Friday, June 29, 2018

A Gentle Man

James William Ball
I remember a kind, gentle and happy man whose family meant the world to him. My father-in-law James William BALL was born 100 years ago today.

I could not let this day go past without remembering Jim and recording some details of his life. As posts from this blog are archived by Pandora, a service of the National Library of Australia, Jim’s story will be preserved on that site for years to come. This story is that of an ordinary Australian, who in the eyes of his family was an extraordinary father and grandfather. I thank my husband for allowing me to use an article he wrote about his family as a basis for this post.

James William BALL or Jim, as he was known, the only child of English Migrants James BALL (1890-1931) and Harriet PARKINSON (1879-1940), was born on 29 June 1918 at a property belonging to his paternal grandmother Emily Ball (nee Royds) in Terminus Street, Liverpool, NSW.

Jim had fond memories of his early years spent living at the Circular Quay Fire Station in George Street, Sydney where his father, a fireman, was stationed. In 1922 when Jim was five and his father was stationed at Kogarah the family moved to that area.

He attended a local Catholic school and then Kogarah Boys’ High School where his English teacher was the great Australian cricketer Bill O’Reilly. Jim left school after completing his Intermediate Certificate. Although his formal education was minimal Jim had a thirst for learning. He was a lifelong learner and reader who enjoyed entering into discussions on a broad range of topics.

At the age of 13 Jim’s childhood came to an abrupt end when he found his father deceased, whilst his mother was in hospital. Jim was very devoted to his mother, who was partially crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. He cared for her lovingly at their home in 22 Hampton Court Road, Kogarah. Jim's sensitive and caring nature was evident to all who came in contact with him. Jim very soon became fond of gardening to ensure that his mother was always surrounded by flowers. Right through his life Jim maintained his interest in gardening as he tended his colourful manicured garden and immaculate weed free lawn.

As times were tough Jim took a couple of jobs which involved night work so he could care for his mother in their home. As night work was too worrying for his mother he accepted a position as a garage assistant in St Peters and later a sales representative at White Signet Sweet Manufacturers. His duties brought him in contact with Daphne Williamena Edith Gillespie who was charmed by his telephone manner. He became a regular visitor to her home, often taking flowers from the garden in a suitcase to Daphne’s mother and very soon Daph and he were in love.

When Jim, at the age of 21, found his mother dead he was devastated. Daphne’s mother invited him into her home where he was treated as one of the family. Two years later, on 20 September 1941, Daphne and Jim were married at All Saints Church of England,Petersham. Jim and Daphne spent their first few years in a home at 22 Grantham Street, Burwood that belonged to Daphne’s Uncle. 

Jim and Daph's Wedding Day
The smoke was always in Jim’s veins after years of living in Fire Stations. Following his employment as a Confectionery Salesman he followed his father into the N.S.W. Fire Brigade on 12 September 1941. Jim resigned from the militia and since the Fire Brigade was an essential service he was exempted from service in the Second World War.

Jim Ball - Militia Member
Jim progressed through the ranks of Third, Second and First Class Fireman, Senior Fireman, Station Officer and District Officer. He was predominantly stationed at Stanmore, Headquarters (Castlereagh Street, Sydney) and Waterloo, NSW. For career progression it was necessary to undertake country service which he did at East Maitland. He was awarded the Queen’s Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Although lacking lengthy formal education, Jim displayed considerable intellect and undertook his studies within the Fire Brigade with distinction, frequently passing at high levels. Before Daphne returned to full time work Jim supplemented his income from the Fire Brigade as a salesman selling brooms from door to door.

Daphne bore Jim two sons, James and Robert. When the boys were young the family lived in a home at 36 Middle Street, Marrickville that had been purchased from Daphne’s mother. 

Robert (Left) and James M. (Right) with Jim Ball

Daph and Jim with James M. and Robert 1989
In 1959 the family moved to a newly built house in Annette Avenue on the Moorefield Estate, a former racecourse, in Kogarah, a suburb with which Jim had an affinity. Jim lived in this home for the remainder of his life. 

