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