Monday, 18 April 2016

Oh My, Miss Mary Prince.

On Sunday, I was reviewing the information and sources I had for Harriett Helena Gill (1869 – 1953), her husband John Charles Prince (1855 – 1930), and their children. This led me to a very interesting find, but first, some background information for you. 

Harriett is my 3x Great Aunt, being the sister of my Great Great Grandmother Elizabeth Lucilla Gill (1867 – 1905). Harriett was born in the Macleay River area of New South Wales (NSW) in 1869. In 1891, she married John Charles Prince (originally from England) in Nambucca, NSW. They had 8 children together – Christopher, Mary, Louisa, Emma, John, Hadden, Alma, & Gladness. After their youngest was born in 1912, Harriett and Charles moved to Melbourne, Victoria with all but Christopher who had moved to Queensland. Charles passed away in 1930, and Harriett in 1955. They are buried in Box Hill Cemetery, Melbourne.

Which one of Harriett’s children is the focus of today’s post? Mary! Full Name - Mary Alice Helena Prince. Mary was born in 1894 in Macksville, NSW. She originally relocated to Melbourne with her parents, and is listed as living with them in the 1924 Electoral Roll for Victoria. 

Mary Alice Helena Prince listed in the 1924 Electoral Roll
for Camberwell, Kooyong, Victoria
[Source: "Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980",]
By 1930, Mary had moved back to New South Wales and was living at Little Billabong Station, near Holbrook and Little Billabong. She remained there until at least 1949; the last Electoral Roll I have found that has her living at Little Billabong.

Mary listed in the 1930 Electoral Roll for Holbrook, Hume, New South Wales
[Source: "Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980",]
Map showing location of Little Billabong Station
and NSW/Victoria border
[Source: Google Maps]
I was searching Mary’s name on Trove to see if I could find anything about a marriage for her. I did not. But I found a whole lot of something else! I was amazed. I was filled with shock, confusion, laughter, and intrigue as I read article after article. Which article do I show you first? I think this one…

Oh, Mary's suing...
[Source: ENGAGED FOR 21 YEARS—FIANCEE (1953, May 13). Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from]
In summary, Mary is suing John James McLaurin, a grazier at Little Billabong to whom she was engaged for 21 years, for breach of promise. Well, now I know why she lived at Little Billabong for so long! 

[Source: WOMAN SUES GRAZIER (1953, May 14). National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954),
p. 4. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from]

But wait, there's more!

They were even questioned about their kisses!
[Source: HOLBROOK MAN SAYS HE ENDED ENGAGEMENT IN 1929 (1953, May 15). Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from]

This title is sure to grab anyone's attention...

Oh my goodness...
[Source: Breach-Of-Promise Suit (1953, May 15). The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), , p. 4. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from]
So what happened? What was the result of the court hearing? Mary was granted $1000 in damages for McLaurin's breach of promise. The result even made its way into the newspaper in Western Australia...

[Source: AFTER 20 YEARS SHE WAS JILTED (1953, May 23). Mirror (Perth, WA : 1921 - 1956), , p. 6. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from]
And that my friends, was my Sunday night discovery. I know I know, you want to know what happened to Mary after all that kerfuffle. I'm still figuring that out too! I do know she returned to New South Wales. In 1963, she was living in Castle Hill, Sydney, except her surname was now Lawson. In 1968, she had moved to Swansea, Newcastle, NSW. In both Electoral Rolls, there is no other Lawson at her address. I have not been able to find a marriage for Mary to a surname Lawson in Victoria or New South Wales. Did she really marry? Or did she change her surname for protection of a sort? Mary passed away in 1971 in Newcastle, and I am going to order her death certificate soon to find out.

Monday, 11 April 2016

National Siblings Day

Sunday was National Siblings Day. I have not posted a photo for the occasion yet...that is what this post is for! I have one sibling - a younger brother. He does not like it when I post photos of him on social media, so I shall be a good sister (for once?! Haha!) and respect his privacy. Instead, here are a few photos of some other siblings in the family.

1. My Dad & Aunt hanging about in their backyard in Sydney, New South Wales. Yes, that is my Dad in the tub. This photo would have been taken in the 1950's. 

Rub A Dub Dub, My Father's In The Tub

 2. My Great Great Grandfather Alexander Mackay (1856 - 1937) with his five children -  Alice, Eva (My Great Grandmother), Lottie, Archie, and Elizabeth. This would have been taken in the late 1920's/early 1930's, in or near Bowraville, New South Wales.

