Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Tomorrow starts the A to Z Challenge for 2015

Tomorrow - April 1st - starts the A to Z Challenge for 2015. I am planning on choosing first names from my family file and hopefully finding something short and sweet to write about them. So, stay tuned during April ...

52Ancestors #13 - leaving home for the unknown

This post is for Week 13 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge - 2015 - by Amy Johnson Crow from No Story Too SmallPrompt for Week 13 - Different. What ancestor did something different?

Thinking about my large and diverse family tree, I have been pondering about the many young ancestors that left their homes on the other side of the world to come to the unknown. Would I have done the same in their circumstances? Probably I would have, but then again perhaps not.

Some of my early ancestors came as convicts, so had no choice in the matter. However, the later immigrants made a clear choice to come to Australia. I cannot imagine what  they thought would be here when they arrived. As they came from Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, England and two from the Azores Islands the climate when they arrived would have been a shock.

Some of my female ancestors travelled to Australia alone or with sisters, a few of them were only 15 years old. Again I cannot imagine leaving home and travelling to the other side of the world and knowing you would never see your family again. Brave women indeed.

I wonder what they were feeling as they boarded the ships that sailed away from home. Were they excited? Were they afraid? Did they want to jump off the ship and return home? I am glad they stayed on the ships and came to Australia otherwise I would have been living in Ireland or Scotland or England or Portugal. Thank you for coming!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 30 - roses

As I posted yesterday, I have been off-the-air for a couple of weeks but hope to back blogging now. I find that I have missed writing and welcome the opportunity to catch up.

The blogging prompt for March 30 is - words of wisdom. Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?
Mum loved pink roses

Well, I must have received many words of wisdom from my female ancestors but unfortunately none sticks in my mind just now. Having just lost my mother on St Patrick's day the words of wisdom that are in my mind come not from my grandmother but my grandfather, George Douglas McCann. Doug, as he was known to all, often said, "the roses on the grave are too late" - meaning tell people how you feel about them while they are alive. It is pertinent to remind ourselves to take the time in our ever more busy lives, to take time and spend it with those we love.

So I come to the end of the Fearless Females blogging challenge for March - many thanks to Lisa Alzo for the challenge and the prompts - hope you do it agin next year Lisa.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

52Ancestors #11 - James Douglas & Sarah Moore - 3rd great-grandparents

This post is for Week 11 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge - 2015 - by Amy Johnson Crow from No Story Too SmallPrompt for Week 11, Luck of the Irish. This week I am going to write about my 3rd great-grandparents James Douglas & Sarah Moore and hope that the Luck of the Irish works for me.

James Douglas & Sarah Moore are a brick wall for me. Their daughter Jane Douglas married my second great-grandfather James Thomas in Mackay, Queensland in November 1864 in the Church of England. On her marriage certificate, she states that her father was a weaver, that makes a lot of sense as County Armagh was a significant player in the Irish linen industry. 

However, I can find no record of James Douglas or Sarah Moore in Armagh or indeed anywhere in Ireland. They must have just disappeared in a puff of smoke. Jane was born in 1835 in Portadown, Armagh and was Church of Ireland. 

Perhaps as it is near St Patrick's Day the luck of the Irish will shine down and I will magically uncover some information about James Douglas & Sarah Moore. Here's hoping for some leprechaun magic!

52Ancestors #12 - Helen Connor - a 3rd cousin once removed

This post is for Week 12 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge - 2015 - by Amy Johnson Crow from No Story Too SmallPrompt for Week 12, the same. The further questions are: What ancestor is a lot like you? What ancestor do you have a lot in common? Same name? Same hometown?

Well, I have a third cousin once removed named Helen Connor. This Helen Connor is the daughter of Hilton Clarence Connor and Marjorie Carr who married in Grafton, New South Wales in 1946. So, Helen is a baby boomer child like myself. 
Is she a mirror image of me?

I wonder what this Helen is like. I wonder about her growing up in the Clarence Region of New South Wales. I wonder does she know about me. Does she like coffee as much as I do? Does she love reading, and what books does she like? Is she fascinated with her family history?

I would like to meet this 'other' Helen Connor. I am planning a trip down to the Clarence and Richmond River regions later this year, perhaps I will meet up with her.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

To all my genie friends

As some of you know I lost my mother, Patricia Dorothea Jarrett, on St Patrick's Day, the 17th March. Mum was 90 years old and not unwell until the day before, Monday the 16th. She died peacefully in her sleep at Allamanda Private Hospital, Southport and I was with her when she passed.

