Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tree complete?

FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH | 1001759128

This ad on Gumtree surprised me. T. Metcalf in Perth is offering his/her services to research others' family trees at a moderate price because he/she enjoys the thrill of the chase and has completed his/her own tree.

Most genealogists never get around to completing their trees!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Better then Bricks

A popular way to memorialise ancestors and raise funds for charitable organisations is to place bricks in a memorial wall or path. Descendants pay/donate $50 or more for a brick that is then inscribed with their ancestor's details and installed in a memorial. Examples of this in Australia include Gympie's Memorial  Lane and Adelaide's Settlement Square.

Today while holidaying in Western Australia I found a variation on this theme along the beachside path at Rockingham.  Set into the path are granite plates about 40 cm square inscribed with details of pioneers of the area; these contained more information than what I have seen inscribed on brick walls and paths elsewhere. Use of such tiles for similar purposes may be common but it was the first instance I have seen of it.

My reference source Trove tells me "The Waterfront Pioneer Rotary Walk has ninety-nine historical granite tiles installed creating a public art walk along the boardwalk. Art Researchers Artists Arif and Audrey Satar consulted with the students from Rockingham Senior High School, community groups and the Rockingham Historical Society in designing the walk."

I photographed around 20 of these tiles that I will post on this blog from time to time. You can read the stories on two of them here.



While I was there I was wishing that I could upload images of these tiles to a site such as BillionGraves.


Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a site that allowed one to photograph, save GPS details and inscribe details of these and other monuments around the world.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Do you know Margeret Thorson?

This photo of a cute little girl and her doll's pram taken in 1937 near Canowindra, NSW is from my Uncle Kevin's Album. I have found references to a Thorson family in Canowindra on Trove and Ancestry so guess that she was a local at the time.

I would be happy to send a high resolution copy of this image to Margeret or her descendants.


Monday, April 23, 2012

His luck ran out

This post was prepared for the ANZAC Day Blog Challenge organised by Auckland City Libraries. 

William James Gowans enlisted on 17 August 1914  and set sail from Sydney on 20 October 1914 on HMAT Euripides.

His war service file at The National Archives of Australia indicates that Private William James Gowans wrenched his knee while carrying ammunition at Gallipoli on 25/4/1915.  It appears as though Gowans must have carried on with his soldiering activities as he is reported as receiving a bullet wound to the head on 27/4/1915.

A Sydney Morning Herald article  "Heroes of the Dardanelles" on 18/5/1915 reported:

William James Gowans
PRIVATE W. J. GOWANS (Petersham).

Wounded.

 PRIVATE W. J. GOWANS.

Private W. J. Gowans, of B. Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade, who has been reported wounded, is 24 years or age. He is an engineer by trade, and is a son of Mr. W. P. Gowans, St. Leonards, 188 Albany-road, Petersham.


In a medical report dated 19/11/1915 the following treatment was ordered "Major Wade suggests one month's fun then treatment".

William, my husband's great-uncle, was 23 years and 10 months when he joined the AIF on the 24th September 1914. He was discharged to Australia on 16th October 1915 on the Beltana and discharged as unfit for service on 13th August 1916. No doubt William felt fortunate in having survived the carnage at Gallipoli.  William received a pension of three pounds per fortnight from the government from 14/8/1916 ; I do not know if he was able to return to his work as an engineer.

William can be counted among the lucky ones who returned to Australia. His luck, however, was shortlived; this notice appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald of 12/5/1919:


GOWANS.-May 10, 1919, in his 29th year. William
James Gowans, late 4th Batt., A.I.F., eldest son of  
William P and Eliza Ann Gowans, of Mena, Eu-
rella-street. Burwood.

Older family members have indicated that William was a victim of the flu epidemic of 1919. William is buried in the Old Presbyterian Section of Rookwood Cemetery. His untended grave surrounded by rubbish is deteriorating; I took my photographs about ten years ago before we cleaned away the undergrowth. 


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Farewell Picture Australia

I have noticed recently that a couple of genealogists have referred others to Picture Australia to search for images from the National Library of Australia's collection. In one seminar I attended the presenter told me that Picture Australia held different images from Trove. I didn't want to argue but put it on my list to check out later.

