Today’s family anniversaries

This afternoon I opened up my Relatively Yours program to look at details for the Congress 2015 Research Interests. I was somewhat surprised to discover what an important date today is in the lives of my families. Perhaps it’s something we should do daily to pick up these coinciding anniversaries.

On 25th January my family honours these family anniversaries:

Hannah Partridge nee Kent is my 2 x great grandmother.

Hannah Partridge nee Kent is my 2 x great grandmother.

The birth of Richard Kent at Red Hill near Sandon, Hertfordshire, England in 1805. Today would be his 210th birthday! Richard is my 3 x great grandfather. He, his wife and family emigrated from Sandon on the General Hewitt arriving in Moreton Bay on 16 December 1854. This Richard Kent followed a long line of descendants with the same name, but it is through his daughter’s female lines that I am descended. My mtDNA comes from Richard Kent’s wife, Mary Camp later Shepherd.

The arrival of the Woodlark in 1877 with my ancestor Stephen Gillespie Melvin, and family, on board. Accompanying him were his first wife Janet Melvin nee Peterkin, and his young son, Laurence, named for Stephen’s father. Janet Melvin died at Peel Island on 2 March 1877. Stephen remarried on 21 August 1878, quite a long bereavement given he had a young son to care for. His second wife, and my ancestor, was Richard Kent’s granddaughter Emily PartridgeToday is the 138th anniversary of the arrival of one of my ancestral lines.Emily Melvin (nee Partridge) with her husband Stephen Gillespie Melvin, probably c1906-1910.

The death of Margaret Gillespie (born Tyneside) in 1906. Today is the 109th anniversary of her death. Margaret Gillespie had married Stephen Gillespie Melvin’s father, Laurence Melvin, in Leith in 1850 but was widowed as a young woman in 1858. She remarried in 1868 (again in Leith) to John Simpson Ward, a master mariner. She had worked as a stewardess at sea so perhaps emigrating when she was no longer young was not such a challenge for her as for some. After John’s death, she married Arthur Wheaton in Sydney and after his death, she moved to Charters Towers to join her son Stephen and family. Margaret was buried in the Charters Towers cemetery on Australia Day 1906.

The Melvin grave (2008) makes its own social statement in the Charters Towers cemetery. Easily the largest and most ostentatious of my family history gravestones.

The Melvin grave (2008) makes its own social statement in the Charters Towers cemetery. Easily the largest and most ostentatious of my family history gravestones.

I found it quite interesting that today’s anniversaries affected interweaving family branches on my tree.  Do you have similar anniversaries which link your families?

Congress 2015: Don’t forget your Research Interests

thanksThanks to Judy Webster’s recent post on the Top 3 things to do before a genealogy conference, I was reminded that Congress 2015 is offering delegates the chance to post their research interests. Without Judy’s prompt I suspect I’d have dropped the ball on this, so I’m sending Judy a huge thank you.

If you’re like me and haven’t submitted your interests here’s what you need to do.

Congress 2015To enter the Research Interests Register, click down through from the Registration tab on the Congress front page, you will need to submit a request. Once this has been approved you’re good to go.

Like Judy, I’m putting my list into Excel and tweaking it there, then adding details into the Congress page.

If you see anyone who researching the same family as you, all you do is click on the Show button which gives you more details. Send the person a comment and then you can be in email contact to follow it up, and to meet at Congress.

logo_One Place StudiesIf you’re doing a One Name Study or a One Place Study you will also want to look to see if any of those on the research list come from your place, or have your name.

Why not join me, and Judy, in submitting your details? You just never know when there’s a rellie out there and it will give you a chance to become mates before you arrive. And if your families come from the eastern half of County Clare, especially the small town of Broadford and surrounding townlands, I’d love to include a story about them on my East Clare Emigrants blog, so please do get in touch.

Also a reminder to check out the Delegates Zone: just submit your details from when you registered.

A Google Earth map of Broadford and surrounding areas, including the townland of Ballykelly.

A Google Earth map of Broadford and surrounding areas, including the townland of Ballykelly.

Meet Congress 2015 Speaker: Robert Nash

NashToday’s interview is with Congress 2015 speaker Robert Nash. So often our research takes us into new territory where we have to learn about a specific topic, which then becomes a passion. Robert evidently fits this mould with his enthusiasm and knowledge of Huguenot history and genealogy. I confess it’s a huge knowledge gap for me, so there’ll be plenty to learn in his talk.

I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?  Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?

