Thursday 31 December 2015

Townsville Cemeteries & Other News - Genealogy Notes 24 - 31 Dec 2015

Well the last week of 2015 went quickly in the blur of Christmas, Boxing Day and the lead up to New Year's Eve. Not a lot of genealogy happened but I did receive some contact from distant cousins on different family lines. One had found my website and blogs on the Jeffers family from Portadown, Armagh and the other my Finn family via Facebook.

Perhaps my most fantastic genealogy discovery in all of 2015 was the family bible of my GGG grandmother Sarah Fegan nee Cane. I only got to see this wonderful treasure because a distant cousin on a collateral line had read my blog posts on the Finn and Fegan families of County Wicklow, Ireland. We met, exchanged information and I held this bible in my hands and felt a connection to someone who had only been a name with basic information on my family tree. It was a fantastic moment.

I have lost count now of the number of times I have made contact with people I suspect I could never have tracked down (at least not easily) simply because they have done a Google search. It really is fantastic but I know lots of people who have no online social media presence. Imagine how much we could discover if everyone blogged their stories or posted interests on social media.

The other wonderful thing about Facebook for genealogy is that 'friends' post links to new resources or to things they have discovered which can be of relevance to my own research. Just this week the link for the Townsville cemeteries was in a Facebook post by the Queensland Family History Society and my mother's family were from Charters Towers and then Townsville. Mum's sister Alice died in 1920 as an infant but I was never sure which city and as it was not a direct line I had not purchased her birth or death certificates. A quick check of the Belgian Gardens cemetery list revealed that Alice Dorothy Price was buried there and that she was only seven months old at the time of her death.

A bonus was that she was buried with her aunt Elizabeth Ann Price who had died at the age of 26 years. I had purchased Elizabeth's death certificate as I was curious to see what she had died of. Therefore I knew she was buried in Belgian Gardens but not that she shared a grave with the niece she never lived to see. There were other Price family members there and I was able to add new information on collateral lines. It was good to revisit this family and I probably would not have done it without the Facebook prompt.

I finally wrapped up my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 - it was a hard decision to combine the final nine topics but I want to start 2016 fresh. Read Final Post to discover the remaining topics. Thanks to everyone who followed this blog challenge and commented with their own tips and sources.

 I love this time of year as my hibiscus blooms really well, although it has been very dry. The incredibly windy conditions, coupled with the dry spell, means that we have lost quite a few palm fronds so there is a bit of garden work coming up this weekend. I also need to repot my orchids after their beautiful blooms in 2015, they seem to have doubled in size since I last looked.

Early morning or late afternoon jobs which mean that I can settle down in the heat of the day to catch up on my reading of e-journals. When one of my subscription journals comes in, I download and save to read another time. I'm usually busy doing something else to read them immediately.

But so often I forget to go back and read - it is not like the physical pile of journals, magazines and books which is a constant reminder to catch up. I need a better system to work out what my e-reading priorities are - perhaps if I do a list as they come in and then cross the issue off when I have read it? Does anyone have a system that works?

I have avoided any new resolutions or aspirations for 2016 as 2015 was so full of unexpected events that totally hijacked my genealogy intentions, as well as every other aspect of my life. At this stage I am going to go with the flow and embrace the opportunities as they come up and thanks to my social media presence, I suspect I will be very busy with lots of great genealogy discoveries in 2016.

May everyone have a fantastic genealogy adventure in 2016. Until next time.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

What's Coming Up in 2016 - Genealogy Notes 16 - 23 Dec 2015

It was the second last week of 2015 and what seems to have been pretty much  a regular thing for 2015, I spent most of the time at hospital, with doctors and specialists and all I can say is that I think nurses are pretty wonderful people. In fact anyone associated with helping people get better are fantastic and all dedicated to their jobs. Until you see them all in action you don't really appreciate the effort of everyone to keep our hospitals moving along smoothly.

My plan for 2016 is not to see so much of them (fingers crossed) but while I was 'hanging around' I did start to think about all the good things coming up in 2016.

First up is the Unlock the Past cruise to New Zealand and Australia (10th cruise) for those booked on that geneafest of speakers and talks. Check out the program here. If you are not on board, don't despair as there will be a number of bloggers who will be bringing regular updates via Facebook, Twitter plus their blog posts.

If you are lucky enough to live near one of the ports of call, then you can attend the day sessions and hear international speakers Judy Russell and Paul Blake. Simply called the Judy Russell and Paul Blake Downunder seminar tour with Unlock the Past, it visits Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. To see who is actually presenting at each venue visit the website for more details.

We were spoilt for genealogy conferences in 2015 and the only major one in 2016 is the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies' annual conference in Camden, New South Wales in September.  The theme is Cowpastures and Beyond. I'd like to get to that one if I can but it is a long drive or a flight to either Sydney or Canberra and then hiring a car. A lot easier when they are closer to home or there are major transport options. However when I lived in Canberra I loved visiting Camden so it would be good to see it again. The dates are penciled in the diary.

What is with us every year is National Family History Month in August and 2016 will see a new logo and website as we have contracted our friends at Inside History Magazine to undertake the work for us. I can't wait to see the new look. Quite a few of our 2015 sponsors have agreed to be part of it again so that is fantastic news too. But of course NFHM is only a success if societies, archives and libraries put their events into the NFHM web calendar so stay tuned for the announcement of when it opens for bookings and the new website is live.

History Queensland is not having a conference in 2016 but there will be another in 2017 and I have been asked to be on the planning committee so there will be meetings to attend in 2016. I am also on the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations' committee through NFHM so a few Skype meetings for that throughout the year too.

