Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dray Proprietor's License

Amongst the treasures at my nanna's house is a renewal of a Dray Proprietor's License dated 28th January 1892 belonging to my great, great grandfather John Ryan who lived at 23 Cambridge Street in Balmain.

A simple google search for "dray proprietor's license" Sydney came up with the 1854 Act for the Licensing and Regulation of Carters plying for hire with in the City of Sydney. It is a 9 page document which sets out the terms and conditions that were expected to be met by license holders.

Section 4 stated that the license would only be granted if the proprietor or driver was of good name fame and character. The vehicle could not be unsafe or in bad repair or unfit for the conveyance of goods or merchandise. The vehicle also had to have its number painted on a plate or plates and affixed to wherever the Commissioners saw fit. I assume 184 must have been John Ryan's number. Unless the charges had been increased he would have paid £2 annually for his license. 

The license appears to be for a van. Earlier he had a dray and there was a photograph of him with his dray but unfortunately this has disappeared. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My First Anniversary

First Birthday Cake

Today is the first anniversary of my genealogy blog although I have to admit this wasn't my first genealogy blog. I had started one a couple of years previously but it only lasted a short time. I wasn't happy with what I had done, nor its name so I deleted it.

Why did I take so long to start again? The answer was to be found by reading Amy Coffin's The Big Genealogy Blog Book two weeks ago. "The hardest part of starting a blog is coming up with a name. Once you've made that decision, the rest is easy." I agonised for over a year about what to call my blog. However, I was spurred into action by the Australia Day Challenge by Shelley from Twigs of Yore. I knew what I was going to write in this challenge so I had to come up with a name for my blog quick smart.

It was unintentional, but I think now that I subconsciously borrowed the name from an article, The Tree of Me published in The New Yorker on 26 March 2001. I was initially drawn to the article as I have Seabrook ancestors.

Over the year I have had many people contact me about various posts.

  • My post about Jimmy Semmens has reunited the photo with one of his sons.
  • After writing about Sam Dawson from Cloghran, Ireland, I have been corresponding with a lovely lady in America whose father was Sam's valet and butler. She saw my posts and contacted me and has provided me with several stories about her family and mine. Thank you so much. Post 1 Post 2 Post 3 Post 4
  • My post about Norman Dawson put me in contact with a second cousin I had never met.
  • My posts about Wallangarra and the Moore family have put me in contact with a second cousin once removed. 
  • I was contacted by someone in the Air Force within hours of writing my Anzac Day post about Alan Seabrook Mitchell.
Without starting my blog, I would not have been able to achieve any of the above.

It is interesting to see what search terms have been used to reach my blog. Recently they have included:
  • road construction
  • mcinerney family history
  • charles ryan watches
  • how can I transfer my pdfs from ibooks to iannotate
  • 1880s working conditions in meat packing company
  • everything about wallangarra railway
  • h.m.s. conway cadets
  • ematris county monaghan

My most popular blog posts have been:

  • iBooks or iAnnotate pdf on my iPad
  • Anzac Day Blog Challenge - Alan Seabrook Mitchell
  • Australia Day Challenge (2011)
  • Family Treasures - Pocket Watch
  • 16 great great grandparents
  • Jimmy Semmens - Australian Bantam Weight Champion
  • Not everyone leaves a comment
  • Ebay and genealogy
  • The humble apron
  • Golden wedding anniversary - Robert and Ann Waters
I have thoroughly enjoyed the past year. Thank you to those who follow my blog and have encouraged me on the way. I wonder what the next twelve months will bring?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Australia Day 2012 - Wealth for Toil - Dr William Lee Dawson

Last year Shelly from Twigs of Yore challenged geneabloggers to blog about the oldest documentation we had about an Australian ancestor. This challenge actually prompted me to begin my blogging journey. My initial Australia Day challenge was about Dr William Lee Dawson. This year's challenge is described below.

