Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Trove Tuesday - A Silver Medal

I paid attention to one of those shaky green leaves that appeared on my Ancestry account this morning, this directed me to Trove.  I did a search for " Gowans September 1899" and immediately  found what I was seeking.

The back story is that we knew that William Purves Gowans, Mr GeniAus' Great-Grandfather, had taken part in a rescue in December 1898 and had previously read a newspaper report of that event. The new to me article I found described the event at the Sydney Town Hall at which Gowans received his medal. This excerpt from the article sets the scene:

"ON Monday evening, August 21, the National Shipwreck Relief Society of New South Wales held their twenty-second annual meeting in the Town Hall, his Excellency the Governor, Earl Beauchamp, presiding. There were also present on the platform: His Grace the Archbishop of Sydney, the Chief Justice (the Hon. Sir F. M. Darley), the Premier (the Right Hon. G. H. Reid, Mr. Richard Teece, F.I. A.., the Hon. Jacob Garrard, and many other prominent citizens ; also the following members of the committee : Mr. J. H. Storey (chairman), Mr. W. S. Buzacott (vice-chairman), Messrs. A. Kethel, M.L C., J. O. Fairfax, and Captains J. M. Banks, B. Jenkins, and A. W. Webber (secretary.)

The Town Hall was tastefully decorated with festoons of flags, and the handsome trophy of the
society occupied a prominent position in front of the great organ. From 7 to 7.30 the boys of the Sobraon Band (under Bandmaster F. J. Bourke) most creditably played from the eastern gallery several good selections, which were followed by a pro-gramme of music, well arranged by the secretary, Captain Webber".

Source: 1899 'No title', The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), 2 September, p. 563. , viewed 30 Mar 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article163701318

Further on the article describes Gowans' act of heroism:

"William Purves Gowans. -On December 3, 1898, Mr.
Gowans, who was on the North Coast Company's wharf,
Sussex-street, rescued a youth named Rose, who had
fallen into the water, Awarded Silver Medal and Cer
tificate of Merit."

It was pleasing to see that William was presented his award in such superior surroundings but the icing on the cake for us that, included with the article, was a photo of the awardees on the evening. 

 That's William looking serious on the right end of the front row. 

Being a good old VolunTrove I have tagged the article and image with William's name so that other descendants searching Trove will easily locate it.

For the curious: http://www.braveryaward.org/about.php gives a history of The National Shipwreck Relief Society of New South Wales

Monday, March 30, 2020


I was disappointed a few weeks ago when we lost our phone line and internet connection. I discovered this just a day before I was to present a webinar for The Society of Australian Genealogists on Online Books for Genealogy. Telstra managed to fix our issue in just under three weeks but that was too late for the webinar.

Online Books for Genealogy is topical for any time but is even more appropriate now that many of us are on self isolation. I'm thrilled that the webinar has been rescheduled as a lot of  time and energy went into its preparation. I hope to see may fellow members of SAG online for the webinar on April 9th. You can book on the Society website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Trove Tuesday - Doing my bit as a VolunTrove

As I believe in "paying it forward" I have been a VolunTrove since 2009. Around February this year the Trove  team coined this phrase for those volunteers in the Trove community who undertake what they call #TroveHomework ie participating in activities that add value to our amazing national resource, Trove . As well as those who correct text in the newspaper zone of Trove  VolunTroves  can make virtual collections by tagging items and creating lists on various topics.

Although I have been correcting text for over ten years I have not made the enormous contribution of those Hall o' fame  text correctors who have each corrected millions of lines of text. My contribution is but a drop in the ocean...but the ocean is made up of many drops!

I am classed as an "elderly at risk person" for the current Covid-19 Pandemic so I am practising Social Isolation  by self isolating at home.  This means that I have a lot of time on my hands. Of course, as I am a genealogy tragic, I will always have something to amuse myself.

Earlier this month I opened my Trove User Profile to check on my text correction status. 

My text correction tally is not too impressive. I have managed between 0 and  552 corrected lines per month since 2009 until February 2020. Nothing to gloat about!

I have made a commitment to be a good VolunTrove during my isolation and commit to correcting more lines per month. To date March 2020 has been my best month yet; as of this morning I have corrected 753 lines of text in March. That places me at position 2930 in the 
Hall o' fame table. I aim to improve on that.

I am concentrating on correcting articles relating to persons in my family tree. However, when I am in a Family Notices section, I correct some of the entries neighbouring those of my ancestors. I am also tagging entries with ancestors' names and creating lists for descendants of my first ancestors to arrive in Australia eg Descendants of Elizabeth Phipps

Please consider joining me as an active VolunTrove during your period of isolation. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Getting ready for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

During April 2020 the month of this #AtoZChallenge I will be sharing short posts on some of the 2,000+ descendants I have identified of my 3x Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Phipps

Elizabeth Phipps 1785-1869 was a convict who was transported from England to New South Wales in 1814 per Wanstead

Having participated in the challenge previously I realise that it can be a very difficult challenge that requires quite a deal of preparation.  I am devoting the next ten days to to preparation. So what am I doing?

1. I created a template for my posts so that will all have a consistent loo and feel. From this template I have created in Blogger twenty-six draft posts - one for each day of the challenge.

Some of my draft posts
2. I have created a spreadsheet on Google drive that has a line for each of my 26 posts. So far the columns I have are: Day,Date,Letter,Topic/Title,Descendant,Status,URL,Notes, Themes.

