Monday 31 December 2018

January 1 new archives resources & other news - Genealogy Notes 16-31 Dec 2018

2018 has ended and its been a year of lots of small family discoveries. No major breakthrough but lots of facts about individuals discovered through newspapers, wills and buying the odd certificate to confirm a lead. In the coming year I want to spend more time writing the stories rather than continuing to gather new information. That's the plan.

It wasn't a big year for blog posts but I managed at least one post a month and occasionally two if there was a lot happening, like the Alaska genealogy cruise with Unlock the Past. The last fortnight of 2018 saw two blog posts - a Trove Tuesday John Finn Charged With Incendiarism (now there's a candidate for a good story as poor John had so many things go wrong in his life) and I finally did a DNA post on Finding Truth in Family History which explains why after 42 years of family history research, I am now looking for a biological grandfather.

I'm currently reading Kate Grenville's The Secret River. It's an historical novel but inspired by her convict ancestor Soloman Wiseman who settled in the area now known as Wiseman's Ferry.

None of my ancestors did anything famous or have anything named after them but I can't help thinking about what kind of historical novel could I write about their lives. Or should I just try for a straight family history although one has to make that an interesting read too.

We have formed a genealogy writing group at the local U3A so these will be the kind of questions we can discuss and motivate each other  with.


One of the last things I did in 2018 was to have a professional photo shoot with a local photographer Deb Neill. She does some really lovely photos of Bribie which I see through various Bribie Facebook sites. I have been wanting to update my profile picture for a while but I hate getting my photo taken and I can never really find one that I like. That's why I am still using the 2014 photo taken of me while in Inverell for a talk. Deb has done a series of photos that I can use on social media, website, blogs, books or seminar flyers. The hard part is trying to decide which one to use as there are a couple that I really like or maybe I should use different ones on different sites. Anyway there will be a new me coming soon!

Conferences & Talks

The events page of my website has been updated with talks and conference sessions I'm doing in 2019. As the year progresses new dates will be added. For me the most exciting event will be the Waves in Time conference at Caloundra under the auspices of History Queensland and Caloundra Family History Research. It is only an hour or so up the highway but I will be staying up there to maximise the time at the family history fair and the conference.

New Resources - 1 January record releases

Remember that a new year means new archives & BDM resources as another year comes into the open access period. It was good to see the ABC News story on Public Record Office Victoria's newly opened mental hospital files. Some states like New South Wales update their BDM indexes throughout the year while others simply update at the end of the year. It is always worth checking for any new births, deaths or marriages and it is a great way to keep your research current.

What's Coming Up?

My U3A classes in advanced family history (weekly) and writing family history (fortnightly) will keep me busy and motivated. Plus I have even enrolled in how to use a smart phone as I'm sure there are lots of tips and tricks to learn. That's only a 5 week course.

The first genealogy seminar for the year is with the Queensland Family History Society with the theme Taking Your Australian Research Further. I am looking at what you can discover in Australian archives and other resources people might not be using for their family history research. Janice Cooper is the other speaker on the day advising us how to place our families in their communities and in the times they lived.

Until next time, I hope you find time for some genealogy research with lots of exciting discoveries.

Sunday 16 December 2018

WA Perth cemetery, writing family history & other news - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Dec 2018

The second last Diary notes for 2018 and I am looking forward to the Christmas/New Year break as it will give me a chance to process all the new information I have found this year. Preparing the weekly U3A classes has really helped me to locate family information that I might never have looked for.
Make sure this event is in your calendar. Not to be missed.


A few weeks back, I enrolled in the University of Tasmania Writing Family History unit (part of the Diploma in Family History). As well as picking up some tips on writing, I am also discovering quite a few books that I want to read - Santa has also been informed so bring on Christmas Day.

 I have two of the books they refer to frequently - Hazel Edwards How to Write a Non Boring Family History and Noelene Kyle's Writing Family History Made Very Easy. They are long time favourites, but I am rereading them for further inspiration and tips.


In October and November I only managed two blog posts (apart from Diary and my monthly blog for The In-Depth Genealogist) - one a book review and the other a Trove Tuesday post. Half way through December and I haven't met my goal to do better - time for the skates. Over the weekend I worked on a Trove Tuesday which will be ready to go on Tuesday and I want to finish a blog post on DNA so that I can start fresh in 2019.

Family History Writing

My desire to be part of a local family history writing group became a reality last week. A quiet word to the local U3A course programmer and I found myself a room, day and time for the first term in 2019. At this stage we will meet fortnightly to discuss our projects and to inspire/motivate each other.

