Friday 31 December 2021

Brickwalls tumble, smart searching & other news: My week in genealogy 25 -31 December 2021

 It has been a brilliant week for doing my family history and writing. With no family around there is an amazing amount of time. 

Although it would have been nice to have some family for Christmas but perhaps next year will be the White Christmas I have promised myself for the last three years. 

Back Ups

If you are looking for an easy New Year resolution, why not adopt the good practice of doing genealogy back ups on the first day of the month. That's easy to remember and you can set calendar reminders as well. Nothing worse than losing your genealogy database. 


Jill Ball (aka GeniAus) issued her annual Accentuate the Positive Geneameme. You can read my response for 2021 here.

Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks has come up very quickly. There are weekly themes which are broad enough to have an examply somewhere in the family tree. At first I thought I would do the ones I know most about. But then I am not really progressing my research or analysing why I can't find anything on someone. So more distant direct ancestors are the target if I can find one that fits the theme. One a week for the next year. 

Thomas Price
Mum's great grandfather
Week 1 is Foundations and my choice is Thomas Price from Wednesbury, Staffordshire. He (and his wife Elizabeth Pollard/Judge) were the foundation of Mum's Price family here in Australia.


Trying to connect all those DNA cousin matches is daunting. But when you think we have 8 great grandparents for 2nd cousin matches, 16 great great grandparents for 3rd cousin matches, 32 great great great grandparents for 4th cousins and 64 great great great great grandparents for 5th cousins. 

If each ancester was one of ten children (as most of mine seem to be, especially on Mum's side) then the numbers start to be enormous. For maximum benefit we should be trying to trace down all those lines to the present to connect up with DNA testers. 

I have done that on most of my mother's family lines as way back in the beginning (1977) I had the idea to trace all living descendants of my emigrant ancestors. The problem lies in the fact that I have not kept up with descendants since about 2000. So I am missing the modern generation. So a bit of back tracking is necessary but my DNA is not so confusing now. 

Also tracing Dad's biological family put a spanner in his cousin lines so I have spent quite a bit of time this week working on all the Cleaves descendants in Australia. I'm surprised at how many Cleaves families came out from Somersetshire, England and Wales. It has paid off as I have recognised some of the surnames in my matches. 

For those who might be looking at 6th cousins, that is 128 great great great great great grandparents!

Searching Tips

It is how you search that often changes the result from 'can't find' to success. 

I have previously tried to find William and Hannah Cleaves/Cleves in the 1841 census. They were in the 1851 census so it was more than likely a spelling variant that was the problem. 

This time I searched for Hannah (more uncommon than William) left the surname blank, searched in the county of Somersetshire and used Littleton as a keyword (the place where they lived).  The surname was indexed as Clears. How easy in hindsight. Looking at the snippet it is easy to see how hard the indexers job was. 

1841 census via The Genealogist

Writing Family Stories

This week was a marathon effort with the Spencer Family from Cosby, Leicestershire. The trouble is every time I show it to Max, he suggests adding something else. The never ending family history is true. Before I do a final 'nice' print job, I am going to send out ecopies or print copies spiral bound for the older generation and will seek feedback or photos. Then I will incorporate and finish. Who believes that?

What's Coming Up?

January is traditionally a quiet month with most societies closed. Given I have four talks in February I can imagine that time will be spent preparing those talks. 

Bribie with the Glass Houses in the background

Also I am doing a term on English Genealogy at Bribie U3A so that's nine classes to prepare. So far I have set up the Powerpoint template and mapped out what each week will cover. I also have a session on student brickwalls and one has already been submitted by an experienced researcher.  She has clearly defined what the issues are, what she has done and ends with 'help'.

Of course I also want to keep pushing on with the writing up my narrative family histories for each emigrant ancestor. Plus decluttering the remaining paper files and folders.

And then again there is my part time job, if I want to get paid and meet contract obligations. Minor detail.  

2022 hasn't even started and already I think I may have overcommitted myself yet again. But I always get to the end of the year and think, that was a wonderful year.

