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?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Two Families, One Ship.

Welcome to my first post for 2016! I thought I would start with something I found quite funny. I had a *facepalm* moment the other day, and discovered a fact about my family history I probably should have known a few years ago.

My Great Great Grandfather Walter Thomas Dyer (1843 - 1911) arrived in New South Wales, from England, in 1849 when he was 6 years old. He traveled with his parents Thomas and Grace, and his older siblings on the ship Emigrant, which arrived in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbor) on June 8th, 1849.

Shipping Record of Walter Thomas Dyer and four of his older siblings on the ship Emigrant. His parents are listed on the previous page.
Source: New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828 - 1896, Ancestry

In 1871, Walter married my Great Great Grandmother Mary Ann Gore (1851 - 1889). Mary was born in 1851 in the Maitland area, 2 years after her parents Henry and Mary arrived in New South 1849. 

Can you see where this might be heading?

The other day I was adding sources to Henry and Mary's profiles in my tree on Ancestry. I had another look at their shipping record. Date of Arrival: June 8th, 1849. Ship: Emigrant. Me: Wait. That sounds familiar. THE DYER'S! Double checked the Dyer's shipping record. June 8th, 1849. Emigrant

Shipping Record of Henry & Mary Gore, & eldest child Elizabeth on the ship Emigrant. My 2x Great Grandmother Mary was their second child two years later.
Source: New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828 - 1896, Ancestry

Yes. The Dyer's and the Gore's arrived on the same ship. I also saw that both families are listed on the same page! The Dyer's at the top. and the Gore's further down the page. That, dear readers, was my face-palming moment. When I first found the Gore's shipping record a couple of years ago, I did not even think to read the other names. 

I started laughing once the initial realization had passed. But seriously, how did I not realize this until now?

Shipping Record of the Emigrant showing both families.
Source: New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828 - 1896, Ancestry

It does explain though, how my Great Great Grandparents Walter and Mary might have met. Their parents could have known each other from the ship and kept in touch upon arriving in New South Wales. It is possible. The other funny thing is, a few of Walter's older sisters married into a Brown family who also arrived on the Emigrant. 

As today is Trove Tuesday, there could not be a more perfect time to have a search on Trove for any mention of the Emigrant's arrival. I found the following two articles -

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1849, June 9). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4.
Retrieved January 19, 2016, from

HOBART TOWN. (1849, June 9). The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 - 1860), p. 153. Retrieved January 19, 2016, from
The Dyer's and the Gore's are the only ancestors I have found that arrived on the same ship. Small world! Or should I say small ship?

Do you have any two (or more?) families in your ancestry that arrived on the same ship? 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Letter to Grandma, 2015

Today, December 3rd, 2015, would have been my Grandma's 83rd birthday. She passed away in 1980, ten years before I was born. In 2013, I wrote her a little letter which I shared on my blog. I have decided to share it again. I have made some additions though, to make it more relevant to the current year.

Dear Grandma,

Happy 83rd Birthday in Heaven! <3

I wish I could have known you. You were taken away from us far too soon. 

I know you would be so happy that I caught the genealogy bug from you. I have started referring to you as the Genealogy Queen in the family. Does that make me the Genealogy Princess? Hehehe. You would be amazed at all the technology and the discoveries I have made about my ancestors. I think you would have loved being part of the online genealogy community, but you would still have used your traditional methods. :-) How I would have loved to go to court houses, churches, cemeteries and Civil War Battlegrounds with you. We would have had so much fun together, especially with all the genealogy happy dancing I’ve been doing lately! 

For most of my life I knew you through a small number of photographs and stories. Then came June of 2011. That was the first time I ever saw video footage of you. No words. Silence. It did not need words. I saw you moving, walking and smiling. I do not think anyone in my family really knows just how happy I was, seeing the videos of you.

In October 2013, Aunt Molly sent Mum some old letters that you had written to my Great Grandparents (Grandad's parents) in the 1960s. For the first time, I was reading things you had written. For the first time, I was reading what you were thinking. Your thoughts. That is something I never thought I’d get to discover.

