Counting Down to DNA!

I know I’ve been rather quiet on the blogging front for a while now, but for a good reason. As part of the organising team behind the DNA Down Under roadshow, that has taken up a lot of time (day and evening). But the beginning of the event is almost here, so my organising part is almost done. Starting next week, Australia is having it’s biggest ever DNA specific genealogy conference. Held over 2 1/2 weeks, this roadshow features the guru of everything genealogy DNA, Blaine Bettinger, also known as “The Genetic Genealogist“. While he is the keynote speaker, he is joined by a whole host of Australia’s top genetic genealogists such as Louise Coakley, Helen Smith, Michelle Patient, Kerry Farmer and a stack more!! It’s truly the ultimate DNA fest … and it’s for total beginners through to advanced level, so there’s something for everyone. I saw a comment on Facebook saying “where else can you get 8 hours of DNA learning from the so many of the best in the world at one event!”, and another comment saying this is her “once in a lifetime event”. It’s so exciting to hear that others are just as excited. The roadshow kicks off in Brisbane on Wednesday 14 August, and heads around the country to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and finishes in Sydney with 3-day in-depth conference. To give you an idea of what you’re in for (excluding Sydney), here’s some of talk titles: – Introduction to DNA – Using Autosomal DNA for 18th & 19th century mysteries – Genetic genealogy: standards, ethics, risks, limitations – Using GEDmatch & DNA Painter to analyse your DNA – Myth Busting Ancestry – Finding Australian matches – Limitations of cousin matching – Getting the most from your FTDNA results...

Win Your Way to DNA Down Under...

By now you’ve probably already heard that the legend of genetic genealogy, Blaine Bettinger (yes THE one and only, the one who is the author of the insanely popular “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy’), is coming down under to Australia in August 2019, to teach us all about DNA and genealogy, and everything relating to it. In fact he is one of a team of genetic genealogists that will be touring Australia to give everyone from the “I’ve not even tested yet, why should I?” through to the advanced users who already understand what ‘haplotype’ and ‘phasing’ mean. The presenters will not only be explaining just how useful DNA is for genealogy, but also how to understand and make the most of the results. There’s also talks on ethics, using DNA to solve 18th/19th Century secrets, and using third party DNA tools, and how to get the most from your results from the various DNA testing companies. If that sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee), then keep on reading …. The tour covers day-long seminars in 5 Australian cities (Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra), and ends with a 3-day DNA-fest in Sydney. As the Sydney topics are largely different to the other states, quite a number are doing “DNA to the Max”  which is 1 day in your own state + 3 days in Sydney, which really is the UL-TI-MATE!!! This is actually what I’m doing (Adelaide + Sydney), and while I reckon my head will be swimming after day 2  (let alone day 4), I know I’ll learn a lot. The whole tour goes for 2 1/2 weeks, starting in Brisbane on 14th August 2019, and ends in Sydney, so here’s...

Remembering Boo (2002-2019)...

Yesterday is one of those days that all pet owners dread. The visit to the vet for a beloved pet, only they don’t go home. Sadly that was yesterday for my boy, Boo. He had been a part of the family for 16 1/2 years. Boo was one of three kittens all from the same litter that Mr Lonetester and I adopted. Part-moggie, part-persian, they were kittens of a ‘friendly stray’ at my parents house, and I’m pleased to say that we gave them all a wonderful home. Having got Boo and his siblings at just under 4 weeks old, we got to watch them grow from teeny-tiny bouncy kittens into big fluffballs. Saying goodbye is never an easy decision to make, but we know it was the right one as it wouldn’t have been an easy life for him going forwards. Although not himself for the past week, having lost weight and quite weak, he was still smoochy, and purring until the end … and he is now over the rainbow bridge with his sister Zap, who left us last year.  We are a fur-kid family, and just like kids, each one has their own likes and dislikes and personality. Boo has always been a Mummy’s boy, so I’m missing him like crazy. He’s simply not there – on the bed – where he always is. It really was his favourite place. He’s not there to ‘talk’ on the phone when I’m talking, and he’s not there to be first to the food. He was our chatty boy, and you could have a whole conversation with him, and he liked me to take him for a walk, which was me holding him over my shoulder and walking up and...

My Roundup of South Australia’s History Festival...