10 Annette Avenue Kogarah
Daph and Jim, having experienced the deprivation of opportunities to progress academically encouraged their children, James and Robert to utilize their full capacity. Jim who was deprived of opportunity instilled high goals in his offspring. Tertiary education became a “must” and the challenge of success was paramount. Jim had a football saying which can be adopted both on the field in any code or in life in any arena: “Punt High and Follow on”. This saying echoed in James and Robert’s ears. The boys were given good leadership through guidance and example.

Jim retired from the Fire Brigade on his sixtieth birthday, 29 June 1978, after a car accident in 1977 left him with physical constraints and lower back pain. Fitness was always important for service in the Fire Brigade and in the rear yard of Stanmore Fire Station (No. 7) there was a mock-up of a wrestling ring. Jim would wrestle with others but one was a special challenge as he was a professional wrestler.

Jim on the job
Jim had always been a keen sportsman having played rugby league and rugby union with St George. Jim who was loyal to the St George Rubgy League team throughout his life relishing any opportunity he had to follow their games. He played lawn bowls as a member of the Brighton le Sands Bowling Club and was an official umpire with the Royal NSW Bowling Association. Jim’s training and a love of exercise continued in later life when he walked to and swam in Botany Bay almost every day in the warmer months of the year. As Jim usually walked down to the Bay for his swim, he was fondly known to many members of the local community with whom he chatted on his perambulations.

Jim, Daph and family 1982
In retirement Jim and Daph were active members of the local Probus Club enjoying the various outings arranged by the group. They took several holidays in Australia but didn’t venture overseas further than New Zealand. During this period Jim and Daph spent much time with their seven grandchildren. Jim was very patient with the children as they ‘helped’ him in the garden. When the children had sleepovers he loved taking them down to play and swim in Botany Bay particularly at the baths in Kyeemagh.

Jim and Daph 1985
Through eating healthy food and rarely touching an alcoholic drink Jim enjoyed good health during his life. It was therefore a shock to he and the family when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1988. He went into surgery for this cancer but the doctors did not continue with the proposed major procedure as the cancer was too far gone. Following on this diagnosis Jim tried a diet of fruit and vegetable juices but it didn’t have the desired effect.

James William BALL died on 27 September 1990 in Calvary Hospital, Kogarah from advanced gastric carcinoma (2 years). His Funeral Service was held on 3 October 1990 in St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Waverley. A Guard of Honour was presented by members of the NSW Fire Brigade. He was cremated on 3 October 1990 in Eastern Suburbs Crematorium, Botany, NSW and his ashes were later interred with his parents in Woronora Cemetery, Sutherland, NSW.

James William Ball 1918-1990

Saturday, June 23, 2018

This boy loved birthday cake

He was a Type 1 diabetic who stuck to a rigid diet and never ate cake but my Dad, Allan John Curry, loved marking the occasion of his birthday each year with a Birthday Cake. He was even more impressed when the cake was accompanied by a party with his extended family.
Celebrating with the extended family June 1984 - Allan is 65

Allan John Curry 23 June 1988
Today, June 23, would have been Dad's 99th birthday. Now that Mum is in heaven with him I hope they are partying today. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trove Tuesday - 40th Brthday

This week one of the GeniAus offspring celebrated his 40th birthday. The celebrations lasted all day with a trip to the movies, a Mexican lunch, a game of ten pin bowls, a two hour karaoke session, a Thai dinner, then back to his home for cake, coffee and chat. We oldies settled for the karaoke, Thai and cake.

I wondered how other Australians celebrated their 40th birthdays so turned to Trove.
"JUDGE ON 40th BIRTHDAY" The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 21 March 1952: 2. Web. 18 Jun 2018 .

"HASSETT HAS 40th BIRTHDAY" Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser (NSW : 1893 - 1953) 3 September 1953: 4. Web. 18 Jun 2018 .
"JOINED ON 40th BIRTHDAY" The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954) 24 July 1917: 12. Web. 18 Jun 2018 .
"Chaplin's 40th Birthday." Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954) 18 April 1929: 2. Web. 18 Jun 2018 .