L-R: Elizabeth, Alice, Alexander, Eva, Lottie & Archie

3. My Great Great Grandmother Mary Frances Renfrow nee Smith (1861 - 1955) with 6 of her 7 children - Luther Marvin, Ernest Bascom "Bass", Roscoe (My Great Grandfather), Arthur, Frank & Launa. This was taken in the 1940s in Corsicana, Texas. Mary's third child, Lula, passed away in 1941.

L-R: Roscoe, Mary, Bass, Launa, Arthur, Frank & Marvin

Thursday, 31 March 2016


My geneamate J Paul Hawthorne (GeneaSpy), did a little thing last week that went viral on social media in the geneaworld. He created a spreadsheet showing five generations of birth places, but what made it more interesting was that the birth places were color-coded. J Paul was kind enough to share a Dropbox link to his template so we could all do one...and we sure did! Since last Thursday, my news feed on Facebook has been flooded with these pretty charts. You can access J Paul's template by clicking through to his blog post.

I had a lot of fun creating mine! Please note that it includes my maternal Grandmother's adoptive family.

5 Generation Chart of Birth Places (Template courtesy of J Paul Hawthorne)
That's right - I'm a first generation Queenslander!

I decided to use the same template but for death places instead. I think it is neat to look at the two images side by side. It makes it easier to see where people moved to compared to where they were born.

5 Generation Chart of Death Places (Template courtesy of J Paul Hawthorne)
Thank you J Paul, for creating a fun activity and filling our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds with colorful ancestry charts. 

Have you done yours? Don't forget to use #mycolorfulancestry when sharing it on social media. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The James Moran (Trove Tuesday)

Last week, I discovered my 4x Great Grandfather Angus Mackay's immigration record. He arrived in Port Jackson (Sydney), on the 11th of February, 1839. With him was his wife Christina, three children from his first marriage, and four children from his current marriage. The ship they traveled on was the James Moran. It departed Lochenvar, Scotland on October 22nd and came via the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

I decided to search Trove to see if I could find anything interesting about the ship. To narrow down the process, I selected 1839 as the year. This would hopefully rule out articles about individuals with the same name.

I stumbled upon the following article published in The Colonist on the 16th of February, 1839. In preparation for the Trove outage, I made sure to save the article and citation.

Source: THE JAMES MORAN. (1839, February 16). The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835 - 1840), p. 3.
Retrieved February 22, 2016, from
It is good to know that Angus and his family hopefully had a positive experience on board. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Golden Anniversary - Donald & Jane Mackay

On the 11th of June, 1851, my Great Great Great Grandparents Donald Mackay (1829 - 1912) and Jane Gilliban Walker (1834 - 1911) were married in the town of Dungog, New South Wales. The following article describes how they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in Bowraville on the 11th of June, 1901.

50th Wedding Anniversary of Donald & Jane Mackay
[Source: BOWRA NEWS. (1901, June 14). The Raleigh Sun (Bellingen, NSW : 1898 - 1918), p. 2.
Retrieved February 10, 2016, from]

Hopefully you just read the article and noticed at the end it said a photograph was taken of the whole group. Yes, this is that photo! Donald and Jane (she is wearing a veil) are seated in front of the very tall man standing slightly left of center.

The clan at Donald and Jane's 50th Wedding Anniversary
[Source: Family Collection]
Time for a close up...

Official Portrait of Donald and Jane Mackay at their 50th Wedding Anniversary
[Source: Family Collection]
It sounds like it was a grand event!

Monday, 1 February 2016

#GenealogySelfie Day!

In the lead up to RootsTech this week (I wish I was going again), Geneabloggers and Conference Keeper have proclaimed February 1st as #GenealogySelfie Day.

The official announcement on the Geneabloggers website states -
"Peruse your list of 'genealogy' friends and you’ll most likely find that many use a photo of an ancestor, or a baby picture, as their profile pic. It adds quite the variety to your friends list, but you wouldn’t know them if you ran into them in the vendor hall at a conference, or sat next to them at a workshop. And with RootsTech just around the corner, there’s an opportunity to possibly run into thousands of them in person!
ConferenceKeeper and Geneabloggers are delighted to offer a solution. They are officially proclaiming February 1st as #GenealogySelfie Day – a day for social folks who love genealogy to snap a picture of themselves and share it on Facebook and/or Twitter with the hashtag #GenealogySelfie. It will be fun to put faces to names, and increase the chances of recognizing one another at RootsTech and other upcoming events and conferences." 
As I am writing this, it is just after 9pm on the 1st. Here is my #GenealogySelfie. Actually, make that #GenealogySelfies!


