Story 2 – Notorious Jackson Gang

It is a cold, dark night in April 1846. Members of the Jackson family are inside the Monglass home occupied by Caldwell Motherwell.

“Da, hurry up,” whispers Rebecca. She listens intently for any sound coming from the bedrooms above.

“Don’t you be worrying, me girl,” William replies, “We still have plenty to get from here.”

“But, da, we all have a coat or cloak to wear. We don’t want to wake up Mr Motherwell with any sudden noise.”

Rebecca slowly edges to the doorway with her younger brother William, who was wearing a macintosh, and her friend Mary Jane Gallagher, who was wearing a cloak.

William the elder, Anne Jackson and Jane Steele, who were also members of the notorious Jackson gang, picked up the last of their stolen goods and followed the children out the doorway.

Quickly and silently they headed over the fields that should have been filled with potatoes, towards their home in Garshooey, about a mile away. But with the potato famine happening all over Ireland, there was little in the way of food to eat. Pawning the pieces of clothing meant food in their stomachs for another week or so.

Eight months later, Anne reports the thefts to the local sub-constable James Lowe. William, his son and daughter and Jane Steele are convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation. Thus begins a new life in Van Diemen’s Land for my great great grandmother Rebecca Jackson.

Source:

Report of court trial at Lifford Quarter Sessions, Donegal,  1 January 1847. Found in the Court of Petty Sessions records for Newtowncunningham held at Donegal archives, Lifford.

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Two students replied to this story mentioning a bit of confusion with the two William – father and son. Also to maybe set the scene more with lots more description.

Readers: Where else could I improve this writing? As it is only going to be published on this blog, feel free to re-write whole paragraphs if you want.

Story 1 – whale chase

“Thar she blows.”

Captain William Smith was at the wheel of the whaling barque, Marie Laure. Below him, on the deck, he could see his brother-in-law, Domingo Jose Evorall, readying the small rowboat. William knew the danger involved in chasing and harpooning a sperm whale.

“Lines in the boats.”

William remembered a time many years previously when he and his fellow shipmates were putting the lines carefully in place, fixing the pins and adding the harpoons. Boats were lowered, swinging dangerously close to the side of the rolling barque. Near the waves, the boats were quickly unhooked, sailors got oars ready to push against the sides if they got too close to the barque. It was then that the dangerous work began.

William, as mate, had been in charge of the chase and kept watch for the whale. The oarsmen pulled steadily. No time to look over their shoulders. The green hands, on their first chase, were they frightened or excited? Spouts were seen close by.

“Heave to.”

The iron was thrown; the flukes suddenly hit the water and sprayed the sailors.

“Stern for your lives.”

Boatsteerer making sure the boat doesn’t overturn; harpooner ready with a knife to cut the slack line if needed; the whale sounding or diving deep.  A drogue was now attached to the line to slow the speed of the diving whale. The line going slack but where is the big cetacean? Suddenly, great jaw open, he breaks the surface just in front of us.

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Much of the language for this was taken from a PDF document of an actual whale chase that William took part in in 1862. I had four students leave comments mainly about not knowing where and when the present time and the thoughts of William changed from one to the other. They said they got very involved with the story and could feel the excitement of the chase.

Readers: Where else could I improve this writing? As it is only going to be published on this blog, feel free to re-write whole paragraphs if you want.

Letter S challenge

I know what you’re going to say – where is the letter R challenge? I will write that one when the results of my DNA testing come in.

Stories

Writing your family history unit at UTAS involves writing short 250 word stories about an event or person in your family history. I am finding this unit very difficult. I don’t mind writing factual reports or timelines of a person’s life and including the referencing as I go. That is what I think a family historian should do so others can check the sources to verify facts mentioned.

Personally I feel once I start putting words into the mouth of my ancestor or writing about what their life was like or could have been like, then I am no longer writing family history but am writing fiction or narratives that can’t necessarily be proven.

But I did mention to the Facebook group I am a member of that I would include my short stories here, so they could leave comments about where I could improve. Click on the link for each story as each is a new post.

Story 1 about a whale hunt that relates to my great great grandfather William Smith

Story 2 about my great great grandmother Rebecca Jackson

Story 3 about my great great grandfather William Chandler

Story 4 about the townland Garshooey in Donegal Ireland

Story 5 about a murder story from Trove

Story 6 another about William Chandler

As I complete each story I will add the link.

