Australia’s Motorcycle Chariot Race...

Chariots are something from the Roman era, and not something to you associate (or see) these days, or even in the relatively recent past. But back in 1920s-1930s chariot motorcycle racing was a thing. Yes, for real! And Australia even got in on the act. I recently saw the photo above, on the History in Pictures Facebook page, and couldn’t believe what I saw. Two men in Roman style outfits, in chariots, with two motorbikes pulling them along. The caption read “Motorcycle Chariot Race in New South Wales, Australia, 1936”.  I was intrigued, I wanted to know if this was for real, so I headed to Trove. Sure enough, the motorcycle chariot race did happen. It was one of many events that were held at Sydney Showgrounds for the New South Wales Police Carnival on Saturday, 29 February 1936. With an estimated crowd of 50,000 this was AN EVENT!! Here’s just some of the articles I found on Trove about it … And to top it off there’s even a short video up on YouTube of the race. The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) have a great write up about the NSW Police Carnival day, together with a longer video showing more of the events, which is totally worth watching. Check that out here. And for the record, there was going to be two heats (two laps each), but a third was needed to determine the winner: Heat 1: Constable J. T. Riley 1, Constable Langham 2. Time, 59 3-5. Heat 2: Constable Langham 1, Constable Riley 2. Time, 60 2-5. Heat 3: Constable Riley 1, Constable Langham 2. Time, 1.1¾. So from seeing a very cool random vintage photo online, to a history lesson … what’s not to love...

The First (and Last) Woman Hanged in South Australia...

March is almost over, but before it leaves us I wanted to write something for Women’s History Month. And after much thought, I have decided to write about Elizabeth Woolcock. The name might be known to a few, but not most. Her name has been added to the pages of history as she was the first, the last, and the only woman to be hanged in South Australia. Convicted and sentenced to hanging for the murder of her husband Thomas Woolcock by mercury poisoning, she was just 25 years old. Her life was a short, tragic one. Her Birth Born on 20 April 1848 Elizabeth Lillian Oliver was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Oliver, who were immigrants from Cornwall. They resided in the a dugouts at Burra, South Australia (several hundred kilometres north of Adelaide). In January 1852 John Oliver did what many men from around the country did, and that was head to the goldfields in Victoria. After a number of months at Ballarat he had some good fortune, and the family joined him later that year. However that’s when things started to go wrong. Catherine the younger daughter of John and Elizabeth, died of dysentery aged just 2, and shortly after that John’s wife, Elizabeth left him to return to Adelaide – not liking life on the goldfields, and she left 4 year old Elizabeth with him. Elizabeth was abandoned by her mother at four, witnessed a murder at six, brutally raped and beaten at seven, and orphaned at nine. Following the Eureka Stockade rebellion in 1854, Elizabeth was traumatised after witnessing the death of her father’s friend, Henry Powell, at the hands of police. And the following year, 7 year old Elizabeth, who was left...

Genimates at Congress 2018...

One of the big pluses for me attending a genealogy conference is that I get to catch up with my genimates. Australia is a big country, and we don’t have many ‘national’ (big genie events), so therefore we don’t see each other often. But Congress brought people from interstate, and even some from overseas as well, and it was great to catch up with them all, and meet some others as well. Some who I’ve known through social media, and others I know of by name. As I was an exhibitor at Congress and didn’t get to any of the talks, I can’t write any report on those for you… but based on what the other geneabloggers have written they were awesome. GeniAus (Jill Ball) is collating a list of all Congress related blog posts, and you can check them out here. So for me when I wasn’t at my stand, I was off chatting to other exhibitors and asking them if they’d be kind enough to sign my autograph book (yes, I did take it with me), and also catching others for a quick pic when they were nearby. So my post here is simply pics of some of the genimates that I caught up with there. So Congress came, and Congress went. It was a busy 4 days. It was a fun 4 days. And let’s hope that a group takes on Congress for 2021, and then we’ll see you all again in 3 years...

Remembering Genealogy Day...

