Genealife in lockdown – Only in Tassie

DNA disproved great great grandfather William Smith half Samoan

As part of NFHM2021, I was asked by the local library where I volunteer every Friday, if I would run a few sessions related to family history. I have one I have presented a few times about “Discovering your family history” that has the participants thinking about what they might already have at home that could start them with their journey and how are they going to share their knowledge.

  • Birth, death, marriage certificates
  • Passports or naturalization certificates
  • War records
  • Photographs – hopefully named and dated
  • Heirloom objects handed down
  • Maybe some audio interviews on tapes or CDs
  • A family tree researched by another person – hopefully sourced well

I then introduce them to pedigree charts and family group sheets and different ways of organizing your family history instead of having lots of notes on slips of paper. Colour coding their files is also mentioned. Finally, where can they go to next.

  • Ask for help from librarians – a book might be published about your family
  • Talk to Sue on Friday afternoons at Rosny library – book a one hour session via Eventbrite
  • Join your local family history society
  • Take an online family history course
  • Create a private Facebook group for family to exchange stories
  • Buy a software program
  • Get DNA tested

So last Friday, I had six participants taking part and I used as an example my half Samoan great great grandfather (who from DNA is now no longer my relative). As I was mentioning where to find other records, one of the ladies and the librarian who was in there helping, said they were related to Captain William Smith. Only in Tasmania could that happen – 8 of us in the room, two related and one thought they had been related.

The two ladies enjoyed looking at all the research I had done on Captain Smith who ran many whaling ships in the 1860’s-1880’s from Recherche Bay, southwest of Hobart, out to the whaling areas of the Pacific Ocean as well as the Great Australian Bight.

Readers: Have you had a chance encounter with someone who turns out to be related to you?

4 thoughts on “Genealife in lockdown – Only in Tassie

  1. Not only in Tassie Sue, although this connection has a tangential Tassie connection! I live in Brisbane, and am currently enrolled in the UTas Family History Diploma. A couple of months ago I popped into the State Library of Queensland to borrow several books related to early settlement in VDL. As I was checking the books out, I noticed the AJCP indexes on a shelf behind the librarian. I had been fumbling my way around said AJCP records and happened to find my Arch McDowall, who arrived in VDL in 1824. However as I didn’t really understand how I’d found him, thought I’d ask for some assistance. There were no customers waiting so off we went, exploring the AJCP via Trove on her screen. About 20 minutes later, the librarian asked for my name again. “I think I know you”, said she, and checked back through her email. She had contacted me a few years ago re possible photos of a mutual relative. Sadly I had none, and the correspondence ceased. We had never met, but a quick scribble on a piece of paper established we were 4th cousins. Here we were both in Brisbane, similar age and both started life south of the border. Amazing!

  2. I had a serendipitous cousin match at a presentation I gave a few months ago in between lockdowns.

    Spine-tingling stuff

  3. Well yes I guess I have. I was working at the Gold Coast Library service the year before last and was serving a man with the name Carrett which is pretty unusual and was my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. I really must follow that up. I got all distracted with my new grandson and then of course wretched COVID tends to hamper things as well. His mother is the researcher in the family so I need to meet with her. I think from these comments, we can deduce that libraries/librarians is the best place/way to meet cousins 🙂

  4. I recently met a cousin by chance when he sold me a new mattress…chance conversation made it easy to identify.

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