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...

Facebook for Australian History and Genealogy...

Since releasing my first big list of Australian history and genealogy links on Facebook in September 2016, I’ve continued to find more, and more, and periodically do updates. So what started out as a list of a few hundred links, has grown to over also 1350 links (as at 28 December 2018). That’s 49 pages worth of Australian history and genealogy links … just on Facebook. With this update, there has been additions as well as some updated links to most categories – Australia, each of the states, commercial & researchers, convicts, ethnic, families, genealogy bloggers, and military. DOWNLOAD HERE This is an ongoing project which will be updated periodically, so if you have any links you’d like added, please either send an email to  alona @ lonetester.com (without the spaces), or message me on my Lonetester Facebook page. ————– And I can’t mention genealogy on Facebook without making reference to two other incredible lists: – Katherine Willson’s worldwide Genealogy on Facebook list is enormous, and now has over 13,200 links. – Gail Dever’s Facebook for Canadian Genealogy extensive list is a must for everyone with Canadian...

An Heirloom Christmas Recipe...

When thinking about what to write for Christmas, I wondered if my mum had inherited her mum’s recipe books. Sure enough she did, and what treasure it is. Can you tell it was well used? And guess what the very first recipe written in the book is … yep, “Mother’s Christmas Pudding”. So here it is. The Christmas pudding recipe from my great grandma. In case you can’t read my grandma’s handwriting, here’s a transcription: Mother’s Christmas Pudding 3 Large Cups Flour 2 Cups Sugar 1 lb Seeded Raisins 1 lb Currants 1/2 lb Lemon Peel 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs 1 lb Suet 8 Eggs 1/2 Teaspoon Carb Soda Mix Soda in Flour. Boil about 6 hours. I generally boil mine 4 hours the first time. __________________________________ Now don’t go getting any ideas thinking I’m going to make this. Firstly I’m not much of a cook. Secondly I’m totally not a fan of Christmas pudding. And thirdly I had to google to find out “suet” even is, and that should not go in anything, let alone a pudding!! But still I do believe in preserving history, and this is an heirloom recipe, whether I make it or not! I don’t know what date this would have been written, but my grandma’s name was Evelyn Phebe Hannaford (nee Randell) b.1916, and her mother’s name was Ella Alice Randell (nee Sinkinson), b.1876, so no doubt it dates back a fair way! Wishing you a all Merry...

The Origins of Christmas Traditions...

Christmas. It’s the time of year where so many people have ‘traditions’. Whether it be decorations, presents, carols, the gathering itself, christmas stockings, gingerbread houses or other Christmassy treats, or more … there’s usually an element of tradition to it. So let’s see where these traditions started! I wouldn’t say that I’m really a traditionalist, but there are certain things that ‘make’ Christmas, Christmas for me. Things such as having a Christmas tree, sending out cards to friends, having a roast lunch, and my mum’s “polish sausage” which is actually a chocolate mint thing, rolled up like a sausage … sounds weird, but it is YUMMY! While Christmas is long associated with Christianity, when you look back there’s a definite mix of Christian and non-Christian origins of traditions. “Yuletide is the old or poetical, name for the Christmas season, and has been held as a sacred festival from time as a memorial – long before the advent of Christianity – by numerous nations of the earth. The births were celebrated, then, of Buddha by the Chinese, or Horus, son of Isis, by the Egyptians, and of Ceres, Bacchus and Hercules by the Greeks. Druids, various Indian tribes, the ancient Mexicans, Persians. Romans, and Scandinavians, all held some sort of religious celebrations during the period of winter solstice, occurring in the northern hemisphere towards the end of December.” The following description of Christmas traditions was reported in the West Australian newspaper, 24 December 1929, with a few additions (with links) added in as needed. “””””””””””””””””””””””” DECORATIONS AND HOLLY Evergreen decorations have been used since ancient times when the great feast of Saturn was held in December and the people decorated the temples with such green things as they could find. The...

