Friday, 9 October 2015

In Time & Place

Queensland's first family history state conference, In Time & Place, was held this past weekend (October 3rd & 4th) at Riverglenn in Indooroopilly - and it was great! Before I give you a run down of the events, I need to commend the Genealogical Society of Queensland (GSQ), Queensland Family History Society (QFHS), and History Queensland for putting on an excellent conference. You should all be proud and I hope you receive lots of positive feedback.

Goody Bag!
Day 1: Saturday 3rd Oct

I arrived bright and early at 8:30 am to register and receive my goody bag. I walked in to the main area and noticed all the exhibition stands around the perimeter. I noticed stands for Ancestry, GSQ, Gould Genealogy and History, Guild of One Name Studies, Society of One Place Studies, Nepean Family History Group, QFHS, Queensland State Archives, Ryerson Index, Queensland State Library, and the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. There were a couple more, but I did not get a chance to visit them all.

Soon after arriving, I met up with fellow Geneabloggers Helen, Chris, and Alex. Photos were taken with Helen and Chris, and Alex and I went exploring to suss out room locations and bathrooms. A girl's gotta know these things! We found our seats in the conference room to await the official opening, where Pauleen soon made her entrance.

The conference was declared open by Dr Denver Beanland. Dr Beanland has been involved in local and state politics, and is currently Chair of the National Archives Advisory Council. (Side Note: I remember his name because Beanland was the pink house at my high school.) Then it was time for the talks to begin!

Keynote #1 Dave Obee

Dave's keynote address encompassed the importance of context. Family history isn't solely about births, deaths, and marriages. What was going on at the time? What was the social context of that time period? Were there outside influences on your ancestors lives? Sometimes it is easy to forget these things. Dave also highlighted links between British Columbia and Australia through maps, people and events.

Jan Richardson

Jan's talk focused on female convicts and ex-convicts who lived in Queensland. They may not have arrived in Queensland - they could have arrived elsewhere such as NSW and Tassie, but moved to Qld later on. This makes Jan's research interesting. How is she going to find convicts who moved to Qld? She found one through Who Do You Think You Are? which was pretty cool. One example of a female convict she mentioned was Caroline Haines. Caroline arrived in NSW on the ship Buffalo in 1833. She married Robert Schofield and moved to Qld in 1858. Guess what?! My convict ancestor Elizabeth Graham also arrived on the Buffalo in 1833! Same ship. How neat! A very powerful message from Jan's talk was "telling the stories of female convicts makes them visible in a society that was overwhelmingly male."

Morning Tea

I said hello to Shauna Hicks who I hadn't seen since 2013, and enjoyed a lovely assortment of cakes and cookies.
Official Program

Rowena Loo

Rowena is the Manager of Client Services at the Queensland State Archives. She talked about the importance of archiving, and went over the records available, including the online indexes. Rowena's talk reminded me that I need to look over land records for my 3x Great Grandfather David Gill. He was the only ancestor of mine to live in Queensland, albeit for the last 5 years of his life. I'm not sure if he owned land though. I also plan on checking if his daughter's (my ancestor's sister) husband owned land in Wondai and Brisbane. Rowena mentioned upcoming seminars and webinars. One that caught my interest is Wills & Intestacies on November 17.

Diana Hacker

Diana's talk was about the RMS Quetta that sunk in the Torres Strait on February 28, 1890. I had never heard of the RMS Quetta before, so it was interesting to learn about some of the people who sadly lost their lives and the locations of different memorials.


Another wander of the stalls. I bought a book from the Nepean Family History Group about the history of The Hills District in Sydney where my Dad grew up. I also had a chat to another lady from State Archives about work experience and qualifications. Good career advice.

Keynote #2 Janis Wilton

Janis' keynote address focused on the importance of oral history. She talked about how memories can be things we are interested in, selective, and reconstructive. We tend to remember events, rehearsed memories, places, feelings, sights, sounds, routines, activities, people, attitudes, values and beliefs. We don't often remember facts, dates and statistics. However, it is important to keep in mind that everyone's memory works differently. Personally, I remember a lot of numbers (dates, phone numbers etc).

Janis suggested that if you're conducting family history interviews, structure your questions in a way that will trigger the persons memory. Another great idea that Janis gave is when someone passes away, take a photo of their house before things are packed up. I think this is a neat idea and something I wish had thought to do when my Dad's parents passed away.

Rosemary Kopittke

Rosemary's talk was about the suffrage movement - women gaining the right to vote. The suffrage movement was a big part of history at high school and it was good to go over the facts. An interesting fact I had not heard was that Victorian women were accidentally given the right to vote in 1864. This was revoked by an amendment to the Act in 1865. Why were Victorian women accidentally given the right to vote? The government granted rate payers the right to vote without realizing that some rate payers were women. Women were officially granted the right to vote in Victoria in 1908.