In addition many of the genealogy and family history societies around where I live have regular education sessions and meetings with guest speakers so there is usually something happening that I can attend. Have you checked out what societies are nearby and what their 2016 programs are? Don't forget local libraries and archives also may have education days. Some may be free and some pay to go but usually you learn lots and its a chance to chat with other like minded researchers.

In person events are great but there is also lots online with free webinars, free podcasts etc as well as paid events and on most days all the links posted on Facebook or Twitter by genie friends would keep me fully occupied if I so chose (but someone has to do the housework). So lots of genealogy things to do coming up in 2016.

During my enforced bed rest I managed to read both Nathan Dylan Goodwin's The America Ground and Hazel Edwards' Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author. Both were great reads and I have yet to write the reviews. I also have to finish writing articles for Inside History Magazine and The In-Depth Genealogist as well as finish my Australian Church Records module for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies all by the New Year. Not being 100% well is a pain in more ways than one. I'm almost nodding off as I type this and it is only 10.30 in the morning. Still several hours to go before my afternoon nap!

Flowers cheer me up and I know it is a while since I actually spent time 'smelling the roses,' but they seem to have undergone a major colour transformation since I last received any. Still the roses are bright and colourful and that will be my mantra into the New Year.

My last Diary post of 2015 will be in a week's time and I wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas with your families and friends. May Santa be genea generous and if not, try Trove as you are bound to find something you like there on the family! Until next time.

Monday 14 December 2015

New family discoveries & other news - Genealogy notes 8 - 15 Dec 2015

This Diary was written in Adelaide where we have been visiting family and friends for a few days. Very dry here with some very cold mornings and hot days. The extremes in temperature remind me of when we lived in Melbourne whereas Brisbane does not have those wide variations in a single day.

Fred and Doug Spencer
On most visits to Adelaide we visit one of Max's older relatives and talk about the family history, On this trip she surprised us by bringing out photo albums we had not seen before. The motto here is 'keep on asking' because even though we have visited lots of times and asked lots of questions each time, this was a first.

Sadly most photos were not identified and she could not remember who people were. But there was one of Max's father Doug as a young boy which he had never seen before and quite a few of his grandmother at an older age.

One photo took my eye - it was a family sitting outside a house - a mother with a baby on her lap and two young boys either side of her. On the back someone had written Ada, Clint, Fred and Tom but no date. If Fred was the baby then Clint was his half brother from Ada's first husband and Tom was her stepson from her second marriage. It helps that there is only one Tom and one Clint in the family as that helps to date it around 1911-1912 but it is hard to guess the boys' ages. Because Tom is in the photo we believe it is in Adelaide and not Tasmania where Fred was born. If this is correct it helps date when the family left Tasmania for South Australia but not why.

On the back is Ada Clint Fred Tom
I took some images with my camera not having the Flip Pal with me this trip but next visit we will definitely have to spend some time scanning the photos, even the unidentified ones in case something else turns up later.

Now to try and prove our theories. Coincidentally we have arranged to visit one of Tom's sons in Brisbane on our way home. We only recently tracked them down and perhaps they also have some photos or other family information to prove this is the right Tom. Stay tuned.

We also went out to Hamley Bridge to visit a long time friend and it was sad to see the devastation caused by the huge Pinery fire the other week. So much farm land burnt out and so many houses destroyed. It was good to see that Blaze Aid was in town and helping the farmers rebuild fences and other similar work. I had not heard of Blaze Aid before but it is fantastic that they all volunteer their time to help communities get back on their feet after devastating fires.

Perhaps the biggest genealogy news of the week was that Ancestry will not be selling their popular genealogy software Family Tree Maker after the end of 2015 and they will only be supporting existing versions through to the end of 2016. Read more about it here Ancestry to retire Family Tree Maker genealogy software.

I don't use Family Tree Maker so the decision does not impact on me but others have been upset. What has surprised me is the number of people who don't seem to have a copy of their own data outside of Ancestry and Family Tree Maker. I have my full family data offline and only some parts of it online in Ancestry, My Heritage, Genes Reunited and Findmypast so that distant family members can find me.

The other exciting news is that Queensland State Archives has a new Executive Director and State Archivist, Mike Summerell who commences on 7 March 2016. Mike is coming to Queensland from his current role as General Manager at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland. Prior to that he was head of the Holdings and Discovery directorate within Archives New Zealand.

Heading home today and back to a more normal routine. Hard to do much when staying with others, and doing family and touristy things. We will do a quick visit to Mum's on the way through and discuss who's doing what for Christmas Day lunch. This year we will have all the family at Mum's - there are only nine of us (all adults no littlies) so not a big gathering but great that we can all be there.

Have a great genealogy week although I suspect most will now be caught up in the holiday season. If visiting family, remember to keep asking about photos and other family memorabilia - I'm certainly glad we did this trip! Until next time.

Monday 7 December 2015

Good News, Bad News & What's New - Genealogy Notes 29 Nov - 7 Dec 2015

Some weeks are just so busy it is hard to keep up with everything. But first the good news. The winner of the Momento Christmas competition which featured in the last two Diary posts was Liz Pidgeon from Victoria. Many of you will know Liz as Infolass on Twitter and if you are not following her already have a look. Liz has some great tweets as she is Local & Family History Librarian at Yarra Plenty Library. Congratulations Liz and I hope you enjoy creating your photo book.

Although we have been living here for three years now (where did they go), we still hadn't managed to visit The Abbey Museum. Last weekend they had their Christmas markets and free entry to the Museum. I love markets especially if you are looking for special home made gifts for Christmas and who can resist free entry and saving money. It was really good seeing the Museum again and after trekking around all the stalls we settled down to a nice Devonshire tea and scones.

