Monday, 10 October 2016

An Immigration Assault Trial

I am in the process of writing about my 4x Great Grandparents John Walker and Mary Wiseman. They left England and arrived in Sydney on the ship Carthaginian on January 28, 1842. I thought I would search Trove and see if I could find any articles about the ship…and that I did!

The Hunter River Gazette reported that 243 immigrants arrived with Captain Robertson and Superintendent Dr Nelson.

SYDNEY SHIPPING. (1842, February 5).The Hunter River Gazette; and Journal of Agriculture, Commerce, Politics, and News (West Maitland, NSW : 1841 - 1842), p. 3. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from
I was surprised to discover that soon after arriving, Captain Robertson and Dr Nelson were taken to trial for assaulting female immigrant Margaret Ann Bolton during the voyage, by way of throwing buckets of water over her. Below is the beginning of a very lengthy article describing the trial and evidence, which you can read by clicking the link in the caption.

TREATMENT OF EMIGRANTS. (1842, April 19). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 2. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from
The verdict? Guilty. Captain Robertson and Dr Nelson were both sentenced to prison for six months and fined 50 pounds. I like this article published in The Sydney Herald as it assured future emigrants the possibility of obtaining compensation if they experienced ill-treatment.

ILL-TREATMENT OF IMMIGRANTS. (1842, April 23). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from
I wonder if John and Mary were acquainted with Margaret Ann Bolton during the voyage and were aware of the trial? 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Trove Tuesday - A Madman

For today's Trove Tuesday, well, the title of the article says it all. 

A Madman at Pennant Hills. (1890, November 15). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate
(Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950)
, p. 8.
Retrieved September 20, 2016,

On Monday last a man unknown in the district was noticed running about in a wild and aimless state at Thornleigh and Galston, and on the following day he turned up at Pennant Hills, near Thompson's Corner. A good deal of alarm was caused in the neighbourhood by the strange behaviour of the man, several of the residents undertaking to watch him while another (Mr. Allen) went into Parramatta for the police. Mr Allen was informed that the police could do nothing without a conveyance was placed at their disposal, and owing to this strange piece of Fosberryism the man was left to knock himself about as much as he liked. The messenger properly pointed out that it was not his place to provide conveyances for the police. The messenger returned without the regular custodians of the public safety, and the man afterwards commenced to knock himself about with huge pieces of rough stone which he held in his hands. Mr Gallard and others who had been watching him moved forward to disable the unfortunate man; but the threatening attitude of the man warned them to be careful, and they had to look on the terrible spectacle of the poor fellow battering his hands and face beyond recognition. The sickening sight of blood spurting from the man's face made them shudder, and at last he fell down from exhaustion. Those who had been looking on rushed forward to secure the man; but he was up again in an instant and raced madly across the field until he came to a waterhole, into which he threw himself. Almost drowned he was recovered from the water, and placed in Mr Gallard's cart in an unconscious state and driven into Parramatta to the lockup. The police sent him to the Hospital but he was denied admission, on the assumption that he was either mad or suffering from the effects of the drink and his conduct might injuriously affect some of the patients. He was again taken back to the lockup, but after a time Sergeant Megarvey secured his admission to the hospital. 

Wow! Pennant Hills is the suburb in Sydney where my Grandparent's lived, and is where I stay whenever I'm in Sydney.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Thompson's Corner

Whenever I'm in Sydney, one of the places I frequent is a little shopping village called Thompson's Corner. My Dad & Aunt often talk about walking up to Thompson's Corner and going to the bakery when they were kids. On my recent trip to Sydney in July, I stumbled across the historical marker at Thompson's Corner. 

Historical Marker at Thompson's Corner
[Photo taken August 2016]
In 1877, Thomas Thompson, whose father was transported to the colony of New South Wales in 1813, commenced business in the store and bakehouse on the site now occupied by the island between the traffic lights. 
The bakehouse fell into disuse, and from 1932 to 1939 became a place of worship until the Bethlehem church opposite was constructed. Bethlehem means 'house of bread.' 
The store/bakehouse was demolished in 1961. 
I did not know the history of Thompson's Corner until I read that. When I got home, I decided to enter Thompson's Corner into Trove and see what I could find.

