Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jacob Scheef - Letters to Home - 22 June 1885

My husband's family are very fortunate as his great grandfather travelled back to Germany from Armidale, NSW from May to September 1885. While visiting family he sent many letters back to Australia and kept a diary of his time overseas. I'll post his letters on the day they were written. These letters can be seen at the University of New England (UNE) Archive in Armidale, NSW, Australia. Biographical Entry

John Elder
Port Said
the 22 June 1885
Dear Wife
As I thought to get this letter away yesterday and so concluded it I was disappointed as we only left Ismalia about 2 o’clock on Sunday and we were the sixth vessel in going so we did not get very far when the vessel in front of us ran on sand and so we had to stop till it got off again which was more than 1 hour consequently we did only go about 10 miles on Sunday today we will be in Port Said if we have luck as we can only go very slowly about 4 miles an hour We haven’t seen and passed the spot where the accident was which was the consequence of our delay of 6 days, There are various rumours about me getting to Naples through the loss of time we had the ship they say is not going to call there they are going to take me to London and then send me from there to Naples but I don’t believe anything of the kind however if it should be the case I will let you know the land is improving fast now as there is a good deal of vegetation here and the immense lot of salt that is laying here you can have no idea of it looks the same as if there were a heavy fall of snow lying on the land you see nothing but salt as far as the eye can see miles and miles I only wish we had 1/2 an acre of it in Puddledock.
I am always in good heart when the ship is going however slowly. For the present I say goodbye and hope you keep yourself well.
Yours truly and affectionate
Husband Jacob F Scheef

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jacob Scheef - Letters to Home - 20 June 1885

My husband's family are very fortunate as his great grandfather travelled back to Germany from Armidale, NSW from May to September 1885. While visiting family he sent many letters back to Australia and kept a diary of his time overseas. I'll post his letters on the day they were written. These letters can be seen at the University of New England (UNE) Archive in Armidale, NSW, Australia. Biographical Entry

John Elder
the 20 June 1885
My Dear Wife and Children
I am going to let you know how we are going on since I wrote first I must tell you that Aden is in Arabia and a more desolate country you can have no idea of nothing but high precipitous hills with not a vestige of vegetation neither trees grass or bushes could be seen anywhere only either bare rocky hills sand or black burnt soil it is impossible to describe it on paper it has to be seen to know what it is after we left we thought it would become better but it remained the same right through to Suez Suez you must know lies in the end of the Red Sea where the Suez Canal comes into the Red Sea here the first news we heard was that the canal was blocked up as one of the dredges that is a boat which keeps the canal in order by removing the sand which is continuously washed in was run down and sank so that the delay would be at least until this day and the report did not belie us as we are still here in the middle of the canal but we expect to leave here tomorrow and go to Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea from Suez to here is a Sandy Desert on both sides of the canal but there is a splendid Garden of the Kedives of Egypt here which is planted in raw sand and every variety of trees as well as fruit trees and vegetables grown side by side it is watered by a canal from the Nile our harbour is a lake of bitter water about two miles square and there are close on 40 steamships waiting here to get through and on the other side the report goes that there are over 100 steamers awaiting passage. I will post this letter tomorrow at Port Said if we get away. My health is splendid and I have a good appetite for better as when I left. it often surprises me what a quantity I can eat. My knee which I hurt last winter does not improve as I thought it would in Sydney I am longing to hear from you but I know it will be another week or perhaps a fortnight before I can do so because I must be in Germany before I can hear from you in the meantime I must only hope that you are all well as well as I  am myself
Your most affectionate
Husband and Father
Jacob F Scheef

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Victor Robert Scheef

Yesterday I went with my husband and his mother to the Armidale City Public School Sesquicentenary. They are both former pupils. Of course, the part I enjoyed most were the displays in the library. There were a number of folders with photos supplied by previous students. We were disappointed to find that none of the ones we submitted were there. I wonder where they ended up? One was a year 6 class in 1940.