Finally caught up with my son for a belated birthday lunch at their place. They moved into their new home the same day we moved into ours which was a coincidence but at least it helps us to remember the date. They have done an amazing amount of renovation and it is incredible what a new kitchen does for a place. Built in wardrobes, paint and carpets have turned their old fixer upper into something really nice.  But at our age we just wanted something to walk into and not do too much to, apart from the gardens.

The good news about that trip to Brisbane was that just a couple of streets away from my son's place we passed the new premises of the Genealogical Society of Queensland. So I already know where it is and I can't get lost. The bad news is that it is still over an hour's drive even using the ring road around Brisbane.

The Bribie Island Historical Society committee had its last meeting for the year and I now have my committee member badge. The Christmas party for members is this week then no more meetings until February next year.

While on bad news the other night as I was shutting the laptop down I had a blue screen of death which I haven't seen in years. I have been doing a lot of writing for the Church Records course in the Australian certificate for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and hadn't bothered to back up as I was working on all the modules every day. That blue screen made me feel real sick but luckily it restarted and I spent the next hour or so backing up onto different remote hard drives. I usually back up weekly but I might start doing it daily at least until I finish that course.

There has been no problem since the blue screen, but the laptop has been in almost constant use for the last 3 1/2 years so perhaps it is time to start looking for a new one. Or should I go back to a desktop now that we are permanently settled again?

Hazel Edwards (whose memoir Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author I am currently reading) has done a review of my research guide Discover Your Sporting Ancestors: It Was Not All Work and No Play and the review is available on Good Reads. Quite a few of my online (and in person) friends also use Good Reads but I am only just discovering how it works. Sadly I have already found more books that I want to read, somehow I am just going to have to make more reading time.

As I do each year, I like to look back on what I have done during the year. So it was interesting to reread my Genealogy aspirations 2015 for the first time since I wrote them last December. Little did I know that my partner would break his leg in two places and I would break my right elbow with surgery to pin it back together again. So not surprisingly my aspirations were a bit off.

The good folks from Momento are letting me extend my photobook voucher so that is still going to happen. I did visit Wiltshire before breaking my elbow in Germany and I did start Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do Over but I couldn't keep up the pace. I think I need to do just one family at a time. Almost 40 years of research is not redone quickly!

Similarly cataloguing my books into LibraryThing still needs to be completed and I still have a few (nine to be exact) weeks of my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 to complete in 2016.

On the plus side I did a lot of things that I didn't expect to do genealogy wise. My DNA test with Ancestry sent me down a path that I have no idea where it will lead. It also led to my best talk ever on Love Sex and Damn Lies so perhaps it was meant to be. I hope my brother likes his DNA test kit from Family Tree DNA for Christmas! There's more but I will put it all together in my 2016 Aspirations.

Christmas shopping still awaits me and fortunately we are a fairly small family and most of us don't want gifts. It is more the young ones we get presents for but as we are young at heart, we have the Christmas tree up, and the front yard decorated with tinsel and solar lights. Good luck with all your end of year tasks and try to fit some genealogy in, especially if you are visiting relatives. Until next time

Friday 27 November 2015

Momento competition, book reviews & new digitising projects - Genealogy Notes 21-28 November 2015

As foreshadowed last Diary, most of this week was taken up with trips to Brisbane and medical appointments. Seriously hoping that 2016 is a better year health wise. Not a lot of writing done, in fact not one blog post although I am about to send off my regular monthly blog contribution to The In-Depth Genealogist. My contribution is a series of blog posts on Australasian archives and libraries useful for genealogy and family history if you have not seen it yet.

My article for their digital magazine Going In-Depth is also nearing completion. It is good to be getting back into writing for them after my three month 'holiday with a broken right elbow'. I find that writing a regular monthly article seems to speed up the month as no sooner do you finish one article then the next deadline seems to be nearing. A bit like weekly blog posts speed up the week for Diary. Perhaps I need to be more irregular and lose track of time.

My review for the Australian Society of Archivists on Personal Archiving: Preserving our digital heritage edited by Donald T Hawkins was completed antod sent off to the editor. It will be published in the next issue of their journal Archives and Manuscripts and after that I will be able to put the review on my website. I picked up some useful information for my own family history research and there is probably a blog post or two coming up as I explore that more.

I received Nathan Dylan Goodwin's new book The America Ground (another Morton Farrier forensic genealogist adventure) which I am really looking forward to reading. We head to Adelaide soon to catch up with family and grandkids so I might keep it for the plane trip, if I can wait that long.

I also received Hazel Edwards' OAM new book, Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author, for review. It is a memoir and takes it's name from Hazel's best selling children's book There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake. Her memoir will be interesting as I have known Hazel for years and am a fan of her How to Write a Non Boring Family History.

There are some great digitising projects on the go at the moment. I was excited to see the announcement that Ancestry is working with the Anglican Church in Sydney to digitise baptism, confirmation, marriage and funeral registers from 1824 to 2005 and in return, minute books from diocesan boards and Synods will be scanned by Ancestry for preservation in digital format. Read more about the announcement in the Sydney Anglican News here.

I first picked up that announcement via Facebook but another way I find out what is actually new online now is reading the What's New Online section of Inside History Magazine. While some are familiar via social media, there are other sites I would have missed. For example, in the Sep-Oct issue there was a reference to of the Catholic Parish Registers 1740s to 1880s at the National Library of Ireland

John Finn born ca 1856 Ballygannon,
County Wicklow
These were actually released the week I went overseas back in July and I was going to look them up when I returned home. But breaking my elbow, subsequent surgery and recovery over the following three months meant that these records had dropped from my priority view. The magazine reminder had me visiting the site and looking for my Catholic parishes. I have never really progressed my Catholic Finn and Fegan families of County Wicklow since I first started researching back in 1977. Wish me luck as it would be fantastic to push them back a generation or two. I only have approximate years and not sure of the parish and as there is no index yet I have to scroll through original parish registers.