An interesting point to remember is that sometimes different addresses for married couples show up in the Electoral Rolls. The husband is listed at one address, while the wife is listed at a different address. This can confuse people and make people think that the couple had split up. Rosemary suggested that is not always the case. The husband might have updated his new address while the wife had not, which is why she is still listed at the old address.

Geoff Doherty

Geoff's talk was about his detailed world wide search for Joseph Dunn. He never did say if Joseph was an ancestor of his or not. However, it was very intriguing to hear how Joseph went from Australia to Mexico (he ran off with another woman) and the US. Sadly we ran out of time and could not hear the end of the story.

Evening & Buffet Dinner

That brought us to the end of Day 1. I had an hour to kill before the Buffet Dinner, so I hung out with Chris and Lynn, and chatted to Dave Obee for a bit too. The Buffet was wonderful and it was fun to chill and relax with my friends Helen, Pauleen, Alex, Chris and Lynn. We were the Geneabloggers table!

Buffet Dinner! L-R: Alex, Me, Pauleen, Chris & Lynn.
Photo taken by Helen
Day 2: Sunday 4th October

Upon arriving I had a lovely chat with Helen Connor from GSQ. I also had an interesting chat with another lady (whose name I've forgotten - sorry!), but I gave her my business card as I think she is interested in blogging. Alex - you might remember her name. She was the lady who you thought you knew.

Keynote #3 Shauna Hicks

Shauna gave us a most intriguing talk about her family and revealed things about her family she hadn't known til this year. I don't want to give anything away because she has put the slides on her website - you really must look at them. Shauna had us hooked from beginning til end. There was much giggling and laughter. Shauna mentioned that she was taking fellow Geneablogger Jill Ball's challenge for presenters to provide new ideas and make the audience think. Shauna successfully fulfilled that challenge. We all loved it! My favorite quote from Shauna's talk? "You can't have family history without sex!"

Dave Obee

Dave talked about some common myths in family history and why we shouldn't believe them. He also provided a handout fort his presentation which I shall have a read of soon.

Pauline Williams

Pauline's talk focused on the importance of providing citations and evidence. I learned a lot about referencing at high school and university, but it was good to refresh my memory. Pauline mentioned that as soon as information is put into the public domain, it is incumbent upon the researcher to document sources. Information needs to be appropriately referenced so others can follow your research trail if they wish and examine the sources you used to prove your point.

Helen Smith

For me, this was the final talk of the conference while others attended the concurrent session. Helen's talk was about government inquiries, something which I have not delved into before. Helen reminded us about the importance of language, and how the language used is relevant to the time period. Words and their usage can provide information on the social context, but it can also depend on education level and beliefs and opinions. One example is that today, it us unlikely for a child to be named 'Gay' or 'Gaye', while in the 1800s and 1900s the name is more common. Helen reminded us that government inquiries can include royal commissions, committees of parliament, boards of trade inquiries, and inquests. Helen provided us with lots of examples of each one which were really interesting. I am going to have to look more into government inquiries at some point.

Close of Conference

That brought the conference to a close. Raffles were drawn, thanks were given, and goodbyes were said. All in all, it was a wonderful conference and I am so glad I made the decision to attend. It was wonderful to catch up with friends, meet new people, and I definitely learned a lot. Oh, in case you're wondering, I was the youngest attendee!

I wonder which Queensland Society will take up the challenge of hosting the next state conference?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Family History Mail

Tonight, I started writing my post about the In Time & Place Conference I attended on the weekend. I was not even two sentences in, when Dad asked me to accompany him to the Thai restaurant to get dinner. We stopped by the PO Box on the way, where I was surprised to find a thick A4 yellow envelope waiting for me. As soon as I saw who it was from I could hardly contain my excitement. My cousin had sent me family history stuff! Stuff I knew I had not seen before because we talked on the phone about what documents each of us had a few weeks ago.

Me, literally. Agnes, not Edith. 
I knew as soon as I opened the package that I was not going to finish my planned blog post. Instead, I wanted to blog about one of the many things I received. There are 12 plastic sleeves, some with two pieces of paper, others with three. Basically, there is a lot for me to process!

I have been going back and forth choosing what to post. I decided that as it is after 10 pm and I'm ready for sleep, to stick with something simple. Ladies and gentlemen, the first photo I have EVER seen of my 3x Great Grandfather David Gill.

L-R: Louisa Jenkins, Harriet Prince, my 3x Great Grandfather David Gill,
& baby Winifred Jenkins. Four generations. Photo taken April 1922.
I'm so happy to finally put a face with a name. David Gill and his wife Alice Wright have always intrigued me. I had seen a photo of Alice before, but not David. He was born in 1842 to Silas Gill and Mercy Catt in New South Wales. In 1864, he married Alice Wright near Kempsey. They had 11 children - Louisa, Elizabeth (my ancestor), Harriet, Caroline, William, Silas, Edith, Charlotte, Alice, Ernest and Edwin.