I see myself as an amateur historian, but I am also a researcher, a genealogist and the Secretary of the Huguenot Society of Australia, so I guess I am all of those things ! I think I am the only Huguenot genealogical researcher in Australia.

 How has genealogy/family history/history/heraldry improved or changed your life?

Since I became obsessed with the Huguenots in about 1999 they have certainly kept me busy.

My voluntary work for the Huguenot Society does take up a lot of time, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. The fellowship aspect of belonging to a society is important: I have made lots of friends, and am continually meeting new people.

 What do you love most about family history?

For me there are two things; first of all, being able to help people by supplying fairly simple historical information which throws new light on their ancestors; secondly, peeling away some of the layers of myth, misinformation and old wives’ tales with which family history (particularly Huguenot family history) is encumbered.

Have you attended Congress in previous years?

Sadly this hasn’t been possible.

 What is your key topic for Congress?

‘Across the centuries’. My talk emphasises the depth of time in Huguenot history. It is amazing that families now living in Australia can trace their ancestry back to people who left France in the 17th and 16th centuries.

Huguenot descendants can benefit from a wealth of records in France, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa etc etc.

 How do you think your topic/s will help the family historians at Congress 2015?

I hope the talk will be of general interest to everybody, regardless of whether they have Huguenot ancestry or not. It raises the whole question of refugees and immigration: topics very much in the news at the moment. It also asks the question, ‘Why do we research family history ?’ Many people get involved in genealogy without thinking “Why?” It is easy to become disappointed or discouraged unless we consider this first.

What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this, for you personally and for others attending?

For me the huge benefit can be summed up in one word: people. It is a wonderful opportunity to make personal contact with many different people, all of whom have something to share. At a time when more and more of us are spending more and more time seated alone at our computers, this can only be good.

Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

Evidence, evidence, evidence. Look for the historical evidence, and use it as a basis for your story. If you don’t understand it, get someone else to help you. If you can’t find evidence for something, but you suspect it is true, then be honest about that. There’s nothing wrong with an honest supposition as long as you admit it is only that.

 Is there somewhere we can connect with you online?

The Huguenot Society has a website

I can be contacted via the society’s email:

Thanks Robert for sharing your story with us and offering Congress attendees to learn more about this area of research. 

Meet Congress 2015 Speaker: Colleen Fitzpatrick

It’s just two months until Congress 2015 in Canberra. Are you getting excited? I know I am! If you haven’t registered yet, it’s time to get a scurry on because it’s going to be a genealogical smorgasbord, as today’s interview makes clear.

fitzpatrickDr Colleen Fitzpatrick will be a speaker at Congress and I asked her some questions to learn a little more about her and what she’ll be sharing with us in Canberra. Her enthusiasm shines through this interview. I know I’m going to really enjoy her presentations and hopefully learn more about DNA for genealogy and family history at the same time. I’m sure you will too.

I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?  Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?  

As a prominent forensic genealogist, I have researched in about 50 countries. This has allowed me to combine my background in the hard sciences (PhD in nuclear physics) with my love of forensics and genealogy.  I was born in New Orleans, one of the most historic places in the US, and I was privileged to have known all four of my grandparents into my adulthood.  So I grew up around living history.  I never “became” a genealogist.  I was “born” a genealogist.

How has genealogy/family history improved or changed your life?

Family history has provided me with a rudder to steer my life through its unpredictable ups and downs.  Having moved countless times, and with several dramatic changes in career, I am still the oldest child of Emmett Fitzpatrick and Marilyn Rice, born in New Orleans, the granddaughter of Steve Fitzpatrick & Loretta Kelly, and Bernard F Rice & Margaret Bernard. I carry that ancestry with me no matter where I go.

 What do you love most about genealogy/family history/history/heraldry?

I love to challenge my skills with tough projects that require a combination of research and intuition. My favourites are adoption searches, especially the ones that seem impossible.  It is deeply gratifying to me to see the deep personal fulfillment of an adoptee reunited with his birth family, or to bring closure to someone who has finally discovered what happened to a lost family member.

Have you attended Congress in previous years?

Oh yes.  I was the keynote speaker in Adelaide in 2012 on the Identification of the Unknown Child on the Titanic.  I am very grateful to Kerrie Grey for allowing me to return this year.  The 2012 Congress was an all-time high for me.

 What are your key topics for Congress?

Not Just the Facts Ma’am – Give Me the Big Picture

 A Different Kind of DNA Talk

 Genealogy and the Six Degrees of Separation – How to Find Anyone in the World

 How do you think your topic/s will help the family historians at Congress 2015?

