 26 Plot Number 6679,6680 to be precise (Thanks to the Society of Australian Genealogists transcriptions of Waverley and South Head Cemeteries and Find My Past).

The value of her property was as follows:

The two cottages in St George's Parade "Inverary" and "Ararat" were valued at £500.  The vacant land at Empress Street (not included in the will) was valued at £50.  Property at Narrabeen was valued at £25 and property at Katoomba was valued at £33. 

There are detailed descriptions of the location of the properties at Narrabeen and Katoomba. 

If I wanted to/could get to I could probably go and plot out the property at Narrabeen exactly using the Narrabeen subdivision plans at the State Library of NSW.  There is mention of Turimetta Allotment 13 of Section 8 so I'm guessing it is somewhere near Turimetta Street in present day Mona Vale or near Turimetta Beach.  This must have been the family's seaside getaway.

The property at Katoomba was on Twynam Street which is on the north side of Katoomba - a part of Katoomba that I'm not familiar with.  It must have been the family's mountain getaway.

There are two pages listing in detail the household furniture valued at £64 altogether.  There are recognizable items like a Singer Sewing Machine (value £3) and several musical instruments - a small Harmonium £2 - a cottage piano by Aucher Freres £8.  

I was heartened to see that there were was a quantity of books (value £2-hrrumph) and two rocking chairs.  I was also heartened to see that there was a biscuit barrell, a pickle jar and a toast rack in the dining room (amongst other things). 

There are many things I need to investigate.  What was the Wal. Loo Table in the front room.  I'm thinking maybe walnut?  But loo?  

Isabella also had a gong (valued at 1 shilling).  I feel a gong is missing in my life and I must seek one out as a matter of urgency.  

What is hollow ware????  And whilst I've seen the word cruet before I've never really understood what it is.

Harry Young "My Jeweller" - of 524 George Street (near Park Street, opp Q V Markets) Hours of Business 8am til 6pm Friday - 10pm and Saturday - 1pm - Value for Money all the time all prices in plain figures, nett cash we are a live firm - was called in to value Isabella's jewellery.  He was peremptory in his evaluation:

Acting under your instructions I have valued the old personal jewellery in the above estate, in the presence of the two sons Messrs. James S. and Harry Ellis; it consists of a sundry lot, broken and otherwise, and the value I place on it is SIX POUNDS (£6) that being the figure at which I am prepared to purchase it.

You can just imagine the scene can't you?  A very dour affair I would imagine.

I have learned so much from these papers - that my 2nd great grandmother loved music, books, pickles, biscuits, toast, sitting in a rocking chair, holidaying at the sea and in the mountains and when it all got too much - banging a gong on the odd occasion.  Bless her and bless Jill for sending me off in this direction!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sepia Saturday 251: 25 October 2014

Alan from from Sepia Saturday says:
Marilyn chose this splendid image from the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Centre.  She suggested as possible theme interpretations - bobbies, bellies, bums and brushes - but one could keep the alliterative pendulum swinging by adding beards.

Well, as per usual, I am going to break the non-existent laws of Sepia Saturday by NOT following the prompt and carrying on in my own sweet way. Those bobbies are looking back at me as I jay-walk through my latest digital acquisitions.

Here is a photo of yet more WW1 soldiers.  Last week I posted about Roy Duncan.  

Here we have a photo of Alex Duncan.  I'm sorry but I don't know whether he is the chap on the left or the right but I'm going to guess the one on the right as the Duncans tend to be tall chaps.  Alex was the third son or fifth child of seven born to Alexander Duncan and Julia O'Sullivan.  He was born in 1891 and the older brother of Roy. His full name was Maurice Alexander Duncan but seems to have been known as Alex.  

Alex enlisted 14 February 1916 joining the 2nd Reinforcement of the 42nd Battalion.  He was 24 years old, a single man and a Labourer. He was described as being 5 foot 9 inches and weighing 132 lbs.   

His younger brother Robert enlisted a couple of weeks later on 6  March, joining the 41st Battalion.  He was a carpenter.  On his enlistment record he says he was 21 years and 3 months old but in fact he would have been more likely 19 or 20.   Robert embarked for overseas service on 5 June.  