The strangest thing happened. Mum passed at 3:30 am and her mother, Dorothy May, also passed at 3:30 am. I told my mother that her mother was waiting for her with open arms. I now have two 'genie angels' watching over me and steering me in the right direction in my research.

I will write an obituary for Mum in the not too distant future. Sleep peacefully Mum.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 16 - lunch

Blogging prompt for March 16 - lunch with a female member or any famous female, who would it be and why?

Florence Nightingale - Wikipedia
I thought about this for quite a while and decided that the female I would like to have lunch with is Florence Nightingale. Yes, dear reader, Florence Nightingale. Why choose this famous person you ask?  For a few reasons; firstly I have a number of nurses in my family, and I am a nurse as well. Secondly I think Florence must have had great strength of will to carry out her nursing and other duties. My son tells me I am stubborn just like his grandmother, and I tell him she got her stubbornness from her mother.

To sit down to lunch with Florence would be amazing. We could swap ridiculous nursing stories, like the time I put the dirty linen down the incinerator chute. The time, with another senior nurse, I played a practical joke on the junior nurses' dormitory  ordering them to carry their mattresses down to the front foyer of the Nurses' Home for fumigation.  I'm sure Florence would appreciate the need for fumigation. Surely Florence would have some equally if not more amusing tales to tell.

Now for somewhere to meet for lunch. I think coming to Australia would be an adventure for her so let's think what we could provide as food. I don't think kangaroo or crocodile would appeal; it doesn't appeal to me. Perhaps fresh seafood? The date is in September, the beginning of Spring, so the weather should be okay and not excessively hot. The venue would be George's Paragon Seafood Resturant at Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane.

We would eat fresh local seafood for lunch. Perhaps seafood marinara, spaghetti, prawns, scallops, mussels, barramundi, calamari, napolitana, garlic, cream and share a greek salad. Over coffee and dessert, Pavlova, we would continue gossipping and sharing stories. I would enjoy bringing Florence up to date with modern nursing and wonder at her tales of the Victorian era.

A most enjoyable lunch. Did you know that there is a Florence Nightingale Museum in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital  in London? I will certainly be gooing there when I am next in London.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 15 - a six word tribute

Blogging prompt for March 15 - write a six-word tribute to one of your female ancestors.

Six words, wow, what can I say in six words? I guess the female ancestor I most want to remember is my Nan, Dorothy May McCann. I think about her most days, especially when I have a family history problem that needs resolving, she is my 'genie angel'. So ...

I remember Nan twenty years on.

Dorothy May aged 90 1988

Fearless Females - March 14 - making the news

Blogging prompt for March 14 - Newsmakers, did you have a female ancestor who made the news?

I have many ancestors who have made the news, some who wished they had not. Today I am going to write about two of my maternal grandfather's sisters, Aunty Glad & Aunty Ol. Aunty Glad, Mrs V.A. Blanshard, and Aunty Ol, Miss Olive McCann, were in the fashion business together in Brisbane. Both of these aunts were constantly in the news with social events and business happenings. 

In February 1937, the two sisters embarked on a long voyage overseas. The purpose was two-fold, to attend the Coronation of King George VI on 12 May 1937, enjoy a holiday and a business trip. The sisters were fortunate to have tickets to Westminister Abbey for the great event.

The article below was published in The Courier Mail on Saturday 20 February 1937. There were many other news items about the pair that I will write about in the future.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 13 - moment of strength

Blogging prompt for March 13 is - a moment of strength, where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

Today I will write about Mary Fitzgerald, my 4th great-grandmother. Mary was convicted in Waterford, Ireland in 1801 and transported on the notorious 'Atlas 1' that sailed from Cork on 29 November of that year. There were 151 male convicts and 28 female convicts embarked and 65 died on the voyage. Mary arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on 7 July 1802. Mary had already shown strength in surviving the journey.

However, that was only the beginning of  Mary's story in Australia. She married Peter McCann, a fellow convict from Ireland, at St John's Parramatta by the Rev Samuel Marsden on the 9th January 1804. Her first child, Nicholas, was baptised on the same day. Mary had another child, Catherine, on 1st July 1805 and was widowed on 21st October 1806 when her husband Peter was swept away in a flood on the Hawkesbury River. His body was not recovered.