My talks will help people see at the “big picture” and take a more creative approach to solving their family mysteries.  I will explain that it is sometimes not a matter of “where” to look for new information, but rather “how” to look at the information you already have.

What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this, for you personally and for others attending?

Genealogy is a social activity. Yet much of that activity has become electronic through social networking sites and the large amount of data you can obtain online without interacting with other people. Having the chance to meet and talk to other genealogists in person revives me, making me excited to go further and learn more, in a venue that is just full of interesting topics to soak in.

 Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

Keep your eye on the big picture, get excited about everything you hear.  Sit in on topics you know nothing about, talk to as many people as you can.  Have fun!

 Is there somewhere we can connect with you online?





Twitter:          @Identifinders


Google+:       +ColleenFitzpatrickPhD





 Thanks Colleen for sharing your enthusiasm for genealogy and family history with us here and offering us further temptation to join you in one or all of your sessions.


Getting organised for RootsTech and the FGS Conference

The geneaglobe is abuzz this weekend with planning for the combined RootsTech and (US) Federation of Genealogical Society Conferences in Salt Lake City. While the start date is still more than three weeks away, we Antipodeans will likely be heading off a little earlier. For my part I’m leaving Mr Cassmob and the Furry Feline at home minding the house and having a few days in Brisbane en route. However, on the way home it will be a very long-haul flight from Salt Lake to LA to Brisbane to Darwin, a mere 33 hours in transit. Gee I’m glad I worked that out!

So what is on my planning list? This is all a bit nitty-gritty but it seems to me we often overlook the semi-obvious. With thanks to all those who’ve gone before me, and provided advice, wisdom and mateship.


Flights booked and confirmed, and ESTA permit done

Hotel booked in Salt Lake.

Travel Insurance

Patience packed…oh well, this might be a stretch.


SIM cards for smart phone & iPad.

Laptop – to take or not to take, that is the question

Cash cards if required.

An amount of US dollars to pay for transit expenses, TRAX fare etc

US adaptors and charging cords.

ID protector pockets for passport and credit cards (thanks Gail for my birthday presents).

USB and backup drive.

In-flight reading, books and podcasts on iPad…oh yes, I’m supposed to sleep.


RootsTech App downloaded and profile updated. Thanks to genimate Caitlin Gow for helping me sort out my profile picture (click on the shaded face outline then load a photo).

Add friends as they come online: there seem to be huge gaps at present.

Work out which sessions to attend: lots of competing entries for me so far between FGS and RootsTech. It would have been ideal, as mentioned elsewhere, if the schedule had included the earlier FGS start.

Book and pay for lunches and computer labs if required/desired.

Sign up for the Geneabloggers at RootsTech Facebook group (I hadn’t known this was here but am now online, thanks Heather. You do need to be a geneablogger.) It’s a great way to connect with people in advance.

Sign up with Geneabloggers’ Thomas MacEntee for your blogging beads. (Thanks to DearMYRTLE and Russ Worthington for sponsoring the beads).

Download the Salt Lake City Visitors’ Guide to iBooks or equivalent.


Save relevant documents to Evernote and sync if you have a full subscription, along with travel documents.

Prepare a list of things to search in the Family History Library: I’m focusing on books rather than microfilms which I can order in here and which take a lot of time to review thoroughly.

Work out my schedule so I can fit in more visits to the library after hours.

Pray for minimal jet lag so I’m functioning on arrival <smile>.


Aussie souvenirs.

Business cards for my blog with family names on reverse.

Badges with my family names and places.

Bubble wrap and zip lock bags, as usual.

Dilly bag featuring my blog name (from Vistaprint).

Strong muscles for all the stuff I take and collect (hah!)

I wouldn’t mind seeing an at-home game for the Salt Lake City Jazz NBA team but don’t think that they’re around…shame.


Boring but necessary. I’ll be going from 25-35C (or 85-95F) to -2 to about +5F so there’s quite a change. I’m telling myself we’ve often travelled in winter so it will be fine.

Lots of layers, a pashmina or two, coat, scarves, walking boots and hat: that should cover the extras.. a challenge for someone who lives in shorts and tank tops!

My genimates Jill Ball (aka Geniaus), inaugural Aussie explorer at the first RootsTech,  and Alona Tester (aka LoneTester) have also written posts about what to take to RootsTech and similar conferences (albeit with fewer numbers)

The good thing is all this will be good preparation for AFFHO’s Congress 2015 in Canberra.

