Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Trove Tuesday - Kapunda

 While browsing around today I came across a photo of the ship, Kapunda, on which my Great-Grandmother, Mary Kealy, emigrated to New South Wales. The photo was a catalyst for my search today on Trove.

From the A.D. Edwardes Collection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I wanted to see if I could find out anything about the Kapunda's voyage that brought Mary to Sydney. Searching was a little tricky as the ship's name is not unique, there is a town called Kapunda in South Australia that was active in the 1870s at the time of Mary's emigration. However by using a selection of various keywords in several searches and narrowing  by date I was successful in finding several references. I now understand a bit more about Mary's journey. 

Mary set sail with 340 other immigrants from Plymouth in November 1876.

1876 'Another Emigrant Ship.', Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), 29 November, p. 2. , viewed 30 Mar 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107190945

It was reported that on 27th December 1876 "The following vessels have been spoken -Kapunda, with emigrants, Plymouth to Sydney, all well, 27th December latitude S0 30s , longitude 27 W. she had been a week in company. December 20, Windsor Castle from Brisbane to London, latitude 24-20 S.. longitude." 
1877 'ROYAL MAIL NOTICE, VIA AUCKLAND AND SAN FRANCISCO.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 5 February, p. 4. , viewed 30 Mar 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13389122

Mary's name appears further down this list, she would have been collected from the Depot at Hyde Park by her sponsor, Timothy Mahony, or his agent.

1877 'GOVERNMENT NOTICES.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 6 February, p. 11. , viewed 30 Mar 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13392463

The Kapunda arrived on February 5th 1877.

1877 'SHIPPING.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 6 February, p. 4. , viewed 30 Mar 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13392446

On the day after its arrival in Sydney this report of the Kapunda's voyage was published.

1877 'ROYAL MAIL NOTICE, VIA AUCKLAND AND SAN FRANCISCO.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 6 February, p. 4. , viewed 30 Mar 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13392415

Three days after Kapunda arrived this report was in a Sydney newspaper.

1877 'The Fmigrants by the Kapunda.', Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), 8 February, p. 2. , viewed 30 Mar 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108186403

Another positive report on the immigrants was published on February 9.

1877 'The Sydney Morning Herald.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 9 February, p. 4. , viewed 30 Mar 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13387040

My reading of these reports indicates that Mary had a relatively safe and comfortable journey to the colony in the company of a decent group of new settlers. Thank you Trove for shedding light on Mary's voyage.

In a sad note Kapunda in 1887, after undertaking several more voyages, was involved in a collision at sea off Brazil en route to Western Australia with a large loss of life. A search on Trove will find many reports of the tragedy.

Friday, March 26, 2021

What a Difference!

Last night I was playing around with the Ancestry DNA that kits I manage.

I looked at my Double First Cousin's DNA ethnicity report from Ancestry.com  and thought it looked different from mine. I had expected that, as we share grandparents and direct ancestors on earlier generations, our reports would be similar. I got a surprise after I checked my report and compared the results side by side. (Sorry about the blurry images but I wanted to have them beside each other on the post so had to limit their size.). 

My ethnicity breakdown is a pretty good match with what I have discovered through traditional research but my cousin's doesn't ring true. 


Thursday, March 25, 2021


It's time to put the I into genealogy.

Recently I realised that I am spending too much time on genealogy related activities and not enough time on my own family history, projects and interests. I am trying to change from being a "girl who can't say no" to one who weighs up and evaluates opportunities before rushing in like a "bull at a gate". 

I've made a start by declining some speaking invitations, resigning from a couple of teams and knocking back an offer of paid work.

I have created a new term Genialogy to remind us that we must give ourselves, our ancestors and our  descendants a generous chunk of our geneatime.

It's a balancing act

Are you going to embrace Genialogy with me?

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Too much learning

 There is a big online genealogy conference happening in Australia this week and I am not in attendance.

Over the past months I've had many opportunities to participate in online educational activities via Zoom and other mediums, I am still wading through the sessions from the recent RootstechConnect. That's a lot of learning! Another issue is that I am missing my genimates and hanging out for a face to face event so I have applied my geneafunds to attend History in Paradise, a face to face event on Norfolk Island in August.