I was under the impression that all of Picture Australia's images were available through Trove. I just checked the Picture Australia site to find here that this has been the case since 2009. As a result I have been using Trove exclusively to locate images.

What I had missed was the April 18 2012 announcement, Picture Australia with a new lensindicating that "Over the next two months, the Library will be integrating some essential Picture Australia discovery functions into Trove, and switching off its separate user interface at www.pictureaustralia.org." June 30th  2012 is the anticipated date for this change.

I also noticed on Flickr that the Picture Australia Group has been renamed Trove: Australia in Pictures. "

If you are using Picture Australia for image searches it is now time to move over to Trove.




Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Question for Jill....

As I perused my social media sites this morning I came across this post on Facebook from my US mate, Bill West.



The Four Ws, Who, What, Where and When popped into my head when I read this. Without knowing what it is Bill's friend wants to find it is difficult to suggest specific sites. So what I will do is share some of my favourite sites for Aussie research (in no particular order). As my ancestors lived in New South Wales my favourites are biased towards this state, other states will have similar resources.

I won't include sites that outline the principles of genealogy research as these are universal and Bill will be able to assist his friend in this regard. I would also suggest that Bill's friend join a local genealogy or historical society for the localities in which he has interests. Many small rural societies have valuable records and home grown databases that are not available online.

Free Sites


Subscription Sites - Many public libraries in Australia provide free access to these

No doubt as soon as I hit publish on this post I will think of other sites that I should have included but this list should keep Bill's friend amused for a while. I expect that some of my Australian mates will add comments that refer to their favourite sites.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Guess who is coming to Town?

Audrey Collins and Jill Ball - Rootstech 2012
I am thrilled that Audrey Collins, my mate and Family History Specialist at The National Archives in Kew, is coming to my town. She has an incredible amount of knowledge and genealogy related trivia filed away in that head of hers. Into the bargain she is an entertaining and down to earth presenter with a terrific sense of humour. Audrey's presentations will eclipse the keynotes I have heard recently. Audrey's blog posts on The Family Recorder give some indication of her areas of expertise and her subject knowledge; they are must reads in my RSS feeds.

If you don't live in Sydney there is no cause for despair; Audrey is also visiting Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne during her tour. Dates and details can be found here on the Unlock the Past site. I am going along to hear Audrey in both Brisbane and Sydney.

You'd be crazy to miss an opportunity to hear Audrey.

Disclosure: Audrey is a mate of mine whom I first met at Rootstech 2011. I caught up with her again at The National Archives in Kew last year and at Rootstech 2012 we co-presented on an international panel. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Geneabloggers' Geneameme

Yesterday I was thinking that it's about time for another Geneameme but I couldn't think of an idea for one. I was sitting at my kitchen table just now when inspiration struck.  It will be a Geneameme focusing on Geneablogs. I hope it will be a bit more popular than my last one: The Reader Geneameme (Contributions still welcome).

Hopefully it will give you an opportunity to tell others the who, why, when and how of your Geneablog.

I'll let my ideas ferment for a day or two and publish the questions soon. Should you have any suggestions for my 20-25 questions please let me know. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Christos Anesti!

Getting Ready to Crack the Greek Red Easter Eggs
Mr Geniaus and I only have proven ancestors from the British Isles although I am about 90% sure that I have some Australian Aboriginal blood. I live in hope that I can one day find evidence, either through DNA or in some records that may come to light in the future, to prove this beyond reasonable doubt.

Since the marriages of our children there is now Dutch, Greek and Maltese ancestry in the family. Some of our grandchildren have one or more of these lines in their trees and this has been providing new challenges for their grandmother who wants to research their ancestry!

Last night we celebrated Greek Easter with some of the grandchildren who had been busy preparing traditional red eggs for our Easter Feast. We learnt from this four year old that one should say  "Christos Anesti!" or "Christ is risen!" and "Kalo Pashcha!" or "Beautiful Easter." We also learnt that these eggs represent the Blood of Christ and rebirth. 


Our lives have been enriched by learning about the traditions and cultures of the lands of our grandchildren's ancestors.