Alex embarked 16 August (four days after his younger brother Roy was killed in action at Pozieres) on the "Boorara" from Brisbane.

A couple of months later he arrived in Plymouth and, in the footsteps of his younger brother, having contracted Mumps, he was sent straight to Hospital. After some training in England he was finally sent to serve in France leaving Folkestone just before Christmas on the "Princess Victoria".  He was marched in to 3rd A.D.B. Depot, Etaples and went into the Field with the 42nd Battalion on 26 January 1917. 

According to a history of the 42nd Battalion on the Australian War Memorial's site here:

"The winter of 1916-17 was horrendous, and the 42nd spent much of it in the front line, the remainder being spent alternating between training and labouring in the rear areas.

In 1917, the operations of the 3rd Division were focussed on the Ypres sector of Belgium. The 42nd participated in major battles at Messines on 7 June, Warneton on 31 July, Broodseinde on 4 October, and Passchendaele on 12 October. Even though the battalion was in a reserve role, the battle of Passchendaele proved particularly costly. It lost over a third of its strength, principally from German gas attacks, and trench foot caused by the sodden condition of the battlefield."
You can tell it was cold in that photo by the sheepskin vests that they are wearing.  

Alex Duncan was first wounded on 10 June.  The diary entry for the Battalion during that time was:

 Catacombs 9/6/17 Strength 35 off 973 OR
                         Casualties 5 OR wounded
Received orders 12.30AM to proceed to the line & take over Black Line.  Took over from 38th & 40th B/tns & became G. Btn.  BAG on Messines Road near Seaforth 2am.  3 Coys in the line.  A.B.C. from right to left and D Cy in support.  Armour occupied. Green line in front of us.  Digging & wiring commenced.  Subjected to heavy shelling with 5.9 4.5 whizbangs & shrapnel all day.  Few gas shells.  
Black Line 10/6/17 Strength 35 Off 942 OR
                                                 Casualties decrease 27 (12 OR killed, 55 wounded, 
                                 3 Off wounded)
Subjected to exceptionally heavy shelling as previous day.  Trench digging & wiring proceed with position well consolidated.  Few gas shells reported.

Let's have a look at what these Catacombs looked like.  The Australian War Memorial has some great photos.

Base records sent Alex's father advice along the lines of "Reported Private Alexander Duncan wounded.  Will advise anything further received.  9/7/17"  You can see his name on the top of the 3rd column in Casualty List No. 325 reported in the Brisbane Courier 20 July 1917 here.  

Alex was admitted to the 9th A.F. Amb. in the Field with concussion then transferred to the 12th A.F. Amb. with exhaustion.  A fortnight later he was transferred to 24th Gen. Hosp. Etaples and then the 25th Gen Hosp. Hardelot.  

If I had been Alex, I would not have wanted to leave here at all.  It looks so sweet doesn't it?  This hospital was staffed by Australian nurses and English medical officers according to the AWM site here.  You can read more about it here too. 

Alex's story has turned out to be quite a saga, so I've decided to break it into three parts.  I'll finish the post here but in the meantime, can anyone tell me the type of dog in the photo?  It looks like a Jack Russell to me but I have a bit of an uneducated eye when it comes to dogs.

For more Sepia Saturday posts go here.  For Part Two of the saga go here.

Alexander Duncan - Part Two

On 27th August 1917 Alex Duncan rejoined the 42nd Battalion.  The weather according to the War Diary was dull and showery and the Battalion was engaged in training at Remilly-Wirquin for the Ypres offensive. On 25th September they started to march. By 3 October they had reached Ypres.  Extracts from the War Diary read as follows:

During this period the weather was extremely bad and both men and animals suffered severely.  During the first 4 days 64 men were evacuated to hospital suffering from trench feet, exhuastion and shell-shock.....Never since the Battalion has landed in France has it been called upon to face such abnormal conditions.  Never have the men had to face such hardships or to show such endurance and never have the Officers and men risen so well to the occasion and upheld so well the honour of the Battalion and the best traditions of the Australian Forces.
Ypres 18 October 1917 courtesy of AWM

Alex Duncan was wounded for the 2nd time in action on 11 October. Concussion is all that I can deduce from his medical record.  He was back with the Battalion five days later but by this stage they were the Brigade in Reserve, having been relieved by the 36th Battalion.  On 27 October he was promoted to Lance Corporal.  

