12 November 2012

Coffs Harbour genealogy seminar: Queensland and Beyond

Queensland and Beyond: A Family History Smorgasbord

On Saturday 17 Nov 2012, 10am to 4pm, I will be presenting a genealogy seminar at Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. The seminar (Queensland and Beyond: A Family History Smorgasbord) will consist of four sessions. The first will focus on Queensland, but the other three sessions will deal with sources and techniques that are relevant to research in many areas.

  1. North of the Border - an Overview. An introduction to some of the main repositories and resources for research in Queensland. This talk will highlight major differences between Queensland and NSW research, and it will demonstrate why you should look in Queensland for information about people who lived or died in other States or overseas.

  2. Black Sheep and Vanishing Relatives. Sources and strategies for researching the 'black sheep' of the family and people who 'disappeared' (either temporarily or permanently). Problems and sources to be discussed include unregistered deaths; aliases; family stories that hide the truth; illegitimacy; mental asylum records; electoral rolls; inquests; 'no-inquest' preliminary enquiries; police and prison records; Police watchhouse records; murder files; registers of criminal depositions; maintenance records; Police Gazettes; and various series of Court records. For those with Queensland research, this session will provide a wealth of specific advice; and because most Government archives hold similar records, it will also help you with research in other areas.

  3. Using Indexes: Tips and Traps. You are less likely to miss relevant entries in indexes if you are aware of indexes' idiosyncracies and the many mistakes that indexers make (especially when handwritten documents are involved).

  4. Who else is Researching Your Family? Distant relatives are likely to have photos, letters and other precious items from your branch of the family. Learn about many different ways to find and contact these 'new' relatives.

The seminar will be held at the Community Village, Earl Street, Coffs Harbour. The cost (including morning tea and a light lunch) is $25 for members of Coffs Harbour District FHS and $30 for non-members.

Bookings by Wed. 14 November are necessary for catering purposes. Phone Stan Gordon (02 6658 7955) or Jane Gow (02 6658 3355) or email the Society (coffsgenie [at] gmail.com).

There will be time for questions during the seminar. If you intend to ask me for advice, please come prepared with copies of certificates and details of names, dates, places, and sources that you have used.

Details of my future talks are on my Web site.

6 July 2012

Update re Obituaries of Civil Engineers

After reading my question about an index to obituaries in Minutes of the Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain), Darryn emailed me with details of a Web site that I somehow missed. (Was I blind? Did I do something stupid in my Google search? All I can say is 'Oops' and 'Thank you, Darryn'.)

For some unknown reason, the Web page with the Obituaries Index says it only covers 1880-1904, but the lists of names do in fact include entries for deaths up to the 1930s.

Unfortunately the link to L-M surnames was not working when I tried it.

The Web site says that the obituaries "contain very full descriptions of the life and work of the individual, and often list names of parents, and occasionally wives and children. Although the majority of them are British born, there are those born in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India, as well as other distant places. Many of them worked and died in these countries and left family there."

5 July 2012

I is for In-Letters and Invalid Pensions

The 'Family History Through the Alphabet' series is now up to the letter 'I'.

I is for...
  • In-letters.  Queensland State Archives' Brief Guide to Colonial Secretary's Correspondence 1859-1903 explains how to search the series called In-letters (letters received). This can be slow and frustrating but it is often very rewarding. About eight hundred names from in-letters are on my Web site. Thousands more will be added when I have time! The emphasis is on items of interest for family history, such as correspondence about women, children, certificates, naturalisations, requests for assistance, missing friends, orphans, inmates of mental and benevolent asylums, etc.

    Postscript: Registers (and indexes to the registers) for 1859-1896 have been digitised and are on the Queensland State Archives Web site (series ID 11936).

  • Invalid Pensions.  I have created a partial index to Police Department correspondence 1908-1952 that mentions hundreds of invalid pensioners and old age pensioners. Some lived in New South Wales and Victoria but most were in Queensland.

You will find more tips for family history in my other articles in this series. If the information and advice is useful, have a look at this page.

4 July 2012

H is for Hackney Cabs and Helen Harris's indexes

With this post for 'H' I am at last up to date with the 'Family History Through the Alphabet' challenge.

H is for...
  • Hackney Cabs.  Bill Shute compiled an index to hackney cab licences 1848-1853 and 1871 from Sydney City Council archives and Metropolitan Transit Commissioners records. The index is at State Records NSW, Sydney City Council Archives, the Society of Australian Genealogists and Gosford Library. (This is an extract from the book Specialist Indexes in Australia: a Genealogist's Guide, described on my Web site.)

  • Helen Harris's Indexes.  Helen Harris has compiled indexes to many fascinating sources. Although the emphasis is on Victoria (Australia), there are references to many interstate and overseas residents. Indexes on Helen's Web site are Missing People; Wife and Child Deserters; Infant Life Protection Act Indexes; Criminal and Other Case Files; Victoria Police; Employment Applications; Women Lecturers in Victoria; Theatrical, Literary and Artistic Lives and Lies.

