Monday, December 31, 2012

Bring on 2013

I posted this greeting on Twitter and am copying it here for those of you who may not tweet.

Greetings to my Genimates: Hoping that in 2013 your brickwalls tumble and you have opportunities for many Happy Dances #genealogy -- Jill Ball (@geniaus)

It's all Good

Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme

On a whim this week I decided to throw together a Geneameme through which one can share the positive results of one's Genea Activities in 2012. Some of my Genimates have been quick off the mark and have already completed this challenge. 

As more Genies join in I will put together a list of links to their responses.

Embarrassed by my own slow response I bunkered down in my Geneacave this morning to reflect on my Geneatriumphs for 2012. Following are some of my successes.

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was not really elusive because I didn't even know he existed. An obituary for my Great-great-grandmother, Bridget Ryan, led me to more members of the Ryan family in Australia that included a  Great-great-uncle, Rev Michael Harrington Ryan, a Catholic priest who worked in New South Wales, Tasmania and Norfolk Island in the 1800s.

2.  A precious family photo I found was shared by an elderly cousin of my Father-in-law who we had recently tracked down. Until we saw this photo we did not have a picture of Mr Geniaus' Grandmother, Emily Royds.

3.  An ancestor's grave I found was the aforesaid Bridget Ryan's grave in Forbes Cemetery, NSW. Thanks go to the most helpful members of the Forbes Family History Group who provided me with such a warm welcome when I appeared at their rooms.

4.  An important vital record I found was the death certificate for Rev Michael Harrington Ryan.

5.  A newly found family member who shared ...this question covered in Number 2.

6.  A geneasurprise I received just prior to Christmas was a bundle of old Gowans photos in the mail from one of Mr Geniaus' cousins who was clearing up his brother's estate and decided that, as we have an interest in family history, we should be the custodians of these precious images. 

7.   My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was a series of blog posts for Alona Tester of Gould Genealogy's Family History through the Alphabet Challenge. I was pleased that I stuck with it and managed to complete this challenge. A compilation of my posts can be found here:

8.   My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was Family History Through the Alphabet – P is for … Images

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was Family Historian. I can't say that I have mastered it but I am becoming more competent as each week goes by. It was a huge decision to change from the package I had been using for many years but I am proud of my efforts with this new tool. 

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Google Plus; the quality of the interactions on G+ exceeds that on that other popular social media tool. I look forward to contributing to the new communities feature in 2013.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was....Why did I ask this question - there was so much learning in 2012? I always learn something when I take part in CGD. I would have to nominate Rootstech as it had just a broad range of topics that catered to my interest in using technology for family history.

12. I am proud of the presentations I gave at Rootstech  Facing an international audience was a huge challenge; I feel that I made a fair crack at my topics while having enormous fun.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was in Inside History Magazine about Geneablogging. It was fun being able to share my excitement for geneablogging via the print media.

14. I taught a friend how to use the Flip-Pal mobile scanner. Actually I have taught quite a number of genies how to use this great gadget.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was Getting the most from Family Historian 5. It gave me great guidance as I negotiated my new genealogy software.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was The Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I can't wait to return there in March 2013. I was lucky enough to visit libraries and archives in Australia, the US and the UK but  I got the most value out of my visit to Salt Lake City where most of the Familysearch microfilms are on open access.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Our outback home: memories of Nymagee edited by Dolly Betts which gave me new information on the Pusell family and a picture of outback life in the early 1900's.

18. It was exciting to finally meet so many Genimates as I travelled around going to conferences and seminars this year. Meeting up with these people that I follow online was like meeting up with old friends. I was actually lost for words on a few occasions as I was just so excited to meet my Genimates in the flesh at last.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was our road trip from Sydney to Adelaide for the Genealogy Congress and our trip home via Broken Hill, Cobar and Forbes, places where I found more meat to add to the bones of my family history.

20. Another positive I would like to share is I feel so blessed in retirement to have time and resources to devote to my passion for family history. I thank Mr Geniaus for his continued patience and support as I play the ancestor hunting game.

A Trio of Positive People

So far three of my Genimates have taken up the challenge and responded to my latest Geneameme.

