Sunday, 2 December 2018

Tasmanian BDMs, WW1 resources & other news - Genealogy Notes 16-30 Nov 2018

Another busy fortnight ends and lots of things to keep me busy. With the heat I have been keeping the bird baths topped up as the lorikeets pay a visit every afternoon and enjoy a little splash. It has been so hot a few native noisy miners even had a splash in the pool the other afternoon which was a first. They were too quick for me to get out there with the camera.


I have always loved Tasmania BDMs because they made all the records to 1900 free, first on microfilm and then online. Plus lots of other convict records and wills and probates all online and free through Libraries Tasmania. Until now I have never had to buy a post 1930 certificate and all that ease of access and cheapness disappears. I was stunned to find that an online request for a death certificate in the open period required 3 pieces of ID all certified by a JP (according to the online form and the print form if you choose to mail the request).

An email to query this was quickly answered with don't worry about certifying but I still needed to provide 3 pieces of ID. When I queried further, I was told that this proved that I was the same person as on the credit card. Yet if I order BDMs from QLD, NSW or VIC online I don't have to provide any ID. It seems a bit excessive or perhaps I'm just worried now that Tasmania BDMs have a copy of my passport, driver's license and a utility bill! Has anyone else ever had to provide ID when ordering a genealogy record online in the open period?

After all that the certificate is still posted out so you are at the mercy of Australia Post - who kindly told me that I had registered post to collect, the day after I had already collected it!! Perhaps we are just spoilt with instant access to lots of other things.


On Friday I went to the launch of They Answered the Call, the latest publication from the Bribie Island Historical Society. There will be a few print copies for those that want one, but this publication has been published online through the Society's blog. The post They Answered the Call gives the list of all those in the local area who went to WW1 and WW2 - not just those that died but also those who came home.

My ancestors were at Toorbul, and there is an entry for my GG grandmother's nephew Alexander Thomas Davis who was severely wounded by schrapnel in the head. He made it home to Toorbul but died there from his wounds. The entry is largely based on my own ANZAC Day 2015 tribute to Alexander Thomas Davis.

After the launch I caught up with Moreton Region library staff and was introduced to the new Bribie Island librarian who got my vote when he said he was looking to do something about the local history collection. I could think of a 1000 things but will wait to see his improvements first. They also demonstrated Moreton Bay Region Libraries local history database. Those who have heard my talks know that I often use it as an example of why you need to look locally and in libraries.

It has been a while since I last looked at the World War 1 section and there is a lot of new material. Probably not surprising given all the centennial projects - so check out your own local collections or collections where your ancestors lived. All of those who served in the Moreton region are listed and you simply click on the name and a biography of the person pops up. The entry for Alexander has his mother's name as Clare not Clara but I'm hoping that typo will be fixed as I pointed it out on the day. Must be my old editing skills spotting a typo at 20 paces!

It also says that his father died in 1894 but I know that's not true. Correcting that will be a little more involved - I have given talks on the Davis family and what happened to Charles, but so far I have not written the story down. It is always tricky when family secrets stumble out of the cupboard.

It is always a treat going to Brisbane and meeting up with the other committee members for the Waves of Time conference on the Sunshine Coast in May 2019. The program is now up on the website and registration has opened. There are two streams of talks and as always there are times when I want to go to both!

I'm privileged to be giving one of the talks on the Friday which is a free Local & Family History Fair which includes free and paid talks. The conference itself is over the Saturday and Sunday and is only open to registered attendees. Check out the website and I hope to see you there.

What's Coming Up?

My last U3A advanced family history session is on Wednesday and then a break until next year. All of the group have re-enrolled so it will be another great year of interaction. It is amazing how much I have discovered about my own ancestors in the preparation of these sessions. Although I need to write up all my new discoveries - there is usually no time during class weeks.

There are a few talks already lined up for 2019 and over the coming weeks I will be making changes to my website, including updating the calendar and list of talks available.

At the U3A tutors Christmas drinks & nibbles the other day, someone said once you get involved in weekly classes then the year just flies. That's certainly true for 2018 and given that I started these sessions in 2017, I'm fast losing track of the years. On the plus side, lots of family history discoveries by helping others to research.

Until next time, try and fit a little research in amongst all the Christmas frenzy.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Centenary of End of WW1, book review & other news - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Nov 2018

It's been a big fortnight with a week away at one of my favourite beaches - Bargara near Bundaberg in Queensland. Lots of walks and swimming (not that I don't do that here at home) but it always seems different elsewhere.


My blog for The In-Depth Genealogist on Introducing Monuments Australia has been getting some love on Twitter. For Remembrance Day I reposted my military blogs on Alexander Thomas Davis and the three Finn Brothers - John, Robert and Denis Patrick. The centenary of the end of WW1 was marked by many blog posts as everyone remembered those that were lost.

I have been invited to a book launch (Who Answered the Call) at the Bribie Seaside Museum at the end of November. This is a collected work featuring all the soldiers in the Bribie area who enlisted in WW1 and WW2 and published by the Bribie Island Historical Society. Alexander Thomas Davis is featured in it and my blog post is also referenced. Unfortunately they never found a photograph of him either and he appears to be one of a handful of soldiers who never had their photograph taken in uniform before they left.