You will find more tips for family history in my other articles in this series. If the information and advice is useful, have a look at this page.

G is for Gypsies, GENUKI and Gold Coast

I was eight weeks late starting the the 'Family History Through the Alphabet' challenge, but I am determined to catch up! Here is my contribution to the letter 'G'.

G is for...
  • Gypsies.  The Romany and Traveller Family History Society is dedicated to researching British Romany Gypsy, Traveller and Fairground ancestors.

  • GENUKI.  The huge GENUKI Web site is the best starting point for genealogy in the UK and Ireland.

  • Gold Coast.  Somerville Funerals undertakers records include overseas and interstate residents who died while holidaying on the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia). The records give name, age, dates of birth/death/burial, where from, cause of death, next of kin and other remarks. Names from 1965-1983 have been indexed by the Gold Coast Family History Society. (This is an extract from the book Specialist Indexes in Australia: a Genealogist's Guide, which is described on my Web site.)

You will find more tips for family history in my other articles in this series. If the information and advice is useful, have a look at this page.

3 July 2012

E is for Evidence, Engineers and Emigrant Siblings

I am now up to 'E' in the 'Family History Through the Alphabet' challenge.

E is for...
  • Evidence.  Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, by Elizabeth Shown Mills, is the definitive guide to the citation and analysis of historical sources, especially original and unusual items used by family historians. Elizabeth Shown Mills also has some very helpful articles on her Web site. They include 'Working with Historical Evidence', and various titles under the heading 'Cluster Research (FAN Principle)'.

  • Engineers.  Minutes of the Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain) include very detailed obituaries. Many of the engineers lived or died in the colonies or in South America. Antonia Jones of Hamilton, New Zealand, compiled an index to obituaries for 1880-1918. Specialist Indexes in Australia: a Genealogist's Guide, described on my Web site, has an address for Antonia, but it may be out of date. Can anyone tell me whether this index is available in a library? -- [UPDATE, 6 Jul 2012: I now know where the index is - and it includes deaths up to the 1930s!]

  • Emigrant Siblings.  Did your ancestor have a brother or sister who emigrated to Australia? Death certificates in our eastern States are extremely informative, and may give details that are not readily available in the UK or Ireland.

You will find more tips for family history in my other articles in this series. If the information and advice is useful, have a look at this page.

20 June 2012

26 January 2012

Australia Day 2012: Wealth for Toil (William Donald Webster)

For this year's Australia Day (26 January) genealogy blogging challenge, Shelley of Twigs of Yore has chosen the theme 'Wealth for Toil' (words from the Australian National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair).

My favourite unit in the Local, Family and Applied History course was Oral History. For one of the assignments I interviewed my father. Here, in Dad's own words, is a description of the work done by his father (my grandfather, William Donald WEBSTER, son of James Campbell WEBSTER and Ellen BUTLER).
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My father was born in New South Wales, but his family lived in the Cunnamulla area [Queensland] during the late 1880s and 1890s. At Stockyard Creek near Helidon, where the family lived for a while in the early 1900s, Dad worked for a man who used to break in horses, until he learnt how to do it himself. That was his first paid job.

Later he worked for Cobb and Co. That's when he came out west again, working at different Cobb and Co. mail changes. They used to have horses out on the runs, in the paddocks, so that they'd have a change of horses for the mail coaches. His job was to break the horses in, and to keep the supply of horses at every mail change - broken in to harness, and for saddle use. There was a mail change at Barringun, and one halfway to Cunnamulla (at old 'Woggonora', over the river from what's known now as Job's Gate Turnoff), and then Cunnamulla. He would handle about six young horses at the same time, until they were right through to the riding stage.

The mail changes were just a good set of horse yards and a tin hut. They had wells put down for a water supply. In that stretch of the Warrego River there were no permanent water holes, and it was before the artesian bores. They had to have some permanent water, so they had wells for stock and drinking water. There weren't any pumps at first. They had buckets and ropes and pulleys to bring the water up. I remember him saying how there was nearly always a water boy whose job it was to have the tanks filled with water. It's a slow process, filling the tanks one bucket of water at a time! They had the tanks filled so that when the coaches came in, the horses would be given a drink immediately they were unharnessed.

Later my father worked at 'Burrenbilla', which was owned by Rutherford and Company. They had other stations down in New South Wales, and he used to go down to those properties and break in their station horses. After he was married he was manager on various properties. A local stock and station agent lent him the money to enter the ballot for land, and he drew 'Plain View'. [These recollections are continued in Outback Story.]
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For last year's Australia Day challenge I wrote about my earliest document for an ancestor in Australia. I look forward to seeing what theme Shelley chooses for 2013.
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