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

Friday, December 20, 2013

Follow Friday - Recipes from the Past - Christmas Recipes

This week I searched TROVE for a tasty christmas recipe from the past to post for this weeks recipe from the past and found two that I couldn't go past.  These two recipes provide the ingredients for a wonderful christmas I am sure you will agree. Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope you are able to share some of this Christmas Pudding with friends and family.

Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 16 December 1928

Three parts of fun
To four parts of nonsense
Stir them well together:
spice them next with jolly jokes
Take every bit of crossness out,
And every unkind thought:
Bake it in the oven of love
And it shall lack for naught. 

Narromine and Trangie Advocate - 19 December 1930

Recipe for Christmas Pudding**

Take some human nature - as you find it,
The commonest variety will do -
Put a little graciousness behind it,
Add a lump of charity - or two.

Squeeze in just a drop of moderation,
Half as much frugality - or less,
Add some very fine consideration;
Strain off all poverty's distress.

Pour some milk of human kindness in it;
Put in all the happiness you can.
Stir it up with laughter every minute,
season with good-will to every man.

Set it on a fire of heart's affections,
Leave it till the jolly bubbles rise;
Sprinkle it with kisses - for confection,
Sweetenwith a look from loving eyes.

Flavour it with children's merry chatter,
Frost it with the snow of wintry doll's;
Place it on a holly-garnished platter,
Serve it with the song of christmas bells.

* 1928 'A CHRISTMAS RECIPE.', Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 16 December, p. 16 Supplement: The Sunday Mail Christmas Number, viewed 20 December, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128503641 

** 1930 'Recipe for Christmas Pudding.', Narromine News and Trangie Advocate (NSW : 1898 - 1956), 19 December, p. 1, viewed 20 December, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article99233872

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Those Places Thursday - Sharing Memories - Childhood Christmas in the Outback of NSW

Our Aussie Christmas Tree
Recently I received an email from a friend in England in which she commented. "I  guess you are going to have one of those funny Australian Christmases”.  This made me smile, as Australians love to celebrate Christmas.  It is one of the most important family events of the year and our traditions are a carry-over from our ancestry.  

Quite often  families embrace the customs of their grandparents with the traditional meal of roast meats, baked vegetables, gravy and of course the Christmas pudding with steaming hot custard. We do however give the meal an Australian flavour by including lots of seafood, salads, tropical fruits such as mangoes, lychee's and of course a bowl of cherries.  Christmas is the traditional start to our cherry season and is often equated as the “Christmas fruit”.  There is nothing better than  seeing the littlies  with big red stains around their mouths from munching on the cherries in the Christmas fruit bowl!
However, mainly as a result of our climate,  an Australian Christmas is quite different to that experienced by my friend in England, so I thought I would share as part of my Sharing Memories Posts a couple of Christmas stories from my childhood.

As mentioned in previous blogs, my early childhood was spent in the far west of New South Wales, where we lived on the sheep station, Nuntherungie. As with most families, Christmas meant time spend sharing food, drink and adventures with our extended family. This time with family often meant a lot of travel, as my father’s family lived on the South Coast of New South Wales, over 800 miles (about 1,200  kms) away. My mother’s family were much closer, only 120 miles (190 kms) away in Broken Hill.

When I was quite young my father’s family, decided they would make the venture from the seaside village of Milton on the South Coast of NSW to Nuntherungie to celebrate Christmas in our home.  Unfortunately, the hot weather came early that year, with temperatures reaching the high 30’s.  Quite a shock to all the family members who were used to living in the lush coastal region, close to the beach!

House and  with Sleep- out (RH corner)
Our home had glass louvered windows all the way around to allow as much breeze through the house as possible and  away from the main house was a” sleep out” which my parents would sleep in in the summer months.  This was a separate room built away from the house with windows all the way around to help keep the room cooler in the summer.  However, not everyone could fit into the sleep-out, so all and sundry elected to sleep outdoors under the stars, in the hope of catching the smallest of breeze.  The large square of buffalo grass, that made up our “lawn” was covered in a conglomeration of pillows, mattresses, sheets and sleeping bodies. 

On one corner of the lawn was our version of a Christmas tree.  There are no neat symmetrical pine trees to be found in the outback, so our Christmas tree consisted of a branch of a dead gum tree, sawn off and painted with silver paint and then decorated with home-made streamers and balloons.  Yes, a different Christmas tree!! However, Santa always managed to find our tree, and leave a collection of large lumpy parcels wrapped in bright Christmas paper.