Armistice Day in Adelaide: 100 Years Ago...

After four long, horrific and heartbreaking years of war, Monday 11 November 1918 was a day that changed history. It’s the day known as the day “the war ended”, although technically it continued for some time afterwards. It’s the day when the Armistice agreement was signed. And when news of the signing of the Armistice came, it was celebrated around the world, including in my home city of Adelaide, South Australia. The newspapers reported it, and photographs were taken, so through these we get a small sense of the overwhelming relief and joy. From the Eyre’s Peninsula Tribune, Friday 22 November 1918, comes the following article: The Armistice Celebrations. Tuesday and Thursday will be ever memorable in Australia’s history. On Monday night the signing of the armistice by Germany was announced, and it was not long before the streets were thronged with delighted crowds. Everywhere the people gave themselves over to orderly thanksgiving for the Allied deliverance of civilisation from the hands of the unspeakable Hun. Festivities were indulged in up to a late hour, few being more enthusiastic in heaping maledictions on the enemy than many thousands of men and youths who “went to war” by not going to it. On Tuesday the solemn official celebration drew the biggest concourse the city has ever known. North Terrace was packed, with sightseers anxious to express their joyful feelings at the successful termination of the conflict. Parliament met in the afternoon and surpassed itself with orations that really adorn the pages of “Hansard.” On Wednesday the celebrations continued to a lesser extent, to be revived on Thursday, when the refusal of the tramway employes to man the cars marred the whole of the proceedings. It is hoped – nothing of a similar, nature will occur when Peace Day is celebrated — an event that is expected to happen in the near future. And to bring the celebrations...

The Oldest Baptist Church in the State...

“The oldest Baptist Church in the State” … that was the honour that was given to the Salem Baptist Church in Gumeracha, South Australia back in 1946, when the church celebrated it’s Centenary Anniversary. And this weekend weekend the little church celebrated it’s 175th anniversary. Before you all start commenting saying that the dates don’t match up, the beginnings of the church actually date back to 1843 when William Beavis Randell held church services in his barn at “Kenton Park”, Gumeracha. So it’s 175 years from this date. Then in 1845 he donated land for the church, which was built and up-and-running by 1846. Australia’s historical newspaper collection, Trove is once again a treasure of information and has a long report on their 100th Anniversary. You can read the full article here. Not only that, we’re fortunate enough to have an original copy of the program from the 1946 anniversary service … I have a lot of memories of relating to this church. It’s where I went to church for many years. It’s where many family weddings were held, and it’s also were many family are buried. I remember racing around the church (before the current hall was there), and falling over face-first in the mud in my “Sunday best” – my mum was not impressed! I remember the older ladies taking turns to bring flowers each week, and they always fretted about it. I remember the piles of fruit and veg stacked out front when it was Thanksgiving. I remember the Christmas concerts, and the special afternoon teas from time-to-time. I remember the regulars had ‘their seats’ at church, as well as their spots in the car park too. But mostly I remember what a beautiful little church it was...

The First Traffic Lights in Australia...

When were the first traffic lights installed in Australia? It’s an interesting question, and one that once asked, makes you intrigued to find out … well it did me anyway. So that’s what today’s history lesson is all about. When were the first traffic lights installed in each of the Australian states? Of course I headed to the one and only magnificent Trove to find out, and you might just be as surprised as I was! SYDNEY – 13 October 1933 Friday, 13 October 1933 was when Sydney’s (and Australia’s) first traffic lights began operating. The lights were installed at the intersection of Market and Kent Streets in city of Sydney, and were switched on at 11am, by the then Minister for Transport, Colonel Michael Bruxner. You can see a fabulous photo of the traffic lights here.   BRISBANE – 21 January 1936 At 3pm on Tuesday, 21 January 1936 a large crowd gathered in the CBD to watch the switching on of the first traffic lights in Brisbane.  These were installed at the intersection of Ann, Upper Albert and Roma Streets.   HOBART – 27 January 1937 This one surprised me as I never realised that Hobart had traffic lights so early. But the newspapers reported the grand occasion which you can read on the link below. Just before 11am on Wednesday the 27th of January 1937 the lights were turned on at the intersection of Elizabeth and Liverpool streets.   ADELAIDE – 13 April 1937 Tuesday, 13 April 1937 was Adelaide’s big day, as that’s when Adelaide’s first traffic lights were turned on. These were installed at various intersections along King William Street in the city.   MELBOURNE – late December 1937 The Melbourne public had to adapt...