I finally finished my book review for The Promise of Tomorrow, the final volume in The Garth Trilogy by Lynette McDermott. I also reviewed the second volume Perseverance and you can read that on the Resources page of my website - scroll down to Book Reviews. The first volume was Of Angels and Eagles which I have also read but not reviewed. It is a fictional saga based on two convict families, the Garths and the Belletts who were on Norfolk Island and then Tasmania. It is an easy read and an interesting way to present a family history.


I am still trying to analyse my results and work out who is related to Mum and separating them out so that I am left with just those who must be related to Dad. I'm going to another GSQ DNA SIG meeting as Helen Smith will be back and Michelle Patient is visiting too. Lucky for my U3A advanced history group, Michelle has kindly offered to visit us here on Bribie Island so that will be an exciting opportunity for them.

New Resources
The bigger databases just keep on getting bigger and bigger. For example, during the fortnight FamilySearch added the 1901 Irish census and BillionGraves. Both of these are already available on other free websites so what is the advantage of adding them into something else. One stop searching is good because not everyone may know that these sources are available elsewhere. Or you may not think to search in them for someone.

Recently while searching for something in FamilySearch I found a reference to an ancestor who I thought would probably not have a tombstone. Yet there was a reference to him in FindAGrave and when I looked it was definitely him and there was a photograph. So a one stop place to look can be useful but you have to remember that no one database has everything - you need to look in all the big ponds and all the little ponds too.

What's Coming Up?

My last talk for the year is at Caboolture Library and it is all about blogging your family history. There are still a couple of classes for Bribie U3A and then the long hols over December and January. As everyone is keen to continue at U3A, I will be busy planning out some more classes. We are also thinking about doing a family history writing group to encourage all of us to tell our family stories. Motivation and inspiration shared are definitely useful to get you started.

Talks, book launch and research - lots of interesting things to keep me busy in the next fortnight. Until next time, have fun researching.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Blogs, 2019 Conferences & Other News - Genealogy Notes 16-31 Oct 2018

Lots of travel this fortnight, mainly to Brisbane to give presentations and attend meetings. The traffic leaving Brisbane on Saturday afternoon surprised me but once out on the open highway, we moved more freely. It is not far to travel but the traffic just makes it seem that much further.


John Trevaskis son of my
missing James Henry Trevaskis
My guest blog for the Genealogical Society of Queensland on genealogy cruising was published. Read it here.

I also managed to get my Trove Tuesday Body Discovered Unknown Identity blog post finished in time. Sadly there are lots of unknown people out there that belong in someone's family history. Is this what happened to my James Henry Trevaskis although you would think that his wife would have had some sort of search undertaken for him. Maybe his death is meant to remain a mystery.


I missed a meeting of the Waves in Time Conference as I was still not feeling great and there were so many other commitments I had to attend. Speakers not showing up has to be an organisers worst nightmare. Anyway the committee are very capable and it is shaping up to be an interesting program with some great speakers. A 3 day geneafest not to be missed.

The next NSW & ACT Family History Association conference has already sent out its first newsletter. So put 11-13 October 2019 in your diary and it will be held at Knox Grammar School and organised by the Ku-rin-gai Historical Society. The theme is Exploring the Past, something we all do with our family research.


Three years ago, just before I broke my right elbow I signed up to do a course on family history with the University of Tasmania - Diploma of Family History. Due to the accident I had to pull out and I have been looking at it ever since. This fortnight I have again applied and the first subject if my application is successful, will be Writing Family History. This is an area that I have been working on for years - trying to get all my stories, documents, photos into something that others might read. Starts later this month and goes through to the end of January. Something to do when it is too hot outside.

New Resources

I subscribe to the FamilySearch newsletter and the amount of records being added is staggering. For example, in September 2018 almost 13 million indexed new family history records were added and over 500,000 digital images from all over the world.

You can now access FindAGrave and Billion Graves through FamilySearch too and in a search I found one of our direct ancestors had a tombstone which was surprising. I might not have looked at FindAGrave or Billion Graves but as it came up in the FamilySearch search, I looked and it was the right person. So sometimes fishing in a bigger pond is a good idea, especially if you are not really looking for anything in particular.


It was a busy fortnight with a blogging presentation at Strathpine library, a webinar on mining ancestors for the Society of Australian Genealogists and a presentation on Probate Records in Australia, the UK and Ireland for the annual seminar of the Genealogical Society of Queensland. All three presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

In addition I did my usual two talks at the Bribie U3A Advanced Family History class - genealogy software, paleography and non conformist records.

What's Coming Up?

Only one more talk on blogging at the Caboolture Library on 19 November and that will be the end for 2018. That's a total of 22 talks in 10 months (no talks in Dec-Jan). An average of just over 2 talks a month. So much for cutting back in 2018!

So far there are only 5 talks scheduled in 2019 but don't forget all my U3A advanced family history sessions which are 4 terms a year with 9-10 weeks per term. That adds up to a lot of talks but in a more informal class room setting.

We had a great Halloween class on Wednesday - chocolates, gruesome deaths and one student even came dressed in a fantastic Welsh costume. We have had so much fun it will be a continuing class in 2019.

Have fun searching in the coming fortnight - I will be away for a week at one of my favourite beaches in Queensland then back home for some serious work on my own family history in the December/January quiet time. Till next time.