Facebook for Australian History and Genealogy...

Since releasing my first big list of Australian history and genealogy links on Facebook in September 2016, I’ve continued to find more, and more, and periodically do updates. So what started out as a list of a few hundred links, has grown to over 1250 links (as at 9 June 2018). That’s 46 pages worth of Australian history and genealogy links … just on Facebook. With this update, there has been additions to most categories – Australia, the states, and the topics. And I’ve even added in Norfolk Island as a category. DOWNLOAD HERE This is an ongoing project 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 11,700 links. – Gail Dever’s Facebook for Canadian Genealogy is a must for everyone with Canadian...

Remembering Zap (2002-2018)...

Today is one of those days that all pet owners dread. The one-way visit to the vets for a beloved pet. Sadly today was Zap’s day. Zap has been a part of the family for about 16  years. She and her two brothers (all from the same litter) were the part-moggie, part-persian kittens of a ‘friendly stray’ at my parents house, and I’m pleased to say that Mr Lonetester and I gave them all a great home. Having got Zap and her brothers (we couldn’t choose, so picked all three), at just under 4 weeks old, we got to watch them grow from teeny-tiny bouncy kittens into big fluffballs. Saying last goodbye’s is never a easy decision to make, but we know it was the right one as she wasn’t well. And after purring till the end, she left peacefully, and is now over the rainbow bridge with Gizmo and Mickey.  We are a fur-family and do have other cats in our household, but as all cat lovers will know, every cat has it’s very own personality, so the fact that Zap isn’t there, isn’t simply replaced by those that are. She’d taken to sleeping in a particular windowsill, and now it’s empty. It’s going take a while to look at that windowsill again without tears welling up. Here’s a few pics of her I’d like to share and remember her by …...

Unlock the Past in Seattle Live … and Livestream...

If you’re lucky enough to live in (or near) Seattle, Washington, USA, and are totally into genealogy you probably already know about this event, and already have your tickets. But for the sake of those who don’t, please bear with me. Australia’s Unlock the Past are heading to Seattle for their Alaska genealogy cruise shortly, but before they board, they’re holding a one day genealogy seminar in Seattle with four of the world’s best genealogy speakers: – Blaine Bettinger (USA) – Cyndi Ingle (USA) – Maurice Gleeson (England) – Wayne Shepheard (Canada) The conference is divided into two streams with a total of 10 talks on throughout the day. There will be DNA, Irish and General topics, and Wayne Shepheard, author of “Surviving Mother Nature’s Tests: The Effects Climate Change and Other Natural Phenomena have had on the Lives of our Ancestors” will be talking about the “Genealogy and the Little Ice Age ” You can view the full program here. Now obviously, not everyone can get to Seattle, but you can pretend you are, as Unlock the Past have just announced that they will be LIVESTREAMING the conference, so you and everyone else around the world can tune in live (or at a later time) to watch the talks. And as they will be available to watch for a while after the event, for those in Australia you don’t have to stay up to stupid o’clock to watch. As I am going on the Alaska cruise, I will be at the Seattle conference, so will write about it in due course. But I hope that some of you take the opportunity to tune in and hear these world-class speakers as well. ATTEND IN PERSON: Cost: US$45 Date: Thursday, 6 September 2018...

A Thankyou to the Captain...

As an avid Trovite, I love reading the old newspapers (as so many of us do). And yet, I am still amazed at the very cool stuff you can find in the old newspapers. Take for instance one of my recent finds. A friend asked me to see what I could find on the “Lord Raglan” 1854 voyage to South Australia. So after some general Googling to find out the basic details (the ship left Plymouth, Devon 16 July 1854, and arrived in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 23 October 1854), I found a copy of the original passenger list on the State Library of South Australia website. I also found references to it on the Passengers in History site, and The Ships List. Anyway so then I headed off to Trove , and I came up with a thankyou message that the passengers had written to the Captain of the Lord Raglan ship, and they put it publicly in the the newspaper. How cool is that? It’s great to know that Captain Flanagan and his crew looked after their passengers on the long voyage to a new life. Another newspaper entry I found relating to the Lord Raglan, quotes the following … The fine new ship Lord Raglan, 923 tons register, Captain Flanagan, for Adelaide, and the Appoline, of 500 tons, for Melbourne, having embarked their respective complements of emigrants from the Government dept, at Plymouth, sailed on Sunday. The Lord Raglan belongs to Messrs. W. Nicholson and Sons, of Sunderland, and has been fitted up on a most excellent plan, the result of the experience of Captain Lean, R.N., the Government emigration officer in London. Among other advantages, one-third of each bed can be turned up from the sides of the ship, so as to admit of a free passage two feet...