Christmas Day soon arrived, and the sleepy visitors stirred, cups of sweet black tea were passed around as everyone stretched and yawned, finding a spot on the grass amongst the scattered bed clothing from the previous night.  The children, pushing for a spot closest to the tree, waiting for my Dad, as elected Santa’s helper, to pick up each parcel from under out tree, read the tag and passed on to the excited recipients.

Ohhs! And Aah!s came from all corners of the grass, as everyone opened their parcels, squeals of delight from the children at new toys, and sweets, and the tangled mess of bedding was now joined by discarded Christmas paper and ribbon.  What a Christmas morning, and I love the slides that my father took of this day, about fifty five years ago.

The mess cleaned up, the children acquainted themselves with their new toys, while the adults moved into the kitchen to being the preparation for the big family Christmas meal.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Follow Friday - Recipes from the Past - A Christmas Sweet - 1911

When scanning through old papers on Trove and British News Papers on line I often come across interesting old recipes from past eras. Why not share some of these?  Maybe others would like to do the same?

In keeping with the festive season I have selected a Christmas dessert that was posted in the Tamworth Daily Observer just before Christmas in 1911. It sounds simple and delicious. 

A Christmas Dessert
Six large oranges
Half a pound of loaf sugar
A quarter of a pint of water
Half a pint of cream with sugar to taste

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan, boil until the sugar is brittle, peel the oranges, remove as much of the pith as possible and divide into slices without breaking the skin that surrounds the juicy part.  

Dip each slice into the hot sugar and arrange in layers around a plain mould, which should be oiled with pure salad oil.  The centre is left open for the cream.  Let the sugar become firm by cooling.  Turn the oranges out on a dish and fill the centre with whipped cream.*

* 1911 'FLIRTING.', The Tamworth Daily Observer (NSW : 1911 - 1916), 16 December, p. 6, viewed 12 December, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109562655

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Christmas Greetings from the Past

Christmas is almost upon us, and it is time to sit and take the time to send out our Christmas cards and family letter. A tradition that is slowly dying out and  being replaced by emailed and facebook Seasons Greetings messages. However, I wonder, do this e-greetings replace the thrill of the arrival of our Christmas mail, with the bundle of cards from distant relatives, friends that you haven't heard from since the last mailing of Christmas greetings and family and friends from over the seas?

I still get a buzz when cards arrive in the mail with little notes of greeting and best wishes, accompanied by snippets of my friend's year just passed.  The tradition of sending cards started in the United Kingdom in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. The practice of sending cards increased through the 1870 and 1880's and by the turn of the century the sending of Christmas cards became very popular all over the world. 

Among the collection of lovely old postcards and photos that were passed on to my by husbands Great Aunty Tilly are some beautiful family Christmas cards. I am not sure how old these cards are, and would be interested if any readers can provide any information on dating Christmas cards.  

This lovely card was sent to Aunty Tilly probably in the early 1920's, the inside of the card is just as pretty as the front.

The next two cards were sent to Aunty Tilly's family, date unknown.

It is interesting to note the name of the printer is on the inside of the second of these two cards, C.W. Faulkner and Co, London. After a little digging I found out that C.W. Faulkner and Co began in London in 1897 and closed in 1956.  They were very famous for their beautiful postcards and Christmas cards.  They also made board games.

The last card from the collection is quite unusual!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - with a question?

Letter from James McGregor to his daughter Jessie Kinnear
In my recent blog Lunch Time Discoveries in the Rocks- McGregor Family Bible  I describe my good fortune after being contacted by the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG). They were able to pass on to me three diaries connected with the McGregor Family.  In one of the bibles, there was a letter (see above) written by James McGregor to his daughter Jessie when he and his wife Margaret, passed the family bible on to Jessie for safe keeping.

The picture of the letter and its thoughtful and caring blessings fits well with today's theme of Wordless Wednesday.  No description or explanation needed.

However!! I do have a question, that I hope one of my readers can answer.  At the bottom of the letter there is a small white bow, a little faded and worn now, and beside it James as written "My Badge".  I would love to know the significance of this, and would greatly appreciate it if someone could enlighten me.