Thursday, March 31, 2016

Answer to a Facebook Message

I recently got this message in my Facebook stream:

"Hi Jill! Happy Easter!Have you done any blog posts or instructions about how to start a one name study? A man in Vic &  I have *Surname* from County Clare &  we're keen to start a study, but not sure where to start. Thanks".

Well, I have started a Surname study, CurryAus, but even though I am a beginner I have some ideas to share. I thought it would be easiest to do this in a video where I can share my screen so here goes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Trove Tuesday - Camellias

As I gaze out my window this morning I see that a few of my Camellias are beginning to bloom. Camellias are among my favourite plants and, although I haven't counted, I estimate that I have well over fifty camellia plants of various ages and varieties in my garden. There were only two when we moved into the place but each year since we arrived we have added a few more to the collection

I love them because they survive with little care, do not need much water and the rabbits that infest our property have not acquired a taste for them. I was wondering when Camellias first appeared in Australia so, as it's Trove Tuesday, I turned to Trove.

I learnt from The Launceston Advertiser that in 1835 "Mr. Short.who has arrived by the Lloyds, is, we learn, an experienced naturalist, and the intimate friend of Dr. Hooker of Glasgow, he has, we learn, brought over a very valuable collection of plants, wanting in the colony, and the beautiful ca-mellia now in the garden of Mr. R C. Gunn, of Launceston, was sent out by him." (1835 'No title', Launceston Advertiser (Tas. : 1829 - 1846), 10 September, p. 3. , viewed 29 Mar 2016,

In 1842 Camellias were exhibited in Sydney at a "Floral and Horticultural Exhibition" at the Markets. Mr R Henderson was awarded a 1st minor prize for Camellias. (1842 'FLORAL AND HORTICULTURAL EXHIBITION.', The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), 16 September, p. 2. , viewed 29 Mar 2016,

By 1847 John McMahon of Camden, NSW is advertising Useful and Ornamental Plants for sale which include "" Several hundred species and varieties of Tree Shrubs, and other Plants, including fifteen 
varieties of Camellia; 6 species Magnolia; 11 varieties Nerium or Laurel Rose : 6 [?] Viburnum; ,10 species Passion Flowers ; 40 varieties of Roses, &c., &c" (1847 'USEFUL AND ORNAMENTAL PLANT'S', The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), 13 July, p. 4. , viewed 29 Mar 2016,").

A lengthy article offering advice for the camellia gardener also appeared in 1847

1847 'FLORICULTURE.—THE CAMELLIA JAPPONICA.', The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859), 2 October, p. 2. , viewed 29 Mar 2016,
So it seems that I am not alone in my admiration for this plant. 

I wonder if any of my ancestors were also fond of the camellias' beautiful blooms.

Friday, March 25, 2016

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 21 March 2016

I'm dragging the chain with my post this week and it's all the fault of Paul, my genimate in San Diego. Paul posted a pedigree chart with a difference on Facebook. It was so popular that many genies around the world followed his lead and posted their charts on Facebook, Twitter and on their blogs.

I have spent too much time today looking at many of these charts and learning about my genimates' ancestry.

1. My first post from Kerryn shows her birthplace pedigree chart.

2. What a find! I wish I knew the identity of this blogger that I have followed for several years.

3. Diane discusses oral history.

4. Tony remembers a young geologist.

5. Sheilas explained.

6. The ethics of sharing from Denise.

7. New migrants meet old migrants.

8. Pauleen ponders her DNA.

9. This former librarian couldn't resist Susie's post.

10. Pretty postcards from SLQ.

11. Easter Traditions.

12. Sharon's following the alphabet. Are you?

New Blog
From my mate Hilary in Wales

Unearthing Treasures

Some Sougenirs
I am supposed to be all moved in and organised in my new Geneaspace by tomorrow but I have been
distracted. Each cupboard, drawer or shelf I empty delivers some treasure that requires perusal.

Today I came across my small collection of pens, pencils and other novelties that I have collected at conferences and repositories. I've put the pens and pencils in a little container and deposited them on a shelf where they will gather dust. I can't throw them out because they remind me of how fortunate I have been to visit so many places and attend some extraordinary events.

As I was reminiscing with these writing instruments a word to describe them and the other things I collect from conferences and repositories just popped into my head.