As I mentioned last week, one of our Australian National Family History Month sponsors Momento has a Christmas competition closing on 30 November 2015. Momento is offering a $150 gift voucher for a Christmas giveaway. So there are just two more days to get your entry in. So if you are in Australia just email me at shauhick @ (without the spaces) 25 words or less about "how you manage your photos" by 30 November and you could win. See how easy it is to create a unique Christmas photo book gift, card or personalised stationery with Momento's software here.  The winner will be announced in early December.

Apart from more medical appointments this week, I also have the Bribie Island Historical Society committee meeting to look forward too. Their last meeting for 2015 is the following week and is also a Christmas breakup, bring a plate function.

Have a great genealogy week, until next time

Friday 20 November 2015

Immigrant health, Baltic geneacruising & other news - Genealogy Notes 12 - 20 Nov 2015

A busy week with a few medical appointments in Brisbane which really take up whole days what with the drive there and back plus waiting time in doctors surgeries. This time I took some of my printed reading material backlog and there is some fascinating reading which a lot of people won't see because it is not online. For example, in the Royal Historical Society of Queensland August 2015 journal there was an interesting article by John Pearn Emigrating to Queensland: medical advice for intending colonists. On a similar theme was Duncan Richardson's Breaching Quarantine: the Flying Cloud Incident 1864. It also talks about the health of Brisbane in the early 1860s which was when a lot of my families arrived. Lots of good context for placing my families in that early Brisbane environment.

It's funny how one thing often leads to another with family history research. I also caught up with my National Trust magazine Trust News Australia and in the May 2015 issue there was an article on the historic Queen's Wharf in Brisbane. This neatly tied in with the two articles from the RHSQ journal! Thousands of immigrants first stepped ashore at Queen's Wharf and it now has its own website with lots of Queen's Wharf stories.

Those who have heard my talks in the last couple of months will know that I have had a bit of a family history crisis. Well I have finally ordered a DNA kit from Family Tree DNA and my brother has agreed to do the test for me. This is following up on my earlier test with Ancestry DNA which was just me taking the test. It will be interesting to see the results and there just might be a sequel to my Love Sex & Damn Lies talk which is now booked twice for next year already.

All excited before the cruise!
During the week I managed to write two blog posts - I finally did my report on the Unlock the Past Baltic cruise last July which I really enjoyed despite breaking my right elbow - read the report here. The other post was Week 43 Geographical Places Names in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. If I am going to finish the series this year I need to write at least two a week from now on.

Momento were one of Australian National Family History Month's prize sponsors and they are now getting ready for Christmas. Momento is offering a $150 gift voucher for a Christmas giveaway. Only open to Australia so if you are in Australia just email me at shauhick @ 25 words or less about "how you manage your photos" by 30 November and you could win. See how easy it is to create a unique Christmas photo book gift, card or personalised stationery with Momento's software here. There is a 25% discount for books and boxes until 26 November. The winner will be announced in early December.

Momento gift ideas

Further to the mention of National Family History Month, I have some very exciting news to announce soon. In the meantime, I hope everyone has August in their calendar marked as NFHM and that you remind your society, library or archives to have an event and be part of NFHM 2016. It will definitely be bigger and better, especially if everyone helps me to spread the word.

During the week I often look at sites suggested by friends on Facebook, Twitter or Google +. As part of my new look for Diary in 2016  I will be including a few links that I find useful. The hard part will be selecting just a few. For example this morning I have been reading about Rosemary Kopittke's exciting finds in the new freemason membership registers for the UK on Ancestry. After I finish this I will have to investigate.

My next week has more medical appointments in Brisbane but I still have to write some articles for The In-Depth Genealogist and Inside History Magazine. Plus I must keep working on my church records module for the Australian certificate with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.My book review on personal archiving for the Australian Society of Archivists is almost complete and that has given me lots to think about to in regard to my own personal family archives.

We are in the middle of a heat wave here at the moment so staying inside and writing is a good option but the pool looks awfully tempting too! I hope everyone has a good genealogy week and remember when the family asks what do you want for Christmas, think of something that you need in your research. Otherwise it will be perfume and chocolates! Until next week.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Rockhampton Seminar & Travelling the Burnett - Genealogy Notes 28 Oct - 11 Nov 2015

Yes I have been away from the keyboard for a while. A week's holiday (and I actually did no work, blogging, writing or anything much else) at lovely Bargara near Bundaberg. Max has a 94 year old aunt that we like visiting - she has some great memories and stories of his mother's family. We also spent some time with her youngest son.

Keen members of the Central Queensland
Family History Association 
As Bundaberg is only about 4 hours from Rockhampton it was a great opportunity to present an afternoon of talks to the Central Queensland Family History Association. I did two talks before afternoon tea and two after and although four talks is a stretch, everyone was still really enthusiastic at the end. As usual I have put the four presentations on my website, go to the Resources page and scroll down to Presentations.

By doing this, it takes away the need for the attendees to madly note urls, points of interest or whatever, they can simply sit back listen to the talk knowing they can go home and look at the slides again. In the four hours I covered lots of different kinds of archives, church records, knocking down brick walls and finding online pictorial collections. I also gave away as lucky door prizes one of my books and some issues of Inside History Magazine, kindly donated by them which also had people enthused.

