NFHM Blog Challenge Week 4: Month...

With August progressing, as is National Family History Month, here is my final post for the NFHM Blog Challenge, and this week the topic is “Month”. Out of the four weeks of topics (National, Family, History, Month), this has proved the hardest in coming up with something, but as I am a fan of “on this day” history, I have settled for giving an “on this day” history of events that have taken place during the month of August. Covering Australian related history as well as overseas, some events date back hundreds of years, while others are relatively recent and you’re likely to remember. Some certainly changed the world, while others you probably didn’t even know about. Still I find it fascinating to find out what happens in history, so here’s a little taster of August … 1 August 1831 – New London Bridge is opened, replacing the 600-year-old London Bridge 2 August 1997 – After three days, skiing instructor Stuart Diver is pulled alive from the rubble of the collapsed Thredbo resorts 3 August 1990 – The highest temperature ever known in Britain is recorded in Leicestershire … at 37C 4 August 1906 – Central Railway Station in Sydney is opened. 5 August 1914 – Australia enters World War I. 6 August 1945 – The first atomic bomb is dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. 7 August 1928 – Dingo hunter Frederick Brooks is killed, sparking the Coniston Massacre of Australian Aborigines. 8 August 1789 – The first police force in the convict colony of New South Wales is formed. 9 August 1173 – Construction begins on the Tower of Pisa, which is later to become the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. 10 August 1844 – Charles...

NFHM Blog Challenge Week 3: History...

August continues, and so does National Family History Month, and now I’m up to Week 3 of the Blog Challenge, and this week my topic is “history”. But history is such a broad topic. Family history, social history, local history, ancient history, heirlooms  … oh the list goes on. What do I write about? Well it took a while to work it out, but for Week 3 I’ve chosen something that not enough people think about, and that is “Present History”. As historians and researchers it’s natural that we focus on the past. Our parents, grandparents, great greats and so on. The further back the better. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. But we also need to remember that “today is tomorrow’s history”, so we should be recording our OWN history. Now. While we can. Afterall you know your life better than anyone else right? But HOW do you record your own history? Most people will come up with an excuse along the lines of “my life isn’t interesting”, or “I can’t write” … or both. You don’t need to write a novel, you just need to record life as it happens along with your memories. Some of my family are avid diary writers, and for that I am eternally grateful. Not only has it instilled the diary-writing ethic into me from a young age (and I “mostly” still do it), it means that my parents are diary writers, my grandparents too, my great aunts were, my great grandma was too, and even a great great grandma. We are fortunate that a number of these diaries have survived, and that we are able to “see” life as it was, through their words. When flowers were planted, who...

NFHM Blog Challenge Week 2: Family...

Week 2 of the National Family History Month blog challenge, and this week I’m writing about “family”. Family for a family historian is such a broad topic. Do I write about an individual, or a family? A recent story or an old one? So. Many. Choices. And surprisingly it’s taken me a while to narrow it down. Reunions are a place where ‘everyone’ is family, so it seems appropriate to write about big a big family reunion one of my family’s had … the Kelly Family Reunion. 31 December 1938 was the date chosen as it marked both 100 years since the arrival of William Kelly and his second wife Jane (nee Caley) in South Australia from the Isle of Man, as well as 50 years since the death of William. The reunion was held at the Kelly family property, “Sulby Glen”, in the tiny country town of Cudlee Creek, South Australia, the drew 300 of the 400 descendants, with quite a number making the trip from interstate. The article in the Advertiser, dated Monday 2 January 1939 writes … Never has the old Sulby Glen property at Cudlee Creek seen so many visitors as passed through its beflagged entrance gates on Saturday morning, when almost 300 of the 400 descendants of William Kelly, from the Isle of Man gathered together to pay homage to his memory and to commemorate the centenary of his landing in Australia. The gathering was certainly unique as far as South Australia, is concerned, and one of the very few of its type ever held in the Commonwealth. The day was also the 50th anniversary of the day of his death.  Sixty cars and a large motor bus brought the visitors, who came from New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia, and from many parts of South Australia...

