Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Postcards & Photographs - A Mystery.

In among my Grandfather's box of family history stuff were a couple of postcards and photos. I would like to try and figure out who they are. Sadly two of the photos were not labelled, and the sender of the postcards did not use full names. If you have any opinions after reading this post, please do comment and let me know what you think!

Postcard A - Front
Postcard A - Back
Please correct me if you think otherwise, but I believe this postcard is from an A. Gibbins at 10 Kingsley Street, Camberwell, Victoria, and was sent at Christmas 1915. I cannot seem to find a 10 Kingsley Street in Victoria's electoral rolls from 1912 - 1919 (Subdistrict: Camberwell, District: Kooyong). Perhaps A. Gibbins was visiting or had not enrolled to vote in Victoria, but from what they said, it sounds like they had moved from Macksville (where my Great Grandparents & Grandfather lived) to Victoria. There were Gibbins living in Camberwell but not in Kingsley Street, and none of their names began with A. 

Postcard B - Front
Could the man and woman in the middle of this photo above be the same man and woman in Postcard A? I thought the women looked very similar, but was not sure about the man. However, Postcard B is from somebody with the surname Hay.

Postcard B - Back.
The only Hay I have in my family tree is John Eric Hay, born 1891 in Waratah, New South Wales and died 1951 in Newcastle, New South Wales. John Hay married my Grandfather's cousin Elizabeth Jeater in 1943 in Newcastle. As far as I am aware, John and Elizabeth did not have children. John was Elizabeth's second marriage. Elizabeth was the daughter of Ernest Edwin Jeater and Margaret Croal, my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal's sister. My Great Grandmother Elizabeth did not die until 1952, so one possible explanation is that John could have sent this to my Great Grandmother?
But that would mean the two couples are completely different people? I have no Gibbins in my family tree that I have found thus far. Still, I did not think in the 19th or 20th Centuries people would send postcards with strangers on them, but who knows. If only there was a date and address on Postcard B! John Hay was one of four or five siblings, so I doubt it is his family, and Margaret and Edwin had three boys and two girls, where as the family in the postcard have four girls and two boys. I have not seen a known photo of Margaret Croal/Jeater before either.

However, mentioning the Croal's brings me to these two photographs...

Portrait C
Portrait D


My first thought on seeing these two photos was that they could possibly be the same couple in Postcard B, and possibly Postcard A. However, the back of the photos say they were taken at a studio in Newcastle which is where Margaret Croal and Ernest Jeater lived. I would like to say that they are definitely not the same couple in Postcard A as they never lived at Macksville nor Victoria, but could they be the couple in Postcard B? I'm not sure.

I mentioned before I had not seen a photo of Margaret Croal before. Could this woman be her? I compared it to the photos of my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal, and in my opinion, they do look very similar. Margaret died in 1949 at the age of 78, and Elizabeth died in 1952 at the age of 79. Here is a photo of Elizabeth. Do you think they look similar?

My Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal
I would like to rule out Postcard A and say that it is not the same couple in Postcard B or the individual photos above. A. Gibbins who moved from Macksville to Victoria is most likely an unrelated family friend at this stage. But why does 10 Kingsley Street not appear in Camberwell's Electoral Roll between 1912 and 1919? It could be part of another electorate...if so, I have not been able to find the relevant information.

What do YOU think?
Could the individual portraits be the same couple in Postcard B?
Or are they all completely unrelated to each other?
Could Portrait C of the lady be Margaret Croal/Jeater?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Elector's Right!

I have just come across this Elector's Right form which belonged to my Great Grandfather William Gow (1868 - 1943). It was folded up with some other documents of his that my Grandfather had stuck together with a nail. I have transcribed it below.

Electoral District of Newtown Erskine Division

The Holder Hereof William Gow of 227 Wilson Street, Newtown (Occupation) Constable of Police whose name is signed hereunder, is, if enrolled, entitled to vote at Elections of Members of the Assembly in the above district, being qualified in respect of Manhood and of Residence in such District.

It is dated the 29th of December, 1897.

Map showing location of 227 Wilson Street, Newtown
[Source: Google Maps]
Newtown was an electorate in the recent New South Wales State Election this year, but I wanted to know more about the Newtown Erskine Division at the time William was around. Why was it called Newtown Erskine back then? I found that in 1894, single member electorates were introduced. This required the Newtown local government area being divided into three seats - Newtown-Camperdown, Newtown-Erskine, and Newtown-St Peters (Electorate: Newtown, 2015). In 1904, the number of seats in Parliament was reduced from 125 to 90, and thus, Newtown became a single electorate. Up until 1947, Newtown had it's own local government, separate to Sydney City Council (Electorate: Newtown, 2015). William would have experienced these electorate changes in Newtown, but sadly died a couple of years before it became part of Sydney City Council.