31 Ways to Make the Most of National Family History Month...

August is here, which means Australia and New Zealand’s National Family History Month is here. The launch has happened, the events are underway, and you may well have attended a talk or two already. While there’s over 200 events scheduled, unfortunately not everyone is able to attend onsite events for various reasons, but even so there are still plenty of ways you can celebrate and be involved with National Family History Month. First up I do have to give big a shout-out to my good geniefriend Shauna Hicks, who originally came up with this idea of having a 31 ideas list few years ago for National Family History Month. And I must say I loved it. I even printed out the list, and ticked them off as I did them. This list is not a copy of Shauna’s but rather one that I’ve made up, but click on her name above for even more suggestions. Have a read through the list, see what you’d like to achieve, and count what you’ve done at the end of the month. You might be surprised. Contact a genealogy, family history or historial society near you Visit your local State Archives or library Write your life story (or at least begin it!) (click here for some topic suggestions) Interview a relative about their life story Hold a family reunion (it doesn’t have to be a big one, even a catchup with a reli or two) Attend a family or local history talk, seminar or information session Label some family photos Scan some of your photos Most genies I know have “piles of paperwork” (myself included). So filing is a must. However filing is never a fun job, but do it in small doses, and it’s...

Listen and Learn With Genealogy Podcasts...

So you’re doing genealogy, and you’d like to learn more about history and family history, but you don’t have a lot of spare time, right? Have you discovered podcasts? I’m guessing a few hands went up, but most of you are saying “no” as you read this. Some of you might not even know what they are (stick with me as I’ll explain). Anyway podcasts are a fabulous way to learn – not just for genealogy, but any topic. They are simply audio recordings that you can listen to on your computer, iPad or Smartphone, and there are literally thousands of them – all history and genealogy related – and waiting for you to listen to whenever you choose. With podcasts you can listen interviews with genealogy peeps, information on coming events, reports on past events, reviews on products, and hear plenty of general genealogy news. Below are just a few of the more well-known genealogy-related podcasts. Note, they are all free to listen to. And no you don’t need a subscription. Just click on the ‘listen’ or ‘play’ button, and start listening. If you have a iPad, or iPhone, most you can download from iTunes. ——————————- Extreme Genes Extreme Genes is a weekly radio show and podcast about family history. Host Scott Fisher keeps you informed on the latest in family history research around the world, and talks to people about amazing things that have happened while they were doing family history research.   Family Tree Magazine Podcast Hear about the best genealogy tools and tips directly from Family Tree Magazine’s editors and experts! Each month you are taken behind the scenes to learn more about genealogy topics from the Family Tree magazine, books, courses and more. Each episode features interviews with genealogy...

Britain’s Playing Card Tax...

Anyone who is vaguely familiar with British social history will be aware that they have had some “different” (by that, yes I mean rather odd) taxes over the years. Take for instance the Hearth Tax in which you paid based on the number of fireplaces in your house, the Window Tax was the same but was based on the number of windows you had. The Clock Tax, the Candle Tax, the Soap Tax, even a Beard Tax are others just to mention a few – and all were used as a means to raise funds for the government of the day. But here we’re talking about a tax on Playing Cards. Yes, truly. The humble deck of cards was taxed (not forgetting dice as well). In reality they had been taxed since the late 1500s, but in 1710 the English Government dramatically raised the taxes on them, which the manufacturer was then liable for. As the rate of tax was equivalent to 12 times the price of a cheap pack of cards, you can imagine that there were forgeries. But in a bid to prevent this, each manufacturer had their own ‘mark’, and would hand stamp their mark on the Ace of Spades to show that it was a legit version. Still, as the taxes were excessive, forgeries happened. And while creating forgeries of playing cards doesn’t sound too drastic, if you were caught making them the result was hanging. While the tax itself is surprising enough, what’s even more surprising is that tax continued through until 1960. That’s 250 years! Incredible. So if you are lucky enough to have an old deck of cards, take a closer look at it. Check out the maker, and in particular have a close...