I’m looking forward to it and it will be so interesting to see conferences on a scale which are impossible in Australia.

What have I forgotten? Any thoughts?

Meet Congress 2015 Speaker: Helen Smith

Helen SmithToday’s Congress 2015 speaker is Queenslander Helen Smith, who is well known to many bloggers and researchers for her wide-ranging knowledge. I’ve heard Helen speak on a number of occasions and I know she has a lot to offer anyone who attends her presentations.

I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?  Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?  

I am a family historian, speaker, author and professional genealogist. I have been researching since 1986 started by her mother who had not known her grandfather due to a family split. I found information on him and was hooked from there. I have researched in Australia, England Ireland and Wales with forays into New Zealand, the USA and Canada as well.

How has genealogy/family history/history/heraldry improved or changed your life?

I have been a scientist, (public health microbiologist and molecular epidemiologist) for 28 years. This in common with family history makes you want to know why. Why things happen, why people make the decisions they did and how those decisions influence things. So you have to expand to do the social context research which breathes colour and life into our ancestors and their times.

What do you love most about genealogy/family history/history/heraldry?

I love finding out why and doing the social history research which helps explain that why. I also enjoy the contact with people all around the world who also want to know why.

 Have you attended Congress in previous years?

Yes, this will be my sixth Congress having previously been to Brisbane, Christchurch, Perth, Darwin and Adelaide.

What are your key topics for Congress?

Friendly Societies and family historians.

One-name studies what use are they to you.

Distressed cotton weavers emigration scheme.

The English Workhouse and its records.

How do you think your topic/s will help the family historians at Congress 2015?

Friendly Societies were an integral part of many of our ancestors’ lives and the talks shows the type of records that were produced even though unfortunately survival rate of the records is patchy.

One Name studies are an underutilised resource by most family historians and but hopefully won’t be after the talk and that will be a win-win for both the study co-ordinator and the family historian.

The Queensland Distressed Cotton Weavers scheme is a perfect example of how social history research can add so much more to our knowledge about the conditions of our ancestors’ lives.

The English Workhouse was a place of fear and loathing even into modern times. This explains why and also the treasure trove of information you can find.

What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this, for you personally and for others attending?

I firmly believe learning is a lifetime event so this is an excellent opportunity to hear speakers on a wide variety of topics. You can never know too much and it is worth attending all levels of presentations as you might find a golden nugget even in a basic level presentation. The Expo Hall with its wide range of exhibitors is a must-see. For me another major highlight is the networking and meeting up with my online friends from Facebook, Twitter and fellow bloggers.

 Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

Dress comfortably with good walking shoes, sleep and be well rested before you come and be prepared for a number of intense days of learning, fun, networking and social occasions. Plan out what you want to do and who you want to see ahead of time and most of all plan to have lots of fun!

Is there somewhere we can connect with you online?



Twitter: @HVSresearch




This is my main blog and my others are accessible from here.

Thanks so much for responding to these questions Helen and giving some insight into your passion for family history!

Meet Congress 2015 speaker Cheryl Mongan

Cheryl MonganI’ve been lucky enough to meet Cheryl Mongan several times in the past, when she’s been co-convenor of Shamrock in the Bush. Unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to hear her speak even though her passion for the Famine Orphans is well known. Her presentation at Congress  2015 will be a real treat for me personally as well as other congress attendees.

I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?  Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?  

I initially worked in finance and retail administration and you could probably say I am now all of the above in a professional capacity as well as being involved as a volunteer for several community organisations .

How has genealogy/family history/history/heraldry improved or changed your life?

Inspired by my teacher at a small country school I have had an avid fascination with history from the age of eight. Encouraged to research and write about historical events, I never lost interest, despite in later years, not having the time to devote to it until 1995. Since then I have co-authored two historical publications and contributed to a number of others, managed an historical property, worked as researcher/writer in military history, curated museum exhibitions and organised conferences and seminars – all with an historical theme.

What do you love most about genealogy/family history/history/heraldry? 

You might call it the thrill of the chase – finding some obscure reference that leads to a better understanding of the bigger picture and meeting like minded people.  For the past three decades I have been heavily in involved in local and family history (though not necessarily my own family) and have presented papers on a variety of topics in various forums in Australia and Ireland. Having organised numerous Irish/Australian, local and family history conferences has enabled me to meet an incredible number of knowledgeable and widely respected speakers who have been willing to share their expertise with highly appreciative audiences.

Have you attended Congress in previous years?

