Letter K challenge

Victory.....and defeat

Philip Watts via Compfight

Wouldn’t we all like to descend from a King or Queen? Their genealogy is so well documented but instead we have to start with

Kith and Kin

According to the MacMillan Dictionary, the British definition is

Kith comes from a word of Germanic origin meaning ‘known’. Kin is also of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘give birth to’. Your kith are your friends or acquaintances, while your kin are all the people you are related to.

Here in Tasmania some of your kith can also be your kin somewhere down or across through the generations.

When starting out your family history research, it is so important to question those kin about their memories and knowledge of the family or person you are researching. Start asking questions as soon as possible or perhaps show them a picture they can reminisce about, even finding a newspaper article might bring back memories. All these will help build the story of that person or family group you are researching.

Kin often have heirlooms handed down through the family; not so in my family though. All I have is a handwritten copy of dates from a birthday book for the DAVEY family in Evandale area.

For the family history course I participated in during December/January 2014/5 one of our activities was to interview a person. I chose my dad as I wanted to gather more info about his parents and grandparents. I  recorded using Soundcloud app on my ipad and had a list of questions I wanted to ask. But after asking the question I would let dad ramble with his thoughts and I found out lots of things I never knew and probably would never have asked him about.

So make sure you question your kin (and even your kith) as they might have something to add to your family history research.

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

letter K

Letter J challenge

Had to think hard this week for a topic and then suddenly lots of J words appeared: judges, justice, Justitia hulk but I thought of my ancestors and what they had to do.

Carpentaria Lightship CLS4, and the James Craig

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Each person arriving in Australia had to make a journey including the indigenous landowners.

  • What were their journeys like?
  • How did travelling by ship as a convict differ to that of a free settler or a marine?
  • What did each of them bring with them on their journey?
  • How does the journey of the modern Australians differ to the earlier Australians?
  • How did they feel journeying to the other side of the world?

Many of my ancestors did not come of their own accord but had their journey paid for by the government of the old country England. They then worked hard to make better lives for themselves here in Tasmania. In fact for at least three generations they all remained in Tasmania.

But my troublesome ancestor William Smith took off on many journeys as the captain of a whaling ship. There would have been many special problems on a whaling journey especially when chasing and flensing a whale once it was caught.

I also have made many journeys to various countries around the world but have always come home to Tasmania.

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

letter J

Letter I challenge

Character Question Mark

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This week I am still trying to decide what I will use to collate all the


I will be gathering about my ancestors.

  • Will I use Evernote or OneNote?
  • Will I use a checklist associated with a timeline?
  • What is the easiest way to keep track of all this information?

Previous to this genealogy do over with Thomas MacEntee, this is what I used to do:

At archives or library

  1. Decide on surname to research – check microfilms, microfiche, newspapers
  2. Write info on paper with some basic source – I could find again but perhaps not another relative
  3. Go home and add the info to the database on my computer software programme
  4. Before the next visit, print out family group sheets to add the new information on there, instead of scraps of paper

But now I am researching more online, how can I make use of my time more effectively and efficiently?

I am thinking of buying a MacBook Air that is light to carry, download Microsoft Office 2016 on it – that means OneNote, keep the Macbook just for genealogy, learn how to use OneNote so I have a notebook per family and pages per family member with a checklist and timeline per person on their page. Hopefully clip and add to their pages. ALso have my genealogy software on this Macbook.

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

letter I

Letter G challenge


Government Gazettes and publications
There are many ways to find information on your ancestors and their life. The government is great at keeping records other than a census in Australia.

As a true blue Tasmanian descended from both free settlers and those who had a journey overseas paid for by a government from a previous country, I can find a lot by checking government Gazettes and other publications like electoral rolls and almanacs.

The Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (TAHO) has been digitising a lot of their records that used to be microfilmed or in huge books. Here is a list of some online:

  • Government gazette papers – Trove
  • Electoral rolls
  • Convict records
  • Arrivals and departures
  • Census and musters
  • Divorces
  • Wills
  • Inquests
  • Tasmanian Post Office Directories – early form of white pages
  • Publicans licenses

It is very important to check out guides from your local archives to find out what they have either online or available if you visit them. National Archives Australia has a series of fact sheets about what is available there.

Cora Num has some great links to look through on her website including some references to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

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

letter G


Letter F challenge

In the early days of the colonies of Australia, there were three groups of people arriving – convicts, military and

Typical free settler hut

Free Settlers

The first free settlers came in 1793 and were Thomas Rose and his family on the ship Bellona. The government in Britain was trying to promote Australia as a place to go for keen and experienced farmers.

The first free settlers in Tasmania arrived with Lieutenant Governor Collins in 1804. The Maritime Museum had a display about early migration into Tasmania and one of my troublesome free settlers was mentioned on it.

Unlike the convicts, the government did not collect or keep good records of these early free settlers. Maybe they were mentioned by name on shipping lists or in personal papers of the people they worked for or if they got into trouble then there were in the government gazettes.

Often the shipping records would only mention the county they were from in England so it makes it difficult to try and find them back in the old country especially if they have a common surname.

My free settlers are:

John DAVEY – John was born in Devon, England. He was brought out to Tasmania as a servant to George Meredith on the East Coast of Tasmania.  He arrived in Hobart Town on 13 February 1855 on board ‘Wanderer‘.  John was occasionally mentioned in the ‘Meredith papers’ which are housed in the State Library Archives in Hobart.  He was recorded last at ‘Cambria‘ in January 1857.  His wages at this time were 7 pounds and 10 shillings per quarter.  Source: Meredith papers NS 123/1/69 TAHO – Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office  In the 1851 English Census there were over 50 possible John Davey born around 1834. I have narrowed it to a possible 7.

