Tuesday, 23 December 2014

One Lovely Blog Award

In October I was nominated for the 'Lovely Blog' Award, and, as I not a particularly prolific blogger, it has taken me 2 months to respond. Thanks to Chris from The 'Back Fence of Genealogy' Blog  for the nomination.

The suggestions for passing on the award, if you wish to do so, are as follows... 
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to that blog.
  • Share seven things about yourself – see mine below (I think you'll learn more about me - than perhaps you wanted to know!).
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire –or as many as you can think of!.
  • Contact your bloggers to let them know you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award...

1 - How I got Genealogy-itis
I caught the Genealogy Bug in 1983 when my parents came for a holiday and my father dropped the bomb-shell that he was adopted! I was 23 and this was the first I had ever heard of this. Dad had always been interested in family history, and, over the years had shared lots of information with me. He had also collected certificates and information. As a kid, you don't recognise that 50 years old is a bit late for a woman to be having a baby (especially in those days), or that it was strange that he was raised on goats milk. When he told me about his adoption it brought forth a huge range of emotions. On one hand I felt devastated and betrayed by not having been told this earlier as Mum and Dad were both quite religious. A lot of things that Dad had said in the past clicked into place, and I was intrigued by the story. He believed he knew who his real father was, but had been told that his mother didn't want him. I set out to find out who his mother was, and here I am still 'hooked' 31 years later.

2 - Why I still enjoy Genealogy
There are lots of reasons I am passionate about Genealogy, and they include, (but not limited to), the following things - I enjoy:
  • solving puzzles using methodical research; 
  • spending time in Libraries and Archives; 
  • the technology involved, including all the tech-toys, the software, the webpage
  • photography, especially of gravestones, buildings & people & old photos;  
  • local history research to build up the context of my families lives;
  • the great focus it gives for holidays and trips (see my travel blog);
  • stationery, which I love, and you sure need lots for family history!;
  • organisation, although I am not as organised as I really dream of being;
  • finding new family members;
  • sharing my eureka moments; and
  • teaching others how to get started
3 - What frustrates me about Genealogy
I get really frustrated by family members not giving me information when I ask for it. Although, Facebook has overcome a bit of this. I am now able to 'friend' younger family members, whose lax attitude to privacy allows me to gather all sorts of family information. I also get really frustrated by some people who subscribe to a particularly successful online genealogy service, and who seem to just gather ancestors with no even basic checking of the information. I  'know' the information I seek is out there somewhere, usually tucked away in an obscure local library or archives, but sometimes in a place that would be hard to imagine.

4 - The ancestor I would most like to meet
Alexander Coutts, who was born in Finzean, Birse, Abderdeenshire in Scotland around 1819 is a big mystery to me. He wasn't baptised (that I can find) and so his parentage is pure speculation. There were lots of Coutts families in the area, at the time, so it is very likely that he is pretty much related to them all, but it would be really nice to ask him which one was his.

5 - The ancestor I am most intrigued by
William Henry Anderson was a self-made man, and entrepreneur. His father was a baker, but he did well in pubs and was dealing in thousands of pounds before he was 40. He married a couple of times, and I am perplexed that he didn't appear to leave a will when he died at 68, especially after the disastrous events that had happened only 8 years before when his eldest son died intestate, and W.H. had to provide for the children, and the son's second wife took off with all the money.

6 - Other things I like apart from Genealogy
I know this will shock my husband, but I 'do' actually like things other than Genealogy! Family and friends are the most important to me, but I am also interested in Science (somewhat in all sciences, but mainly astronomy, mathematics, biology including fossils, aquatic invertebrates, herpetology, and would love to learn more in geology), Arts & Crafts (crochet, knitting, sewing, bark painting, origami, pottery, silver-smithing, copper enameling, stained glass, scrap-booking, macrame, paper-making, screen-printing, block printing, soap making, card-making, upholstery, pressed flowers, nature photography, silk painting, mosaics, tapestry, candle-making, painting & drawing, and paper mache), bush-walking, native edible plants, camping, leisure cycling, history, reading (mostly Science Fiction & Fantasy, but other genres too - when I get time to read), cooking (but not the daily meal grind), health (including healthy lifestyle, complementary therapies and personal responsibility for health), and technology - I love computers and the internet! 

7 - Other things that take my fancy: glass - pretty much most things made of it, especially paperweights, bottles, and glass balls in green, blue. purple or red glass, puppets, kites, mobiles, lizards, eggs, butterflies, peripatus, feathers, shells, amber, crystal and other skulls, pyramids, lights, steam-punk, dragons, freshwater aquariums & fish, terrariums, licorice, dark chocolate,  wine, coffee, bbq ribs, lamb chops & roast, smoked fish, mushrooms and music (I have quite eclectic taste and collection). 

My nominations for One Lovely Blog Award (I am really impressed as these wonderful people manage to write their blogs quite regularly, and educate us with their wise words):

Angler's Rest - Julie Goucher

Australian Genealogy News - Aillin O'Brien

British Genes - Chris Paton

Genealogy's Star - James Tanner

GenieAus - Jill Ball

Lonetester - Alona Tester

Queensland Genealogy - Judy Webster

The Armchair Genealogist - Lynn Palermo

The Legal Genealogist - Judy G. Russell

Monday, 22 December 2014

Our Aussie Family Christmas Celebrations

The traditions for our family Christmas celebrations started before I was born, with the first for my family happening just after my parents got married. Their wedding was 21 December in 1957 in Brisbane, so their first Christmas was spent at Fingal Heads in Northern NSW, with my Mum's parents and family. This set the scene for many family Christmas celebrations to come, with many spent at Fingal. Of course, being the middle of Summer, Fingal beach was a favourite place to go.