NFHM Blog Challenge Week 1: National...

August is National Family History Month, and fellow geneablogger, Alex issued the NFHM Blog Challenge. Using a theme of authors from the past, Alex posed an interesting challenge. It’s a great challenge, don’t get me wrong, but after thinking about it for weeks, nothing was jumping out at me, so I’ve decided to write my NFHM posts using a different theme. Week 1: something NATIONAL related Week 2: something FAMILY related Week 3: something HISTORY related Week 4: someing MONTH related ——————————————— As I’m already a little behind, I’ll get going with Week 1 now. And for this I’ve decided to take a look at Australia’s national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair“. So just how, when, and why did this song become the national anthem? Let’s find out. So let’s start at the beginning. Peter Dodds McCormick is the man behind the anthem. Born in Scotland in c1834, he emigrated to Australia in 1855. The son of a seaman, Peter himself was a teacher for most of his life, and he was the man who composed “Advanced Australia Fair”, and used the pen-name Amicus. Written and first performed in the late 1870s, it went on to become a popular patriotic song. In a letter dated 1 August 1913, McCormick described the circumstances that inspired him to write “Advance Australia Fair”: One night I attended a great concert in the Exhibition Building, when all the National Anthems of the world were to be sung by a large choir with band accompaniment. This was very nicely done, but I felt very aggravated that there was not one note for Australia. On the way home in a bus, I concocted the first verse of my song & when I got home I set it to music....

UPDATE #4: Facebook for Australian History and Genealogy...

Since releasing my first big list of Australian history and genealogy links on Facebook almost a year ago, I’ve continued to find more, and periodically do updates. What started out as a list of reasonable list of 504 links, has now grown to over 1000. With this update I’ve added new links to all but one category, and have added two more new categories to my list as well (DNA and Ethnic). You can download the latest list from the link below. DOWNLOAD HERE This is an ongoing list which will be updated periodically, so if you have any links you’d like added, please either send an email to  alona @ lonetester.com (without the spaces), or message me on my Lonetester Facebook page. ————– And I can’t mention genealogy on Facebook without making reference to two other incredible lists: – Katherine Willson’s worldwide Genealogy on Facebook list is enormous, and now has over 11,000 links. – Gail Dever’s Facebook for Canadian Genealogy is a must for everyone with Canadian...

The Origins of Shampoo

You know, every time I’ve been in my bathroom over the past few weeks the same question pops into my head “I wonder when shampoo was invented?”. This was always followed by “I wonder what did they use before?” So I decided to find out. Let’s start by saying that I’m talking about the liquid shampoo that comes in a bottle. I need to state that because when I was looking around, I found many earlier references to shampoo, but that was for “soap” shampoo and even ‘”powder” shampoo. So yes, prior to liquid shampoo being available, soap was what was mostly used. My 96 year old grandma even remembers using soap for shampoo as a young child. Anyway so I headed to Wikipedia for some info  … So firstly the word, “shampoo” …. The word shampoo entered the English language from India during the colonial era. It dates to 1762, and is derived from Hindi chāmpo itself derived from the Sanskrit root chapayati (which means to press, knead, soothe). But what about liquid shampoo? For that we fast forward 165 years … In 1927, liquid shampoo was invented by German inventor Hans Schwarzkopf in Berlin, whose name created a shampoo brand sold in Europe. Originally, soap and shampoo were very similar products; both containing the same naturally derived surfactants, a type of detergent. So we all know the brand Schwartzkopf, right? Well it seems Hans Schwartzkopf wasn’t ‘just’ a name in the hair care industry, he was the actual inventor of liquid shampoo, and in doing so revolutionised hair care. The Schwartzkopf website even has a timeline history which is a fascinating read, and you can check that out here. So to Mr Schwartzkopf and those that followed and continued...

National Family History Month – Bring it ON!...

