Tuesday, September 25, 2018


When my Mother passed away a year ago I spent time between her death and funeral reminiscing and preparing her eulogy. As an only child I wanted to give the eulogy as I had for my Dad when he passed away in 2001. As well as having some notes I realised that having images to accompany my talk would make my task easier so I created a Powerpoint presentation for the funeral.

I have decided that I will share the photos and some notes from my eulogy to this blog so that the story of Mum's ordinary life will be preserved on the Pandora Archive.

To me Elsie was a mother but she was more than that. In the next few minutes I will examine some of the roles Elsie played in life and share a few vignettes with you.

 Elsie was born to Frank and Ethel Duncan on a hot summer’s day in 1923 at Cobar. The first of the five Duncan girls she outlived all her siblings and her elder brother Bill Chatfield. For the first few years of her life the family lived out of Cobar on a property named Elsinore. They moved to town when it was time for Elsie to start school.

Although there wasn’t a lot of money to go around Mum had a good life in Cobar where she had many pets including Trixie the dog, horses and a pet kangaroo.

Grandfather Frank's travelling cafe
Mum loved travelling around the countryside to race meetings, football matches etc with her Dad in his catering van from which he sold home made ginger beer and pies made by Ethel. Elsie enjoyed school and loved needlework but hated her piano lessons at the local convent. 

When she left school Elsie’s father took her up to the local post office where she got her first job. I think Elsie inherited her strong work ethic from her mother who ran a cafĂ© in Cobar and worked in several domestic situations. 

The family moved to Sydney during the second world war as Frank thought there would be more opportunities there for his family. He took Elsie and her sister Eileen to the Sydney GPO where they gained employment, Elsie as a telephoniste.  Elsie was devoted to her brother and sisters. There was no need for a huge circle of friends, her siblings filled this need. She was particularly devoted to her sister Eileen who was sick for many years.

The Duncan Girsl, brother Bill and Mum Ethel

The siblings marked many family celebrations with a group photos.

 Elsie met Dad, Allan Curry, when he boarded with the Duncan family at Kensington. They were married shortly after the death of her father hence it was a quiet wedding. When Dad was diagnosed with diabetes around 1956 Mum became his carer. That, as an insulin dependent diabetic, he reached his eighties was attributable to the watchful eye of Elsie who monitored his health and diet.

 Nine months after my parents marriage I arrived. Since that day until recent times I, and then my family, were the focus of Mum’s life, her raison d’etre. Mum always worked, firstly part-time as a telephoniste, in her friend Roma’s hairdressing salon, with her sister Kath in their delicatessen, then in Farmers Department store and when I was older she took on fulltime clerical work.

Dad believed in saving every penny while Mum believed in spending every dollar that came her way. Working gave her the independence to keep us well dressed and entertained.

Mum wasn’t educated but she valued education. During the ten years I attended university part-time she and Dad, collected the kids from school and Mum cooked dinner for the family twice a week while she directed Dad in doing the family ironing. Without Mum I wouldn’t have my degrees.

In 1972 Elsie became a grandmother. She loved the four grandchildren selflessly. She and Dad took them on many outings and holidays although the holidays stopped when their ranks swelled to four. Dad would come up with the idea for a trip to the zoo or a picnic and Mum would have to organise and cater. Now that I am older and a grandmother I realise how difficult this was for her. No wonder she wore a pained expression in some of Dad’s photos. 

When we installed the kids in a home unit next door to Elsie and Allan's home in Dolphin Street I don’t know who was babysitting whom but they all kept an eye on each other.

We have so many happy memories of meals shared with or cooked by Elsie. Crumbed cutlets, roast lamb and lasagne were her standards. Cooking wasn’t her strong point but she tried and our stomachs were filled.

Elsie rejoiced at the births of her great-grandchildren. When recently told that she had 12 Great-Grandchildren Elsie couldn’t believe it. She always was thrilled to see the children but with her failing memory wasn’t able to identify them. Her sharp wit remained with her to the end, the kids enjoyed her humorous quips and comments (and her Favourites chocolates).