Have fun researching if you get the chance this coming week. 

Happy New Year for 2022 and let's all try and stay safe and well in this challening time. I hope to see you some time this coming year. 


Thursday 23 December 2021

Family Memories, Holidays & Other News: My Week in Genealogy 14-21 December 2021

Learning to surf at
the Gold Coast early 1960s

This week my little brother spent three days with us. We talked a little about past family holidays and it is not surprising I think that he has some memories that I don't have and vice versa. We looked at family photos and remembered when they were taken and recalled fun times. 

Where have six decades gone? Without the images (which I have scanned) there is nothing to remind others of what we were like as children. 


Jill Ball's (aka @geniaus) annual Accentuate the Positive meme is coming up and I am a regular contributor. It is a chance to think over the year on all the advances in our family history research. We do much more than we ever think, although our families would possibly say we never get off the computer. 

Anyone can join in the fun. Just follow Jill's directions.


I have just purchased a series of ebooks - the Ela of Salisbury Mysteries by J G Lewis. Ela was a real person who lived 1187-1261 which makes it more interesting I think. My White ancestors were from Wiltshire just near Salisbury (although I haven't traced them back to 1200s which is when these books are set). I loved the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters and others have given the Ela series a good review. More Christmas reading!

My brother is a fan of Jo Nesbo so he brought up some of his collection for me, also to read over Christmas. Almost hoping for a lockdown so I can just curl up and read through the holidays.


I managed to upload my two sessions for RootsTech 2022 in time. Good that is out of the way.

James Carnegie 1906
Still working my way through sessions from The Genealogy Show Winter Event before access expires on 2 January 2022. Then the rest of the sessions from the Virtual Genealogy Association conference from November, expiring in March. If I can do both before the end of the year I will start 2022 fresh.

But not for long. The 15th free Scottish Genealogy Indexes conference is on 15 January 2022. I have registered as I enjoy the differenct aspects of Scottish research and I am determined to advance my Carnegie and Ferrier lines. They haven't really moved in decades.

New Resources

One of the reasons I take so long with my family history drafts is that I recheck the big subscription sites and find new resources. This week I had major discoveries in Findmypast crosschecking some Hampshire families. There are 342 Hampshire record sets - how do we ever finish anything. Needless to say I had a few fantastic hours following up these new records. 

For example, Pragnell is a relatively uncommon name but when I search for it in Findmypast in Hampshire, England there are 10, 265 results without surname variants. When I put in Robert with variants there are still 188 results. Using date or category filters helps to narrow that down but I am still really surprised at the number of Pragnell results. 

The family were from West Tytherley in Hampshire and the records go way back. I popped over to Ancestry just to see if anyone was doing the same tree and there was - they had taken the Robert Pragnell/Mary Olding line back to 1610 in West Tytherley and cited sources. A couple of generations further back than me so now I have to cross check their research with the parish records. 

We absolutely have to review our research and use all the major websites as so much gets added over time.

What's Coming Up

Some talk preparation as I have accepted quite a few talks in the first few months of 2022. See the Events page of my website for details. This was in anticipation of my trip to Sweden in May/June which I'm still wondering if I will get there. Omicron seems to be throwing its weight around in Europe at present so more wait and see before I book.

Writing Family Stories

It has been a hard slog but I have finished Max's Spencer Family History in time for Christmas. I can always add things later and even just this morning Max was pointing out new photos and information that he would like included. Minor amendments but once it goes to the printer in January for wider distribution to family members, all changes will be held over for a second edition. 

I am continuing with my draft family histories for my own family lines. I need to pick one and finish it instead of going between the four histories. 

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas holiday with family and friends. This is my favourite photo of my son at Christmas, about 30 years ago!

My next Diary update will be just before New Year.

Stay safe and take care.


