Monday, 27 January 2014

Australia Day Challenge 2014: C’mon Aussie

Pauleen Cass of Family History Across the Seas blog has set a geneameme challenge for Australia Day.  She wants to see how deep your roots go into our Aussie soil.  It is supposed to be quick & easy, but it has taken me all day, all night, & now into the next morning to complete it – I guess this just goes to show my research (& software databases) aren’t as organised as they should be!  Jackie from Jax Trax you are so lucky that you did an "Arrivals" table - I spent a long time writing an informal one to refer to.

The geneameme comes in two parts: one to test whether your family is ridgey-didge and the second to show us how Australia runs in your veins, without any flag-waving and tattoo-wearing. Shout it out, be proud and make everyone wish they lived in this wide brown land of ours.If for you Australia Day is Survival Day, tell us your family’s story and show up our Johnny-come-lately status.Feel free to add and subtract and even add a short story at the end. The world’s your oyster, so have a go! C’mon Aussie C’mon C’mon. - Pauline Cass.
Here is my response:


My first ancestor to arrive in Australia was: I’m not 100% sure which order the First Fleet ships arrived in, but according to sources the Alexander arrived first, so my first ancestor was William Douglass, per Alexander, which arrived at Botany Bay on 19 January, 1788.

I have Australian Royalty (tell us who, how many and which Fleet they arrived with): I have 3 ancestors who arrived on the First Fleeters & one on the Third Fleet.  William Douglass, Alexander; John Nichols, Scarborough, First Fleet; Mary Groves, Prince of Wales, First Fleet; & William Bailey, Matilda, Third Fleet. 

These are my 18 direct line convicts (only the first three are from my mother's side):

John Nichols                                     Scarborough  (First Fleet)          1788
Ann Pugh                                           Earl Cornwallis                            1801

Alexander Philp                                 Globe                                           1819

William Bailey                                    Matilda (Third Fleet)                   1791
Ann Archer                                          Indispensible                              1796

Mary Holland                                       Indispensable                             1796
Thomas Cooper                                 Barwell                                         1798

Samuel Perkins                                  Pitt                                                1792 ?
Eleanor Williams                                Britannia III                                   1798

John Anthony Fernance                    General Hewitt                             1814

Matthew Thompson                           General Hewitt                             1814

William Douglass                               Alexander (First Fleet)                1788
Mary Groves                                       Prince of Wales (First Fleet)      1788

Daniel Jurd                                         Perseus                                        1802

William Guyatt                                    Earl St Vincent                             1820
Mary Mullally                                       Elizabeth II                                    1828

Michael Sweeney                              Rodney                                          1853
Mary McQueen / McQuain                Martin Luther                                1852

Where I have listed a convict immediately after another convict, e.g. John Nichols & Ann Pugh, indicates a couple who married.  As you can see almost all of my convicts married other convicts!  Of the four who didn’t, two were already married before they were convicted & transported.  Only two married non-convicts, both of who were currency lasses & the daughters of convicts.

I’m an Aussie mongrel, my ancestors came to Oz from: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany & Prussia.

Did any of your ancestors arrive under their own financial steam? Yes.  All of my German & Prussian ancestors paid for their own passage, arriving in SA from mid 1840s – mid 1850s.  There are some ancestors who arrived in SA & WA that I’m not sure whether were assisted or not.  George Hall arrived in NSW with his family as a free settler on Coromandel in 1802.  William Edwards arrived with his family in WA on Rockingham in 1830 as a settler. I have a few other ancestors that I know of, but I’m still tracing several.   

How many ancestors came as singles?  Very few, now I’ve spent the day analysing them for this blog post.  Three sets of 3rd great grandparents.  I have two widows, Susannah Belshire & Elizabeth Ketch, (both 4th great grandmothers) who arrived with their child/ren, & one widower, Edward Blanch (a 4th great grandfather).  I also have an ancestor who appears to have been pregnant when she arrived in South Australia (whether she was pregnant when she boarded the ship isn’t clear), one of the sets of 3rd great grandparents already mentioned.