You would be thrilled to know that in February this year, I went to Salt Lake City for the first time ever. I'm sure you would have known what's in Salt Lake City - The Family History Library! In one of your letters, you wrote about the Latter Day-Saints opening a Family History Library/Research Center in Anchorage while you were living there. That made me smile. While I was in Salt Lake City, I went to two of the biggest genealogy conferences in the world - RootsTech & the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Oh Grandma, I had THE. BEST. TIME. EVER. I wish you could have been there with me. I wish I could call you on the phone and tell you all about it. I met so many wonderful people, and made some amazing life-long friends. In a way though, it felt like you were with me. And guess what Grandma?! I met another young genealogist from Texas who has the name Swindell in his ancestry. We're not sure if we're cousins or not yet. Still checking. But how awesome is that?

I cannot wait to go back to Texas (soon, hopefully!) and hang out with Uncle David for a while. He is (fingers crossed) going to take me to all these places that are significant to our family history. Plus, we're going to go through all your genealogy stuff. I know I already said it, but I cannot wait!

Thank you for giving me this intense love that I have for genealogy. I never expected it.

I love you.

My Grandma, Nancy Robinson
Nancy Robinson
Born: 3 December 1932, Texas, USA.
Died: May 1980, New Mexico, USA.

Monday, 26 October 2015

A Poem for Dave & Eunice

While in Sydney this week visiting family, I found a box of stuff at my Aunt's house. It contained photos and documents belonging to my Nanna that I had not seen before. One item that I found, was a beautiful poem written by an unknown relative or friend, about my Grandparent's wedding. 

I cannot not share it with you all. I've transcribed it from the copy we have, however, please keep in mind that the punctuation is a bit iffy. It makes sense for the most part. I did not even know someone had written a poem about my Grandparent's wedding until I found it. Happy reading!

In the year 1944, Thursday Twelve the date.
October was the month for sure, of this event, I’ll state
A romance, between man and maid, is clearly brought to view,
And forever sealed, at little Church, between these lovers two.

West Pennant Hills was known quite well, to parents of the Bride.
As likely place, for friendly folk, whom, in various homes reside.
The Bridegrooms family, Mother, Aunt, though by count are only two,
Were also interested there, that nights event to view.

Fair, Eunice Dyer, and David Gow, both thought it just a shame,
Two people, with one single mind, should divided be by name.
So Pastor Hare, their problem solved, by tying nuptual knot,
And so pronounced them man and wife, in Church’s scared plot.

How early of solution, where people can agree,
May all lifes troubled problems, be as happily solved for thee.
For example, if the world, would take their troubles, as these two
And each side, take their share of blame, thus, friendship to renew.

Well, the Corner at West Pennant Hills, on crest of sloping ground,
As usual, with all friendly folk at western homes around.
By personal presence at the Church, then later, Koala Park,
Gave their approval, once again, as wedding cake shewed mark.  

And thus, true homes are founded, by affections, tie and meant,
To raise up loving children, by Gods divine consent.
And Churches sanction, thus be responsible and grave,
With true and loving comradeship, of Eunice and of Dave.

Now describing decorations, at the Church and at the Park,
Blended flowers and ferns, and greenry shewed forth, natures vivid mark.
For natural true embellishment, presents its varied thrills,
To the wedding guests assembled there, from Western Pennant Hills.

And the catering at the Breakfast, of that nuptual wedding. Time
Also gave no jar, or jangle. All went to perfect Rhyme.
For toasts were given freely, and all appetites seemed good,
By the relishing way of handling, all varietys of food.

There was song and pleasing music, contributed in turn,
By both voice and instrumental, good applause two lades earn.
To make a merry party, song and music give the thrills,
As it did this wedding party, gathered at West Pennant Hills.

Now concluding my description, of eventful wedding night.
I submit my own approval, by these few words I indite.
May love, and life, and laughter, may prosperity and peace,
In the home of Dave and Eunice, all their lifetime, never cease.