There were a number of original documents on display including school inspection notes, staff meeting minutes, punishment books and admission registers. I was surprised that we were able to look at these and physically touch them. My husband saw several of his friends mentioned in the punishment book. If he was in the book, he didn't show me! Not every admission register was on display but my husband found his entry in one book. However, our best find of the day was the admission register giving details of my husband's uncle Victor Robert Scheef.

As you can see, Victor moved from the Infants Department to 3rd class in the Primary Department on 24th January 1927 when he was 8 years and 8 months old. He died a little more than a year later on 9th March 1928. It is believed that he died from septicemia. It doesn't appear from this record that he started the 1928 school year, so was he ill for some time? Unfortunately the Armidale Express from the date just after his death is missing so any news item about his death is unavailable. However, now I wonder if there could be an earlier entry.

Jimmy Semmens - Australian Bantamweight Champion

While scanning photos at my mother-in-laws this weekend I came across this photo of Jimmy Semmens. He had sent the photo to his uncle Tom Smith husband of Margaret Waters of Armidale, NSW. When Margaret Smith died she left everything to her niece Julia Scheef. I think this is how the photo eventually came to my mother-in-law, Julia's daughter.

Jimmy Semmens - Australian Bantamweight Boxing Champion 1921 - 1925

So who was Jimmy Semmens?

Some quick research this evening has revealed that he was an Australian Bantamweight Boxing Champion. His first fight for the title against Billy Tingle in front of a crowd of 8000 people at the West Melbourne Stadium on 1st October 1921 ended in a knockout when Tingle went down after 14 of the scheduled 20 rounds. Semmens was described in The Argus as being "a clean build, fast and resourceful boxer, with a remarkable left-hand punch, which he uses as a rapier to keep an opponent at safe distance."

Jimmy retained the title over the next few years fighting George Storey (KO), Mike Flynn (won on a foul low left), Billy Grime (PTS), Bert Ristuccia (PTS). Jimmy was defeated by a knockout from Stan Thurbon in the 6th round at Leichhardt Stadium on 17th July 1925.

Jimmy's career spanned 1920 - 1932. He won 13, lost 8 and drew 2 fights. FightsRec

At this stage I don't know anything about the connection between Jimmy and his uncle Tom. Thomas Smith, a builder had married Margaret Waters in Manly in 1917 when she was 54 years old. I believe he was the Thomas Smith who died in Armidale in 1934.

Unfortunately this photo was the only photo we found this weekend which was easily identifiable.

If anyone out there knows anything about Jimmy Semmens please leave a reply.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jacob Scheef - Letters to Home - 8 June 1885

My husband's family are very fortunate as his great grandfather travelled back to Germany from Armidale, NSW from May to September 1885. While visiting family he sent many letters back to Australia and kept a diary of his time overseas. I'll post his letters on the day they were written. These letters can be seen at the University of New England (UNE) Archive in Armidale, NSW, Australia. Biographical Entry

John Elder    Aden
the 8 June 1885
My Dear Wife and Children
I am having the chance now to let you know how I am getting on since I left Adelaide where I sent my last letter from. First my health and appetite is very good and in general I am well placed with the eating on the ship board as we have always fresh meat and potatoes the bread is even new and of first class quality Now I am going to let you now about the progress we made and the sights we have seen. Adelaide is a very nice Town but a good deal smaller then Melbourne it has a splendid Botanical Garden but the harbour where we laid on was the open sea We stopped one day at Adelaide and left on the 18 May in the evening on the 19 we saw the last of South Australia the 23 saw the last land of Australia and on the 24 passed Cape Luewin the 2 June stopped at Diego Garcia for 4 hours but only a few of us were allowed to go on land the Islands look splendid with palms a very forest of them but the inhabitants are either to lazy or too stupid to make the best use of them as they brought not a single thing to us for sale on the 5 June passed the Equator the 7 sighted the Norternnmost Cape of Africa and lost sight of it this morning this night we will be in Aden which is in Asia our voyage is on the whole a bad one as we have always headwind and very rough weather we only used the sail 4 days since we left Sydney a distance of over 7 000 miles we had some concerts and negro minstrel amusements when the weather permitted it we are over 200 passenger on board amongst them 9 Germans which are representing Germany from Austria to Holstein our population is of ages from a few days to over 70 years old. there is great difference in a steamer and a sailing ship in bad weather it is only childs play on a steamer.
Your loving Husband and Father
Jacob Scheef
they charge one shilling for this letter

