Friday, 30 January 2015

Fantastic Albany 7th Unlock the Past Cruise

Albany was a tourist day for the ship. 

The Unlock the Past team were running a seminar at the Museum onshore.

It was a grey day but as we were welcomed to shore by bagpipes, the weather was not a concern.


Eric and Rosemary Kopittke at the Brig Amity replica
Albany is a lovely place with a long history. It was the first settlement in Western Australia, being founded 26 December 1826 as a military outpost. Initially named Frederick Town it was transferred to the Swan River Colony and renamed Albany in 1831.  For many years, it was the colony's only deep-water port until the opening of Fremantle in 1897 and is still the largest natural harbour in Western Australia.

We caught the bus into the Museum where the seminar was being held.  It is on the site of the Residency and a number of historic buildings and the replica brig the Amity overlooking the Princess Royal Harbour.

The 148 ton brig Amity was built in New Brunswick, Canada in 1816. She ended up in the Southern Hemisphere when the Scottish Ralston Family bought her for their emigration to Tasmania. They sold her to the New South Wales Government  and she was used for exploration and supply voyages.  There is a Queensland connection (well it wasn't Queensland then) as the Amity was used to transport the 70 people including soldiers of the 40th Foot Regiment, 29 convicts, explorers and their families to Redcliffe in Moreton Bay in 1824. Amity Point is named after the brig.The ship went to King George's Sound in 1826 to establish the military outpost. 

There is a walkway near the Residency with panels listing the names of the settlers.


At the seminar Dr Richard Reid, Rosemary Kopittke and the local society gave presentations. There was even a gentleman from Bowral, NSW in the audience! I always said the Unlock the Past seminars are a not to be missed event but that is a decent journey to attend. Actually he was over helping hos daughter to move and she kindly gave him the day off to attend the seminar as it had World War One and Irish topics.

At the seminar we met John Shapland and his daughter Alyssa and this led to a fantastic visit to his private museum, a major highlight of the cruise, which you'll be able to read about tomorrow.

Thanks to John we were also able to visit the National ANZAC Centre which was another major highlight and you can read about here.

National Anzac Centre, Albany, Western Australia

As I mentioned the fact the 7th Unlock the Past cruise was going to Albany was a major factor in my choosing to go on this cruise (apart from the fact I just love genealogical conference cruising!)

National ANZAC Centre showing some of the harbour
Albany had a deep harbour and so the convoy assembled in King George Sound.The First and Second convoys left Albany  originally to go to England but as we know actually ended up staying in Egypt. 

Dr Richard Reid said this had a lot to do with the quality of the accommodation available initially in England for the number of men so the idea was to hold them in Egypt until things could be sorted and then the Dardenelles campaign was decided upon and the legend of Gallipoli was born.

The National ANZAC Centre has been built in Albany and it is a must see item if you happen to be in that area. You will need to allow yourself at least two hours. It is an emotional tour.

On entry each person is given a card bearing the name of a person and you follow the story of this person through their time in the war. My card was for Captain Arthur Gordon Smith, who was in the Royal Navy. 

There are at least 30 different cards of Australians, Turks, British, nurses and more so covering many aspects of the participants.

You are also given a receiver pen which you use to activate recordings at set points.

The entry  

You enter into the gallery and find the first information stand where you put your card and it calls up the dossier for your person.

Then you move down and see the information panels where you can use your receiver pen by swiping across the A on the panel to activate a recording that you listen to on the pen.

There are many displays.

You keep following your person through their military service and yes, it is real life,  some are killed, others wounded and some survive the war. My person was the Captain of First Convoy to leave Albany. He survived the war only to die of pancreatic cancer in later life.

The Centre also highlights the cost not only in deaths of which there were too many but also all the wounded who came back and the effect this had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones forever more.

We Are The Maimed

In Flanders fields we do not lie
Where poppies grow and larks will fly
Forever singing as they go
Above the bodies, row on row,
Of those whose duty ‘twas to die

We are the maimed. Death did deny
Its solace. Crippled, blind, we try
To find on earth the peace they know
In Flanders fields.

Forget us not! As years go by,
On your remembrance we rely
For love that sees the hearts below
Our broken bodies. Else we grow
           To crave our peace with those who lie
            In Flanders Field

              WB France

I know Albany is many miles away but don't despair, the National ANZAC Centre has a website and you are able to follow the cards through on the website as well (there are 32 available on the website). 

There is also a fantastic links section and a searchable list of all people on the First and Second Convoys.

This is my great-grandfather and he was one of 2663 men and women on this ship.