These are some of my I'm must away and add the term to my Geneadictionary.

Do you collect Sougenirs?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ancestors by place of birth

My genimate, J Paul Hawthorne, posted a cool pedigree chart he had done in Excel on Facebook several hours ago and since that time my Facebook stream has been overtaken with genies following Paul's lead.

Here is my five generation pedigree chart by place of birth of my ancestors.

I was wondering how to set this up in Excel when Judy G Russell posted these instructions on Facebook " I just copied the format using Excel. First cell is rows 11-21, then five rows up and down for column 2, 3 rows up and down for column 3 and one up and down each for columns 4 and 5." With Judy's instructions compiling the list was a piece of cake.

Thanks Paul and Judy - it was a fun activity.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Trove Tuesday - Swimming Carnivals

Today I'm heading for Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, SOPAC, to watch a Grandson represent his district in a swimming carnival.

I wondered if swimming carnivals were held in New South Wales 1916, if they were common place and where they were held. Trove, of course, came up trumps.

A carnival in Wagga Wagga was held at Viaduct beach on Murrumbidgee River. Tha carnival at Gundagai was also held in the Murrumbidgee River (1916 'SWIMMING CARNIVAL', The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser (NSW : 1868 - 1931), 18 February, p. 4. , viewed 21 Mar 2016,

1916 'SWIMMING CARNIVAL.', Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954), 16 February, p. 2. , viewed 21 Mar 2016,
In Bathurst there was a High School Carnival at the Bath.
1916 'Swimming Carnival.', National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954), 11 March, p. 2. , viewed 21 Mar 2016,
In Grafton the High School held its carnival in the Grafton Baths (1916 'SWIMMING CARNIVAL.', Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1915 - 1954), 1 March, p. 2. , viewed 21 Mar 2016, 

The Surf Swimming Carnival in Newcastle was held in the Ocean Baths (1916 'SWIMMING CARNIVAL.', Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW : 1900 - 1954), 1 March, p. 2. , viewed 21 Mar 2016,

I was fascinated at some of the events in the Parramatta High School Carnival at the Centennial Baths. I must find out about Chasing the duck and Chase the Bellman.

1916 'HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING CARNIVAL', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 8 April, p. 6. , viewed 21 Mar 2016,
A number of things surprised me. There were carnivals in many rural regions quite a few of which had baths, schools were hosting carnivals way back then and the Carnival proceeds were distributed to charities. 

Trove has enlightenend me again. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meet the Dropout

When I embark on a project I usually stick with it but today you're looking at a Dropout

I expressed my disappointment with the University of Tasmania's Introduction to Family History Course last week when I compared it with a similar offering from the University of Strathclyde. 

I am enjoying the Strathclyde course but I was totally frustrated with the course from Tasmania for a number of reasons. It was interesting, at a family history group meeting, last week that when I discussed the course with two other students they shared my concerns. I had committed to continuing with the Tasmanian course but then yesterday I realised I had quite a few things on my plate and rather than battle on my purposes would be better served by working on other things and concentrating on the Strathclyde course.

This morning I withdrew from the course at The University of Tasmania. 

A contributing factor to my withdrawal was finding, on a list of recommended reading, one of Barry J Ewell's works. I'm concerned that due diligence may not have been observed in selecting this text for the course. Surely the bona fides of a recommended author must be investigated before placing a work on a reading list. I find it most disappointing that a tertiary institution that has a commitment to high standards of ethics would use a text from someone whose reputation is in doubt.
From Module 2 Conducting Your Research
In addition one of the video lectures in the course refers to The Five steps for conducting your research developed by Mr Ewell from his book "15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering Your Family History" published in 2012.
From Video Lecture: Module 2 Conducting Your Research
These steps, that the lecturer told us Mr Elwell (sic) developed, look very much like the Research Process on the Familysearch Wiki,

1. Identify what you know.
2. Decide what you want to learn.
3. Select records to search.
4. Obtain and search the records.
5. Evaluate and Use the information

Last week I raised the issue of Mr Ewell with the course co-ordinator who is investigating the matter.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Bulky Letter

Mr GeniAus loves emptying the letterbox to see what surprises it has in store for him. Being a good person he does not open mail addressed to me but sometimes he is curious as to the contents. Friday's delivery brought a delightful surprise in an envelope that contained something solid and that had a return address we didn't recognise. Our curiosity was piqued so I opened it as soon as he gave it me.

