A Kiwi in search of her Irish, English & Scottish tribes

Martin Burke (1840 – 1918) ~ Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch

Simeon Street entrance to Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

Simeon Street entrance to Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

While I was in Christchurch last June for the NZSG conference, I was determined to finally discover the resting place of my 2 x great grandfather, Martin Burke.  (There’s a picture of Martin in an earlier blog post.)  My first attempt with my aunt back in 2012 was not successful.  From Christchurch City Council’s cemetery database I knew he was buried in Sydenham Cemetery on 28th November 1918, and I had a plot number, but no map of the cemetery.  Major fail.

This time I had both!  However, it still wasn’t that easy to pinpoint his actual burial site.  While I could find the right block and row, none of the graves were numbered, so it was a case of using my phone and the online database to work out who was buried where, and narrow down his exact burial spot.

And what my aunt had thought was a walkway, was in fact our ancestor’s grave.

Burial site of Martin Burke, Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ. [Block 22B, plot 63]

Burial site of Martin Burke, Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ. [Block 22B, plot 63]

Later that weekend, I met up with a Burke cousin at the conference, and they were also going to search for Martin’s grave.  However, they had been in contact with the council and had a plan with the names and gravesite numbers marked on it.  Smart!

Plan of Block 22B of Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

Plan of Block 22B of Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

We’re not sure why Martin doesn’t have a headstone on his grave.  Perhaps there was no money for a memorial, or some ill feeling amongst the family.  At least we now know where he rests.

Martin Burke & Ann Philp ~ Canterbury settlers

Martin Burke and Ann Philip with their daughter

This is a copy of a photograph that was shared with me by my third cousin, Margaret. The couple are our great great grandparents, Ann Philp and Martin Burke. But who is the girl with them? Ann and Martin had three children: Mary (born 1863), Anne (born 1865) and Thomas (born around 1866), so presumably the young girl is either Mary or Anne. A few years ago I had a printout of the photo dated by American photo expert Maureen Taylor at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London, who estimated it was taken in the 1870s. Given the birth years of the girls, it’s probably more likely to be Anne in the photo, though difficult to be sure.

Martin and Ann, with baby Mary, emigrated to New Zealand in 1863 aboard the Mermaid, and settled near Christchurch, Canterbury. In two weeks I’m heading down to Christchurch for the New Zealand Society of Genealogists’ conference, Echoes of our Past, getting there a day early so I have some time for researching the Burke family!

Geneabloggers unite!

One of the best things about the recent Congress in Sydney was meeting up with fellow genealogy bloggers, easily recognised by our blogger beads (kindly sponsored by GeniAus and Lonetester).  It was a wonderful way to break the ice and get chatting with lots of different folk, especially in the line for a cuppa at morning tea.

Australasian genealogy bloggers outside the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, Sydney, for Congress 2018.

Some of the Australasian genealogy bloggers (plus American Judy Russell) at Congress 2018 in Darling Harbour, Sydney. Thanks to Diana Hurford for the photo!

Jill Ball has collated many of the blog posts relating to Congress on her GeniAus website.

If you have a genealogy-related blog, or want to start one, check out the community at GeneabloggersTRIBE.

Next conference on the calendar for me is Echos of the Past being held in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 1-4 June.  Hopefully there will be a few of us there sporting our beads!

Congress 2018 ~ the good, the not so good, and the even better

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney

It has taken me several days to come off Sydney time and the genie high that was the 15th Australasian Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry 2018. What a glorious four days! The weather was good, the venue superb, and the craic mighty – a winning combination. Hats off to the organisers for an amazing event, and to GeniAus for making it so welcoming to newcomers.

GeniAus about to interview John at Friday night's get-together

GeniAus about to interview John at Friday night’s get-together

Among the presentations I attended were those given by speakers I’d heard and enjoyed before – Judy Russell, Paul Milner, Paul Blake, and Lisa Louise Cooke. Always good value! Kiwi Fiona Brooker gave a great talk on families who travelled back and forwards “across the ditch” (the Tasman Sea), and GeniAus Jill Ball shared some useful tips for family history bloggers. Kerry Farmer’s two presentations on DNA were excellent – one was on solving family puzzles using DNA (illustrated with case studies), and the other on chromosome mapping (which I want to tackle but haven’t got round to).

I also attended talks on the National Archives of Australia and Trove, but unfortunately my attention was elsewhere at the time as my daughter’s school camp in the South Island had been hit by a gastro bug and lots of messaging ensued between myself and the husband back in NZ trying to find a way to get her home. (She was one of the lucky ones who didn’t get ill!)

Ruth Graham’s presentation on Digital Humanities and Pauleen Cass’s on Uncovering your Irish roots both provided some food for thought, and Carole Riley gave us the low-down on Evernote and OneNote (though I still don’t know which I prefer). I loved Thom Reed’s tips on utilising the unindexed records on FamilySearch – there’s treasure to be discovered!

The only presentation that was disappointing was on How to be a professional genealogist, where I had hoped to learn a bit about the genealogy industry in Australasia. Most of the talk was taken up with audience members’ comments on the various (good) educational options available locally and little on other practicalities. However, I am comparing with a couple of day-long events that I attended in England, so perhaps unfair. And (as an audience member) Judy Russell’s advocacy for the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) was marvellous!