Our display of Unlock the Past titles was appreciated and there was some keen buying with authors Chris Paton, Thomas MacEntee and myself as the popular authors of the day. The Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to the Great Barrier Reef next March was also promoted by the Society as quite a few of their members are planning to go on it as part of their 30th birthday celebrations. I am a bit sorry now that I am not going on that one as they are a great group of people and will be enthusiastic geneacruisers.

The Big Orange at Gayndah
We spent the next day looking around Rockhampton, Max was last there with the army in 1968, and we also went down to Yeppoon and Emu Park. As we didn't want to travel back home the same way we decided to do a leisurely trip down the Burnett Highway. There wasn't a great lot of traffic so not a lot of tourists which is a shame as there is so much history along this highway. I was going to include our adventures here but it became too wordy so now a separate blog post on my website - read it here.

Although we were travelling I still followed social media as that is where you can learn all kinds of new information. Only today I found out that Victorian BDMs have now removed the search fee from their site. A quick test for some of my names and it seems to be an improved search too. But if I hadn't seen the posting on Facebook I would not have realised it had changed. Of course these exciting news snippets tend to sidetrack you from whatever you originally started out to do.

I subscribe to the Queensland BDMs free enewsletter which has updates on what is happening along with some interesting stories. Read the latest issue here and it includes a link to subscribe.

A big development, at least for us, is that we have finally decided to get a landline again to have greater internet capacity. The mobile wi fi has served us well but most months I was running out of data and going slow. I am still keeping the mobile wi fi at a reduced level as we still trip around or head down to Mum's and need it then so together slightly more expensive but way more data. I can feel a few more webinars, podcasts and other exciting adventures coming up.

As usual I have come home to a mountain of everything to catch up on so until next week, have a good genealogy time and have lots of exciting discoveries.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Online seminars & New Resources - Genealogy Notes 18 - 27 Oct 2015

This last week has been interesting thanks to a fishing competition which meant I was home alone for 5 whole days and 7 nights. Yes I could have done some spring cleaning, some gardening and other domestic goddess stuff but I decided, with a birthday looming, that I would spoil myself. I started out data entering all my new data and filing things I had discovered while I was incapacitated with my broken elbow.

Relooking at these finds sent me in search of other discoveries and even in the last couple of months new resources have gone online and I found even more to get excited about. In Findmypast I think I have found a death notice in the Irish newspapers for my GGG grandfather Robert Fagan in Wicklow, Ireland - the name, age (80 years) and place (Glasnarget) are all spot on but no one else is mentioned in the notice. It is not a common name in the area but I would like to find more confirmation.

An intriguing sentence at the end is - American papers please copy. Does this mean that while his daughter Sarah Fegan came to Queensland, did some of her siblings or Robert's siblings or other relatives go to America? Something else to follow up!

But the point is that the last time I looked in the Irish newspapers there was no result for him at all so you really do need to go back and look regularly. I have particularly noticed this with Trove and since they have added the Brisbane Telegraph and the Daily Standard I have found lots more references to my families than I ever did in the Courier Mail. You have to check every newspaper as it may be totally new information or perhaps just slightly different.

While I made some really interesting discoveries in all those digitised newspapers, it did seem to soak up the hours or else it got dark early that day!

On Facebook I noticed that Kerry Farmer from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies was giving a free webinar on local history for genealogy and fresh from the History Queensland family and local history conference (see my review) I decided to listen in. Only a small group attended which surprised me, but Kerry squeezed an amazing amount of information and sources into that hour.

While I was familiar with most of the sources some of the NSW examples were new to me. I hadn't realised that you could get all those exciting parish maps online free. I was madly trying to write down URLs while Kerry kept talking so that I could follow up later. She also reminded me about QueryPic which I used to use a lot when I lived down south but since coming north it seems to have slipped out of my mind. I could have really used it in my keynote talk at the History Queensland conference but QueryPic is now back in the forefront of my search strategies again. So a great hour of reminders and new things and all for free. Thanks Kerry.

Sketch of my GG grandfather John Finn
 in the Brisbane Truth 
Week 42 Gaol and Prison Records in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 had me delving into Trove again and yes more references to all my criminal ancestors. It is a rainy afternoon as I write this and I am so tempted to open up Trove and just have a little browse. Yesterday was Trove Tuesday (actually every Tuesday is Trove Tuesday) and many of my Geneablogger friends do a Trove Tuesday post. It is really interesting to see what others find on their ancestors. Another great way to spend some time!

Genealogy Sunshine Coast have asked me to do an all day seminar as a grand finale for National Family History Month 2016 which sounds a great way to end a genealogy and family history month. I haven't quite got around to thinking about NFHM 2016 just yet but I will have to start thinking about sponsors and planning soon as August has a way of catching up to me. Sponsors and ideas are always welcome and as 2016 will be the 11th year I am hoping for a new look.

In a week or so I will be in Rockhampton presenting 3 talks to the Central Queensland Family History Association so that will be exciting. The talks are all done and I will have some of the Unlock the Past research guides for sale too including my own titles. We are planning to go up the Bruce Highway and come back via the Burnett Highway to see a little more of that part of Queensland.

Mum, a cute me and my baby brother
My mother has just told me that it is 6 weeks to Christmas and asked what are we doing this year. I am having trouble even realising that 2015 is almost over. It has been a big year with broken limbs and time spent in hospitals and doctor's waiting rooms so a quiet uneventful Christmas/New Year sounds good to me.  But Mum is a traditionalist so I need to start giving it some thought but my grandmother's rum ball recipe has leapt to mind. I always loved them!

Next week is Melbourne Cup, my birthday (the old Guy Fawkes night
for those old enough to remember) and I will be doing what I love most, travelling. Diary will be coming from an exotic Queensland location yet to be disclosed but one I always love going to. Have a great genealogy week and remember, keep looking for new information online, it can pay off.  