New Resources

Friends of Battye Library and National Trust of Western Australia have launched an upgraded website for the East Perth Cemeteries. There is new burial data, searching is faster with more sophisticated search abilities and a fantastic mapping component. I don't have anyone in the Perth cemetery (mine are in Karrakatta cemetery) but the site is still worth a look.

Fields in the database include the usual name, date of death and burial, age, location of grave and number plus the really exciting cause of death and monumental inscription if there is one.  Lots of information from just one search. There are also sections on Stories and People, Shapes and Symbols and Events and the interactive map. Under about there is a history and other interesting menu options - explore the whole site, especially if you have anyone in the East Perth Cemeteries.

What's Coming Up

My favourite photo of my son - the first Christmas when he
was old enough to really get excited about presents!
Christmas and New Year (as the next Diary will be due on 31 December). So much of the next week will be last minute shopping and festivities although all the formal Christmas parties are over.

Might be time to get in some exercise and the garden will certainly need a good weed after the drizzly rain and humidity we have had over the last few days.

Between Christmas and New Year I am hoping for some quiet family history time and lots of family stories written (without getting sidetracked into more research).

My website needs a good review and tidy up so that's another priority.

Finally I would like to thank all my readers throughout 2018 - all feedback, comments and emails are appreciated. I hope that everyone has found something new for their own family history through my Diary posts.

2018 has been fabulous and I know 2019 is going to be even better.

Have a safe and happy Christmas with your families. Until next time.

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.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Wiltshire discoveries, new resources & seminars - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Oct 2018

Herbert White (far left) was from Wiltshire
Still coughing as this chest infection seems reluctant to go. The weather has been a bit wet and perfect for staying indoors and doing research.

There have been some exciting new discoveries with my Wiltshire ancestors when I found out that Ancestry have added lots of records from the Wiltshire Record Office.

It really does pay to go back and look at your research from time to time as new records are indexed and made available. In this instance there were images which is even more exciting. I pushed back one of my Wiltshire families another generation.


My guest blog post for the Genealogical Society of Queensland on the benefits of genealogy cruising will be posted next Monday. I enjoyed doing that as it brought back all those wonderful Alaska cruise memories, pre chest infection. Just happy I made it home to be sick, nothing worse than being sick while travelling.

Docked in Alaska

I equate bed rest with also sitting in front of a laptop and so some hours were also spent trying to analyse my DNA results and sort out those only related to Mum. Anything else must be Dad's and surprisingly Dad has about three times the results of Mum. If only I had some family names to match or his DNA for closer results. With Mum's I can see which results relate to our Cornish families on her mother's side and which ones relate to families on her father's side.

The DNA workshop at Bribie Island was good as I learnt a few more tips for analysis so it really is the more you listen/learn, the more sense results make. Especially if you have all your family names.


A while back I did the free online genealogy course with Future Learn (University of Strathclyde) and enjoyed it as well as learning new things or being reminded of things I had forgotten. Just noticed they have another free course starting on 5 November 2018. Only six weeks but covers a lot of topics - have a look at the program and see if it interests you.

New Resources

Outside the study window - so distracting!
It is almost impossible to keep up with all the new resources being added to the major genealogy sites. Findmypast have added electoral rolls for the UK 1920-1932 and more newspapers have been added plus existing titles have been added to.

FamilySearch have added FindAGrave and BillionGraves indexes which mean that you get prompts to check those sites out for names that you search for in FamilySearch.

The Ancestry update told me that they now have New Zealand naturalizations from 1843-1981 which is great for those with European ancestors. My NZ connections were all British.

It is definitely useful to subscribe to the update enews as you just don't know what will be relevant to your own research.


I managed to do my talk on Making the Most of Trove for the Bribie Island Family History Group with the help of cough lozenges, lots of water and an understanding audience. The presentation is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

Three more talks coming up next week and then it will only be U3A talks for the rest of the year (which isn't that long to go).

What's Coming Up

Caloundra Family History Research have a one day seminar on 10 November with the theme End of World War 1: The Soldiers Come Home. Four speakers, morning and afternoon tea and a light lunch for the modest cost of $30 if you are a member of a reciprocal genealogy group or $35 for others. Bookings and further details are available on their website. Unfortunately I will be away that week so I am missing out! They are also hosting the Waves in Time conference next May and I will definitely be there for that.

Most genealogy and family history societies run excellent education programs and if you are not a member of a local society you are missing out on some great opportunities to learn and network with other geneafans.

