Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday - 2013 Accentuate The Positive Geneameme

We are approching the countdown to 2014, and it is time for a little reflection on the passed year.  I must thank Jill Ball, from Geniaus for her wisdom in posing a challenge to all genealogy bloggers that encourages us to look back on our achievements of the last 12 months  with  the 2013 Accentuate the Positive Geneameme.  For me 2013 has been a year of many discoveries as well as sometime out in the second part of the year when work and family commitments left little time for research or blogging.  I was feeling a little slack, however, when I reflect, there have been quite a few high moments in my research and blogging. Here goes with my 2013 Accentuate the Positive Geneameme.

1. An elusive ancestor I found was Donald McDonald, my great great grandfather.  While troving on TROVE on Boxing Day, for articles on gold mining in Araluen and Braidwood districts, by pure accident, I came across the obituary for Donald, which confirmed the stories that my father had related to me many years ago.  The family story was that Donald McDonald was from Canada and came to Australia in the time of the gold rush.  However, I had not been able to find any record to confirm him immigrating to Australia from Canada.  The detailed obituary clarifies this story by advising that Donald first went to the gold fields in California and then traveled with a group of American friends to the gold fields in Australia. This group was known as the Yankees and they established quite a reputation in the area of Bells Creek, Araluen. More stories on this to follow in 2014! 

2. A precious family photo I found was a photo of James and Margaret McGregor, with all their family. What a find! or should I say gift! I was visiting my Aunt in November and we were discussing family tree research over a cup of tea, when she gave me a copy of a photocopy of the picture of James, Margaret and all their family.  The bonus was that each person in the photo was named. This photo was the kick in the "butt" that motivated me to get back into my blogging after a 5 month break.  That following week I started my blogging series on the McGregor Sisters.  Thank you Aunty Inara!

3. The Ancestral graves that I found which meant the most to me in 2013 were those of the Nesbitt Family in Alnwick, Northumberland.  Back in the 1890's, pre-internet, it was difficult to find information on family links in England, so I wrote to the post-offices of the towns that I knew our ancestors came from in the hope they would be able to put me in contact with people in the area with the same surname. One of these letters struck gold.  A worker at the post office at Alnwick, gave my letter to his father, who was a member of St Michael's Church parish in Alnwick.  He wrote a couple of lovely letters to me, these letters included photos of family graves, and post cards of Alnwick.  This year I traveled to the United Kingdom to do some family research and visited Alnwick.  It was so exciting to wander around the cobbled stone streets where my ancestors lived, but the most amazing part of this visit was to rediscover these family graves and take my own photos almost 30 years later.

4. A Genesurprise I received was about two weeks after my Aunt gave me the picture of the McGregor family (see above). I received a message on my Ancestry site, asking if I was related to James and Margaret McGregor? It seemed that the stars were aligned for my McGregor Research.  To cut a long story short a volunteer from the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) contacted me, advising that they had James and Margaret's bible and if I liked I could have it! I visited the SAG, and to my delight came away with three family bibles.  See my post: Lunch time discoveries in the Rocks. The bonus of this visit was that I finally joined the SAG and I hope to become more involved with them in 2014.
Alexander McDonald's grave

5. My 2013 blot post that I was particularly proud of was about my great-great uncle Alexander Joseph McDonald.  This poignant blog was part of the 2013 Trans Tasmanian ANZAC Day blog challenge and tells the sad story of Alexander McDonald's landing at Anzac Cove on the 25 April 1915.  By the way, Alexander was the son of Donald McDonald mentioned above in my first point in this blog on my most elusive ancestor discovery for this year.

6. My 2013 blog posts that have received the largest number of hits and comments has been the series that I started on "Sharing Memories". I have really enjoyed putting these personal memories, some with old pictures taken my father to paper.  Hopefully I will be inspired to post more of these memories in 2014.