I also found this awesome website, Atlas of New South Wales that shows the electoral history from 1856 to 2007. It's a lot of fun. Definitely check it out. I found the Newtown Erskine electorate for the year 1898 (the year after William enrolled). If you have an ancestors address over a few years or decades, you could follow their electorate over that time too.

Newtown Erskine Electorate
[Source: Atlas of New South Wales]
A new genie-tool! I wonder if the Atlas will have my political cousin Donald Walter Croal? Alright, I'm off on another tangent now.

Have you followed an ancestor's electorate over time?

Electorate: Newtown. (2015). Retrieved from

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Will of Elizabeth Wright

When FindMyPast released New South Wales Will Books 1800 - 1952, I was over the moon! As my Australian side of the family are from New South Wales, I have used this collection to no end. Not all Wills are detailed, and not all of my ancestors left a Will, but it's always exciting when you find that an ancestor was very specific in their Will. For me, that Will belongs to my 4x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Wright nee Graham. I won't tell you much about her life before she died except for the following - she was born in 1815 in England, and arrived in Port Macquarie in 1833. She married William Wright in 1835, and died on the 24th of December, 1895 in Kempsey. I have a separate post in the works about Elizabeth and William, so be on the look out for that soon.

Before finding Elizabeth's Will, I had known that she and William lived in Kempsey, however I had not been able to find any record of where in Kempsey they lived. Elizabeth's Will changed all that. She gave exact street names! I have inserted maps where appropriate, added punctuation for an easier read (hopefully?), and everything underlined was underlined in the Will.

The Will of Elizabeth Wright

This is the last Will and Testament of me Elizabeth Wright of East Kempsey, Macleay River in the Colony of New South Wales, Widow, Revoking all former Wills and Testamentary documents hereinbefore made by me and I declare this to be my last Will.

After the payment of all my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses “are paid” I do hereby give devise and bequeath to my grand daughter Caroline Elizabeth Gill an allotment of land having frontage to Sullivan Street and William Street, East Kempsey, with cottage erected thereon and all outhouses. Also the whole of contents of such cottage consisting of furniture and personal effects with the exception of any legal documents.

Sullivan Street & William Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
[Source: Google Maps]
     I also give and bequeath to the said Caroline Elizabeth Gill an allotment of land containing half an acre having frontage to Lord and Innes Street, East Kempsey, and I do hereby direct my Executors to have a cottage built on the said land, such cottage to cost and be of the value of two hundred pounds, the amount to be paid out of the sale of my freehold estate. I also give to the said Caroline Elizabeth Gill one milch cow now running on my selection at Inglewood also my chestnut mare Beauty and one Comus filly.

Lord Street & Innes Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
[Source: Google Maps]
     I will and bequeath the above mentioned with all deeds relating thereto absolutely to Caroline Elizabeth Gill. I will and bequeath to Edwin James Wright an allotment of land at East Kempsey bounded on the North by the allotment bequeathed to Caroline Elizabeth Gill, on the South by C. L. Gabriel’s land, on the East by Inness Street, and on the West by Lord Street, to be held in trust by him as long as he may live. And at his decease to my grandson William Frederick Barker Wright absolutely.

    I further direct that the whole of my freehold property remaining after the above bequests are “made” to be sold as soon as my Executors can arrange for such sale, and the amount realized from such sale to be equally divided amongst my four daughters namely Alice Gill, Caroline Gill, and Matilda Walker and Charlotte Winslow share and share alike with the exception and reserving therefrom the Two hundred pounds as above stated for the erection of a Cottage. I also will that the estate bequeathed to me by my late husband William Wright as follows to Mrs Matilda Walker, wife of George Walker, about eight acres of land now occupied by William Parker and fronting Washington Street, to hold the same as long as she shall live and at her decease to her two sons Percy Walker and Augustus Walker.