So Mary was left to provide for two small children. She quickly married James Neale on the 2nd November 1807 and had two more children, James in 1809 and 1810. Unfortunately, James Neale was killed by an Aborigine on the 25th February 1811 at Richmond Hill. Once again, Mary was left with young children.

Mary married John Hill on the 24th May 1813 at Windsor. Mary had two daughters with John Hill, Eleanor born on the 12 March 1812 and Elizabeth born on the 25th August 1815. Mary continued to have bad luck with her husbands as John Hill disappeared by 1820.

I think Mary showed great courage and strength to survive in the early Colony of New South Wales at a time when there was no protection for women without a husband. Mary went on to open a small shop in Church Street, Parramatta where she could provide for her small family. Mary died in December 1870 in the Benevolent Society Asylum in Sydney aged 85.

South View of Parramatta, New South Wales, from the Great Western Road near Turnpike house 1820

By Lycett, Joseph. From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales [a128864 / V1B/Parr/23] (Mitchell Library)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 12 - working life

Blogging prompt for March 12 is - did your mother or grandmother work outside the home?

Neither my grandmother or mother worked outside the home after they were married. My grandmother was a nurse before she married and my mother started to do her nursing training but left after one year. However, my mother's sister Joan worked outside the home, both before & after marriage. Joan had done an office skills course after graduating from the Girls' Grammar School in Brisbane and was an extremely organised, efficient person.

I remember her being employed as a comptometer operator for an insurance office, I am unsure which one, in Queen Street, Brisbane in the 1950s and 1960s. The office would have looked just like the one below taken in England in 1951. She was very proud of being a comptometer operator and her speed and accuracy. Office work was so different then.

G1620  Comptometer Section in East Works taken in December 1951Bristol Aeroplane Company/Rolls-Royce

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 11 - early death

Blogging prompt for March 11 is - did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances?

Many children were lost in the earlier days, in fact it was something to celebrate if your children reached adulthood. I have been researching the Whitcomb family in the past few weeks and noticed that of their eleven children, seven girls and four boys, three girls and one boy died as babies. All of the Whitcomb children were born and died in Mackay, Queensland.

Elsie was born in 1892 and died in 1895, Winefred was born in 1893 and died in 1893 and Maisie was born in 1900 and died in 1900. A son Cecil Raymond was born in 1888 and died in 1888.  
Mary Whitcomb nee Thomas

Mary Whitcomb nee Thomas was my maternal great-great-aunt. As a mother myself I cannot begin to understand the sadness that this must have caused Mary. I believe this photo was taken of Mary when the family had moved to Chatswood in Sydney around the time of the beginning of WWI. Mary died in Chatswood on the 3rd May 1942, aged 77years.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Fearless females - March 10 - role of religion

The blogging prompt for March 10 is - what role did religion play in your family?

When I was growing up I didn't notice religion much in my family, we went to church, and that was that really. I was baptised Church of England as a baby and when my mother remarried when I was almost 6 I was re-baptised a Catholic. I was then brought up in the Catholic religion and attended Catholic schools.

My maternal grandmother, Dorothy May McCann, was a staunch Church of England member and regularly attended church. Even in her last few years Nan ensured that the Anglican priest visited her regularly at her care home to offer spiritual guidance in her last few years.

My maternal great-grandmother, Catherine Eunice, however, was a Presbyterian of Scottish descent. There couldn't be a more Presbyterian woman. Granny McCann often warned me that playing cards were 'instruments of the devil' and to be careful not to have them in the house. I believe that when Granny McCann's family was young, so my grandfather said, no hot meals were had on Sunday and that the day was spent with bible readings and stories.

I'm glad things changed because I loved going to Granny's house on a Sunday for a wonderful 'hot' lunch with all the trimmings. Do  you have similar memories?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 9 - a marriage certificate

The blogging prompt for March 9 is - take a family document and write a brief narrative using the information.

I have decided to write about my paternal great-grandmother, Mary Cameron and the information surrounding her marriage. Mary, the daughter of Dugald & Christian Cameron, was married to William Connor on the 19th day of July 1853. They were married by the Hinton Presbyterian minister, Robert Blain, at Bartie's Farm near Hinton. Hinton is outside Maitland in the Hunter Valley of NSW.