Those who know me well know that I am fond of bling, both real bling  and geneabling.

A note in the envelope said "Found this just after you became a "Rockstar" so I thought it could go with your Genie Beads! I hadn't got it away before you went to Rootstech so held on to it!

I am thrilled that Chez popped the letter in the post. She is one thoughtful genimate.

The Package
Bling revealed
Now my issue is - When do I wear my new bling? Most genies I meet in Australia haven't heard of the Annual Genealogy Rockstar Awards organised by John D Reid from Canada. I am currently the Superstar Rockstar Genealogist for Australia and New Zealand but know that as I am unknown outside the realm of those genies who use social media, the awards are not on the radar of most genies downunder.

In case you don't know who your Australian Rocktstars are you can see them listed here: I am in stellar company.

Thanks once again to Chez, I got such a buzz from receiving your surprise in the mail. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Genimate's Width Issue

I made this quick video today to answer a question form another geneablogger.

If this doesn't work it is probably because she has a large image in her sidebar. What she needs to do is to go to the image widget in Layout and tick the Shrink to Fit box. That should solve the issue.

Speedy service

Last time I ordered some certificates from the NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages I aired my frustrations on social media because they took about seven weeks to arrive.

I am pleased to report that the death certificate for my ancestor, Michael Harrington Ryan, that I ordered on 14 March arrived as a .pdf file in my inbox just four days later on 18 March. What a quick turnaround! 

What is especially pleasing is that this document contains an image from the original register entry. The certificates I have received over the past few years have contained  typed transcriptions from the original registers. Reverting to images of the original entries removes the likelihood of entries being mistyped from the sometimes poor handwriting in the registers. It is, of course, up to us now to correctly decode the sometimes illegible writing.

Congratulations NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages on your speedy service and  new document format.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Emeralds - a few Green Gems

Yesterday, St Patrick's Day, I noticed that a few of my genimates with Irish ancestry were posting items in honour of the day.

As if one edition of GeniAus' Gems this week wasn't enough I thought I'd share a few gems Emeralds in a special green edition of GeniAus' Gems.

1. From Shauna

2. From Chris

3. From Oxford Dictionaries

4. From me

5. From Helen

6. From Lorine

7. From Mike

8. Viv shared a list of her posts about Ireland

9. From Heather

10. And from me again

Did you create an Emerald post for St Patrick's Day?

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 18 March 2016

Some weeks I feel like an errant schoolgirl who has to find excuses for not doing her homework. While this week I have managed to keep up with Australian blogs I have fallen behind in reading those from overseas. Participating in two online family history courses has seriously eaten into my blog reading time. I still, however, have several gems to offer.

1. Alona reminds us of the value of obituaries.

2. Marg gets close to a family plot.

3. Some tips from Dianne in library land. 

4. Lynda takes us to the archive in Raleigh.

5. Chez praises Trove.

6. For what are you Grateful?

7. I'm a sucker for pretty pics, thanks Jenny.

8. A female Factory previously unknown to me.

9. A helpful how-to from Judy, The Legal Genealogist.

10.  Simeon's namesake has four legs and a tail.

11. A puzzle solved.

12. Thanks to The National Archives at Kew I now know something about Coroners' history.


Orange Family History Group (and I found some relevant references there)

New-to-me Blogs

A Broad Abroad  Eh!
The Dusty Box
The Mary Matcham Pitt Family Website

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I want for nothing

On the 17th March, St Patrick's Day, each year I think of my Irish ancestors who made the perilous trip to Australia. Seven years ago I wrote about my ancestor Patrick Curry/Corry.

I have edited and am reposting that article today.

I wonder what our ancestors thought as they left their homes in England, Ireland and Scotland to sail to this distant and strange land. A dozen of my ancestors were convicts transported to Australia for petty crimes, some were young Irish lads and lasses, bounty (assisted) immigrants, who left home during the time of The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s. A couple were free settlers, people who travelled to Australia of their own free will in the hope of a better life.Recently I spoke to a distant cousin, a 75 year old Scottish lady, who emigrated with her family in 1953. When they left Scotland food rationing was still in place; on arrival in Australia they could not believe the quality and quantity of food they were served at their first family lunch, she thought she was in heaven. She said that her parents never regretted leaving Scotland as they wanted a "better life" for their children and she felt that this goal had been achieved.