Next week is a super busy week with talks and then a short visit to family. After that the plan is to start writing up some of my family stories in the six weeks left of 2018. Until next time, try and have some time with your ancestors.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Alaska cruise reports, SA school pupils & other news - Genealogy Notes 16-30 Sep 2018

That cold I hinted at last Diary turned into a rather nasty chest infection which meant a lot of bed rest and avoiding anything that was going to make me cough. Luckily it was the U3A term break so I didn't have to worry about getting someone to take my place and there were no other talks planned.


Visiting Juneau Sep 2018
The down time did give me the opportunity to do some blog posts on my US/Canada trip.
Read the Seattle DNA/Irish one day seminar report here.
Read the two part report on the Alaska Genealogy cruise here - Part 1 and Part 2.

I have also been asked to do a guest blog for the Genealogical Society of Queensland on the benefits of genealogy cruising and that's due week after next.

There are always new resources being released on the mega database sites but I was particularly excited to see that FamilySearch have just added South Australian school admission registers 1873-1985. Indexed Queensland school admission registers have been on FindMyPast for some time having been indexed by the Queensland Family History Society.

They also added the England & Wales national index to wills 1858-1957 which has been available elsewhere but the advantage of having a lot of these big indexes all together in a supersite is that sometimes you get surprises in the search results. How you search and who you are searching for can vary which is why I always try and do the same search in a variety of places.
Spencer family, South Australia

One way to keep up with all these new releases is to get the free email news from the various sites although it does lead to more email and of course, once you see an exciting new resource, there goes the rest of the day/evening while you check it out.

What's Coming Up

Next week is a super busy genealogy week - there is a two hour workshop on DNA analysis at the Bribie Library, the first week of U3A term 4 and I am giving a session on searching UK archives and finding records online and I am giving a talk to the local Bribie Island Family History Group at the RSL. I always like doing those as we go to lunch afterwards and the genealogy chat continues.

On 19-20 October 2018 the Unlock the Past team are presenting a two day DNA/Irish seminar in Brisbane with lots of my favourite speakers including Richard Reid, Louise Coakley, Kerry Farmer and others. There is also a Family Tree Maker stream for those who use that program. See the full list of speakers and provisional program here.

I have a blogging presentation at Strathpine Library on 23 October and I am one of the speakers at the Genealogical Society of Queensland's annual seminar on 27 October so it is a very busy genealogy month in Brisbane and surrounds. At least I won't be short of blogging topics!

Have a wonderful time with the latest resources and check out what is on at your local library and genealogy society. Attending talks and workshops is a great way to learn and make new friends. Until next time

Monday 17 September 2018

Alaska Update, DNA & Other News - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Sep 2018

Well I am back home after 16 days in Canada and the USA. It was a wonderful trip with some great scenery and experiences. Plus it was a digital detox for the whole time - no laptop, phone, tablet, or social media for 16 days. It is a great way just to be in the present and not miss anything because you are too busy sending Facebook/Twitter posts or writing up blogs. The only negative is that I appear to have caught a cold but then quite a few on the cruise seemed to have a bit of something that was going around. At least I am home and it didn't impact on the holiday.
Explorer of the Seas at Juneau 
Alaska Cruise 
This was 7 days with the Unlock the Past team and attendees from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Had a fantastic time catching up with past cruise mates and making new friends. As usual I will blog the genealogy learnings separately, probably in two blog posts as we had two full genealogy days, a half day plus a nightly lecture. Hope to have them done during the next week. The two talks that I presented - Finding Pictorial Images and Caring for Family Archives are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

DNA News
There were lots of sessions on DNA as part of the cruise program and one of the things I picked up was that you can upload your Family Tree DNA raw data into MyHeritage for free. To find as many matches as you can you need to have your data placed in all the various sites as you don't know where potential cousins may have tested. So one of the first things I did since returning home is to upload my raw data to MyHeritage. While catching up with my blog post reading, I noticed that The Legal Genealogist wrote MyHeritage DNA Changes - and Deadline and the option will only be free until 1 December 2018. So don't wait.

Seattle's famous Sky Needle
Seattle Conference
This was held the day before the cruise left and it was mostly DNA talks by Blaine Bettinger with some Irish talks by Maurice Gleeson and a how to dig deeper on the web with Cyndi Ingle. Another great day and a chance to meet fellow cruisers and others before we sailed. A blog post on this is also on the way. While in Seattle I also took the opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing and learn more about the First Nations people who lived in the area.

Tillicum Village, Blake Island, Seattle
What's Coming Up?
Back to Bribie U3A on Wednesday for the last class for third term. The 'students' have asked for a free ranging talk on my Alaska learnings so that will be a lot of fun. Should also help me to start thinking about what to include in my blog posts on the cruise.