Mary had arrived in Australia with her Scottish parents in around 1842 after travelling to New Zealand from Scotland in 1839. It is uncertain when the Cameron's actually arrived in Australia but their eldest daughter married at Williams River in 1845.
Marriage of Mary Cameron & William Connor

Thinking about Mary's marriage I try and imagine what her wedding day would be like. Firstly, Mary could not read or write so only put her mark on the marriage register. Secondly, both families were staunch Presbyterians so would not have had a lot of celebration. I imagine that they would have had a celebration meal and perhaps roasted meats such as beef or mutton. 
Map showing area between Hunter & Williams River
1830-1889 NLA map 1436 e-v

Both the Connor & Cameron families were faming in the Hunter region and two of the Connor brothers were working on Thomas Bartie's farm at the time of the marriage. Bartie's Farm, called Rosebank, is situated in the centre of the map directly across from here.

I hope Mary's wedding day dawned bright and sunny. July was wintertime and may have been grey but I choose to think of a bright fresh day for Mary to start her married life as she had many long and hard years ahead of her.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Fearless Females March 8 - letters and notes

The blogging prompt for today is - did one of your female ancestors leave a diary or letters?

Unfortunately, I don't have a diary from one of my female ancestors but I do have some letters that my grandmother wrote. Like most of her generation, my Nan had beautiful handwriting, lots of curls and flourishes. Children were certainly taught how to write when Nan was a girl.

Nan was very interested in family history and was the repository of all the family stories. How I loved spending time with her when I was growing up. I used to sit for hours on end looking at photos an listening to her telling me about her childhood outside Mackay in Queensland. I inherited all of her photos and papers so am really blessed. I just wish that she was still here to share some of my more recent discoveries but as Nan is my 'genie angel' I know she is watching everything I do and helps me uncover the right information.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
A note from Nan about her grandfather James Thomas

Fearless Females - March 7 - favourite recipe

The blogging prompt for March 7 - share a favourite recipe from your mother or grandmother.

My grandmother was a wonderful cook, especially with pastry. She never measured anything for pastry or scones just put amounts in a bowl and mixed. I have never been able to produce scones like Nan - her comment many times was 'you play with it too much and your hands are too hot'. 

One of her favourite recipes was for Lemon Butter, especially the recipe from her sister Dora. I loved it as well, so here it is. Do you remember having Lemon Butter?

Dora's Lemon Butter
1/2 lb sugar, juice of 3 lemons, grated rind of 1 or 2 lemons, 3 eggs, 1/4lb of butter.
Stir all together in a double saucepan till thickened. Allow to cool, fill into clean screw top jars, use as required.


Friday, 6 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 6 - heirlooms

The blogging prompt for March 6 - describe an heirloom you may have inherited. There are a few pieces of jewellery that I have inherited from my family.

My daughter-in-law in 1993
Of greatest importance is one I haven't inherited as yet, my 91-year old mother still has this in her possession. It's an oval gold locket with an Irish harp on both sides. Joseph Antoney gave this gift  to my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Hannah Young when they married in Bowen, Queensland in 1867. Elizabeth was from Dublin, and Joseph apparently bought the locket with the Irish harp on it as a reminder of her Irish heritage. This locket has been passed down through the female generations, via the eldest daughter, ever since and worn on their wedding days as 'something old' or 'something borrowed'. My great-grandmother & her sister wore the locket as did my grandmother & her two sisters, my mother & her sister, myself and my daughter-in-law. Christine is wearing the locket in 1993, and you can just see it above her brooch. I hope my three granddaughters will carry on the tradition.

Another piece of jewellery is a Mizpah brooch my great-grandmother left me. Granny had received the brooch from her second husband before he left for WWI in 1914. It was a common gift for loved ones in the early 20th century. I sometimes wear the brooch when I am feeling sentimental. See the meaning of Mizpah here.

Another heirloom, from another great-grandmother, is a pendant and gold chain. It seed pearls and a blue stone, perhaps a small sapphire and was passed on to my great-grandmother from her mother. I sometimes wear this.

I think that it is wonderful to have pieces handed down from previous generations. I know my mother has more pieces of jewellery in her possession. I hope to pass these heirlooms down to my three granddaughters in due course.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 5 - Nan & Doug

The blogging prompt for March 5 - How did they meet?