Promoting Australian Genealogy Blogs

Along with a handful of other Australian Genealogy Blogs this blog, Geniaus, has been nominated in the Best Australian Blogs Competition for 2012. That more than one person nominated my blog is a great compliment. I thank those who took the time to nominate Geniaus.


Wouldn't it be a feather in the cap for Australian Geneablogging if some Australian Genealogy blogs were to earn a place in the list of finalists of the People's Choice Award. Your help is needed to make this happen. The voting site is a bit of a pain to negotiate but please have a go and encourage your friends to vote before April 26th. Voting is not restricted to Australia. You can vote from anywhere in the world.

The Australian Genealogy Blogs that I know about on the list are: 

Diary of an Australian Genealogist - Shauna Hicks
From Helen V Smith's Keyboard
Genealogy and History News - Gould Genealogy
Geniaus - Jill Ball
Lynne Bell Sanders





Do you know E Boatswain?

In this photo taken in or near Canowindra, NSW in 1941 is on the left my uncle, Kevin Curry and another young man, E Boatswain.

If he was the same age as Kevin young Boatswain would have been around 16 in 1941. Perhaps he was a son of Ernest Arthur and Emma Mary who lived in Canowindra around this time.

If you know this Boatswain chap please let me know and I will send a copy of the photo to him.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lullabies

Playing in my Grandmother's garden
One of the grandchildren who is having a sleepover at our home tonight has a bit of a lengthy bedtime ritual. As well as storytime there is "My Day" in which he and whomever is settling him down recount and share with each other the events of the day. We managed to get through these without waking his little sister who was asleep in the same room.

When he requested the lullaby that "Mummy always sings" I was flummoxed - for one thing I can't sing and secondly he couldn't recall the words of the lullaby so I could have a crack at it. As he was quite insistent I dug down into my long-term memory and recalled a little prayer that my paternal grandmother used to say to me when I stayed with her overnight.

My grandson was quite happy with the "lullaby" that my grandmother used to share with me and has now settled down for the night.

There are four corners on my bed
There are four angels overhead
Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John 
God bless this bed I lay upon.
My grandmother, Mary Tierney

I have just found the second verse to this on the internet but am glad that I hadn't recalled and shared it with my grandson as he is a sensitive little boy.

And if I die before I wake
I pray to God my sould to take,
And if any evil comes to me,
Blessed Lady waken me.

I am now recalling the many happy times I spent with my grandmother, Mary Tierney, at Brighton-le-sands during regular visits and in school holidays and wishing that I had listened more intently to her stories. I can, however, more than fifty years later remember all of the words of the hymns she used to sing with me!

Caroline Chisholm

I turned green with envy when, earlier this week, I saw a photo on Facebook of my GeniMate, Sharon Brennan, posing beside Caroline Chisholm's grave in Billing Road Cemetery outside London.

http://image1.findagrave.com/photos250/photos/2008/247/27034110_122057179528.jpg
Sharon's subsequent blog post told of why Caroline Chisholm was important to her and why she made the journey to Billing Road. I made a comment that  Caroline Chisholm  was important to me because her interview with my convict ancestor, Patrick Curry, was published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1848. Having access to this interview gives me an insight into Paddy's life on Camden Park Estate that I would not otherwise have had.

As my blog has a few more readers than it had when I posted the following to a Carnival of Genealogy in August 2010; I will repost it here for new readers to see.


The Gift of the Gab

My ancestor Patrick "Paddy" Curry as an Irishman from Limerick probably had the gift of the gab but, as he died 130 years ago, I never had the chance to meet him.

Fortunately some of Patrick's words were preserved in a Sydney Morning Herald article from Thursday 8 June 1848. This and many other great stories can be found at The National Library Of Australia's Trove website.

For this 21st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy I am posting a copy of that article in which Paddy demonstrates that he had The Gift of the Gab.

Sydney Morning Herald 8 June 1848
 This post has been prepared for  the 21st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

Friday, April 13, 2012

Yet Another Connection


It never ceases to amaze me how many people contact me after doing a Google search for an ancestor or family member.

www.geniaus.net
They are directed from their Google search to either my family website or this blog. A few of these ask me for further information on their ancestors, some ask me to do their research for them, some are from people who wish to correct my data and some are from people who share information that may unlock a family mystery for me while helping them break down a brick wall. This morning brought a new connection that promises to share some juicy information on early 20th century cousins.