I don't remember my very early Christmas celebrations, but judging by the photos I would have been 9 months old. Uncle Will made a great Santa, even if I wasn't quite so sure about him. It seems that for this particular Christmas Day we were at Aunty Nettie and Uncle Will's house in Queen Street, Redcliffe.

I look a bit worried about Santa, but I am safely in my Mum's arms.

Santa (Uncle Will) giving Aunty Nettie a gift while Des, (their daughter-in-law), looks on.

I am assuming I got an umbrella for Christmas - luckily it was in my favourite Tartan!

The family gathering at Aunty Nettie's, with Aunty Val (pregnant with Peter), Nellie, Bert Carby, Des, ? behind, Auntie Nettie, Uncle Fred, Uncle Gilbert, in the front row, Uncle Paul amusing me, June, Mum. Jacklyn, ?.

This is how I remember many of our Christmas lunches, in Grandma's dining room at Fingal, with aunts, uncles and cousins. 

Mum and Grandma

Grandpa, Uncle Will, Aunty Nettie, Dad, Mum and me on Grandma's lap.

This year I got a baby doll with a feeding bottle, a beach ball, a teddy and a golliwog.

My new toys all lined up.

We lived in Violet Town in Victoria when I was three, and this photo shows the chimney behind the Christmas tree. This house had two rooms with chimneys. Originally the old lady who lived next door told me I was so lucky that my bedroom was in a room that had a chimney as Santa would be able to come right down. Well, I lay in bed terrified, absolutely sure I could see a black boot at the end of red trousers coming down into the fireplace. In the end my parents had to shift my bedroom as I couldn't sleep all night.

This silver foil tree was in our family for many Christmas's to come.

For 5 years we lived in Mt Isa, and most of the time we travelled south to Fingal for the Christmas holidays, but one year, at least, we didn't and had our Christmas day at home.

I decided I would make a treat for my brothers, and made a Santa marionette. For months I saved up my pocket money and used it to buy little gifts, which I individually wrapped. Santa had a hook on his hand so he could pick up the gifts and give them to Steve and Mal.

This post was inspired by Maria Northcote of Genies Down Under  in her December 2014 podcast Episode 39: Christmas Stuff for Genies.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A Grave Mystery

This is the gravestone of Alexander Dun(n) Smith in Toowoomba Cemetery (Presbyterian Section 1, Block 3 Allotment 40). He died 2 May 1877 at Emu Creek, on the Darling Downs.

Here is the mystery, back in the days when you could read it, this stone was transcribed, and it says "Native of Angus"! 

But, I found Alexander in the Old Parochial Register for Barrachan, Mochrum, Wigtownshire, Scotland (around 320km or 200 miles away), being christened 3 October 1823, he was the youngest of 7 children in the family, all christened at Barrachan, to Francis Smith (a weaver) and Agnes (nee Young). Alexander's wife was Helen (nee Turner).

I have a couple of theories:

  1. The stone was originally made for someone else, and the family was too poor to have another made (in this case, why not have the incorrect text erased?), or
  2. Angus is where his father Francis was from, and so he felt the family was from there..?, or
  3. Alexander was actually born in Angus, and his family travelled to Barrachan for the christening (I don't feel this could be correct as all his elder siblings were also christened in Barrachan).
I would love to hear of any other theories, and any ideas of how I might prove/disprove them.

So far, I have been unable to trace the marriage, deaths or births of Francis or Agnes. Although, there is a possible marriage of a Francis Smith to Alison Young, St Cuthbert's Edinburgh, 6 March 1805, which is before any children I can find.

This is the timeline for Alexander:

Year Date Event Age Location Comments
1823 3/10/1823 Christening 0 Barrachan, Mochrum Father Francis, Mother Agnes Turner


































1841 4 Jun 1841 Census 18 Auchengellie Farm Servant to James Muir


1843 4 Dec 1843 Marriage 20 Mochrum, Wigtownshire to Helen TURNER


Birth of Child 22 Whithorn, Wigtownshire Robert SMITH


Birth of Child 24 Symington, Ayrshire James SMITH






Birth of Child 28 Riccarton, Ayrshire Alexander Turner SMITH
1851 31 Mar 1851 Census 28 Riccarton, Ayrshire Head of Household


1853 26 Feb 1853 Emigration 30 Australia with family on “Agricola”
1853 13 Oct 1853 Birth of Child 30 Ipswich, Australia John Turner SMITH


Birth of Child 32 unknown Helen SMITH
















Electoral Roll 41 Ipswich, Australia
Electoral Roll 42 Ipswich, Australia
Electoral Roll 43 Ipswich, Australia
Electoral Roll 44 Ipswich, Australia
1868 16 Sep 1868 Land purchase 45 Aubigny, Queensland










Electoral Roll 51 King's Creek, Aubigny
Electoral Roll 52 King's Creek, Aubigny
Electoral Roll 53 Emu Creek, Aubigny
Electoral Roll 54 Emu Creek, Aubigny
1877 2 May 1877 Death 54 Emu Creek, Aubigny