 More like #SillyGenealogySelfie
I will be sharing my genealogy selfie on my social media accounts. If you feel like snapping a selfie, don't forget to use the hashtag #GenealogySelfie. If you are not feeling creative, don't worry! A simple selfie is a-okay!

But first, let me take a selfie!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Chance Encounter

My paternal Grandmother was from the small town of Bowraville in New South Wales. There has become a saying about Bowraville (which I am sure is probably true of other small country towns) – everyone is connected in one way or another! This has made researching my family history exciting, interesting, yet also very confusing at times. Because of this, I am often double checking who someone marries, and who their spouse’s parents were in case of a family connection.

Last night was one of those discoveries. First, you need to know what instigated it. The other week my Aunt visited my Grandmother’s sister at her nursing home on the Mid-North Coast of NSW. While she was there, one of the chef’s came around delivering the residents their afternoon tea. The chef started chatting with my Aunt and said, in reference to my Great Aunt, “I hear she’s from Bowraville.” This prompted my Aunt to ask the chef if he was from Bowraville. Indeed he is! My Aunt asked him what his family name was (I won’t mention it for privacy reasons) and she recognized it immediately. My Grandmother often talked about a lady named Joyce from Bowraville with the same surname. My Aunt asked the chef if he had known Joyce. Bingo! Joyce was his mother! Small world. The family is delighted that someone from Bowraville is working at the nursing home my Great Aunt is at.

As my Aunt was telling me all this last night, I checked the family tree to see if I had Joyce already listed. I sure did. My Aunt could not figure out how Joyce was related, so I explained it to her.

Joyce’s parents were Frank Ernest Grace (1890 – 1972) and Violet Bridgen (1888 – 1972). Frank was the brother of Richard (1872 – 1955) and William George Alexander Grace (1874 – 1966) who married two of my Grandmother’s father’s sisters – Alice (1882 – 1952) and Elizabeth Dyer (1873 – 1949). Joyce and I are not cousins, but we have mutual cousins courtesy of her uncles marrying my great great aunts.

Diagram showing the connection between Joyce Grace (1919 - 1996) and myself.

The story does not end there though.

When I explained to my Aunt how Joyce (1919 – 1996) was connected, she remembered that Frank and Violet had a son, Sydney Grace (1921 – 2002), whom my Aunt had known when she was little. She also remembered that Sydney was married to Mavis Laird (1912 – 1968). Mavis actually saved my Aunt from drowning when she was little. And Mavis is what brings me to the second half of last night’s discovery.

It turns out that Sydney was Mavis’ second marriage. Her first marriage? Francis Arthur Stephen Ward (1912 – 1982). When I went to add him into the tree I realized he was already in it, and I already had him as being married to Mavis. I suppose at the time I did not check to see if either of them had had further marriages. I noticed that I did have Francis’ parents listed in the tree too. Francis’ parents were Francis Herbert Ward (1861 – 1943) and Ellen Maude Wiley (1871 – 1939).

Wiley. Remember that name. 

Now, let’s go back for a minute to my Grandmother’s sister who is in the nursing home. My Great Aunt was married to my Uncle Charlie Jones (1916 – 1992). Charlie’s mother was Catherine Wiley (1881 – 1962). Wiley! I told you to remember that name. Uncle Charlie and Francis Jr were first cousins! Charlie’s mother Catherine and Francis’ mother Ellen were sisters. 

Diagram showing the connection between Mavis Laird (1912 - 1968) and Uncle Charlie Jones (1916 - 1992)

Is that the end? Not quite. But I shall give you a moment to breathe. I sure need one after all that information. 

Mavis’ parents were John Laird (1866 – 1913) and Sarah Usher (1884 – 1960). John died in 1913 when Mavis was a year old. In 1915, Sarah remarried a bloke by the name of George Thomas Ballard (1861 – 1930). I have a few distant cousins who were Ballard’s, so naturally I double checked the tree. George Ballard is part of a family I have not done much research into yet. He is my 1st Cousin 4x Removed though! George’s mother was Sarah Ann Walker (1838 – 1902), the sister of my Great Great Great Grandmother, Jane Gilliban Walker (1834 – 1911). While Mavis’ mother Sarah was married to George, Mavis and my Great Grandmother Eva Florence Mackay (1888 – 1976) (My Grandmother’s mother) were step 2nd cousins.  

Diagram showing connection between Sarah Usher (1884 - 1960), her 2nd husband, George Ballard (1861 - 1930), and my Grandmother.

And that my dear readers, is what I discovered last night after my Aunt told me about her chance meeting with a chef at my Great Aunt’s nursing home.

Do you have any interesting small world stories, or strange connections between ancestors?