My main problem is that I need time to apply some of the learning I have done during Covid times so, while many of my genimates are learning new tricks, I have been been playing catchup.

Recently my desktop genealogy software, Family Historian, had an update so I after downloading the update I have been working on my database while evaluating and updating some of my records. A catalyst for this was the presentation I gave at the SAG last weekend extolling the virtues of  the program. 

Several genimates, including Nicole Dyer at RootstechConnect, have been speaking in glowing terms about Airtable so I decided to investigate that tool. I spent considerable time creating quite a large base (database) with Airtable and was quite pleased with the result. When I returned to the program the next day I had a warning that my base was too big and that I would need to upgrade to a paid account.   

The problem was that I had too many records in my base. One is allowed to have many bases but each base is limited in the number of records it can hold. I removed some eggs from my basket and created an extra couple of bases to hold the sheets I had removed from the initial base so today I am within the limits for a free membership.

I want to play around a bit more before I decide to embrace this program. I like having the ability to link records in different sheets but as my bases grow (the first one is still close to the limit) I will need a paid account which will allow 5,000 records in each base. Another issue I am mulling over is that Airtable bases cannot be accessed offline. While I am usually online on both my phone and laptop will there be times like when on a longhaul flight, that I will want access. 

Next on my homework list is investigating the stories on The Colonial Frontier Massacres, Australia Map and Database.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

We'll all be rooned!

For my 2021 St Patrick's Day post I am t
hinking about my Irish Catholic ancestors who lived in the Australian bush and sharing a poem by John O'Brien.  John O'Brien was the pseudonym for Catholic priest, Patrick Joseph Hartigan.

O'Brien's poems have a special meaning for me as my Grandmother, Mary Tierney, gave me when I was quite young a book of O'Brien's poems, Around the Boree Log, that she had owned. I treasure this book today as I have fond memories of reading these poems with Nanna Curry. I especially loved performing the poem I have chosen for today as I enjoyed putting emphasis on the  word "rooned" that is repeated throughout.

For people living in the bush as my Irish ancestors did the social aspect of Sunday Mass was most important. It gave them a chance to talk about the effects of Australia's harsh elements on their farming activities. I can imagine my ancestors gathered on Sundays in Dungog, Cobar, Cowra, Canowindra, Burraga and Bathurst taking part in conversations similar to those related in this poem.

You can hear a recitation of the poem, Said Hanrahan, from a recording on Youtube

The poem was first published in The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1942), 31 July, p. 19. which is available here on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106072280. It was republished throughout the 1920s in many Australian newspapers and was published in O'Brien's collection Around the Boree Log in 1921. 

Following are all 21 verses of the poem.


"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
  One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
  Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
  As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
  "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
  Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
  With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
  And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
  "It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work
  To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke
  They're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said,
  "And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head,
  And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case,
  Enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place
  As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan,
  And cleared his throat to speak -
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal
  On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
  And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do,"
  O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke "maintained" we wanted two
  To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man,
  Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
  And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
  It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
  And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
  Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
  A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
  Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
  And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time;
  And spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime
  Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
  With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
  Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
  As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place
  Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
  Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
  And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
  There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."
From Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Networking News

Sometime last year I was speaking with Jess Dowdell who is responsible for community education at Lake Macquarie City Council. Jess  indicated that there was a huge interest in family history from people who visit the Lake Mac Libraries and that she would like to organise an introductory course to be delivered through the libraries.

In these days when many people research their family history independently and mostly on the internet they do not belong to local societies but turn to their local libraries for help. Sometimes the local libraries need help in giving appropriate assistance.

As the president of the local family history group at Lake Macquarie  I felt that although we could deliver such course it would put a strain on our resources especially during Covid times. I thought that it would be worthwhile to organise such a course through a larger organisation with access to a stable of experienced presenters. I put Jess in contact with the Executive Officer at the Society of Australian Genealogists (The SAG) and they entered into some discussions. As a result Jess, on behalf of Lake Macquarie Council, invited The SAG to deliver a course for them.  As a local genie I was included in the event planning via zoom and email and hopefully contributed some useful ideas to the course outline which was curated by Education Officer, Vanessa Cassin, in consultation with SAG Officers.

