Finland Days 7 and 8: Research Fun, Libraries and Touristing...

The last two days have made up for my lazy days at the Summerhouse, as I reckon I’ve walked every street in the centre of Helsinki. Some probably twice. And my Fitbit can prove it. Anyway I was fortunate enough that another Finnish cousin of mine was happy to play tour guide for Wednesday and Thursday, and as a bonus as he’s also into research and libraries took me to all the fun places, as well as a heap more. Wednesday 5 July 2017 Wednesday was pretty much a visit-libraries-and-research-day. I think I went to three libraries, one museum, and the National Archives of Finland. Sound fun doesn’t it … well it does if you’re into that type of thing. Fortunately for me my tour guide cousin, also played interpreter when we were at the archives. I can read names, but don’t understand the record that I’m looking at otherwise. Anyway it was a great day at the archives as we found a death duty record for my 4x great grandma, Ulrika Winter! Who would have thought, eh? But oh so very cool!! Thursday 6 July 2017 This was set aside to be another another research day, but rather than heading back to the archives, my cousin and I spent a couple of hours comparing information, before heading off for a day of touristing. First stop was Suomenlinna (previously named Sveaborg which is the Swedish name for it). Founded in 1748 when Sweden owned Finland, this sea fortress which is built on a group of islands was so they could defend themselves against Russia. Soumenlinna is is now UNESCO World Heritage Listed and is really something to see. The scale of it is phenomenal, and it is all so...

Finland Day 6: Countryside, a Cemetery and Pizza...

I can’t believe it’s been a week already since I arrived. My trip seems to be going so fast, but in some ways it also seems longer, as I’ve done so much … and I have almost another week to go. Tuesday 4 July 2017 Today was a packup-and-leave-Heinola day, but rather than heading straight home, my cousins took me to another beautiful cemetery. They know me so well already! Anyway it was here at the town of Hämeenkoski I got to see my 4x great grandpa’s grave. This place is about a 1 1/2 hour drive north of Helsinki. So that was another very exciting day. The journey to and from the cemetery really was beautiful, as we went through the most spectacular countryside. And as you do, on lazy country drives, we found strawberry farm and got the tastiest strawberries EVER. My cousins and I had pizza for tea, and I must say their “small” pizza is huge. I would expect that in America as everything there is supersize, but not Finland. Anyway it was very tasty, but waaaay to much. Oh and here’s a Finnish thing, when you buy a pizza it’s not pre-cut into slices for you. If you want that done it costs more. Tomorrow I head to the archives for some research...

Finland Day 4 and 5: Summerhouse, Games and Long Nights...

My adventures in Finland continue and the last couple of days were spent at Heinola, at my reli’s summerhouse. This is just over an hour away from where they live… so it’s not far, but it truly is a whole different world, and not just the scenery but also the house and everything in it. It kind of reminds me of my grandma’s place which was filled with everything from a past era, it’s like walking into an antique store. Old knick knacks, old tools, old everything, even an outdoor toilet … but that’s part of the charm of it. In Finland it is a common thing for families to have a summerhouse. It’s school holidays in Finland at the moment and those who work tend to take their holidays during summer if they can, and then all head off to the summerhouse. Some might get there a for a few days, others the entire holiday period. Apart from the noise from roadworks that are happening nearby at the moment, it is incredibly tranquil, and you could totally lose track of day and time very easily. And remember it doesn’t even get vaguely dark until maybe 10.30pm … so you really can stay up all night, outside playing games, or whatever. Sunday 2 July 2017 to Monday 3 July 2017 I won’t go into detail of the past few days, but with the nice weather we had breakfasts outside, went in their sauna (by the way the correct pronunciation of it is sow-nah, not sor-nah), playing games, reading, learning more family history, checking out the town centre, including the bird rescue centre and more. It’s been relaxing and fun, and I’ve taken hundreds of photos. Below are just a...

Finland Day 2 and 3: Churches, Cemeteries, a Mental Hospital and Family...