Regrettably not since 1986 when I was a member of the HAGSOC organising committee for Bridging the Generations: Fourth Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry in Canberra. It was an interesting and rewarding experience and I am looking forward to Congress 2015 almost three decades later.

What are your key topic for Congress?

My topic is the discrimination that faced many of the Irish female famine orphans when they arrived in Sydney, Port Phillip and Adelaide between 1848 and 1850. Much of the agitation against the immigration of these young women was driven by political and religious interests. Some orphans were treated very poorly and exploited while others far from any surviving family and friends were indentured to sympathetic employers and went on to raise families and establish successful lives in a new country

How do you think your topic/s will help the family historians at Congress 2015?

Much has been written about the Irish famine orphans in recent years with some focus on the so-called ‘failure’ of the Earl Grey scheme which has for the most part overshadowed the overall real successes of the short-lived scheme. I hope that family historians will endeavour to establish how their orphan forebear was treated upon arrival and how her first experiences in the colony may have influenced her later life.

What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this, for you personally and for others attending?

For me it will be an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and hear some really interesting speakers. The difficulty is choosing which sessions to attend!

Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

Take a notebook to record references and sources of information which are bound to surface during Congress.

Thanks for telling us a little more about yourself Cheryl and inspiring us with your Congress topic: with a Famine Orphan in my husband’s family tree it will be pertinent and well as interesting.

Accentuate the Positive 2014

Once again GeniAus has spurred us on to consider our geneachievements for 2014 and Accentuate the Positive. It’s all too easy to be daunted by the tasks ahead, or the (perceived?) deficiencies in our past year of research. It has made me realise that I achieved more than I thought – I tend to be a girl with a half-empty glass. Thanks Jill for encouraging us.

  1.  An elusive ancestor I found was…still hunting for James Sherry aka McSharry but I have an APB out on him.
  2.  A precious family photo I found was: While in Sydney I visited my 4th cousin and scanned heaps of her trove of family photos with the Flip Pal.
    Thomas Zeller's grave at Tyne Cot cemetery.

    Thomas Zeller’s grave at Tyne Cot cemetery.

    3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was…while I wasn’t specifically grave-hunting for ancestors this year we did visit quite a few military cemeteries in northern France and Belgium. I was able to place an Australian flag on the Tyne Cot grave of one of the Dorfprozelten descendants, Thomas Zeller. It was especially sobering to stand where Mr Cassmob’s great-uncle, heading the 54th Battalion, was positioned during the Battle of Fromelles.

    4.  An important vital record I found was discovery I made was identifying the ship my ancestor’s sister arrived on. This was Bridget O’Brien, sister to Mary O’Brien on the Florentia….but why is her name not on the manifest?? And despite searching I’ve found not a single vital record/primary document.

    5.  A newly found family member shared mutual discoveries of our Dorfprozelten ancestry, another of DNA, another family photos. I also enjoyed connecting with an Aussie living in Sweden, who shares my Sydney cousin, but from the paternal rather than maternal line.

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

6.  A geneasurprise I received was finding the clues which led to identifiying that Bridget O’Brien almost certainly arrived on the Florentia….it’s only taken 27 years to find a clue. Thanks Trove! I was also surprised to discover that George Kunkel had all his assets sold, possibly why they ended up following the railway line.

I had another railway geneasurprise when we visited Poperinghe station to see where my grandfather was stationed during World War I. In a WDYTYA moment, a railway worker spoke to us and provided me with print-outs of photos from that era. Our tour guide was more astonished than I was.

Poperinghe Railway Station near the time when my grandfather served there.

Poperinghe Railway Station near the time when my grandfather served there.

7.   My 2014 blog posts that I was particularly proud of was the stories about the Florentia. You can read them here, here and here and the one that started it, on 29 December 2013.

revisit record revise circular_edited-1  8. My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was….my blog likes went up, my comments went down, possibly partly because I’ve been a neglectful commenter lately. Probably the best was my 5th blogiversary post recently with my goals and reflections. In a more general context I was proud of my Three Rs of Genealogical Research on the collaborative Worldwide Genealogy blog in September…it attracted lots of interest.

We also seemed to have a bit of fun with my Australia Day Geneameme and the National Family History Month Geneameme. Thanks everyone for joining in! I also had fun, along with many others, doing Sharn’s Christmas geneameme.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was…not sure I did. Even though I’m using Evernote a lot now, I’m quite sure I haven’t mastered it. I bought the offline version before we went travelling and it was pure gold for keeping track of documents, travel arrangements etc.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Pinterest, when I just want a chill-out and fun. I’m enjoying Facebook far more now I’m in touch with my genimates.