Thank you Pauleen Cass, Kylie Willison and Julie Goucher. You have all had amazingly successful years. Following are links to their fantastic posts.

Pauleen Cass
Kylie Willison
Julie Goucher

Shauna Hicks and Alona Tester have indicated that they will be taking up the challenge and I will be posting my response later today.

How about joining us by taking up the geneameme challenge at : Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme

At this time of year many geneabloggers take stock of what they have achieved or not achieved in the previous twelve months and set themselves goals for the coming year. I have been reading several of these posts this week.

I feel that a lot of my geneablogging friends are too hard on themselves; several have reported on their successes this year but quite a number have lamented that they haven't achieved as much as they set out to do or that they haven't blogged with the frequency they envisaged.

You are a bunch of highly motivated people who have made great strides in the genealogy sphere. Let's share the good news.

Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme

On a whim this morning I decided to throw together a Geneameme in which you can share the positive results of your Genea Activities in 2012.

I invite you to take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post. Write as much or as little as you want. Once you have done so please share your post's link in a comment on this post or to me via social media. I will, in due course post a list of links to your contributions on this blog.

Remember to accentuate the positive - please delete the statements that are not relevant to your situation.

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was

2.  A precious family photo I found was

3.  An ancestor's grave I found was

4.  An important vital record I found was

5.  A newly found family member who shared

6.  A geneasurprise I received was

7.   My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was

8.   My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was

14. I taught a friend how to

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was

18. It was exciting to finally meet

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was

20. Another positive I would like to share is

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gearing up for a Geneacruise

Geniaus at sea
Although I have been known to take a cruise or two for pleasure I am a novice in the Geneacruising stakes.

I should be preparing my talks for the 3rd Unlock the Past Genealogy and History Cruise but instead I am thinking about what I will pack for this learning experience on the megaliner, Voyager of the Seas.

I won't be sunning myself on deck during the day so I won't need a 2 litre container of sunscreen or a cornucopia of sunhats. I imagine that I'll be too tired at night to enjoy the shows and kick my heels up in the nightclub type bars so I can leave the sparkly cocktail type outfits at home. My order for two UTP polo shirts has been placed so I'll need some detergent to wash them and hang them in my shower to dry overnight (I hear you have to pay to use the ship's laundries).

Sensible shoes are essential as this is a seriously big boat and I'll be doing lots of walking from place to place and standing on my feet when I deliver my presentations. The stilettos won't be joining me on this trip.

Mr Geniaus isn't coming along on this journey so I'll be minus a baggage attendant. I need advice on geneacruising fashions that won't weigh my bag down. I would love suggestions from experienced geneacrusiers on what clothes to pack.

I'll be taking my Pacsafe handbag and purse with me in case there are any pickpockets on the high seas or in the ports we visit.

The other issue is, of course, gadgets. I'm taking my laptop, a couple of cameras, my mobile phone, a portable hard drive, a voice recorder, a thumb drive, some blank DVDs and power adaptors for the US outlets on the ship. I might even take pens, pencils and some paper. I'll throw in a bundle of business cards as well.

Is there anything I've missed?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings

To all my Genimates,

Best Wishes for a Joyous Festive Season.

May your Days be Merry and Bright 

And Your Research bring you Delight.

Geniaus and Family 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I didn't want to do it...

...but I did.

I have tried moderating comments for posts over one day old on the Geniaus blog and each day I am faced with more and more comments to moderate. It is so hard to sift out the genuine comments from the rubbish. Please accept my apologies if I have lost one of your comments amongst the garbage.

This morning I have turned moderation off and word verification on to see if that will help. I apologise to those people who are regular commenters on the blog. Please do not let this deter you as I really appreciate the conversations that the comments deliver.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Deck the Halls - Christmas Geneameme

My Genimate, Pauleen Cass, of the Cassmob blog issued an invitation to genealogists to respond to her Geneameme.

I am a little late in submitting my response but Pauleen had offered to add links to latecomers' posts to her list of posts here. The posts from many corners of the world make for interesting reading and certainly help to engender the Christmas Spirit.

Thanks, Pauleen, for giving us an opportunity to take up your challenge.