Oh No, It’s the “L” Word!!...

We all know about the “C” word right, that’s right … copyright. Well today we’re talking about “L” word! That’s right … LOOK-UPS. Genealogy Facebook groups can be a wonderful thing, there’s no doubt about it. They’re a great place to share and ask questions. But I was dismayed and disappointed when browsing a number of them recently, simply because of the number of people asking for look-ups on various big-pay-sites. I was disappointed for two reasons: firstly for those who asked, and secondly for those who responded. Sharing information from big-pay-sites is against their rules – against their terms and conditions. Now I understand that there’s a number of reasons why people do this … I didn’t know – this is probably the most common one. And it comes as much from those asking, as those providing the information. Can I suggest going to the bottom of any big-pay-site, look for the Terms & Conditions, and have a read through. It’s always on the home page, right down the very bottom. You should always know what you can and can’t do on any site – but even more so when it comes to sharing information. It costs too much to subscribe – while I don’t agree with this statement, this is a common complaint, and if this is your reasoning, there are many libraries and societies around that have subscriptions, so why not pay them a visit. Or if you prefer to do your research at home, save up your queries, and take out a one-month subscription. Big-pay-sites need subscriptions to be able continue to acquire more records, simple as that. But I like helping out – I’m all for helping out, but as long as it’s within the...

Discovering Links: 27 FREE Links for Victorian Genealogy and History...

It’s been a while since I last did a “Discovering Links” post, so it’s way past time for one. These posts are lists of links that I’ve discovered. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it is simply ones, (and generally the not-so-commonly-known ones) that I’ve come across in my research, from magazines, or from seeing mentioned on social media. No matter where I discovered them, I noted them, have been to them, and have found them interesting – so thought I’d share them with you. For this post I have a a bunch relating to Victoria  in Australia. === VICTORIAN LINKS === Ballarat Revealed Learn more about Ballarat’s historic stories, secrets and spaces via your smartphone, tablet or computer with their walking tours. Along the way you’ll learn about the history and ghost stories of the area. Boyle’s Football Photos This website is the work of two independent researchers whose objective is to share their “passion for history and provide a friendly resource for family historians, football buffs and others who have an interest in the Charles Boyles photos and more generally in football photography from the 1920’s to 1960’s”. This site has since grown to cover more than just football photos. There’s articles, as well as pages on players, grounds, teams and more. I’ve categorised this link as Victoria – though it could easily be Australia as a whole – but as it started off with Victorian clubs and players there is a dominance of those records listed. Cemeteries of South West Victoria This is an impressive collection of cemetery records from Victoria’s South West region – almost 150 of them. So if you’re looking for people from this area, check this website to see which...

14th Unlock the Past Cruise: Days 6-8 Friends, Canada, Chainmail and Martinis...