11. A genealogy conference from which I learnt something new was all the sessions on the Unlock the Past cruise in February 2014. You can read my synopses here.Pauleen FANs presentation

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave on the UTP February Cruise. The subject was Becoming a fan of FANs which the attendees told me they really enjoyed. You can read my presentation slides here. I also really enjoyed Jill Ball’s “fireside” chat where people shared their favourite books.

  1. A journal/magazine article I had published was…none.
  2. I taught a friend how to…not sure…I often seem to be rabbiting on to people about how a geniechallenge might be pursued.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was…I have downloaded lots of genealogical Kindle books which I’ve started but many are still only partly read. When I take time out to read I tend to read frivolous crime novels etc so discovering Steve Robinson’s and Nathan Goodwin’s genealogical mysteries was a treat. I was also astonished to find references to what looks like my Callaghan family from Courtown, Wexford in the book Sam Reilly: Ace of Spies which has lots of geneadata to be followed up in the Irish parish registers.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Tasmanian Archives and, as always, Queensland Archives, where I did a lot of preparation for my talk on hospitals for QFHS on Accidents, Illness and Death (not one of my most successful moments in 2014 – needs a major revamp).

17. A new history book I enjoyed was Hugh Dolan’s 36 Days which tips our inherited ideas on Gallipoli on their head. As we were visiting Gallipoli mid-2014 I also read Matt McLachlan’s Gallipoli: the Battlefield Guide and Peter Pedersens ANZACs on the Western Front and Fromelles.

Voyage of the Seas dwarfs most other ships, just imagine it beside a barque like Florentia.

Voyage of the Seas dwarfs most other ships, just imagine it beside a barque like Florentia.

18. It was exciting to finally meet lots of my genimates on the UTP cruise as well as a new cousin in Melbourne. I was also pleased to spend time with other genimates on shore during the year, as well as meeting Angela from The Silver Voice in Brisbane.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was going cruising for the first time with a bunch of mates following our genie-obsession. On ship or on shore, we had a ton of fun!

20. Another positive I would like to share is how our Kiva Genealogists for Families’ loans have grown as the repayments have been reinvested. Over Christmas I roped in my two older grandchildren and got them to help me to make December’s loans. I will make a habit of this over 2015 to try to teach them about giving to those in need.

Extract from Inside History magazine, Sept-Oct 2014, page 49.

Extract from Inside History magazine, Sept-Oct 2014, page 49.

I originally omitted to mention Alex’s inspiration to revamp our blogs during the year. Thanks Alex (aka Family Tree Frog) for giving us a nudge to do this and Susan for reminding me to mention it. You can read what I did to mine here.

I was also very pleased to be listed in Inside History’s Top 50 blogs again in 2014 and consequently earning an entry in their Hall of Fame. This was topped off by being voted in as a Genealogy Rockstar again in 2014, even though I think there are many other equally good geneabloggers out there in the geneaworld.

Thanks again Jill.

Mr Cassmob at the Cobbers memorial at Fromelles. This is where the 54th Bn under Lt Col WEH Cass reached during the battle.

Mr Cassmob at the Cobbers memorial at Fromelles. This is where the 54th Bn under Lt Col WEH Cass reached during the battle.

Back to Basics 1: First Quarter 2015

tiger's tailI nearly let myself get dragged along by the tiger’s tail again with all the enthusiasm Thomas MacEntee has generated around the geneaglobe with his Genealogy Do-Over (GDO) Project.

The GDO Facebook site has been abuzz with ideas, strategies and new software suggestions. Anyone with genealogy interests can join in – you just need to ask to join the group. I’m certainly going to use some of these suggestions along with Thomas’s GDO activities.

However, as I said on my blogiversary post, I also want to go about things a slightly different way. Further reflection made me realise that some of my planned activities need to be deferred until April as they don’t fit with my commitments and priorities this

So MY GOALS for January to March 2015 will be:


I’ve had my autosomal test done quite a while ago and Mum gave permission for hers in 2014. My goal from testing was to learn more about my problem Irish ancestors: the McSherry/Sherry/McSharry family (northern Ireland?), the Gavins and Murphys (Kildare & Wicklow), the Furlongs (Offaly) and Callaghans (Wexford).