Me with genealogy heroes, Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Jan Gow (right)

Me with genealogy heroes, Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Jan Gow (right)

Saturday night was the Congress dinner and obviously the genealogy gods were smiling as my table included both renowned NZ genealogist Jan Gow and American speaker Lisa Louise Cooke, as well as my two new Aussie genie-mates Janelle and Hillary. The food was good and the company even better. On Sunday night I had dinner with fellow members of the Guild of One Name Studies (thanks to Karen Rogers for organising).

The highlight of Congress was the wonderful conviviality and generosity shown by everyone. I had expected it to be similar to my first couple of genealogy events in England where (while I learnt a lot) I spent most of the time on my own. No chance of that with Congress!

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, at night

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, at night

Congress 2018 is here!

Getting up at dark o’clock (3am) is not much fun, but heading to Congress in Sydney was worth the bleary-eyed start. It’s a three hour flight “across the ditch” (aka the Tasman Sea) and after arriving just after 8am it was good to dump my suitcase at the hotel and then head to pre-register.

The Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) had opened up their HQ for pre-registration and a ‘meet and greet’ opportunity. GeniAus (Jill Ball) was on hand to welcome everyone, especially first-time Congress attendees, and to hand out ‘First Time attendee’ ribbons. The tea and cakes were very welcome, as was the chance to meet other genealogists. As a geneablogger, I also got to pick up some blogger beads! These are a great way to recognise fellow bloggers at the conference (and a nice talking point when you don’t know many folks).

Pre-registration name tag, first time attendee ribbon, and geneablogger beads

Pre-registration swag!

I had booked in for an afternoon tour of Hyde Park Barracks that SAG had arranged, and what an amazing place it is. Built between 1817 and 1819 by convicts, and designed by former convict turned architect Francis Greenway, it was originally designed to house labouring convicts. Transportion to New South Wales ceased in 1840, and by 1848 the building was being used to accommodate female immigrants as well as destitute women. From 1887 it was used for law courts and government offices, right up until 1979.

Hyde Park Barracks

Hyde Park Barracks

During the time convicts lived in the barracks, they slept in these hammocks. We were allowed to try them out – I almost fell asleep in one of them, they seemed so comfortable (or maybe I was just very very tired).

Hammocks for convict labourers at Hyde Park Barracks

Hammocks for convict labourers, Hyde Park Barracks

In the evening my Australian cousins took me out for dinner at Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, the Lord Nelson Brewing Hotel. A fitting end to the day!

Census Day ~ 6 March 2018

Today is Census Day in New Zealand! It’s run every five years by Stats NZ, and counts the number of people and dwellings in the country on a particular day. The last census was held in 2013 and you can view the type of information gathered and the resulting reports from the Stats NZ website.

Four of the family are here to be enumerated at home, but my daughter is away on a school camp in the South Island. Unlike most of the country who are filling out the forms online, she and her classmates will be filling out paper forms (with some help from the teachers, no doubt!). The days of census collectors going door-to-door are fast disappearing.

Census collector on horsebak

Census enumerator travelling by horseback near Ruatāhuna in 1996. Credit: NZ Official Yearbook1

I wasn’t here in New Zealand for the last census, though we did make it into the UK one on 27 March 2011. It was the first UK census which could be completed online (though I also filled out and kept a paper copy for posterity).

Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to the Census from 1986, courtesy of NZ On Screen:

  1. ‘Census collecting by horse’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/collecting-census-by-horse, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 23-Mar-2015. Licensed by Manatū Taonga for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

RootsTech 2018 ~ livestreaming from Salt Lake City, Utah

RootsTech is the annual genealogy-meets-technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and this year is being held Wednesday 28th February to Saturday 3rd March. Not all of us can make it over there in person, but we can watch some of the presentations at home. Inspired by Sylvia Valentine who has “translated” the timetable from MST (Mountain Standard Time) into GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for UK and Ireland folks, below is the timetable in NZDT (New Zealand Daylight Time). New Zealand is 20 hours ahead of Salt Lake City, so don’t get confused by the “Wednesday General Session” happening on a Thursday, etc!

There’s an excellent line-up of speakers, and if you have British Isles ancestry I can definitely recommend Myko Clelland and Brian Donovan – I’ve heard them both speak in person and they’re bound to give engaging and informative presentations.

For more details on the presentations and the live stream, visit the RootsTech website.

Alarm clocks at the ready!

