Friday, 24 May 2013

Another Thing I Would Like...

For some reason when I look at my shortlist of things I would love to get hold of, lots of them seem to connect to my McDermott relations - probably because neither my grandfather or my father were at all interested in keeping anything to do with their families, and Grandma doesn't seem to have been fond of keeping anything to do with Grandpa's side.
Anyway... I'm probably doing this all the wrong way around, but for reasons I will elaborate another time, the McDermott siblings didn't have the world's all-time happiest home life. This impacted on them all in different ways, but the one who seemed to have the most issues was my great-grandfather's namesake, my great-uncle Patrick Francis McDermott, known to all the world as Frank. When I was growing up, the only thing I knew about Frank was that he had killed himself, and for some reason I formed the impression it was over a property deal in Port Broughton which had gone wrong. I was very young when I first heard about this and I could be wrong about the latter. He wasn't mentioned very often.
Growing up, Frank had to take on a much larger responsibility for the family than ought to fall on a child's shoulders. His first appearance in public record was when he was 11. His father had died the previous year, and he is listed in the Directory as working as a blocker (my grandfather would also be removed from school at a similar age, several years down the track). When his mother moved to Adelaide he went with the rest of the family and by his marriage in 1940 he was working as an antiques dealer and living in Brompton. Money must have been tight, and within a few years he was working at the local Gasworks, where he was charged for a minor theft in 1945. Thankfully he did not lose his job though - different times!
Apparently he never lost his eye for antiques, and used to take his step-grand-children rummaging around the numerous local pugholes for beautiful old furniture which presumably he would restore given he was notoriously tight with money yet had a house full of lovely antiques. He loved to fish, and maintained a shack at Fisherman's Bay. Again, different times. Shacks really were shacks, not mansions, and many families seemed to have them. He continued to work at the Gasworks.
Frank was apparently "a troubled man", and on 22 Mar 1961 he shot himself in the head. My grandmother has since virtually refused to talk about him. When absolutely pressed, she said that she didn't know where he was buried but that it was in the eastern suburbs somewhere and that he was married to a woman named Roberta, known as Boldy. Neither of these things are true, but do indicate that Grandma (who otherwise, pre-senility, had an excellent memory) still views his death as shameful and him as a person who Should Not Be Discussed. Sadly, she also threw away all photos of him, and his step-family don't seem to have any either, probably for the same reason.
Out of the many things I would love to get, to see or to own, a photograph of my great-uncle Frank is right up near the top of the list. I would like him to know that someone still remembers him and his story, and that he mattered.
The closest you are currently going to get to a picture of great-uncle Frank

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Places I'd like to go: Clare Valley

I've just been told that work are sending me to the delightful Clare Valley for a week at the start of June. I've been hassling the person in charge of the trip for a full itinerary. She probably thinks I want to hit the wineries. What a waste of time that would be - if I wanted a bottle of wine I could get one from the bottle-o when I get back home.
My husband's relations, the Colberts and the Fudges, had quite a few members move to Clare and Sevenhill, so naturally both cemeteries are high on my to-do list if we end up having any free time. I have pictures of most of the existing headstones connected with the family but would love to pay my respects in person. While the Catholic Church in Clare was the place most of them worshipped, quite a number attended the wonderful historic Sevenhill Church. I have fond memories of hanging out in the crypt as a kid, reading about the Polish priests who started the parish while my parents were in the winery... this could explain why, quite a few years later, when I think "Clare Valley" I think dead people!

St Aloysius Church, Sevenhill
I don't care what anyone else says - this is the place to be!
The thing I'd like to do most of all is actually to do with my side of the family. In 1865, my ancestor Jestina Darby's nephew Walter Lavis married Ellen Maynard at St. Barnabas' Church of England in Clare. (Ellen's parents John Maynard and Elizabeth Seymour were pioneers in the district.) In 1873 Walter was called up to be a witness in a court case in Adelaide. The case dragged on, and Walter started spending time at one of the local watering holes. It was there that he met Mary Ann Martin, and the pair were married on 08 March at the home of Mrs. Catherine Gay on Gilles Street.
They travelled to Melbourne for a honeymoon, and it was there that Mary Ann became aware of a slight serious problem... Walter was still very much married to Ellen! Walter was arrested on 20 May and in August pleaded guilty to bigamy. Five years later, Walter was dead, having been run over by a bullock dray in Appila, NOT (as far as we know) driven by either of his wives. Ellen, who was two months pregnant when she was widowed, remarried an Appila (Yarrowie) local, David Clifford, and we hope lived happily ever after. However, some questions remain:
1) What happened to Ellen after her marriage to David?
2) What happened to Mary Ann after the court case?
3) How did these events contribute to Walter's children Henry, Albert and Louisa moving to New South Wales, where they became the adopted children of Solomon Wiseman?
Yeah, grandson of THAT Solomon Wiseman.
I'm really hoping that while I'm in Clare I'll get a chance to visit the Clare Regional History Group, the Clare museum (that's Ellen's parents on the back wall of Room 1) and anyone else who may be able to shed light on that one!
The only possible explanation!
Then of course there's the trip back. I'll be so close to Riverton that it should only add an extra half an hour to the trip to stop in and visit the Riverton cemeteries where so many of my Darby ancestors lived and are buried. I'll also pass through Tarlee, where my grandmother used to live and my great-great grandfather taught school.
Wines... who's got time for 'em?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Things I'd Love to Locate

Like every genealogist, I have a hit list of people I'd like to locate. More about them later. The thing which has been troubling me the most of late is a THING I'd love to locate.