Monday 19 October 2015

Convict records & more talks for 2015 - Genealogy Notes 10-17 Oct 2015

Famous last words from last week were that I had no more genealogy talks for the year. A last minute opportunity presented itself to speak in Rockhampton at the Central Queensland Family History Association. I will be giving three talks at an afternoon seminar which will be full on but I hope their members enjoy it. As I haven't been to Rockhampton since the early 90s I will also enjoy being back up that way.

Another report on the In Time and Place Conference is from Helen Smith, also one of the presenters at the conference. Read Helen's review here. It seems that everyone wants a repeat Queensland conference so I hope the History Queensland people take all the positive feedback on board.

Max and I in our convict gear on Norfolk Island
Week 41 Convict Records continues my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. Writing that brought back great memories of our two trips to Norfolk Island and it really is good to visit where your ancestors once lived. Attending the reenactment of the convicts leaving when the First Settlement closed was really quite moving. It was easy to see why they would not have wanted to leave such an island paradise.
Max carrying all his worldly goods down to the rowboats

The only trouble with doing a weekly blog challenge is that the weeks seem to go faster!

One of my favourite resources is the Ryerson Index and they have just celebrated a milestone. Every death notice published in the Sydney Morning Herald since 1831 is now included in the Index. A total of 1,861,095 which is an amazing effort from the volunteers. They have also been indexing funeral notices and over 200,000 of those are also in the index from the Sydney Morning Herald. Well done everybody who has worked on the project over the last 17 years.

Of course the Ryerson Index now covers all states and territories but remember to check the coverage as not all newspaper titles are included and not all date ranges for each title.

Findmypast Fridays are always exciting with the release of new records and last week it was another 22 newspaper titles and more Staffordshire, Kent and Durham records. Another search for a great uncle involved in a serious crime in Staffordshire revealed more newspaper accounts with gruesome details. The Friday blog post is well worth checking out and it is every Friday. The week before it was England and Wales electoral registers from 1832 to 1932 which is really helpful trying to trace elusive ancestors between census if they were on the rolls.

MyHeritage announced that they had added about 46 million Swedish household records from 1880-1920 with images, that are now available, indexed and searchable online for the first time ever on MyHeritage Super Search. I don't have Swedish myself but that is a staggering number of new records. Their blog post has more about it here.

Another site adding lots of new records all the time is Deceased Online which is the central database for UK burials and cremations. They have 8 million records for London and 5 million records for Lancashire not to mention heaps of records for elsewhere. I keep up to date with the new additions by subscribing to the free enewsletter which is the easiest way to learn what's new.

It also means I receive lots of these free enewsletters but if something is not of direct interest to my own family history, then it is just a quick hit of the delete button. If it is relevant then I have the choice to either dive straight in or park it for a rainy day when I have more time. Keeping up with everything is the hardest part I find.

This coming week will be preparing my talks for Rockhampton, finalising my blog post and article for the December issue of Going In-Depth and working on the church records course for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.In between I will be putting in some laps in the pool to help restrengthen my arm, keep up with the gardening (amazing how weeds always live and plants die when it doesn't rain) and enjoying our beautiful spring weather. 

Friday 9 October 2015

Local & Family History Go Together - Genealogy Notes 3 - 9 Oct 2015

What a fantastic week starting with the History Queensland In Time and Place conference in Brisbane. The conference was excellent and there were a number of geneabloggers there and I have listed some of the reports below. There may be more coming or I haven't picked them up yet. Some of the other bloggers went to different sessions so I think we have captured most of the sessions and different aspects of the conference.

Reports on the Time and Place Conference so far:

Alex Daw (Family Tree Frog)  In Time and Place - Just Right 

Caitlin Gow (Genealogically Speaking) In Time and Place

Fran Kitto (Travel Genee) Queensland's First Local, Family and Social History Conference 

Shauna Hicks (SHHE Genie Rambles) Review of History Queensland Conference 3-4 Oct 2015

As well as my blog post on the conference I  kick started my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 again. Week 40 is on Company Records and my focus was mining companies given my families' mining background but there are company records for all kinds of things. Given all the lessons learnt in last weekend's conference, company records should not be overlooked for what they might tell you about the local community and the people who lived there.

While visiting the Queensland Family History Society display at the conference I picked up their beginner's course flyer and was pleasantly surprised to see that they are using my Where Do I Start? research guide as the text book for the beginner's course. We had chatted about this earlier in the year before the guide was even printed but I hadn't realised they were going ahead with it. My broken right elbow has kept me out of the loop with lots of things so lots of catching up to do.

Myself and another committee member of the Bribie Island Historical Society have set up a new blog (Bribie Island History blog) for the Society although some members of the Committee are not convinced it is a good move or necessary. To me blogging is such an obvious way to spread the word about whatever you are researching and as a blog is searchable by Google it is ever so much more effective than having something published in a local newspaper which has limited readership.  Hopefully the blog will see some results quickly which will help to show people why blogging can be good for societies and individuals.

Having two hands to type again certainly helps with my writing and I finally finished my book review of Carol Baxter's two new Help! books - Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth: How do I separate fact from fiction? and Help! Why Can't I Find My Ancestor's Surname?  Read my review here.

I am also excited to have been asked to review Nathan Dylan Goodwin's new book The America Ground (another Morton Farrier forensic genealogist adventure). While I wait patiently for that to arrive (still a paperback girl), I have to do my review for the Australian Society of Archivists on Personal Archiving: Preserving our digital heritage edited by Donald T Hawkins. So lots of reading ahead.

