Postman’s Park: Every Name Has a Story...

As a family historian I believe that every name truly has a story. But it is true that some have more story than others. Today I would like to introduce you to “Postman’s Park” which is in London, England. This is a place that I visited while I was in England back in 2014. And I admit that it wasn’t a place I knew of the prior to my visit, but to say it’s sobering is an understatement. It gave me the same feeling that you get when you visit a war memorial. Yes, you know that feeling. Anyway Wikipedia describes the park as … “Postman’s Park is a park in central London, a short distance north of St Paul’s Cathedral. Bordered by Little Britain, Aldersgate Street, St. Martin’s Le Grand, King Edward Street, and the site of the site of the former headquarters of the General Post Office (GPO)” But what makes this park special? “Postman’s Park apart from being a beautiful park which contains headstones, also contains 54 memorial tablets (or plaques) that commemorate 62 individuals (men, women and children), each of whom lost their life while attempting to save another. It is a park that has memorials for heroic self-sacrifice.” The park idea started back in 1887 when Victorian artist George Frederic Watts wrote a letter to The Times newspaper entitled ‘Another Jubilee Suggestion’. In this letter, he put forward a plan to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee by erecting a monument to commemorate ‘heroism in every-day life’. It took until 1900, but this idea was eventually realised and his Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice came to be. The memorials are printed on tiles, and mounted on a wall. And each one of those plaques most certainly...

Facebook for New Zealand History and Genealogy...

In case my big list of Facebook links wasn’t enough, I now have more even links for you. While I was compiling my listing of Australian history and genealogy Facebook links, I kept coming across links for our cousins across the ditch … New Zealand. And we can’t forget our cousins, so rather than dismiss them, I decided to create a list for them too. While it’s not as extensive as Australia’s list, there’s certainly plenty to look at … lots of old photo sites, museums, genealogy groups and other heritage related pages. To make it easier for everyone I’ve made it available as a PDF file you can download. There’s currently 126 links on 6 pages, so there’s still quite a lot for a little country. DOWNLOAD HERE As with my Australian list, this is an ongoing list which will be updated regularly, so if you have any New Zealand related links that 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 just a reminder about two other Genealogy on Facebook lists you should know about, firstly Katherine Willson’s worldwide Genealogy on Facebook list is one that everyone should download and have as a reference. The latest edition is enormous, as it now has over 10,000 links. And if you have Canadian heritage, Gail Dever’s list on Facebook for Canadian Genealogy is the most comprehensive available. Happy Researching on...

Facebook for Australian History and Genealogy...

Anyone who thought that Facebook is useless for genealogy research is WRONG, and this proves it. Over the past few years I’ve compiled a number of lists of Australian history and genealogy related pages and groups that are on Facebook. But I figured it was time to combine them all into one, and expand it yet again. And rather than have a HUGE long list to scroll through, I’ve made it into a PDF file so now you can download it. DOWNLOAD HERE This 20 page list has over 500 Australian genealogy and history Facebook links all categorised into State or topic (military, commercial, researcher etc.). This is an ongoing list which will be updated regularly, 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 page on Facebook. ————– While we’re on the topic of Facebook and genealogy, if your research covers more than just Australia be sure to check out Katherine Willson’s worldwide Genealogy on Facebook list. This list is enormous, and now has over 10,000 links. And if you have Canadian connections, you can’t beat Gail Dever’s Facebook for Canadian Genealogy...

Vote Now for Your Favourite Rockstar Genealogists...

