Category Archives: Genealogy

The Brosnan ~ Follow Friday

Seán Brosnahan, the Ceann Fine of the Brosnan Clan, now has a website:  The Brosnan. The exciting news is that he’s made available some of his historical work, including the whole texts of The Kerrytown Brosnahans and Thinking About Heaven: A History of Sacred Heart Parish Timaru, both of which are now out of print and very difficult to get hold of. No longer! His articles, mostly focusing on 19th and early 20th century Irish Catholic issues and experiences in New Zealand, make for fascinating reading.

Seán’s collection of photographs on the site include those from The Kerrytown Brosnahans, as well as some that didn’t make it into the book. There are also photographs and a video from the Brosnan Clan Gathering last year in Co Kerry.

Keep an eye on the site for news of Brosna(ha)n happenings around the world.

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

My Genealogy Year 2013 ~ Accentuate the Positive!

February already and I’m only just getting round to my first post of the new year. Too late to join in GeniAUS’s Accentuate the Positive geneameme?? I hope not! Last year Jill came up with this great way to celebrate the genealogical highs of the previous twelve months, rather than dwell on any lows.

Here’s how 2013 panned out for me…

Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary

Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary

An elusive ancestor I found was a likely candidate for my 3 x great grandmother. Her son Henry John Forrest Florey had a different mother’s name on each of three vital records: “Henrietta Florey (formerly Byford)” on his birth registration in 1862, “Elizabeth Ann Florey” on his 1863 baptism record, and “Henrietta White” on his marriage record in 1885. My ancestors seem adept at the ol’ smoke and mirrors game, but I think I have finally discovered who Henry’s real mother probably is.

An ancestor’s grave I found was that of my 3 x great grandfather Thomas Gaffney. To be exact, I think we have found the record of his burial and the plot location. To find his actual grave will require a spike, a spade, and a large amount of elbow grease. Unless, of course, it was one of the graves that was washed away in Manchester’s great flood of 1872.

An important vital record I found was my 3 x great uncle John Burke’s baptism record. This broke down a huge brick wall and has helped pinpoint the area in Co Mayo from where my Burke family emigrated in the 1850s. It was wonderful to share the discovery with a Burke cousin, who was just as excited as I was!

My 2013 blog post that I was particularly proud of was the one commemorating the gallantry of my (first, three times removed) cousin, Peter Gaffaney, mostly because of the research involved.

My 2013 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was my Revisiting the Brosnahans post, marking my two year blogiversary.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Google’s Hangout on Air. I haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but I managed to participate in one of Jill Ball’s GeniAUS hangouts in December and it was a lot of fun. My second attempt to join one last month didn’t work out so well, but I’ve since watched Mike Delagado’s immensely helpful video tutorial How to Join a Google+ Hangout for the First Time, so I am hopeful for the next time!

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was all of them! I attended workshops at WDYTYA? Live in February, an IHGS tutorial weekend in March, the Exodus conference in September, and best of all – Back to our Past in Dublin with my father in October. I also learnt a lot from Relative Roots‘ three Genetic Genealogy Demystified webinars.

A genealogy book that taught me something new was Simon Fowler’s Tracing Your Army Ancestors.

The National Archives, Kew, London

The National Archives, Kew, London

A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Aldershot Military Museum‘s archive (by appointment only), and also the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock, both of which I hadn’t visited before. Even more exciting was my first trip to The National Archives at Kew, followed up by two more visits during the year. I made good use of the Society of Genealogists‘ library while attending several talks there, and checked out the new Kent History and Library Centre. And not forgetting my quick visits to the Valuation Office and National Library of Ireland while in Dublin. 2013 was a great year for ‘out and about’ research!

It was exciting to finally meet an O’Rourke cousin in Cork, a Burke cousin in London, and some Brosnahan cousins from New Zealand.

A geneadventure I enjoyed was my trip to the Brosnan Clan Gathering held in Castleisland, Co Kerry, in July. I think this would have to be the genealogical highlight of my year, meeting the aforementioned Brosnahan cousins and enjoying the amazing hospitality of our Irish kinfolk. It was a truly magical journey back to our “homeland”.

O'Rourke cottage, Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry

O’Rourke cottage, Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry

Another positive I would like to share is I got to see the O’Rourke family’s cottage in Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry, where my 2x great grandfather Bartholomew was born, and the family’s grave plot where Bartholomew’s father, uncles and grandfather are all buried.

