Friday, May 25, 2018


Each Friday the organisers of The Genealogy Show 2019 share some news about the event. So far we have heard that genealogy megastars Judy G Russell , the Legal Genealogist, and Blaine Bettinger, DNA Guru, will be headliners at the event. I am so excited to be seeing these genies at the show in June 2019.

Today's announcement is another cracker , it's someone from a different field of family history. I was so impressed when I met and interviewed this chap at Rootstech, I was already a fan as I have read and enjoyed all of his books. It's Nathan Dylan Goodwin, Genealogy Mystery Author, another of my geneaheroes. Take a look at my video interview with Nathan to get a flavour of what he may share at the Show.

What impresses me about the content so far announced for the Show is the diversity of the speakers and their content. I can't wait to see who they roll out next week. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Located in Scotland

Mr GeniAus' mother had a photo of a handsome Victorian stone house in her collection which she believed was the home of her Gowans Grandparents in Hawick in the Borders area of Scotland.

We knew from the censuses that the Gowans lived at 1 High Street, Hawick so in 2004, on our first visit to the town, we headed to High Street where we found, at number one, a shop and residence that bore no resemblance to the handsome home in our photo. We then surmised that the family may have lived away from the watch and clockmaking and confectionery businesses that they conducted at 1 High Street (even though the censuses recorded the family as living at the High Street premises).

1 High Street, Hawick - 2004
We left a copy of a photo of the handsome house with the folk in the local Heritage Centre in Hawick and they promised to ask around to see if any of the locals could identify it. A few weeks later we got a response that no-one recognised the house and that the locals felt that it was not a Hawick building.

Several years later Mr GeniAus realised that his ancestor James Gowans lived with family members in and around Glasgow in his old age. Mr GeniAus thought perhaps James' daughter's residence, Overwood House in Glasgow Road, Paisley may be the subject of the picture. He consulted Google Maps and after looking at properties in the vicinity thought this likely as buildings in the area were of a similar style and age.

The Handsome House

Notes on the back of the photo
High on Mr GeniAus' list for our forthcoming visit to Scotland was tracking down the house so last week he decided to delve a little further.  He contacted a Paisley Group where a lovely lady called Mags MacGee took an interest in the case. She posted our photo of the house on a Facebook Group  and several members chimed in with comments.

We learnt that Overwood House had been demolished. One smart chap did something we hadn't thought to do. He blew the photo up to look for clues and deduced that, on the gatepost, there was a number and a name starting with Cop. As our copy of the photo is of a higher resolution I then took a look and saw the number 279 and worked out that the house name was Copshaw which is a village near Hawick. Ah, I thought the house must be in the vicinity of Hawick.

Zoomed in on the Gatepos
I popped 279 and Copshaw into my Google search box and was rewarded with two hits that listed a house named Copshaw at 279 Nithsdale Road, Glasgow

The resident listed was William Fairley Smith whom I immediately recognised as the husband of another daughter of James, Isabella Purves Gowans. On the back of the photo is a reference to Kathleen's bedroom, William and Isabella had a daughter by that name! We now presume that Isabella had sent this postcard to her brother, Mr GeniAus' Great-Grandfather William Purves Gowans, who was living in Australia.

When we logged back onto Google Maps Streetview we were pleased to discover that 279 Nithsdale Road is still standing and from comparing the stonework and decorations on the building we know we have solved a 30 year old mystery.

We have sent a copy of our photo to the owners of the house alerting them that we will be driving up and down their road to look at their house when we visit in the next few months.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mary Tierney 1887-1977

Remembering my Nanna Mary Curry (nee Tierney) whose was born on May 18, 1887.

Mary Tierney c1887
Aren't I lucky to have a baby photo of my Grandmother!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trove Tuesday - Undertakers in the family

I have written before about my great-grandfather John D'Arcy Tierney and his father Denis Tierney.

I remember asking my Dad if he knew that they were undertakers In Dungog. Dad, who had spent many holidays in Dungog with his grandparents had no idea. I had found some references in directories that listed these ancestors as undertakers. Today as I was trawling through Trove I wondered if I could find any references that mentioned these chaps were undertakers.

The first mention I found was for John.
1923 'Early Recollections of Dungog.', Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), 19 October, p. 5. , viewed 15 May 2018,
Denis would be the person referred to in this next article:
1954 'LOCAL SURVEY OF DUNGOG', Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), 15 September, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2018,
His undertaking activities were mentioned in Denis' obituary.
1894 'Local and General.', Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), 6 February, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2018,
In another obituary Hanley's Flat (Dungog Cemetery) "where he has laid so many" is mentioned.