7. A new piece of software I mastered was Evernote.  A couple of years ago I wrote a blog on my resolve to start using Evernote.  This year I made a concerted effort to use my Evernote account.  I have found it invaluable in collecting, and sorting notes, web pages, photos, documents, passwords, scanned documents etc.  I don't know about you but I love every now and then to just randomly search the Internet for bits and pieces relating to my family history, i.e. articles on towns they lived in, maps, occupations, social conditions, events that happened in their lives etc.  I collect and tag these links, saving them in the appropriate family tree file for later reference.

8. The social Media tool I enjoyed using this year! I start a Facebook page for Family Stories, Photographs and Memories.  This has allowed me to link with other genealogy sites on Facebook and has been very rewarding.

9. A journal/magazine article I had published?  None.  However, this would be a challenge I would like to tackle in 2014 if the opportunity arises.

10. A Genealogy Book that taught me something? My recent focus on researching the McGregor family has made me realise that my knowledge of Scottish Ancestry is very limited.  Two books that I found most useful were: Scottish Family History on the Web, by Stuart A. Raymond, and Scottish Genealogy, by Bruce Durie.

11. A great library that I visited in 2013 was the Colne Library, Lancashire. As I mentioned earlier I went to the UK in the middle of this year with the specific aim of researching the descendants of William Taylor and Elizabeth Rushworth. I spent a month in the small village of Foulridge on the outskirts of Colne, Lancashire, and passed many hours in the local Colne Library. The staff were so helpful, assisting me with all my questions, and showed genuine interest in my research. This included pulling out from their storeroom a forgotten box of pictures from the local Ambulance Station that was given to the library when the station closed.  In this box we found an amazing collection of photos highlighting events and important personalities from the Ambulance Station's history.  Included among these were a number of pictures of Elizabeth Taylor (nee Rushworth).

12.  A history book I enjoyed, was A Lancashire Past: A family love story, by J.W. Foulds. This was a delightful story of life in Lancashire in the early 1900's, and provided a great background and some understanding of life in Colne, Lancashire.

13. It was so exciting to finally meet  and reconnect with fellow researchers of the Taylor/Rushworth family tree. I has been writing and sharing information with this researchers for around three years.  It was so much fun to actually embark on family tree research together, as we visited the old family haunts, homes and churches in Lancashire.

14. The geneadventure I enjoyed was of course, my trip to the United Kingdom. I visited the districts of Arnold, Cambridgeshire; Alnwick, Northumberland; Arnold, Nottingham and of course Colne, Lancashire, all towns linked with branches of my and my husbands family tree. I visited so many churches, pubs, farmhouses, library's and museums, met long lost cousins and discovered photos and family graves and records.  It is my plan to sort and write about these discoveries in the new year.

15. Finally, another positive I would like to share. I consider myself a person who dabbles in blogging and writing history, though if I had more time I would like to take my blogging more seriously.  So when I received an email from the Australian National Library that both my blogs, Family Stories: Photographs and Memories, and The Other Half of My Family Tree - stories of my female ancestors, were to be archived in the Pandora Project, I was quite surprised! and a little chuffed. It certainly puts a little more pressure to write articles of substance!

Well that is all for 2013.  I wish you all the best for the New Year and Happy Blogging for 2014.

1. 1913 'OBITUARY.', Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), 12 April, p. 12, viewed 31 December, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85849934
2. http://womenfrommyfamilytree.blogspot.com.au/
3. Society of Australian Genealogists, http://www.sag.org.au/ 
4. http://familystoriesphotographsandmemories.blogspot.com.au/
5. Colne Library, http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/libraries/librarydetails/libsearch1.asp?name=Colne


  1. Diane, that was such an interesting post. Thanks for starting my New Year off on such a high note.

  2. You've had a super year, Diane. Your post has got me itching to organise a geneadventure in the Old Country.

    Thanks for joining this activity and for your many beaut blog posts.

  3. Thank you Jill. It was a great trip. Highly recommended. Would go again at the drop do a hat. :). Something to plan for the future.