May came, and what a insane, crazy month it was. But it’s over, and while we’re disappointed that the South Australian History Festival is over for another year, we can all now take a little rest. Admittedly I didn’t get to as many as I had hoped, but with birthdays, work, interstate visitors and hospital visits added into May as well … I didn’t do to bad, as I managed to get to 10 events. Anyway I promised you a mini-review of the activities I got up to during history month, so here goes …   ———————————- BOOK LAUNCH The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle the Richmond Poisoner (by Samantha Battams) My history month began with book launch. Held at the spectacular Carclew House in North Adelaide, Author, Samantha Battams gave the very packed room a great introduction on “The Secret Art of Poisoning” with some background on how this book evolved, and why this story needed to be told. One woman, four murders (plus another attempted one), and rat poison. It’s a fascinating (and sad) but true story that happened in the late 1890s Australia. And one that I’m looking forward to reading soon. “How did a serial killer from the 19th century almost get away with murder? And what were the circumstances that led to two infamous poisoners in one family?” For more on this book, check your local bookstore, or visit Samantha’s own website. ———————————- TOUR SANFL History Centre Tour (by the SANFL History Centre) Did you know that the SANFL (South Australian National Football League,) had a history centre? No, nor did I until I saw it in the history month event program. Anyway, I saw they were having a tour of the...

No Liars, No Dirty Faces, and Other Library Rules...

Library rules were simple back in the day. If you take look at current library rules, they’re kind of what you’d expect. Very long and very detailed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, they’re just covering their bases. But back the 1900s (actual date unknown), the Hyde Institute Library in Hertfordshire, England, created a list of just 12 simple rule … and very wise ones at that! What we do know, is that the first newspaper account of this list that I found was is in The Observer, London, England, Sunday 27 April 1930, p18. But it was so good, that it was picked up by the Australian newspapers, and reproduced in the Northern Territory Times, 12 August 1930, p6, as well as  Brisbane’s Sunday Mail, 11 January 1931, p15 as well as Melbourne’s Advocate, Tuesday 23 March 1939, p16 to mention a few. Incidentally while looking on Trove for “Library Rules”, I found a great article that was printed in the Geraldton Guardian, Tuesday, 4 November 1914, p4, which I’ve added in below. I especially like the “Don’t grumble. You are borrowing, and getting interest for nothing”. So true. Libraries are free, and they provide an incredible service to the community. Respect the staff and library volunteers, not to mention the books and other items the library has and allows the public to use....

South Australia’s History Festival 2019 – Let the Fun Begin!!...

May is the month that all South Australian history-lovers and genealogists look forward to, as it is South Australia’s History Festival, which really is just a month-long history-fest! And this year we get a whole month PLUS a few days, as the History Festival kicks off this coming weekend, (Saturday 27 April) with the Open Doors weekend which gives you a choice of 50 places to check out. This is then followed by over 700 events from 400 organisers held all over the State throughout May. Every year is BIG, but even before this one has begun, the organisers have announced that this year’s history month is offically the BIGGEST EVER. South Australia’s History Festival is presented by the History Trust of South Australia, and began its life as South Australia’s History Week back in 2004, and changed to a month-long event in 2011, and what a great move that’s been. Though seriously a month STILL isn’t long enough to cram in all the events I want to get to, but I won’t complain, as I know we’re very lucky. Anyway the program that is jam-packed with events, covering all corners of the State, and there’s oodles for the genealogy and history buff to enjoy, and even those not so much into history as well. There are tours galore (bus tours, guided walking tours, self-guided tours, even ghost tours), open days, seminars, displays, workshops, exhibitions, book launches, workshops, treasure hunts and so much more … even an escape room! This year I’ve booked in for 10 events, and am looking forward to those. I have some archive tours, a few talks, a day seminar, a book launch, an escape room, and a treasure hunt too. As I’ll be cramming...

DNA Down Under is Coming!!...

Have you taken a DNA test, and apart from seeing your ethnicity estimates, you wonder what’s next? Have you tried to get in contact with a ‘DNA match’ and not got a response? Have you found ‘surprise matches’ and are unsure what to do about that. Or maybe you haven’t even taken a test, and wonder what all the fuss is about? Or you’ve heard about DNA tests being used by authorities to catch criminals and it’s made you wary. All of these aspects and plenty more will covered at Unlock the Past’s upcoming event “DNA Down Under“. Blaine Bettinger, author of the best selling book “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy”, heads a lineup of world-class genetic genealogists, who are touring Australia during August 2019, holding 1-day seminars in most cities, and culminating in a 3-day DNA-fest in Sydney. The dates: Brisbane – Wed 14 Aug Perth – Sat 17 Aug Adelaide – Tue 20 Aug Melbourne – Fri 23 Aug Canberra – Mon 26 Aug Sydney – Thu-Sat 29-31 Aug The speakers: These speakers will take your understanding of DNA to the next level, no matter what level you’re currently at. The team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in family history and in particular DNA and its usefulness as yet another tool to help you in your research: – Brad Argent – Blaine Bettinger – Fiona Brooker – Louise Coakley – Gail Edwards – Kerry Farmer – Mike Murray – Michelle Patient – Jason Reeve – Helen Smith For more on the speakers, click here. The options: Book for a 1-day event in your own city, or head to Sydney for a 3-day DNA-fest. … OR do ‘DNA to the MAX and book...