  1. Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family? There is usually a game of backyard cricket happening some time during the day. Apart from this most traditions centre around food.
  2. Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day? Since we moved to our present home we haven't gone to Church each year. If we do we go it is to a midnight service at the church we consider to be our family church.
  3. Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa? I have 11 grandchildren and so far only one (Miss 11) has doubts. As for me I still believe - Santa left me something every year until I left home to be married but he hasn't been able to find me since then.
  4. Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood? No, for two reasons. Firstly we live on an acreage and it's a long walk between houses; secondly I have a great voice which has a rough passage out so the neighbours might not appreciate my singing.
  5. What’s your favourite Christmas music? Can't choose a favourite. I love Christmas music and each year I buy at least one Christmas CD to add to my collection. The family groan when in the lead up to and on Christmas Day I play all of my CDs in rotation; I have all sorts from The Wiggles to The Choir of Kings College Cambridge.This year my purchase is a new Rod Stewart Christmas CD. I guess that's a tradition!
  6. What’s your favourite Christmas carol? Once again it's hard to choose, I tend to prefer the old faves like Silent Night, Adeste Fideles, O come all ye faithful.....
  7. Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read? We watch the Christmas Carols from Melbourne every Christmas Eve (another tradition?). I have a soft spot for Dickens' A Christmas Carol but don't read it every year. Bah Humbug!
  8. Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?  We give gifts to everyone while the younger generation has a Kris Kringle and the littlies are overwhelmed with gifts from all,
  9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away? Indoors where there is air conditioning - we'd melt outside.
  10. What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal? It's a traditional English Christmas meal for us as outlined in my post from 2010.
  11. Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas? I always cook Scottish shortbread made to Mr Geniaus's step-grandmother's recipe.
  12. Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?  Yes, we have plum pudding. I used to cook one in a cloth using The Australian Women's Weekly cookbook recipe.but for a few years now have bought one from David Jones.
  13. Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they? Nuts, rum balls, white Christmas, scorched almonds, chocolates.
  14. Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?  I have made many batches of shortbread and given them as presents, I've also made a few Christmas cakes for presents but now that I am old and lazy I don't do this any more.
  15. Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa? Four generations gather at our home each Christmas. 
  16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ? Not really. Our Christmas is family oriented as were the Christmases of my childhood. The major difference is that now I'm one of the oldies and the children are my grandchildren.
  17. How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins? Aussie Barbies (barbeques) are top of the pops for our socialising.
  18. Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot? A Little. The lights on our veranda stay up all year and get turned on for Christmas and other celebrations.
  19. Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?  You can't even see most of the homes from the street so our area isn't suitable for a lights extravaganza.
  20. Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where? No, I'm allergic to big crowds.
  21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)? No way, the only stars I'll be sleeping under are 5 stars as in Hilton, Intercontinental, Sheraton etc.
  22. Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?  Always at home surrounded by family. I would like to experience a white Christmas one year.
  23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live? The only snow we have is on some of our Christmas ornaments.
  24. Do you have a Christmas tree every year? Without fail.
  25. Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?  We have an imitation tree. We had a large one for around 25 years  but a few years ago I retired this in favour of a smaller one. Both have been realistic looking ones.
  26. Do you have special Xmas tree decorations?  Our decorations aren't fashionable or designer items. Our collection has been gathered over many years and includes some handmade ones done by our now adult children.
  27. Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving? What's Thanksgiving?

Blog Carolling with fM

It's wonderful to see Footnote Maven who has had a tough year with a number of huge health challenges continue her tradition of Blog Carolling.

I am a little late with my submission, An Australian Christmas Carol. The recording I have chosen is from a primary school in Victoria, Australia, Eltham East Primary School. I love this carol because it captures the Australian environment at Christmas time.

The carol is by John Wheeler with words by William G James

The north wind is tossing the leaves.
The red dust is over the town;
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddock is brown;
As we lift up our voices and sing,
To the Christ-child the heavenly King.
The tree ferns in green gullies sway;
The cool stream flows silently by;
The joy bells are greeting the day,
And the chimes are adrift in the sky,
As we lift up our voices and sing,
To the Christ-child the heavenly King.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trove Tuesday - Evidence uncovered

As I have been overseas for the past 9 weeks I have not been posting regular Trove Tuesday contributions.  I find this an interesting and worthwhile activity so I now hope to return to a pattern of weekly posting (until my next trip that is).