Readers: How are you finding this unit? Can you recommend anything for me to read that might help me improve my storytelling skills?

 

 

Letter Q challenge

 

Character Question Mark

Creative Commons License One Way Stock via Compfight

This one is easy especially with me having just had DNA tests done on myself and my parents.

Q will be for questions of which I will have many once the results come through.

But to help me answer these questions I have joined a Facebook group on DNA genealogy in Australia and New Zealand. They have lots of links of other places to go to get help. Naturally I also have Mr Google to turn to.

UPDATE UPDATE – Just found the admin of the Facebook group has a list of resources on her blog – they are fantastic.

But firstly, it is recommended to upload the DNA results file to GEDMATCH where you are given a number code so you can see who else you might be matched to with DNA.

Personally, I feel this is going to be extremely interesting and I hope to find out more on my father’s side. I have spent a lot of today on Ancestry and Trove trying to find out about his great grandparents on his mother’s maternal side – SOMERS and O’KEEFE around Georges Bay, Tasmania.

Readers: Have you had your DNA tested? What have you learnt since getting the results?

Letter P challenge

Another unit I have been doing at UTAS is called

Photo Essay

Whenever I write a blog post I try to include at least one image that relates to the topic of the post. But this unit taught me more about telling stories using images and captions.

I always thought a caption was like the little description underneath an image or the title of the image, but in this unit a caption was between one and three sentences per image.

We had to decide on the story-line for our photo-essay, take photos using the new skills we learned in the first few weeks and then write captions for the images we were using.

As this unit could be used as part of the Family History course, and many students who took part in the first Intro to Family History unit are nearly at the stage of graduating in August next year, I decided to make that the theme for my photo-essay.

I saved my photo essay as a powerpoint and have uploaded it here for you to look at. It hasn’t been marked yet by UTAS markers, so I wonder what they will think of it.

Readers: Please leave a comment about my post or something beginning with P that relates to your family history or your research.

letter P

Talking to Aunty Marg

As part of the Oral History course, I interviewed my Aunty Margaret, my mother’s sister. I recorded on my iPad then edited using the Wavepad program on my PC.

We had to submit a three minute recording with a transcript – I received a score of 88% but was mentioned I should use more ellipses … when the voice trails off in the recording.

Here is the actual edited recording and the transcript.

 

Interviewee: Margaret Phillips [MP]

Interviewer: Suzanne Wyatt [SW]

Date: November 16, 2016

Place: Her lounge room in West Moonah.

As Margaret is nearly blind, I read the information and consent forms to her. The interview is solely for family history purposes.

This starts at 16 seconds in on the audio file.

SW: Marg, do you give verbal consent for me to interview and record your responses?

MP: I do.

SW: What’s your full name, your date

MP: Marg

SW: of birth and your present address?

MP: Margaret Grace Phillips or do would you want England?

SW: No, that’s OK.

MP: 7/4/28 I was born. Unit 3/17 Sawyer Avenue, West Moonah.

Three minute interview starts here  00:31

SW: So how would you best describe your father? I’ve got some photos here in front of you. One here, they’re in a running race, and

(Both speaking at the same time)

MP: that was the city

SW: there are some birds

MP: That was the City Council, they the City Council had a picnic day once a year and this was down at Long Beach, just round about where the uh roundabout is [pause] I think the roundabout down there now isn’t there?  Well that’s where it was, round about that area.

SW: So how did he go in the races? Was he a good runner?

MP: Yes, he was.

(Both speaking at the same time)

SW: and

MP: He won that if I’m not mistaken.

SW: Oh right.

MP: He got, he got some little thing.

SW: Oh it might be mentioned in the newspaper. I’ll be able to look it up.

MP: He uh always wore his watch with the chain on it, the fob watch. He always had that on where every where you wore a collar and tie.

SW: And some of these these other photos, he’s there with some birds. Is that in your back yard at

MP: Yes we had pigeon, pigeon loft and dad’d get the pigeons out and I would run up to Fitzroy Gardens and stand in a special place. I’ve let the pigeons go and dad would see who got home first, me or the pigeons. That was re about a weekly [pause] weekly um thing that he did. Yep.

SW: Oh right. And there’s another one there of. It looks like you and my mum and your dad in a rowboat.

MP: This one?

SW: Mmm.

MP: That

SW: Yeah.

MP: That’s dad and yeah Phyllis is in the middle and me on the end. That’ll be, I reckon, about the first time I went out in it.