On Thursday as part of the Moreton Region Older and Bolder program I am on a walking tour of Bribie's World War 2 involvement when various forts and other military buildings were erected as part of the defence of Brisbane. It should be interesting.

Then there are two weeks holiday from U3A although I will be preparing the sessions for Term 4. It is Advanced Family History so I'm planning something a little different for the final term for the year.

No talks until October so that gives me a chance to catch up on other things and to get over the last two weeks of travelling where I did over 25,000 km. No wonder I feel tired although the head cold probably has something to do with that.

Until next time, have a great time researching.

Friday 31 August 2018

Bound for Alaska & Other News - Genealogy Notes 16-31 Aug 2018

The last day of winter which has been extremely mild here. So perhaps it is good that I am off to cooler places.


The Genealogical Society of Queensland have asked me to be a guest blogger in October and the topic will be about the wonders of genealogy cruising using my Alaska trip as an example. My regular blog for The In-Depth Genealogist made the deadline but there hasn't been any other blogging time this month.


Still reading Lynette McDermott's 3rd book in The Garth Trilogy but preparations for the trip have side tracked me so the review will be finished after my return.


All booked for the Seattle Unlock the Past conference which is also being live streamed as reported last time in Diary. That should be a great day.

The following day many of us will be going on board the Explorer of the Seas for the Unlock the Past Alaska cruise. This is going to be a lot of fun as quite a few past cruisers will be there plus quite a few newbies so a great opportunity to chat and network. Not to mention shore excursions to Juneau and Skagway in Alaska and Victoria in Canada.

I will be blogging about the Seattle conference and the Alaska cruise on my return. Stay tuned.


Went to a session on writing memoirs and biographies at the local Bribie Island Library which was motivating. Amazing how everyone says just start writing but of course that is the hardest part. We all have stories that only we know and if we don't put them in writing they will be lost.

I have already started to accept talks for 2019 and it looks like another great genealogy year coming up. Remember Queensland is having its Waves in Time conference next May and there is nothing better than a holiday on the Sunshine Coast combined with a genealogy conference.

Updating my website is another task on the to do list when I return.

What's Coming Up

With all the travel excitement I haven't given the rest of the year much thought but there are a few talks plus my advanced family history class with Bribie U3A.

Until next time, have a great fortnight of research - I certainly will be!

Sunday 19 August 2018

NFHM, conferences & other news - Genealogy News Notes 1-15 Aug 2018

Wow National Family History Month has simply been a blur and you can read about the events I have attended so far in the link below. Also coming up fast is my trip to Alaska and the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. Only two weeks away now and I am doing a list of all the things I need to do before I leave and what I want to take with me.

Conferences - Live Streaming of Seattle Unlock the Past Conference
I am going to this Unlock the Past seminar day in Seattle but fantastic news - now it will be live streamed for all those not able to go in person. Plus it will be available as a series of 10 recorded webinars. Here is the media release.

Unlock the Past Cruises announces that the Unlock the Past in Seattle full-day two-stream conference (previously announced) will now also be available to watch live online – and for a limited time after as a series of 10 recorded webinars.

Date & time: Thursday 6 September 2018, 9am-5pm (Pacific Daylight Time)
Venue: - watch in your own home - from anywhere in the world - attend in person at Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA
Cost: - US$65 – Unlock the Past in Seattle Livestream - US$45 – attend in-person at Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA - US$20 – upgrade from in-person attendance to add access all 10 recorded sessions after
The program will feature 10 presentations in two streams – a DNA stream and an Irish/general stream The presenters 
• BLAINE BETTINGER (USA) – Blaine is a professional genealogist specialising in DNA evidence. He is the author of the long-running blog The Genetic Genealogist and the books The family tree guide to DNA testing and Genetic genealogy.
• DR MAURICE GLEESON (UK) – Maurice was voted Genetic Genealogist of the Year 2015 (SurnameDNA Journal) and Rockstar Genealogist, Ireland 2016 (Anglo-Celtic Connections). He runs a variety of Y-DNA Surname projects and organises the DNA Lectures at Genetic Genealogy Ireland. • CYNDI INGLE (USA) – Cyndi is the creator and owner of the award-winning web site Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet, a categorised index to more than 333,000 online resources. In its first three years, Cyndi’s List was voted the best genealogy site.
• WAYNE SHEPHEARD (Canada) – A retired geologist, Wayne now spends most of his time on family history research. This has resulted in the pioneering publication Surviving Mother Nature’s tests: The effects climate change and other natural phenomena have had on the lives of our ancestors.