For the fifth year running, one of my favourite genealogy bloggers, John D. Reid from the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog, is running his “Rockstar Genealogists” Awards. Let’s start with his definition of what a Rockstar genealogist is … Rockstar genealogists are those who give “must attend” presentations at family history conferences or as webinars, who when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. If you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter they are likely Rockstar candidates. Last week he announced the 2016 Rockstar Genealogist nominees, and called for any extras to be added. There are so many on that list that I admire, through what they write be it in magazines, books, or on their blog, as well as those who I love to listen and learn from when I can. The list of those nominated is long and has people from all around the world listed (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland and Scotland). Many I know, and some I don’t. But what I can say for sure is that the amount of knowledge between them all incredible. I’ve felt that at conferences before, and I get that same feeling just reading this list of names. And while I was a nominee in the Rockstar Genealogist Awards in 2015, I am still surprised that I have made it on to the 2016 nominees list as well. Seriously, even to be on this list is truly an honour. Afterall, I’m no public speaker, and I’m no book or magazine author, but I do write my blogs and I hope that some people read them, enjoy them, and...

Unlock the Past’s Australian History & Genealogy Expo 2016...

Unlock the Past’s Australian History & Genealogy Expo 2016 is coming and it’s big … ok, it’s not to the size of RootsTech or Who Do You Think You Are? Live! … but it’s big by Australian genealogy conference standards. In fact, it’s the biggest we’ve had. For anyone who’s into genealogy particularly those in Australia (or anyone who wishes to visit from overseas, you’re more than welcome to come and visit my beautiful home city of Adelaide), this really is something you won’t want to miss. The Expo is being organised by Unlock the Past, who along with being one of Australia’s leaders in promoting history and genealogy, have organised Expo’s and other events around Australia and as well as held genealogy cruises over the past few years. Firstly a few numbers and details Let’s start with a few stats – held over 2 days – 100+ exhibitors (with many coming from interstate or overseas) – 90 talks – 35+ speakers There will be workshops, getting started talks, advanced talks and one-on-one Research Help Zone sessions with experts, and a large Expo hall. The Where: Immanuel College, 32 Morphett Road, Novar Gardens, South Australia The When: 7-8 October 2016 The Time: Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 9am-4pm The Admission Cost: $15/1 day; $20/2 days, 18 and under free The Speakers The speakers are coming from all around Australia with a few from overseas too: – Dr Tom Lewis (author and military historian) – Philip Payton (well-known authority on Cornish history, and Australia in WW1) – Brad Argent (Ancestry UK) – Jeremy Austin (Australian DNA Database Project) – John Donaldson (Family Tree Maker specialist) – Greg Drew (South Australian mining history) – Andrew Gildea (from Finders Cafe) – Jan Gow (well-known...

There’s History in Those Walls!...

Let me tell you the incredible history of a small town pub in the Adelaide Hills that very few know of … The tiny town of Gumeracha is currently best known for being home to the World’s Biggest Rocking Horse, the place the Medieval Fair is held each year, and of course the local wines. However up until around the mid 1900s the local pub was a tourist attraction, and not just for the beer, it was for the thousands of names written on its walls. It was so well-known that it even gained the reputation of being Australia’s largest “visiting book” hotel in the process. The town, which was founded by William Beavis Randell in the 1850s, has had a pub there almost as long. The map below is a portion of a town plan of Gumeracha dated from 1860, and shows that the corner block (where the hotel is) was owned by A Vorwerk, who is also listed as the first owner of District Hotel from 1861. Here’s an extract from the Gumeracha 1839-1939 book: “The main front walls of the District Hotel are composed of a local chalkstone, and probably on no other walls of a building in any other part of Australia are engraved so many names and initials. From ground level up to the top of the balcony roof there are a thousand or more of them, many of them representing people who in later years became very prominent in the State. As is only natural, callers at this old hostelry scrutinise the names on its walls with the very greatest interest.” And from a newspaper article on the History of Hotels dated 2 June 1951: South Australia has a hotel with the largest...

The Australian Census: 1828 and 2016 Comparing the Questions...