To quote from the AWM's potted history of the 42nd Battalion again:

Belgium remained the scene of the 42nd Battalion’s activities for the next five months as it was rotated between service in the rear areas and the front line. When the German Army launched its last great offensive in March 1918, the battalion was rushed south to France and played a role in blunting the drive towards the vital railway junction of Amiens.
Unfortunately Alex overstayed his furlough leave in February 1918 which meant he was deprived of his Lance Stripe and forfeited 3 days' pay.  He was wounded in action for the third time on 24 April with a gun shot wound to the head and left arm.  

I won't go into much more detail about his service record apart from saying that the remainder of his service was spent in England suffering from various ailments including a severe case of broncho. pneumonia in January 1919 when he was dangerously ill.

Group of diggers at entrance to Greenhill House, Australian YMCA military camp at Sutton Veny courtesy of AWM

He spent time at Sutton Veny and then Weymouth recovering from Pleurisy. 


Alex Duncan  finally got to go home in May on the "Leicestershire" arriving Melbourne 21 June 1919 and was discharged from the AIF in Brisbane on 7 August.

For Part Three go here.

Alexander Duncan - Part Three

Alex Duncan married Mary STANFORD in 1920.  (One of the STANFORD girls went on to marry a SPENDELOVE but that's another story).  

Six years later Alex Duncan died as the result of a blasting accident near Nerang in a quarry.  He was working with eight men at the time.  He lost three fingers on his right hand and his right elbow was fractured as well as his ribs on his right side.  The explosion was so severe that the newspaper reports that:

Duncan and Buckley hard hardly a thread of clothes on them.
courtesy of the National Library of Austraila Brisbane Courier 31 March 1926 page 7 

Alex was suffering severely from shock.  He was taken to Brisbane by train but died the following morning.  This article is rich in detail and I recommend reading it.  My husband and I were fascinated to find a mention of Stanley HINDE in it. Stanley was one of my husband's great uncles or his grandmother's older brother.  The article says that:

Stanley ...mounted a horse and rode at full gallop to Nerang to summon the Ambulance Brigade.

I found this photo online as well which has unidentified men working on the road to Beechmont.  I wonder if Alex or Stanely are in the picture.

One of the many articles written about the accident referred to George GIDDY as Alex's mate.  Of course I fantasized that perhaps George was the mate in the first photo at the beginning of this post but I can't find a war service record for a George Giddy that fits.  There is a George Giddy but he died in April 1917.  The George Giddy in the Nerang accident was born in 1870 and was 56 when he died.  

I'm drawn to the Giddys because looking at war records for Giddys I found two brothers - George (who died in 1917) and John James.  John James is described as a timber cutter from Kempsey.  The Duncans were famous for timber getting.  I think it is more likely that Alex Duncan may have been mates with him as they were about the same age.  But these are big fat guesses on my part.  

There is also William Henry Giddy, son of George (who died in the blasting accident at Nerang in 1926).  He seems to be known as Bob just to confuse matters and according to this newspaper article.  

George (who died at Pozieres in 1917) and John James would have been cousins with William Henry Giddy, as their father Esdras was George Snr's brother. Esdras and George were born in Camden in NSW to John Giddy and Hannah STAGG.