To participate, choose someone who lived in Australia (preferably one of your ancestors) and tell us how they toiled. Your post should include:
  1. What was their occupation? 
  2. What information do you have about the individual’s work, or about the occupation in general?
  3. The story of the person, focussing on their occupation; or
    The story of the occupation, using the person as an example. 
Dr William Lee Dawson

I am again going to use my great great grandfather, Dr William Lee Dawson (1819-1871) as my chosen ancestor. William Lee Dawson began his medical studies on 1st November 1845 at the Apothecaries' Hall and St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin. His first courses were: Anatomy and Physiology, Demonstrations and Dissections, Principles and Practice of Surgery and practical and clinical instruction. It is interesting to note that the Anatomy classes took place during winter so that corpses wouldn't decompose as quickly.

Between 1845 and 1849 he attended classes at the School of Anatomy, Medicine and Surgery in Park Street, Dublin, Mercer's Hospital, the Coombe-Lying in Hospital and the School of Medicine of the Apothecaries' Hall. 

Courses included:
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Surgical and clinical lectures
  • Theory and practice of medicine
  • Theory and practice of surgery
  • Materia, Medica and Therapeutics
  • Diseases of the eye
  • Midwifery and diseases of women and children
  • Medical and surgery practice
  • Practice of Dispensary
  • Dissections

J.J. Rivlin in his article Getting a medical qualification in England in the nineteenth century states that by the mid 1840s the MRCS required experience of midwifery (including 6 deliveries), a course of lectures on physic, and one winter and one summer session in the hospital practice of physic. The requirement for the hospital practice of surgery was three winter and two summer sessions.

After completing medical studies in Ireland, William Lee Dawson went to study in London at the Royal College of Surgeons. He was admitted as a member of the college on the 22nd July 1853. In August of that year he was interviewed by W. Burnett, the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and was found "qualified to serve as Surgeon on board any of the vessels belonging to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company." (Letter in my possession)

He sailed for New York aboard the Asia and there he met the ship Dee. His diary does not give any details of his medical work, but instead it is a record of the ports visited, the weather and his impressions of the various ports. William returned to England in June 1854 after resigning "in consequence of the Surgeons not having the same privileges as the other officers, they coming home every six months." (WL Dawson - diary)

His next appointment was to join the ship Mooltan bound for Hobart Town. Upon arrival in Hobart Town the Immigration Agent stated that "The Surgeon Superintendent appears to have paid much attention to his charge, and to feel a great interest in the people. His familiar acquaintance with their name and circumstances is very remarkable; he has also taken much interest in their disposal after arrival." (CSO 24/257/10644 Archives of Tasmania)

Hobart Town Gazette 5th December 1854

William Lee Dawson was appointed Medical Officer at the Huon until his death in 1871. Several years ago, I looked at the death registers for Franklin to give an insight into  the type of work performed by Dr Dawson. There were many accidents involving timber felling - in fact on one day in October 1858 five people aged from 6 to 50 were accidentally killed by the felling of a tree. He possibly would have been at the birth of triplet daughters born to John and Jane Price. One was stillborn and sadly Maryanne and Eliza died ten days later from debility. The winter of 1860 was particularly bad as 5 children died from whopping cough and in the first three months of 1866 five children died from cynanche tonssilaris - an acute inflammation of the throat where the patient struggles for breath. In 1871 a baby boy died from inanition combined with a malformation of the palate and other portions of the face and lips. Others were accidentally drowned, burnt or died from whooping cough, influenza and acute diarrhoea. William Lee Dawson was called to give evidence at many inquests and his diary gives the names of those deceased and their cause of death. 

Treatment for diphtheria glued into Dr William Lee Dawson's  diary

A family story tells of a police officer bringing in an injured timber worker whose leg needed to be amputated. The police officer could not manage to stay in the room to assist, so my great grandfather who was 10 years old at the time had to assist.