17 Reasons Why Family History is Good for You...

If you’re a die-hard family historian, this post isn’t for you. Why? Because you already know how awesome researching is, and in reality you’re probably like me, and can’t understand why everyone isn’t in to it. Alas, they aren’t so. So for everyone else, let me give you some reasons (my own personal ones at that), as to WHY I believe family history is good for you. But feel free to chip in with others if you have more. THE SKILLS You’ll become the king or queen of organisation (well, that’s the theory anyway). As researchers we acquire so much information (often in paper form as well as electronic form), all of which needs a good filing system to keep it retrievable. So over time you WILL learn to become organised. You have to. Geography. Yes, seriously. I promise you you will get a whole lot better at geography (at least in the areas your ancestors came from) And history. You will learn history. After all you have to know what happened where in the world to put your family history in context If your family is from a foreign (non-English speaking) country, you will amaze yourself by learning enough of the language to be able to read genealogical documents. And for other words and phrases we always have Google Translate and Babel Fish to help if needed After spending weeks scrolling through census, parish records and wills, you’ll be 100% proficient at reading anyone’s handwriting! After all those census enumerators and parish priests certainly gave us a challenge You’ll learn new words like “taphophilia“, “centimorgan” and “ahnentafel“ Not to mention understanding the “ye olde” language, medical and occupational terms that were used back in the day. (Thank goodness for...

2 Months Until Alaska … Are you Ready?...

The months are flying by, and there’s now just two months until we set sail on Unlock the Past’s 14th cruise to Alaska.  61 days allowing for the timezone changes. If you need proof … check my countdown app … So after flying to Seattle, Washington, USA and having a full-on genealogy seminar the day before … we’ll be boarding on the 7th of September. Myself and all the other geneacruisers then get 7 fun-filled days of genealogy learning combined with seeing the incredible sights that Alaska has to offer. Don’t you think that’s an awesome combination? The itinerary takes us from Seattle, to the Inside Passage, to Juneau, Skagway, and Tracy Arm, then to Victoria, Canada before we head back to Seattle. The ship we’re cruising on is the magnificent Explorer of the Seas from Royal Caribbean. Great ship, and great conference room facilities. So we have a great ship, great itinerary, and trust me it’ll be a great conference as the range of conference presenters is incredible. THE PRESENTERS Susan Brook (USA) – Chasing Your Ancestors Dick Eastman (USA) – Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter Dr Janet Few (England) – The History Interpreter Dr Maurice Gleeson (England) – DNA and Family Tree Research Jan Gow (New Zealand) – Hooked on Genealogy Tours Caroline Gurney (England) – Historical Research Services Shauna Hicks (Australia) – Shauna Hicks History Enterprises Cyndi Ingle (USA) – Cyndi’s List Eric Kopittke (Australia) – German Family Matters Rosemary Kopittke (Australia) – Rosemary Kopittke Genealogy Kae Lewis (USA / New Zealand) – Goldrush Online Mike Murray (Australia) – Time Trackers Michelle Patient (New Zealand) – The Patient Genie Pat Richley-Erickson (USA) – Dear Myrtle Teri Schaller (USA) – History Speaks, a division of Mile High Transcripts...

The “Fitzjames”, South Australia’s Floating Prison...

A largely unknown piece of South Australia’s history is the fact that there was a prison ship (or hulk) anchored just off of Port Adelaide at Largs Bay. While we’ve heard of them in the UK, who knew that Australia had them too? In 1876, the ‘Fitzjames’ a ship of 1,200 tons,  was purchased by the South Australian Government from Mr Donaldson in Melbourne, and cost them £2,800. It was bought with the intention to use it as a quarantine ship. There’s more about this in the Evening Journal, 15 April 1876 … “She will be moored near the North Arm, and will be used for patients while the cottage on Torrens Island will be fitted up and set apart for the convalescents. In view of the large influx of population to the colony it is important to have ample quarantine accommodation and the arrangements are now in progress will secure this without the delay which would be caused by waiting for the erection of suitable buildings.” However by 1880 and through until 1891, the ‘Fitzjames’ served as a “Reformatory” for over 100 young boys aged from 8 through to 16. From the Evening Journal dated 11 June 1879  … “… if the hulk Fitzjames were not required for quarantine purposes after the buildings on Torrens Island were completed the Government would consider the advisability of converting her into a training-ship for Reformatory boys” The first boys to call the Fitzjames home, were ones transferred from the Boys’ Reformatory at Magill in March 1880. Some had committed serious crimes, while others were guilty of petty theft, or simply deemed uncontrollable. The inspection reports which you’ll find in the newspapers, generally give a fairly favourable report, as well as giving an idea of what...