My adventures in Finland continue and cover churches, cemeteries, a mental hospital and family. Sounds like an interesting mix. Right? Friday 30 June 2017 The day was cool and cloudy, and rain was forecast, still my cousin took me touristing again. This time to the Rock Church in Helsinki. I found this listed on a number of “things you must do in Finland” lists, so asked if we could go there. The Rock Church is a modern church, built in the 1960s that has been built into rock and largely underground. I know my photos don’t do it justice, so here’s a link to find out more about it. It is a big tourist attraction, and yes it even costs to enter (3 Euros/person). Next stop was the Helsinki cemetery. I visited this cemetery a couple of years ago and was shown some relatives graves then, so it was an interesting challenge to see if we could locate them again from memory. Yay for us, we did, though we pretty much walked the entire cemetery looking for them. But since it’s a spectacular cemetery, and the rain held off it was lovely to just wander. I know a cemetery wouldn’t be on most tourist’s itinerary, but you know it’s what us genie folk LOVE, so I was pleased that we got there.   Following on from visiting a church and a cemetery, my cousin took me to a mental hospital which is now partly a cafe … you’d never guess it from outside would you? Saturday 1 July 2017 Yesterday was seeing the ancestors, today was seeing the cousins. Today was an ‘at home’ day, so I don’t have any interesting place pictures to show you. But we did...

Finland Day 1: Squirrels, Porvoo, Korona and a Moose...

Thursday 29 June 2017 was my first full day in Finland, and despite me figuring that I’d need days of straight sleeping to catch up from the trip over, I was up early, and out enjoying the blue sky and warm day and watching the squirrels play in the backyard. My relatives live in Vantaa, which is not that far from Helsinki (Finland’s capital), but it’s a whole lot quieter and a whole lot greener too. Very picturesque. It’s holiday time in Finland (not just for me), so my morning started with sitting out enjoying the sun, watching the squirrels, and enjoying a Finnish breakfast. After that, my reli’s took the opportunity of the great weather and took me out to Porvoo (pronounced porr-voe, like toe). Porvoo is old, and I mean REALLY OLD. When Australian’s think of old we think 100 years is old, but most other places in the world ‘old’ means hundreds, if not thousands of years old. Porvoo fits into that category. Wikipedia says the following: “Porvoo is a city and a municipality situated on the southern coast of Finland approximately 50 kilometres east of Helsinki. Porvoo is one of the six medieval towns in Finland, first mentioned as a city in texts from 14th century.” So this is a town that was founded back in the 1300s … and is STILL STANDING. This means two things: 1. it was built THAT well, far better than anything is today, and 2. developers haven’t come in to demolish and build apartments or businesses instead, which is a blessing as Old Porvoo is a very picturesque (although a little touristy now), place to visit. So if you ever get the chance … go visit. We visited the...

Finland: The Long Trip

As I wrote in my last post, over the next couple of weeks my posts will take a different tack. Rather than writing about genealogy-related topics, I am going to show you a little of Finland, which is the homeland of some of my relatives (past and present). So I’m taking a holiday to visit this beautiful part of a world, to see my relatives who I’ve come to know through emails and Facebook, and have briefly met some of them (but not all). So I have 2 weeks to enjoy their company, meet more relis, and discover the wonders of Finland! My “trip of a lifetime” already is underway, and there’s so much I’ve seen (and photographed) already, and despite the fact that it took about 2 days, and 3 plane flights to get to Finland, it’s totally worth it … not that I ever doubted that. The place is beautiful, and my relatives have made me feel like one of the family. My journey started in Adelaide (South Australia), then went to Singapore, then to Frankfurt (Germany) and finally to Helsinki (Finland). I had no dramas with any of the flights, either with any being delayed or cancelled, or with any issue on the plane. So that’s always a bonus! But the trip getting there was an experience in itself, so before I get on to showing your Finland itself, let me share a few pics I took along the way. Stay tuned for more pictures of my adventures in...

Heading to the Other Side of the World...