Did you know that there is a ‘Genealogy Day’? Yes, there is. And no, I’m not making it up … you can check it out for yourself here. Genealogy Day is held on the second Saturday of March, which means that for 2018 it was last Saturday (10th March). I knew about it. I knew it was coming up, but life over the past few weeks with Congress (both the lead up to it, and during) was just a tad crazy, so no blog post got written about it beforehand. So instead I’m belatedly remembering Genealogy Day. I spent last Saturday at Congress (Australia’s big genealogy conference), so was surrounded by 600+ genealogy peeps, who were being enthused and inspired by the speakers. So that’s a pretty good way to spend Genealogy Day, so I’m not complaining. But for those of you who missed Genealogy Day, why not just belatedly celebrate it anyway. And excuse to have a genealogy day sounds good to me, anyway here’s some suggestions of things you can do to help ‘celebrate’ Genealogy Day: 1. Enter more names into your family tree. Do you have lots that you’ve found, but just have got around to entering into your genealogy program? Ok, well maybe that’s just me then. 2. If searching is more your thing, why not instead of heading to the ‘usual’ sites you visit try a different one. MyHeritage and The Genealogist are two that have very different records to the others. 3. If it’s a nice day, take a trip to a cemetery (or two or three), and do the grave walk. 4. Visit a relative, and ask them a few questions about their past, and be sure to take notes, or record...

Just a Little Bit Irish

The 17th of March is St Patrick’s Day. A day for all things Irish. A day to remember your Irish heritage, and that’s what I’m doing today. On checking my DNA results from Ancestry, it says that I’m 15% Irish/Scottish/Welsh. My guess is that it’s mostly Irish – but as always, that is still to be proven.   And my Living DNA results they say 9.4% South West Scotland and Northern Ireland …. So while the stats vary (all DNA tests do as they use different algorithms), they do show that I do have some Irish (and/or) Scottish blood in me. But I’ll be honest, the Irish lines of my family aren’t ones that I’ve done much research on yet … (one day!!). However I do know that McCullough family comes from Randalstown, in Country Antrim, so that’s a start. Beyond that, I do believe that my 4x great grandma Anne/Hannah McGrath who married William Cosgrove in South Australia in 1856 came from Ireland but that’s yet to be proven. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find another line or two that end up being Irish. But time (and research of course) will tell. So on St Patrick’s Day, be sure to take a moment to remember those from the homeland. Those who left their country for various reasons (some willing, others not), and then made a new life in their adopted country. Each of them playing a part in making you the person you are...

Congress 2018 – It Begins...

Three long years after we were all in Canberra, and an even longer week this week (don’t ask, it’s a long story) … Congress (Australia’s big genealogy event) is finally here. It’s no RootsTech by any means. But then again NOTHING is like RootsTech other than RootsTech. But Congress is THE BIG genie conference for Australia. It’s the event that brings people from all across the nation, and even across the ditch, together to, as Mr Lonetester says, “geek out on genealogy” for 4 whole days. The conference began on Friday, so I arrived Thursday afternoon, which was timely as I was able to have a very lovely afternoon tea with my roommates (Helen Smith and Judy Russell), and then headed out to dinner with a bunch of others for a pre-Congress get together. It was great to catch up friends who I’ve not seen for ages, and make some new ones too. There was laughs, there was photos, and there was ribbons, beads and geniecards. Friday started early for me, as an exhibitor we had to get in early to set up! And even at that time of day (just on “light-o-clock”) the International Convention Centre (ICC) was packed. Was this a heap of eager genies? Well yes … but not that many. It turned out that there were a number of other events being held at the ICC on that day as well … an aromatherapy conference, a tattoo expo, an orthodontic conference and more. So yes, there were literally thousands of people around for a while, till all the events started. So after 2hrs of lugging boxes in, and setting up the our stand, the exhibition opened at 9am, and for a change we (the Gould...

#NotAtRootsTech, But I Want to Be...