Thursday, 1st March
4:30am Family History in 5 Minutes a Day Deborah Gamble
7:00am DNA—One Family, One World David Nicholson
9:30am Organizing and Preserving Photograph Collections Ari Wilkins
11:00am Finding the Answers: The Basics of WWII Research Jennifer Holik
12:30pm Wednesday General Session and Innovation Showcase Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International
Friday, 2nd March
4:30am Thursday General Session Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York
7:00am MyHeritage DNA 101: From Test to Results Yaniv Erlich
9:30am Google Photos: Collect, Organize, Preserve, and Share Michelle Goodrum
11:00am Unlocking Roman Catholic Records Brian Donovan
12:30pm A Gift of Life: Who’s Writing Your Story? Deborah Abbott
Saturday, 3rd March
4:30am Friday General Session Scott Hamilton
7:00am findmypast’s British and Irish Hidden Gems Myko Clelland
9:30am Finding the Right DNA Test for You Jim Brewster
11:00am How Not to Leave Your Genealogy Behind Amy Johnson Crow and Curt Witcher
12:30pm Finding Elusive Records at FamilySearch Robert Kehrer
Sunday, 4th March
4:30am Saturday General Session Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Natalia Lafourcade
7:00am Civil Registration Indexes of England and Wales Audrey Collins
9:30am Advancing Your Genealogy Research with DNA Anna Swayne
11:00am Pain in the Access: More Web for Your Genealogy Curt Witcher

Accentuate the Positive ~ 2017

My first full year back in New Zealand and we still haven’t fully unpacked! I did manage to squeeze in some study, a bit of research, and a few genealogy events.

A great newspaper article I found was about the visit my great great grandfather made back to England in 1907. In fact, there were two articles, and they provided a huge amount of detail (and some considerable hyperbole).

A geneajourney I took was to Auckland for the NZ Society of Genealogists’ annual conference, where the society was celebrating its 50th year in existence. A wonderfully run event with a great range of speakers. I’m looking forward to this year’s conference, Echoes of our Past, being held in Christchurch.

A geneasurprise I received was having a DNA match turn up for my mother, a descendant of her 2 x great grandfather’s half brother.

A (not so) new piece of technology I mastered was Excel. Although it’s not new to me, it’s been a long while since I’ve taken it for a proper spin, and I’m now able to generate some cool-looking charts and population pyramids.

I joined my local genealogy society and volunteered for the Wellington War Memorials project, and have met some lovely like-minded folks.

A genealogy event from which I learnt something new was the monthly series of family history talks held at the National Library of NZ in Wellington.

A blog post that taught me something new was any by John Grenham.

A great site I visited was Old Napier Cemetery, where many of my O’Rourke relatives are buried.

Old Napier cemetery

A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Kate Tiller’s English Local History: An introduction.

It was exciting to finally meet Seonaid Lewis from Auckland City Library, and many others since being back in NZ.

I am excited for 2018 because there’s Congress! A triennnial Australasian genealogy conference, this year being held in Sydney. I’m a Congress newbie, so looking forward to attending, plus I get to catch up with some cousins.

Another positive I would like to share is… I’m halfway through the Advanced Diploma in Local History, a distance course run by the University of Oxford. It has been such a huge learning adventure, and despite the incredible amount of time and work it involves, I am absolutely loving it.

Thanks go to Jill at GeniAUS again for her great Accentuate the Positive geneameme. You can read about the 2017 highlights of other geneabloggers on the GeniAUS website.

A penny for them ~ Anzac Day

I’ve written before about my relative (first cousin, thrice removed) Peter Gaffaney, who died during World War I. A couple of years ago I met some members from that side of the family, who very kindly gave me photos of Peter’s war medals and his memorial plaque (commonly referred to as a “Dead Man’s Penny”). So often these items are lost or sold on, and it was wonderful to know that Peter’s had been kept and treasured in the family.

WWI medals of Sgt Peter Michael Gaffaney

Military Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Peter Michael Gaffaney

Peter’s service record shows that his medals were issued to his brother Vincent, noted as his legatee.

Memorial plaque, Peter Michael Gaffaney, died 1918 in France.

Memorial plaque, Peter Michael Gaffaney, died 1918 in France.

Memorial plaques were issued to the next-of-kin of British and Empire servicemen and women who died as a result of the First World War. They were issued along with a commemorative scroll and letter, though sometimes these were sent separately. Peter’s scroll was sent on 13 June 1921, and his plaque on 16 Feb 1922.

Plaque and Scroll despatch, from service record of Peter Michael Gaffaney 24/431

Plaque and Scroll despatch, from service record of Peter Michael Gaffaney 24/431

Lest we forget

Anzac poppy

George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff all spruced up ~ Tombstone Tuesday

My 3 x great grandparents George and Elizabeth Tunnicliff are buried in Grave 56 of St Mary’s Cathedral churchyard, New Plymouth (Taranaki, New Zealand). In 2014 John Pickering, graveyard manager of St Mary’s, spearheaded a project to repair all the old gravestones in the churchyard. Desecendants, where known, were contacted and asked to help fund the project. Through an earlier blog post, some money was raised towards the repair of George and Elizabeth’s gravestone, but the majority was funded by donations from local parishioners.

The churchyard is a Category 1 historical site, and as such, only registered memorial masons could carry out the repairs. As you can see, a wonderful job has been done! Heartfelt thanks must go to St Mary’s Cathedral and its generous congregation, and especially John Pickering, for looking after our heritage sites.

The inscription on the headstone reads:

In loving memory of George Tunnecliff died 13 February 1912 aged 80 years also Elizabeth Tunnecliff died 24 February 1916 aged 86 . At rest.

Further reading:

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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