The trip of a lifetime is what I’m calling it. In just a couple of days I will be doing something I’ve dreamed of for years, and that is heading to Finland to visit my relatives over there. Having corresponded with them for many years, I had the opportunity to meet them very briefly (8 hours or so) when I was on Unlock the Past’s Baltic Cruise back in 2015 when our ship stopped at Helsinki for the day (you can read about that here and here). That was super awesome, but nowhere near long enough. So since then I’ve been saving my dollars and am now actually going … and I’m rather hyper excited about it? Can you tell? Anyway for those who don’t know, I am 1/8th Finnish, the rest being a mix of English and Irish. Otto Rafael Winter was my Finnish great grandpa who became seaman as a way of getting out of compulsory service to the Russian Army.  And after sailing the world on cargo ships for a number of years, he jumped ship in Australia in 1907, settled in South Australia, got married and had a family … and interestingly enough even signed up to fight in both WW1 and WW2 as an Australian. For a change this is not a work trip for me, but rather an actual holiday, though I am hoping to hit the National Archives of Finland for a little research and suss out the National Library of Finland as is one library which is always on the “libraries you you must see lists” while I’m there. But other than that I’m playing tourist, taking in the sights, scenes, and daily life of Finland, as well as generally just taking a break. While I’m...

This Time I’m an Ambassador...

I’ve been to many genealogy events over the years. Local South Australian ones, big Australian ones, and even bigger International ones, and while I’ve written about many of them over the years, I’ve never taken on the role of “Official Blogger”, or the more recent term of “Official Ambassador”… at least until now. Unlock the Past’s “Researching Abroad Roadshow” is coming up in August 2017, and I’m excited to say that I will be an Official Ambassador (ie. Official Blogger) for the event. I will be going to the Adelaide leg of their tour (23-24 August), and will get to hear both Chris Paton (from Scotland) and Dirk Weissleder (from Germany) speak, together with other guest presenters on DNA, as well as British Isles and European resources that are available to use locally. I have met Chris a number of times over the years, and he’s one of the funniest and easiest people to listen and learn from, and his knowledge of Irish and Scottish research and records is incredible. While I haven’t heard Dirk speak, he was a speaker at RootsTech earlier this year, so I managed to meet him there, and I look forward to catching up again, and learning how to to go about researching Mr Lonetester’s German roots. It’s always been one of those “I’ll get to it sometime” branches. Anyway going to an event is not only inspiring, and a way to learn and get totally enthused, but you also get a vibe from meeting others who love genealogy just as much as you do! So they totally understand. As an Ambassador I’ll be reporting about how it all went in due course. But why not come along anyway. The Roadshow will be visiting Auckland,...

Cemetery Day, 18 June 2017...

Today is “Cemetery Day”. A day to commemorate and share our love of cemeteries, and our loved ones who have passed. I’ve had the opportunity to visit numerous cemeteries as I’ve travelled. I mean, why go to the tourist sites, when you can visit your great great grandparents grave, eh? That’s so much more interesting. So here’s a collection of just a few of them for you, for #CemeteryDay. I’ll start off with one that’s close to my heart, and that is one of my little brother, whom I never knew. Now for some others more distant … firstly here’s some from Scotland. I don’t have relatives here, but the cemetery was gorgeous. In 2014 when visiting England, we (my family and I)  went to a number of towns our ancestors came from, so here’s some photos of those cemeteries. And when I visited Finland, naturally I visited the cemetery there too … and found some relis! And one last photo … the Helsinki cemetery is incredible. So quiet, so picturesque it was very “park like”, so here’s a ‘general’ photo of the cemetery, though it really doesn’t do it justice at all. So till next year, that’s my collection of a few of my cemetery...

Introducing #CemeteryDay...

