Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Trove Tuesday - A New Fad

 Looks like this new fad from 1896 has endured!

1896 'The Family Tree Fad.', The Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 - 1922), 4 February, p. 16. , viewed 29 Dec 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79763036

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2020

For most of us 2020 was very different from normal as we faced the challenges served up by Covid19. I am back again asking you to take some time to reflect on the past year and focus on the positives that you experienced in spite of or because of the Corona Virus.

I nearly forgot to post the challenge but was alerted when geneablogger Lilian Magill wrote a response before I sent out a reminder. Thanks Lilian.

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2020

I invite you to take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post. Write as much or as little as you want and complete as many statements as you wish. If you wish to take part and don't have a blog email me your responses and I will post them here on the GeniAus blog.

Once you have done so please share your post's link in a comment on this post or to me via email to jillballau@gmail.com. I will, 
later in January January, compile a list of links to your contributions here on this blog.

Remember to Accentuate the Positive 
(Please delete the items that are not relevant to your situation.)

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was

2.  A great newspaper article I found was

3.  A geneajourney I planned but didn't take was 

4.  I located an important record

5.  A newly found family member shared

6.  A geneasurprise I received was

7.   My 2020 social media post that I was particularly proud of was

8.   I made a new genimate who

9.  A new piece of technology or skill I mastered was

10. I joined

11. A genealogy education session or event from which I learnt something new was

A blog post that taught me something new was

13. A DNA discovery I made was

14. I taught a genimate how to

15. A brick wall I demolished was 

16. A great site I visited was

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was

18. Zoom gave me an opportunity to

19. I am excited for 2021 because

20. Another positive I would like to share is ...

Monday, December 28, 2020

DNA Bounty

Back in 2016 in a post titled Giggle and Scrape I related the story of a luncheon with two of my first cousins and the fun we had when I produced DNA kits from my handbag.

The cousins willingly agreed to take an FTDNA test for me. At the time Ancestry DNA was the new kid on the block and experts were suggesting FTDNA as the place to test. I also uploaded these results to Gedmatch. The number of matches we have received from these matches is rather disappointing. 

Meanwhile in June 2015 I had tested with Ancestry (that new kid on the block) which due to clever and aggressive marketing now has the largest database and is the place suggested by experts as the first choice when diving into DNA testing. I have found at least ten times more good matches on Ancestry than on FTDNA. I have also tested with MyHeritage which is providing some good matches. I have had little joy from 23andMe and Living DNA.

Both Jane (Cousin Number 1 that tested for me in 2016) and me are only children whose parents and all our aunts and uncles are deceased. The good news is that we are double first cousins so all of Jane's matches will be related to me and vice versa. Jane's three daughters who have all tested recently with Ancestry have many shared matches with me. It was a no brainer that Jane needed to spit for Ancestry.

When Jane and the girls visited in October I produced an Ancestry kit and with lots of giggling and encouragement from her daughters Jane dutifully managed to find some saliva. 

The results of Jane's test came in a few days before Christmas.  Even though I have had limited time to examine Jane's results I am thrilled with what I have already found, I am so grateful to Jane for generously submitting to another test. 

Jane's big spit

What I have learnt so far is that Jane and her daughters are my closest matches after my daughter.

Already Jane's matches have provided me with keys to identify and confirm more cousins. In time I hope they will help to bring more of our ancestors out of hiding.

There are many instances where matches are unique to Jane or me, the first of these occurs at the predicted 4th cousin level where Jane has a 75cm match to someone I have been able to identify on our maternal line.

There are also several instances where I have a very small match of 10-20cm but Jane has much higher matches with these persons. Confirmation that my small matches are valid is comforting.

Jane's percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Island ethnicity is higher than mine

To avoid confusion I have used the same Ancestry dotting schema for Jane's test as for mine. As someone who isn't too deeply into DNA I use a spreadsheet to track my matches, I had already used this for Jane's FTDNA and Gedmatch results and will add the Ancestry matches there too.

I am so thrilled with Jane's results that I will produce an Ancestry kit next time I catch up with Cousin 2 (1st cousin - paternal line) from 2016. I saw her at a function prior to Christmas but didn't have a kit with me, I won't be caught short next event.

I'm hoping that January will provide me with some time to go through all of Jane's matches down to around 15centimorgans.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

From the Archives - A Christmas Geneameme

 I posted this back in 2012. Some things have changed - my mother has passed away, the grandchild count has gone up and we have moved to a different location. I may need to revisit the meme. 