July has all but gone, which means that August is almost here, and for family historians (at least in Australia and New Zealand), that’s good news as August is National Family History Month. YAY!! So what does this mean? It means that we (meaning ‘we’ as researchers) have an opportunity to share our knowledge with others and encourage them in their search. It also means we should take some time to self-educate ourselves … afterall, the more you learn, the better researcher you’ll be. Read a guidebook, watch a webinar, go to your local library or society to check out what they have. Grab a copy of a genie mag from your local newsagent and find out the latest news and tips from that. Revisit a website you haven’t been to for a while. Interview a relative, even just a question or two. Scan or simply file and label photos. Order a certificate. Do some transcribing. Maybe even take the plunge and start your own blog? There’s so many things you can do for NFHM, it’s not hard. Getting started …  For those that haven’t started the search, or have ‘just’ started, this is a great time for you. Just check with your local library or genealogy society to see when they’ll be open, and what they offer in relation to beginners talks, or one-on-one help.  Do yourself a favour, and get some good guidance at the beginning, it makes the world of difference and will help your search. And why not join a genealogy Facebook group (trust me there are 1000s out there). The events … The National Family History Month website is the place to check to see what organised events are on in your area. With over...

The Ancestral Places Geneameme...

As family historians we come across all sorts of interesting people and places during our research. In this geneameme I wanted to focus on the places. The countries, the states, the counties or provinces, as well as the parishes, the towns and villages. Our ancestors have a connection to these places. What places do your ancestors come from? Using the alphabet how many letters can you name ancestral places for? Some you will no doubt know well, some you may not … at least not yet (see my letter ‘I’ and ‘N’ examples below). I still have more research to do on those lines. It doesn’t have to be where your ancestors were born, but it does have to be a place that they were associated with. For instance they lived or worked in that place. Name the letter, followed by the place (town/parish/county/state/or country), and the surname/s associated with that place. I’ll be surprised if anyone can list places for all A-Z, but you never know. And if you want to double up on letters, that’s not a problem, go right ahead … after all this really is a cousin bait list detailing the surnames and places your ancestors are from, that you’re researching. EXAMPLE ENTRIES: C – Cudlee Creek, South Australia, Australia (Kelly, Hannaford) H – Helsingfors/Helsinki, Finland (Winter) I – Ireland (McGrath?) K – Kenton, Devon, England (Randell) L – Lancaster, Lancashire, England (Hayhurst) M – Modbury, South Australia, Australia (Phillips) N – Netherlands (Beecken) So geneabloggers, the challenge has been set, who’s up for the Ancestral Places Geneameme. Feel free to join...

Finland Day 11 & More: Pen-friends, a Castle, Giant Forests, Graves and FAMILY!...

This post completes my the report of my trip to Finland. To say that it has been the trip of a lifetime is an understatement. It has been truly extraordinary in so many ways, and while I’m still jetlagged, and haven’t caught up on work that piled up while I was away yet … I’m sure I’ll be back sometime, but not next week. Anyway, after coming back from the island yesterday it was nice to have a quiet start to Sunday enjoying the sunshine and watching the squirrels in the trees while I had breakfast … before heading out for the afternoon and evening where I got to see a whole heap more of Finland. Seriously, how big is this country? It really is tiny on a map, but obviously is bigger than it seems! Sunday 9 July 2017 – Today was yet another exciting day in Finland (they all seem to be) … as it’s the day that I met my pen-friend, Heli for the very first time in person. But more than just a pen-friend, she’s my 4th cousin once removed. So she’s family! We started writing many years ago (ok, ok, quite a few years ago. Back in the day when letter writing was actually a thing, and it didn’t cost a fortune to post a letter either). Anyway, we arranged to meet up, and she and her partner took me to see a whole lot of Finland for the day. It was a wonderful day with great company, and great sights along the way. First stop was Häme Castle at Hämeenlinna and this is one of Finland’s medieval royal castles. It is believed to have been built at the end of the 13th century....

Finland Day 9 (Part 2) and Day 10: The Finnish Islands...