15 Reasons That Genealogy is Like Gardening...

I am what I call a “potter” gardener. I don’t mind getting out there on a nice day, and just pottering around, doing a big of weeding, pruning, planting new plants, finding others that I don’t remember planting and so on. And it was while I spent some time outside doing some gardening recently and getting some important vitamin D in as well … it occurred to me that gardening is rather like genealogy,  and not just because they both involve trees. So here’s what I came up with … Like gardening, your tree is NEVER finished Both involve LOTS of digging Like gardening, from time to time you do have to prune branches off your tree There’s no doubt about it … both gardening ad family tree-ing take time Like weeding, every little you can do helps you see results Like gardening, it’s super exciting when you discover something new – something you didn’t know existed Not sure about you, but I love colour, both in my garden, and in my family history. And as researchers we love those colourful characters don’t we! Like gardening, from little things big things grow (well that’s the theory, and it sometimes works)! Start with a name or two … and in time you’ll have a family tree Like actual trees, some family trees are spread wide, while others are narrow but tall (more direct line type trees) When gardening you’ll come across different soil types. Some nice and soft, others like clay hard or with lots of rocks. Obviously when planting there, they take more effort and more time to nurture what grows there. This reminds me of brickwall. it’s do-able, but they take a lot more time and effort. There...

The Origin of Mother’s Day in Australia...

Mrs Janet Heyden from Leichhardt, New South Wales is not a name that you’re likely to recognise, but her name goes down in history as the person who introduced gift giving for Mother’s Day. In 1924, Mrs Heyden was concerned about the lonely, and forgotten mothers in Sydney’s Newington State Hospital when she visited an old friend regularly. So she started a campaign throughout Sydney asking for donations so she could buy presents for these old ladies. Newspapers took up the appeal helping to spread the word, while she made personal requests to many of Sydney’s leading businesses. The response was incredible with donations ranging from talcum powder and soap, to scarves and mittens, as well as confectionery and fruit gifts. Janet is quoted as saying “The late Alderman Dyer, who was Mayor of Leichhardt, used to drive me around to the old mothers of the district with my gift parcels. For seven years in succession the appeal through the newspapers made sure that hundreds of mothers who would otherwise have been forgotten received a Mother’s Day gift, today, of course, a gift for mother is just a natural thing.” Mrs Heyden continued to visit the lonely and forgotten mothers in Newington right up until her death in 1960. It was then her daughter spoke of her mother’s disappointed by the commercialism of Mother’s Day and the loss of it’s original meaning … but she figured that “commercial interest provided publicity which reminded people of the occasion.” So just to be clear, Janet Heyden, wasn’t the founder of Mother’s Day, as technically it already existed, but it was quite different to what we understand it to be these days. The credit of the ‘founder’ of Mother’s Day goes to Miss Annie Jarvis from Philadelphia....

Remembering Tarakan, 1 June 1945...

Anzac Day, a day of remembrance of those who fought and died for our country. Whether they lived or died, nothing was ever the same again for those who went, as well as those at home. For today’s Anzac Day post, I looked at those from my own family who were involved in war – there have been many over the years in the various wars, but this times I’ve chosen to write about Harold Roy Winter, my grandma’s brother who was involved in World War 2. I’ll start off by saying that the military knows him as “Roy Harold Winter”, rather than “Harold Roy Winter”, simply (or so the story goes) as there was another person already signed up with that name so he switched it, so for this purpose I’ll go with the military version. Born in Victoria, he grew up in Adelaide, and signed up as a young 25 year old ready to fight for his country. He was assigned to the 2/48th Battalion Australian Infantry Battalion, and got to see to world … and war! Reading through the letters he wrote to family while he was in the army, he describes going overseas as a great adventure, as well as describing the monotony of army life. He also writes about the strength of the hospital staff … “The efficiency, determination and sacrifices to their job are a magnificent credit to them, and only we who have experienced it can give a true value to their worth. In many cases, patients were being attended by orderlies who were just as ill, or in some cases even worse. Such is to the spirit of the A.I.F. and it will keep all of us going till we die or...