For details and bookings go to

As I will be hearing all about DNA in Seattle and on board the Alaska genealogy cruise, I need to spend some time organising myself to maximise any chats I manage to have with people more knowledgeable than me on analysing results.

A cousin on Dad's side has agreed to do an Ancestry DNA test so once the results are in I will know the truth with no shadow of doubt. I am reasonably convinced Mum's story is probably true but after three years of wondering, now is the time to know, one way or the other. At least this time, the result won't be a total shock.

National Family History Month
Talking at FamilySearch Discovery Day
 photo courtesy Pauleen Cass
So far I have attended three events and my blog post Review of Talks Attended  has some of the things I learnt or was reminded of. Sometimes I sit in on a talk thinking there won't be much in it for me and then I am totally surprised at different approaches, things I had forgotten about and new resources. Then there are all the tips that you can pick up talking to others over lunch or tea breaks.

There is one more NFHM event for me before Alaska and that is a session on writing and publishing memoirs and biographies at Bribie Island Library.

Although I have said this before, I want to keep developing all my draft family histories (one for each major family group eg the Carnegie's from Scotland, the Finns and Fegans from Ireland, the Prices from Staffordshire, the Whites from Wiltshire and of course all my Cornish families). These drafts all need a bit of updating with new information plus more context to make them interesting and more readable. So a writing session to finish up NFHM 2018 seems like a very good idea.

What's Coming Up?
Only two more talks at my advanced family history class at Bribie U3A - we are looking at shipping and Trove and then while I am away two other class members will each do a session. For the final talk of Term 3 it will be me talking about Seattle and Alaska and the fun genealogical time had by everyone.

Term 4 will then loom so I'm on the look out for some bright ideas. Ten weeks goes incredibly fast.

In the last quarter of the year I have some talks for Moreton Bay Region Libraries on blogging, a webinar for the Society of Australian Genealogists and I am also talking about Trove to the local Bribie Island Family History Group.

And then it will be Christmas and 2019 not far behind. I often wonder if time goes as fast for those not doing genealogy. But I am getting ahead of myself - still lots of genealogical experiences for 2018 to look forward to. Why not put NFHM 2019 into next year's diary now and start planning a fantastic August of genealogy?

Until next time, wishing you some excellent genealogy discoveries.

Thursday 2 August 2018

National Family History Month & Other News - Genealogy Notes 16 - 31 Jul 2018

Exciting news - this blog was listed by Feedspot in the Top 10 Australian Genealogy Blogs which also includes some of my favourite bloggers including individuals and genealogy societies.


I have started reading Lynette McDermott's third volume in her Garth Trilogy The Promise of Tomorrow and I'm hooked again. This time the setting is the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria. This is an area where we had some wonderful fishing trips when we lived down that way so I'm familiar with a lot of the places. I hadn't thought I would relate as much to the third volume as I had with the first (Norfolk Island) and second (Tasmania). The only problem is that it is an ecopy so I have to read on the laptop and not curled up in bed, my preferred reading spot.


Pauleen Cass, one of my fellow social media ambassadors for the Waves in Time conference on the Sunshine Coast in May 2019 has written a wonderful blog post on what's happening - read Catch a Genealogy Wave in Queensland for a total update and make sure you put the dates in your diary. It will be a conference not to be missed.


In a few weeks I'm off on the Unlock the Past Alaska cruise and it should be a really great time. There will be a few days in Vancouver, Canada then a few days in Seattle. While there I'm attending the UTP one day conference with Blaine Bettinger and other speakers. Then the 7 night cruise with lots of onboard talks and wonderful scenery and onshore days. I will be doing my usual post cruise blog with all the highlights and learnings.

Unlock the Past have started to publicise their next cruise which is from Sydney to Singapore and you can check out the key speakers and what else is happening here. If that one doesn't tempt you, then there is a second cruise in 2019 going from Southampton to the Mediterranean.

National Family History Month

I almost forgot that August is National Family History Month now that I have retired as voluntary national coordinator. This year I can just sit back and enjoy events and even enter the NFHM prizes giveaway. My big event for the month is attending the FamilySearch Discovery Day at Forest Glen where I'm giving two talks and listening to two of my favourite speakers. Looking forward to a great day of genealogy tips and motivation.

Moreton Bay Region Libraries have a range of free talks on offer during August and I'm booked to attend a DNA talk with David Barnes at the Caboolture Library and Helen Smith is coming to Bribie Island Library to talk about brick walls and breaking them down. It's a nice to sit back and enjoy NFHM.