William SMITH – Lots of posts I have written about this ancestor who arrived in Tasmania sometime in the 1850’s from the Navigator Islands (Samoa) and was given the name William Smith. What is his Samoan name?

David DIXON – David and his wife Mary (nee PICKERING) arrived on 30 August 1841 on the ship ‘Andromeda’ with their young daughter Elizabeth. He was age 24 and a farm servant. The family arrived as bounty immigrants applied for by Mr Stevenson at Curramore property near Cressy.  Source CB7/9/1/1/ page 15 – TAHO

William CHANDLER – worked at a nursery at Enfield near London before coming to Australia with another family in the sailing ship Fortitude on 15 February 1855. They settled at Monavale in the midlands where he was the estates gardener. He was then employed as gardener at Government House but left to establish a garden south of Granton. After his marriage he returned to Government House as Head Gardener then before retirement worked at the Grange Taroona. (Mercury 23 July 1985)

Caroline BRYANT – arrived on the La Hogue which was a steamer, then on the Tasmania finally arriving in Hobart  19 Jan 1856 with her mother Charlotte Bryant (nee BULL).

William WYATT – my grandfather who I know nothing about except he married my grandmother and had my father. He then deserted the family and we think headed to New S0uth Wales.

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

letter F

Letter E challenge

I’ve decided to take part in Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over for 2016. At the moment I have research and notes on my desktop computer as well as the iPad and my laptop. I need something that will sync on all three devices. So I downloaded

Evernote Taiwan User Meetup

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Now I need to research the best way to use it for genealogy. This might be part of the Do Over course so will wait until next year (3 days haha) to look into how to create notebooks and pages etc. I have used something similar when teaching – OneNote. I am sure they will work in the same way.

I googled Evernote for genealogy and these are some websites and blogposts that look good.

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

letter E

Letter B challenge


Book Launch

Books and book launches

Ever since I was a young child, I have enjoyed reading and even wanted to be a librarian until I found out I would have to dissect books to look for themes and nuances etc. Well that was not for me! Instead I began buying books related to the teaching profession and the Tasmanian Curriculum as it was then. I always preferred to have my own copy of the book rather than a photocopy – must have known about copyright early in my teaching days.

But I was also interested in history, particularly Australian and Tasmanian history. I inherited this from my father who was and still is, a collector of Tasmaniana. But now he is getting older, he is starting to sort out his office shelves so I am getting many of his books about Tasmanian people and places.

He is a member of the Bellerive Historical Society and we both attended a book launch last week in the Rosny Barn. This book about the City of Clarence and its history was written by John Sargeant, the president of the society. I am a member of the Sorell Historical Society and received an invite to a book launch today at Orford. It was held at Malunnah, a beautiful cottage owned by descendants of the Meredith family, and it was the launch of Louisa Anne Meredith’s books My Bush Friends in Tasmania which she first published in 1860. The event was hosted by the Glamorgan/ Spring Bay Historical Society.

I rarely buy books now as I already have so many, but what do I look for in a history book?

  • an index giving names and places
  • appendix or bibliography of other books used
  • sources or references I can check if I find something relating to my family history

Ways to find books that might relate to your family history is to join historical societies for towns or counties where your relatives lived. Look for books that might mention the social scene of the time your relatives were living there; this might give you clues for more research through newspapers where your relatives might be mentioned by name.

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

letter B

Letter A challenge

National Film and Sound Archive


I used to spend hours in the local archives in Tasmania before they started digitizing the records. I was part of RAOGK (Random Acts Of Genealogical Kindness) and would research convicts for anyone who asked me through my email or rootsweb mailing lists.

Much of the research for my great great grandfather Captain William Smith needs to be done at the Tasmanian archives – looking at lots of Marine Board records. While visiting Samoa a few years ago, I went to their archives to look for birth records of William Smith who is half Samoan. I was very concerned to see the original record books were just kept in storage in a room, not temperature regulated and that I didn’t need to use gloves when touching the original documents. Some of them were crumbling under my hand when I tried to turn the pages that were stuck together by heat and dampness.

When researching my great great grandmother Rebecca Jackson while I was travelling in Ireland, I visited the Donegal county archives in Lifford to have a look at local court records. I found lots of interesting information there about the offences that caused Rebecca to be sent to Van Diemen’s Land as a convict in 1847. Here is a link to all archives in Ireland.

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

letter A

A comment challenge

Hangman Blue Letter C O letter M letter M letter E N letter T S

While scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a link to Gould Genealogy about passenger lists to Australia. When on that blog, I also noticed a heading called Blog Challenges. Intrigued, I checked it out and found the author of the blog Alona Tester had run a weekly blogging challenge back in 2012 about Family History A-Z

This gave me an idea. I know many of my visitors to this blog don’t have their own blog but are interested in family history. Maybe I could run a comment challenge instead where you leave a comment relating to that letter of the alphabet. For example, A might be about Aunt Jane or Australian shipping or accident or archives – anything relating to family history beginning with that letter.

To find all the posts for the challenge, look on the sidebar for tags and the “comment challenge” or to make it easier, click this link.

Please leave a comment if you would take part in something like this.