So here is my cousin bait.  If you know which man in the photo at the top of this post is Alex Duncan, I'd love to know.  And of course if you know who his mate is, that would be great too!  Over to you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

His Little Treasures - Royston George Duncan

You may have read recently that I have been entrusted with digitizing some family heirlooms.  This is my next contribution to the "finds" therein. Coincidentally and most fortuitously it fits in with this week's Sepia Saturday theme. Marilyn aka Little Nell says:

You can let your imagination run free with your responses to this one. Street traders, roadside artisans, menders, cobblers, tools-of-the-trade, hand-colouring and lantern slides

This postcard has, I think, Dorothy Grace DAW (nee HINDE's writing on the back of the postcard) on the right hand side.  On the left, very faintly, you can see some other writing.  It says from Cousin Roy to Hinde family. So I imagine that is Roy's writing.  How precious.

Roy enlisted in the AIF 25 August 1915 at the age of 21 years and 5 months. Less than a year later he was killed in action.  

Roy was the sixth child of Alexander DUNCAN and Julia O'SULLIVAN.  He was born 1894 and was their fourth son.  Older siblings included William, Catherine, John, Rose, Maurice Alexander and younger brother Robert.

Roy's father Alexander was part of the big family of William Doig DUNCAN and Rose GORRIAN.  He was the third eldest and his younger sister Alice Cecilia DUNCAN was my husband's great-grandmother.  Roy and my husband's grandmother Dorothy (Dolly) DAW (nee HINDE) were cousins.  Roy was about 7 years older than Dolly.

Roy embarked from Brisbane 30 December 1915 on the HMAT Itonus A50.  He was single, Roman Catholic and earning 5 shillings a day.


It looks like a bit of a party doesn't it?  Close to New Year's Eve I expect there was some excitement in the air.  

At first Roy was assigned to the 7th Reinforcement of the 26th Battalion.  He was taken on strength at Tel-el-Theba on 3 March but then, on 9 March 1916 he was assigned to the 48th Battalion.  According to a letter from his father on page 12 of his file, Roy was a Signaller with C Company of the 12th Infantry Brigade of the 48th.  Shortly after his transfer to the 48th he went to Hospital with the Mumps, then rejoined the Battalion at Serapeum on 28th March.  It's a bit tricky reading the record but what I can make of it it indicates that he then went back to hospital with influenza.  He finally joined the BEF at Alexandria on 2 June and made his way to Marseilles by 9 June.

I have been reading Scott Bennett's Pozières – The ANZAC story, CEW Bean's The AIF in France and the Unit Diaries on the AWM site to get some sense of what was going on at the time.

The potted history of the 48th on the AWM site here gives the best summary:

The 48th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 16 March 1916 as part of the “doubling” of the AIF. Roughly half of its new recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 16th Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 16th, the men of the new battalion hailed mainly from regional South Australia and Western Australia. The new battalion formed part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division. It became known as the “Joan of Arc” (the Maid of Orleans) battalion because it was “made of all Leanes” - it was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ray Leane, his brother was the adjutant, and several other relatives were scattered throughout the battalion.
The 48th’s first major battle on the Western Front was Pozières. Here, it was tasked with defending ground captured in earlier attacks by the 2nd Division and entered the firing line on two separate occasions - 5 to 7 and 12 to 15 August. During the former period the battalion endured what was said to be heaviest artillery barrage ever experienced by Australian troops and suffered 598 casualties. 

The unit diary which you can read online here says the following about the day Roy died and this is the closest I can find to a possible account of his death.

HQ was very heavily shelled from 2.30 to  3.15 with systematic searching fire and considerable damage was done.  Two shells burst in the sap close to HQ dug out and destroyed a lot of signal gear and telephones and also I regret to say killed 2 runners of 48th and 2 of this battalion and wounded 7 others either signallers or runners.  A heavy barrage of HE shrapnel and indirect m.f. fire was placed on these HQ and Sunken Road tracks from 11pm to 3.15am.

Group portrait including General J. J. T. Hobbs (left, seated), Senator Pearce (centre, seated), Brigadier General McNicoll and their wives, on board RMS Osterley, during the return voyage to Australia, September 1919-October 1919 coutesy of National Library of Australia

On 17th February, Roy's father wrote to Senator Pearce, then Minister for Defence,  as follows:

 I write to ask you if you could assist me in getting my son's belongings that are over somewhere in France and to unable (sic) you in doing so I am sending you full particulars as to his name & date of death & as I am his father I would like to get all his little treasures whether great or small but it's all poor compared to my sad loss.  I beg to state since my son's death there has been letters sent from Captain McKay that my son had written & not posted.  Captain McKay said they were found in the personal affai  effects.  I also wish to state that no other member of my family are to get these things wihout my written consent.  If you cannot get his things for me will you please write & tell me where I would have to write to .  I remain Yours Faithfully Alexander Duncan.  