Image courtesy Hazel Edwards
Well known children's author (and grandmother) Hazel Edwards is also known for her How to Write a Non Boring Family History.  Hazel is keen to interest children in history and their own family history and she is keen to see other families foster this interest in the past.

NFHM is a perfect opportunity to try some of Hazel's ideas - why not do a picture book with a few highlights of an event/s in the family. Create a special birthday book. Or help them to draw the family tree. I love  Hazel's grandson's family tree.

If you are stuck for ideas, or need some guidance on how to start, check out Hazel's handy hints.


Findmypast has added some Cheshire, Cumberland and Derbyshire records plus added more records to the 1939 Register and more newspaper titles. Ancestry and MyHeritage are major supporters of NFHM so remember to check out the Sponsors page to see what prizes are on offer during August.

What's Coming Up?

Another trip on my bucket list is to the Midlands area of England (I have been to London a couple of times and been to Oxford, Kent and Wiltshire but always seem to run out of time). Next year The Genealogy Show is in Birmingham in June 2019 so I have started to plan out a trip to see all my Staffordshire ancestral places and then head up to York, then Edinburgh and a trip to Montrose where my Carnegie ancestors hail from. I'd like to include Cornwall in this trip but it is at the opposite end of the country. Plus there are all those places in between!

There will be one more Diary before my Alaskan trip and on my return I hope to get back to regular blogging with a new theme. I need a focus to help me write those family stories. Until next time, have a great genealogy time during National Family History Month.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Free Irish magazine, Waves in Time & Other News - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Jul 2018

Winter is half over and still not that cool here - ever so glad we moved north. Those lovely minus temperatures in Canberra this week were a reminder of why I moved on, I loved the city but too cold for me. We even have a visiting seal who seems in no hurry to swim away and the whales are still on their way north. Blue skies, warm sun but a few drops of rain occasionally would be welcome.


It's official - if I don't participate in a regular blog challenge I seem to find no time to write blog posts. I'm still doing research but just not writing about it. With the genealogy cruise to Alaska looming, now is not the right time to start a new blog theme. But it will be on the agenda once I get back in September.

I even keep missing Trove Tuesday but then every day is very much the same for me these days. I need a visual reminder - not a clock in the room but a sign saying 'today is'!

What will also spark my interest again is teaching a couple of blogging sessions to my Bribie U3A advanced family history class.


The Garth Trilogy
My latest book to review is Lynette McDermott's Book 3 in her Garth trilogy - The Promise of Tomorrow.

Book's 1 and 2 dealt with their transportation, life on Norfolk Island in the First Settlement, then the move to Tasmania and now the final book concludes the family's story. I enjoyed the first two volumes and now to try and find some time to read the final volume. It must feel really good to have completed three novels based around your own family history.

I'm not sure that my families have enough interest for three volumes but then again, there is a lot of crime, tragedy, mystery and travel. Maybe in my retirement!


With the two week term break for U3A, I was able to attend the Waves in Time conference committee meeting and the organisation so far is very impressive. Venue sorted, sponsors found, exhibitors lining up and speaker proposals coming in. There are three exciting keynote speakers and as usual there will be both local and family history presentations.

Four ambassadors for social media have been endorsed - Pauleen Cass, Caitlin Gow, Helen Smith and myself so you will be hearing a lot about the conference as it looms closer.


Did every one get their free copy of the latest issue of Irish Lives Remembered - hard to believe you can get such an interesting genealogy magazine for free. A few years back I was writing regular features for Irish Lives Remembered so I have a digital copy of every issue I think. Must check.

These days I write regularly for Going In-Depth for The In-Depth Genealogist and writing a monthly article and blog posts is quite challenging. Trying to think of a theme that you can write about over a period of months with suitable images is not as easy as it sounds.


Pine Rivers Heritage Museum
My presentation on A Fishy Look at Bribie (a mix of my family history and local history) was well attended at the Pine Rivers Heritage Museum. Two cousins who found me via a blog post on my Bribie/Pumicestone ancestors (Carnegie and Davis families) attended. It was really good to meet them in person and chat about the family. Another reminder that blogging pays fantastic genealogy dividends.

That same night I went to the Bribie Island Historical Society meeting to learn more about the Island's boarding houses. Another ancestor, Thomas Stephen Burstow, had cottages for rent over at Woorim (ocean side) and in one of those amazing coincidences, a different cousin who was at my Fishy talk  said he had photos of these cottages and the family home. So we should all be telling our stories because you just don't know who is listening/reading and what they have on the family.