Likelihood of you getting through the post without thinking of this Simpsons episode: 0%

John Clifford McDermott, my great-uncle, died in 1993. Prior to his death he lived in a series of nursing homes, first in the Fullarton/Glen Osmond area and then in at the Seventh Day Adventist Home in Christies Beach. Once as a young kid I went to visit him at one of the Fullarton/Glen Osmond homes, along with my dad, and Uncle John got out his photo album to help me pass the visit. I remember there were a lot of black and white photos, but nothing more.
Grandma was already 80 when John died, so not able to help 'clean out' Uncle John's stuff, and since my family were living in the country and my aunt's family were interstate none of them helped either. I can only assume the task fell to his widow or her children. His widow died only a matter of months after him (no, not from missing him - they hadn't lived together for quite some time before his death and had married quite late in life) so may not have been well enough to help. I can only conclude it fell to her children to go through his small collection of things and deal with them.
Fast forward to now. My grandmother either never had or has thrown out every picture bar two of my grandfather's relatives. None of his siblings had any children, so there are no cousins on that side of the family with any pictures. Grandma is also quite senile and doesn't remember who anyone is most of the time, much less anything about them, so I don't like my chances of tracking down that elusive photo album.

So, if you are out there somewhere, Lee, Margaret and Joy, Scott (Scott Stephen Mason?), Michelle, Lisa, Alysha, Rohan and Dylan, children and grand-children of Stella Veronica McDermott (d. 16 Mar 1994) possibly nee Mason, and you have a stray photo album you aren't quite sure about, I'd love to take a look. Sure the pictures aren't labelled and I might not be able to work out who everyone is, but all the same it's still my number one most wanted ITEM in the genealogical context.

Not quite a million dollars and a red Porsche, but it'd be very valuable to me.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Official Cousin Bait Bit

The key names and locations I am interested in are:

McDermott – Derrygoolin, Galway (Drummin, Portumna etc.) and Whitegate, Clare, Fremantle & Perth, Western Australia
Reeves – Derrygoolin, Galway
Dorey – South Australia
Bagshaw – London, South Africa
Geyer – Africa, Mauritius, Ceylon/Sri Lanka
Meyer – Westphalia, Prussia
Lotz – Hamburg
Dawson – Ireland, Christchurch, Hampshire and Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
Burt – Christchurch, Hampshire
Shugg – St. Ives, Cornwall
Williams – South Australia
Roebuck – Wooldale, Yorkshire
Ramsden – Wooldale, Yorkshire
Ellison – Yorkshire, Victoria, South Australia
Snowden – Yorkshire
Gallop – Lytchett Matravers, Dorset, Victoria
Langdown – Lytchett Matravers, Dorset
White – Burford, Oxford, Western Australia
Pearson – Thornton, Yorkshire
Riley – Bradford – Yorkshire
Darby – Somerset, South Australia
Evans – Caernarvon, Wales
Skermer – Belton, Leicester
Gough – Meath, Ireland
Duffield – Kennett, Cambridge
Sykes – Selby, Yorkshire, South Australia
Richards – Selby, Yorkshire
Martin – Altarnun, Cornwall, South Australia
Harvey – Bodmin, Cornwall
Colbert – Lismore, Waterford, South Australia
Curreen/Curran – Waterford
Fudge – Hoo, Kent, South Australia
Burges – Hoo, Kent
Donoughue – Ireland
Byrnes/Burns – Tipperary, Queensland
James – New South Wales

These are the families I'll be focussing on writing about, and I'd love to hear from people connected to those families and places.


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Let's start at the very beginning

Growing up, one of our family’s possessions was the family Bible. It sat in the corner of the lounge-room, underneath all the other Bibles, and was largely ignored by all and sundry. In 1989,  my year 8 English teacher set a unit of work which may have been around biographies or some similar theme. We had to create a family tree and there were some turn-of-the-century diary entries or some-such I remember having to respond to (made up ones, of course). Being something of a nerd, I unearthed the family Bible and turned it into a tree. Yes, mine was the most detailed of anybody’s in the class. However, the truly important thing about the moment was that for me it sparked an interest in my family history. I longed to know the details about the people whose names I could see.
Time passed, as it does when you are a teenager, and before I knew it I was 18 and at uni. As an Arts student it is fair to say I had a little time on my hands, so I enrolled in a course at the WEA run by local geneaology legend Graham Jaunay of Proformat. Thus began my research in earnest.
Ever since then I have continued to chip away at my research as time permits. My focus is somewhat broader than most: I am trying to find out everything I can about my ancestry, on each line. Since my children were born I have expanded that to include their ancestry as well. I have pored over microfiche, rummaged in dusty shelves, trekked through muddy cemeteries, spent holidays photographing odd and obscure locations, and met distant relatives who have become collaborators and friends. It has been incredibly rewarding but there is still so much of the journey to go.
I have recently made the decision to begin a blog for three reasons: one is that I feel I need to record something of the research process. So often I have to work away at a connection, finally make the breakthrough, and then (because I now know what I’m looking for) find all sorts of other evidence which makes the discovery seem far less exciting or unlikely than it was. I want a forum for sharing my discoveries with people who will understand why they have been so exciting or, to steal a cliché from the news, ‘game-changing’. I also have taken to ‘googling’ ancestors and descendants of theirs who I think may be able to assist in my research, and I’m conscious that my own genealogical footprint is so easy to miss, which could be depriving me of valuable contacts.
So, here I am. Prepare to be bored. ;)

Yep, it's all your fault!