Yesterday I was thrilled to walk into the Speers Point Library for the first of a six part series to be delivered at the that library over the coming months. I and the 30+ participants were greeted with smiles from Jess and Vanessa who would deliver the presentation. I was accompanied by Karen our Treasurer from the Lake Macquarie Family History Group, we were able to chat with the participants about their research, distribute a small flyer outlining our activities and most importantly lend Vanessa a hand during the practical component of the session.

Vanessa Cassin, Education Officer from The SAG

I congratulate Jess on the organization of the event (the afternoon tea was scrumptious) and  the airconditioned library with onsite parking and the Library Service’s Family History Collection was  a perfect site. Vanessa was a knowledgeable presenter who was able to speak without notes and just a small number of slides that gave structure to her presentation and reinforced her messages to attendees. Vanessa engaged the participants with her warm and friendly manner and she answered questions when they arose thus giving a collaborative element to the presentation. It was not just chalk and talk. Vanessa's presentation was supported by copious notes that were printed and distributed by Council staff.

I was proud to be involved in this collaborative exercise between a local authority, a local family history group and the premium genealogy society in Australia. Now that The SAG has developed this course I hope that other local government bodies or smaller family history groups will work with SAG to deliver this course in person or via Zoom. 

Socially distanced and engaged learners at Speers Point Library

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Not just three days - A whole year of online learning

I had a crazy three days during the RootstechConnect online event.

As a Rootstech Ambassador I had a commitment to discuss and comment on the event via my social media platforms so, as I didn't have time to blog, I was busily communicating with genies all over the world via my GeniAus Twitter.

As an administrator of the Australians at RootstechConnect Facebook Group I was kept on my toes  communicating and responding to questions from members of that group most of whom had never experienced a Rootstech event. Having the event online conquered the "Tyranny of distance" that hampers the educational development of many my genimates downunder. 

I took the opportunity to set up a Chat Group on the RootstechConnect website for Aussies at RootstechConnect so I spent quite a bit of time responding to comments in that forum. I found that most of our Aussies used our Facebook group to communicate as it offered the ability to have nested posts and to more easily respond to an individual. I found the embedded chat most useful for asynchronous communication with speakers at the event.

Due to family commitments, I didn't have time to watch all the keynotes live but I was able to return and watch the remainder later in the week. I managed to watch around thirty presentations during the course of the event but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

A year's worth of learning

When I am away from home at a face to face event I can be selfish and distance myself from living family but when I am at home I put living family first. It was hard balancing the needs of family with the temptations of RootstechConnect. Perhaps next year I will hole up away from home in a resort where I can totally commit myself to Rootstech.

Since the online event I have popped into the Rootstech website on several occasions to catch up on many of the sessions in my playlist. The ability to stop and start the recordings of the sessions and to apply the learning concurrently on our own devices makes for a really valuable learning experience that is practically impossible in a face to face lecture. I found this especially useful for the sessions like these from Dave Annal, Richard K Miller and Alexis Rossi.

What I really love about RootstechConnect is that it is not just a virtual conference but it is an online library of learning experiences that we can access on demand when we either have a particular need to learn or refresh our knowledge on a subject or when we just have a spare hour to absorb new knowledge.

As ambassadors we are encouraged to write a post at the conclusion of the event. This caused me great concern because RootstechConnect is not over, the year of learning from RootstechConnect is only just beginning. I see my role as Ambassador continuing until Rootstech 2022 comes along.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Theme Reveal 2021! #AtoZChallenge

I've been researching my family history for over thirty years. Along this genealogy journey I have been supported by hundreds of books, many of which I have listed on my Librarything page. 

During the 2021 #AtoZChallenge I will be writing about two of my passions, books and family history. I'll be taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting some of those books that have enriched my genealogy experience.

If you are like me and still playing it safe at home until you have the Covid jab how about joining me in the challenge?


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