But I also managed to fit in the genealogy aspects of the trip. On Saturday afternoon I attended the last quarter of the Unlock the Past researching and writing history seminar with Carol Baxter, the History Detective. It was also good to see Brisbane friend Helen Smith also there and her blog on the seminar is a must read - see here. Alona from Gould Genealogy & History was there selling Unlock the Past publications and I picked up copies of the two latest guides - Chris Paton's British and Irish Newspapers and a second edition of John Donaldson's So You Are Totally New to Family Tree Maker. I must say that all the UTP research guides spread out on the sales table looks impressive, it doesn't seem that long ago that they were publishing the first guide, my What Was the Voyage Really Like?.
I listened to the session from Genealogy SA on what they can offer researchers and I was so impressed I joined up but more about that later! Then it was my talk on Newspapers: Finding Online Family & Local History News and as usual I have put the slides on the Resources page of my website - scroll down to Presentations. I do this so that people don't have to madly write while I am speaking, they can go home and go through it all again at leisure and I suspect after nearly two days of seminars, they were fast approaching brain overload.
I have attended one of Carol Baxter's writing seminars before but I still learnt some tips from her two last sessions on Sensory Writing (how to make it all more interesting using our five senses) and Publishing.(geared more for professional publishing which most attendees won't use but I did find the self publishing tips helpful). For information on the other sessions read Helen's blog - link above.
It was really good to see Genealogy SA there as well as the State Library of South Australia with lots of leaflets, guides and two staff to answer questions. A personal presence is always the best way I think to give people an idea of what they can get when they visit - it can be quite intimidating walking into somewhere like the State Library and not knowing where to go or even if you can ask questions. State Records SA and National Archives of Australia Adelaide Office were there on Friday and had left their information leaflets for any Saturday attendees like me.
We managed to visit all the cemeteries on my list and find the graves we were looking for. So much easier now with the cemetery data and maps all online. I printed everything before we left so we just parked near the relevant sections and followed the maps (although it does help if you orientate the map the right way to start). We took photos of all the graves and headstones although there was no headstone or plaque on Max's grandmother's grave which seemed a bit sad as it was surrounded by some impressive headstones.
From there we went to Genealogy SA's reading room where I joined up, they have some good services for interstate members and I like their online members area. I am now a member of GSV, GSQ, QFHS, SAG and Genealogy SA which almost takes me back to the late 1970s when I was a member of everything as that was the only way to find anything out. Although these days we have Google and the internet but that does not quite match some of the services these societies are now offering online to members.(I just have to give up more lattes (or bottles of wine) to pay for the subscriptions!
As I had done my homework before the visit, I was armed with a list of things I wanted to do in a very short space of time. Thanks to the friendly volunteers I managed to achieve most of it. My most urgent items were some death and marriage certificates and it is really good to see these without having to pay for a certificate. The Society has the district copies which people can use but printing is not allowed so it was a quick transcript. For those who can't visit in person the Society offers a transcription service which is also a lot cheaper than an official certificate.
One of the marriage certificates (a son from the first marriage) gave me a light bulb moment on a direct line. I have been trying to find where a Palmer family fits into the Spencer family and I think this certificate is the key to unlocking that mystery. I need to do a little more research on what I found at the weekend but it may be mystery solved! Interestingly when we caught up with friend after leaving Genealogy SA one of them said he was having trouble with his main family line. He even thought he might be tracing the wrong line so my first question to anyone with a brick wall or problem is 'have you got all the certificates' step by step going backwards. In this case he had only been buying the birth certificates so I'm looking forward to an update when he gets some marriage and death certificates which should solve the confusion.
On the Monday we treated ourselves to a wine tour of the Barossa Valley with Taste the Barossa. They pick you up from your accommodation and then drive you to the four wineries and some scenic sites such as the Whispering Wall and Mengler's Hill Lookout. We had a delicious ploughman's platter style lunch at Peter Lehmann's winery and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip as it is such an historic area dating back to the 1840s. Some of the little villages/towns still look the same and there are lots of ruins scattered around as well.
So a great research and family weekend and I have been busy adding all my new data into my software and working out what needs to be done next. As much as I like just doing my own research, reality steps in and I now have to finalise my two new talks for the Genealogical Society of Queensland seminar on 25 May - looking at the AJCP and court of petty session records. Plus I have articles due for Inside History Magazine and Irish Lives Remembered. My personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 has suffered with all the travels but that will be back next week.
I hope everyone else has had a successful genealogy week. It is such a good feeling when things start to fall into place. So don't give up, and happy ancestor hunting this week!