Recently there have been close cousin DNA matches, which certainly helps triangulate the data. However, I still feel I’m wandering in the forest with Red Riding Hood, trying to identify how to take my matches further. It may be scientifically true that we are cousins, but I want to know in which line! Not to mention the wild-card that has two cousins on my mother’s side also matching my husband’s DNA….now that’s tricky!

Objective: I’ve pencilled in lots of DNA presentations at the combined Roots Tech/FGS conferences Salt Lake City in February 2015, so I’m hoping that after that I’ll be able to move forward more accurately, and confidently.


There’s lots of learning opportunities ahead for me with RootsTech and FGS then only a month later is the Aussie version of FGS with Congress 2015. There’s going to be lots of new speakers to listen to, genimates to meet, and information and stories to swap, as well as research opportunities.

En route to Salt Lake I’ll be taking a couple of days to pop up to Toowoomba and Murphys Creek for just a little more research about the place where the Kunkel family settled.Revisit record revise

In Salt Lake, pre-conferences, I’ll be focusing on the books section of the Family History Library. I’ve been in the habit of hiring in microfilms for many years, and I can continue to do that any time. What I can’t do in Australia is read any of the books that are in the library. Helen Smith has posted an excellent article on how to approach your research at the FH Library.

In Canberra, for Congress 2015, I’ve allowed some extra days and will be following up some archive sources for Duncan McCorkindale who helped build the nation’s capital, as well as visiting the War Memorial, National Library etc. I know there’s going to be far more to do than time will permit.

After Canberra I’m heading to Sydney for a few days but that’s mainly a holiday event to celebrate our anniversary. If something pressing comes up I may sneak out to Kingswood but will try to stick with the living not the dead. (I’m sure himself will be pleased, and amazed, to hear this!)


Congress 2015Blogging: As you know I’m an official Congress blogger, along with Jill Ball (Geniaus) and Shauna Hicks. We still have some exciting speaker interviews to bring you, and during Congress we’ll also be blogging about what we’re seeing, learning, and doing.

Presentations: I am doing two presentations at Congress and both papers have already been submitted to the conference organisers. However I also have the Powerpoint slides, as well as my on-the-day content, ahead of me. I really want to get these away before heading off to Salt Lake in February.


Family Historian 6: I’ve downloaded the update to version 6, and will be trying to learn a little more about it so I can pick Jill’s brains while I’m in Canberra.

Evidentia has been getting lots of kudos on the GDO Facebook page so I downloaded it and will give it a whirl.

Folder Marker is a program which lets you colour code your computer folders. I hadn’t known about it before but thanks to the FB poster who mentioned it, I’ve downloaded it and will see what I think and whether it helps.


BAck to Basics flow diagramI am still ambivalent about how much data I want to store in a genie program (Family Historian) vs a Narrative document/blog posts.

Blogging suits my preference for narrative family history and also lets me tell stories of the families for whom I have no plans of writing a published family history or of updating my finds on the Kunkel family. I write my blog posts in Word initially then cut and paste. A simple change I’ll make is to save the file with a surname leader, and save to that family’s folder.

In my hard-copy files I sort by family (where I’m not inundated in paper) and by generation (when I have heaps of info, eg the Kunkels). Within this I sort by “topic” or theme eg legal matters, petitions, certificates, church, military. That’s how my brain works, so I’m happy with that system.

Blogging has given me a community of like-minded friends who are supportive and interested. Unfortunately in recent months I’ve been a poor genie-friend myself and not supported others nearly well enough. Time to go back to commenting more.

Outcome 1: If I get to the end of 2015 with my electronic files in better, more systematic order, and tagged, I’ll be happy.

Outcome 2: Meanwhile there’s going to be a whole lot of scanning going on. Plus I plan to get back to commenting on blog posts.

Outcome 3: I have a suite of oral histories about Murphy’s Creek that I want to transcribe and also digitise. This is a project which will occur across 2015.


Another GDO Facebook person, Lynn, linked this story which suggests ways to manage our data. I like the idea that our initial research should be by surname rather than with a focus on families as entities, and I particularly empathised with the content. When I started all those years ago, pre-personal computers, I kept my research findings on A4 paper by person’s name and didn’t collate into families until I’d established the links. Whether it’s a natural style for me, or just habit I don’t know.


Lots of family events coming up in the next few months, as always, means this quarter is a busy one every year. On top of that retirement is looming for my other half (I’ve been retired for a couple of years), plus downsizing and packing up an inordinate amount of “stuff”.


