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....

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...

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...