1894 'The Late Mr. D. Tierney.', Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), 23 February, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2018,

Another more mentions of John:
1900 'Local and General.', Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), 9 January, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2018,
1895 'Death.', Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), 11 June, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2018,
Thanks Trove for providing more evidence to support my research on the Tierneys' undertaking role.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Judy's coming to my neck of the woods

Judy Webster (photo Jill Ball)
I was excited to learn that Judy Webster, a generous and very experienced professional genealogist and geneablogger from Queensland will be speaking at The Lake Macquarie Family History Group next Saturday.

Judy is also the founder of Genealogists for Families, a Kiva Group, that has 364 members supporting families in third world countries. (Join the group via this link).

Although I can't find mention of this talk on the Lake Macquarie Group's website Judy has posted details on her website plus Facebook page and I read of the event in the Lake Macquarie FH Group newsletter.

Knowing that Judy doesn't cross the border to come south too often  (I last saw her at Congress2018) and that she is a speaker of renown I thought that I'd let my readers know of this opportunity to hear Judy speak on "Look Beyond the Border! Archival records with data for interstate and overseas folk.".

Visitors are welcome at Lake Macquarie FHG so, if you would like to hear Judy speak it would be an idea to let the people at The Lake Macquarie Family History Group know that you are coming.

In Good Company at Rootstech

While at Rootstech earlier this year I was interviewed by The Family History Fanatics. They asked me a series of questions about my genealogy practices.

They must have asked similar questions of some of the other genealogists they interviewed. Four of us have been featured in this video posted on Youtube by The Family History Fanatics last week. I was chuffed to be included on the same video as these three prominent genies.

How would you answer the question "What genea-tech can you not live without?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

News from Darrin

Some of you will know that I use TNG (The Next Generation of Sitebuilding) which I highly recommend for my online tree. I have been using this platform for 9 years and have experienced no hiccups. When there is a problem the developer, Darrin Lythgoe, is just an email away.

GeniAus TNG site
Darrin sent me an announcement about a new upgrade to the package. I'll get on to upgrading real soon as it promises "significant upgrades to the DNA Testing Feature".

Press Release: TNG version 12
May 8, 2018
Contact: Darrin Lythgoe (

SANDY, UT: A major upgrade for The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (or “TNG”), is now available from Next Generation Software. TNG 12 includes many enhancements and new
features, plus security and user access improvements. Existing users can purchase the upgrade
at a discount by returning to their previous download page.

This release also includes three new template designs, plus added functionality for several
others, and a new language is supported (Chinese). Several media handling functions have
been improved, and two privacy-related tools have been introduced. Significant upgrades have
also been made to the DNA testing feature and the Mod Manager, which allows users to easily
install or remove add-ons.

Several of the third-party libraries used in TNG (like jQuery and PHP Mailer) have also been
upgraded, and many updates have been made to keep TNG compatible with the latest versions
of PHP and MySQL.

A more detailed summary of the version 12 changes can be found on the TNG blog at feature-preview, and
a complete list is available at

For those already running TNG, upgrading to the new version should be fairly easy and should
take less than 15 minutes. Helpful videos are also available to walk users through the process
and to highlight new features and other processes, but an option also exists to pay someone to
install the upgrade for them.

TNG makes it easy to put your genealogy on your web site in dynamic fashion. It uses a
database to store your information, so the pages are created at the time they';re requested.
When you want to make a change, you only need to upload your GEDCOM file again, or enter
the new facts directly online. TNG also allows you to link photos and other media to the people
in your tree. You're in total control, so you can update your information or customize the look
and feel any time you want.

TNG is commercial software ($32.99 USD one-time license fee). In order to run TNG, your web
site must support PHP (a programming language) and MySQL (the database). Existing users
may upgrade to the latest version online starting at $15.99. The first version of TNG was
published by Darrin Lythgoe in 2001.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mother's Day Gift

My mtDNA results at FTDNA have me flummoxed. 

I really don't understand them at all so I have ignored them since my first match came through in May 2016.  Of the 118 matches on the site not one of them appears to have a connection to me. 85 of these matches share my K1a10a haplogroup but not one of the names on the list of matches looks vaguely familiar. Of the Earliest Known Ancestors nominated by my matches not one rings a bell. 