Monday, June 18, 2018

Closed Access

I am a member of four local genealogy/family history groups that provide access to print and digital resources for their members. The cost of purchasing, housing and maintaining these collections is high so it is important that members who provide the $$$ for these collections should be able to access them easily.

Two of these groups work with and are supported by their local libraries. Their family history resources are shelved in open access in the local libraries and are available to group members, the local community and visitors to the library during the hours the libraries are open seven days a week.

Family History Resources at a local library
The other two groups have their collections housed in rooms leased from local authorities. One group provides access to resources for sixteen hours per week during the middle of the day. The other group only  provides access on one weekday and one weekend day totalling about ten hours per month. For the remainder of the time the resources of these groups are locked away and not accessible by users.

One problem is that those societies who house their own resources rely on volunteers to open the rooms to fellow members and volunteers are thin on the ground. Sadly some groups don't want to share resources purchased with membership dollars with outsiders.

It makes me so sad to see these valuable collections locked away. Invariably I am otherwise engaged when the doors to these collections are unlocked so I miss out on gaining access.

If I find myself in the area where the collection stored at the local library and find myself with half an hour up my sleeve I can pop in for a quick spot of research.

I wish more genie groups would approach their local authorities and work on ways to make their resources more accessible. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trove Tuesday - A Modern Kitchen

Today the GeniAus family is having a new kitchen installed. While some of the finishes in the new kitchen are different many of the features are similar to those in this Modern 1940 kitchen.
1940 'MODERN KITCHEN', Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954), 24 April, p. 10. , viewed 08 Jun 2018,


To keep the kitchen spotless has always entailed endless
work for the average housewife. In the kitchen there are
many acids and corrosives which are a danger to the ordinary
enamel fittings, such as sinks, drainers, stoves, etc.

The kitchen illustrated provides a solution to the home builder
who desires comfort and utility in his kitchen.The sink is of stain-
less steel cast in one piece with a continuous draining board, while
the end benches with cupboards under have stainless steel tops of
mirror finish.

The fronts of sinks and cupboards are faced with acid resisting
sheet porcelain enamel, with doors flushed face to match. The elec-
tric stove is recessed in the wall and has its own electric exhaust
ing fan for fumes and gas exhaust and is carried out in porcelain
to match cupboards.

Walls round sinks and stove are tiled in deep cream tiles with
jade green inlay bands, whilst the floor is covered with strip jade
green rubber covering. Elevated cupboards over drainers allow space
for crockery storage with flush faced fronts, and all fittings, in-
cluding refrigerator, are so placed to allow of good circulation and
a minimum amount of walking during the working of the kitchen.

Cream Venetian blinds cover the long low window and complete
a scheme of which the housewife should be proud.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Frugal Genealogy

Way back in March I was interviewed at  Rootstech  by Andy from Family History Fanatics. Andy Lee and his wife Devon had done their homework prior to interviewing me as they had discovered that the week after Rootstech I would be back in Australia presenting at Congress, The  15th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry. They knew that one of my topics would be "Managing Frugally:Free Tools for Genies and Family History Groups" so when they interviewed me they focussed on frugality.

Andy conducted quite a few interviews at Rootstech which Family History Fanatics are posting on their Youtube Channel progressively throughout the year. This week it was my turn. Thanks Andy and team for giving me a chance to chat with you.

Perhaps my fellow genies may gather a few tips from our chat.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A New Convert

Just a couple of years ago an old friend, let's call her Margaret, whom I had known for 60+ years said "I'm adopted you know". When I replied that I had known for years she asked why hadn't mentioned it to her. I hadn't said anything as I didn't know if she knew (and when my mother told me she made me promise not to tell).

At that time her elderly father was still alive and well and Margaret said that she didn't want to know about her biological family.

