Sunday, 13 August 2017

Genealogy Roadshow: Researching Abroad, Day 1

On Tuesday, Unlock The Past's Genealogy Roadshow - Researching Abroad: Finding European and British Isles Ancestors - began in Brisbane.

Tuesday was British Isles day with Scottish genealogist Chris Paton giving four talks about researching ancestors from that area. As a majority of my ancestors came from England, Scotland, and quite possibly Ireland, I was eager to hear Chris' talks and pick up some new tips. I have been stuck at a Scottish brick wall for a while now...

Click the image for more information
Chris' talks were on British and Irish Newspapers, Scottish research resources before 1800, Irish family history resources online, and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching ancestral crisis. I was most eager for the Scottish resources before 1800, and boy did I learn a lot! I have a long list of websites to check and indexes to search. I feel more confident in understanding Scottish land records too. I also learned that not everything was bequeathed in a Will! I have my Great Great Grandfather William Gow's Will. He died in Scotland in 1874. I will be reading that again with a different mindset. In the final talk, I learned that 'illegitimate' was noted on birth records from about 1855 - 1918. My 2x Great Aunt Jeannie Gow had four illegitimate children (with three different men I believe) between 1889 and 1910.

One of the overarching points of the day was that if you are struggling to breakdown a brick wall and go through it, you might have to go around it...

What we wish we could do. Instead, our ancestors make it
more challenging (and fun!) by sending us on a roundabout.
Aside from the educational aspect, it was great to catch up with my awesome geneamates and meet some new ones. A bunch of us had dinner on Tuesday night and it was wonderful to catch up with Chris. If you have British Isles ancestors and you've got a chance to hear Chris speak - do so! You will learn a lot. Trust me.

Stay tuned for my report on Day 2.

As an Ambassador for the event, Unlock The Past kindly gave me free entry.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Getting Excited for the Genealogy Roadshow

I'm excited.


It's August, which is National Family History Month.

It's August, which means Unlock The Past's Genealogy Roadshow - Researching Abroad: Finding European and British Isles Ancestors - is about to begin! Woohoo!

Two leading international genealogists Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder are coming down under for a few weeks, visiting most major capitals to talk genealogy.

Click the image for more information.

The roadshow kicks off in Brisbane on the 8th and 9th of August - this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, Chris will be talking about Scottish and Irish research, and on Wednesday, Dirk will be talking all things German genealogy. Before my ancestors ended up in Australia and the USA, they were predominantly from Scotland, so I am very keen to hear Chris' talks. I am also curious to hear what Dirk has to say about using German records. I do not have any European ancestors...that I know of...but I have started looking into one of my best friend's family history, and he has a few German ancestors. I need all the help and advice I can get. I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to German records.

I am looking forward to meeting Dirk, and it will be great to catch up with Chris who I met at  a previous Unlock The Past event in 2014.

Me & Chris Paton, February 2014.

As with every genealogy event, I cannot wait to catch up with my friends and meet some new ones. I wonder if there will be a dinner on Tuesday night?

Click here for more information on the Brisbane event.

Click here to find out when the roadshow is coming to a major capital near you.

I will be live-tweeting as much as possible (@caitieamanda) so make sure to follow me on Twitter to stay up to date with all the news from the event.

As an Ambassador for the event, Unlock The Past are kindly giving me free entry. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017


When I started blogging about my genealogy adventures in 2012, I discovered this wonderful creation called GeneaBloggers. It was a community resource for genealogy and family history bloggers and was run by Thomas MacEntee. I was so excited when I discovered this community because at the time I did not know anyone who was a geneablogger, let alone into genealogy. I have much appreciation and thanks for GeneaBloggers as it allowed me to connect with many amateur and professional genealogists around the world. It is very exciting when you finally get to meet in person at a genea-event too. I know I have made some lifelong friends. 

At the beginning of May, Thomas announced that he was taking a step back from GeneaBloggers to focus on his other genealogy interests. In my opinion, I felt GeneaBloggers had become such a vital part of the genea-world, that if it did not exist anymore there would be a gap. Thomas had announced that as of June 1, the GeneaBloggers domain and other assets would be redirected to Abundant Genealogy. Towards the end of May, I noticed a couple of my genea-mates putting the call out for volunteers who would be interested in joining together to keep GeneaBloggers going, with Thomas' agreement of course. I did not even hesitate to say yes! A core group of about 20 volunteers from various countries and time zones signed up. As Thomas was retaining the GeneaBloggers domain, we needed to come up with something new. 

On June 1, GeneaBloggersTRIBE was announced. Thomas posted the official announcement on GeneaBloggers. The team behind GeneaBloggersTRIBE will continue to provide links to resources, daily blogging prompts, and highlight new and/or improved content-providing technologies. You can find support for not just blogging, but other content providing formats such as podcasts, vlogging, and micro-blogging (Twitter, Instagram etc). It's not just about blogging!

