One Obituary, So Many Clues

Obituaries (aka obits) are fabulous if you can find them. While browsing around on Trove (aka Troving) recently I came across this obit for Private Charles Spurgeon McCullough. This gent is one of my great grandma’s (Dorothy McCullough) brothers – so that makes him my great grand uncle.

It’s not a long one in comparison to some – but you really have the be in awe of the detail that this obit includes.

While this is a great read for anyone (family or not), for this post I have decided to extract each detail one-by-one to highlight just how valuable an obituary really can be. And while newspapers may not be 100% accurate, they can be used as a guide.

PRIVATE C. S. McCULLOUGH. (1915, August 14). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), , p. 42. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from

Australians in Action, Roll of Honour
PRIVATE C. S. McCULLOUGH, 14 August 1915 Chronicle, p. 42.

So let’s start …

  1. we know his name – the article names him as C.S. McCullough – no it doesn’t give his actual name, but it doesn’t just list him as Private McCullough or Mr C. McCullough either. It has both initials, so that’s a bonus.
  2. and says that he was in the Australian army and in which battalion – the article lists him as a Private in the army “who left with the 4th Reinforcements for the 6th Battalion of the A.I.F.”
  3. we learn his position in the army – “Private C.S. McCullough”
  4. this was in World War 1 – the newspaper date was in 1915
  5. the date of his death – the article lists his date of death as 13 July
  6. no year of death given but it is inferred that it is the same year as the newspaper (1915)
  7. he has an older brother as he is listed as “the second son”
  8. his parents are listed as Rev. R. and Mrs McCullough
  9. his father’s title is Reverend – so his father is a minister
  10. it also mentions where his father was a minister – Mitcham, [South Australia] and Burnie, Tasmania – “recently left the pastorate of the Mitcham Baptist Church for Burnie, Tasmania.”
  11. and that his family has recently moved to Tasmania
  12. it mentions which religion – Baptist
  13. his age is mentioned – “just over 30 years of age”, based on that we can assume he would have been born around 1885
  14. his education is mentioned – “was educated at Queen’s School (Hobart) and Parkside School” [South Australia]
  15. this also give clues as to where the family was living – Adelaide and Hobart
  16. his employment is also mentioned – “employment was with Messrs. Cowell Bros. and James Marshall & Co. Prior to offering his services to the army he had been with the Union Steamship Company.”
  17. he had four sisters, two were married, two not
  18. the sisters are all listed with their place of residence at the time (1915) – “He left four sisters, Mrs. Ralph Hannaford, Narracoorte; Mrs. P. Willmott, Sydney; Nurse McCullough, “Walwa” Hospital, Fullarton; and Miss E. McCullough, Burnie
  19. one of his sisters was a nurse
  20. and she worked at the “Walwa” Hospital, at Fullarton, South Australia
  21. C.S. McCullough also had two brothers – “Mr. R. L. McCullough, of Messrs. Elder, Smith & Co., Adelaide, and Corporal A.G. McCullough,
    who left this State with the 3rd Expeditionary Force.”
  22. one of who worked for Elder, Smith & Co. in Adelaide
  23. and the other was also in the A.I.F., and fought with the 3rd Expeditionary Force.
  24. his brother, A.G. McCullough was living in South Australia prior to serving in the A.I.F.

So you see just how much information can be gleaned from just one obituary. And based on this info, there’s a lot here that can be followed up on – military records, ministry records, school records, and employment records for numerous family members. Possibly even land records and local history for the area the family lived and/or worked.

Here’s hoping for more family obits!!

The Women Who Made Me, Me! International Womens Day

Today, March the 8th, is International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate and honour women both past and present. For my contribution to International Women’s Day, I want to share with you some photos the women who have helped make me, me!

Obviously throughout everyone’s life there are many, many people who influence us. For this post I’m am sticking to the ancestral lines. Concentrating on those whose genes I have inherited at least some of. The ones who taught me things when you were young, and who embedded their values and ideals into me, and no doubt some of whose trait I have picked up.


this is me at age 4

this is me at age 4



Anthea Hannaford age about 3

Anthea Hannaford (age about 3). Married Alan Phillips.



Valda Winter (age c.19)

Valda Winter age c.19 (1916-living).
Married Horace ‘Ron’ Phillips.

Evelyn Randell (1916-2006) age 5, with 'Pete', one of her bothers.She married Cecil Hannaford.

Evelyn Randell (1916-2006) age 5, with ‘Pete’, one of her bothers.
She married Cecil Hannaford.



Winifred Lena Cosgrove (1892-1976)

Winifred Lena Cosgrove (1892-1976).
Married Horace Norman Phillips.

Irene Daley (1894-1954).Married Otto Rafael Winter.

Irene Daley (1894-1954).
Married Otto Rafael Winter.

Dorothy McCullough (1889-1987). Married Ralph Hannaford.

Dorothy McCullough (1889-1987).
Married Ralph Hannaford.

Ella Sinkinson (1876-1943).Married John Beavis "J.B." Randell.

Ella Sinkinson (1876-1943). The lady in the bottom corner is her oldest daughter, Anne.
Married John Beavis “J.B.” Randell.

Although I do have photos for 6 of my 8 great great grandma’s I have opted to simply list them, to save this becoming so ridiculously long.

Kezia Howard (Cecelia) ‘Sis’ BEECKEN (1867-1939)
m. Samuel Thomas PHILLIPS

Mary Ellen LUCAS (c.1856-1944)
m. Denis John COSGROVE

Hedvik (Karolina) VINBLAD (1856-1934)
m. Otto Edvard WINTER

Margaret Florence HAYHURST (1855-1935)
m. John DALEY

Martha Rosa KELLY (1864-1901)
m. William John HANNAFORD

Eva RICHARDSON (1860-1925)
m. Robert McCULLOUGH

Phebe ROBBINS (1838-1932)
m. William Beavis RANDELL

Lydia Amelia BAYS
m. Ebenezer SINKINSON

In case you were wondering who was who in the top picture …
Top row L-R: Phebe Robbins, Alona Phillips, Dorothy McCullough, Evelyn Randell, Martha Rosa Kelly, Evelyn Randell & Cec Hannaford’s wedding.
Bottom row L-R: Valda Winter, Winifred Lena Cosgrove, Anthea Phillips (nee Hannaford), Valda Winter’s wedding, Irene Daley.

Every one of these women (and their husbands too), played a part in making me who I am. Some were emigrants, some were pioneering women, many were hardworking country folk. And I’m sure some of their traits have come through the generations.



Obituaries Really ARE Genealogy Gold!

I recently read¬† Kenneth Marks’ 30 Reasons Why Searching for Obituaries is Like Finding Gold post, and I have to agree. If you are lucky enough to find an obit for your reli, they usually contain a whole host of information.

Just check out this one that is on my great great grandpa Robert McCullough. When I saw “accident” written on his death certificate you could feel that there was a story to it. So off to Trove I went, and I found his obituary in The Advertiser, on 13 October 1931.

This 19 line obituary, though short in comparison to many, still contains a wealth of information:

Finding Hidden Gems!

The fact that my family has always been hoarders (well, my mum’s side of the family anyway), is a good thing, as it means there are so many documents, artifacts, photographs and other memorabilia that has been preserved, so I’ve started documenting these over on my other blog at Memorabilia House. But this post isn’t here to tell you all about that … well not exactly. It’s about the “hidden gems” that I have been finding as I’ve been documenting the items. And in this case I’m referring to what been finding in old bibles.

Our family has a LOT of old bibles around the place. But since my reli’s were a religious bunch, as some were ministers, and others founded churches, and donated land for churches I guess it’s not really surprising.