If YOU have time how about copying the questions and sharing your responses on your blog?

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Bring a Shared Plate - Seriously!

I am nervous about going out in public during this pandemic and trust that those places I visit take a responsible approach to our safety during the pandemic. I steer clear of sites that don't appear to be CovidSafe.

This morning when going through my Facebook stream I saw an announcement decorated with Christmassy symbols from a local historical society giving details of their General Meeting this coming week. 

When I read some of the text in the announcement I was flabbergasted and fuming. Members attending were exhorted to "Bring a share plate of Christmas cheer"! I could not believe I was reading this in the light of the new outbreak of Covid19 in our State. When planning events we need to ensure the safety of all who are attending. Perhaps the people at xxx Historical Society have a Covidsafe food handling plan in place, perhaps they don't. I'd like to know.

I thought long and hard and tried to be kind when I left this comment on their post "Sorry to be a party pooper but I just have to comment. Let's encourage our communities to embrace CovidSafe practices and discourage shared plates."

This advice comes from "Gathering Safely" on our NSW Health website:
"Think about how you share food. Rather than having common platters, give each person an individual portion." I notice that this is how the Newcastle Family History Society managed their afternoon teas responsibly last week.

We had a similar event at Lake Macquarie Family History Group which was our first face to face event since March. Prior to the event we circulated our CovidSafe plan to members and asked them to BYO food and drink. 

I am aware that we are living in a pandemic and  while knowing  that we reside in a safe area away from Sydney I recognise that people in our area travel to Sydney and conversely people from our area travel to Sydney. There is no place for complacency. Those of us who hold positions of responsibility in community organisations must lead the way and provide a safe environment for any event we host. 

I decided not to name and shame the  local Group in the hope that they see my comment and amend their plans. I am hopeful that they will do so.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Two or more birds with one stone

 If I was asked to list my interests apart from genealogy and living family I would nominate reading, travel and photography. I love to share my enthusiasm for these pursuits in person, print and online.

I revel in those times when I can kill two or more birds with one stone and undertake activities that allow me to indulge in more than one of these interests. 

During these Covid times I've had a regular date at 4pm on a Friday with a cup of coffee and members of The Society of Australian Genealogists. Each week members of this group from all over Australia hang out together online via Zoom to discuss a genealogy related topic. I have to admit that while some of the discussions are interesting I have relished the opportunity to put names to faces and communicate with fellow members of the Society. These events have added a human dimension to the Society's educational program and have given a platform for members to share some of their stories and associated brickwalls.

This afternoon I am thrilled that I will be hosting the final SAG Hang Out for 2020. The topic "Summer Reading" will give me an opportunity to have a bookish chat with fellow family historians. How great is that? It will be difficult to curb my enthusiasm and remember that, as I am wearing the host hat, my role is to encourage attendees to share their recommendations for must-read books both old and new. 

If you are coming along please bring details of your fave books to share.

PS Apologies to the gentleman on an Hawaiian beach who was so absorbed in his reading that he didn't notice me taking his photo (I have quite a collection of snaps from all over the world of  readers with their heads buried in books).

Monday, December 7, 2020


19 December 2020 Update: I will continue to add to this list as I read more books and remember more previously read.

The topic for ANZAncestryTime this week is Migration across the seas.

This theme prompted me to reflect on some of the books I had read about immigrants or refugees who travelled to make a new life in Australia, some came by sea and some by air.  I went scurrying back to my reading log on Librarything to jog my memory for those titles.

Following is a list of some of the books I enjoyed.

Almost like home : living in Bradfield Park, Michael Hogan

The Arrival, Shaun Tan (Picture book - suggested by Carmel Galvin).

Benedictine pioneers in Australia, Henry Norbert Birt

The Boat by Nam Le  (Suggested by Carmel Galvin)

Chinese whispers : in search of ivy : a gold rush story told by generations of an Australian-Chinese family, Alison Choy Flannigan

Convict women, Kay Daniels

Cop This Lot, Nino Culotta

Esther : the extraordinary true story of the First Fleet girl who became first lady of the colony by Jessica North

Fair Game, Elizabeth Rushen

Farewell my children : Irish emigration to Australia 1848-1870,  Richard Reid

The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts, Sian Rees

Free Passage, Perry McIntyre

Freedom's land, Anna Jacobs

From Distress to Deliverance : the life and times of william gow, convict, schoolmaster and farmer, Stephen Gow

The Happiest Refugee, Anh Do

The glory garage : growing up Lebanese Muslim in Australia, Nadia Jamal

The happiest man on Earth, Eddie Jaku

Hell ship, Michael Veitch  (Suggested by Jennifer Jones)

I Kept on Dancing: A Life's Journey from Nazi Germany to the Lucky Country, Olga Geddes

Inheritance of secrets, Sonya Bates

Into the Suburbs : A Migrant's Story, Christopher Raja

The Italian girl, Rebecca Huntley

Joyful strains : making Australia home, Kent MacCarter

Sunday, November 29, 2020

From the Archives - There's one in every family!