GeneaBloggersTRIBE - for the new badge, click here.

I am so excited to be part of the leadership team for GeneaBloggersTRIBE. I am one of two Aussies with my mate Jill - GeniAus. I am also the youngest on the team, and would love to see GeneaBloggersTRIBE carried out into the future. Huge props go to Pat Richley-Erickson and Laura Hedgecock for being our transitional leaders and ensuring everyone was and is aware of their roles.

The team is still settling in, so do bear with us while we're finding our feet...or mouses. If you are interested in volunteering, please do not hesitate to contact us! 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Trove Tuesday: An Engagement

I was quite excited to find today's Trove Tuesday as I had not seen it before. It is the engagement announcement for my paternal Grandparents which was in the Nambucca and Bellinger News on August 11, 1944.

[Source: Family Notices (1944, August 11). Nambucca and Bellinger News (NSW : 1911 - 1945),
p. 2. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from]
They married on October 12, 1944.

Nanna & Poppa.
[Source: Personal Collection]

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Census Sunday: 1880 USA Census

Grave of Mary Polly (George) Couch.
Italy Cemetery, Texas, USA.
[Source: Find A Grave]
The other day I decided to dive back into the world of my American ancestors. I thought I would have a look at my 4x Great Grandparents John Couch and Mary 'Polly' George. John was born in about 1800 in South Carolina and passed away in 1863 in Odgen, Utah. Mary Polly was born in 1804 in Tennessee and passed away on 30 June 1882 in Italy, Ellis County, Texas. They married in approximately 1828 in Alabama and had eight children - Elva Jane, Samuel Mitchell, John Meredith, William Jackson, Mary Elizabeth, Marion Walker, Nancy, and James Keys Clark.

When I checked Mary Polly's hints on Ancestry, I noticed there was one for the 1880 US Census in Ellis County, Texas. This made sense as she is buried in Italy Cemetery, Ellis County.

Mary Polly is Number 36 below. She is 75 years old, and has her Granddaughter Lizzie Couch with her. It tells me that Mary Polly's parents were both born in North Carolina, which I did not know. I don't even know her parent's names. Mary's sons Samuel and Marion both married Cherokee women. According to the census, Lizzie Couch's mother was born in 'Cherokee Nation' but I'm yet to figure out if her father was Samuel or Marion.

1880 USA Census showing Mary Couch
[Source: Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 4, Ellis, Texas; Roll: 1301; Family History Film: 1255301; Page: 491B; Enumeration District: 050. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]]. 

Mary Elizabeth Sharp nee Couch, approx 1900.
[Source: Personal Collection]
Hang on a minute! I see a Sarah Couch and Nancy Couch just above Mary. Who are they living with? Mary E Sharp. Sarah and Nancy are Mary E's nieces. Who is Mary E Sharp? Mary Elizabeth Couch, Mary Polly's daughter. Mary Elizabeth is my 3x Great Grandmother. She was born in 1838, Alabama, and in about 1855 she married Jesse Euing Sharp, my 3x Great Grandfather. Mary Elizabeth is listed as a Widow, which is correct as Jesse passed away around 1861. Mary Elizabeth's nieces Sarah and Nancy, also have their mother's birthplace as 'Cherokee Nation' - two more children of Marion and/or Samuel. Mary Elizabeth's two sons with her are William and John Sharp. In addition to William and John, Mary and Jesse Sharp had two older children - Jessie Mitchell and Mary.
Mary Elizabeth passed away in 1915 and is buried in Frost Cemetery, Texas.

Okay, let's pause on the Couch/Sharp family for a minute.

Below Mary and Lizzie Couch is a George W Spencer. George is with his wife Frances E and children Burnett, Mattie, George, Jesse P, William, and Charles.

How are they relevant? What's going on? Who are they? All the questions!

George W Spencer is none other than George Washington Spencer, my 3x Great Grandfather. George (1832 Alabama - 1904 Texas) married Frances Elizabeth McWilliams (1837 Mississippi - 1908 Texas) in 1855, Mississippi. In addition to the six children listed above, they had two older children - Julia Latchapalee and Mary.

George Washington Spencer
approx 1880s.
[Source: Personal Collection]
Cast your eyes back to the census for a minute. Who do you see at the bottom, underneath the Spencer's?

Do you see the surname McFaddin?

Who is listed as the Wife? Julia L...also known as Julia Latchapalee Spencer! In 1877, Julia married Porter McFadden in Ellis County, Texas. They had one son, George Beveley McFadden, born in February 1880. He is the baby listed with them.

Sadly, in 1882, Porter McFadden passed away which left Julia on her own with a toddler. But not for long...

Because on the 25th of April, 1885, in Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas, Julia Latchapalee Spencer McFadden married Jesse Mitchell Sharp. This is how the the Sharp/Couch family and the Spencer family become one. Julia and Jesse are my 2x Great Grandparents.