My next talks will be at the Forest Glen family history discovery day in August for National Family History Month. Then after that it will be Alaska. Starting to get excited.

What's Coming Up

This has more or less been covered but in preparing for my third term U3A talks I have been revisiting my Scottish ancestors and discovering lots of new information. I'm trying to update my database and write the stories as I go, rather than piling up information but that is not always easy time wise. So there is a lever arch binder beside my desk just waiting for a few spare hours.

Some time before the end of the month I need to write another article and blog post for Going In-Depth and I'm aiming for a Trove Tuesday blog post too.

Have a great genealogy week and remember revisiting your research may lead to new discoveries. Until next time, enjoy.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

South Australian records online, conferences coming up & other news - Genealogy Notes 16-30 Jun 2018

The end of another financial year and part way through winter. Not that we have had a lot of cold weather here yet. I did put a jumper on one day but then it was also raining so definitely a cooler day.

Lots of things on the family front seem to be keeping me busy with little personal time for my own research.

My son marries his long time girlfriend in a few weeks and she has just shown me her family tree for the first time. I knew that the family were from The Netherlands but never realised that the family line goes back to the mid 16th century. They never moved around much and Dutch records seem to be good. I am so glad that my son has Australian royalty (convicts) and a nice sprinkling of English, Irish and Scots ancestors although none of our lines go back much past the 18th century.


The Waves in Time 2019 conference committee have asked me to be an ambassador for the event along with four other social media geneabuddies.

It will be our job to make sure people are aware of the conference, the speakers and the sessions. Less than a year to go and there is another planning meeting in early July.

The Sunshine Coast is a great place to host the conference and you can plan a holiday alongside the three day geneaevent.

Recently I was asked was I attending the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Organisations annual conference Sailing Into History in Bateman's Bay this year as I usually do try to attend their conferences. Sadly this year I will be winging my way home from the Unlock the Past Alaska genealogy cruise so miss by one weekend. It looks like another good conference and I used to love weekends down at Bateman's Bay when we lived in Canberra so really sorry not to be going. But then Alaska and my extra days in Vancouver and Seattle will be fantastic too.


The Spencer family home in Adelaide
Anyone with South Australian ancestors will know that it is not the easiest Australian state to do research in. That seems about to change with the exciting news of records from the State Record Office of South Australia being made available through FamilySearch.

Alona wrote about the release in her blog post Millions of South Australian records added to Family Search.With a title like that I simply had to have a look and most of the records are not yet indexed into FamilySearch but you can browse the registers as if you were in the search room. I have been browsing probate records but there are also prison records, insolvencies, passenger lists, inquests, asylums, courts and more. A veritable feast which will be totally wonderful when indexed and more easily searched.


Adkins Robert Spencer
Next week I will be speaking at the Pine Rivers Heritage Museum with A Fishy Look at Bribie - while this has local history throughout it is also very much a part of our own family history. My great great great grandparents John and Helen Carnegie were oyster farmers in Pumicestone Passage in the late 19th century and Max's uncle Adkins Robert Spencer was President of the Amateur Fishermen's Association of Queensland at Bongaree for many years in the early 20th century. Plus there are lots of other fishy stories. Should be a lot of fun and I always enjoy visiting the Museum as it has so much to see.

My contribution to National Family History Month this year is giving two presentations at the Family Discovery Day at Forest Glen. There are four sessions throughout the day with four talks in each session with some good speakers. So 16 talks to choose from but you can only attend one talk in each session so some tough decisions to make. Attendance is free but you need to register (just enter Forest Glen Queensland).

What's Coming Up?
It is a two week break from tutoring advanced family history at Bribie U3A, but it is never really a break for the tutor as they are preparing for the next term. Not sure how long I can keep delivering a new talk every week based around the needs of the class but it is always fun trying.

I've got some topics in advance from the group as almost all of them are continuing and some have been with me since the beginning two years ago. So with luck I will get a few talks ahead before term starts again.

Until next time, happy searching.

Monday 18 June 2018

Perth two day seminar, NSW crew lists & More - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Jun 2018

Changing over to a fortnightly blog post didn't quite go to plan as this is a few days late. Sometimes I wonder how I did everything when I was working five days a week. Yesterday was a total spring clean of the house so I can at least feel good about that. I've also been working on some of the brick walls for my U3A class - happy to say that I have broken one wall down and will be presenting the results at the class on Wednesday.

The second edition of my Where Do I Start:Researching in Australia and New Zealand is now available and I brought home some copies with me from the Unlock the Past seminar in Perth the other week.