I used to allow others to download a gedcom file from my website but since I have found my data appearing on other websites and on Ancestry I have disallowed this. I know it is my data because these people have copied holus bolus and even included the sometimes cryptic notes I have attached to people in my tree. So much of the stuff people have copied years ago is now also out of date. I also started to put old family photos on my website but stopped this practice when I found them appearing unsourced on Ancestry. I do not post certificates on the internet as I believe that, in many cases, this breaches copyright.

What I find interesting is that many people think that their trees are 'done' once they have copied some data. If you take some info from my site please firstly verify the sources yourself (some of my stuff isn't well sourced) and please revisit regularly to see if I have added to or amended the records for the persons in whom you have an interest. My site is dynamic, a work in progress, and is continually being updated.

I usually update my site every couple of weeks but, as I have been travelling since late January, only got around to updating it  to reflect my last three months of dabbling yesterday. Already this is out of date as last night and today I spent quite some time fixing sources, visiting new indexes on Ancestry, and searching new sources like the digitised newspapers at Singapore's National Library.







Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spine Tingling Stuff

Sometimes one is bowled over by a presentation or talk. That was my experience earlier today. Thanks to Cassie Mercer from Inside History Magazine who invited me to this talk which was part of The Free History Group Series at Randwick Library


Paul O'Keefe and Geniaus at Randwick Library
Last week I wrote of my disappointment with the recent Keynotes at the 2012 Genealogy Congress in Adelaide; today I heard a talk that left the presentations in Adelaide for dead. At this event at Randwick Branch Library in the Sydney's Eastern Suburbs I sat beside two geneabloggers, Sharn White  and Shauna Hicks who were similarly affected by the talk "The Girl Who Loved Ned Kelly".


Paul O'Keefe is the great-great-grandson of Ettie Hart, the girl that he posits was notorious bushranger Ned Kelly's lover. Having heard Paul's talk I tend to agree. Family stories handed down through the generations in Paul's family had told of Ettie's liaison with Ned Kelly but these were only stories. Paul has spent the last ten years carefully researching this story and has amassed an enormous amount of evidence to support his theory.


Paul delivered his amazing and controversial story with passion, warmth and humour. His talk was illustrated with a rich collection of images that seamlessly integrated with his words to add a visual dimension to the story. The only criticism I have is that Paul read his story but this was only its second public airing. Once he becomes more comfortable he will be able to connect even more with his audience. Today he held the audience in the palm of his hand; some of his revelations caused shivers down my spine. 


In my recent post about keynotes I stated that "I expect a keynote to do more than one of these things: Inspire, Challenge, Educate, Engage, Entertain and Inform." Paul's talk delivered on each of these. Genealogy and Local History Societies and Local Libraries in Sydney should be forming a line to book Paul for their meetings. After the talk I felt like going out, hiring a venue and promoting Paul. His talk centered on one of Australia's most infamous characters, it challenged history and it demonstrated that thorough research can pay dividends. 


Paul's contact details can be found on his website Neducate.


The best things in life are sometimes free.



Monday, April 9, 2012

Billion Graves

On our recent trip we travelled back to Sydney via a few towns where some ancestors buried.

One of the cemeteries I had previously visited in Cobar many years ago but the images I had taken of my grandparents' headstones were poor quality. I wanted to rephotograph these and also look for other family resting spots. The two other cemeteries where I managed to find some family graves, in Broken Hill and Forbes, were new to me.

Locating the graves in each of these sites wasn't particularly easy. In Cobar and Forbes there was no resource available to pinpoint the graves' exact location; the map of Broken Hill Cemetery that was available by the Cemetery gate was quite confusing even for Mr Geniaus who is not spatially challenged like me.

Ben Hall the Bushranger - Forbes Cemetery
In order to make it easy for cousins who may be seeking these graves in the future I added each of them to Billiongraves. The GPS coordinates that Billiongraves attaches to these images will make finding them in the future much easier for those who make use of the Billiongraves site or app.