Over the weeks and months, I’ll be reporting in on what I’m achieving and where I’ve gone astray. Thoughts, tips and support will be much appreciated. Like Geniaus I won’t be completely foregoing tangential genealogy – after all, that early morning inspiration may be an ancestor whispering in my ear.

How are you going with your 2015 planning?

5th Blogiversary: Reflections and Goals

fifth birthday candlesIt’s hard to believe, but today is this blog’s 5th anniversary.  Perhaps it’s why I’ve been feeling something of a five-year itch with it.  Over recent months, in a scattered way, I’ve been reflecting on where I’m at with both my research and blogging. My prevailing sense has been that my blogs, and my research, have got away from me – another way to say I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, despite chewing furiously.

tiger's tailWhen I bought a large mobile whiteboard about a year ago, I wrote at the top “Beware of the tiger’s tail”. What I meant by that, was to be strategic in my blogging rather than catching hold of the tiger’s tail and having it drag me along willy-nilly. Sure, I’ve written lots of stories relevant to my research but I’m equally sure I’ve not been strategic in my approach. I’ve been tempted to take myself off to Kakadu for a couple of days sans technology and take the chance to step back and decide what’s important to my family history research, my blog and what I want to achieve in the future.

So where do I go from here…other than Kakadu?


In the past my practice has been to write up my family history in narrative form – partly because I started in the pre-computer age, and partly because it suited my style, following an example demonstrated by two academic researchers I met.

Genealogy programs tend to make me feel claustrophobic and for a long time I felt that the Australian program, Relatively Yours, solved my needs best. However the time has come to jump ship and make the move to another program, probably Family Historian. I definitely want one that permits more than a restrictive view of what constitutes “family”. After all I’m interested in my ancestors’ broad life experiences, not just the hatches, matches and despatches. I want to know the nuances of their lives, the place, siblings, neighbours and former neighbours etc as they so often break down brick walls.Revisit record revise

I have published my Kunkel family history but with so much coming online, especially via Trove, there are always new additions. Similarly I have unpublished narratives for several of my other lines: McCorkindale, Melvin, Gavin.

Project: Transfer my RY data to Family Historian. Because of the particular aspect of Relatively Yours I don’t find the gedcom works as well as it might.

Project: Prepare a spreadsheet which lets me check which certificates and records I’ve explored, hold or am still missing. Work on timelines for my tricky ancestors.


A couple of months ago I wrote a post for the Worldwide Genealogy blog called My Three Rs of Genealogy Research: Review, Record, Revise. It certainly seems pertinent within this context.

family-history-back-to-basicsOverall I feel my genealogy (the structure of who’s who) is accurate: I’m a Doubting Thomas and will worry at something like a bone until I find the answer. If it’s not certain, then I will only add it as an hypothesis in my narrative, clearly stated as such…another advantage of the narrative model.

A month or so ago I added this note to my whiteboard as I wrestled with the “where to from here” question: Back to Basics.

Project: Review my many notes in over 50 notebooks from archive and library visits, LDS microfilms etc (and continue to digitise them). Incorporate the information into my narratives and genealogy program. I will also focus on whether my assumptions have been correct or whether I need more data.


red-do-over-button - smallThomas MacEntee’s new Genealogy Do-Over Program is opportunely timed for me, as I think it will be complementary to what I’m trying to do here. However, I won’t be packing away my 28 years of research as I don’t think I need to…after all my data doesn’t come from online trees or other’s research. In (almost?) every case I’ve started with the basics and gone from there.

However, I will be going back to revisit my basics as mentioned above, and putting the research microscope over the conclusions I’ve reached, the gaps in my research, and where I can pursue further information. In short, be more strategic. I’m confident there’ll be lots of tips in the Genealogy Do-Over Program that will help me with what I want to achieve.

Project: Follow along with the Geneabloggers’ Genealogy Do-Over Program and implement strategies as appropriate.


I’m expecting 2015 to be a big year for the Cassmob clan as a lot is planned. Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle these tasks along with the family goals.

BAck to Basics flow diagramMy over-arching goals:

Be Strategic 

Back to Basics

Reflect, Review, Revise and Record.

There are also other decisions to be made about my Dorfprozelten blog, which has been languishing unattended, and my East Clare Emigrants blog.


starsAs this fifth year draws to a close I’d like to thank you all for reading. Blogging may have sometimes taken me off-track research but it’s given me a wonderful world-wide community of friends, some I’ve already met, and some I hope to meet at Roots Tech and the FGS Conference in February.

Thanks so much for reading my blog posts, commenting and being supportive!! You’re all stars!