How many came as couples?  None

How many came as family groups?  18 of my ancestors arrived as a married couple with children.  There 2 family groups that I haven’t been able to trace – the Vonthien / Vonthein / von Tien / von Tein family, & the Lindner family.

Did one person lead the way and others follow?  Only a few seem to have, but I haven’t traced all of my ancestor’s siblings.  Daniel Curran (3rd great grandfather) arrived on his own, but other siblings appear to have followed him, though some of them seem to have later travelled to the US.  Bridget McCann (3rd great grandmother) arrived with her sister.  My 3rd great grandfather, James Blanch’s whole (& very large sibling-wise) family seem to have immigrated to NSW.  The older siblings came with their own wives & children on the same ship & were followed by the younger, unmarried siblings with their elderly father a few months later.

What’s the longest journey they took to get here?  I honestly haven’t researched enough to know how long each journey took.  It was probably the early Prussian immigrants.  They were Lutherans who were trying to escape their homeland for religious reasons, & I know that some of them were stranded in a German port for months.  They had travelled from their Prussian village to Hamburg to make their voyage, & their permission to emigrate was revoked & then regranted, meaning that they had to reorganise their transport to Australia.

Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place?  As far as I know, only the Prussians.  Most arrived via a German port.

Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive?  Most of my ancestors arrived in NSW.  I have three groups who arrived free in WA during the 1830’s & 1840’s, two convicts who were sent to Tasmania.  All of my German & Prussian immigrants seem to have arrived in South Australia.

Did they settle and remain in one state/colony?  Most of my ancestors did arrive & remain in the same state.  One ancestor from WA moved to Tasmania.  Several of my German / Prussian ancestors migrated from SA to NSW through Victoria.

Did they stay in one town or move around?  Some of my ancestors moved up & down regional New South Wales before settling, mostly farmers.  My SA ancestors moved all around that state.  Some others stayed around Sydney.

Do you have any First Australians in your tree?  Does this mean Aboriginals?  No.

Were any self-employed?  Several ancestors were farmers / landholders.  Daniel Curran, being a publican, was self-employed.  His son was a self-employed coachbuilder.  His grandson, my grandfather, was a bit of an entrepreneur, owning a few businesses during his life.

What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in?  Most were farmers, a few carpenters, miners, a nursemaid, and a needleworker.  I have a two enlisted soldiers from the earlier days of the colonies – Joseph Fleming, a sergeant with the NSW Corps, arrived in NSW on William and Ann in 1791; James Telford, a private in the enrolled pensioner guard, arrived in WA on Ramilies in 1854. Two police constables – completely different sides of the tree & sides of Australia.  A postmaster, mail carrier, & sanitary inspector.  I also have a publican & a coachbuilder. One direct line teacher (her son was also a teacher).

Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation?  My father is an electrician by trade & his father was an electrical fitter.  My maternal grandfather was an orchardist & his ancestors were all farmers.  My 2nd great grandmother, Catherine Whitelock Curran was a teacher, as was one of her sons & I am a teacher, but almost 50 years went by before I became a teacher, & I didn’t even know she existed until a year ago.  What is coincidental though, is that another of Catherine’s sons was a teacher while another was a journalist – my son is studying Journalism at University.

Did any of your ancestors leave Australia and go “home”?  Not one of them!

What’s your State of Origin?  NSW

Do you still live there?  Yes

Where was your favourite Aussie holiday place as a child?  Probably Terrigal, visiting my grandfather.

Any special place you like to holiday now?  I haven’t travelled enough yet to have a special holiday place.

Share your favourite spot in Oz: Ditto above.

Any great Aussie adventure you’ve had?  None yet, hopefully there are lots to come.

What’s on your Australian holiday bucket list?  Um, everywhere!

How do you celebrate Australia Day?  I don’t do anything special on Australia Day.  I remember as a child we’d spend the day in Darling Harbour.