As we were on a tight time schedule I could not commit myself to photographing all of the graves in each of these cemeteries. I did, however, take and upload a few rows of headstones  around the graves I was visiting in Cobar and Broken Hill.

In less than half an hour I was able to photograph over 100 images in Cobar cemetery. These are now available on Billiongraves site; those who wish to visit these graves can use the GPS coordinates to locate them efficiently.

How about joining and downloading the  Billiongraves  app to your Android or other device so that you can contribute to the database when you find yourself (above ground) in a cemetery. While in a cemetery take some time to photograph a row or two of graves. This is a painless and enjoyable way of helping others connect with their ancestors.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Trove Talk at Hornsby Library

I got quite a shock yesterday when someone at my family history group told me they had read about my forthcoming talk at Hornsby Library in a local paper and they had read that it was on yesterday.

I have checked the local papers and found one snippet about my talk in The Bush Telegraph that has the correct date of May 4th and a couple of references to it being on another date. The Library website also has it listed at 4th of May so I need no longer panic, I just hope no-one turned up on the incorrect date.
Snippet from The Bush Telegraph
If you are within cooee of Hornsby and would like to learn about Trove I'd love to share my experiences with you.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Congress - PMI

PMI (Plus, Minus,Interesting) is a simple tool I use when evaluating events, places, decisions.

I have already talked at length about the Keynotes at Congress which I found disappointing. My general feelings about the event, however, were positive. Following is the result of a personal brainstorm, organised under the headings Plus, Minus and Interesting, that I have conducted over the past few days .

Plus
* Comfortable purpose built conference facility with easy access to accommodation, transport and city centre.
* Smooth registration process
* The affable volunteers on the registration/enquiries desk
* The bright vests on the organisers/volunteers made them easy to identify
* The period costumes worn by South Australians at the Welcome Reception
* Meals served in Exhibition Area so attendees could browse and Sponsors and Exhibitors could have good exposure
* Opportunities to network with fellow genealogists, meet old friends and make new ones
* A chairperson was assigned to each session to introduce and thank speakers
* Most sessions were conducted on one level of the complex so there were few stairs to climb
* Movement of people from one room to another was smoothly accomplished
* The method of table allocation for the dinner was equitable and well organised
* The coffee machines at morning and afternoon teas were appreciated by many
* The size font used on name tags was easy to read
* The colour coded system of bars and dots for distinguishing types of attendee was simple and effective
* I was pleased to be able to register for the dinner at the Congress
* The organising published a Social Media Policy in the program
* The tweets sent during the sessions added an extra dimension and were a valuable resource to inform us of what was happening in concurrent sessions. Reading through the full list of tweets is an interesting exercise
* There were plenty of power outlets around the venue so attendees could charge their mobile devices
* Morning and afternoon tea and lunchtimes were of a suitable length to allow all to be fed and watered in comfort

Minus
* Catering at Welcome Reception was very poor
* Conference attendees were not advised of the free wifi connection available at the venue
* Lack of seating in meals area
* There has been no evaluation instrument distributed to atteendees so far
* That the conference proceedings were only available in hard copy and were not distributed until the close of the conference. Many attendees wanted to use the proceedings to annotate with their own notes.
* The large font used in the proceedings caused it to be many pages long and the weight of a brick
* Two papers were missing from the proceedings
* There were only a few sessions dealing with technology and genealogy and those few offered were at a very basic level
* The exhibitors package did not include catering for a least two persons per stand
* Conference website was difficult to navigate - finding the daily timetable and the past issues of newsletters was challenging
* If the lanyards would have been adjustable some vertically challenged attendees may not have been wearing their names down near their waists
* The program lacked descriptions of the sessions - 50 word descriptions would have assisted with session choice (especially when we had no proceedings for reference)

Interesting
* The choice of an amateur square dancing group as entertainment at the Congress Dinner
* That Jan Gow appeared to be the only speaker from New Zealand at an Australasian Conference
* There appeared to be a lot of sessions devoted to Familysearch
* Heraldry did not appear to be well covered in the program
* That the call for papers closed so far in advance of the conference
* The overly trendy sandwich fillings at lunch - by day 4 I was hankering for vegemite or peanut butter
* That presenters' powerpoint presentations have not been made available
* As well as name of attendee - a place of residence would have enhanced the name tags
* Most sessions were 60 minutes in length. There were no poster sessions and few (or was it one) longer  in depth sessions
* There were no 'unconferencing' sessions
* If there was a noticeboard for attendees to use it was not publicised

What would you add to this list?