Eventually the little treasures were returned.  They comprised:

Metal cigarette case. Hair brush. Comb. Letters. Postcards. Notebook.  Photo. Flynet. Cottonbag.

I don't know if these little treasures survive today, but I will treasure this hand coloured photo very dearly now I know its story.

For more treasures go here.

PS -A couple of very important things I forgot to say before....

Roy has no known grave.  If you read the account of the battle I believe that many were just buried in the trenches due to the incredibly heavy bombardment in that battle.  He is commemorated at Villers Brettoneux and I am grateful to Tracey and Doug for this photo on Flickr.  What a powerful place that must be to visit.  

According to Find A Grave here, his name is inscribed on the memorial.  You can read more here.  

If you go to the Australian War Memorial his name is on Panel 145 as per here.  But most importantly, his name will be projected on the war memorial at the following times:

Tue 28 October, 2014 at 4:53 am

Thu 1 January, 2015 at 1:05 am
Wed 4 March, 2015 at 5:06 am
Fri 24 April, 2015 at 4:36 am
Sun 7 June, 2015 at 9:19 pm
Sun 19 July, 2015 at 9:45 pm
Thu 3 September, 2015 at 12:28 am

Tue 27 October, 2015 at 10:23 pm

I don't think I will be in Canberra at any of those times.  I want to go in March but it will be at the end of March.  If you want to see what it will look like, go here.  Pretty impressive huh?  What a great idea.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sepia Saturday 249: 11 October 2014

Picture showing a stage coach with suitcases and bundles on top empty of passengers.  Two men stand beside it waiting with four horses - two bay, two white.

The picture comes from the TAHO (Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office) via Flickr Commons, and is simpled titled ‘Old Coaches 1900’.

Little Nell aka Marilyn from Sepia Saturday says:

There are any number of themes that can be taken from this picture: coach rides, old transport, roof-racks, luggage, waiting, animated discussion, clowning, cab drivers, or whatever else pops into your head. Of course you don’t have to theme and can simply post an old picture or two with a link back to Sepia Saturday, on or around 11 October.
Actually it's well worth going to see the original of this image because it explains the headless horses and the bottomless horses.  And you get to see the driver of the coach more clearly - and the other driver of what I think is a sulky on the right, who is a woman.   So in fact, I think, the two men standing down are probably passengers and there is perhaps a one lane bridge and people are waiting their turn to cross or some such.  Or a chance meeting of neighbours or perhaps the lady has come to collect one of the gentlemen or is dropping him off to the coach.  Who knows.  

Now this week I am going to interpret this very widely to suit my own purposes.  Sorry.  Them's the breaks.  Links to the theme will be bolded in case you don't get the connections.

Last Friday my sister-in-law Julie (sister-in-law number 2 by birth) dropped off a suitcase to me.  She is a busy woman like me and this was no doubt one of many jobs on her list that day.  She was very surprised to find me at home.  "What are you doing here?" she said.  I reminded her of the procedure on my nose I had to have the day before - the penalty of being a white sheila in Australia - the wide brown land - and of a mis-spent youth, lathering myself in coconut oil, lying on a tin roof and reading Dolly magazine with friend Judith in Canberra and not wearing a hat.  A Basal Cell Carcinoma had to be cut out and I was waiting for son Caspar to drive me to work as I had an anaesthetic and was forbidden to drive for 24 hours.  I am now sporting a very attractive (not) scar on my nose, which all my friends and colleagues assure me will fade in time.  But enough of me.  Back to the suitcase.  