Doing this challenge has made me realise how many of my relatives made sacrifices to come to our country for a new life with better opportunities.  Even the convicts, once they had earned their freedom, had a new life with better opportunities.  I especially admire my ancestor who arrived on her own, pregnant, in SA.  How difficult life must have been to take on the challenge of coming to Australia, but she too was rewarded with a new life, a husband & family, & opportunities galore.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Why You Should Never Take Information On Even Official Records At Face Value

Recently I obtained a copy of my grandmother’s death certificate.  She died in 1968.  Because I was quite familiar with her & her family, I noticed straight away that some of the information was not accurate.  The death certificate incorrectly listed her name, her father, her mother’s name, & the name of her first husband.  Applying what I have learnt about the GPS to this information, I can understand why the information wasn’t accurate.

At an initial analysis, the evidence seems quite strong.  It is direct & in some respects it is primary – it is provided by someone with reasonably close knowledge near the time of the event:

1.                  Direct Vs Indirect – The death certificate provides direct evidence of her name, the identity of her father, her mother’s name & the name of her first husband.
2.                  Primary Vs Secondary – Time-wise this information is primary, as it was provided near the time of the event.  You could also conclude that it is primary as the informant, being her husband, should have reasonably close knowledge of her parents, & former husband, particularly as they had known each other for a long time (decades) before they were married.

Thankfully I have other sources that give correct information, such as my grandmother’s birth certificate, her marriage certificate, my mother’s own birth & marriage certificate, & my mother’s & my own personal knowledge.  Plus my own developing ability to analyse the evidence.

1.                  Direct Vs Indirect Evidence – I have several other sources that contradict this particular information.  They also provide direct evidence.
2.                  Primary Vs Secondary Information – The death certificate provides secondary information about my grandmother’s date of birth, parent’s names, names of spouses, names of children.  This means it has to be evaluated based on who provided the information, whether he was an eyewitness to the events & how closely this evidence correlates with other available sources.  As already stated, the informant was her husband, but they had only been married for about 2 years. 
a.      Name - He may have given her name as Glady instead of Gladys because that is what he called her, or it may have been a miscommunication.
b.      Father’s Name – The informant gave her stepfather’s name instead of her father.  Her father had died almost 30 years earlier, my grandmother may have even referred to her stepfather as ‘dad’.  I can understand why her husband made a mistake with her father’s name.
c.      Mother’s Name – My grandmother’s mother’s (great grandmother’s) surname was Luhrs.  Her parents changed the name to Lewis (to avoid the stigma surrounding a German surname) in 1922, but my great grandmother married in 1921, before the family’s surname was changed.  Her marriage certificate states her surname as Luhrs (at least her first marriage, I haven’t checked the second marriage).  It would be reasonable for the informant to assume that my grandmother’s name was Lewis, seeing as her parents had been known by Lewis since 1922 & she died in 1968.
d.      First Husband – I can totally understand why the informant gave the name of her first husband as John Barnes – everybody called him John Barnes, even me.  However, on his marriage & birth certificates his name is actually Harold John Barnes.
3.                  Correlating the Contradictory Information- there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that disproves the contradictory information contained in this death certificate.  I’ve also correlated the contradictory information in the above points.

So I guess the moral of this is to use the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard).  If you encounter this type of problem, make sure you have other relevant sources.  Consider the evidence.  Correlate the conflicting evidence.  Come to a reasonably sound conclusion. If someone else obtained the certificate, they may very well take the information at face value, particularly since it is an official BDM record.  They don’t have the information that I have, nor do have the benefit of knowing about the circumstances surrounding these events.

I hope I haven’t missed any thing too important, it’s the first time I’ve tried to use the GPS, or elements of it, in a blog post.

Btw, I went NSW Parramatta Registry Office to have it amended & will pick up a correct copy in a few days.  My mother will be very happy to see her mother’s accurate death certificate. J

Thursday, 16 January 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - # 2 - Frederick John Trevillian

Note:  This post is part of a challenge set by genealogist blogger Amy Johnson Crow on her No StoryToo Small blog.

Frederick John TREVILLIAN is my great grandfather.  He was born on 15 May 1895 in Parkes, NSW.  His father, Thomas Trevillian, was a farmer.  His mother’s name was Maria Augusta nee Luhrs.

Frederick was appointed as a probationary constable at Hillston police station on 6 Jan 1920.