Col. John Campbell JP (1770-1827) of Lochend and Bungarribee, NSW, Australia

I noticed a post from a fellow member of the Rootstech Parramatta list about John Campbell and offered to  post the request on this blog. My offer was accepted.

Should you have any information please contact the researcher directly by email at bungarribee@optusnet.com.au. The message follows:

Hello,

 As I near completion of collecting and transcribing source documents,  to
 assist with an accurate portrayal of John and Annabella Campbell,  and
Bungarribee… am hoping to make contact with descendants,  in the search
 for early letters and documents (or anything at all).

John Campbell of Lochend (a Title rarely used if at all in Australia),
grew up on the estate of Ardmaddy Castle,  and like his father and
grandfather,  was also a Chamberlain,  working for Lord MacDonald on Skye.
He then farmed privately at Kingsburgh,  when c.1816,  the family took up
residence at Lochend (ie., Kinlochlaich),  Appin (owned since the early
1800s).  Appin was their second home,  where they had maintained dual
residences since the late 1790s.





Friday, April 6, 2012

Keynotes

Having sat through and having been underwhelmed by most of the keynote presentations at Congress has caused me to reflect on what I expect from a keynote presentation.

Image Source
Am I being harsh in expecting a keynote presenter to display passion for his/her subject, to tailor the talk for the particular audience, to have sufficient slides and content to fill the alloted time and to have a coherently organised presentation?  Keynote presenters should also know their subject and not have to read from a prepared speech.


I expect a keynote to do more than one of these things: Inspire, Challenge, Educate, Engage, Entertain and Inform. It is a privilege and an honour to be invited to present a keynote; a sense of responsibility and ethical behaviour should be demonstrated by those given this honour.


Julie Arduini says "Keynote presentations are motivational speeches designed to excite the audience for the rest of the event. When keynote presenters deliver a speech, they know what aids to bring and implement to supplement their speech. Keynote speakers have public speaking experience and are known for their ability to educate, inform and entertain."


So how did the keynotes at Congress measure up? Thankfully the opening keynote of the Conference, Colleen Fitzpatrick, did not disappoint. She displayed a passion for her field of forensic genealogy while informing us and challenging us to think outside the square. That she tugged at our emotions was a bonus. I enjoyed her keynote so much that I attended two more of her talks.


Sadly none of the other keynote speakers similarly affected me. Daniel Horowitz started off well by connecting with the audience, injecting humour into his talk and having good supporting slides. After his first 25 minutes of talking about his advertised topic he digressed. That he used the remaining half of his talk to promote his company's product to the exclusion of other products was unethical and unforgiveable.

Jenny Higgins from the National Library of Australia gave an informative presentation on the services of the Library that would have been a good ordinary session. Jenny read her prepared talk causing her to lose eye contact with the audience and thus spontaneity. This competent presentation was well-prepared, supported by appropriate slides and full of information for those who do not use the services of our National Library

Chair of the Federation of Family History Societies, David Holman's after lunch keynote "Fascinating facts and figures" captivated the audience with his unique perspective. David's talk was pure entertainment that got us thinking. He displayed a great depth of knowledge of and a passion for his subject. Another blogger Kylie Willison said: "I thoroughly enjoyed David’s talk as I’m sure many people did going by the audience’s laughter.  David shared figures of the most common surnames and forenames in different countries.   He also spoke about uncommon and funny names and combinations of fore and surnames.  I didn’t write anything down because I was so interested and entertained by what David was saying." David was a worthy keynote presenter.


John Kitzmiller finished his talk and slides in 25 minutes. He then spent the remainder of his time waffling on about this and that. This was unforgiveable in a keynote - did he not have a practice run and time himself before he presented? Another blogger commented that he should have let us go early and enjoy a longer morning tea break.