 Reposting this entry from 29 November 2010.

One of the photos from the original post is missing and some of the links are broken.  Since 2010 there have been three more family baptisms and one funeral at St Mary's. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

"There's one in every family!" or "6 Baptisms, 5 Weddings and a Funeral"

 I have been scratching my head as I wonder who or what to write about for the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.  After much ruminating I am writing about a place significant to our family history. I had previously blogged about St. Mary's in July and, as the Carnival creates an opportunity for my post to reach a wider audience, I am going to embellish and repost for the Carnival.

Our children have all been baptised and married at St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in Waverley, NSW. The Church has also been the venue for some of our grandchildren's baptisms and the funerals of other family members.

St Mary the Virgin is an historic church in Birrell Street, Waverley . There is a short history of the Church at the Waverley Council website. A book on the history of the Church, Through the archway of the years : St. Mary's Church, Waverley, N.S.W., 1864-1964, can be found in the National Library of Australia. A list of the clergy who have served at St. Mary's can be found on the Church site.

The Church was designed by Edmund Blacket, a prominent Victorian architect and personal friend of the first rector, Stanley Mitchell. Blacket, who became the official Colonial Architect 1849-1854, was responsible for the design of many 19th century sandstone buildings in Sydney including St Andrew's Cathedral

St Mary's circa 1900 (Powerhouse collection)
  St Mary's foundation stone was laid on June 6th, 1863 and the Church was dedicated on May 13th, 1864. Additions and modifications have been made to the Church during the past 150 years.  The Church and Organ are listed on the NSW State Heritage Register and the Church on The Register of the National Estate.

1983 St. Mary's Christmas Pageant - Rev Terry Dicks and children including my four as angels and Joseph

In recent times our family has celebrated significant occasions at St. Mary's Anglican Church Waverley. A peek at the tags in my digital family album shows that I have several hundred photographs tagged St Mary's. As well as hatches, matches and dispatches there are photos of social events, confirmations, Christmas pageants and Sunday School events. The picture on the header of this blog is taken at the most recent family wedding at St. Mary's.

1986 - Confirmees

2009 Family Wedding - Rev Beth Spence

2009 Family Christening - Rev Michael Spence

 St Mary's is a happy place as described in a 2004 article in the Anglicans Together Newsletter,  St. Mary's Church, Waverley : High and Happy.

1997 Family Wedding
 More recent news of the Parish is detailed in the snippets below from http://www.stmaryswaverley.org.au/page1/page12/page12.html

St Mary's is a significant place in our family history as so many family events took place in this beautiful Church.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

From the Archives - Genea-Santa

 Back in December 2009 I posted on this blog my letter to Genea-Santa. My requests would be similar today. What's on your list for Genea-Santa in 2020?

BTW I have removed the dead links from original post.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

21st Century Genealogy - 2010 Style

It's a geneaversary for me today. Back in 2010 I was dipping my toes into the water as a genealogy presenter with my very first presentation. Since that date I have given numerous talks at libraries, societies and conferences in Australia and overseas. Although currently all I present are online  I prefer being in a room where I can eyeball and involve the attendees.

Photo: Courtesy of Mosman Library

Discovery of this auspicious occasion was serendipitous. Yesterday I went fishing in the archive of my presentations on an external hard drive and came across 21st Century Genealogy, a talk I gave at Mosman Library on this day in 2010. In a subsequent blog post I talked about my experience at Mosman and my second presentation that same week which was for UnlockthePast

The first thing I noticed was that I hadn't used Powerpoint to deliver my talk, I created the talk in Dreamweaver, a web authoring tool that I had been using in my working life. I moved on to Powerpoint around 2011.

Home page of my presentation

It was interesting to look back on my content. Web 2 was a buzzword in 2010. The Did you know 4? link had me perplexed. Turns out it was a link to this video which I played during the presentation.