Now for the last installment of my Alaska cruise reports. With squirrels, icebergs, seals, an aurora, and a whale already sighted on the trip, who knew what else was to come? Wednesday – 12 September 2018 (at Sea) Wednesday was a sea day, which means a whole day of talks scheduled. And as often happens at conference, there were some tough choices to be made as to what to go to. But the eight I made it to were: – My Ancestor was a 19th Century Goldminer: Don’t Rule it Out (Kae Lewis) – Begotten by Fornication (Helen Smith) – Caring for your Family Archives (Shauna Hicks) – Madness, Mania and Melancholia: The Mental Health of our Ancestors (Janet Few) – Seven Habits of Highly Effective Genealogists (Pat Richley-Erickson) – Beyond Just Indexes: Why We Should Check Source Records (Rosemary Kopittke) – Software Your Never Knew (Ed Thompson) – Are You Related to Royalty? (Caroline Gurney) It was a long day, and a lot to take in, and I admit that by the afternoon I wasn’t taking as many notes as I did in the morning, as weariness had set in. So I must check the speakers handouts for those. The evening began with a very special presentation by Mia Bennett who represented the Society of Genealogists (London), in presenting Cyndi Ingle with her Prince Michael of Kent Award for her contribution towards genealogy. You can read more about the award and how seriously awesome it is here. It was a fabulous presentation, and one which had Cyndi and few others shedding a few tears. As it was streamed live on Facebook, you can watch the presentation here if you wish. But I don’t think you’ll find a person...

14th Unlock the Past Cruise: Days 4-5 Paw Chocolates, Icebergs, a Whale and an Aurora...

Continuing on my report of the Unlock the Past Alaska cruise … and we’re up to day 4, and there was more exciting happenings! Monday – 10 September 2018 (Skagway, Alaska, USA) It was another super stunning weather day with blue skies all round. I heard a fellow cruiser say that they never expected to get sunburnt in Alaska … but they did! We docked at Skagway early and those on tours made their way off. Many went on long train rides which certainly was one way to see the place. I didn’t have any tour booked, so wandered ashore, then took a shuttle bus to the town for a walk around with my mum. To say that this town looks like it’s out of a western movie is an understatement. It really, truly does! You can totally imagine gun fights happening in the streets. Well I can anyway! One thing that fascinated me was the painted rocks near where we docked. They were painted with a ship name, and usually the captain and often a date. So there’s me thinking what a fabulous (but rather unusual), genealogical source they would be. Proof that your seaman captain was here at that date! Now if I could just find one that related to my seaman ancestor dating back to the early 1900s! Hmmmm. Anyway the town of Skagway was full of little shops, most selling jewellery (despite what the vintage sign outside said – obviously they were just for looks). I did find a little store selling chocolates, and each variant was a different “paw” type. I bought a few but then remembered I wasn’t meant to bring food back on board, so had to eat them quickly! As it was...

14th Unlock the Past Cruise: Days 1-3 Embarking, Glaciers, a Squirrel, and a Saloon...

The Unlockthe Past Alaska cruise was one I’d been looking forward to for a long time as Alaska was a place I’d never been to (and in reality probably won’t get back to again). But everyone who’s done an Alaskan cruise said how totally fabulous it was. So it sounded a great place to visit. Add in a genealogy conference and we had 7 nights, 17 speakers, 45 talks, and great places to see along the way! Sounds awesome. This cruise started in Seattle,Washington, USA, the went up through the Inside Passage to Juneau, Alaska, then Skagway, Alaska, before heading back and sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord, stopping at Victoria, Canada and then back to Seattle. There was certainly plenty to see, which means plenty to write about. So let me take you on the cruise … Friday – 7 September 2018 (Seattle, Washington, USA) Embarkation day, so we (note: by ‘we’ I mean the UTP organising team) got down to the port as early as we could which was good and bad. Good to be there early, but bad as it was crazy with people, as three three ships had arrived in that morning with passengers leaving, and who knows how many thousands of passengers arriving to go on them. Anyway we were onboard the “Explorer of the Seas” before lunchtime, and made our way to the Conference Room down on deck 2, and set up the registration desk for the UTP cruisers. So throughout the day people from ‘our group’ could come and collect their name tag, lanyard, program book and other bits-and-pieces. And after the compulsory lifeboat drill, the ship left at 4pm, and while it was a grey day in Seattle, the rain did hold...