Marriage Record for Julia Spencer and Jessie Sharp.
[Source: "Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1965," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 June 2017), Jesse W Or Jesse M Sharp and Julia L Mcfadden, 08 Apr 1885, Marriage; citing Navarro, Texas, United States, various county clerk offices, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas Dept. of State Health Services and Golightly-Payne-Coon Co.; FHL microfilm 1,034,859.]

Thanks to the 1880 Census, I think it is safe to say that the Couch's/Sharp's and Spencer's knew each other well before the wedding of 1885.

Five Years

Five years ago, on the 4th of June 2012, my beautiful Nanna passed away. 

Five years? Already? Sometimes it feels like yesterday.

Forever missing you Nanna.

Eunice & Caitlin, 22 Apr 1995
[Source: Personal Collection]
Eunice Dyer, Graduation Photo 1942,
Sydney Sanitarium & Hospital
[Source: Personal Collection]

Eunice Hazel Dyer

3 May 1916 - 4 June 2012.

Eunice & Caitlin, Jan 2012.
[Source: Personal Collection]

Friday, 26 May 2017

Oh My, Miss Mary Prince: Part 2

Last year, I told you a story about Mary Alice Helena Prince, my 1st Cousin, 3x Removed.

Here is a brief summary -

Mary was born in 1894, Macksville, New South Wales to parents Harriett Helena Gill (1869 – 1953) and John Charles Prince (1855 – 1930). After her youngest sibling was born in 1912, she relocated to Melbourne with her parents. However, by 1930, she was back in New South Wales and living at Little Billabong Station, near Holbrook in New South Wales. She remained there until at least 1949; the last Electoral Roll I found that has her living at Little Billabong. 

Location of Little Billabong Station
[Source: Google Maps]

I had also discovered, thanks to Trove, that in 1953 Mary was suing John James McLaurin for breach of promise. John was a grazier at Little Billabong and to whom Mary was engaged for 21 years. In the end Mary was granted $1000 in damages for McLaurin's breach of promise. 

One of the many articles about the court case.
[Source: WOMAN SUES GRAZIER (1953, May 14). National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954),
p. 4. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from]
At the time of writing about Mary last year, I had learned that in 1963 Mary was living in Castle Hill, Sydney, except her surname was Lawson. In 1968, she was living in Swansea, Newcastle. In both electoral rolls there was no other Lawson at her address. I had not been able to find a marriage in Victoria or New South Wales. I wondered if she really married or changed her surname for some sort of protection. The court case was very publicized in newspapers all around Australia. Mary passed away in 1971 and I was not sure where she was buried either.  

Last month, I finally got around to ordering Mary's death certificate. 

Snippet of  a transcription of Mary's death certificate ordered from NSW Family History Transcriptions

What information am I most interested in? 

Name of Spouse: Christopher Bernard Lawson. A likely explanation as to how she changed her surname to Lawson.

Age at Marriage: 60. If Mary passed away at 76 years in 1971, her approximate marriage year is 1955. 

Place of Marriage: Box Hill, Victoria. Unfortunately, the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages historical index currently has marriages until 1942, which would explain why I could not find a marriage record for Mary.

Conjugal Status: Widow. This provides the assumption that Christopher passed away before 1971.

As Mary was living in New South Wales when she passed away, I searched the New South Wales BDM Index for a potential death record for a Christopher Lawson, including other spelling variants. Conclusion: Negatory.

I searched the Victoria BDM for a death record for a Christopher Lawson and was given the following result:

Name: Christian Bernard Lawson.
Death Year: 1966
Age: 77
Place: Mont Albert, Victoria. 
Father: Frederick Lawson
Mother: Mary Catherine Lyons

I immediately ordered his death certificate to find out more.
Cause of Death: Effects of injuries received when he was struck by a motor car. 
The verdict was declared at an inquest held by the coroner. 

Where Married: Mont Albert, Victoria.
Age: Unknown
To Whom: Mary Uren
Conjugal Condition at Death: Married
Children: No

Is this him? I am not sure yet. The informant was the coroner, so perhaps he did not know the correct information about this Mary Uren? I found Christian's birth record for the year 1889, but could not find a marriage before 1942 for a Surname Lawson to a First Name Mary. 

I found two Victorian Electoral Roll records for a Christian Bernard Lawson.
1 - 1949, Scott St, Vermont. 
2 - 1963, View St, Subdivision of Surrey Hills.

In 1963, Mary is listed in the electoral rolls as living in New South Wales. Both were living on their own. Keep in mind that sometimes people forgot to update their address when they moved. 

The Victorian BDM says that marriage certificates can be applied for without identification documents if the marriage occurred more than 60 years ago, and both parties are deceased. 60 years ago was 1957, and Mary and Christian are both deceased. I wonder if the Vic BDM will be able to help me? I would love to know if this Christian is indeed the Christopher Bernard Lawson on Mary's death certificate.