Map of Thompson's Corner
[Source: Google Maps]
Street View showing the original site of the store and bakehouse.
[Source: Google Maps]
A DISTRICT IDENTITY.— MR. THOMAS THOMPSON. (1897, April 17). The Cumberland
Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950)
p. 14. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from
PENNANT HILLS. (1918, March 9). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate
(Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950)
, p. 8. Retrieved September 17, 2016,
HELD CHURCH IN BAKEHOUSE (1939, May 3). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers
Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950)
 p. 15. Retrieved September 17, 2016,
"BAKEHOUSE" CHURCH (1939, July 26).The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers
Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950)
, p. 7.
Retrieved September 17, 2016,
'BAKEHOUSE' CHURCH (1939, August 9).The Cumberland Argus
and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950)
 p. 9. Retrieved September 17, 2016,
Five years later, my Grandparents married in that church!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

August 31

August 31, 1905

My Great Uncle Adam Gow was buried. He was born on August 28, 1905 in Sydney to my Great Grandparents William Gow and Elizabeth Croal. Adam passed away on August 29, 1905. He lived for 24 hours. He is buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney. 

Death Certificate of Adam Gow
[Source: Personal Collection]

August 31, 1909

My Great Great Grandmother Christian Croal (nee Alves) passed away. She was Adam's Grandmother. Christian was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1842. In 1869 she married David Croal. They had 4 children - Alexander, Margaret, Elizabeth and David. The family arrived in Sydney in 1883 on the ship Iberia. Christian was buried on September 1st, 1909 and is buried in Rookwood Cemetery with Adam. 

Death Certificate of Christian Croal (Alves)
[Source: Personal Collection]

Grave of Christian Croal & Adam Gow, Rookwood
Cemetery, Sydney. There is no headstone. Taken July 2013.
August 31, 2003.

My Poppa, William David Drummond Gow passed away at the age of 93. He was Adam's brother. Poppa was born on February 2, 1910 in Sydney. He never got to know his grandmother Christian, nor his brother. My Poppa passed away when I was 12 - well before I was interested in genealogy. At the time, we did not know that he passed away on the same day as his Grandmother, and the day his only sibling was buried. It was only when I started researching the family history in 2009, that we discovered the significance of this date.   

My Poppa during World War 2.
[Source: Personal Collection]
Every year, every August 31, I think about the wonderful memories I have with Poppa. I think about Christian and her life that involved moving to a new country and losing a husband to suicide. I think about baby Adam, the brother and sibling my Poppa never got to have. 

They are forever loved.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Grandma's Wedding Scrapbook

My Mum returned from a month's holiday in Texas last week. She had a wonderful time visiting her family who she hadn't seen in a few years. There were two things I requested she bring back - Texas Trash, and stuff from Bath & Body Works (please open a store here!). However, there was one gift from my Uncle that I wasn't expecting - my Grandma's wedding scrapbook. I was over the moon! I still am.

If you have been following me for a while, you might remember that my Grandma passed away before I was born. My Grandma was also how I caught the genealogy bug. Genealogy has become my connection to her - if that makes sense? Until recently, I had only seen a handful of photos of her. I also have letters that she wrote to my Grandfather's parents in the 1960s, a gorgeous pink vase, and a ring. To add my Grandma's wedding scrapbook to the collection is amazing. All of these things I will treasure forever.

Grandma, Nancy Robinson
Born: 3 Dec 1932, Texas, USA
Died: May 1980, New Mexico, USA
[Source: Personal Collection]
Before I move on, here's a link to the letter I wrote her on her birthday last year.

My Grandparents married in Texas on September 14, 1950, so the scrapbook is quite old. My Mum and I need to figure out the best way to preserve it. I plan on doing all the usual things - photographing each page, transcribing all the articles and descriptions, and scanning it. I would love to hear any other suggestions out there.

Here are a few photos I took during my excitement the other day.

A napkin from the reception!

I cannot thank my Uncle enough for passing this down to me! 

Definitely true!

