And the party of the second part is…The rest of the sessions for Day 2! So, without further ado, here is Part Two of my post for Day 2 of the AFFHO Congress 2015…
Session 1: Following The Gold – Carole Riley
My husband has family members from two different lines who came to Australia in the 1850s – specifically to Melbourne. One at least definitely came for the gold because it was mentioned in his obituary about 60 years later – the only evidence I’ve found about his motivation to emigrate. The other may have been lured by the business opportunities springing from the gold rush.
In any case, despite my interminable primary school lessons, I knew very little about the gold rush period and wanted to know more and maybe even some new angles to pursue. What caught my attention the most from Carole’s talk were her Lessons Learned:
- Research the places where your ancestors were – as mentioned on certificates etc. Carole knew where various ancestors had been but it didn’t click until some time later that many of them were well-known gold rush locations. Ah! Blissful ignorance. I know it well.
- Did your ancestors have any marketable skills? That may explain why they were in those areas.
- Did they buy property? Where did the money come from? e.g. buying a farm, store or hotel. Maybe they struck it lucky?
- Did they disappear? Follow the gold. Gold was discovered in different places across each decade in the 1800’s. Some of Carole’s relatives disappeared only to reappear in other gold rush locations.
All of these struck a chord with me. One of my husband’s ancestors bought a farm after he left Victoria but I don’t know where the money came from. Gold or an inheritance? Another started in Melbourne and ended up in New Zealand in Otago. I didn’t even know there was a gold rush there until Carole’s talk! It pays to really learn the history where your ancestors lived. Lessons learned, indeed!
Session 2: Work Choices – Shaping Our Lives – Cora Num
However, the most interesting information I learned from this session was how useful sewerage records could be! They often contain maps of streets identifying houses and other bits of interesting information. So it is a really useful source for identifying places where your ancestors lived – especially when streets and buildings were changed later on because of redevelopment. After the session I bought “Sewerage Records: An Untapped Magnificent Resource” by Susie Zada. Great title!
Session 3: Irish Census and Census Substitutes – David Rencher
Fear. Denial. “La La La”. Irish ancestors? What Irish ancestors? That’s pretty much my reaction to my husband’s Irish family ancestors.
The notorious difficulty of Irish family research has definitely discouraged me from really getting to grips with working on this part of the tree. Despite this, I thought it was time to at least relieve my ignorance just a little about what was possible. I must say I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was more information available that I had thought and it is all about how creative you are with analysing the records that are still extant. I’m now feeling a little more brave.
Lunchtime Keynote: Realities of 19th Century Ireland – Richard Reid
It is a shame that the keynotes are mostly not included in the congress proceedings as I would have liked to have made better notes on this talk. It was an interesting follow up to to the Irish Census session with lots of interesting snippets of information.
Did you know that with regards to assisted passages, information provided could be remarkably accurate? For example, candidates for passage had to provide references and their details, like their ages, were checked and confirmed by the parish clergyman. There was less opportunity to be creative with the truth unlike unassisted passengers. Richard also suggested checking Ordnance Survey of Ireland and field name books which often contained detailed descriptions of townlands which could give you some useful background information for the area where your family lived.
Session 4: Learn More From Autosomal and X-Chromosome DNA – Kerry Farmer
Yes, I’m obviously a sucker for punishment as I went back for another session on DNA research. It is such a complex subject I thought I could benefit from some reinforcement of what I learned from Kerry’s previous session. Luckily there was a bit of an overlap which helped a great deal in improving my understanding of Kerry’s analysis methodology. Kerry’s paper in the Congress Proceedings is a well-cited, 12 1/2 pages long, so you get the idea of just how much information Kerry covered in this session. My head is still spinning.
Session 5: Finding Your Family in New Zealand – Robyn Williams
Once again, I don’t know much about researching in New Zealand. You may have by now sensed a pattern for the reasons for which sessions I chose to attend. Hint: the key word is “ignorance”.
Anyway, Robyn gave a very good beginners’s guide to family research in New Zealand covering many different resources and advice on various “gotchas”. For example when buying birth certificates for births after 1 January 1875, make sure to buy the electronic printout and not the certificate as you have a better chance of getting more information such as details of the parent’s marriage. I had been searching for a will and found that they were indexed on the FamilySearch site. When I couldn’t find a will I just assumed that meant there wasn’t one. But apparently not all wills are on on the FamilySearch site as they are still indexing. I’ll have to follow up on this one.
It was a very full and interesting day!
If any of these strike a chord with you as well, I would love to hear about it.
Title Image: The gold diggings of Victoria in five views taken on the spot by D. Tulloch [picture] (1852). Melbourne: Thomas Ham; Online Digital Collections: State Library Victoria