The visit was very emotional  and worthwhile.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Genealogical Cruising: 7th Unlock the Past Cruise Part One

Rosemary Kopittke, Heather Fitzpatrick and the shorty is me
It has been a great time and I have just come off the 7th Unlock the Past cruise.

This was a very special cruise for me as it went to Albany. My great-grandfather George Howard Busby was aboard the A40 Ceramic which was in the Second Convoy that left St George's Sound,  Albany 31 December 1914. He went from there to Egypt and thence to Gallipoli so as Albany was a stop and this cruise had some military lectures I had to go.This was a short cruise of five nights.

The amazing Lee
 The 100 year commemorations in Albany for the first convoy had occurred in November.
The Queensland Contingent, this time arrived by air.

We were kindly driven by Kristen down to Fremantle from where our ship the Astor would leave. Weather was sunny and a warm 35 degrees but it is a dry heat which was a relief after the high humidity we had had in Brisbane.

Lee was our liaison on the ship and kept things running smoothly. He was also the DJ, a singer and I am not sure how many other hats he wore but always had a smile whenever I saw him. 

After our obligatory lifeboat drill, it was time for dinner then our "Meet and Greet". The Astor pulled away from Fremantle on its way to Esperance

Our first day was at sea and was a full conference day. 

The eminent historian, Dr Richard Reid gave the first presentation:  Ireland of the ancestors: maps, documents, valuations,diaries, books, parish registers.  Richard showed the life in Ireland and the records that can help us add that life to our families.

Then it was a choice between Mike Murray on Researching Your Western Australian Ancestors or Eric Kopittke speaking on  Starting Your German Research. I don't have research in either area but went to Mike's talk.

One of the artistic fruit carvings decorating the buffet
Then morning tea time before Lesley Silvester's talk  on Beyond the Parish Registers: lesser known English records from the 18th and 19th centuries. Lesley is very knowledgeable in this area and well worth hearing if you have a chance.

Then lunch, one thing on a cruise is that food breaks happen quite often! 

I spoke after lunch on Gallipoli: medical services talking about how the medical service was organised and how they helped the wounded. In this time pre the antibiotic era disease was always a problem. In fact there were only two weeks during the campaign that there were more wounded being evacuated from Gallipoli than soldiers who were ill with disease particularly dysentery.  being a Public Health Microbiologist I have a particular interest in health and how this affected our ancestors.

Then Richard Reid gave an excellent presentation on "Trenches, memorials and bits of metal: the Anzac area of Gallipoli today" 

Dr Richard Reid talking on Gallipoli
Richard had been the historian with the Australian War Memorial and Veterans Affairs for many years. He has a particular affinity with the Western Front especially as he was involved in bringing the "Unknown Soldier" home. Richard was also involved in the  Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey, and it began in 2005 with high-level diplomatic negotiations between the Turkish, New Zealand and Australian governments. Gallipoli is the best preserved battlefield of the First World War as obviously in heavily populated areas there was the requirement to use the battlefied areas again for farming and life. The Turkish government have preserved the battlefield area and we should be very thankful for this, considering their country was invaded by enemy forces.

During the dig there was a lot involved and part of it was the mapping of the trenches, using technology with GPS tracking and a huge amount of hard physical work cutting the undergrowth in the trenches. Later in 2015 a book will be published on the findings of the survey and this is one that is definitely on my shopping list.

Another break and then Liana Fitzpatrick, President of WAGS (the Western Australian Genealogical Society) gave a presentation on two of their special World War One projects: Western Australian Gallipoli deaths and the Cheops pyramid photo. I plan to write a special post on these two projects so more about them later.

Rosemary Kopittke then spoke on Using Electoral Rolls for Genealogy: Tips and Traps. It is important to know the requirements for being on the roll as you could waste many hours searching for someone on the roll when in fact they were not eligible to vote. And in counterpoint you may not search thinking they wouldn't be on the roll when in actual fact they may be there.

Then came the Research Help Zone and  these are always a highlight for me as I really enjoy talking to people about their genealogy and their brickwall problems. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing the brick wall come tumbling down.

Then dinner (yes I did mention there are a lot of food breaks!) before we reassembled for Mike's talk on being "The Online Detective: improving your online research.

Then to bed being rocked to sleep while the ship traveled to Esperance. People tendered ashore at Esperance but I spent my day in the very nice library enjoying research time and doing another Research Help Zone with associated meal breaks before Richard's after dinner talk on 'There is no person starving here’: Australia, Ireland and the Great Famine, 1845‐50.