My 3rd great grandfather, Patrick (Paddy) Curry from Limerick in Ireland , arrived as a convict on the Hooghley in 1825. He was assigned to work at Camden Park a property of the pioneering Macarthur family. On 8th June 1848 The Sydney Morning Herald published an interview from 1846 from Caroline Chisholm with Patrick on the advantages of emigration. Patrick felt that he was most fortunate to be in New South Wales.

1848 'Advertising', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 8 June, p. 3. , viewed 17 Mar 2016,

I and Paddy's descendants can now access this interview via Trove but when I first went in search of it after following a reference in Alan Atkinson's book, Camden: Farm and village life in early New South Wales, it took me ages to locate the interview on microfilm. The copy I retrieved from the film was very hard to read whereas the image from Trove is quite clear in comparison.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Slowly does it

It seems like I have been moving into my new Geneachapel for weeks and I have. I have set Friday 25 March, the day before the family arrive for the Easter weekend, as the day I need to be set up. My old Geneacave must be clear for sleeping accommodation.

My recent bout of asthma took the wind out of my sails so I have been having a lazy time. I love working in my light-filled room with its view of our garden. As I was feeling better this week, with the help of Mr GeniAus, I moved another bookshelf into the room and partially filled another. I snapped a few pics of my progress.

There is more space than I anticipated, maybe I need a nice comfy reading chair.

Shelves to be stacked and files to be sorted
The Geneadesk
I can even tune into Geneaentertainment
The good news is that Paddy the pup, my Geneapet,  is enjoying the space too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Trove Tuesday - Bangaroo School

My Dad, Allan John Curry, used to talk about his time at Bangaroo Public School near Canowindra, NSW. He enjoyed his school days. Today I took to Trove to see if I could locate any information on the school.

In spite of leaving school at 13 to work on the family farm Dad's literacy and numeracy skills were well developed. He must have received a good foundation in the 3rs during his time at Bangaroo.

As there were two schools at Bangaroo I was never sure which one Dad attended but in reading through articles on Trove I have concluded that it was Bangaroo school that Dad attended not Bangaroo North.

Dad used talk of his teacher A. Grabham. Trove confirmed that Mr Grabham was at Bangaroo School as he received a transfer from that school to another in 1932 (When Dad was 13). I can't remember Dad mentioning P. O'Donaghue who took over from Grabham.

1932 'SCHOOL TEACHERS.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 27 July, p. 6. , viewed 15 Mar 2016,
Grabham had been transferred from Coolah to Bangaroo in 1928.
1928 'THE SCHOOLS', Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW : 1914 - 1949), 7 July, p. 6. , viewed 15 Mar 2016,
Another article tells me that Grabham passed some teachers' exams and confirmed what Dad told me, Grabham's first name was Alan.

1931 'SCHOOL TEACHERS.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 6 August, p. 6. , viewed 15 Mar 2016,
Dad never mentioned Miss Gellately who must have taught him in his early years at the school.
1925 'PROMOTED TO BANGAROO.',Narromine News and Trangie Advocate (NSW : 1898 - 1955), 10 June, p. 2. , viewed 15 Mar 2016,
Another article reports on the success of John McCarron who would have been one of Dad's classmates in the small school at Bangaroo. 

1931 'Canowindra', The Carcoar Chronicle (NSW : 1878 - 1943), 13 March, p. 5. , viewed 15 Mar 2016,

The school at Bangaroo is long since gone. Hopefully in a year or two I can return to Trove and, in the newly digitised resources find more information on Dad's Alma Mater.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Online Learning

I'm a student again!  

I don't do things by halves I have taken the opportunity to enrol in two free online introductory courses in family history.

When I was at the Society of Australian Genealogists a few weeks ago and told two of my genimates who have already undertaken the University of Tasmania Intrroduction to Family History course they giggled and told me that I would be frustrated by the course. They weren't wrong. How frustrating it was to spend the first 2 weeks of this course on administrivia and learning to use the online messaging and learning system. MYLO the system that delivers their online learning is clunky. Locating replies to one's messages in the system requires determination and lots of digging. It is not at all intuitive.