"Pat (sister-in-law number 1 by birth) gave this to me to give to you" said Julie.  "It's all those certificates and family history stuff you gave to Alice and Fay - it needs to be digitized."  "Oh right" I said and left it sitting there - as you do - thinking to self "I'll get to that eventually."

So I opened it on Monday - a Public Holiday in most of Australia for Labour Day.  What was in the bag?

Yes, I could see copies of certificates I had sent to Alice and Fay but there were enticing parcels too.  Parcels like this.

And this.

And this

And so, dear reader, you are about to be assaulted with more photos.  Photos that I don't know very much about but which will take me into new and interesting places, I'm sure.  Let's start with this one.

This is the obverse of the postcard.

So who is this?  I think that is Aunt Alice's writing on the bottom left of the photo.  The writing says "Guinea".  Let me put this in some context for you.  Alice is my husband's aunt - his father's sister.  She was born a Daw originally but is descended from the Hindes and Duncans who were connected by marriage to the Guineas.  The other writing on the card is a bit more difficult to read and I welcome any feedback you may have on what you think it says.  The first word is what is stumping me (I thought it said Deu - others at work think Ken) but the rest I think says sails on 4 of June 1918.  So this is someone who was a bit late to the party, as it were.  Someone who was perhaps too young to enlist early in the war.  

I was drawn to this photo particularly because I am embedded in research for WW1 at the moment with a project at work.  I knew I had to search National Archives records to see if I could find a service record.  I found 8 results for the surname Guinea in WW1.  Of those, I decided this was John Gerard Guinea because of a number of factors - namely age and location.

The Duncans were based on the Gold Coast so I was looking for someone in or near Queensland.  I discounted John Guinea of Dalby because he was 44 years old and this photo is of someone much younger.  John Gerard Guinea's file was actually empty but the item title told me it had been amalgamated with a WW2 file.  When I searched under Guinea for WW2 records I got far more results (5904 to be precise) than the WW1 search.  This is of course because a lot of the action in WW2 was happening in PNG.

Thankfully there is a Refine this search result button.  This is where you get the opportunity to put in a Service Number - NXF41955. And this is what I found.

So now I'm thinking that first word is Den - short for Denis.  What do you think?  There are 54 pages in this record.  Quite a big one.  The WW1 stuff starts properly on Page 9.  

Now of course there are a whole lot of questions to be answered.  Why did he change his middle name from Gerard to Denis?  I don't know if we'll ever find out all the answers. John was living in Northern NSW when he enlisted in WW1 and I decided he was "our" Guinea because his mother was recorded on his Attestation Papers as living in Gilston, which is definitely Hinde/Duncan country. 

At this point in proceedings I am usually searching several sites at once - being a frog, I do jump around, trying to get all the pieces to join up.  I had Qld BDM open, NSW BDM open, Trove, NAA, Ancestry, Find My Past etc.  My husband gets quite cross when he sees my desktop.  I searched Trove for John G Guinea and look what came up!  Another version of the postcard!  Who'd a thunk?

And more sobering this photo - which is also in his file.  

So this is the story I have been able to cobble together about John G Guinea.

At first I looked for his birth in Queensland which I found very confusing. On his medical papers, it says he was born in Warwick.  There is a John Guinea listed as being born in 1894 born to a Dennis and Mary Jane Duncan.  But why would he lie about his age (24 in 1918) and make himself younger than he needed to?  

In John G Guinea's service record, he said his mother was Mary Ada Isabel rather than Mary Jane.  Boys can be pretty hopeless when it comes to remembering details of family members in my experience but surely they remember their mother's names???  So I searched NSW BDM and found a record in 1900 for a John P (Gs and Ps can often look the same in copperplate I find to the untrained eye) to a John M and a Mary A I.  Bingo!  This makes more sense.  It makes much more sense because yes, he was fudging his birthday, saying he was 21 years old when he was probably only just 18 or maybe even 17 when he enlisted given that he said his birthday was the 29th September.

If you search NSW BDM Index for Guineas born to John and Mary from 1880 - 1914 this is what you get.  

John Guinea Snr. and Mary Ada Isabel (nee De Chave) had five children  - Mary born 1898, then John G, then Ellen, then Olive and then Mary in 1908.