I missed Vicki Eldridge's keynote as I was busy working on a stand in the Exhibition Hall so I am unable to comment on her talk.

Stephen Young from Familysearch managed to spend an hour delivering a commonsense message, "Descendancy research: when you can't climb up your family tree, branch out", that could have been delivered in ten minutes. The content and topic of this talk was not appropriate for a keynote presentation.

I had heard Dan Poffenberger's talk on handwriting analysis and was impressed by his relaxed style, good content and sense of humour. Dan's closing keynote "Familysearch 2012 and beyond" confused me. The news Dan related seemed to differ from what I had heard at the Rootstech Conference in February. Dan just didn't seem to have the depth of knowledge of the Familysearch organisation that the speakers at Rootstech possessed.

Some of the American presenters did not tailor their presentations to Australian audiences but just presented talks previously prepared for US audiences. Quite a number of attendees commented on this issue. Some of the keynote presenters used the same examples in their keynotes that they used in breakout sessions; keynotes deserve all new material.

Most of these sessions should not have been labelled as keynotes but rather as plenary or general sessions that all members of a group attend. Some would have been better as breakout sessions.

Only two of the Keynotes were from Australians and one was from a Brit. There was not a Kiwi in sight; I found this strange in a Conference that is billed as Australasian.  Having four Keynote presenters from the US confounded me. The Congress was billed as "on Genealogy & Heraldry" yet none of the Keynotes addressed the topic of Heraldry.

From my perspective the programming was the weak point of this event that I otherwise thoroughly enjoyed.

What do you expect from a Keynote?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fab Find in Forbes

For our homeward journey from Congress in Adelaide we took the long way round. We had never visited the outback City of Broken Hill but had been wanting to do so for a number of years. Taking this route through western New South Wales provided, in addition to some sightseeing, an opportunity to visit a few cemeteries.

In Broken Hill I looked for my grandmother's sister's grave but could not find her listed in the Broken Hill Cemetery database even though I have her funeral notice indicating that she was buried in the Catholic Section of that Cemetery. I did, however, locate a few graves of more distant relatives in that cemetery.

My Great-Grandparent's headstone in Cobar
Our next stop was Cobar where I wanted to get better quality images of my Duncan Great-Grandparents' grave. This we accomplished early in the morning after we had been repelled by the over 100f. temperatures on the afternoon we arrived. I also wanted to locate Elsinore, the property my grandparents, my  mother and the family lived on in the 1920s and 1930s. The staff at Great Cobar Heritage and Visitor Information Centre went out of their way to help us but we were unable to locate Elsinore on maps in the Centre. I was pleased to see that there was a huge photo of my Granddfather's catering truck in one of the displays and in another display a large photo of Gertrude Pusell, another of my grandmother's sisters.


About another 300 km down the road was Forbes. I knew that my Great-Great-Grandmother, Bridget Curry (Nee Ryan), was buried in the cemetery there and wanted to visit and take a photo. While we were travelling along I discovered on the internet that The Forbes Family History Group was open yesterday, Wednesday; we did not tarry as I was keen to visit the group to see if they could direct me to the grave and hopefully give me some other information on the family. I have never been able to locate any information about Bridget's family or her immigration as there are so many girls named Bridget Ryan in the NSW immigration records.


Volunteers at work - Forbes Family History Group
 As I gingerly opened the door of the centre I was greeted by laughter and happy chatter; tiptoeing into the room I found around ten people working away at tables and computers. They appeared to be engrossed in indexing tasks. I was greeted warmly and within ten minutes a volunteer, Jan, had found the grave location in their cemetery index. Another volunteer was concurrently looking in other files for me; she found an obituary for Bridget. At first I wasn't too impressed as I already had an obituary from the Sydney newspaper that didn't tell me much; then I stopped and read the proffered obituary; it was a more detailed one from the local, Forbes Times. I let out a squeal.
Bridget Curry (nee Ryan) Obituary


For twenty years I had been trying to find out more about Bridget and this scrap of paper gave me some wonderful leads. It listed Bridget's children confirming their places of residence in 1911. The best piece of information was that she had a brother who was a pioneer priest in New South Wales. From using the clues supplied in this article I have, in a couple of hours, found so much about the interesting life of Rev Michael Harrington Ryan and also that Bridget had a sister who had emigrated to the Colony with her husband Peter Birmingham in 1842. Once I can get to some libraries and use print resources I should be able to add more branches and leaves to my tree. I also need to go through the microfilm of The Forbes Times to see if I can get a clearer copy of the document.