Amputation saw belonging to Dr William Lee Dawson

Unfortunately William became ill with consumption and died on 29th June, 1871 aged 51. He left a wife, Emma and 4 young children. His obituary in The Mercury on 30th June 1871 stated that he was a benevolent, but rather eccentric practitioner (who) had been the favourite medical advisor to all persons in the Franklin district....His nature was of the true character of charity - universal, and consequently embracing all objects and persons, poor as well as rich. His skill as a surgeon and operator was not surpassed in this colony. He had his failings like other men, but they were unlike those of most colonists "written upon his sleeve" and exposed to public criticism. His virtues preponderated over what are called failings, and the attentions paid to his wearying sick bed show that he was beloved by those who laughed at his eccentricities, while they believed in his inestimable value as a citizen.

From 1854 until 1871 Dr William Lee Dawson provided medical care for residents of Franklin and the Huon district of Tasmania. Although one might expect Dr Dawson to have left his family in a reasonable position financially, a letter sent from Dublin to his widow expresses regret that he did not leave them in favourable circumstances. Perhaps this was because of his charitable nature.

My sincere thanks go to his daughter Louisa and her daughter and grandchildren who treasured the documents which have allowed his family to gain an insight into the life of William Lee Dawson. I only hope that the current custodian can take as much care and keep them safe.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Abundant Genealogy - Week 4 - Free offline genealogy tools

Week 4 – Free Offline Genealogy Tools: For which free offline genealogy tool are you most grateful? How did you find this tool and how has it benefitted your genealogy? Describe to others how to access this tool and spread the genealogy love.

My favourite free offline genealogy tool is Dixson Library at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, Australia. I have been using this library since 1978 when I began university.
If you have ancestors who lived in the New England area, the New England Room may be just the thing for you.
The New England Collection exists to ensure the preservation of works related to the New England region...It covers a collecting area from the Queensland border in the north to the Gloucester Shire in the south and from the coast to the Bourke Shire in the west.
Check out what is in this collection via the online catalogue. I have been able to access many books and ephemera about the towns where my ancestors lived and worked. 
Dixson Library also has a family history collection with many varied resources including: 
  • BDM indexes
  • shipping records
  • convict records
  • electoral rolls
  • land records
  • muster and census records
  • naturalisation records
Of course, many of these records are available online so these resources are probably not used as much as they once were.

My favourite section of Dixson Library is the newspaper collection. Microfilms of newspapers from the northern part of NSW (including the north coast), Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne can all be found. Best of all, you don't need to request access to individual microfilms as they are all on open access. This collection is particularly useful as there are few NSW country newspapers on Trove. The range also goes beyond 1954 so more recent news stories can easily be accessed. You can either print pages or save them to a thumb drive.
As a member of the community you are free to use the resources at Dixson Library. However, if you wish to borrow from the library in person you must become a member.
If you live nearby a visit to Dixson is well worth the effort. If you don't live close, why not include a visit to Dixson when you are next holidaying in the New England region. Don't forget to check opening hours before you leave home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Abundant Geneaolgy - Week 3 - Free Online Genealogy Tools

Week 3 – Free Online Genealogy Tools: Free online genealogy tools are like gifts from above. Which one are you most thankful for? How has it helped your family history experience?

Where does one start? There are so many fantastic free online sites so I don't think I'll be able to stop at one.

I love The Ryerson Index which is an index to death notices in current Australian newspapers. It is a fantastic resource and thanks must go to those who freely give their time to work on this project. I'm only sorry that the newspaper from where I grew up is not one of those indexed. I'd index it if I had regular access to the paper. Unfortunately, I read the paper fourth hand in bulk about three times a year and I can't guarantee that issues aren't missing.

Recently I've been spending a lot of time on the Public Record Office of Victoria website, particularly looking at their Wills, Probate and Administration Records 1841-1925. I have been able to access free of charge several family wills which have proved to be extremely beneficial in my research. Thanks for providing these to the public. 