RootsTech 2019 From Home – #NotAtRootsTech...

Next week the genealogy world converges on Salt Lake City, Utah in preparation for the world’s biggest genealogy conference, RootsTech 2019, which runs from Wednesday 27 February through until Saturday 2 March 2019. With an expected attendance of around 25,000 people coming from 37 different countries, there’s 300 classes on offer, and over 200 exhibitors to check out – RootsTech really is something else, and nothing I’ve been to compares. Sadly, I’m not going this year. I did make it in 2013, 2015 and 2017 (you can read about them here), and considering my first time was a “once-in-a-lifetime-bucket-list-thing”, I can’t believe I’ve made it there three times already. Anyway, this year I’ll be a part of the #NotAtRootsTech crowd. And while I know it won’t be the same, I’m determined to still make the most of it, and ‘participate’ from home. At least when I’m not working anyway. So how can I (and you) participate in RootsTech when we’re not at RootsTech? There are a few options. WATCH THE LIVESTREAM LIVE Firstly, you can watch the Livestream Live. There’s 22 presentations being livestreamed, but if you’re on Australia, you;’ll need to be dedicated as due to the time difference the streams start at 3.30am (Sydney time) and go through till around lunchtime. Here’s a link to the list of livestream talks with both the US time, and the Australian time for each, and click here for more details on each of the talks. It is expected (although not 100% guaranteed as I can’t find it written anywhere) that these talks will all be available to watch later in the video archive. WATCH RECORDED CLASSES The RootsTech website lists the following classes as being recorded (but not live streamed). they say...

Australia’s Biggest Ever Gold Robbery...

1862. 8 Bushrangers. 77kg of Gold! The incredible true story of Australia’s Biggest Steal. Did that get your attention? It sure got mine. ‘Australian Heist‘ is the title of a brand new book written by James Phelps, who is quoted as being Australia’s #1 bestselling true-crime writer. I’ll admit it’s not a name I was familiar with, but I sure am now!! Written as well as any good fiction book, it really is a non-stop-page-turner, with fascinating characters, and twists all the way through. And yet this is Australian history. It really happened. And it happened in what was our ancestors era. This isn’t an official book review, and I’m not going to spoil the book for you, but I will give you the speil … On 15 June 1862, a gang of bushrangers held up a gold escort at Eugowra, just east of Forbes in new South Wales. They escaped with a pile of cash and 77 kilograms of gold, worth about $10 million today. It remains the largest gold robbery in Australian history. In this riveting re-creation of the events, James Phelps finally tells the full story of how Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall, John O’Meally, Johnny Gilbert, Henry Manns, Alexander Fordyce, John Bow and Dan Charters planned and executed the robbery – and what happened to all that gold. And the map! ‘Australian Heist’ is a thrilling, fast-paced and thoroughly modern take on one of the most extraordinary episodes in the nation’s history. Anyway here’s all the relevant book details for you: Title: Australian Heist Author: James Phelps Format: hardcover Pages: 368 pages Published: 2018 ISBN: 9781460756232 Publisher: HarperCollins Australia Buy the printed book Buy the ebook To give you full disclosure. Yes, I do work in...

Older and Wiser: What I’d Say to My Younger Genealogical Self...

So you’ve been researching your family history for a while now, and have learnt things over the years, and I have no doubt that you’re a different researcher now than you were back then. So what would you say to your younger genealogical self? Here’s my response … Dear younger me, So I know that you grew up with family history, but you FINALLY took up doing your own. That’s AWESOME!! I know you had a good start with what dad did, but nothing beats doing your own searching, and in doing so you’ll come across people you never knew, find out amazing stories of survival, put names and faces to photographs and heirlooms and more. In essence you’ll learn about the people who helped make YOU! So what advice can I give you? Read. I know you already read, but read articles in genealogy magazines, read reviews of genealogical products and websites, read blogs on people’s research. I do all of this now, and learn a lot from them. The learning never ends. Cite your sources. I know, you’ve heard it before. As much as you believe you’ll remember where you got that tidbit of information from, trust me 5 years down the track when you’re relooking at that branch, you won’t. So CITE. YOUR. SOURCES. While it doesn’t have to be in the “official citation format” if you’re not familiar with that yet, but at least note where it came from: what person, what book, what newspaper (including the date and page number), what website etc. Afterall a tree without sources is as bad as a photograph album without names … well almost. Another thing … don’t be afraid to ask questions? Query your relatives, usually one question and one person...