The world’s biggest genealogy event, RootsTech, has just begun, but I’m not there. To say I’m missing it, and my friends is an understatement. Why am I not there? Well I did go in 2017, and there is a lot of sea between Australia and the US, so it takes time to save dollars for those big plane trips … not to mention that Congress (the big Australian genealogy event, but not even in the same league as RootsTech), is on the next week in Sydney … and I’ll be going to that. So I look at my Faceboook feed and see so many friends who are there enjoying the sights, sounds and catch-ups of it all. Sigh … next year! I will get there next year! Anyway, so what makes RootsTech THE. MUST. ATTEND. genealogy event for so many from around the world? For me it is the socialising. The breakfasts, the dinners, even lunch if you’re lucky enough to get some (yes, it gets that crazy). Even the drinks after the day has finished. It’s the time where you get to catch up with friends (and make new ones) from all around the world. It’s the time where you’re not racing from one talk to the next, or trying to make your way around the expo hall … but the times when you can just sit and chat to someone one-on-one or just a small group of people. I have made great friendships from meeting at RootsTech. Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many awesome talks, and SO much to learn from the awesome speakers. And the Expo hall is something like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a place that seriously takes days to work your way around it all,...

Love Australian History? Get “Traces”...

If you love Australian history and/or genealogy, let me introduce you to “Traces“. Traces is a brand spanking new Australian genealogy and history magazine. It is exciting to have a new magazine available, because we’ve seen far too many disappear over the past few years, which no doubt is a sign of the times. Anyway call me old fashioned, but I’m a physical paper magazine lover, and I still get excited when a new issue arrives in the mail. As for what it’s about, the magazine states that … “Traces magazine is for anyone interested in this country’s history, from ancient Indigenous heritage to European settlement, local history, artefacts and family genealogy. Launched in December 2017, Traces is the only quarterly printed magazine dedicated to providing its readers with insight into the latest historical research, news, events and heritage projects taking place around Australia. The expert voices of historians, researchers, heritage professionals, genealogists and journalists uncover the fascinating characters and stories of our past.” Anyway Issue 1 (or Volume 1 as they actually call it) of Traces magazine is an awesome read. As with most of the genie mags I get, I’ve read it from cover to cover. Basically you’ll find 64 pages of interesting, well-written articles. Some of the topics covered in Issue 1 are … – Getting started on your family tree – the wrecking of the ‘Batavia’ – Indigenous convicts – the Brennan & Geraghty’s Store Museum which really is ‘a store that time forgot’ – discover the history of Silverton, New South Wales – Caring for your precious textiles – learn how to date old photos through fashion – read all about ‘the masher’ – info on the Historic Houses Association of Australia – discover...

Valentine’s Day is “as dead as Julius Caesar”...

Valentine’s Day is just a hyped up, money making day. There I said it!! [Note: that is entirely my personal opinion here. No offence to those who love the day, but I feel why have ‘a’ day when you’re simply ‘expected’ to give something, when it’s so much nicer to receive an ‘out-of-the-blue-no-reason-needed’ gift.] Flowers, chocolates, jewellery, a card and/or other romantic gifts … it is what you ‘should’ give your loved one right? Not necessarily. But it is certainly what we’ve been programmed to think. Anyway it certainly wasn’t always the case. In fact in the early 1900s Valentines Day had all but died out. That sure has changed!! Take for instance this article from South Australia’s ‘Evening Journal‘ newspaper from Thursday 15 February 1900: ST. VALENTINE’S DAY. Wednesday was St. Valentine’s Day, but perhaps few people knew it outside of those who are diligent students of their calendars. The old practice of sending valentines has almost if not completely died out. A leading bookseller reports that it is as “dead as Julius Caesar;” that most stationers do not stock valentines nowadays; and, moreover, that people never ask for them. The circulating of extraordinary caricatures is now almost entirely in the hands of the satirical papers, and if a remarkable event were to happen on February 14 there is a probability of St. Valentine’s Day not even being remembered by tie publishers of calendars.  But as the years went by, the tradition was starting to gain a foothold again., and according to the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express from Friday 11 July 1919 we can blame the Americans for it! VANISHING VALENTINES. Although the custom of sending valentines is very nearly dead in England, it may, perhaps, be revived...

William Cosgrove, Convict...