Tuesday the 9th of August 2016 was an important day in Australia’s history. It was Census Day. A day that many find a chore (and not just because of the census website crash). But to say it’s a day that all genealogists and historians look forward to is an understatement. Anyway while I was filling out my paper copy of Australia’s 2016 Census (all 60 questions worth), I was thinking about what questions were actually asked in Australia’s first ‘official’ census. But before we get on to that, let’s take a step back. It is a well known fact that Australia conducts a census, extracts the data and then destroys them … much to the horror of historians and researchers. Anyway as a result, very few Australian censuses even exist. But one that does is Australia’s very first one. It was held in New South Wales in November 1828 … ok, technically it was New South Wales not Australia, as Australia wasn’t a country until Federation in 1901, but I’m not going to debate that here. New South Wales 1828 Census As you would expect, the aim of the 1828 census was to “record all inhabitants of the colony” (both convict and free). We are not only fortunate that this incredible record has survived, but we also get to see images of it online on both the Ancestry and Findmypast websites. Listing people alphabetically by surname, the questions asked for this census were: 1. Name of inhabitant 2. Age 3. Free or bond 4. Ship name on which arrived 5. Year arrived 6. Sentence 7. Religion 8. Employment 9. Residence 10. District 11. Total number of acres 12. Number of acres cleared 13. Number of acres cultivated 14. Number...

What Got You Started?

What got you started? This is a question I have heard a lot, and it’s also one that I have asked many people. And I still find it interesting to hear the varying answers. It is also one that Amy Johnson Crow recently asked. [By the way, if you don’t follow her blog yet, take a few minutes to at least check it out … it’s really is one you should be reading!!] Anyway back to the question … for some it is to help out their parents or grandparents. For others their interest was sparked with the discovery of an old document, photos or letters. Other love the hunt – piecing the family jigsaw together. Or it might be simply proving (or disproving) a family story, while for some the interest in history has always there. For me … I would have to say while the hunt is a factor, I would also say that I’m in that latter category in that the ‘interest’ was there, but having grown up in the family history scene I knew how addictive this hobby disease could be – I’d seen it with my own eyes from a very young age, so I was forewarned. And because of that I procrastinated. Then one day I woke up and decided that enough was enough … what was I waiting for? Ok, in reality I was waiting for more time (aren’t we all) … but I still have family living, so I NEEDED to start. NOW! And so I did. Going back to when I was about 10 or so, I do have a very vivid recollection of my dad telling me that we were related to the Kelly’s  … which of course to...

DNA Testing and Bullying...

While genealogy DNA testing has been around for a few years now, DNA testing in Australia only became a big thing last year when AncestryDNA hit our shores. I, along with numerous family members, and many others I know have done the “spit test” to see “where we came from”. So far all good and easy. Right? For many this is enough. That’s all they wanted. Do the test, and see their ethnicity. But for the rest of the testers, they want more. They want to find the long lost cousins and branches of their family. They want to find matches, and this is where you can find issues arise. I have heard it so many times “they don’t have a tree online” or if they do, “they haven’t replied to my message about a match”. Personally I’m not a ‘tree online’ person. I am happy to work on my own tree, on my own computer, but due to public pressure, I did put a mini-tree online, and am now having people contact me saying that they match, and wanting more information. Can you see the issue here? Not everyone tests for the same reasons. So my suggestion to those who have tested, and have sent queries to those who are possible matchers, don’t be a bully about it. If you find that someone doesn’t have a tree online, don’t pressure them. And if they don’t respond to your request for more info, don’t hassle them. The more you do, the less likely they’ll want to share their info with you. Maybe in time they’ll look into the whole matching thing for themselves, but at present they’re happy with the ethnicity report, and seeing the match of a close...

Hit By Two Cars, Neither Drivers Stopped...

Tuesday … so it’s Trove Tuesday time. And again Trove has come up with an amazing tid-bit relating to my family. Ok, technically it’s Mr Lonetester’s family, but you get the point. And again it’s something I never would have thought of (of known about) if it wasn’t for the wonders of Trove. I will admit I haven’t done a whole lot of research on this side of the family, so am still learning a lot as I go, however I do know that Richard John Tester survived this accident and lived on for another 20 odd years, and is buried in the Warrnambool Cemetery in Victoria,...