An elderly cousin of Mr Geniaus told us a number of years ago that Mr Geniaus' grandfather, William Purves Gowans had received an award for diving into Sydney Harbour and saving a life. Until tonight, when I was seeking an article from Trove for a Trove Tuesday post, I had no evidence to support this story. In Trove's early days I spent hours searching for articles on our direct ancestors and was able to find a few about William Purves Gowans but nothing about his supposed bravery. Tonight I found this:

1899 'THE NATIONAL SHIPWRECK RELIEF SOCIETY.',Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), 26 August, p. 21, viewed 18 December, 2012,

Transcription of text:
William Purves Gowans.-On December 3, 1898,Mr. Gowans, who was on the North Coast Com-pany's Wharf, Sussex-street, hearing cries of"Man overboard," at once ran to the spot, and,without divesting himself of his clothing, jumped in and succeeded in rescuing a youth namedRose, who had accidentally fallen into the wa-ter which is very deep at this spot, and Rosewas unable to swim, and would undoubtedly have been drowned. (Awarded silver medal and certificate of merit.) 

In addition to the text pasted above there was a photo of William in the article which is very similar to one I have of a young William. This article  provides further evidence that my photo is correctly identified.

Fellow family historians keep reminding us that we need to repeat our searches on Trove as new newspaper  titles are added to the database regularly. Following on my success tonight I must find some time to redo those searches - Who knows what new stories  I might uncover?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Frequent Cruiser

Life on the high seas is fun. Mr Geniaus and I are becoming frequent cruisers having recently returned from a 27 day cruise and with bookings for two more under our belts.

My cruising will take on a different focus when, in February 2013, I set off on the 3rd Unlock the Past  History and Genealogy Cruise. I look forward to spending time with people whose eyes won't glaze over when I start talking about dead people. I am thrilled to be presenting on a number of topics on this voyage so for me January will be a month of preparing and polishing up presentations.

Alan Phillips (Mr UTP) contacted me recently and invited me to present on the 4th Unlock the Past  History and Genealogy Cruise details of which have been announced. I was delighted to accept his invitation as I hold the two main presenters, Thomas MacEntee and Chris Paton, in high regard and enjoy listening to and learning from them. I also like the itinerary for this journey that highlights several Australian cities.

There is plenty of time to save your pennies for this event in February 2014  so how about filling up your piggybank and joining us for some leisure and learning at  sea.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Awardee headed to Rootstech

I am thrilled for my Genimate, Liz Pidgeon (aka @Infolass), Local and Family History Librarian at
Yarra Plenty Regional Library Melbourne, Australia and blogger for the Library Service at http://ypgenealogy.blogspot.com

Liz Pidgeon
The 2012 recipient of the Margery C Ramsay scholarship that is offered to a librarian in a Victorian Public Library every two years to support the recipient's professional development is Liz Pidgeon.

Liz wrote to me that she will go to London first and attend Who Do You Think You Are Live – as well as libraries and archives.  Then over to New York City to visit the Public Library and Ellis Island.  Then to Fort Wayne Indiana to visit the Allen County Public Library that has partnerships with Fold3 and Internet Archive.  Then to Salt Lake City for Rootstech and a couple of days at the library before going to San Francisco". 

Liz will be busy blogging and tweeting from these locations. I look forward to catching up with Liz and Mr Infolass at Rootstech in March.

Congratulations, Liz, you are a worthy recipient of this prestigious award.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Surprise Package

A lovely surprise was amongst the pile of mail that greeted us on our arrival home from nine weeks of travel last night.

Amongst the begging letters, bills and advertising bumph was a small brownpaper package from a distant relative of my husband's.

On opening it we discovered a collection of a dozen photos of my husband's Gowans great aunts and uncles and assorted relatives with a note from my late mother-in-law's cousin.

Knowing of our obsession with family history this cousin and family members when going through the photos of his recently deceased brother decided to pass these  treasures on to us. I was deeply touched and honoured by this gesture as I can think of over a hundred Gowans descendants who may  have been entrusted with these items.