Source: State Records Authority of New South WalesPolice Gazettes 1862-1930; Roll: 3600; Year: 1920; Page: New South WalesAustralia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930 [database on-line]. Publication date: 25 Feb 1920.

He was promoted to an Ordinary Constable at Hillston police station on 6 Jan 1921.

Source: State Records Authority of New South WalesPolice Gazettes 1862-1930; Roll: 3601; Year: 1921; Page: New South WalesAustralia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930 [database on-line]. Publication date: 9 Mar 1921.

Frederick married Helena Agnes Luhrs on 21 February 1921 at St Andrews Church in Parkes.  Helena’s parents witnessed the marriage.

He transferred from Hillston Police Station to Parkes Police station in 1924. 

Source: State Records Authority of New South WalesPolice Gazettes 1862-1930; Roll: 3602; Year: 1924; Page: New South WalesAustralia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930 [database on-line]. Publication date: 1 Oct 1924.

Frederick & Helena had 5 children together: Gladys, Estelle, Doris, Claude and Francis.

He was promoted to the Constable, First Class on 1 Oct 1928.

Source: State Records Authority of New South WalesPolice Gazettes 1862-1930; Roll: 3605; Year: 1929; Page: New South WalesAustralia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930 [database on-line]. Publication date: 2 Jan 1929.

Sometime between 1936 & 1937 Frederick transferred to Bathurst Police Station.

Frederick died on 8 June 1940.

Source: Family Notices. (1940, June 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved January 16, 2014, from

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Wedding Wednesday

Frederick J TREVILLIAN & Helena A LUHRS
Source: author's own collection

This is a wedding photo of my great grandparents, Frederick John Trevillian & Helena Agnes Luhrs.  Frederick & Helena were married 21 February, 1921 in Parkes, NSW.  At the time of their wedding, Frederick was a Police Constable.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What's Your Ancestor Score?

It’s a week late, but this is my first SNGF post.

Randy Seaver from Genea-Musings posted the following SNGF challenge - What's Your Genealogy Score on 4 Jan:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (and I hope more of you do than participated in the last several SNGF challenges), is to:

1.                  Determine how complete your genealogy research is.  For background, read Crista Cowan’s post FamilyHistory All Done?  What’s Your Number? And Kris Stewart’s What Is Your Genealogy“Score?”  For comparison purposes, keep the list to 10 or 11 generations with you as the first person.
2.                  Create a table similar to Crista’s second table, and fill it in however you can (you could create an Ahnentafel (Ancestor Name) list and count the number in each generation, or use some other method).  Tell us how you calculated the numbers.
3.                  Show us your table, and calculate your “Ancestral Score” – what is your percentage of known names to possible names (1,023 for 10 generations).
4.                  For extra credit (or more SNGF), do more generations and add them to your chart.
5.                  Post your table, and your “Ancestor Score,” on your own blog, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post or Google+ Stream post.

I think this would be a good exercise to do every year or so in order to see how my research has progressed.

I haven’t got into using reports on my genealogy software yet, but I do regularly update my own Ahnentafel Table I created in Word.  I like using the Ahnentafel Numbering System & this document helps me to keep track of who I’ve identified, which generation they are in, which of my 4 main lines they belong to (i.e. father’s father, mother’s mother, etc) & their relationship to me very easily.  It also helped me to determine how many ancestors I know in each generation for this exercise.

I think I’ve done well in my research up to, & including, the 8th generation, but as you can see from the data trends on my 9th & 10th generation, there was no point going further back.  No extra credit for me (this year at least!).

Here is my ancestor table:

What's your Ancestor Score?

Friday, 10 January 2014

Picasa & Digital Photos

Today I have been adding labelling & tagging my digital photos.  I learnt to do this using Paint yesterday, but today I have been playing with Picasa 3 more & I’ve learnt how to add captions to the photos.  I think I like Picasa more, especially being able to tag people in the photos.

At the moment I have only scanned old family photos, but my mother suggested taking photos of them with a digital camera to get a better resolution.

How do you get digital images of old family photos?  What software do you use?