In the page on the 21st Century Genealogist I reflected on past and current practices (some of which have changed since 2010). I emphasised that it was good practice to combination of 20th and 21st century practices ie select  the best approach for each task at hand.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Concerning Cemeteries

 If there's one thing I like it's a cemetery, another thing I enjoy is responding to Geneameme challenges from fellow family historians.

In recent weeks I have been a bit snowed under with various geneactivities and I haven't attended to one item on my "To Do" list, that is to respond to Carmel Galvin's Concerning Cemeteries Geneameme. My calendar for this week is reasonably clear so first task on my ticket is to think about cemeteries.

It's never too late to respond to a geneameme so, please, join in. Carmel said:

"I look forward to reading a great variety of experiences and viewing the accompanying photos. Please add a link to your blog post in the comments below and I will list them all in a blogpost."

I have illustrated the responses that follow with a few of my cemetery photos.

A beautifully tended plot or cemetery
My prize for the most beautifully tended cemeteries goes to The Commonwealth War Graves Commission for all of their sites. Mr GeniAus and I have visited CWGC cemeteries in Belgium, Egypt, England, France, Singapore,Thailand and Turkey. Each site  has been very well maintained, they are fitting memorials to our fallen.

Tyne Cot, Belgium

El Alamein, Egypt

Kranji War Memorial, Singapore

Overawed by the size 
Rookwood Cemetery, where many members of our family rest is, according to Billion Graves, the sixth largest cemetery in the world. 

My Maternal Grandparents : Frank Duncan and Ethel Jane Pusell

Coldest (temperature wise!)/ hottest
It's a toss up between Greenland and Iceland for the coldest. It was fairly cold in summer at this cemetery at Eyjafjörður  in Iceland. We attended a concert given by some local girls in the Church there. 

Eyjafjörður  in Iceland

Smallest - most intimate
There's only one grave on this site at Kagoshima Japan.

Largest - tombstone or graveyard
Pro Hart's Grave in Broken Hill is fairly impressive

Pro Hart's Grave, Broken Hill Cemetery

Most memorable, monumental or unforgettable
One of Pro Hart's neighbours, Joycelyn Daisy Delbridge (nee Harvey) has an unforgettable headstone.
Was a genealogist responsible for all the names on the headstone?

Oldest grave found or oldest established cemetery visited
These headstones in the Punic Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia looked rather old to me.

Punic Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia

Simple marker 
In contrast to the headstones in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries the graves in the American Cemetery in Manila in the Philippines are quite simple. The cemetery was beautiful  and maintained to a high standard.

Manila American Cemetery

The unexpected
I was surprised that all of the graves in this Communist Cemetery in Tirana, Albania were exactly the same.

Best find ever
The best find ever is, for me, the most recent big find. 

Last year we visited the Fulneck Moravian Settlement in Pudsey and met the archivist in the Church there. We consulted original records with the archivist, Rev. Hilary Smith, who gave us directions to the Moravian Burial Ground at Gomersal where we found the burial site of Mr GeniAus' 4xGreat-Grandmother ,Betty Birkby

Mr GeniAus - Moravian Burial Ground, Gomersal

The grave marker of Betty Birky later Midgley

Locals lived here
From the washing hanging on a line and clothes on hangers it looks like someone may have lived in this mausoleum in an old cemetery we toured in Manila, Philippines

Washing Day!

At the crematorium
Here I must mention a book that I read and enjoyed. The author writes about her time working as an assistant in a crematorium. 
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty is a good read. I borrowed the eBook from a local library

Closest relatives are buried here e.g. parents, sibling/s
Mum, Dad, Paternal Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts can be found in Botany Cemetery now called Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park. After Mum passed away I ordered a new headstone as the lettering had faded on the one on which we had Dad's name inscribed. I hope the new headstone of "Best Black Granite" lasts longer than the first.

Elsie Harriet Duncan and Allan John Curry - Headstone

Most humorous incident
It wasn't funny at the time but we can laugh about it now. 

My maiden Aunt, Elsie May Duncan, is buried in the plot adjacent to my grandfather, Frank Duncan. When we turned up at Rookwood for my Grandmother's funeral in 1988 the gravediggers had opened the wrong grave and were set to bury Nanna , Ethel Jane Pusell, in with her sister-in-law. Nanna would probably have been happy with that but her daughters certainly were not. One of my Aunts, who was quite hysterical, put on quite a performance.

We all packed up and went off to the wake to give the diggers time to right the wrong. Just a couple of family members returned to the cemetery a few hours later to make sure that Nanna was put in her right place.