After visiting Fiskars and seeing the stunning scenery on the drive down to the south of Finland (see my previous post), I wondered if anything could be more beautiful. The answer to this is YES! Friday 7 July 2017 – Continuing Friday’s happenings … cousins of mine have a Summerhouse on Lilla Kuggskäret island, which is just one of the thousands of islands just off the south coast of Finland (who knew that Finland had islands eh?). This region they call the Finnish archipelago. Anyway Lilla Kuggskäret is a smallish island in comparison to some, but in saying that there’s oodles of room to roam and enjoy. This is my cousins very OWN private island, and I was fortunate enough that they invited myself and some other cousins to visit and share their little piece of paradise. For this I say thankyou, thankyou, THANKYOU. It was magical. After a boatride out the island we got to see why they visit as often as they can. The peacefulness is unbelievable. While the island is in the sea (I believe it’s the Baltic Sea), it is as calm as a lake, so you don’t have any crashing waves. In fact, apart from when boats went past, there really wasn’t even any ripples, it really was that calm. After unpacking and having some lunch, we visited a nearby island (Hitis) and checked out the Hiittinen church and cemetery, because that’s what I do! and in fact it’s one of the oldest churches in Finland, and has an amazing story behind it. You can read about that here (note: if you open it in Chrome, it translates to English). And the weather was absolutely perfect for a late BBQ tea (also known as...

Finland Day 9 (Part 1): Fiskars, Scissors, Roller Skiing and Deer...

As I write this, my holiday to Finland is over and I’m already back home (although still not in the right timezone yet). And yes it truly was the trip of a lifetime … the people, the places, the family and the cemeteries … so many memories (and photos) that I’ll treasure. And for the most part the weather was very kind to us, despite it being the coldest Finnish Summer ever. I did manage to get some reporting of my trip done while I was over there, but now have a backlog to catch up on. So bear with me while I get to these over the coming days. Friday 7 July 2017 – After the excitement of researching at the archives and walking Helsinki, checking out all the awesome old buildings (ok, ok, not all of them), it was time to have some quiet time … but relax time had to wait, as today we were up and off early to check out the some of the south of Finland. First stop was a town called Fiskars. Some of you may well have heard of the Fiskars brand which is well known for scissors, knives, scrapbooking tools, kitchen utensils and even gardening tools. It turns out that the Fiskars company started from this tiny town in Finland. The following is from Wikipedia … “Fiskars is a village in the town in western Uusimaa, Finland. The village of Fiskars developed around the ironworks founded by German-born Petter Thorwöste in 1649. The ironworks also produced copper. In 1822, John Jacob von Julin bought the ironworks and founded a fine production facility in 1830 and Finland’s first workshop in 1836. The history of the Fiskars company begins from the Fiskars Bruk,...

Phonetically Speaking

For those of you who have been reading my blog for at least the last couple of weeks, you’ll know that I recently visited Finland for a holiday to meet family and see the places where my ancestors came from. One thing I found when being with my relatives, was that all the names and places I knew from correspondence with family and various Finnish archives, I had been pronouncing very wrong. I had simply seen them written down, and gave them my own Australian-version of the pronunciation as best as I knew without ever hearing it. Now that I’ve heard the names and places said in Finnish, it’s made me realise how easy someone simply listening to it said could give a whole different spelling. One thing I did while I was in Finland was create a listing of names and places with both the proper Finnish spelling, and then I wrote each with the pronunciation as it sounds in Australian-English, which was quite often VERY different. An example of this is one of my family names, BACKBERG. It seems simple enough, Back (as in the back of something), and Berg (like an iceberg). But when it’s said in Finnish it is actually pronounced BACH-BERRY. Now had I simply ‘heard’ the name, I would have had no idea that is actually spelt Backberg. And the same goes for place names too. Add into the mix all of those who emigrated to another country, and you have foreign names and places, said with an accent and you have the perfect recipe for some very creative spelling. It’s not news for researchers to find alternate spellings on documents. In fact it would be far more unusual if you didn’t. But...