So John G Guinea was the only son.  In his service record there is mention on Page 47 of his mother writing a letter on 6 November requesting that her son be kept out of the firing line.  I wonder how many mothers wrote those sort of letters.  

John embarked from Sydney on the RMS "Orontes" as part of the 1 to 8 (QLD) Reinforcements on 5 June 1918 according to the AWM.  He was part of the 4th Reinforcement and joined the 25th Battalion.  In September/October he was ill with the mumps, followed swiftly by influenza.  Then he joined the 9th Battalion.  He was discharged 12 June 1919 but then seems to have joined the Russian Relief Forces.  I'd like to know more about that and welcome any advice you may have about research in this area.  I found this particular article useful and found this record on the National Archives website which I think I will order just for fun.

His service record indicates that he had an address care of the GPO Bundaberg in 1922.  The Qld BDM index shows that his mother died in 1927.  According to the electoral rolls he and his father were working as labourers at Gilston in 1925.  They then seemed to move to Iluka in 1936.  

John married Mary E BUSBRIDGE in 1939.  They had two children Robin Denis and Francis John but according to the NSW BDM Index they died respectively in 1940 and 1941.  Here is a notice for Francis John (4th paragraph on the left)

John enlisted for home defence service with the 11th Battalion at Paddington, NSW on 14 June 1940.  On 7 April 1942 he was reported missing in Malaya. 29 March the following year he is listed as a Prisoner of War in Borneo.  On 9 April 1945 he was listed as deceased whilst POW - cause not stated - Place of Casualty - Sandakan.  

I found this online memorial to him.  It says he died at Sandakan Number 1 camp on 9 April 1945 and that the Japanese records said he died of Malaria. He was POW Number 758.  

You can read more about Sandakan here and here.  It's grim reading.  There was no coach or horses to carry parcels for John or the other POWs. Instead...

Approximately 455 POWs left Sandakan on the first march to
Ranau. They were issued with enough rations—rice, some
dried fish and salt—for just four days, and the men found that
they were also to be burdened with extra sacks of rice,
ammunition and other pieces of Japanese equipment.
Additional supplies supposedly were to be made available at
various Japanese food dumps along the way but the marchers
were often reduced to scrounging whatever the jungle could
provide or by trading their few possessions with the local
people. Most were forced to march in bare feet and the track
west soon became a barely passable pathway of mud, tree
roots and stones. Virtually every night it rained. Over sections
of low-lying swamp a bamboo walkway had been erected.
With the mud and rain, this proved impossible to walk on, so
the POWs were forced to wade through the swamp itself. 
   From  Laden, Fevered and Starved The POWS of Sandakan North Borneo 1945 by Dr Richard Reid (p.27) published 1999

Lest we forget.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Inmates, asylums, prisons and hospitals

Postmaster's daughter speaking with an inmate from the institution, Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island, ca. 1920
Postmaster's daughter speaking with an inmate from the institution, Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island, ca. 1920 courtesy of Picture Queensland, State Library of Queensland

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending yet another fantastic seminar held by QFHS at the Queensland Baptist Centre at Gaythorne.

There were two speakers - Shauna Hicks and Pauleen Cass.  From the promo material we were advised that:

Shauna Hicks is an archivist, librarian, and family historian with over thirty-five years’ experience. She is the author of a number of research books published by Unlock the Past. Shauna is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society.
and that:

Pauleen is a dedicated family historian with nearly thirty years’ experience in tracing her families and their lives through the records, both online and offline. She writes a number of blogs including Family History across the seas and East Clare emigrants.

Pauleen's blog has long been an inspiration so I was very excited to meet her in person, at last.  Shauna has spoken on a regular basis at the library service where I work and never fails to disappoints. (Shauna - will you ever forgive me??? - what a goose - I meant to say never disappoints - I blame the anaesthetic from Thursday - thank you Pauleen for giving me the big nudge) Everybody - Shauna never ever disappoints.