Thankyou to Warren for sending this treasure to us. It will be cherished. I  will scan the images and share them with any  Gowans family members that find me.

The moral of this story is that seeking out  distant relatives, sharing family stories and letting them know of your passion for family history will reap rewards.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Officials are a drop in the ocean

It has been an honour to be nominated as an Official Blogger for the Rootstech Conference for three consecutive years. I don't know how I managed to get membership of this select group but I relish the opportunity I have to represent the southern hemisphere on the team.

We 'Officials' are but only a few of the many genealogists who blog and write about this stellar event on the genealogy calendar. In 2011 and 2012 I met face to face  many of the people behind the blogs I read from downunder; it was like catching with old friends. If you can't attend Rootstech find and follow the posts from all the bloggers who attend - you will be assured of a great vicarious experience.

If you are blogging about Rootstech from Salt Lake City or at a distance a good way to let others know is to join The Genealogy Bloggers at Rootstech Facebook Group set up by Heather Wilkinson Rojo. I note that there are presently 75 members of the group. 

How about swelling the numbers?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I just had to do it...

As I think blogging is a two way street I like to make it easy for people to post comments on my blog.

Lately the number of spam comments that are getting through and being published has skyrocketed. This ruins the flow of conversations that sometimes happen on a post so I have changed my settings to only allow it easy to comment on posts less than two days old. For comments posted after this period I will have to approve them.

I will see if this works. If the spammers continue to get through I will have to turn moderation on for all comments - something I don't want to do.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Scottish seminar in my town

I'm rather excited that a major Australian genealogy event is coming to my town on February 9, 2013..

Paul Milner
Unlock the Past have announced that they will be hosting a Scottish seminar at Hornsby RSL featuring Paul Milner a professional genealogist, lecturer and author, specialising in British Isles research for over 30 years. Paul was born and raised in northern England and settled in the US in 1975. He is an internationally recognised speaker on British Isles research and migration.a professional genealogist, lecturer and author, specialising in British Isles research for over 30 years. Paul was born and raised in northern England and settled in the US in 1975. He is an internationally recognised speaker on British Isles research and migration.

As I suggested Hornsby as a venue to the organisers I hope the event is a success. I hope to meet  many of my genimates at the event. 

Hornsby's railway station is only a couple of hundred metres walk from the Hornsby RSL and there is parking available at the Club and the Westfield shopping centre that is over the other side of the railway line. 

Being a rail hub Hornsby is convenient for people from all over Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter. Outside peak hour it is a pleasant drive from the Northern Beaches area and for those from Parramatta the CDC Metrobus runs regular services from Parramatta via Castle Hill to Hornsby (please check schedules). 

With a great international lecturer and such a convenient venue I expect that Hornsby RSL will be overrun on 9 February by hordes of genealogists. 

I'll see you there.

Full details and registration :

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My mate - Audrey the author

A review of Audrey Collins and David Annal's new book, Birth marriage and death records : a guide for  family historians,  on the Pen and Sword website says:

"The book covers all the well-known resources such as parish registers and civil registration and also includes non-parochial registers. There are interesting chapters on military and information about overseas registers. Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man are included.
The book is written in a lively, interesting way which makes it very readable and it would be a useful addition to any family historian’s bookshelf."


On our recent visit to London Mr Geniaus and I caught up with Audrey who travelled all the way in from Kew to meet us for dinner. Dear Audrey had a surprise for me - a copy of this book.  I was stoked as I love getting new books to add to my genealogy collection however, as we are still travelling I haven't had time to read this book from cover to cover.

I can report that it is user-friendly with good explanations, friendly vocabulary, interesting illustrations, helpful screenshots, useful weblinks, a solid index and a bibliography. I know that when I sit down to read this thoroughly (probably on my long flight home to Australia) I will have a rich learning experience.

My Australian mates who met Audrey on her recent tour downunder may be interested in buying this 184 page tome. I see that it is available online from several outlets in the UK including Pen & Sword and the National Archives Bookshop in the UK. I note also that Gould Genealogy have it available for $34.95

The Presentation- Geniaus and Audrey Collins


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