Thursday 28 July 2022

Sands of Time speaker Eric Kopittke, National Family History Month & genealogy travels at last & other news : My Genealogy Weeks 16 - 31 July 2022

Norfolk Island 2007 holiday
In a few days time I will be once again geneatravelling to in person events in New Zealand and on Norfolk Island for the AFFHO congress. 

Catching up with friends and colleagues over a cup of coffee (or a wine or two). Seems like forever since the last geneaevent which was the last Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise to Kangaroo Island and Tasmania. 

Although we didn't end up getting to Tasmania as we were turned around by Covid. Thankfully we managed to get back to Queensland before it all got worse.


There hasn't been much time lately for blog writing but there is a National Family History Month blog challenge by Alexandra Daw, the NFHM coordinator. If you want to take part, it is simply a matter of doing a blog post every Sunday in August. For each week there are suggestions of what to blog about focussing on one of your ancestors. For more details see Alex's post here.

I hope to take part but will be away most of August so it will depend on how good all that free wifi is in the various places we are staying.

Bribie U3A & Bribie Genealogy

This term we are doing Scottish Genealogy at Bribie U3A. In doing the preparation for the weekly classes, I am happy to say that I am finding out new information on my own Scottish families. A bonus. A  few class members have already submitted their Scottish brick walls, so that will be challenging towards the end of the term.

The August meeting of Bribie Genealogy will be a Zoom meeting with Queensland State Archives telling us all about their records and how to have a successful visit. Like anything, it is all in the planning.


The second half of the year is a virtual (no pun intended) feast of genealogy conferences both online and in person.

I have already booked for the virtual Riding the Waves of History conference in September. Great value for money and you don't have to leave home. It is the annual conference of the NSW &ACT Family History Organistions.

Next is the Sands of Time conference at Redcliffe over the weekend of 21-23 October 2022.

I am both an Ambassador of the conference as well as one of the keynote speakers so I am really looking forward to spending a few days at Redcliffe. 

Meet one of the other great speakers, Eric Kopittke as he tells us a little about himself, his talk and what he hope to take away from the conference sessions.

  1. I have had a broad interest in family all my live having grown up amongst numbers of relatives from both sides of my family and have been actively researching my family history for nearly 40 years. Although most of my ancestors had origins in the former German Empire, my maternal grandmother was the daughter of English immigrants from Sussex and this has provided me with the opportunity to research and compare church and civil records from England and Germany.
  2. As part of a course with NIGS (National Institute for Gnealogical Studies) I read an article about the use of signatures to distinguish families of the same name in the West Country of England. Some of the men concerned had signed documents in their role as church wardens. I initially thought that the article was not relevant to my situation since I had not found any church wardens amongst my agricultural labourers, but I subsequently found that one of my ancestors signed three different marriage records.
  3. Attending a conference such as Sands of Time is a great way to catch up with other researchers and learning more about the history of our local area.

In November we then have the Family History Downunder 2022 event in Sydney. Another mega geneafeast which will be both in person and virtual. 

National Family History Month

Remember that August is National Family History Month in both Australia and New Zealand. With Covid still lurking around, many events are virtual. Check out the NFHM calendar for events that might interest you.

I'm starting off the month at the sold out AFFHO Congress on Norfolk Island. My presentation is Finding Love in Paradise: the Samuel Pyers/Sarah Johnson story. 

Then off to Auckland New Zealand for their annual Family History Expo where I am giving two talks - one on Trans Tasman mining ancestors and the other on Discovering Australian Convicts in the family. While there I will also give at presentation on It's Not All Online: Where Else Can I Look. The second half of the trip will be attending the Christchurch Family History Expo on the South Island. 

A busy NFHM for me this year. 


There have been a number of talks lately both in person and virtual. The last one was for the Genealogical Society of Queensland and was titled The Tail End of England: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. There was some lovely feedback from attendees and I do like giving people a different way of looking at their research.

What's Coming Up?

The next few weeks will be exciting as we enter airports again for the first time since March 2020. It's interesting to note that we are travelling with almost a pharmacy with our RAT tests, cold and flu tabs, lozenges, masks not to mention our usual medications. Times have changed and this will be our new norm I guess. 

If you are at any of the events I am attending, please come up and say hello.

Hopefully I will write a blog post or two about geneaevents I'm attending and keep you all up to date with geneanews. Take care, stay safe and until next time, happy searching. 

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Sands of Time keynote speaker Michelle Patient, AFFHO Congress 2022, NFHM & other news : My Genealogy Weeks 1-15 July 2022

Where did June disappear too? And now it is almost halfway through July. I have been totally absorbed in my project to downsize my family history library and family folders and binders. Not to mention trying to sort boxes of photographs and work out who is who in family albums. Most have been inherited from my grandmother and mother and simply put into the too hard basket. It is amazing how fast time goes when you are totally focussed on something. Plus it has been too cold to do anything outside. Can't remember when Queensland was last this cold!