Forbes Family History Group
I was so impressed with the collection at The Forbes Family History Group; it isn't a collection that is rich in published print resources, its strength is in the huge collection of locally prepared indexes and files that were stored around the walls in A4 folders. I am ever so grateful to the volunteers in that group who have devoted many hours to developing these local resources.

I cannot express how thankful I am for the work done by The Forbes Family History Group.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Compilation of Congress Posts

There was a team of Australian Geneabloggers at Congress in Adelaide last week who have and will blog about their experiences of the event.

I will attempt to post a full list of links to those posts here so that others can easily access in one place a variety of reflections and opinions about the goings on at Congress. I have been mulling over the best way to organise this list - by blogger's name, by post name or by time posted. I am opting for a  loose chronological arrangement.  Should you notice any omissions from the list or find some new posts please let me know.

March 27 2012
At 13th Australasian Genealogy and Heraldry Congress - Shauna Hicks
Blogger Bling - Geneabloggers -  Are you Ready? - Jill Ball
Congress Welcome - The People that you Meet - Jill Ball
Registered - Jill Ball
Tuesday Pre-Congress Activities - Helen V Smith
Pre-Congress visit to Adelaide Migration Museum - Helen V Smith

March 28 2012
AFFHO 2012 Congress Day 1 - Helen V Smith
AFFHO Congress 2012 - Day 1 - Jenny Joyce
Congress - Exhibition Hall - Jill Ball
Congress - Genealogists for Families Dinner - Jill Ball
Congress - The People that you Meet - Day 1 - Jill Ball
Find a Treasure Trove in Australia - James Tanner
Genealogists for Families Dinner - Kylie Willison
Genealogy notes 28 March 2012 - Day 1 of AFFHO Congress - Shauna Hicks
True Love - Jill Ball

March 29 2012
AFFHO Congress 2012 - Day 2 - Jenny Joyce
Family Archives - Jill Ball
Lord Mayoral Reception 1 - Jill Ball
Lord Mayoral Reception 2 - Jill Ball

March 30 2012
AFFHO Congress - Days 3&4 - Jenny Joyce
AFFHO Congress Dinner - Helen V Smith
Congress 2012 Day 2 - Helen V Smith
Congress - More People that you Meet - Jill Ball
Genealogy notes 29 March 2012 - Day 2 of AFFHO Congress - Shauna Hicks
Genealogy notes 30 March 2012 - Day 3 of AFFHO Congress - Shauna Hicks
My Pal - Flip-Pal - Jill Ball

March 31 2012
Congress Dinner - Jill Ball
Genealogy notes 31 March 2012 - Day 4 of AFFHO Congress - Shauna Hicks
Social Media Mob - Jill Ball

April 1 2012
My Geneablogger Friends and me at Congress 2012 - Alona Tester

April 2 2012
Back from the Adelaide Genealogy Congress - Allen Evans
Thirteenth Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry Adelaide 2012 - Kylie Willison
Visit to Adelaide and Congress 2012 - Kerry Farmer

April 3 2012
Congress Days 3 and 4 - Helen V Smith

April 4 2012
Day Three - Thirteenth Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry - Kylie Willison

April 5 2012
My Roundup of the Australasian Congress 2012 - Alona Tester
Day Four - Thirteenth Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry - Kylie Willison

April 6 2012
Keynotes - Jill Ball
Overview of 2012 heraldry and Genealogy Congress - Shauna Hicks

April 7 2012
Adelaide Congress 2012 Photos on Google+ - Carole Riley
Congress PMI - Jill Ball

April 10 2012
Adelaide and ancestry, 28 to 31 March 2012 - Anne -Family Matters 

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