Washington Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
See Wrights Lane on the right? I wonder if it was named after the family.
[Source: Google Maps]
    To William Henry Wright I bequeath the sum of Fifty pounds to be paid to him out of the sale of my estate. I will and bequeath my selection at Inglewood containing forty acres to my daughter Alice Gill for the mutual benefit of herself and her son William Wright Gill. I further will and direct that the whole of the remaining portions of the estate whatsoever shall be equally divided among my children Charlotte Winslow, Caroline Gill, Alice Gill, Matilda Walker, Edwin James Wright, Christopher Wright, and Edgar Graham Wright share and share alike. And I hereby direct my Executors to see that a satisfactory division is made And I further direct my Executors to collect all monies due to me by my children, such monies to be paid before they participate in the property or any money they may be entitled to out of my estate, and upon such monies being paid it shall be divided among my children share and share alike.

    And I do hereby constitute and appoint James William Wilson of West Kempsey and William Thomas Daugar of West Kempsey to be Trustees and Executors to this my Will. In witness whereof I have set my hand hereunto this seventh day of December one thousand eight hundred and ninety five.

    Elizabeth Wright

    Signed by the testator Elizabeth Wright as and for her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request and in her presence and in the presence of each other, all being present at the same time, have hereinto subscribed our hands as witnesses.

John Campbell, Auctioneer Kempsey.      
H.E. Palmer, Inspector of Stock, Kempsey. 

     20th Ferbruary 1896. By Act of Court Probate of the last Will and Testament of the said deceased granted to James William Wilson of Kempsey, Macleay River, Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for the Macleay District, and William Thomas Daugar of Kempsey, Saddler, the Executors in the Will named.

    Testator died 24 December 1895 at East Kempsey.  Estate sworn under $2499.

What a Will!

Which one of your ancestors has the most detailed Will you have found thus far?

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Farm Discovery

The Scottish 1865 Valuation Rolls were recently released on Scotlands People. The index is currently free to search, however images cost two credits. In 1865, my Great Great Grandfather William Gow was raising his family at Cairn Farm, Muthill, Perthshire, and I did indeed find him at Cairn Farm in the Valuation Roll.

My 2x Great Grandfather William Gow
[Source: Personal Collection]
I was intrigued to discover that William was leasing Cairn Farm from Robert Thomas Napier Speir. I did not even know that William had leased his farm from someone! I also found that William was leasing a second farm from Speir - Drummawhance Farm. This is the first time I have heard of this farm. Cairn Farm has always been the only farm ever mentioned in reference to William Gow and his family. It is the farm listed on census records and birth and death certificates. My Dad and I both agree that Drummawhance might not have been mentioned in these records because it was only a working farm. The other surprise was that both farms, a long with a few others, were part of Culdees Castle, which was owned by Speir.

The website linked for Culdees Castle provided the longitude and latitude of the Castle's location - 56.324191N, 3.804687W. I popped that into Google Maps to see where the Castle was, as I had found that it was demolished in 1967. We did not know the exact location of Cairn Farm before either, so I was hoping this might provide me with a general area. The pin is the location of Culdees Castle according to the longitude and latitude co-ordinates. But wait, what is that farm in the bottom right corner? Drummawhance Farm!

Image from Google Maps showing the location of Culdees Castle
[Source: Google Maps]
 I scrolled down a bit further and what do I see...CAIRN FARM!

Image from Google Maps showing the location of Culdees Castle, Drummawhance Farm, & Cairn Farm
[Source: Google Maps]
My Dad and I have spent countless hours exploring Muthill on Google Maps and we have no recollection of Cairn Farm being labelled. Otherwise, well, we would have sent my Aunt there when she went to Muthill a couple of years ago. I am so excited that we now have an exact location of Cairn Farm! And the fact that the farms are across the road from each other would have been pretty handy for William.

Cairn Farm & Drummawhance Farm - pretty close together!
[Source: Google Maps]
I googled Drummawhance Farm and it seems to still be in operation. It even has its own website with a contact form. I might send a message through and see what information, if any, they have on either farms. I cannot wait to go to Scotland one day and visit Cairn Farm to see where my Great Great Grandparents lived, and where my Great Grandfather lived before coming to Australia!

Thank you Valuation Rolls - you've given me a lot more than I expected.

Have you found anything exciting or unexpected in Scotlands People's Valuation Rolls?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Croal (1873 - 1952)

My Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal was born on the 21st of March, 1873 in Edinburgh, Scotland. According to the Extract Entry of her birth below (which was extracted on the 10th of April, 1873), she was born at 11pm. At the time of writing this, that is right now! Yay!