From a young age Elsie was an active member of the broader community. She was a member of the Junior Red Cross in Cobar, ANZAC House younger set as a young woman and in recent years an office bearer with the RSL Ladies Auxiliary, Probus and the War Widows Guild.

With a gregarious nature Elsie made many friends over the years,Too many for me to list. Three of those friendships that endured over eighty years were with Mavis who went to school with her in Cobar, Roma who lived with the Duncan family in Kensington, and Joan, wife of her brother Bill.

Mum enjoyed a party. She also loved to dress up and play the fool.

Elsie loved a celebration. On Victory in the Pacific Day, 15th August 1945, Mum went out into Martin Place in Sydney and danced in the crowd.

She was always happy to go for a ride, bike, car or bus, Elsie loved an outing. Although she couldn’t drive Elsie was always up to be a passenger. She and her sister Kath went driving and shopping nearly every Saturday until Kath stopped driving.

After losing Allan in 2001 Elsie lived on at Randwick for several years. When she decided it was time to move she took up residence at RedleafApartments in Wahroonga. She loved the idea of being a North Shore lady and enjoyed the social outings at Redleaf. She nearly ran me ragged on our shopping trips for appropriate fashions. Wahroonga ladies didn’t shop at Millers! 

When she needed more care Elsie moved to the neighbouring hostel at Carise Place where she had a happy and peaceful stay. As Mum’s dementia increased over the past few years our roles reversed. I have watched her fade away but her passing last week was still a shock. I am so grateful to the family for calling us back from overseas so that we could say goodbye.

Hers wasn’t a remarkable life but it was a full life, Elsie’s focus was on her family. 

Elsie’s spirit lives on through her descendants. We will cherish her memory.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Virtual Genealogy Association - New South Wales Chapter

I know that several of my genimates have joined The Virtual Genealogy Association  and are enjoying the educational program of webinars served out as part of their membership (Great value for $US20 per annum). Already there is an impressive library of a dozen webinars on a wide range of subjects given by an international team of experts.

What you may not realise is that there are closed Facebook Groups for Chapters within the organisation where members with shared interests can chat and collaborate. Most of the US States have Chapters for members with interests in a particular States.  International Chapters include those for BeNeLux, Canada, Ireland, Norway and South Africa. In Australia we have had Chapters for Queensland and Western Australia and now there is a Chapter for New South Wales for which I am an administrator.

If you are a member of the The Virtual Genealogy Association  how about joining me in The Facebook Group (please only apply if you are a financial member).

Saturday, September 22, 2018


Trawling through my digitised photos I came across this set from 30 years ago when our son played  both Baby Face and a Dummy in The Scots' College Preparatory School production of Bugsy Malone. Our boy is the little blonde cutie in the black shirt and white tie.

I loved the productions the boys participated in during their time at the The Scots' College .

Thursday, September 20, 2018

298 Pages

Each year I pay my Ancestry subscription so that I have the resources available at my fingertips whenever I have a question to answer.

I have been researching my tree for 30 years now and some of my research is very old and needs to be revisited. Whenever I see the shaky green leaves on Ancestry I tend to ignore them.  I have finally decided that I need to check out the hints that Ancestry keeps sending me - there are 298 pages of them!

298 Pages
I have decided to concentrate on the 228 pages containing 4546 Record Hints in the set because many of the hints from Member Trees are riddled with errors and may mislead me. If I ever manage to get through this lot I will take a look at the Member Trees. The Record Hints should be more reliable!

Only 228 Pages of Record Hints

One of the reasons for this new found zeal is that I want to identify my many DNA matches and  having details of  BDMs for collateral relatives will help in this regard. Previously I have concentrated on my direct line.

So what is my process?  I am a bit hit and miss in the way I access the hints but have decided that I will use the Sort by Last Name, I realise that I may never get to the end of the alphabet!