Thursday, 9 January 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - # 1 - Helena Lindner

Note:  This post is part of a challenge set by genealogist blogger Amy Johnson Crow on her No StoryToo Small blog.

Helena Lindner is my 4th great Grandmother.  She was born in either Germany or Prussia about 1834.

I have not found her immigration records yet.

Helena’s marriage certificate lists her parents as Johanna Zobel & Gottfried Lindner, a digger.  She was married in her home at Creswick Creek near Ballarat, VIC on 19 May 1857 to John Heinrich von Tien, the son of Heinrich von Tien & Dore Lutsch. The marriage certificate is the only record that states her husband’s name was John Heinrich.  On the declaration section of the register, he calls himself Heinrich Von Tien.  Helena’s death certificate states her husband’s name is Charles Vonthein and his own death certificate states his name is Carl Vonthein.

On the marriage certificate, Charles / Carl / John Heinrich’s occupation is listed as a digger.  The officiating minister is John Peter Niquet, who I know married many of my Lutherans ancestors / relatives in South Australia.  The witnesses to the marriage are J Hermann Roster & Auguste Lehmann.

Helena died 5 March, 1878 in Albury, NSW.  The witnesses at her funeral were Christoph Westendorf & Johann Gottlieb Kalms (her daughter’s father-in-law).

This ancestor is special to me for three reasons:

  • First, she is my most distant direct maternal ancestor.  We share the same mDNA.
  • Second, her name, Helena, has been passed down my maternal line each generation, alternating between first & middle names.  Helena is my middle name, my mother’s first name, her mother’s middle name, & so on.
  • Thirdly, she is a puzzle because I can’t seem to locate her before her marriage.  I can’t find her immigration records to Australia or her birth in Prussia / Germany.  From her death certificate I know that she was in NSW for 20 years.  Before this she was in Creswick Creek, a goldfield town in Victoria. I can only guess that she immigrated form Germany to Victoria  or from Adelaide, via Creswick Creek, to NSW.
I would love to know definitively that my Helena Lindner is the right Helena.  I would also like to know whether I have her correct parents & where in Germany / Prussia she was born.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Accepting the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

I am taking up the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge set by Amy Johnson Crow on her No Story Too Small blog.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I’m a new blogger & have been collecting ideas for blog prompts.  Taking part in this challenge will give me plenty of blog post ideas for the year and will make me take a deeper look at some of the people in my family tree.  Organising information into some kind of narrative in this way will highlight what I already know about an ancestor & what I still need to find out.

If you want to join in too, go to Amy’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks article & add your name in the comments with a link to your blog.  Make sure your blog posts’ title includes the challenge.  Amy suggests something like “52 Ancestors: #1 Adah Young Johnson.

Amy will also be posting a weekly recap on her blog with links to challenge posts.

Like some other bloggers, I have also spent the last few hours reading the blogs of some of the participants.  I have found some great new blogs.  Thanks for this challenge, Amy!

Now, who will I start with . . .

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Birthday Clumps

Yesterday I placed my direct ancestors' birthdays onto a Google calendar.  I did this so I could use the information to plan 'birthday' posts, but it had an interesting side-effect.  

Seeing the birthdays plotted out visually in this way made me notice 'birthday clumps', where ancestor's birthdays are clumped close together.  I had noticed this coincidence with my parents' and my childrens' birthdays, but it was incredible to see it across the generations (btw, I only went back about 5 generations, where I'm certain that what I have is birthdates & not just baptism dates).  Some ancestors' birthdays are so close that they are on the same day as their grandparent's.

Does anybody else have 'birthday clumps'?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Workday Wednesday - Inspector of Nuisances

On my great grandfather, William Henry Barnes' marriage certificate (NSW, 1908), his father, Richard Barnes' occupation is listed as Inspector of Nuisances.

The best description of this occupation I have found is on Marrickville Council's website.  It states: 
"Inspectors of Nuisances were responsible for controlling and upkeeping public health practices, including the registering of infectious diseases, up-keep of properties, inspection of food providers and managing garbage disposal."
Source: Marrickville Council website

Not as interesting an occupation as it initially sounds!