My nearly empty spreadsheet needs to be populated!
As I find an interesting ancestor or happy/sad/funny event in in ancestor's life I am adding it to my spreadsheet as a possible post.  

3.  It is many years since I researched this branch so I have forgotten the names of these cousinsso I have made a list of  Elizabeth's descendants from my software program as a memory jogger.

4. As many new records, especially on Trove and in the State BDM Indexes, have become available since I researched this branch I am updating their records in my database.

5. Concurrently with this I am adding any ancestor related article I find in Trove to my Trove List "Descendants of Elizabeth Phipps". 

6. I am trying to get at least one post written and scheduled each day until April 1 so that I have a buffer for days when challenges might arise!

7. I need to update my online family tree prior to the first post so that it reflects my recent research.

Wish me Luck!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Theme Reveal 2020 #AtoZChallenge - GeniAus Blog

I'm a bit late to the party but that is because I just decided to come along. I was supposed to be on a cruise in the South Pacific during April but the cancellation of the voyage due to Covid-19 has afforded me an opportunity to participate in the challenge.

The theme reveal was due on the 16th March so I am a few days late. Here goes

I've been convalescing from surgery at home for the last two months so I've been spending time revisiting research done years ago. Since that time new resources have come online so I have been able to update my records for these ancestors who deserve to have their stories told. As anything I write on this blog is backed up and preserved on Trove's Archived websites zone by the National Library of Australia the stories I share in this blog will live on.

So that this challenge will not be as onerous as I have found it in the past I will be sharing short posts on some of the 2,000+ descendants I have identified of my 3x Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth PhippsElizabeth Phipps 1785-1869 was a convict who was transported to New South Wales in 1814 per Wanstead. Many of these short stories will include newspaper reports from Trove's  Digitised Australian Newspaper Collection.

If you are elderly like me and practising social distancing to help flatten the curve how about joining me in the challenge.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Trove Tuesday - Crowds outside St Mary's

In recent weeks I have been using Trove to help me hatch, match and dispatch folk in my family tree for whom I only have year dates from vital record indexes for these events. I find Trove invaluable for confirming dates and places and providing extra details of births, weddings and deaths of  the Australian leaves on my tree.

One of the interesting articles I came across referred to the marriage of Thelma Margaret Farrell to Angus Hundy at Mudgee in 1944. Thelma shares my colourful convict ancestor, Elizabeth Phipps. While the article didn't give the Bride's full name I knew from the date of the article that it was referring to Thelma. It seems as though the wedding caused quite a stir on the streets of Mudgee, NSW.

1944 'Mainly About People', Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW : 1890 - 1954), 4 September, p. 2. , viewed 17 Mar 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article156240345
In case you were wanting further info on the event the following article will tell you a little more.

944 'Personal', Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW : 1890 - 1954), 31 August, p. 3. , viewed 17 Mar 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article156237083

Monday, March 9, 2020

Hunter Valley Pioneers

Years ago one of the websites I used when trying to track down my ancestors from the Hunter Valley was Pre 1900 Hunter Valley Pioneers which I believe was owned by Patricia May.  That useful website seems to have disappeared.

Patricia May was the compiler of a wonderful CD, Pre 1900 Hunter Valley Pioneers, which contained details of many Pioneer Families who settled in the Hunter Valley before 1900 and the names of several thousands of their descendants. Patricia was also the List Administrator for the
AUS-NSW-Hunter Valley mailing list on Rootsweb which has been made redundant.

Last week when I was down a rabbit hole on Facebook I came across this new to me Facebook Group "Hunter Valley Pioneers", https://www.facebook.com/groups/2188965821424253.  The Group description is "Family histories of pioneer families who settled in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia during the 1800's." Other Hunter historical records will be added over time." As my first ancestors in the Hunter,  Denis Tierney and Elizabeth D'arcy settled in the Dungog/Williams River area around 1840 I applied to join the Group. 

My membership was approved so I spent a bit of time this morning exploring the Group whose administrator turns out to be Patricia May who has obviously recognised the power of Facebook Groups for sharing information and facilitating connections in the geneasphere. 

The best news is that Patricia has generously shared the files from her CD as .pdf documents to members of the group. If you have Hunter Pioneers in your tree it will be well worth your while to join the Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2188965821424253

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Ambassadorship in Australia

There was a flurry of activity on the internet when Alan Phillips announced that Unlock the Past would be staging a huge geneaevent on The Sunshine Coast in March 2021. After the roaring success of DNA Downunder in Sydney last year Alan committed to giving us Family History Downunder, a world class genealogy conference with well regarded international speakers.

As someone who loves attending geneaevents overseas I have been privileged to hear each of the international speakers on the image to the right. Being able to hear them all under the one roof is a real treat for Australians.

I was one of the enthusiastic genies who took advantage of the opportunity to register for this event when it was announced. I hear that several hundred genies have already registered. You too can register at https://www.familyhistorydownunder.com/#booking-form and take advantage of the Earlybird Prices.

The good news in my mailbox was that I have been appointed as an Ambassador for this event so my blog is now featuring a new badge in its sidebar. While there are some perks to this appointment there are added responsibilities. Having been an Ambassador at similar events I find that I cannot comfortably manage being a Presenter and Ambassador so (when I had a whisper that I may be an Ambassador) I did not go ahead with an application to speak.

If you are considering attendance at the event remember to join the Facebook Group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/FamilyHistoryDownUnder, where you can ask questions and meet genimates prior to the conference.


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