Richard did his PhD on Irish migration and showed the wealth of records and information that is available about the Famine and migration. It is too easy to just say "They came because of the Famine and it is important to determine the various effects on the different areas due to 
the Famine.

Then off to the Captain's lounge for a quiet drink and discussion on the day's talks.

Changeover of night to day


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Dream Time: FGS, Rootstech and the Family History Library

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference is coming to Salt Lake City on February 11-14, 2015.

It will be a special conference as for the first time RootsTech and FGS are having some shared sessions particularly the Keynotes and a shared expo hall (and there are a lot of fantastic exhibitors coming!)

Wednesday 11th is the FGS society day with many presentations with a society focus. The program is available here

Family History Library
As President of my society I am particularly interested in these sessions.  They cover a broad range of subjects by excellent presenters: CeCe Moore talking about setting up a DNA SIG at your society, Lisa Louise Cooke talking about using YouTube as a marketing strategy, a number of talks on ways of engaging members who are not local.

Even if you are not on the board of your society many of these talks would be very worthwhile to attend so you can take the ideas back to you society. Of course you could also spend the Wednesday at the Family History Library (FHL) which is literally just around the corner or spend the day at the exhibitors' booths or indeed catch up with genie friends you already know and take the time to make new friends.

If you haven't been to the FHL before it can be a bit like being let loose in a candy store with a months allowance. Planning will help you get the most out of your time.

This is where you still have time to plan.

1. How much free time are you going to spend at the Library? Can you arrive a couple of days before or leave a couple of days later?

2. You need to maximise the time you do have available, so looking at things that you could look at home anytime is a waste. The FHL is online so you can see what is there before you go. You can also see what is available online from the FHL now, remember the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) is digitising their microfilm holdings with the aim of eventually having all of them available online, for free.

There are many of their films available which have not as yet been indexed. 

The FHL has a large book collection as well as their huge microfilm collection. The other thing they have is microfiche produced by many family history societies from around the world. These are not able to be circulated to the branch centres and will not be digtised by the library.

3. Use your research log. What's that, you haven't got one? All the genealogy programs have a research log option where you can record that you want to look at a certain record for a certain person and which archive/library holds the record in question. You are able to print the logs and then take them with you.

If you haven't started using the log as yet , you still have time to start or you can make one in Excel or Word listing what record, where it is in the library, what you want to find ie baptism date for John Quested Ashford, Kent England 1825-1835 father John mother Mary

If you have English research I would strongly suggest looking to see if Bishops Transcripts have been filmed for your areas as sometimes you can find extra information in thses that were not in the original parish registers. Each year on Lady's Day the vicar had to send a copy of the baptisms. marriages and burials he had done in the previous year to his Bishop so they are an excellent secondary source particularly if your parish register for that time frame has been burnt, flooded, stolen or eaten by mice.

4. You will need to be organised with your battle plan in place. Your objective is to use your time wisely to maximum effect. If it is your first visit take advantage of the Introduction to the Library classes which are run regularly. The staff are wonderful and helpful but with two major conferences with attendees coming from all over the world it will be BUSY so the more you can do before you get there the better for a productive time.

5. You will also need to be comfortably dressed with good walking shoes (the library is spread over five floors), have a cardigan or equivalent as it can be cool among the film readers. 

6. You will need a USB drive so you can download images, I also take a camera with me as I can photograph microfilm, microfiche, books etc

7. You will need to decide if you are going to have your computer with you (lots of power points available) or your tablet or your pad and pen. Remember you have to look after whatever you take with you.

8. You will also have access to many of the pay sites while at the library.

I can guarantee there will be something at the FHL relating to your family but what you take home with you will depend on how much preparation you have done before you go. 

So the time to start preparing is now!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Uncover the Details of Australia’s Criminal Past

The Prosecution Project: Get Involved

This is quite an exciting project that will be of interest to historians everywhere whether they are family historians local historians, crime historians, social historians or indeed anyone interested in history.

The project was launched in October and a lot of work has been done behind the scenes already. It is based at Griffith University in Queensland and  is funded by the university and an Australian Research Council grant.

The group of academics and the recruited citizen historians will be indexing the court trials in each Australian jurisdiction (source Supreme Court and State Archives) and also then linking to Trove and the newspaper reports providing a free online database of trials for research by anyone. 

You can do a keyword search now and below is the information returned on a search for Evans and another for Smith. The ability to do the keyword search will allow you to look for types of crime, places where crime occurred and more.