Wedding of David Gow & Eunice Dyer
12 Oct 1944, Sydney
[Source: Personal Collection]

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Ancestor Hunting in Kempsey - Mission #2

Following on from Mission #1 of my Ancestor Hunting day in Kempsey with my Aunt in August, Mission #2 was to find the graves of my 4x Great Grandparents Silas Gill and Mercy Catt.

4x Great Grandmother Mercy Catt
[Source: Personal Collection]
4x Great Grandfather Silas Gill
[Source: Personal Collection]

Silas was born in 1806 and Mercy in 1808 - both in Beckley, Sussex, England. They married in 1826. Before arriving in New South Wales in 1837, via the Augusta Jessie, they had 5 children - Harriet, George, Mary Ann, James, and Dinah. However, only four of those children made the trip to Australia as Harriet passed away in 1830 when she was four. Silas and Mercy went on to have 7 more children in New South Wales - Sarah, Naomi, David (my ancestor), John, Miriam, Silas, and Thomas. The family eventually settled in Kempsey, although they did travel around due to Silas being a Methodist Preacher/Minister.

Silas passed away on the 10th of September, 1875, in Kempsey, New South Wales. Mercy lived for another 10 years and passed away in November, 1885 in Kempsey. They are buried in West Kempsey Cemetery. 

So, to West Kempsey Cemetery it was! 

West Kempsey Cemetery, 11 Aug 2015
[Taken by Caitie]

Kempsey Hospital in the background, 11 Aug 2015
[Taken by Caitie]

Visiting the resting place of Silas Gill and Mercy Catt for the first time, West Kempsey Cemetery, 11 Aug 2015
[Taken by Caitie]

Caitie at Mercy Catt Gill's grave

Caitie at Silas Gill's grave

Mission #2 accomplished! But we were not done yet. Stay tuned for Mission #3...

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Raising Money for World Hunger

If you read my recent post about receiving a delightful family history package in the mail the other day, this is another gem that was part of it.

Before you jump to conclusions, although it is a wonderful cause, I am not raising money for world hunger...but someone else did.
Uncle Archie, 1930s.
[Source: Personal Collection]

My Great Great Uncle Archie Mackay was born in Bowraville, New South Wales on March 28th, 1901 to Alexander Mackay and Elizabeth Gill. He was their only son and grew up with four sisters - Alice, Eva, Lottie and Lizzie. His mother Elizabeth sadly passed away giving birth to Lizzie. Archie was four years old at the time.

On March 20th, 1929, he married Sylvia Grace Kelsey.

Let's pause for a moment, because while Great Great Uncle Archie is, well, exactly that, Sylvia is my 1st Cousin 2x Removed. Yep.

No, Archie and Sylvia are not related. But they are both related to me!

Archie's sister Eva was my Great Grandmother. She married James Albert Dyer. One of James' sisters was Sarah Matilda Dyer - my Great Great Aunt. Sarah married James Kelsey. Have you figured out what comes next? Bingo! Sarah and James Kelsey are Sylvia's parents.

Basically, Archie was my Nanna's Uncle on her mother Eva's side, while Sylvia was her first cousin on her father James' side. So her cousin became her Aunt. My Nanna was actually one of Sylvia's bridesmaids too.

You gotta love small towns. Everyone in Bowraville is connected somehow.

Anyway, back to the original story.

Archie and Sylvia celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary in 1989. Sadly, Sylvia passed away two months short of their 61st Anniversary, in January of 1990. Fast forward to March 28th, 1991. Uncle Archie's 90th Birthday! What did Uncle Archie want for his birthday? I'll let you read the article below. Please note - this is not the whole article. I am not publishing the full version as there are living people mentioned.

Published in the Nambucca Guardian News, June 5th, 1991
[Source: Cousin]
A marvellous gesture indeed! My Nanna often spoke fondly of Uncle Archie, and now I am starting to understand why. Uncle Archie passed away on August 11, 1993, and is buried in Bowraville Cemetery.

Uncle Archie cutting the cake at his 90th
Birthday Party!
Nambucca Guardian News, June 5th, 1991
[Source: Cousin]