Monday, 25 July 2016

William Gow's Police Badges

Yesterday, I found police badges that belonged to my Great Grandfather William Gow (1868 - 1943). As you can imagine, I was quite excited by this unexpected discovery! I took a few snaps of them this morning to share with y'all.

Now, I am only assuming they are badges. If you have other ideas, I'm all ears. I have no idea how William would have worn them with his uniform. The large ones could have also been worn for special occasions. I have e-mailed the NSW State Archives in the hope for further information (after e-mailing the NSW Police).

Great Grandfather William Gow, 1889, Sydney.
[Source: Personal Collection]
A little background information about William's police career -

He joined the police force in Sydney in November 1896 (he left Scotland and arrived in Sydney in 1886). On his application form, he stated that he had been a gardener and fruit grower for 14 years. He was a Probationary Constable for 12 months. In November 1897, he became an Ordinary Constable. In 1905, William was promoted to First Class Constable. According to William's obituary, he was well known throughout the Traffic Department of the Police for 16 years. In 1912, he resigned and returned to farming. He was requested to reconsider his decision but believed farming was his true occupation.

Large police badges

A handful of small police badges

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Importance of Cemeteries

One of my successful Trove finds the other day was the transcription of my 4x Great Uncle's father-in-law's headstone. But his was not the only one - over 20 headstones in Wingham Cemetery (formerly known as Bungay Cemetery) had been transcribed and published in this 1922 article. I found myself quite excited that someone in 1922 was ensuring the details were recorded. Then I read the beginning...

[Source: Last Resting Place. (1922, June 9). The Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer
(NSW : 1898 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from

Here's what it says...
"Nothing can be more instructing to a man of sensibility and feeling than a stroll through a graveyard, among the peaceful repositories of the dead. While gazing on the silent and sad mementos of mortality he learns how to appreciate his own condition, and reflect upon and sympathise with the fate of those who have departed before him. He sees, while conning over some exaggerated eulogy engraved by friendship or affection on the mouldering stone, the vanity of human exploits, and cannot but reflect that before a century will have passed away, every vestige of what lies before him will be gone, and not even a decaying particle of a monument will remain. Time will sweep relentlessly over every portion of the burial ground, and the ashes of friends and enemies, of the opulent and poor, of the proud and lowly, of the parent and child, will become mingled with the dust which enshrines them, and their resting-place will be undistinguished and unknown. 
(Compiled by E. McC. S. Hill, Fellow of the Society of Genealogists of London)— Wingham, N.S.W.
These records are being furnished to the Historical Society, Sydney, as well as to a similar body in the Old Country. In other parts of the State similar work has been done, and is still being done."
Did you love that first section as much as I did? I thought it was beautiful. Whoever wrote that deserves a medal.

An applause for the author.
[Source: Giphy]
While a lot of graves have lasted over 100 years, they do decay and can be damaged by weather and other means. Inscriptions become less visible and harder to read. It is exactly why going to cemeteries, taking photos, and transcribing details are so important. Some headstones are full of information other than the usual name and dates, such as occupation, native place and year of arrival. I do my best to contribute by transcribing headstones on Billion Graves. My favorite Australian cemetery website is the Australian Cemeteries Index. Both Billion Graves and the AusCemIndex rely on volunteers to transcribe and take photos of headstones. When I visit cemeteries, I take many photos - not just the grave I'm looking for, but of as many graves as I can.

The graves of my 3x Great Grandparents, Dr William Simpson Robinson &
Mariah Adelaide Riggs. Dresden Cemetery, Navarro County, Texas.
[Source: Personal Collection]
A snap I took while exploring Berrima Cemetery, New South Wales, in 2014.
I discovered this fallen & water filled grave at St Patrick's Cemetery, Parramatta,
New South Wales, in 2015. I wonder whose grave it is. 
Cemeteries are also important because they can tell us who lived in the area. None of my ancestors are buried near me - the closest is a four hour drive way. However, I love walking around my local cemeteries and reading the headstones. Sometimes a headstone will peak my interest and I'll do a search on Trove that night to try and find any stories about them.

And yes, I am that person who will excitedly yell out 'CEMETERY!!!' whenever I drive past one with family and friends. I've even shouted it a bit too loudly on the plane once.

So, have you been to a cemetery recently?