Thanks again to Jill for the opportunity to share my year of family history research and learning. You can read about the 2013 highlights of other geneabloggers through her GeniAUS website.

My Genealogy Year 2012 : Accentuate the Positive!

Jill from Geniaus came up with a wonderful idea to celebrate the high points of 2012:  Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme, rather than concentrate on what we didn’t achieve during the year. So instead of feeling a bit depressed over all the things I didn’t quite manage to do this year, I get to feel a whole heap happier about all the cool stuff that happened!

An elusive ancestor I found was James Florey. Well, he’s not actually an ancestor, which I suspected but can now prove. He was the first husband of my 4 x great grandmother, Elizabeth Knott, and I couldn’t figure out what happened to him – it was as if he had abandoned his family and disappeared off the face of the earth. He hadn’t – he got transported to Australia for 10 years for sheep-stealing. Meanwhile, his wife found comfort in another’s arms, gave birth to my 3 x great grandfather (Henry Richard Florey/Pope), and eventually remarried. I have yet to find out what happened to James after he gained his Certificate of Freedom. Did he return to England, or stay in Australia?

A precious family photo I found was one that may be of my Nanna, Jean McGonnell, when she was young.

Possibly Myrtle Jean Louisa McGonnell (1915-2011)

Possibly Myrtle Jean Louisa McGonnell (1915-2011)

An ancestor’s grave I found was my great grandparents and grandparents’ final resting place in Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ – thankfully with little damage from the earthquakes in 2011.

A newly found family member who shared a photo of my 3 x great grandfather (the previously mentioned Henry Richard Florey) and his family – I could finally put a face to the ancestor who has led me a merry dance through all sorts of records.  Then, the wife of a fourth cousin sent me a family history of “our” Brosnahan family – amazing! And yet more family members contacted me with stories and photos, either through this blog or via my tree on Ancestry.

My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was.. all the ones in February – I blogged every day that month.

My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was difficult to work out as my Stats plugin fell over and won’t play nice, but I think  it was my post on James Brosnan’s will.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Twitter. I love keeping up to date with genealogy news, and also with fellow IHGS students.  I also joined a couple of groups on Facebook, and a Google+ community, and will see how those pan out over the next year.

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was all of them! I had a busy year starting with WDYTYA? Live in February, then several weekend seminars at IHGS later in the year, and finally Celia Heritage’s one day workshop on Fleshing out Your Family Tree. I think the one where I learnt the most was the Military Records seminar at IHGS, given by Les Mitchinson, as this was an area I wasn’t familiar with.

A genealogy book that taught me something new was Helen Osborn’s Genealogy: Essential Research Methods.

A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Perth and Kinross Council Archive in the A K Bell Library in Perth, Scotland. I didn’t have much time there, unfortunately, but enough to find the burial records for my 3 x great grandparents, Michael Burke and Bridget Flynn, and take a quick look at some of the Perth valuation rolls.

 A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Ciarán Ó Murchadha’s The Great Famine : Ireland’s Agony 1845-1852.

It was exciting to finally meet my IHGS tutor, Celia Heritage! Plus twitter pals and fellow IHGS students at Canterbury in October, and also my Temuka cousins at the beginning of the year in New Zealand.

A geneadventure I enjoyed was my trip to Temuka in January, meeting cousins and visiting the family farm, and places where my grandfather grew up in South Canterbury. Also the trip to Scotland in May to visit the areas connected with my Burke and Philp ancestors. And visiting Deptford, London, with my mother to see where her grandfather was born and raised.

Another positive I would like to share is I finally indexed my research notebooks! And it has already proven to be a worthwhile exercise.  Who knows, maybe this year the data may find its way into Reunion?  I also worked on my IHGS assignments, submitting two batches this year, and received some not-too-shabby marks in return.

Thanks to Jill for a great opportunity to share my year of family history research!  You can read about the 2012 highlights of other geneabloggers through her Geniaus website.

 

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand ~ Follow Friday

A great resource from the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre – a searchable full-text edition of all six volumes of The Cyclopedia of New Zealand.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand was published in six volumes between 1897 and 1908 by the Cyclopedia Company Ltd. Each volume deals with a region of New Zealand and includes information on local towns and districts, government departments, individuals, businesses, clubs and societies. Biographical entries frequently include the subject’s date and place of birth, the name of the ship by which immigrants arrived, spouse’s name, and the number and gender of children born to a couple. (NZETC website)

Members of the public paid to have an entry in the publication, so there is a bias towards those who could afford to do so. Few women, Māori or non-Europeans are included in the biographical section. However, it does give a wonderful snapshot of the towns and settlements in late 19th and early 20th century New Zealand, with the added bonus of maybe a snippet or two on your early settler ancestors.