Continuing from yesterday and my maternal grandparent's marriage that is the question - how did they meet? I know this story well, my grandmother often told me how they met.

Nurses at BGH - 1920
Dorothy May
Dorothy May Thomas was nursing at the Brisbane General Hospital and looked after George Douglas McCann, who was in the hospital for a leg injury. Interestingly Dorothy was friends with Pat McCann, Doug's sister, who was a little ahead of her at the hospital.

As Dorothy was from Mackay and had no family in Brisbane, her friend Pat invited her to stay with the McCann family on her day off from the hospital, and romance blossomed between Dorothy May and Doug.  In the picture to the right, taken at the Outpatients Department in 1920, Dorothy is seen on the far right.
So that's the story of how my maternal grandparents met.

Fearless Females - March 4 - Mrs George Douglas McCann

The blogging prompt for March 4 - marriage records for your grandparents.

My maternal grandparents George Douglas McCann and Dorothy May Thomas (Nan) were married on the 23rd January 1924 by the Rev James Cosh, Presbyterian Minister, at his residence on Old Sandgate Road,  Albion, Brisbane. 

I have the Certificate of Marriage handed to my grandparents after the marriage. it is noted 518/1924. The certificate was in a tattered envelope addressed as follows:

Mrs George Douglas McCann
23 January 1924
May your happiness be as deep as the sea,
and your sorrows as light as the flying foam.

It was a private ceremony before John Thomas (Jack) Rice and Catherine Olive Ann McCann, my grandfather's sister. Nan told me she had a posy of white daisies from the garden as a bouquet tied with ribbon, perhaps like this one. Nan always liked daisies, she thought they were happy flowers. Perhaps it was because they reminded her of her wedding day.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 3 - Hephzibah

The blogging prompt for March 3 - list the unique or unusual first name you've come across in your family tree.

Well, apart from all the Mary and Elizabeth first names I have Hephzibah or Hipsea for short. This has been a most useful name when I have been searching as the surname has been Thomas, Cable or Hill so Hephzibah has been helpful. My first is my 4th great-grandmother Hepzibah Cable, then Hephzibah Thomas my 2nd great-great aunt, next Hephzibah Mary Elizabeth Hill my 1st cousin 3 times removed and finally Hephzibah Mary Thomas my second cousin twice removed  - and there you have it.

Where does Hephzibah originate? Hephzibah means "my delight is in her" in Hebrew. She is a queen and the mother of Manasseh in the Old Testament. (Behind the name

Interestingly Hephzibah is also a city in Richmond County, Georgia, USA. As I don't have a picture of my Hephzibah ancestors I thought I would give you an image of the whereabouts of Hephzibah, Georgia in relation to the Eastern United States.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 2 - Dorothy May Thomas

The blogging prompt for March 2 - post a photo of one of your female ancestors.

I have chosen this photo of my maternal grandmother Dorothy May Thomas, taken by the St Austell Studio in Mackay, Queensland. The image was taken at the photographer's studio with Dorothy May  dressed in a Welsh girl's costume for a fancy-dress ball.  She was about six, so the date was approximately 1904.

I chose this for two reasons; my grandmother loved this photo and often showed it to me telling me that the Thomas family was from Wales. How interesting to find that they were from Somerset, England and not from Wales. Well, of course, they could have originally been from Wales but imagine trying to find the correct James Thomas in Wales!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Fearless Females - March 1

Well, here I go with another challenge I must have too much spare time. Thanks to Liza Alzo for bringing this exciting challenge to mind. The theme for National Women's History Month (NWHM) is "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives" so the combination of Lisa's challenge and NWHM is serendipitous.

The prompt fo March 1 is - Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Where do I start? Who will I choose?

It's quite easy really; I have a 4th great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Sarsfield Donovan who was born in St Phillip, Barbados in 1768. My Barbados ancestors fascinate me, and I can't get enough of them. 

I want to find out more about the Sarsfield name. Mary Elizabeth named her second daughter, my 3rd great-grandmother, Martha Sarsfield Donovan so the name must have had a significance to Mary Elizabeth & her parents.

What to do next? Search the British settlers' in Barbados database for any connection to the Proverbs or Bracey families. Search Carribean marriages, etc. for a connection. Does anybody have any ideas?