The Western Australian Genealogical Society also gave me a copy of Family Reflections which is their silver anniversary anthology edited by Loreley Morling. I love reading family history stories and this is a collection of 35 family histories submitted by individual members. So many aspects of Western Australia's history is reflected in the collection and I will certainly enjoy reading the publication and getting some tips for my own WA families.

As always there are new resources online but the State Archives and Records NSW new online index has over 2500 names in the Crew & Passengers lists, 1828-1841 that were located in correspondence sent to the NSW Colonial Secretary's Office. So if you are missing a crew member in early NSW, check it out.

Day one venue State Library of Western Australia
The Unlock the Past seminar in Perth was over two days with Doug Elms, Kerry Farmer and myself giving talks on a variety of subjects including family history software, DNA, newspapers, immigration, mining ancestors, education records and more. My report on the geneaevent gives all the detail. I gave four talks and all four presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

What's Coming Up?
My next talk is on 11 July from 10-11 am at the Pine Rivers Heritage Museum and I will be having a fishy look at Bribie Island - talking about our ancestral ties to the Pumicestone Passage. The event is free and for catering purposes they do like you to book. I can certainly recommend the yummy morning tea. Last time I went there was a chocolate cake to die for. Book here.

Then two weeks later my son will marry his long time girlfriend. So that will be a family event not to be missed! They are doing things quite differently - there will be the main event on the Monday and the wedding breakfast will be a real breakfast on the Tuesday morning. He tells me his life is modelled on mine and I have to admit that I'm not the most conventional person. All I want for them is to be happy together and to make the most of their lives. So far they have achieved way more than I had by my 30s so their goal of living and working in Europe looks like a winner. All I'm thinking about is the opportunity of having a white Christmas in the next year or two! Something definitely on my bucket list.

Until next time, happy searching.

Friday 1 June 2018

Another insolvent in the family, more talks & other news - Genealogy News 18-31 May 2018

Where did May disappear to? This blog looks like becoming a fortnightly event as the weeks seem to go too quickly these days.


Since taking on the advanced family history tutoring at U3A, the preparation for each week's class seems to have taken over my blogging time. I enjoy the classes and have been making new discoveries on my own families while preparing the talks. Last week they wanted a session on insolvencies and bankruptcies and during the preparation I discovered that my great great grandfather John Finn filed for insolvency in northern NSW in 1897. I'm now waiting for a copy of the file from State Archives and Records NSW. The Archives doesn't have a copy service for this record series so I'm using NSW Family History Transcriptions who provide copies of key record groups. Certainly cheaper than travelling to Kingswood.

John is one of my favourite ancestors as he has left so many records - BDMs, passenger list, land files, court records, prisons, newspapers, asylums and now insolvencies. Yet there is no known photograph of him, just this newspaper sketch from when he was accused of arson. Thankfully he was acquitted but the records were still created.

Everyone's keen to continue so we have just signed up for another term. At the end of this term I will have done four terms, a whole year and some students have been with me the whole time.


Some were keen and took their places early.
The afternoon seminar with the Gold Coast Family History Society went really well with some good feedback. My two talks on Archives You Should Know and Skeletons in the Family had every body talking over the afternoon tea and post seminar. There were lots of questions too. As usual, both talks are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

The Society has a wonderful venue to host these mini seminars with lots of room. Behind the seating area there is kitchen space for morning or afternoon teas.  Afterwards I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of their library, also in the same building.

Great library facilities for the lucky members of
the Gold Coast Family History Society.
Then four of us went out for pizza, wine and more stimulating talk about family history. I stayed overnight as it was over a two hour drive down, and after three hours of talking I didn't really feel like driving home in the dark. That's the trouble with winter, I miss the longer days.

Due to a heavy cold I ended up not going to Maurice Gleeson talks in Brisbane which was disappointing. I spent most of the day in bed asleep which is most unusual for me. He provided copies of both his talks to attendees so at least I had those to go through. Everyone said I missed a really good day. I do have the chance to hear him again in Seattle and on the Alaska cruise so that is something to look forward to.

What's Coming Up?

Next Thursday I'm off to Perth for the Unlock the Past exploring family and local history seminar where I will be giving four talks. Kerry Farmer and Doug Elms are also on the program along with local speakers and exhibitors so it will be a full on two days.

Then it's a whole month until my next talk for Pine Rivers Heritage Museum where I will be having A Fishy Look at Bribie Island. Should be fun as its combining my family history with local history. I have been to talks there before and they always have a really nice morning tea.

Until next time, have a great genealogy time with lots of new discoveries.