A map shows me that my mtDNA HVR2 matches number 41 I've clicked on each of those red pins and am none the wiser.  

My mtDNA HVR2 matches
It seems as though I need to upgrade to the Full Sequence test to get more meaningful results....look what appeared on my FTDNA page. Just what I needed!!

Of course I signed up - I am saving $US99 on this Mother's Day offer. When the results come in I'll let you know if this was money down the drain or if I have been enlightened!

440 New or Updated Entries

Sometimes I despair that I don't have enough time to devote to my own family's research.

After uploading the latest version of my database (which I store in Family Historian on my laptop) to my family site I did a quick calculation on the number of records I have updated since my last upload and it appears that 440 records have been updated. Some of these are completely new records while some existing records had dates and sources added and in a few cases some inaccuracies were corrected. I didn't realise that the half an hour here and there I devote to my database could realise such a good result.

My Family Site
I am keen on adding as many distant cousins as I can to my database as I find having this information available helps me when I am trying to work out where my new DNA matches fit into my tree. So often these matches will know the names of their grandparents or great-grandparents but haven't a clue about earlier generations. 

I find that if I can put forward names of some potential ancestors in my communications with DNA matches I am more likely to get a response like "XX is my Mother" or "XX and XX were my parents. Good Luck." or "XX is my Father. XX was my Grandmother".  For this to happen I need lots of names in my database.

Once I get these responses I can write back and give the new DNA Cousins information on the earlier generations of their family and the ancestors we share thus adding to their family stories. These connections are usually over the moon when they receive this help.

Now that I have penned this post my despair has disappeared.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Found while planning the next adventure...

Our next holiday will be to the UK. Although our main focus is touristing, as we will be in ancestral territory, we will have to spend some time ancestor hunting.

Gowans Headstone
On a previous visit to Scotland in 2004 (was it that long ago?) we visited Haddington in East Lothian, Scotland. The local history and genealogy collection was housed in a cramped little gallery area upstairs in a library. The staff were amazing and so helpful and gave us some very useful leads. We were so impressed that Mr GeniAus wrote to the local authority to compliment the staff and comment on the poor conditions in which they were working and the records were housed. 

While in Haddington we were able to add several leaves to the Gowans tree when we found several family members resting in St Mary's Church Graveyard. 

Today I was doing some planning for our next jaunt which includes a few days in Scotland after an organised tour from London to Scotland. I'll visit General Register House in Edinburgh, The Heritage Hub in Hawick and return to Haddington. 

I discovered that Haddington now has The John Gray Centre "The John Gray Centre brings together East Lothian Council’s ArchaeologyMuseumArchive and Local History Services, alongside Haddington’s branch library." Wow! Did they listen to Mr GeniAus?

What was even better was that I was able to consult their online catalogue where I found numerous references to Mr GeniAus Gowans ancestors. The industrious folk at East Lothian have indexed newspapers and local archives and records. We'll be having a busy and fruitful day in Haddington when we visit the John Gray Centre to access all those references I found today.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trove Tuesday - 8 May 1970

May the 8th 1970 sticks in my memory because it was the day Mr GeniAus and I were wed in downtown Sydney. That auspicious event didn't make the newspapers of the day as it was overshadowed by something much bigger which hindered our wedding cars' progress and caused our reception to start late.

I had a look at Trove to see if I could find any contemporary reports of that huge event which is outside the dates covered by most newspapers digitised on Trove.

News of the Moratorium was on the front page of The Canberra Times. You can read a clear copy here

1970 'Thousands join in Moratorium, few incidents', The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), 9 May, p. 1. , viewed 08 May 2018,
The article continues here on page 3 of the newspaper. 

The Pictures, photos, objects  search returned a a good number of links to photographs, badges and posters which I dare not share here as I may infringe copyright.

On Pandora I found several web pages but access to some articles was restricted to 70 years after the event. This one from South Australia was available:

Celebrating South Australia  8 May 1970 Vietnam Moratorium March

In the People and organisations results I found references to several individuals and bodies who were involved in the campaign. There were also several links in the Music, Sound and Video results.

Although there were few newspaper reports the Vietnam Moratorium has a decent coverage in Trove

Monday, May 7, 2018

Grumpy Old Genie

Grumpy Old Genie
This morning I was wondering if I would blog today....then I looked at my RSS feeds.