I have a copy of my tree on my Family Historian database open as I look at the hints. I look at each hint and find the individual in Family Historian, I will add the fact and source there if it is a new one to me plus download any related image to the individual in question's folder on my hard drive. I then add the source to my Private Tree on Ancestry. If I already have the source on Family Historian I omit that step and just add it to the Private Ancestry tree. My Ancestry tree may not exactly mirror my Family Historian tree but I can live with that. My Family Historian tree is my Master Tree.  I am selecting Ignore for those records that are obviously incorrect but am finding that sometimes Ancestry doesn't take any notice of my Ignores and subsequently reoffers the incorrect records, Grrr.

This is slow going but already in two evenings I have found several Baptism records that give me dates of birth for various ancestors, I have found a death for Mr GeniAus' Great-Grandmother (need to order certificate to make sure it is right), buried a few folk and have married off several distant cousins. These last ones are useful for my DNA matching.

It will be a long haul but at least I have started the journey and am getting more value from my Ancestry sub.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

SS Great Britain

Between 1852 and 1875 Brunel's SS Great Britain often carried more than 600 passengers and crew between Liverpool and Melbourne, Australia. The ship made this journey 32 times. Many Australians have ancestors who arrived on this vessel, perhaps someone in your family was a passenger.

On our recent holiday Mr GeniAus and I traveled to Briston to visit the restored ship and associated exhibits in its dry dock at The Great Western Dockyard.  As seasoned travellers we have visited many tourist sites, we found this to be a highlight of our recent 7 week journey.

Although we visited in the high season in British school holidays there was plenty of space to walk around the museum and ship. We may have been lucky but we found a parking spot in the adjacent car park and after our visit we had a tasty sandwich in a cafe on the site. The less said about Bristol's peak hour traffic as we left the city on a Friday afternoon the better!

We learnt so much about ships, immigration and the difficult journeys our ancestors made to move to their new homes in the southern hemisphere. We both found this visit utterly fascinating and would recommend to highly to anyone visiting the UK. If your ancestors travelled on the ship it is a must.

Of course we took a few photos.

The horses came too

Livestock on deck

A visit to the doctor

The Head

One of the more spacious cabins!


Little Bourke Street - Immigrant accomodation in steerage

View from below

GeniAus at the helm
The SS Great Britain website has a wealth of information about the ship and Brunel. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Visit to FWL

On our recent holiday I took a little time off from touristing to catch up with some genimates.

As we headed to Bristol to visit the SS Great Britain we detoured via Calne in Wiltshire to call at the offices of Family Wise Ltd to have a cuppa with Managing Director, Kirsty Gray and her crew.

I knew that Kirsty had a thriving People Finding business but I was blown away by the size of the enterprise I found in a quaint heritage building in this quiet corner of Wiltshire.

FWL Headquarters
Beavering away in this open office were seven researchers busily tracking down  ancestors and heirs. And this is not the full complement of the Family Wise Ltd  team, they have a team of researchers who work off site in many corners of the world. Both Mr GeniAus and I were impressed by the FWL set up. With the way this business is growing I fear it may soon have to find more spacious premises.

Kirsty and GeniAus

FWL Wall of fame - Difficult mysteries solved

Kirsty and her Mini Me companion
From this office Kirsty with the assistance of Katherine Harrison, Event Planner, and the Board for the event is coordinating the organisation of THE Genealogy Show 2019. With the energetic Kirsty at the helm this event promises to be a huge success. I'll be heading to Birmingham for the show in June 2019.

Event Planner, Katherine

Lost in DNA

Who will be joining me at this SAG event in Sydney, Lost in DNA in Sydney on 3 and 4 November?

The lineup of presenters for the event is pretty impressive. On the list are:  Diahan Southard, Louise Coakley, Maurice Gleeson, Danielle Lautrec, Heather Garnsey, Kerry Farmer, Martyn Killion, Mel Hulbert, Michelle Patient, Veronica Williams and members of the SAG DNA Research Group. 

I just went to the SAG web page to register and found that there are only 36 of the 135 places at this event left. If you, like me, need some help sorting out your DNA then it would be advisable to book now.

I know that I will be less lost after attending this event.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...