Then things get interesting. David passed away in Wondai, Queensland in October 1922 at the age of 80. Where did Alice pass away? Melbourne, Victoria in 1926. They went in opposite directions, literally. He went north, she went south. I have no idea if they separated or divorced. I have not been able to find any evidence supporting that. What I do have is David Gill listed in the 1919 Electoral Roll in Wondai and Alice in Melbourne. I also know that they each had other family members living near them. That might have influenced them to move. Will I ever know why David and Alice went in completely opposite directions? Who knows!

Well, I hope you enjoyed that little tangent.

A massive thank you to my cousin for sending me such wonderful documents. I'm going to have a lot of fun in the next few days.

What was the last family history document you received in the mail?

Friday, 2 October 2015

Conference Closer to Home

After crossing the Pacific Ocean in February to attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies and RootsTech Conferences in Salt Lake City, I'm off to another genealogy conference this weekend. This time, it is much closer to home. How close? No more than a ten minute drive!

I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when I found out there was going to be a genealogy conference in Brisbane. Then I discovered where it was being held - a place that I've driven past so many times to and from a friends house. Woohoo!

I'm attending the In Time and Place Conference, which is being run by History Queensland, the Genealogical Society of Queensland, and the Queensland Family History Society. Location? It is being held at the Riverglenn Conference Centre in Indooroopilly.

Map showing location of Riverglenn (bottom left) & The University of Queensland (top right). I think most
of you know that I live near UQ.
[Source: Google Maps]

You can see the list of speakers here, which includes two of my fellow Queensland genea-friends Shauna Hicks and Helen Smith.

As well as the keynote sessions by Dave Obee, Janis Wilton and Shauna Hicks, the sessions that I am attending are...

- Suffrage in Queensland: Who, When, Where by Rosemary Kopittke
- Finding Joseph Dunn: A World Search 1851 - 1915 by Geoff Doherty
- Hidden Lives by Jan Richardson
- Mythbusters: Challenging some Common Beliefs by Dave Obee
- The Words of the People: Treasures within Government Enquiries by Helen Smith
- Three Minutes between Time and Eternity: Recalling the wreck of HMS Quetta by Diana Hacker
- Proving your Point: Evidence and Citation Unlocked by Pauline Williams
- Looking Behind the Reading Room Wall by Rowena Loo

I am really looking forward to catching up with some of my wonderful genea-friends and meeting new ones too!

Catch ya on the flip side with my post-conference write up.

Friday, 18 September 2015

A Pair of Doctors.

I have been diving back into researching my American ancestors and thought I would introduce you to the two Doctors in the family. Both of them are my Great Great Great Grandfather's. From my understanding, they were both family doctors - general practitioners.

1. Dr William Simpson Robinson

He was born on November 6th, 1823, in Tennessee to parents James Robinson and Catherine Mann. In Navarro County, Texas, he married Mariah Adelaide Riggs on September 21st, 1852. They had 13 children. William passed away on January 4th, 1887 in Dresden, Texas. He is buried in Dresden Cemetery.

Dr William Simpson Robinson
Dresden, Texas, 1848
[Source: Family Collection]
Grave of Dr William Simpson Robinson, Dresden Cemetery
[Taken by Caitie on July 8th, 2009...the day I caught the genealogy bug!]

2. Dr George Washington Spencer

He was born on January 6th, 1832 in Alabama, to parents Peter Spencer and Mary Cooper. By 1840, the family had moved to Itawamba, Mississippi. On March 14th, 1855. he married Frances Elizabeth McWilliams in Mississippi. They had at least nine children - I'm still confirming if there were more. Come 1870, George, Frances and their children had moved to Texas. George passed away on May 24th, 1904, in Frost, Texas. He is buried in Frost Cemetery.

Dr George Washington Spencer
Frost, Texas, 1880s
[Source: Family Collection]
Grave of Dr George Washington Spencer, Frost Cemetery
[Taken by Caitie on July 8th, 2009]
I'm still learning about the lives of my American ancestors. I know the Australian side like the back of my hand. The American side, not so much. I find it much harder to research them when I'm not there among the physical records my family has. My Uncle is currently going through all of my Grandma's genealogy stuff. Oh how I wish I was there with him!

Were any of YOUR ancestors Doctors or Medical Specialists?

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mackay Family Portraits

I was recently sent this photo of my Great Great Grandparents Alexander Mackay (1856 - 1937) & Elizabeth Lucilla Gill (1867 - 1905) with four of their five children. It was taken at some point in 1901 in Bowraville, New South Wales. I had never seen this photo before, so I was thrilled to receive it!