I visit Trove's digitised newspapers on a weekly basis. To play a part in the continual improvement of Trove I always correct the electronically translated text. Although this digitisation project has yet to digitise any of the papers of the small country towns that I am interested in I have still been able to locate stories about my families. I was really pleased to be able to verify a story that my father had told me about his grandfather. You can read about it here

I am very grateful for cemetery sites. The Australian Cemetery Index is a record of inscriptions on headstones or plaques found in each cemetery at the time it was surveyed. Currently there are 616 NSW cemeteries and 181 from Queensland with much smaller holdings for the other states. I have been able to see images of the headstones of many of my extended families on this site. These images have given me death dates which in turn have often led to published obituaries. It's not quite as exciting as finding the headstone yourself but it certainly makes research easier.

I'm looking forward to reading about other fantastic free sites. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Genealogy with Picture Australia

As a genealogist it is important to place your family in a location and a time period. Families, place and time are crucial to make your family history live. Through research I have discovered that in the past members of our family were in significant places at significant times or were part of significant events.

Without research, I would not have known the following:
  1. Gustav Baumgarten (gg uncle) is mentioned in Ned Kelly's Jerilderie Letter.
  2. William Lee Dawson (gg grandfather) was a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London.
  3. Willi Scheef (very distant relative) was killed on the Hindenberg.
  4. Family just out of Dublin could hear the gun shots during the 1916 Easter Rising but didn't know what was happening.

The list goes on. But what about the families that didn't seem to leave any information other than what can be gleaned from births, deaths and marriages? What was happening in the town or area in the time period they lived there? Check for images on Picture Australia.

The image below which is out of copyright and can be found at the State Library of Queensland shows the official welcoming party for the Duke of Gloucester when he entered Queensland in 1934.

A quick search of the internet reveals the following:

The Duke of Gloucester, sent primarily to celebrate the centenary celebrations of Victoria, toured Australia in 1934. Travelling by train and car, he spent 10 days in Queensland. Arriving on 1 December 1934 he visited Wallangarra and Stanthorpe and spent the weekend at “Terrica” station in the Stanthorpe region. The British Royals: a Queensland Story

The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 1934, p. 10

Why could this be significant for my family? My Moore family lived in Wallangarra at that time and I'm certain that most of the townspeople would have turned up to witness this event. Of course, I'd love to know if any of my family are standing there watching what is happening. Perhaps they are out of the picture. I wonder which people in Wallangarra at the time were considered important enough to be standing in the front few rows or were they the dignitaries who were probably travelling on the train with the Duke?

I think my family would have been there, don't you!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Abundant Genealogy - Week 2 - Paid Online Genealogy Tools

Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? What special features put it at the top of the list? How can it help others with their genealogy research?

As I still work full time in a busy job I don't feel that I have the time to effectively utilise more than one paid site, although I would like to. I joined Ancestry several years ago with the offer of a free two weeks or one month and then forgot to take out my credit card details - a great marketing ploy! However, I have not been disappointed at all in that time.

The great advantage of course in having your own subscription is that you can use it whenever you like. Last night my aunt rang me up about something, so I used Ancestry to check what she was asking me and together we discussed the results.

I consistently (or perhaps persistently) use the Australian electoral rolls. The recent introduction of the 1980 rolls has allowed us to make contact with distant family members and this has proved to be exciting.

Recently I have also been using Warwickshire Births, Marriages and Deaths on Ancestry and have uncovered more information on my Allsop family.

The online family trees on Ancestry can assist others with their research. However it can also be a hindrance. Many of them contain significant errors and I have often contacted the owner asking how they make a specific connection. Some have taken down the erroneous information and others have ignored my messages to contact me. However, I feel the pluses outweigh the minuses. I also have to realise that my research is not without errors (I just wish I knew what were the errors!)

The only other paid site I use occasionally is a subscription taken a week at a time during my holidays to the Sydney Morning Herald Archives. I wrote a post about this earlier this month which can be accessed here.

