1 February 1895 – The Day Time Stood Still in South Australia

At midnight on 1 February 1895, clocks were stopped, and time stood still in South Australia so as to bring the State (or colony as it was then) into line with international standard times.

Actually this was an Australia-wide change as up to this time, each colony had followed their own time set at a local observatory in their capital city.

A long article in the  South Australian Register, Thursday 31 January 1895, starts off with the following:

To-night the process of marking that period which Hamlet calls ‘the very witching time of night’ will be exceptionally puzzling throughout the greater part of Australia. By the provisions of the Standard Time Act the Legislatures of five colonies have taken the liberty of declaring that an hour shall not be sixty minutes in duration, but something else, varying in different localities with the ‘ hour-zone’ in which those localities happen to lie. Thus, in South Australia the space from 11 o’clock till 12 p.m. of this 31st of January will be seventy four minutes twenty and two fifth seconds. In other words all clocks and watches, in order that they may indicate the correct time to-morrow, must be put back fourteen minutes twenty and two-fifth seconds.”

So as far as South Australia was concerned the clocks stopped at midnight for 14 minutes and 20 seconds, bringing it in line with the 135th meridian, and adopting Central Standard Time.

The article continues …

“In this colony we have to put our clocks back, and therefore we gain time; but in Victoria, as in New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania, the people are to lose time and the Victorians in particular do not appear to relish the idea, although, of course, it is a nominal loss and nothing more … “

The eastern states actually only lost 5 minutes, bringing it in line with the 150th meridian.

“The main fact now to be borne in mind by commercial men and the general public is that the time of all the eastern colonies will henceforward be exactly one hour ahead of that of South Australia …”

So it is true to say that back in 1895, time in Adelaide, or more precisely South Australia, really did stay still!

General Post Office with the very prominent clock tower, King William Street, Adelaide, 1885 [State Library of South Australia, ref: B-43013]

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 it  by audio or video.

5. Start (or continue) scanning your photos and documents. The pile will eventually go down, I promise.

6. Filing. I know it’s not a fun job, but it’s even less fun when you can’t find that record that you know you have … somewhere. So spend an hour or so and do a little filing. You’ll be thankful for it later.

7. Create a timeline of one of your ancestors, and see where you have gaps. It’s quite fascinating to see.

8. Find a comfy chair and read a genealogy magazine or two – or a genealogy book.

9. Watch a genealogy Webinar or listen to a Podcast. There’s plenty around.

10. Visit your local genealogy or historical society – or even your local library, and check out the genealogy section.

11. Explore the FamilySearch site beyond just the searching (check out the Wiki, the Photos, the Indexing, the Family Tree as so on).

12. Help someone with a query – RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness).

13. Do some transcribing. You might head to the Trove newspapers for that, or the NAA Soda site, FamilySearch Indexing or a number of others.

14. Start a genealogy blog. You’ve been wanting to for a while haven’t you … so JUST DO IT!

15. If crafting is more your thing, create a heritage scrapbook page or two, showcasing your family history.

16. Create a catalogue of all books, CDs, programs, maps, microfiche etc. that you have that are genealogy-related. It helps to know what you have!

17. Start (or continue) writing your own life history. Remember that the recent-past is just as important as the long-ago past.

18. Sadly your photo collection hasn’t sorted itself, so why not get a start on it.

19. While we’re on the topic of photos, why not create show off your ancestors with a “photo wall”

20. If you are into social media, check out all the genealogy-related Facebook groups/pages there are now (11,700 at last count). And if you are a tweeter, type #genealogy in the search box, and see what you come up with. It’s a great way to find new people to follow.

21. Go ahead and order that DNA kit that you’ve been wondering about for a while.

So there’s just a few suggestions, but there’s literally a hundred more that I could write. But I’m sure each of you will find your own way to celebrate. So Happy Genealogy Day for whenever you choose to belatedly celebrate it. Or if not, just pop it on your calendar so you’ll remember it (and be ready to celebrate it) in 2019.

15 April 1912 – The Day the “Titanic” Sank

It was a disaster like no other at that time. The world’s biggest (and self-proclaimed ‘unsinkable’) ship set off from Southampton on 10 April 1912, bound for New York. It was her maiden voyage, and the crowd seeing it off was huge. Little did they know that just 5 days later all onboard would be fighting for their life, with the vast majority not making it.

2.20am, 15 April 1912, just a mere 2 hours and 40 minutes after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, the unthinkable happened to the unsinkable. The Titanic sank.

Route of Titanic's first/last maiden voyage, 10-15 April 1912 (Creative Commons licence, Prioryman)

Route of Titanic’s first/last maiden voyage, 10-15 April 1912
(Creative Commons licence, Prioryman)

total capacity: 3547 passengers and crew
total onboard: 2206 passengers and crew
total survived: 703 passengers and crew 

That was 105 years ago, and it still has an impact.

The movie below is from British Pathè’s collection, and is just one of the 85,000 old movies they have made freely available. Showing actual footage of the ship, the rescue ships, together with interviews of some survivors, it is chilling.