Here is the entry for my great great grandfather, Michael Gaff(a)ney:

Gaffney, Michael, Farmer, “Belper Farm,” Arowhenua. Mr. Gaffney was born in 1836 at Belper, Derbyshire, England, and emigrated to New Zealand in 1858 by the ship “Cresswell,” landing in Lyttelton. He went to Timaru and was employed by Messrs. Rhodes Bros, for many years, principally at bush work and fencing. He was the first to take a waggon team to the Mackenzie country, and was engaged in the carrying business for some years. In 1861, he was the first who took up land on the Levels estate. The farm on which he resides comprises 548 acres, and he has another property of 252 acres at Washdyke, and a considerable amount of township property. In addition to wheat-growing, he fattens sheep for freezing, and disposes of a considerable number annually. Mr. Gaffney has been a member of the South Canterbury Hunt Club for many years and takes a general interest in sport. He was married in Christchurch to Miss Maggie Brosnahan, and has twelve children.1

Some of the biographical entries also included photos – perhaps you had to pay more for that?

This is just a little from the section on Temuka:

Temuka is on the main south line of railway, eighty-nine miles from Christchurch, and eleven miles to the north of Timaru. The surrounding district is rich agricultural country; towards the sea the land is particularly fertile, and was originally a wild swamp, but it now yields crops which average sixty bushels of wheat and from seventy to eighty bushels of oats to the acre. With a few exceptions, the holdings are comparatively large, and the whole district is dotted with fine plantations, which afford shelter to the stock and homesteads and lend a sylvan grace to the landscape. The district is well watered, as the Opihi and Temuka rivers are about half a mile from the town, the Orari three miles, and the Rangitata about ten. These rivers are known to all anglers as being stocked with trout, which, in respect to size and delicacy, equal the best in New Zealand. Temuka is, therefore, in high favour with anglers, some of whom come from Australia, and even England, every fishing season. In itself Temuka is a pleasant country town, with broad clean streets, and fresh water running in the side channels. It is well supplied with schools, churches, hotels, and livery stables. Many of the buildings are in brick, and the shops are supplied with articles equal to those to be seen in the larger centres of population. There are two doctors, two chemists, and one dentist in the town, which has a well kept park and domain, with a bicycle track, and tennis, cricket and football grounds. The post and telegraph office and the courthouse are built in brick. A large amount of business is transacted at the local railway station and the goods sheds. At the census taken on the 31st of March, 1901, Temuka had a population of 1,465; 767 males, and 698 females.2

According to the 2006 Census, Temuka now has a population of 4044: 1950 males, and 2091 females.2

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. “Gaffney, Michael”, The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], (The Cyclopedia Company Limited, 1903); digitised publication by New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d6-d101-d2.html).
  2. “[Temuka]“,  The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], (The Cyclopedia Company Limited, 1903); digitised publication by New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d6-d97-d1.html)
  3. “QuickStats about Temuka”, 2006 Census Data, Statistics New Zealand, (http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage.aspx : accessed 10 Feb 2012).

Excerpts from The Cyclopedia of New Zealand shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

RootsTech 2012, Salt Lake City, Utah

RootsTech is the conference where family history and technology meet – so lots of stuff for genealogists and geeks alike.

No, I wasn’t able to attend RootsTech in person, but I did get to watch some of the presentations that were streamed live.  In fact, they’re being re-streamed over the next week, so there’s still a chance to check them out.  I loved being able to watch a presentation, and then follow the feedback on Twitter.  Over 90 geneabloggers were there in Salt Lake City, and it’s been fun reading about some of their experiences, either via Twitter or their blog posts.