I’m a follower of the “Days of the Year” website. For those who aren’t familiar with this site, here’s what their About page says: “Days Of The Year aims to bring all of the world’s weird, funny, wonderful and bizarre holidays under one roof, and to create the ultimate guide to celebrating each and every day.” Scroll on through and you’ll find some weird ones like False Teeth Day (9 March), Pecan Day (25 March), International Axe Throwing Day (13 June), Lamington Day (21 July), Save Your Photos Day (last Saturday in September) or Name Your PC Day (20 November) and literally hundreds, if not thousands more. I tend to use the site to see if there’s any “Days” that are coming up that I could use as a blog idea. For Recipe Day (or even Biscuit Day) I’ve thought of popping up my grandma’s fav Rock Bun recipe, Wedding Day I could find some old wedding pics, Grandparents Day should be easy enough to come up with something, Old Stuff Day (2 March) sounds like a fun one … and so on. And for those who are genealogically-minded pop these on your calendar: – Genealogy Day (2nd Saturday in March) – Ancestor Appreciation Day (27 September) Anyway I have some cemetery photos I’ve been wanting so share, so I was looking on their site for for any listing of “Cemetery Day”, “Headstone Day”, “Gravesite Day” or even a “Taphophilia Day”. But as there doesn’t seem to be any, so in lieu of any official “Day”, I’ve decided to make this coming Sunday 18 June “Cemetery Day”. I’ve come up with some ways that those who wish to take part in Cemetery Day can do so: – visit a cemetery...

They Died in the Asylum

Parkside Lunatic Asylum is the original name for the building that was subsequently renamed to Parkside Mental Hospital, then Glenside Hospital and more recently Glenside Health Services. Situated on Fullarton Road at Glenside, it is in one of Adelaide’s leafy eastern suburbs and is by outwards appearance, a magnificent place. But the asylum was far from that for the inmates at the asylum, and sadly for so many it was their last home. The Parkside Lunatic Asylum was opened in 1870 initially housing men, but by the 1880s men, women and children were being housed there. It housed not only those suffering from mental illness, but also people with intellectual disabilities and medical conditions like epilepsy. While browsing around on Trove, I found this article in the Adelaide Advertiser, 14 January 1910, and was saddened by the fact that there was so many who even in a six month period, died without family nearby. LUNATIC ASYLUM. Return of persons who have died in the Lunatic Asylum during the half-year ended December 31 whose relatives are unknown or reside outside the State:  – Margaret Sinnott (81), died July 3 last, the cause of death being cardiac disease and senile decay – Wilhelm Heinrich Dittich (71), July 5, pulmonary disease and cardiac failure – Judy (aboriginal female), (60), July 10, gastritis and cardiac failure – Guiseppe Castagneth (58), August 8, apoplexy and cerebral disease – Rosalie Russell (63), August 20, hepatic disease and ascites – Theodosia Byrne (78), August 20, apoplexy and senile decay – Sarah Jane Hayes (35), August 29, phthisis and exhaustion – Bridget (alias Annie) Evans, (42), August 29, suicide by hanging – William Conway (36) September 1, general paralysis and apoplexy – Dora Knout (80), September 2 cardiac disease and senile decay – William Carruthers (75), September 5, diarrhoea and senile decay – Thomas...

Five Faves Geneameme

It was a few weeks ago that Jill Ball (aka GeniAus) put the word out on her latest genealogy blog challenge, the “Five Faves Geneameme“. She writes … “To participate in this meme simply pen a blog post sharing details of five books written by others you have found most useful in your geneactivities. Use the above graphic to decorate your post if you wish. Please let me know via a comment on this post or via another form of social media when your post is done and I will add it to a compilation that I will publish on this blog in early June.”   May was a busy month for me, so it didn’t happen. But I’ve decided to take up the challenge, albeit a little late. But better late than never. I am a booklover. I love books and I love libraries, not to mention secondhand bookshops too. And I will confess I’ve never got into the whole ebook thing. I much prefer a paper book to read. Anyway others who’ve already taken up the challenge found narrowing it down to “just” five titles is really hard. While I don’ t have 1000s of books like some do, my collection would be in the 100s, and they range from reference books (reading old handwriting, lists of old diseases etc), battalion histories, family histories, histories of towns and counties, books with transcripts, royalty, heraldry, placename books, books of old maps and more … including diaries! So thinking about those that I use the most … here’s my list: BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF SOUTH AUSTRALIANS 1836-1885 Compiled by the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society Anyone who is researching ancestors in South Australia prior to 1885 NEEDS to use...