My next piece of writing is an article for Going In-Depth, The In-Depth Genealogist's digital magazine. I will be continuing my Australian series for them again from the December issue. It seems simply ages since I wrote the last article but I couldn't keep with my injured arm and fortunately they have been very understanding.

As usual I am behind with my emails, enewsletters and even my print journals. We have had some lovely weather and I have been out and about now that I can drive again. I have even started exercising in the pool again but nothing too ambitious yet. The gardening had also been sadly neglected so a few hours were also spent getting rid of weeds.

With no more talks for 2015 I am also hoping to do some more of my own family history research. Until next time, have a great genealogy week.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Look Two Hands - Genealogy Notes 25 Sep - 2 Oct 2015

This is my first blog post using two hands since early July. I now have the go ahead to use my right arm but it is a bit weak from no usage and aches a bit if I overdo things. But I can type ever so much faster.

During the week I did a catch up on some of the WDYTYA episodes in Australian season 7 and I think it is one of the best series so far. Also noted quite a few geneafriends helping the celebrities which was fantastic. Some great stories and even a bit teary eyed in some episodes. You can catch up online if you missed any of the episodes.

Gordon Price in Syria 1941
I am all set for the History Queensland conference this weekend and I hope people like what I have done for my keynote address. It is a bit different from what I usually do but then it is a keynote. I am also looking forward to hearing the other speakers but there are two streams outside the keynotes. One with a local history focus and the other a family history focus. As usual it would be good to be two people and go to both. I will have a blog report next week.

The tidy up of the study went well - now I have neat piles of stuff to read and file. My trouble is that while reading or filing/entering data I get bright ideas and hive off to do a spot of research which is of course more interesting than just straight filing/entering data. Some of the websites I read about in magazines or see talked about on Facebook can lead to hours of research. For example, I read in an RSL newsletter about the Rats of Tobruk Association Victoria website and as my Uncle Gordon was a Rat of Tobruk I had a quick look. There is lots of information about Tobruk and members of the Association.

Regular readers will know that at the beginning of the year I took on Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do Over challenge to relook at some of my family lines which I first started nearly 40 years ago. I was making great progress until family medical dramas overtook the year. Cycle 4 has just started and Thomas has a new workbook on the horizon. Read about the changes here.

I have to also get back to my own blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. I am up to Week 40 so 12 blog posts to go and only 12 weeks to the end of the year. I need to get my skates on if I want to wrap this challenge up.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies have just asked me to do another online course for them on Australian church records which will be interesting. I give talks on this topic as I believe church records are an underutilised resource. My Unlock the Past research guide on Finding Ancestors in Church Records: a brief guide to resources highlights some of these resources. It will be good to do a much deeper look at church records for family history.

Now that I have the use of both hands again I really do want to get back into more blogging, writing up my own stories and tidying up my research. There are no more talks for the year so I can concentrate on my projects, get back my fitness after three months of little activity and tame the garden again!

Have another great genealogy week. Until next time.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Rockstars, Gems & Reviews - Genealogy Notes 15-24 Sep 2015

Still using only one hand so more reading than doing again this past week. I do like Geniaus' Gems or GAGs as she calls them - basically a weekly round up (when she has time and is not travelling) of interesting blog posts that she has read or seen in the past week or so. I usually find quite a few interest me and I might not have found them apart from Jill's round up. This link is to the GAGs post on 18 September. There should be another one soon.

A highlight has been the announcement of the 2015 Rockstar Genealogists - an annual listing by John D Reid (Canada's Anglo Celtic Connections). This year I was honoured to receive the Bronze medal for Australia and New Zealand and the top 10 for our area has an impressive list of speakers and bloggers. I was delighted to also find that I have personally heard 6 of the top 10 international Rockstar Genealogists right here in Australia. Great to see so many of them now travelling downunder. The Australia/New Zealand top 10 are here. Congratulations to everyone who made the top 10 lists and thanks to all those who appreciate the hard work that goes into giving presentations.

My review of the Port Macquarie genealogy conference is now online on my website and I have almost finalised my keynote paper for the History Queensland conference on 3-4 October in Brisbane. That will be a good catch up with all my Queensland geneamates and perhaps a few others from south of the border. Sadly it is the last conference for the year.
Family History Fair at Port Macquarie, 2015

On a brighter note I do have the 10th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to look forward to in February 2016 which goes to New Zealand and the southern Australian capital cites ending in Fremantle, Western Australia. One of the key presenters I am looking forward to hearing is Judy G Russell (The Legal Genealogist) from the United States and also catching up again with Louis Kessler and some of the other regular UTP speakers.

This afternoon I am helping the Bribie Island Historical Society set up a blog so that will be interesting. There is a basic website but I think we can do more with a regular blog to share stories of the Island's fascinating past.

The study needs a bit of a tidy up. I seem to be able to pull books down from the shelves but getting them back up is a bit more tricky. The table has piles of stuff on it - lots of new info from Trove waiting to be data entered into my genealogy program and then filed in my family history binders. But that requires two hands! When I do get the go ahead, I will have to be careful not to overdo it but ease back in gently.

Have a great genealogy week - until next time.

Sunday 13 September 2015

Port Macquarie conference & other news - Genealogy Notes 1-14 Sep 2015

Hard to believe two weeks since by last update but I have been busy notifying prize winners and sponsors of the National Family History Month prize giveaway. There have been some very excited winners and I even had the pleasure of meeting some at the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies in Port Macquarie over the weekend.

I gave a Masterclass on using Public Record Office Victoria, attended the free family history fair, collected a very nice goodies bag, enjoyed the Welcome function and dinner, and went to all sessions on both days. I will do a full review this week as I learnt lots of new things. In the meantime my presentation is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

As I still only have the use of one hand, everything seems to be in slow motion. Plus the piles around my desk just seem to be getting bigger and bigger, waiting for me to have two hands. I need a priority list on the to do list!