I read quite a number of posts and shared a couple to my GeniAus Facebook page . Something I saw annoyed this Grumpy Old Girl. One blogger who has three blogs had posted exactly the same article to those three blogs. Each of these blogs is targetted at a different family group so I guess the blogger thought the message important enough to share to the three different audiences...but what of people like me who follow all three blogs?

The purpose of each of those blogs appears to be to share and record stories from a branch of the bloggers family. The blogger struck a problem when she had something general to say.

Was it really necessary to post the same article in those three placesWould it be a better strategy to use other social media channels to share the message widely?

That blogger could have one blog for all posts and label and categorize them carefully so that her different audiences could find articles of interest to them. This could even bring more readers to the blog as readers would be exposed to articles outside their area of interest. Such a blog could have a broader purpose - ie to share the stories of my ancestors, connect with cousins and discuss issues in genealogy.

Another alternative would be to have multiple blogs - one for each family line plus a general general genealogy blog for discussion of news, issues, resources etc. This would benefit those readers who are only interested in hearing stories of one family line.

Another approach is to have a general blog and then other blogs for niche subjects. Prominent Australian bloggers who take this approach are Alona Tester and Pauleen Cass.

So what I am really thinking about today is recognising your audience and having a clear purpose for your blog/s.

Which approach do you take?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Ancestry Bug

I hear that Ancestry now have over 7 Million samples in their DNA database and after travelling around for several weeks I am not surprised.

So often at dinner on our cruise the conversation would turn to DNA and I would announce that I had taken 5 DNA tests and uploaded my results to some other sites - on hearing this some of my fellow diners' views labelled me as either an expert or a nutcase. Most of the affluent retirees had taken Ancestry DNA tests (and it was always Ancestry - good marketing at work there) but were clueless about the DNA matching side of things, they were all focussed on the ethnicity results and that is all they wanted to know about. They did the tests because it is an in thing to do. I did mention that these could be inaccurate due to the reference groups used to make these predictions but my fellow diners just wanted to know where their ancestors came from and don't question the results.

I learn lots of lessons when I travel. These conversations have reminded me not to expect everyone on my lists of matches to share my enthusiasm for hunting down cousins and to accept that others have valid reasons for taking DNA tests.

Reflecting on this has made me revisit my four Ethnicity results (still waiting on Living DNA to come back). There are no major surprises but I am pleased that all tests seem to confirm my aboriginal ancestry as Melanesian, Oceania, Melanesia and Oceania. I am kicking myself that I didn't take screenshots of the results when I first tested so that I could monitor changes over time.

Following are my results as at 4 May 2018.

23andme Results

FTDNA Results
Ancestry Results

My Heritage Results

Friday, May 4, 2018

Birmingham here I come...

I'm allowed to spill the beans. My energetic and go get 'em genimate, Kirsty Gray let me into her big secret a while ago, it's something she has been working on with co-conspirator Sylvia Valentine since Rootstech 2018. I am thrilled to be supporting these two women who are taking such a bold step with this venture. I'll be in Birmingham with them in June 2019, I'm so excited that I'll be booking my hotel as soon as bookings open. Read on:

C:\Users\Kirsty\OneDrive - Family Wise\FWL - Terriers\KIRSTY - OTHER STUFF\THE UK GEN SHOW 2019\BannerLogo.png

The demise of the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show has left a hole in the genealogy
calendar of UK-based events with many attendees commenting on the loss of a ‘big’ annual gathering.

Headed by Kirsty Gray and Sylvia Valentine (Show Directors), an international group of genealogists has been diligently working since the US-based RootsTech Conference, to get THE Genealogy Show on the road. The Board includes Jill Ball aka GeniAus (Australia), Liv Birgit Christensen (Norway), Ruth Blair (Canada), Mags Gaulden (Canada), Pat Richley-Erickson aka DearMYRTLE (US), John Boeren (Netherlands) and DM Walsh (UK).

This two-day event will take place at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham on June 7th and 8th 2019, in the same hall as WDYTYA? Live was held in previous years. The Board members are dedicated to providing outstanding educational opportunities through talks and stands, as well as creating an environment where family historians from beginner to expert can network together. Even at this early planning stage, many international genealogists are making travel plans to attend the event.