Schooldays for Margaret and Jill
Margaret, an only child, cared for her father who lived to a very ripe old age. I caught up with Margaret last year, two years after her father died and she informed me that she was going to delve into her biological family's history. She has recently procured a copy of her original birth certificate from which she learnt that she was born in Sydney and that her biological mother was from a country town. As often happened on the 40s and 50s single girls who found themselves in the family way moved to the city for a while.

When we met up last week Margaret said she had done a bit of research on Trove and asked for my help as she wondered if she had identified the right maternal family in the country town. We had a long chat and I think I convinced Margaret to take an Ancestry DNA test to see if she could discover something of her paternal ancestry. We discussed all the issues and Margaret realises that what she might find out may be confronting.

I jumped at the opportunity to help Margaret with her maternal line but didn't want to push her too far as it has taken her a long time to become curious about her biological family. I emailed her offering a few options: "Do you want me to send you a list of the ancestors, just the names of her parents or nothing at all? I don't want to spoil your fun but with a few clues you may be able to find some more stories on Trove."

Her response came quickly."Please if it's not too much trouble anything to sate my curiosity would be great." I have had an issue with bursitis that has prevented me from doing a lot of keyboarding but I have become adept at left handed mousing and that's all I need to hunt down people.  I was off and running.

It's the first time in years that I have started building a person's tree from scratch and it was so much easier than when I started out 30 years ago. That Margaret's maternal ancestors had been in the one country town for around 150 years made my hunt a little easier.

To keep track of things I started a new project in my Family Historian software (again so much easier to manage than when I started out using old library catalogue cards and paper charts to record info) and recorded facts as I found them. I was lucky to find Margaret's ancestors in some Ancestry trees, these hints sent me searching for sources to confirm them. I tried to work back one generation at a time. Every so often I created a fan chart to check my progress and make sure I wasn't neglecting any branches.

Last night I produced a Ancestors' report and a fan chart for Margaret from Family Historian. I emailed these together with a couple of documents I found online including a copy of the naturalisation document for her German ancestor (I had never seen one of these before). I found ancestors back to the mid 18th century from England, Germany and Ireland. I hope Margaret takes a DNA test so we can see what other genes she may have.

"I've just looked and find it all soo amazing that you could find so much info - you really are "Sherlock!" was the response I received by email this morning. This was followed a couple of hours later, after Margaret had digested the report I had sent her, by a phone call thanking me profusely for what I had done and exclaiming that I was a magician to have created the fan chart. I did fess up and say that my software Family Historian created that. Margaret also learnt that she had been researching the wrong family line on Trove but I reminded her that, as the name is not a common one, the families may indeed be related some generations back and on coming to Australia have chosen to settle in the same district. This was the case with my Irish ancestors.

Margaret is an intelligent and curious woman who will have so much fun researching her biological mother's family on Trove. I have had a peek and there is lots there to find. I know she will go beyond Trove and check out the online sources I have outlined in her Ancestors' report. I'll be on hand to answer any questions she may have a long the way.

I am confident that we have a New Convert to Family History in Margaret.

Monday, June 4, 2018

It's not a Genealogy Blog

This week I stumbled across a blog from a chap I worked with eons ago at a school in Burwood. I didn't know that he was a blogger who has been at it since 2013.

In his blog "So this weekend we..." John shares some photos from the outings he and his wife take each weekend. John explains why on this page: "This little project, to do something together each week, came about when we realised just how busy our lives are and how we could go for more than a week at a time without really doing anything together. So we decided to do something together each week under the umbrella of a theme, and that theme would change each year."

John's theme for 2018 is particularly relevant to we ancestor chasers, John and Robyn are  remembering members of their family both living and deceased by visiting Sydney streets bearing their first names. You can see the posts in this category here: We Genies could borrow this category for a blogging theme!

As well as introducing us to their family John's posts have showcased Sydney as he and Robyn walk, cycle or travel to all corners of the city.

John probably isn't into genealogy but. through this blog. he is creating a legacy for his future descendants who may want to know about the lives of their ancestors.

So this weekend we... is enhanced by a slick design and fab photos. Why don't you drop in and take a look. Tell John that Jill sent you.


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