The list of streamed presentations doesn’t appear to be on the site now, so here are the ones you can view at www.rootstech.org (currently showing as daily recaps, individual videos to come soon):

Thursday, 2 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Inventing the Future, as a Community Jay Verkler
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Do I Trust the Cloud? D. Joshua Taylor
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Effective Database Search Tactics Kory Meyerink
Presention for Intermediate Users: Twitter – It’s Not Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Thomas MacEntee
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Eleven Layers of Online Searches Barbara Renick
Friday, 3 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Exabyte Social Clouds and other Monstrosities Josh Coates
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Publish Your Genealogy Online Laura Prescott
Presentation for Intermediate Developers: Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines Robert Gardner
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Genealogists “Go Mobile” Sandra Crowley
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Google’s Toolbar and Genealogy David Barney
Saturday, 4 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Making the most of technology to further the family history industry Tim Sullivan
Presentation for Beginner Users: Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101 Lisa Louise Cooke
Presentation for Beginner Users: Future of FamilySearch Family Tree Ron Tanner
Presentation for All Users: Privacy in a Collaborative Environment Noah Tutak

You can view the full conference schedule, plus check out any interesting individual sessions and see if they have a syllabus available to download – useful for links and tips, and main topics of the presentation.

I managed to catch most of the presentations and learnt something from each. Most enjoyable? Josh Coates and the zombies Cloud. Most useful? Quite a few, but the one that most interested me was Robert Gardner on how to optimise your genealogy website so that your content is properly indexed by search engines, and therefore found by users.

RootsTech 2013 is scheduled for 21 – 23 March next year.

Attendees reports:

iwiKiwi is one year old today!

To celebrate being in the blogiverse for one whole year, I thought I’d take a little look back at my first post and my 2011 Genealogy Resolutions:

  • Start a blog   Yep, done that!
  • Blog regularly and contribute comments to other blogs  Hmm… did okay in the first half of the year, but posting slowed down a lot as I concentrated more on my IHGS assignments.  My reading of other blogs, and commenting on them, slowed down to the point of nothingness. At the moment I’m only reading other blog posts when prompted by Twitter.
  • Compile a proper research plan (as opposed to “ooooh, think I might look that up next, or maybe that… )  Working on this, and definitely started preparing proper plans for the research trips I undertook this year.  Except maybe the “bringing along some decent maps” bit of the plans.
  • Get to know the Centre for Kentish Studies  I visited once!  And now they’re closed till around April this year, when they re-open in a brand new and expanded facility in Maidstone.  Hopefully they’ll have some ‘Opening Week’ festivities for me to attend.
  • Complete some assignments!!!! (Ideally eight lectures this year)  Ouch.  Only three completed, but working on number 4, and completed the research work for lecture 5 and 6 assignments.
  • Visit the Suffolk record office (and a cemetery or two)  Spent four days altogether at the Bury St Edmunds’ record office, all very productive.  And my children can attest that we have visited several cemeteries this year.
  • Compile a research plan for the New Zealand trip in February  I did, I went, and now I’m off again next week!  So, another research plan is in the works.
  • Begin scanning certificates and documents I have in hard-copy  Have made a start on these, but mostly so I can share copies with relatives.
  • Get those England census records into Reunion  Almost all completed!  But I keep finding more family in more censuses…
  • Get those NZ electoral records into Reunion  Nope, nada.
  • File, organise, cite!  Trying, a little, mostly!

I’ve had a lot of fun writing this blog over the last 12 months – just need more time to write more often.  Especially appreciated are the relatives who have contacted me, the folks who have commented on my posts, and to everyone who’s still reading along.  Thanks!

Task list ~ Sorting Saturday

Well, we’re over halfway through December already and I haven’t even thought about a task list for the month!   So much for being more organised…

Anyway, a quick look at how I did on my November tasks:

  • outstanding emails    –  half done, need to finish the rest before Christmas
  • lecture 3 assignments   –   a miracle indeed, finished and submitted!!  Have even started on lecture 4 assignments
  • regular blogging (including finishing my West Yorkshire research trip series)    –   not done so well here, though completed my West Yorkshire posts
  • filing and inputting data for maternal side   –    ummm…
  • book tickets for WDYTYA? Live in February  –   yup indeedy, tickets bought and workshops booked.  Even have hotel booked, woohoo!

I also fitted in a day course at IHGS on The Parish and the Manor, and a day’s research up in Suffolk on the Wright side of my family.

The rest of this month will kinda be taken up with Christmas activities, but I’m also hoping to:

  • complete two lecture 4 assignments
  • undertake more Wright research up in Suffolk
  • do some prep work for my New Zealand trip in January
  • maybe some filing…?? ho ho ho

Sorting Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

November task list ~ Sorting Saturday

I am still behind in all my filing and sorting and such like, and not much, if any, progess has been made since September.