Wednesday 15 December 2021

Christmas Hampers, new genealogy resources & other news: My week in genealogy 6 - 13 December 2021

 What a fantastic week I have had. So many good things happening and not just that I have been visiting local markets and buying my first ever baby type things for my grandson's arrival in the New Year. Being practical I have bought bibs and face washers with Australian animals and birds on them. As my new darling will be in Sweden, chances are he is not going to see a kangaroo or kookaburra anytime soon.

My son showing me what I am missing!

However I am somewhat jealous as they are having the White Christmas that I have been trying to have for the last three years. Hopefully I will get there for 2024 Yule Time in Sweden.


Having pledged to do this Diary every week (and struggling somewhat but then again it is that time of the year for parties), I have signed up to do 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks with Amy Johnson Crow. Why? At the end of the year I will have a short biography of 52 of my ancestors. A chance to focus on them as individuals not just within a family group. It may not be all direct ancestors as I have some fascinating siblings on family lines. Wish me luck. Two blogs a week, worthwhile if I can sustain the passion!

Bribie Genealogy

Our last Monday night for the year was good. After my demonstration of how I identified matches with different strategies we sat around talking. It is good to hear what others are doing and to help those who have questions. 

No more Bribie Genealogy now until February 2022. Sounds a long way away but 4 February will be here in no time with the festive season in between.

Books & Journals

My reading has mostly been online journals. All too often I download the journals from my genealogy society memberships with a promise to read it later. Have been binging on Genealogical Society of Queensland, Genealogy SA and Queensland Family History Society. This has been fantastic but my list of things to investigate only continues to grow. Not a bad thing as I am finding more on my families. 

Christmas Parties

This week I went to two - Bribie Island Historical Society where I won a bottle of wine in the raffle and at the Caloundra Family History Research party I won one of their Christmas hampers. For someone who seldom wins anything, it was a very big week.


This week my webinar viewing includes talks from The Genealogy Show Winter Event and I am still watching some from the Virtual Genealogy Association conference back in November. I have discovered that some sessions I can watch and scan photos at the same time. Double bonus. It depends on how good the handout is whether I can watch and not take notes all the time.

RootsTech 2022 registration is now open and it is free.  Start planning to keep the dates free.

New Resources

The number of records added by the big subscription sites and FamilySearch continue to stagger me. For example, FamilySearch added 4 million new, free, English records for Berkshire, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Northumberland and Wiltshire. Mum's grandfather Herbert William White was from Wiltshire so I will be checking the new records out. Plus there were collections added for various South American countries and USA states.

Herbert William White on left with his family

Ancestry keeps sending me new matches and family hints and that can change my day's plans. I particularly like the photo hints. This is where someone in the larger family tree puts up a photo of one of my ancestors siblings. 

I don't have many photos so even if it is just a great uncle or whatever I have an idea of what my person possibly looked like. I still live in hope that someone else out there does have photos of them but until then, I enjoy these match ups.

This week's example is Thomas Isaac Cleaves 1828-1908 - there is a fantastic photo of him on Ancestry and he is my 1st cousin 5x removed. Yes that is distant but we do have DNA matches.

What's Coming Up?

It is a bit hard to avoid Christmas and New Year but we will be having a quiet time again. With family interstate and overseas we are not risking sudden border closures. Luckily we have our own swimming pool and lush tropical gardens so we can pretend to be in a swish resort. At least until one of us has to get up and get the drinks or cook dinner.

Our local bird life keep us amused too

Writing Family Stories

Last week I wrote that I was finalising the Spencer Family History as a Christmas present. I haven't had as much time as I expected plus I started asking questions. 

For example, Max's aunt Veronica - all we knew about her was that she was born and died. There was no marriage and I wanted to know more about her.

 Purchasing the death certificate revealed that she died in Goodna Mental Hospital (formerly Woogaroo Asylum) in 1933 aged 32 years. From the cause of death it looks like she may have had epilepsy. 

Goodna has a closed access period of 100 years so I won't be able to access her file until 2034, only 12 years away. 

I don't know when she was admitted or why. The answer to those questions are hidden in the closed register of admissions. I suspect she didn't have a happy life but at least we know a little more about her than just a couple of dates.

