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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Australia Day – We Are Australian...

For Australia Day this year I wanted to share with you a song that I love, and embraces everything about Australia … “I am Australian”. From the Aboriginals who of course were the first settlers, to the convicts and the free. The goldiggers and bushrangers, to the Anzacs and recent migrants … all of them, is what makes Australia the amazing, multi-cultural country it is today, and they all get a mention in this song. Personally I am a 6th generation Australian, whose roots lie in many countries around the world. I am Australian! I am Australian I came from the dream-time, from the dusty red soil plains I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame. I stood upon the rocky shore, I watched the tall ships come. For forty thousand years I’ve been the first Australian. I came upon the prison ship, bowed down by iron chains. I fought the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains. I’m a settler, I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run A convict then a free man, I became Australian. I’m the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road I’m a child of the depression, I saw the good times come I’m a bushy, I’m a battler, I am Australian We are one, but we are many And from all the lands on earth we come We share a dream and sing with one voice: I am, you are, we are Australian I’m a teller of stories, I’m a singer of songs I am Albert Namatjira, and I paint the ghostly gums I am Clancy on his horse, I’m Ned Kelly on...

21 Facts About the First Fleet...

Did you know that approximately 20% of Australians descend from convicts … yes, true! Having a convict in the family has become a badge of honour for many, and having a First Fleeter even more so. And while the term ‘convict’ tends to mean ‘criminal’, so many of the 162,000 who were transported to Australia weren’t actually ‘bad’. In fact, many were just trying to survive. So just how much do you know of your Australian convict history? In particular the First Fleet? Here’s some intriguing facts that you probably didn’t know. Why send convicts to Australia? Britain had shipped about 52,000 convicts to America between 1717 and 1775 before they started sending them to Australia. And it was because of the American Revolution in 1776 that Britain started sending their criminals to Australia. When and where did it leave from and arrive? The fleet left Portsmouth, in Devon, England on 13 May 1787, and arrived at Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia between 18-20 January 1788 How many ships in the first fleet? The whole fleet consisted of 11 ships. 6 convict ships, 2 naval ships and 3 ships with supplies What are the names of the ships in the first fleet? H.M.S. Sirius, Charlotte, Alexander, Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn, Friendship, H.M.S. Supply, Prince of Wales, Golden Grove, Fishburn and Borrowdale Who was the captain of the first fleet? Captain Arthur Phillip What about Port Jackson? The fleet arrived at Botany Bay but as that place was deemed unsuitable as a settlement due to the lack of fresh water, the fleet sailed on to Port Jackson (Sydney Cove), New South Wales arriving on 26 January 1788 What’s so special about the date 26 January? 26 January marks the anniversary of the 1788...