SW: So did your dad go out rowing often?

MP: Oh, every weekend he went down to Sandy Bay baths to fish. And he had a little fish, he had a little uh what do you call’em now? Over the boat’s um  [long pause] He was known.  When you went to Long Beach on the trams, us kids would all go upstairs on the double decker tram and when we got to Wrest Point, “There’s Uncle Harry out there!” Everybody knew dad.

SW: Right

MP: And um he used to tell us.  I was only telling someone the other day. He always took a little bottle of water. He couldn’t swim and he never had a life jacket or anything in the boat. He took a little bottle of water with him every time and when the fish started to bite, he’d go round like that [fading voice as she turns to the side] to some …[inaudible] to come back,  he’d just put,  “I’ve just put the oil of catchem in the water,” he said. And that’s how they caught their fish. But dad with his oil of catchem. They never ever woke up to it. When we went on the trams down they’d say, “Uncle Harry, Uncle Harry!” and everybody would wave. He was well known in Sandy Bay.

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Readers: Have you ever formally interviewed a relative? What was the most difficult part of the interview?

Letter O challenge

Interview Nico & JC, managers

Christophe Losberger via Compfight

Sorry for the long delay since the last letter challenge in April but doing online study at UTAS has been taking up a lot of time but we are back in the swing of things again now.

Oral History

  • How often do you formally interview or tape stories told to you by your relatives?
  • Have you ever been to a nursing home or residential home for the elderly to tape their stories?
  • Maybe you live in a neighbourhood with lots of migrants. Have they ever told you their stories.

Recording and editing the interview

This was one of the units I have just completed at UTAS. I had already interviewed my dad using the Soundcloud app, but when I went to use it again, I found I couldn’t record with it, only listen to a recording. This meant I had to use a new app for the actual interview. I downloaded three of them on my iPad – Recorder (looks like a tape recorder), Quickvoice and Quick recorder. I used the Recorder app as it looked more comfortable to my aunt who I was going to record.

Once the interview was complete, it was in m4a format when I emailed it to myself. It needed some editing and as I had used Audacity before with lots of problems (it also doesn’t like m4a format), I found another editing program called Wavepad. I got the free trial version and it was just like using copy and paste on a word document – very easy to use so I would recommend that to anyone in future.

What type of questions do you ask?

There are quite a few great websites written by genealogists and oral historians giving lots of questions to think about. But remember to make sure the person you are interviewing is comfortable before you start. You also need to make sure you have their permission to use the interview and recording, whether it is for your own personal family history or to put on a blog like mine or to include in a book or put in a display for the public.

I used some of the questions from the Centre for Oral History Research, but you can also look at these from Family tree magazine, About Genealogy (be careful of all the ads) and don’t forget to look at Oral History Australia and their guidelines.

Readers: Please leave a comment about my post or something beginning with O that relates to your family history or your research.

Copper Uppercase Letter O

Children in Hobart during WWII

September 2, 1939 and  Hobart newspaper ‘The Mercury’ had this headline on page 1.

World poised perilously on brink of war

Would lives of children living in Hobart over 10,000 miles away change or remain the same? My parents, Robert (Bob) and Phyllis Wyatt had already written about their experiences during war time, so I interviewed Phyllis’ sister, Margaret Phillips, to get her memories on how war affected her.

By September 8, the Tasmanian government had compiled a booklet for householders  including mention of air raid shelters.[1] Margaret said:

We had a trench in the backyard. Dad built one for us. …… Dear old mum, she packed a basket full of food and we took that into the air raid shelter with us. But we never had to go.  …..  Dad had built this hole in the ground, lined it out with apple cases from uncle Arthur Stirling’s market. After the war was over, he just left it as it was. ….. Later in life, when someone bought the house, they filled it in.[2]

Source: SLQ Image 42866
Children digging trenches Source: SLQ Image 42866

Margaret couldn’t remember any practice trench drills at her high school but Bob said:

 I remember that at Goulburn Street School we had trenches dug in the school yard. We occasionally had practice runs and you had to have a rubber to put between your teeth and a sugar bag folded over your head.[3]

Phyllis remembers what happened at the school she attended.

Dad helped the fathers from the school to dig trenches in the now Albuera Street School. It had been a cemetery and when we had air raid shelter drill, you could pick bones out while you were in the trench.[4]

Ration card, image owned by author.
Ration card, image owned by author.