The family history looks like being an epresent now but they can provide me with feedback and point out anything unclear. The main thing is that we continue to keep writing our family stories and sharing them with others. 

There should be one more Diary post before Christmas. Until then stay safe and well and try and find a little time for genealogy.


Tuesday 7 December 2021

More online geneafeasting, Gift ideas & Other news: My Week in Genealogy 29 Nov - 5 Dec 2021

Weeks are flying past or is it more that Christmas is fast approaching. I have been visiting the local markets for hand crafted gifts and to support local businesses. There are more tourists on the Island and more stalls to make the most of the holiday crowds. My other preoccupation is geneafeasting on so many good webinars and online conferences. I am a member of quite a few societies and there has been so much that I want to watch/listen to.

Bribie Genealogy 

Bribie RSL 

Our last Friday meeting of 2021 at the Bribie RSL was a big success with a number of us having lunch afterwards. We had our usual meeting bits and pieces and instead of a guest speaker, I gave them my Christmas genealogy quiz. Lots of fun and they can do some of the activities over December and January. Our next Friday meeting is in February which seems a long way off.

Our final Monday night meeting is this coming week and we are looking at different ways to approaching DNA matches. A useful and practical end to what has been a busy first year for our group.


This weekend has been very busy with THE Genealogy Show Winter Event on Friday and Saturday. I gave a talk on Australian asylum records and we have 30 days to watch all the presentations we couldn't watch live over the weekend. 

On the Sunday I was registered for the Scottish Indexes Conference which I love and not just because it is free to register. Lots of good speakers and topics. Handouts are also available online.

RootsTech 2022 has accepted two sessions from me. I am busily trying to get them down to 20 minutes each. Then I have to record them and send them off before 17 December. Plus do a handout which is the  easiest way to give attendees the URLs.

Genealogy Society Memberships

Genealogical Society of Queensland's mission -
love the concept of enriching
In my introduction I mentioned all the exciting things I have been watching and that's mostly due to my memberships. These give me access to society resources online and thanks to covid, access to some subscription sites. 

While preparing for my talk for Bribie Genealogy I had occasion to visit my Genealogical Society of Queensland members only area. I will admit it has been a while, but I was surprised to see what is now on offer to members. Some subscription sites can only be accessed in person at the Society's research rooms. 

From home I can currently access MyHeritage, The Genealogist, Roots Ireland, Irish Ancestors by John Grenham and the Biographical Database of Australia. There are limited 'virtual seats' but it is possible to gain access and research. 

If you are not a member of a genealogy/family history society, membership is a perfect Christmas gift. Just let the gift giver know which society you would like to join. Then enjoy 2022 exploring what's online in your pyjamas. No selfies! 

My son - will his son look like this?

We have now had the Gender Reveal Zoom party and I will be a first time grandmother to a baby boy. 

Odd thinking that he will have 25% of my genes. 

I have upgraded by brother's Y DNA with FamilyTree DNA to 111 markers as I have had a few closer matches in recent weeks. Stay tuned.

What's Coming Up?

Apart from the last meeting of Bribie Genealogy I have no more talks for 2021. 

My calendar for 2022 is looking busy and I have agreed to do three terms of genealogy topics at Bribie U3A. Plus Bribie Genealogy will be back on a monthly basis from February. A trip to Sweden is still on the calendar, covid permitting this year. I really want that white Christmas I have been promising myself for the last two years. With the added attraction of a grandchild now, it may even be more than one trip. 

There are some interesting conferences coming up in 2022 which will be in person, covid permitting. Let's all hope that the world starts to return to  more or less normal again. 

Writing Family Stories

I am in the final check stages for the Joseph Spencer family of Cosby, Leicestershire family history that is going out as a Christmas present (via Express Post at this point). At least in a Word document we can add in extra bits and pieces, especially if family members ask us to provide more information.

Have another good week of genealogy research, if you get the time. I will probably just work on talks or written histories but you never know when a rabbit hole will appear.

Stay safe and well.