Like a trooper I have stuck with the course and have now completed Weeks 1-3 and about 50% of the requirements for week 4. What concerns me mostly is that the course is based on a very traditional 20th century version of genealogy research. So far no mention has been made of the value of using one of the many excellent computer software programs that are available to family historians to record the data they research. Some of the resources that have been suggested would not be at the top of my list. I am concerned that the online multiple guess questions asked in the quizzes are very simple and do not really measure learning.

This afternoon I logged in to the University of Strathclyde Researching your Family Tree course which commenced today. What a difference! The interface is clean and intuitive and learners don't need to devote two whole weeks to learning to navigate the interface. Sure I pressed the wrong key a couple of times but it was easy to find my way back to the beginning and continue with my work.

The course coordinators have introduced themselves, the learning outcomes have been explained, some definitions shared and we have already started learning. This is in contrast to the course from Tasmania. The materials in the Strathclyde course are organised so that one does not have to jump back and forwards to find course materials.

Of course I may change my mind as I progress through the Tasmanian course but for the moment my money is on the course from the University of Strathclyde.

Yes , those giggling genies were right.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Magda Szubanski - Reckoning

One of the best birthday presents I received last year was a voucher for a bookstore because it forced me to buy books. If I'm given a more general voucher I'm likely to buy another kitchen gadget or piece of clothing that I don't need....but we always need books.
I took myself off to Dymocks in the city, one of our bigger Sydney bookstores and had a wonderful time browsing and investing my $50 voucher.The first book I selected was Lost Relations by Graeme Davison. My second purchase was an autographed copy of Magda Szubanski's memoir "Reckoning". Magda is a comedian and an actress best known for her role as Esme Hoggett in the film Babe  so I expected a funny book, a light hearted read. I didn't get what I paid for, I got much more

Why I am blogging about this book on my genealogy blog is that Magda spent a lot of time telling her family story in Poland and Scotland and discussing the influences her grandparents and others had on her. There was a delving examination of Magda's relationship with her father which was a ├žentral theme throughout the work.

Magda devotes several pages to a discussion of her feelings when she was the subject of a Who do you think you are? program. It is interesting to read how she was affected by that journey.

The serious tone of the book in which Magda openly discusses the emotional turmoils she has dealt with during her life was a surprise. It came across as a very honest, warts and all, recount. There were touches of humour many of which would resonate with Catholic schoolgirls.

A reviewer described the language in this book as "eloquent and moving". I had not expected to find such a well written book and was surprised and delighted at the quality of Magdas writing.

When I purchased this book it was only available in hardcover and was quite expensive although I got it at a special price.  I'm not suggesting that you run out and pay nearly $50 for this book but if you see it in your local library you might borrow it. It promises so much more than a litany of recollections from a funny lady.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Family Historian Upgrade

No more forward slashes
The thought of upgrading software fills me with fear and trepidation but I am pleased to report that the free upgrade to Family Historian version 6.1 that I applied last week went off without a hitch.

I haven't noticed much difference in the program except with the entering of surnames which used to be enclosed within forward slashes . The need to use these forward slashes has disappeared so that's good.

There is a full list of the tweaks and new features that have been applied on the Family Historian website.

I must thank Simon Orde and his team for pushing out this free upgrade which takes on board many suggestions made by former users of The Master Genealogist and Family Tree Maker who have migrated to Family Historian.

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 11 March 2016

It's Friday - time for me to provide you with a bit of cerebral nourishment.

I'm diving into Evernote to see what I have saved this week.I have lots of candidates this week - difficult decisions coming up.

1. Janelle remembers her ancestors on International Women's Day

2. Too many young lives lost.

3. Pauline reports on a homecoming

4. The story of my Dad's favourite drop.

5. Hope my local library buys this one.

6. Marty enjoyed this and so did I.

7. Lilian listened then applied her learning.

8. Midge is an only child too.

9. Does your house have a name or number?

10. Sharon finds connections.

11. American influence in Five Dock.

12. Jo Ann reminds us to remember everyone.

New to Me Blogs

A Couple of Pages
My Parents WW II Love Letters

And a big shoutout to Cyndi

Thanks Alona


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