Happily though, my grandfather’s biography is finished.  Shrieks of joy and jubilation! Two weeks ago I finally submitted my Lecture 2 assignments for the course I’m doing with IHGS.  It’s taken me a year to do the first two lectures, and I have 22 more to go…. I think I may need to speed up a little.

I’m hoping a task list might help me get focussed over the next month.  There are six more weeks before the kids break up for Christmas, so I have to make the most of my kid-free time. These are my  priorities for November:

  • outstanding emails
  • lecture 3 assignments
  • regular blogging (including finishing my West Yorkshire research trip series)
  • filing and inputting data for maternal side
  • book tickets for WDYTYA? Live in February

Sorting Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Celebrating the Census at the National Archives, Kew

So much for getting back to blogging regularly, I keep getting distracted by other tasks.  One of the more pleasant ones was attending the Celebrating the Census conference at the National Archives on Saturday.

It was an all day event with two streams of presentations.  Of course, there’s always a session or two where I’m torn between two different lectures!

The ones I enjoyed the most were Sharon Hintze from Family  Search giving an entertaining overview of worldwide census returns, and Helen Kelly on Irish census returns and census substitutes that made me much more optimistic about finding my Irish folk. (And that the most important thing is not trying to trace your family back to the mists of time, but actually finding the place, the land where your ancestors trod.)

Dee Williams from ScotlandsPeople gave a great background of, and searching tips for, the Scottish censuses, and TNA’s Mark Pearsall highlighted their pre-1841 censuses and listings.  Humphrey Southall (University of Portsmouth) gave a geographer’s view of the censuses and showed us their wonderful website of historic geographical information, A Vision of Britain through Time: “A vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001. Including maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions.”  Go check it out.

One of the nice things about events like this, is that you get to meet like-minded people.   Thanks to everyone at TNA for a fantastic day!

National Coal Mining Museum, Yorkshire ~ Follow Friday

My 3 x great grandfather, Henry Nunns, was a coal miner, and his father and brothers worked in the mines as well. One of the highlights of my recent Yorkshire trip was visiting the National Coal Mining Museum near Wakefield, to find out what Henry’s working life might have been like.  If your ancestors had any connection with coal mining, this is a fantastic place to visit.  What’s more, it’s free!

I’d recently watched a documentary on child labour, The Children Who Built Victorian Britain, so I had a small idea of what coal mining was about, but I really wanted to find out more – and especially, to go down a coal mine.

Get kitted out with your miner’s helmet and battery lamp then step into the cage and descend 140m underground to discover the amazing sotry of mining through the ages.  Led by ex-miners, these hugely popular tours will give you a vivid insight into the dangers and hardships faced by the men, women and children who toiled deep below the ground.
– National Coal Mining Museum brochure

Now, I’m quite claustrophobic, and I was very nervous about going underground, so I managed to convince my seven year old son to go with me.  (I bribed him with the carrot of getting an awesome ‘Extreme Reading’ photo opportunity for a school competition when we were down in the mine.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised that cameras and phones were banned.  Ummm, sorry kid!)  I checked beforehand to see if there were any parts of the tour that involved crawling and the like, and I was assured that any crawling bits were optional and “for the kids”.   In any event, I was fine, and the tour was fantastic!  We were first shown an area of the pit from the 1820s, and then were slowly taken down all manner of tunnels and ‘roadways’.  Our guide, an ex-miner, gave an illuminating picture of what life was like for miners over the last two centuries.

The tour takes 90 minutes, and thankfully there was enough above ground to keep my hubby and the two younger kids amused while #1 son and I took the tour.  (Children under five aren’t permitted on the tour.)  It’s a good idea to wear decent walking shoes, and a jacket or jumper, as it gets a little chilly underground.

Young miner, extreme reader

Young miner, not so extreme reader

Unfortunately I didn’t get much time to check out everything above ground, but there are historic colliery buildings, collections detailing mining history, displays of mining memorabilia, a library, nature trail, retired pit ponies, plus a shop, small children’s indoor playroom, cafe and picnic area.

I did get to buy a book which our guide had recommended, and to which I also give a big thumbs up – Victoria’s Children of the Dark by Alan Gallop.  It tells the story of the children who worked in the mines in the early 19th century, and recreates the events surrounding the 1838 Husker Pit disaster at Silkstone, Yorkshire.  Definitely a fascinating read after being down a mine and seeing the actual working conditions.

National Coal Mining Museum for England
Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton
Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4RH
tel: +44 1924 848806
www: www.ncm.org.uk

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.