My 3x great grandpa William Cosgrove is one of those people that you have some info on him from a certain date, but nothing beforehand, so he’s always been a mystery. I know he married in South Australia, had kids there and died there … but before that, nothing!! However it was relatively recently that a cousin (thanks Judy), mentioned that she believed he was a convict.. So hence the research to prove or disprove this theory. I only have one direct convict on my line so far, so am eager to see if I  have two (and it would be the first on my paternal line). Let me start off by saying that there are several William Cosgrove’s who were convicts. The three I found were: – William Cosgrove, transported on the ‘Mariner’ 1827 – William Cosgrove, transported on the ‘Royal Admiral’ 1830 – William Cosgrove, transported on the ‘Mangles’ 1840 What I know of ‘my’ William Cosgrove, age, occupation, and residence matches pretty closely with references to the 16 year old William  Cosgrove, who was transported to New South Wales on the Royal Admiral in 1830. As I don’t have a nice big long biography of William, or even an obituary giving all the amazing details throughout his life … it’s up to me to piece his life together from what I can find. As a means to track it all, I have created a timeline and while I still have some gaps to fill, between the convict records, newspapers and gazettes it’s created a reasonable timeline already. It is a work in progress, and there’s still much research to be done, and at this stage I don’t feel that I can yet say 100% for sure...

The Ultimate Checklist: 79 Places to Look for Family History Information...

So you’ve embarked on the super-exciting journey of family history … the journey where you discover not only who your family is and was, but in many instances yourself as well. You’ve started off by writing down all the information that you currently know about yourself, your spouse, your children, your siblings and your parents (names, dates, places etc). The next step is to look for items that are likely to help you with more information. Everyone knows about the birth, death and marriage certificates as a source of information. But had you thought of looking in your baby book, on x-rays, or your drivers licence … all of these have valuable information about the person they relate to, and therefore all are sources. So if you thought you had looked EVERYWHERE … think again. I guarantee that this checklist has at lease a few possibilities you hadn’t considered before. Birth ___ Adoption Record ___ Baby Book ___ Birth Certificate Marriage ___ Anniversary Announcement ___ Marriage Certificate ___ Wedding Announcement ___ Wedding Book Divorce ___ Papers Death ___ Death Certificate ___ Funeral Book ___ Memorial Cards ___ Obituary ___ Will Education ___ Awards ___ Graduation ___ Honour Roll ___ Report Cards ___ Year Books Employment ___ Achievement Awards ___ Apprenticeship Records ___ Business Cards ___ Income Tax Records ___ Membership Records ___ Resume ___ Severance Records ___ Retirement Records Everyday Life ___ Address Books ___ Autograph Album ___ Bills ___ Birthday Book ___ Biography ___ Diary ___ Letters ___ Newspaper Clippings ___ Passport ___ Photographs ___ Scrapbooks ___ Telephone Books Family ___ Bible ___ Bulletins/Newsletters ___ Coat of Arms ___ Genealogies ___ Histories Health ___ Hospital Records ___ Immunisation Records ___ Insurance Papers ___ Medical Records ___ X-rays Household Items ___ Dishes ___ Engraved...

The Train, the Explosion, and the Parliamentarian...

The year was 1890, and … “a most painful accident, of a character unparalleled in the annals of railway accidents in this colony, if not in Australasia, occurred on the Northern line on Friday evening, Jan. 17. The terrible calamity which befel … was so sudden, and its effects so appalling, that the harrowing details were listened to with bated breath and unconcealed sorrow.” That’s how the long article about the tragic death of well-known South Australian businessman and parliamentarian, Honorable James Garden Ramsay, M.L.C. begins. James Ramsay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1827, did an apprenticeship as an engineer at the St Rollox Ironworks in Glasgow, and then emigrated to South Australia in 1852. He established an agricultural implement and machine manufacturing plant at Mount Barker, which represented the starting point of what later grew into the largest business of its kind in the colony. Apart from his Mount Barker business, he opened up agricultural implement manufacturing businesses in Adelaide, Clare and Laura as there was a huge demand. Anyway J.G. Ramsay’s interest in politics began in the 1860s, and in 1870 he entered Parliament for Mount Barker, and from then until his death he held various parliamentary positions. The article says … “Altogether he served over five years as a Minister of the Crown. As leader of the Legislative Council he exhibited considerable tact and ability, and possessing the confidence of his fellow members, he was eminently successful in conducting the business”. Which then brings us back to Friday evening, 17 January 1890 when James Ramsay is travelling back to Adelaide, from Saddleworth, South Australia by train. Travelling with Mr Rounsvell (a fellow M.P.), who by the time the train reached Riverton left to go to the smoking...