Obviously I haven't written anything in the past month but I have committed to doing the National Family History Month blog challenge. Alex Daw is the new coordinator for NFHM in August and to support a good friend, I put my hand up. Most of August will be away from home in Norfolk Island or New Zealand, also on NFHM activities, but I will take a laptop and hope for some quiet time.

Bribie Genealogy

Our June meeting had a guest speaker from the National Archives of Australia, Brisbane Office which went really well. There were lots of questions and with the help of my phone, we even did some online searches of the database. Afterwards one of our members can up to me and said that when she put in her maiden name, she came up with a reference to herself. You never know what you might find in the archives!

Bribie U3A

For third term we are looking at Scottish Genealogy so that will be a challenge. I have only researched in Angus and Kincardine which is where my Carnegie and Stratton ancestors are from. 

John Carnegie and his wife Helen Stratton came out to Queensland in 1865 and their grave in the old Toorbul cemetery is the only surviving grave. It is a solid concrete base and the tombstone now lies flat on the grave. Toorbul is across Pumicestone Passage and opposite Bribie Island where I live. Strange to think they settled there back in the 1870s.


I have booked my seat at the virtual NSW & ACT Conference Riding the Waves of History in September. There is a great line up of speakers and interesting talks and all very affordable with no travel costs or accommodation needed. I had been looking forward to doing some research in Newcastle on Dad's family connections but may have to be a separate trip now.

Sands of Time is coming up and I am an ambassador for the conference as well as a keynote speaker.

One of the other keynote speakers is a friend, Michelle Patient and her session looks at DNA and emerging technology and is titled Where to Next. Michelle has a very interesting background as the following bio outlines. What she hopes to gain from attending Sands of Time is also included.

"Descended from engineers, blacksmiths and mechanics it seems inevitable that Michelle has an interest in technology as a tool for researching family history. Apart from being a genealogist and DNA enthusiast, she has qualifications in Chemistry, Geology and Family History and has worked in engineering laboratories and IT.

Growing up with a grandmother whose family stories, photographs, and memorabilia sparked her life-long interest in genealogy. In 1987 Michelle began searching for her English half-sister whom she met in 1993, and in 2005 she reconnected her mother with her birth family. With ancestry ranging from Deep English on her paternal side, she has early Australian military and convicts, Australian & New Zealand early colonists on her maternal side, her personal research covers a wide range of British Isles Diasporas and early Down Under research. She has separated facts from fiction, uncovering stories of will disputes, adoptions, children being given away, bankruptcies, and murder-suicides.


Adding DNA research to her genealogy tool kit has increased the range of Michelle’s methods, revealed skeletons, and broken down many brick walls. Michelle is an active member of the Society of Australian Genealogists and the Guild of One Name Studies, is a member of APG and is the DNA consultant behind the Australian SBS TV series Every Family has a Secret . Since March 2020 Michelle co-hosts the fortnightly Talking Family History virtual lounge with Fiona Brooker."


What am I hoping for?

I hope my closing address will help motivate and inspire attendees to focus the information they have learnt over the weekend, improving their research skills and by applying new technologies, help gather new evidence and as well as become more efficient and effective in their genealogy practice.

Personally I am really looking forward to chatting with people in real life and feeling the vibe and buzz of the event, so excited to be able to being with so many from around Queensland, as well as interstate.


One thing I did do in June was talk and both in person and virtual. The lovely people at Monash Library in Melbourne asked me back for a session on online newspapers both in Australia and in Britain and Ireland.

It was great to visit the Strathpine Library family history group again and my talk there was on convicts. 

The slides to both talks are on my website under the Resources page. 

What's Coming Up?

In our convict outfits with the Commandant
Starting to get excited about the AFFHO Congress on Norfolk Island which is now sold out. We fly out at the end of July for a week and I have one talk on Max's convict ancestors Samuel Pyers and Susannah Johnson who married there during the First Settlement. 

We have been twice before but looking forward to another visit. 

After a quick trip home, we are heading out again to New Zealand for the Family History expo  where I am giving a session on Trans Tasman miners and a talk at Auckland Library on Where Else Can I Look.

 After some time at Rotorua it is down to Christchurch for there NFHM expo and some time at Queenstown before heading back home.

These will be our first trips overseas since covid so hopefully everything will go smoothly. I am really looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues in person. Email and Zoom is not quite the same. 

Hoping everyone stays safe and well in this third covid wave. Keep researching and writing those family stories. Until next time, Shauna