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Unlock the Past Expo - Coffs Harbour

I was able to attend the second day of the Unlock the Past Expo in Coffs Harbour. It was a busy day as I moved quickly between various presentations.

What did I learn today?

National Library of Australia - Jenny Higgins
Even though I am a teacher librarian and knew this I have never ordered microfilms to view at my local library. You can guess what I'll be doing in my next holidays - viewing microfilms of Cooma newspapers!

I already have a library card from the NLA so my other task from this presentation is to take a more detailed look at the eResources available with particular reference to the Illustrated London News, Irish Newspaper Archive and the Freeman's Journal.

Finding the Address Isn't Enough - Dr Carol Liston

I have heard Carol speak in the past but can't remember where or when. She spoke on things are are close to my heart. There is no point just collecting names and dates. You need to fill in the story. People, place and time are intimately linked. Understanding what happened when provides clues of where the information might be about the people who were there at a particular time.
One of her really significant points was that you need to know all the names that a particular place may have so that you have a better chance of finding all records available.

My task from this presentation is to take a good look at the Land & Property Management Authority's website. My aunt has always visited the Sydney Office to look for anything I need so perhaps it's time to take a look myself.

Caring for your Family Records - Shauna Hicks

Shauna discussed having a record keeping system that is consistent for both physical and electronic resources. Your system needs to be easily understood by others. Be aware of direct sunlight, temperature and humidity, pests and vermin, dust and accidents or disasters. One good tip was if you are going to undertake any conservation on your own, photograph before you start in case it's a disaster.

I wanted to go to this presentation as I need a big kick to get everything I have organised. I have suitcases of framed photos, certificates rolled up in cylinders dating from the 1840s and boxes of trophies and medals. I have old clothes - a flowergirl dress from 1965 and my 30 year old wedding dress. The list goes on and on. My records are OK, it just all the ephemera and realia that are worrying me.

Bound for Botany Bay - Mark Cryle

Mark's enjoyable presentation told the story of the Irish in Australia through story and song. He was very interesting to listen to. He mentioned the Jerilderie Letter. Perhaps I should have told him my Baumgarten family are mentioned in this letter.

German Research - Eric Kopittke

As a result of this presentation I need to find some German maps of the pre 1850 period so I can learn more about the changing boundaries of Germany.

Breaking Down Brick Walls - Helen V Smith

One really obvious point Helen made was that the relatives out of town are those who are likely to have photos of and letters from your family.

During most of the presentations I took notes, but as Helen provided a handout I spent my time while listening to her presentation taking some notes about a couple of my brick walls. Did Betty Ogden get any support for her illegitimate son Samuel in 1815 ? Can I find out who the father was this way?
I still don't have any ideas about how to find out the name of Andrew Silas Waters, a convict in 1834.

P.S. - Perhaps I should have just searched a little further as it's all there now. Records are obviously more readily available than they were 30 years ago.

Scotland's People - Rosemary Kopittke

Rosemary went through each of the sections of the website and explained how to search for information. She showed many useful examples throughout the presentation which highlighted what was to be discovered with each resource type.

Although I have registered for this site, I have never paid any money even though I know is a lot of information just sitting there waiting for me. My holiday work will be to actually hand over some money and purchase a few certificates for my Scottish families.

I also managed to introduce myself to Kerry Farmer as I have enrolled in a few courses through the NIGS and it is always good to be able to place a face to a name.

All in all, a profitable day.