More information will be released on the website over the next month, though you can register your interest as an exhibitor, speaker or sponsor on the website right now -

Follow us on Twitter:
Like the event Facebook page:

Remembering Two Jims

A notice about International Firefighters' Day which is held annually on May 4th (St Florian’s Dayjust came up on my Twitter feed so I dropped what I was doing and launched into this post.

On this day we remember two Jims, James Ball (1890-1931) and James William Ball (1918-1990), grandfather and father of Mr GeniAus, who both served in the NSW Fire Brigade which is now known as Fire & Rescue NSW. Theirs were not distinguished careers but these two men, who worked in appalling conditions without the benefit of current safety standards, were dedicated and hard-working officers.

Prior to joining the Fire Brigade James Ball (1890-1931) served in the Australian Navy. It was probably James' experience as a leading stoker on Australian warships that prompted him to join the Fire Brigade.

1916 'AUSTRALIA'S DEFENDERS.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 8 March, p. 2. , viewed 04 May 2018,
After joining the Brigade James was active in Fire Brigade affairs being a member of the Fire Brigade Band and a coach of the Soccer team.

James Ball 1890-1931 2nd from left, top row

James Ball  1890-1931) (Top left) 
Mr GeniAus never got to meet his grandfather James Ball who died at the age of 42. We are hoping that one day we can find someone who has a clear photo of James to share with us.

1931 'DEATH OF FIREMAN JAS. BALL.', The Propeller (Hurstville, NSW : 1911 - 1954), 9 October, p. 1. , viewed 04 May 2018,
We do not know if James William Ball (1918-1990) joined the Fire Brigade in 1941  to follow in his father's footsteps but presume this was the case. James worked in the Fire Brigade for many years retiring in 1978. During that time he worked at many city stations and East Maitland in the Hunter region.

James William Ball at left (1918-1990) on the job
James William (2nd from right) and East Maitland crew
James William not long before he retired

James William Ball (1918-1990) Certificate of service
We family members thought Jim was a special bloke but we are biased, the following words from his boss describe the kind, gentle man that we loved.

Today we salute the service of two Jims and all firefighters around the world who work tirelessly to protect we and our property.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Remove those Blinkers

Last week while travelling in Thailand I visited the Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai. As we had been travelling in Asia for five weeks I wasn't too excited about visiting ABT (Another B*** Temple) but I went along as it was on our itinerary.

Doi Suthep
The historic temple was indeed beautiful and filled with precious and valuable religious items. It is a sacred site and place of pilgrimage for Thai people so at times I felt like an intruder as I watched the faithful process and pray solemnly and make offerings in this holy place.

One of the first structures we learnt about was built around the Bohdi Tree at the temple. This structure houses the ashes of many former temple devotees whose families have paid a princely sum for a niche in this holy place.

The Bohdi Tree
What struck me, as a family historian, when I read the plaques on the niches was that several of the niches housed ashes of  people who had died in foreign countries including Brunei and Belgium. Th families of the deceased had taken great pains to have the remains sent to Thailand. I was especially surprised to see the plaque for Pete L E Petersen Jr who had died in Chico, California.

Pete L E Petersen's Plaque
It set me wondering if Pete's descendants in a few generations time would think to look for the resting place of their European named illustrious ancestor in a temple on a hill in Thailand. 

And there is the lesson I had reinforced at the Doi Suthep - As genealogists we must remove our blinkers and search everywhere as we seek our answers.

Doi Suthep

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Back on Deck

On deck with Mr GeniAus
After my trip to Salt Lake City for Rootstech and the immensely successful Congress_2018 in Sydney I fell in a heap due to an unwanted souvenir I must have brought back from Salt Lake City.

I went down with the Influenza B bug and spent ten days in bed before Mr GeniAus and I took off on our recent Asian adventure (8 countries in five weeks). I usually schedule a a few blog posts to cover the time I am away on holidays but this time, because I was feeling so poorly I neglected to do so. So this poor old blog has been dormant for a while.

I did manage to keep in touch with genealogy news while I was away and posted something nearly each day on my GeniAus Facebook Page ( I use this medium to share  interesting announcements, news and posts that I encounter in my geneareading each day. If you have not yet liked this page you might find some useful gems here and get a dose of GeniAus when I am unable to blog.

Now I am playing catchup and am replying to emails and messages I received while away. I have found several new cousin connections via DNA and some have found me via my website. A few folk have reached out for help and I have tried to assist them.

Once I have cleared my commitments I hope to resume regular blogging.


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