Each person, including children, was given ration cards for buying clothing. Phyllis cried all the time when having her first hair cut at age 7 in 1941.

I thought she would cut off my neck. I was promised a new overcoat and some of Margaret’s coupons had to be used and she wasn’t very happy.[5]

There were ration coupons for food as well but families were asked to grow their own vegetables. Margaret remembers:

Whenever Eileen or the cousins came down for a visit, they would bring rabbits and dad was great at fishing so we had plenty of food. ….. Dad grew a lot of vegetables, we had fruit trees in the back yard and grapes down the side lane.  If we wanted any more, we would go down to Wise and Stirling markets and uncle Arthur would  give us some different ones.[6]

Bob mentioned:

Some people gave the US marines a home cooked meal. I asked mum if I could invite some in. We didn’t have much meat or butter but we had plenty of fresh vegetables. The three marines enjoyed their time with us and signed my autograph book.[7]

Children were asked to help with the war effort. Families would have War Savings Certificates. Mothers and daughters would knit for the troops using khaki coloured wool. They would make scarves with balaclavas in the end  to keep soldiers warmer during winter in Europe.

My father was a member of a scout troop.

We had a camp at Gardeners Bay to pick fruit for the war effort; I was homesick as it was the first time I had ever been away from home. I only earned five shillings for picking raspberries. I gave it to mum who kept it in her purse as the first money I had ever earned.[8]

According to educators at this time, war improved the geography skills of children and they learnt to ask lots of questions about what was happening in Europe.[9]

Relatives serving in Europe would send cards home. Bob remembers:

Uncle Jack (Bomber) occasionally sent a card to my mother, it was always censored and no mention of where he was. After he came home, he was one of the Rats of Tobruk.[10]

Family life in Hobart carried on as normal but perhaps with some rationing of what you could buy. Children had to learn to be more resourceful to help their family.

Footnotes

[1]  ‘PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN TASMANIA’, Advocate, 8 September 1939, p. 2.

[2] Margaret Phillips, interview by Suzanne Wyatt, digital recording, Hobart, 18 November 2016, in author’s possession.

[3] Robert Wyatt to Suzanne Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016, original held in author’s possession.

[4] Phyllis Wyatt to Suzanne Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016, original held in author’s possession.

[5] P.Wyatt to Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

[6] Margaret Phillips, interview by author.

[7] R.Wyatt to Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

[8] R.Wyatt to Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

[9] ‘Strange Contrast In Australian Outlook’, The Mercury , 2 April 1940, p. 3.

[10]  R.Wyatt to  Wyatt, letter, 1 December 2016.

Bibliography

Advocate

Phillips Margaret, interview by Suzanne Wyatt, digital recording, Hobart, 18 November              2016, in author’s possession.

SLQ Image 42866, Children digging trenches at Ascot State School, Brisbane, 1942.

The Mercury

Wyatt, Suzanne, Ration card, 2015. Personal collection.

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Readers: Do you have any memories as a child during war in 1939-1945? Please comment below.

 

Annotated map

As part of the Place, Image and Object course we had to create an annotated map relating to our family history. It could be a town, a house or even a room in a house. The idea was to build layers on your map.

As I am not an arty person, I decided to go with technology and used Prezi. It was a few years since I had used this tool so had to do a bit of a run through first to make sure I was using it well.

Here is the final result:

 

I decided to look at the homes around Hobart that were important to us as a family. So began with the grandparents in Sandy Bay and West Hobart, then our family homes in Glenorchy and Lindisfarne and finally my home as an adult in Seven Mile Beach.

It wasn’t until I did the evaluation and reflection that I realised so much of it related to travelling and how the homes were there to come back to after spending time overseas or on holidays.

 

Another new unit – Oral History

About six weeks since my last post and in that time I have finished the Convicts and their Legacy course which was a lot about statistical data with convicts. I have also finished my role as tutor with the Introduction to Family History unit – only have to close down the discussions on Wednesday.

So today I started on my 5th unit in the UTAS Diploma of Family History course. It is all about Oral History.

As this is going to involve recording and transcribing an interview, I have given some thought as to who I will interview and what type of questions I will ask. Then I thought about who in my family is interested in family history and decided Taylia my 1st cousin twice removed who lives in Western Australia. Her great grandma, who she doesn’t see very often, is my aunt. So I decided to ask her were there any questions she would like me to ask her great grandma when I interview her.

Hopefully Taylia will leave the questions in the comments on this post.