Alexander Mackay with wife Elizabeth Lucilla Gill
Daughters L-R: Lottie Mabel, Eva Florence, & Alice Jane
The baby is Archie Burton
[Source: 3rd Cousin]
Eva Florence was my Great Grandmother. Until I saw this photo, I had never seen a picture of her that young. She is just beautiful.

Elizabeth Lucilla Gill died giving birth to her fifth child, her namesake, Elizabeth Lucilla Mackay, in 1905.

The photo below is one I have had for a while now. It is of Alexander Mackay with his five children, but much later in life.

Alexander Mackay with his children L-R: Elizabeth Lucilla, Alice Jane,
Eva Florence, Lottie Mabel, & Archie Burton.
Date Unknown
[Source: Personal Collection]
I'm so excited to put these two photos together!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Ancestor Hunting in Kempsey - Mission #1

Back in May, I posted the Will of my 4x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Wright nee Graham. Her Will was like treasure to me in that she was very detailed and provided street names of the land she owned in Kempsey, New South Wales. This was the first time I had come across any record of where exactly she lived and owned land in Kempsey. If you'd like to read the transcription, please do so. Elizabeth's Will is one of my favorites.

In my transcription of the Will, I inserted screenshots of the relevant streets from Google Maps. To refresh your memory, the locations Elizabeth mentioned were -

1. Allotment of land with cottage and outhouses having frontage to Sullivan Street & William Street, East Kempsey.

Sullivan Street & William Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
[Source: Google Maps]
2. Half an acre having frontage to Lord Street and Innes Street, East Kempsey.

Lord Street & Innes Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
[Source: Google Maps]

3. Eight acres of land having frontage to Washington Street, East Kempsey.

Washington Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
[Source: Google Maps]
Earlier in August, while my Aunt and I were visiting family nearby in South West Rocks, we decided to have a day out in Kempsey ancestor hunting. Mission #1 was to find the streets mentioned in the Will. Funnily enough, we ended up taking the scenic route to Kempsey instead of the Pacific Highway. I did not have any phone reception either and could not get on Google Maps to follow our route or provide directions once we got to Kempsey. We simply followed the signs with no idea of which part of the town we would enter. When we saw a sign telling us that we had indeed arrived in Kempsey, my Aunt started calling out streets we were driving past in the hope that with my now working phone reception, I could get the directions to East Kempsey. 

A second later, my Aunt is saying "Washington Street, Sullivan Street..."


We pulled over on Sullivan Street and took a few moments to confirm our location on Google Maps, and yes, we were exactly in the area we wanted to be in. It was really interesting wandering around and thinking that this was the area my ancestors lived in. I was walking the same streets they walked on. The numbers in the captions below corresponds to the number of the relevant map above. 

1. Sullivan Street, East Kempsey
Corner of 1) Sullivan Street & 3) Washington Street, East Kempsey
1. Corner of William Street & Sullivan Street
My Aunt wanted to knock on the door of the house at the corner of Sullivan and William Streets, but I am not a fan of knocking on random people's doors. I decided instead that I will write the residents a letter to see if they know anything about the history of the land. Is the house on the corner still owned by Wright's? Who knows! 

2. Lord Street, East Kempsey
2. Innes Street, East Kempsey
In my previous post, I had wondered if Wrights Lane that runs off Washington Street was named after my Wright ancestors. Another mystery to solve!

Wrights Lane, East Kempsey
Wrights Lane, East Kempsey
Caitie at Wrights Lane, East Kempsey
It was a very exciting day so far, but we still had more to do. Stay tuned for Mission #2 of our Ancestor Hunting day in Kempsey.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Ancestry DNA Results Are In!

My AncestryDNA results have arrived! Before you keep reading, if you haven't seen my video about my reasons for doing the DNA test, I suggest you watch it below.

Here are my DNA results -
DNA Results from Ancestry

DNA Ethnicity Map

I must say I am quite shocked and wasn't expecting most of that. I knew there would be Great Britain, but I thought that would have been the most. Ireland was very very surprising, because my Australian side does not have Irish in it, neither does my Mum's paternal side as far as I've researched. I can only assume that has come from my Mum's maternal side - the biological side I do not know as my Grandma was adopted. As I said in the video, I do know my Grandma's fathers side. I asked my Great Aunt on that side and she confirmed the family was originally from Ireland. I am yet to dive into that part of the family tree though. She e-mailed me the family history information she has and will go through that soon. I guess any other Irish stuff would come from my Grandma's maternal side that I know nothing about.

Europe West and Scandinavia? Where on earth did that come from? That could also potentially be my Grandma's side again? Other than that, so far in my family history research, it doesn't make sense. The European trace regions are surprising too.

My reaction pretty much
One question I do have is how come it doesn't show any US ethnicity? I take it then that this goes deeper to before my ancestors went to the US.

Stay tuned for more posts and videos as I begin to digest and understand this. Just another exciting step in my genealogy adventures :)