When a link to Trove exists you see the magnifying glass and you go to Trove to the article. 

The project is calling for volunteers and the indexing work is done in the comfort of your own home.

The information below is from the media release from Griffith:

Uncover the details of Australia’s criminal past

On 13 October 1941, Patrick Drew, a 49-year-old Brisbane painter, plead guilty to
fifty-one charges of theft and breaking and entering, which he had committed over a
period of thirteen years. Drew, who was liable for 600 years’ imprisonment, was
described as Queensland’s ‘most successful burglar’ by Justice Philp. However, out of
consideration for Drew’s war service, the judge sentenced him to only two years’

The story of Queensland’s best burglar is one of many that has been uncovered by a
team of researchers at Griffith University engaged in exploring the history of the
criminal trial in Australia, with support from the Australian Research Council. One of
the outcomes of The Prosecution Project, which is directed by ARC Laureate Fellow
Mark Finnane, will be the digitisation of registers of Supreme Court cases from across
Australia from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Details of over 25,
000 trials have already been entered into this database.

Some of these records are already available for searching by family and local
historians on The Prosecution Project’s website. To complete the digitisation of the
registers, volunteers are being sought to enter details of cases and link them with
newspaper reports on Trove. This will enable researchers to analyse long-term
patterns of crime, prosecution and punishment – and provide an invaluable index to
these records for public access.

Those who sign up to help in the transcription process will receive records
electronically, so volunteers will able to assist this worthy cause from home, their
local library or anywhere else with computer access. Volunteers are also able to
specify the jurisdiction or period they are interested in working on when signing up to
participate in the project.

To assist in the data entry of historical court records and uncover some of Australia’s
criminal past for yourself, click on the ‘Become Involved’ link on The Prosecution
Project’s site.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Justifiable Homicide?

I was recently reading a report of Inquests in Victoria 1852-1853 published in 1854.
This made very interesting reading and I came across a mention of "Justifiable Homicide" relating to the inquest into the death of Jeremiah Fahey.

It stated he was "Shot by some person unknown, whilst engaged in a murderous attack upon the inmates of a tent" and in the remarks section said " The verdict of the Coroner's Jury accurately describes the case which was one of Justifiable homicide"

The Coroner was J. McCrea and the inquest was held in Bendigo on the 15th August 1852.

This excited my curiosity and of course the first stop was Trove. Nothing was found in the Victorian papers on Trove but two entries relating to the event were found.

One was in the South Australian Register  11 September 1852 and the other was in the

The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News 1 October 1852.

They are pretty much the same text reproduced here for easy reading:

"A fatal affray occurred at Peg-leg Gully on Saturday last. A dispute between two men arose about a hole, and violence was resorted to. The man who got the worst of the struggle chanced to be an Irishman. He went away and returned with a number of his countrymen, who had armed themselves with pick-handles and other bludgeons. A regular fight ensued, and the Irishmen were beaten back. They returned to the attack, however, to the number of about 150, and on this occasion fire-arms were displaced. They scorched the tents of several parties for a man whom they wished to find, and among others, that of three brothers named Hood. One of the Hoods ordered them to leave the tent, and on their refusing, turned them out. An Irishman, named Jeremiah Fahey, then struck one of the Hoods on the head with a bludgeon, through the calico of the tent, when Hood fired, and Fahey fell dead. A general engagement now took place, and many individuals were wounded, some of them severely. A man named Casey suffered concussion of the brain, and is said to be since dead. Another received a severe wound with a pick on the back of the neck. Broken arms and legs and heads were numerous. The assailants bore away five very severely injured, to what part of the bush is not known. The three Hoods are in safety, which probably they would not be if following their usual avocations. The verdict in Fahey's case, "Justifiable Homicide," has irritated the Irishmen, and they promise to repeat the attack. It is to be regretted that the affray assumed a somewhat national aspect. Disputes, hitherto, having been usually confined to Gold claims, have been of short duration and trivial consequence; but the introduction of national prejudice is likely to aggravate and perpetuate the present feud, especially in the somewhat lawless locality in which it occurred."  

(There was no mention of an inquest for Casey listed in the Inquests)

So remember to expand your search to other geographic locations that may report on your event and it is also important to allow enough time as often it will be reported much later in those newspapers ie 11 September in South Australia and 1st October in Perth  for an event that occurred in August in Bendigo.

Victorian inquest reports are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria, at this stage not available on their website as digital images. It looks as though they have been digitised as Family Search have a page saying it is a coming collection but only from 1865-1925 so maybe they will also become available at PROV online  sometime in the future.