There’s no doubt that the Titanic has become the stuff of legend.

I remember asking my grandma about it though she wasn’t born at the time, but her older sisters were, and they remembered it, being aged 11 and 12.

So I decided to see what the local South Australian newspapers wrote about it.

The following was the first report of it in South Australia’s “The Advertiser”, was was dated 18 April 1912. Not too bad considering that communication back then wasn’t as instant as we have today. It didn’t make front page like it did in the US or England, but it did make a big article on page 9. The article blow is just a small portion of it.

The Wreck of the Titanic, (18 April 1912, The Advertiser , p. 9.) http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5336985

The Wreck of the Titanic, (18 April 1912, The Advertiser , p. 9.) http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5336985

And as you would expect, every Australian newspaper ran the story, together with all the reports afterwards. For newspapers just in South Australia, and just in April 1912, Trove has 1000 articles. I’ll admit it, I didn’t read them all.

There’s no doubt this tragedy rocked the world, but something that I was reminded of reading a current news article relating to the 105th Anniversary of this event, was of those who had to go out afterwards and “collect the dead”. We tend to think of the rescuers, but forget about those who went in afterwards.

“As rescue ships approached the ghostly sea where the Titanic plunged into the ocean in the dead of the cold night on April 15, 1912, white specks began to appear in the distance. To onlookers aboard, they looked like “clustering and moving along the waves like a flock of seagulls”. Hundreds of them. All grouped together. The white specks were frozen bodies of the dead, wrapped in the ill-fated steamer’s life belts. For days, great quantities of these bodies, along with doors, pillows, chairs, tables, and scattered remains, floated along the North Atlantic.”

You can read the “Rescue Crews Reveal the Grisly Aftermath of the Titanic Tragedy” here.

So on this day, 105 years on, we remember not only those who lost their life and their families, as well as who were fortunate enough to survive this tragedy, but also those who had the horrific task of “cleaning up” afterwards. Every one of them would have had their life changed from the events that took place on 12 April 1912.

More info on the Titanic:
For more Titanic related old movies from British Pathè click here
100 Facts about the Titanic
Timeline of the Titanic
Wikipedia’s entry for RMS Titanic

Please Note: there are slight discrepancies in the number who died, and the number who survived. One articles says 703 survived, another says 706, another says 705. Another article says 1503 died, another 1517. I’m no professional historian, so I can’t say for sure which is the real figure, but it would be a matter of looking further at how each have calculated their numbers.

21 December 1860 – The Date Water Was Turned on in Adelaide

The date 21 December 1860 was a Friday, and this was a big day for the city of Adelaide, as that is the day that the water from the pipeline in the Adelaide Hills was turned on, and water came through. The time was 3.00pm, and a small group of people surrounded the fire hydrant on the corner of Flinders and Pulteney Streets, and then it was time.

They turned in on … and …  the water didn’t just come, it GUSHED! In fact it gushed 7o feet into the air!! It sounds spectacular doesn’t it. And in fact the water coming to Adelaide, changed Adelaide’s history.

Google Maps

Google Maps

It was obviously mighty useful for the local fire service of the time. It meant the city could have drinking fountains, and water was also used to power the first non-passenger lift to be installed in Adelaide which allowed goods up and down several floors, which by the way was Harris Scarfes. And thanks to the vast reach and power of the water, it was used to clean multi-storey buildings in the city as well.

I got all of these interesting, useful tid-bits of history from the South Australian Engineers Heritage Conference that I attended last week. Being an Engineering history conference, of course the history of water supply and pipelines fall into the category!

Anyway back to Adelaide’s water … all didn’t go smoothly with the work on the pipeline and reservoir, but then again does anything? Here’s an article from the beginning of 1860 which mentions a few of the problems. This is just a portion of the article, so if you want to read the full entry just click on the hyperlink in the caption.

PUBLIC WORKS. (3 January 1860), South Australian Register, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49896163

South Australian Register, 3 January 1860, p.3.

Work obviously continued throughout the year, and in December along with the excitement of Christmas … came the excitement of Adelaide’s water supply being turned on.

There’s a number of articles about the event. Though surprisinlgy none made front page news, or mention a big street parade.

Now I shall leave you with the small snippet article from the South Australian Advertiser the day after the big event …

The South Australian Advertiser, p.2http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article828181 title. (1860, December 22). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), p. 2. Retrieved May 17, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article828181

The South Australian Advertiser, 22 December 1860, p.2

And if you wish to read about Adelaide’s Waterworks  achievement further, here’s a few more articles thanks to the awesomeness of Trove.

27 December 1860 – South Australian Register, p.2
29 December 1860 – Adelaide Observer, p.5
29 December 1860 – South Australian Weekly Chronicle, p.3
31 December 1860 – South Australian Register, p.2

There’s no doubt that we take water on tap for granted. We shouldn’t, but having not lived without it, it just doesn’t enter our head to think of what life would be like without it. But one thing is for sure, 21 December 1860 certainly changed Adelaide’s history!