The biggest priority is my keynote address for the History Queensland conference in three weeks time. That will be the last opportunity in 2015 to catch up with geneafriends in the SE Qld area and I am looking forward to it.

I have a final blog post for NFHM to do for The In-Depth Genealogist who were one of our new prize sponsors. My report for AFFHO is also nearly complete and then it will be time to start thinking about NFHM 2016! I hope genealogy and family history societies start planning to include their events for next August. Every society usually has a monthly meeting or opens their library one or more days a month so everyone can participate without doing extra events. One society reported that they gained 60 new members during NFHM which is fantastic.

Time to get back to my arm exercises so have a great genealogy week and I'm hoping to get back to more regular Diary posts soon. Till next time.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

National Family History Month ends for 2015 - Genealogy Notes 24 - 31 Aug 2015

Time always flies when you are having fun.  August went super quick and there were hundreds of genealogy events across Australia during National Family History Month. From the feedback I have received many societies were very pleased with attendance at their events and gained new members. One society even said they had 50 new members sign up. Is that a record or can another society claim more?

The NFHM sponsors prizes giveaway was drawn on 29 August with the assistance of Genealogical Society of Queensland members as my right arm is still encased in a sling. Since then I have been busy contacting some very excited prize winners and letting sponsors know who won their donated prizes. All slow going with my left hand. To see the list of winning individuals and societies visit the Sponsors page of the NFHM website.

There is no NFHM committee, only me and amidst all the feedback there were some very nice comments about myself  which were appreciated as coordinating a voluntary project is time consuming. I would like to thank all the societies and individuals who assisted me in spreading the news about NFHM. Without the participation of the sponsors, societies, libraries, archives and others there would be NFHM for me to coordinate. We will be back again in August 2016 - mark it in your diaries now and start planning your events.

I don't like singling any one person out as so many participated but I feel that Jill Ball's 12 hour geneagala hangout deserves a special mention. Many others also helped Jill over that time and you can watch it all on Jill's You Tube channel. Judging by the YouTube view numbers lots have already watched it. Sadly I had to miss it but hopefully she will do it again in NFHM 2016!

Needless to say I haven't done too much other than NFHM but I did pick up from Facebook that John Reid's (Canada's Anglo Celtic Connections) is again conducting his search for Rockstar Genealogists. The nominations for 2015 are now open and it is great to see quite a few Australian speakers on the list already.

Last weekend I attended the GSQ's seminar It Doesn't Rain in the Cloud with three speakers - Geoff Doherty provided an introduction to the Cloud and what you can do in the Cloud, Judy Lofthouse explored genealogy sites within YouTube and my talk was on Apps and Blogs. As usual my talk is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations and look for Are You Appy & Bloggy: If Not, Why Not? I think everyone went home to check out the Cloud!

I also did a very successful session at Caloundra Library on Family History on the Cheap. It was the biggest audience I have ever seen for a single talk so the Library must have a very good publicity machine. My NFHM talks for Moreton Bay Region Libraries are now finished and all these presentations are also on the Resources page of my website.

Now my thoughts are turning to the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies annual conference at Port Macquarie next week. I am presenting a Master Class on Public Record Office Victoria and I have almost finished the presentation, just a bit more tweaking here and there. Then in October there is the History Queensland Conference where I will be giving one of the keynote presentations.

My arm will be in a sling for another 4 weeks but I hope to get back to some more regular blogging now that NFHM is over. I miss the writing plus I have lots of notes to write up from the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise and the GSQ seminar mentioned above. Not to mention getting back to my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 - at this rate it will be 2016 before I finish!

Have another great week genealogy searching. Until next time.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Last week National Family History Month - Genealogy Notes 7-23 Aug 2015

In between my medical appointments and my National Family History Month talks for Moreton libraries, I have mainly been adding last minute events to the NFHM web calendar and encouraging people to enter the NFHM sponsors prizes giveaway via Facebook and other social media.

Normally I would have been blogging my 31 Activities for genealogists in NFHM but with only one hand that is not going to happen this year. However I do hope people have had a look at the suggested activities and perhaps tried a few.

As an incentive to get genealogy societies to place their events in the web calendar before 30 June, we offered a gift certificate from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies for one free course per society to either use as a raffle/door prize or to reward a volunteer or member. As the month is nearly over I am starting to receive the names of the lucky winners or recipients from the 53 societies who took up the offer.

As well I am getting feedback on successful events, new memberships and it seems that everyone has been enjoying NFHM 2015. Sometimes I pick up information on events or newspaper articles and where possible I have been adding them to NFHM Pinterest. If you know of any other feedback please let me know.

In September I will be doing a full report for AFFHO on how successful it has been this year, despite my one handedness and being out of action at key times. Part of this success is also due to my many social media friends who have also promoted NFHM, genealogy societies, libraries and archives who have hosted events and of course our sponsors have also helped to spread the word.

The sponsors prizes giveaway closes on 27 August and late entries are not accepted. The giveaway takes place on 29 August and I will be placing the lucky winners names on the NFHM website shortly thereafter.

The wonderful display at Arana Hills Library to promote my talk for NFHM - thanks Alexandra Daw 
Hard to believe that NFHM is almost over for another year. I have three more talks for Moreton libraries, one for Sunshine Coast Libraries and a seminar at the Genealogical Society of Queensland. Then I hope to get back to some blogging as at the moment I simply don't have time to type one handed when I am out every day of the week as well.

Make the most of the last week of NFHM and have lots of genealogy finds. Until next time.