Extract Entry of Elizabeth Croal's Birth. It is too long to fit on the scanner. We've had this for more than 100 years!
[Source: Personal Collection]
Elizabeth's parents were David Croal and Christian Alves. She had two older siblings, Alexander and Margaret, plus a younger brother David who died as a baby. On the 2nd of August, 1883, when Elizabeth was 10 years old, she and her family arrived in Sydney on board the ship Iberia.

X marks the Croal's!
[Source: Personal Collection]
 In 1893, Elizabeth lost her father David when she was 20 years old. He died at sea while travelling to New Zealand and supposedly committed suicide. I cannot imagine how tough that would have been for the family. 

Elizabeth married my Great Grandfather William Gow on December 14, 1904. They had two children - Adam, who lived for only 24 hours in 1905, and my Grandfather who passed away 12 years ago. They lived in Stanmore, Sydney until about 1913 when they moved to Gumma, near Macksville. 

Wedding of William Gow & Elizabeth Croal, 14 Dec 1904, Sydney.
[Source: Personal Collection]
After William died in 1943, she moved back to Sydney to be closer to my Grandfather. Elizabeth passed away on the 16th of May, 1952, at the age of 79. 

Happy 142nd Birthday Nanna Gow!

I found this sweet postcard Elizabeth received for her birthday one year. The stamp says it is from Newcastle which is where her sister Margaret lived. The date on the stamp (I had to zoom in a lot) says 20 MR 11. The 20th of March 1911 perhaps? It seems likely. I also wonder if the fact that it came from Newcastle and it is not signed, meant that Elizabeth would know who it is from, that person potentially being her sister?

Birthday Postcard for Elizabeth Croal
[Source: Personal Collection]

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ready to Learn at FGS!

Day 2 - Wednesday, 11th February

FGS Day 1

I woke up on Wednesday morning eager to start the day; however, as I was still recovering from jetlag I was a bit slow in getting ready. I made the decision to miss the opening session – 8 am when you’re still not 100% with it is too early. My first session of the day, at 9:30am, was Engaging Your Long Distance Membership by Jen Baldwin. I was very keen to hear Jen speak and I thought this topic would be handy because most of the societies I plan to join are interstate or overseas. I thoroughly enjoyed Jen’s talk. One important point she made, and probably the most important in my opinion, was that it is just not about the distance physically – members may also be mentally un-engaged.

After Jen’s talk, I finally met Laurie Desmarais! She actually tweeted during Jen’s talk that she was waiting to meet me! I also met Lisa Dawn-Crawley briefly and Laurie’s friend Bev Fieg. Sharn, Pauleen and I also had a chance to catch up and mingle. We saw Cousin Russ, Cheryl, and Thomas MacEntee. Sharn, Pauleen and I grabbed the chance to each get our photos with Thomas. 

Me & Laurie! She reminds me so much of my cousin :)
Me & Thomas!
Next, we were off to our second talk – How the Genealogist Can Remember Everything with Evernote by Lisa Louise Cook. Now, me being Gen Y and all, you would think Evernote would be an easy app for me to grasp. Nah ah! For some reason I just have not been able get the hang of it and it has frustrated me to no end. 

You have no idea how happy I was when Sharn told me she couldn't understand Evernote either! At least we know we’re not alone and shall get frustrated about Evernote together. I found Lisa’s talk to be very informative and I plan on giving myself the challenge of using Evernote for a week. I might even do a video on it. I think I might have told someone I would do a video on my learning to use Evernote. Anyway, I now know a lot more about how to use Evernote. I’ll give it a go and see what happens.

I found Laurie and Bev waiting for me outside the room afterwards. They promised they weren’t stalking me…hmm. Haha. Dalton and Hilary also appeared too. By this time (midday), I was starving, so we went to the Blue Lemon for lunch.

Lunch Buddies: Hilary, Laurie, Dalton, Me, and we found Roger
wandering the streets after.
The next session for us all was The Ethical Genealogist by Judy Russell. I was extremely keen to hear Judy speak, particularly because she’s known as the Legal Genealogist. I just graduated with a degree in Criminology which included a bit of law. Today’s Fun Fact about Caitie: I love legislation! So if there is any topic or seminar that relates to law AND genealogy, count me in! I learned that Judy has three rules of ethics – tell the truth; play nice with others; and don’t tell tales out of school. Judy’s talk was brilliant and made me super excited for her other sessions.