PS I'm adding a link to a blog post about surprise we found when on safari in Zambia.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A Distinguished Ancestor - Francis Jollie Gowans

On the eve of Remembrance Day we remember Francis Jollie Gowans who served in both the First and Second World Wars.

There is no need to write a blog post about Mr Geniaus' ancestor, Francis Jollie Gowans, as there are several biographical accounts online including this:  https://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/12283/. Frank's obituaries in The Times (London) and The British Medical Journal also provide accounts of his career and his Naval Record from The National Archives (UK) which contains many letters gives further details of his career.

What I can offer are some images from a family collection generously shared by a Gowans cousin in Wiltshire.

Francis Jollie Gowans

Highlights of Francis Jollie Gowans' career were his appointment as Honourary Surgeon to the King in 1937 and his subsequent award of The Companion of  the Order of the Bath (Military).

Source: Morning Post 9/7/1937

The Award

Francis Jollie Gowans (Right) at Buckingham Palace February 1938

Tell the World at #RootstechConnect

 Let's use this opportunity to tell the world about our Australian culture and share our stories from downunder.  YOU can submit your stories to RootstechConnect.  It's a great way to share a story or highlight someone or something in your life that's made you who you are today. 

Read all about it here:  https://www.rootstech.org/get-involved?lang=eng

Sunday, November 8, 2020

An invitation to join Heather

Australian GeneaGuru, Heather Garnsey, will be the guest speaker via Zoom on 14th November at The Lake Macquarie Family History Group meeting. As President of the Group I am honoured that Heather will be addressing our Group.

Heather's topic is The Sydney Benevolent Asylum and its triangle of care.

In 19th century Sydney the Benevolent Asylum was a place of temporary refuge for destitute ex-convicts, deserted wives and abandoned children and by the 1870s it was the main lying-in hospital for single pregnant girls. From the 1850s it also forged close relations with the Randwick Institute for Destitute Children and Liverpool Asylum. The surviving records can tell us a great deal about the people it helped.

I have previously heard this talk and learnt so much about the care of destitute people in New South Wales in the19th Century and beyond. I commend it to you.
The Group has allocated 20 spaces for visitors. If you would like to attend please email lakemacfhg@gmail.com. We still have several spaces available for genimates to attend.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Twelve years and smiling

Twelve years ago I was recovering at home from ankle surgery and on the verge of retirement. I had been blogging for work and wanted to keep up the blogging habit once I retired but I needed a focus for my blogging efforts.

Twelve year old Jill
I chose to blog about genealogy in which I had an interest. In the twelve years since I started this blog my interest has become a passion which Mr GeniAus would call an obsession. When I started this blog I was like the twelve year old Jill who was setting off for secondary school in her hat and white gloves and carrying her precious new briefcase. I did not know what lay ahead of me.

Over the years I have started several blogs for myself and for organisations with which I am involved. I have given up on some of my blogs. Others I set up for organisations  have languished in the hands of their new keepers. Although my posting schedule has been erratic at times I have nurtured this GeniAus blog for twelve years and am committed to seeing it through its teenage years.

The GeniAus blog has opened many doors for me. It was through my early blogging efforts that I was invited to be an official blogger for the first Rootstech Conference and I have served as an Official Blogger or Ambassador for each Rootstech event. The blog also has brought me invitations to speak at many events and to join genealogy boards and committees. I am a committed Lifelong Learner!

What I treasure most about the bounty the GeniAus blog has delivered are the friendships with a collection of dear Genimates. Mr GeniAus and I have made  friends around the world through my involvement in geneablogging and social media. 

Initially my blogging focus was news and resources, while I still share some of these items on my blogs I now use my Facebook GeniAusPage to share topical news and events and use the blog more for reflections and family stories.

In my very first post I said "I thought I would like a place to share progress, reflections and resources as I solve my genealogical jigsaw so here goes - another blog is born."  One thing I omitted is that now an important part of my purpose is to preserve the stories of my ancestors and my living family for future generations. The importance of this element was brought home to me when I received the following comment on my blog in 2012.

I accepted that invitation which reminded me of the importance of recording our social and family history in Australia. I am honoured that, as a result, the posts I write will be preserved for the future in what is now called The Australian Web Archive at Trove Australia, https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/collection

As I reflect on the GeniAus blog and my other blogging activities I have a smile as broad as that of the 12 year old Jill soaking up the Australian sunshine in her new swimsuit. 


Twelve year old Jill 


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