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

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: 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:

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 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,

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 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Saving Reverend Ryan

 On Saturday I shared the story of Michael Harrington Ryan, my GGGUncle who was a pioneer priest in Australia, at The Society of Australian Genealogists event : In search of ... My Irish Ancestor.

My Presentation - Slide 1

Although I have been researching my Ryan line since the 1980s it was not until 2012 that serendipity found Michael for me, I was immediately captivated by his story. In my presentation I talked about my discovery of Michael and the chase to find and verify his life story. I shared a few highlights of Michael's life, read excerpts from some of his letters and showed how and where I saved all of the information I have gathered on Michael.

When I volunteered to do this talk I said that I would do a 30 minute presentation, in retrospect I should have been brave and put my hand up for 60 minutes and given a more sedate and complete presentation. Having sat through so many boring presentations about other people's ancestors over the years I was concerned about spoiling the day with a lengthy, tedious talk.

While I tried to mention the many resources I have used in tracking Michael and his family and learning about his life and times I neglected to share a proper list for attendees. The following list details some of the places visited and resources used in my hunt for Michael.  Although incomplete it may be of use to other researchers. It clearly demonstrates that you can't do it all online

As for the future I will continue to chase Michael and try to get access to the Catholic Diocesan Archives in Sydney, Hobart, Maitland/Newcastle and Westminster (England) which I suspect have many letters to and from Michael and accurate details of his postings. As these repositories aren't too fond of family historians I will need to spin a good yarn to see their files.


Books and Journal Articles

  • Abbott, Vincent  A Parish called Westmeath.  Mullingar,Westmeath :Vincent Abbott, n.d.
  • All Hallows' College centenary celebrations at Sydney and Bathurst. [Australia : Catholic Church], 1942 
  • Atkinson, Alan Camden : farm and village life in early New South Wales. Oxford University Press, 1988
  • Birt, Henry Norbert Benedictine pioneers in Australia. London : Polding, 1911?
  • Camden pioneer register : 1800-1920 3rd ed. Camden, N.S.W. : Camden Area Family History Society, 2008.
  • Campbell, Harold The Diocese of Maitland, 1866-1966. Maitland, N.S.W. : Th. Dimmock Printers, 1966. 
  • Clerke, Ron The churchyard cemetery of St John's Camden. Wollongong [N.S.W.] : Illawarra Family History Group, 1989.
  • Condon, Kevin  The Missionary College of All Hallows, 1842-1891.  Dublin : All Hallows College, 1986. (Also available online:
  • Connell, Gretta  Tracing Your Westmeath Ancestors, Glenageary, Co. Dublin Flyleaf Press, 2012.
  • Coyne, J. Stirling The Scenery and antiquities of Ireland. London : Mercury Books, 2003
  • Crow, Vincent  A history of St Mary's Cathedral Schools. Sydney : Christian Brother's High School, St. Mary's Cathedral, 1984.
  • Dunleavy, John All Hallows College, Dublin: The alma mater of the church in Victoria.   Footprints, Vol. 28, No. 1, Jun 2013: 20-25
  • Grenham, John Tracing your Irish ancestors : the complete guide. 4th ed. Dublin : Gill & Macmillan, [2012]
  • Gwynne, Aubrey Father John Joseph Therry : founder of the Church in Australia. Dublin : "Irish Messenger" Office for St. Joseph's Young Priests' Society, 1924
  • McCormack, Stan Kilbeggan Past and Present. Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath?] : Stan McCormack, Jim Remembering All Hallows College. Maynooth:St Pauls Publishing, 2017
  • McCullough, Joseph A Pocket History of Ireland. Dublin : Gill & Macmillan, 2010.
  • McDevitt, John Father Hand: founder of All Hallows Catholic College for the foreign missions : the story of a great servant of God. Dublin : M.H. Gill & Son, 1885. 
  • McIntyre Ireland townlands 1901. CDRom. [Spit Junction, N.S.W.?] : PR Ireland, c2009.
  • Moore, Edmund With Dr Polding to Australia. Downside Review Volume: 32 issue: 1, page(s): 69-92, published: March 1, 1913
  • Moran, Patrick Francis History of the Catholic Church in Australasia from authentic sources. Sydney : Oceanic Publishing Co., [189-?]
  • O'Donoghue, Frances The Bishop of Botany Bay : the life of John Bede Polding, Australia's first Catholic Archbishop. London ; Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1982.
  • O'Donnell, Thomas Centenary of All Hallows College. Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review , Dec., 1942, Vol. 31, No. 124 (Dec., 1942), pp 429-437.
  • O'Farrell, Patrick St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 1821-1971. [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] : Devonshire Press for St. Mary's Cathedral, 1971.
  • Reid, Richard Not just Ned : a true history of the Irish in Australia. Canberra : National Museum of Australia Press, 2011.
  • Records of All Hallows College, Dublin (as filmed by the AJCP) : [M871-874], 1842-1956. [Microform] Canberra : Australian Joint Copying Project, [19--].
  • Reid, Richard Farewell My Children : Irish Assisted Emigration to Australia 1848-1870. Spit Junction, NSW : Anchor Books Australia, 2011.
  • Sheehan, Jeremiah  South Westmeath : farm and folk. Dublin : Blackwater, c1978.
  • Sheehan, Jeremiah  Westmeath, as others saw it :being excerpts from the writings of 35 authors, who recorded their observations on various aspects of Westmeath and its people, from 900 AD to the present day. Avila, Moate, Westmeath : J. Sheehan, 1982
  • Sheehy, P J Archpriest Therry : the pioneer priest who founded the first Catholic Church in Australia, October 29, 1821. Melbourne : A.C.T.S., [1921]
  • Waldersee, Catholic Society in Australia 1788-1860. Sydney : Sydney University Press, 1974.
  • Woods, James  Annals of Westmeath, ancient and modern. Sealy, Bryers & Co.: Dublin, 1907.
  • Wynne, Roger From Portland Bay to Moreton Bay. Australian Catholic Record, Vol 53 July 1976. pp275-284. 



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