Judy Russell speaking about The Ethical Genealogist
I did not have anything planned for the next session so I went back to the hotel for an hour’s rest. The last session of the day that I attended was Video Marketing: Killer YouTube Strategies for Societies by Lisa Louisa Cooke. This was all about YouTube and as you know, I have a YouTube Channel. I am wanting to really improve my YouTube Channel this year so I was not going to miss this session. I took five pages of notes! When Lisa mentioned a particular aspect, I would get an idea of how it could be applied to my channel. I am keen to start putting these ideas into practice. 

The last item on Wednesday’s agenda was a Behind The Scenes look at Family History & Television. We watched some snippets of Who Do You Think You Are, and two other shows that aren't on air in Australia – Genealogy Roadshow and Finding Your Roots. Then it was a panel session with D. Joshua Taylor, CeCe Moore, and Kenyatta D. Berry. The audience was able to ask them questions about filming the shows. It was great to get some inside information and it was funny to learn that the celebrities in WDYTYA do not know where they are going, they are just told if they need a passport or not!

Behind The Scenes: Family History & Television Panel
Overall, it was a fantastic day!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Waking Up in Salt Lake City

Day 1 - Tuesday, 10th February

I woke up on Tuesday morning after a wonderful 12 to 13 hours of sleep. I was still pretty exhausted from the 24 hours of travel and no sleep, so I had a chilled morning in my hotel room. I did not make an appearance until around 10:30 am when I visited Alona Tester in her room. It was awesome to finally meet her and we had a good chat for a few minutes.

View of Temple Square from the Plaza Hotel. Gorgeous!
Somehow, midday rolled around quickly and it was time for lunch at JB’s. Before I left Australia, Pat Richley-Erickson (DearMYRTLE) invited me to lunch with a few others. I finally got to meet Pat, Jill Ball (GeniAus) and Russ Worthington (Cousin Russ). I also met Katherine Wilson, Barry Kline, and the girls from In Depth Genealogy – Jennifer Alford, Shannon Combes-Bennett & Terri O’Connell. Lunch was absolutely delightful with lots of laughs and excellent conversation. I was feeling very happy for the rest of the day.

The wonderful Jill!
The wonderful Pat!
Taken by Jill Ball
After lunch I made my way over to the Salt Palace Convention Center to register. As you can tell from the selfie below, I was super excited to receive my lanyard. While I was lining up, I ran into Cheryl Hudson Passey, and my new young geneamate Dalton Smith! After registering, I headed over to the Family History Library to explore. I made my way down to Basement 2 - many people had been asking me to come since Monday arvo when I arrived. I found Alona, Helen Smith, Fran Kitto, Jenny Joyce, Hilary Gadsby from Wales, and Roger Moffat. After an exploration and meeting Pauleen Cass on the way out, I went back to my room for a rest. However, I decided I did not want a rest. I messaged Jen Baldwin to see where she was. Luckily she was in her room and up for a visitor! Woohoo! I mozied on down to the Radisson and up to her room. To say she was excited to see me is probably an understatement! I had many presents for her and one for her daughter which made her tear up a little. Awwww! We hung out for a good 45 minutes to an hour which was wonderful! THANK YOU JEN! :D 

Salt Palace Convention Center - Wow!
Family History Library
Helen & Me inside the Family History Library
Taken by Alona Tester
After that, I had about 90 minutes til dinner so I decided that I really did need to rest. Jill had organized a dinner for geneabloggers from the Commonwealth who were attending RootsTech & FGS. At dinner I met Sharn White, Rosemary Morgan, Tessa Keough, Alan Phillips (Alona’s Father!) and two Canadian women whose names sadly escape me at the moment. Dinner was held at the California Pizza Kitchen – my second time there, the first was in Honolulu a year ago. I had a very yummy pizza (duh!). I had decided not to get dessert, however Jill and Alan were. As the waitress was taking their order I saw a peek of the dessert menu, and what do you know, they had RED VELVET CAKE. I love anything red velvet, and had not had anything red velvet in a long time. So yes, I splurged! It was deeeelicious! Dinner was a blast and it was so wonderful to meet geneabloggers who I had been conversing with online for the past couple of years. It also provided me with some familiar faces before being submersed among thousands of people. 

Pre-Commonwealth Dinner

Dinner! Photo taken by Alan Phillips.

Super excited & ready to dig in!
Photo taken by Jill Ball
I was quite tired after dinner and still feeling the up and down motion from the plane. I organised everything I needed the first day of the conference and plonked straight into bed. Excitement & happiness levels...