Both were enthusiastically introduced to the audience as Genealogy Rockstars as per John D Reid's recent poll.  Both have also recently been announced as official bloggers for AFFHO Congress next year in Canberra, as has the lovely Jill Ball.

courtesy of  State Library of Queensland, Benevolent Institution at Toowoomba ca. 1902
Shauna spoke about family skeletons and looking in asylum records. Of course you could end up in an asylum if you were just old or sick and had no living family.  Tragic really.  You didn't just have to be mentally ill.  Shauna looked at the availability of asylum records in Australia and outlined the type of information you might find. 

Shauna reminded us of the value of the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence

and also to look for an inquest if your ancestor died in an asylum.

She also referred to the value of portals such as Coraweb which I keep forgetting to use. Others recommended were the SA Genealogy Directory and Malcolm Ward's site for Tasmania.

Shauna also highlighted the limitation of access restrictions with regard to certain records - for example with many, you can only access the register if the whole of register is within 100 years, so do look at the whole date range. Thankfully Dunwich is only restricted to 30 years.

Not everything is indexed of course so you will have to be patient (no pun intended) but some things can produce gold e.g. the Penrith District Dispensary Register.

Sometimes the name of a ship will be recorded in your ancestor's asylum records - if that doesn't tempt you, I don't know what will.

Cell Block B at the female division of Boggo Road Gaol, Brisbane, 1903, courtesy of State Library of Queensland

Shauna then spoke about missing ancestors and suggested looking behind bars. Shauna used examples, relating to her families, to highlight some of the details you might find in these records.  

She reminded us to think of the context of the crime and that some crimes then would not be considered crimes now and vice versa.  Embarrassment is not necessary if you discover your ancestors behind bars - after all, as Shauna says, those ancestors are never boring!  

Of course those of us with convicts for ancestors are familiar with the crime of poverty and the crime of poverty adopts many forms, e.g. lack of maintenance payments often resulting in jail sentences for men, as in my husband's family.

Police gazettes were referred to often in this case, accessible through QFHS resources at their library or on Find My Past.  Shauna also recommended Judy Webster's index of watch house records.
Of course if your ancestor was in trouble with the law, they may have used an alias, so don't forget to check all the records again for that alias.  Other recommended sites included Braidwood gaol and the blog Old Prisons of the Deep North for some historical context.

Nurses at Diamantina Hospital ca. 1925, courtesy of  State Library of Queensland

Then it was Pauleen's turn.  She spoke about how hospital records can reveal new and interesting information about your ancestors.  She showed us where we might find the records, what is in them, and how they might help solve research problems, especially for those with mining ancestors.

Pauleen reminded us to step outside our comfort zone and to look in University and reference libraries as well as state libraries and archives and to not forget specialist organisations such as Wellcome Trust, the latter of which I confess I was ignorant.  Academic journals are often a great source of information e.g. the history of hospitals.  She also commended Text Queensland to us - an often forgotten resource.

Pauleen also commended the signpost town guides at Queensland State Archives. And she gave handy tips on searching microfilm where two patients can be on one page - look down as well as across!

Your ancestor's occupation or ethnic origin could determine which hospital they ended up in e.g. Cooktown is good for itinerant workers such as pearl divers or railway workers.  Croydon hospital is good for mining people. Ingham Hospital is good for Italian ancestors but she warned us that the records are difficult to read.  Maryborough is good for Pacific Islander records and has name of employer, ship etc

Don't forget that your ancestors may have worked in hospitals, asylums and gaols.  Or that the names of institutions change. 

I have not done the speakers justice in terms of the wealth of information they were able to impart in just one morning - but then, I don't want to give it all away do I?  You need to come along to get the full benefit.  The seminars have finished for this year at QFHS but there are still events on Fridays at QFHS here.

Next weekend I'm looking forward to checking out a few historic buildings such as the Diamantina Health Care Museum at Brisbane's Open House weekend. You can find out more and draw up your itinerary here.

Last but not least, QFHS Vice-President Sue Reid issued a date claimer for 18 April next year for a seminar on Forensic Genealogy with Colleen Fitzpatrick

Sounds just my cup of tea.