I'm looking forward to seeing what others believe are their best value for money tools.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lindsay Baumgarten - Barnawatha

Last night I was fortunate to come across a blog Carol's Headstone Photographs. Carol has taken photographs of many Victorian cemeteries and several from New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Simply browse her site, hosted by RootsWeb, send her an email requesting specific photos and Carol will email them to you.

I browsed the list and saw Barnawatha. My mother's great aunt had lived at Barnawatha and sure enough there were several Baumgartens buried there. The branch of the family that I am interested in had left Barnawatha and moved to Moolan Downs in western Queensland in 1908. However, one of their children had died at Barnawatha.

Lindsay Gustav Dawson Baumgarten, the fourth son of Gustav and Catherine Baumgarten died on 12th August 1885, aged 11 weeks.

Thank you Carol for your fantastic service to the genealogy community.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 1 - Blogs

One of the goals I have set myself this year is to take part in Amy Coffin's 52 weeks of Abundant Genealogy. I'm not sure how I'll go, but if I don't make a start I certainly won't finish!

Week 1 - Blogs: Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?

I have my genealogy blogs in three sections on Feedly - Aus-Genie, British genealogy and Genealogy. When I check Aus-Genie I am always excited to see a post from Geniaus. I first met Geniaus at least 10-12 years ago when she came to Coffs Harbour and presented to a group of Teacher Librarians. I can still remember her talk was presented with a webpage to accompany it. She was enthusiastic and that enthusiasm rubbed off. I didn't know then that we shared another passion, that of genealogy. Her blog posts show that she has lost none of that enthusiasm and it still rubs off. Please don't stop blogging. You inspire me to keep blogging.

I also want to mention one other blog which I love. Although she hasn't blogged since November last year, Caro's Family Chronicles are a simply a delight to read. If you have ancestors from London you must read the posts titled Lost in London.

2012 Genealogy Goals

After reading several posts from others who have evaluated their year and set goals for 2012 I though that perhaps I should do the same. I tend to be someone who flits from one thing to another, (In fact I am in the middle of something now and have dropped it to write this post.) so a few goals won't go astray.

After much thought I know I need to make organising what I already have a priority over discovering more wonderful information. So with this in mind here are my goals for 2012:
  1. Link my currently scanned and filed information to the appropriate individual or family in Reunion.
  2. Tidy up all my sources in Reunion. (After combining my family’s 3 files into 1, I still have many multiple sources.) 
  3. Complete scanning all my paper files. (in 2011 I worked on my filing system and am happy with that, but I still have the contents of at least a dozen large folders to scan.
  4. Take part in Amy Coffin's 52 weeks of Abundant Genealogy.
  5. In addition to the blogging challenge above I want to blog on average once a week.
  6. Complete my National Year of Reading Genealogy Challenge.
  7. Make some firm decisions about my image collection and begin to organise them. (Any suggestions here will be gratefully accepted.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

William Thomas Seabrook 1881-1914

Today, 3rd January, 2012 marks the 98th anniversary of the death of William Thomas Seabrook, the 6th child of William John Seabrook, wine merchant and his wife Maria Sophia Mason of Melbourne.

William is buried in the Brighton Cemetery, Melbourne and if you are interested in reading his tragic story it is published on the unofficial history of Brighton Cemetery website.

William Thomas Seabrook, 1881-1914

Family Homes - No 2 - Franklin Tasmania

The three photographs below are of a house in Franklin, Tasmania that my great great grandfather, Dr William Lee Dawson had built in 1861.

Home of Dr William Lee Dawson, Franklin, Tasmania

Side view of the home

According to his diary, William Lee Dawson, his wife Emma (Seabrook) and their two eldest children Catherine Ellen and William Henry moved into the house on Wednesday 20th March, 1861. Two further children, Lousia and Robert were born while the Dawsons lived here. They continued to live in this house until William's death in 1871. Shortly after his death, Emma rented the property to a Robert Walker and moved to Hobart Town and later to Melbourne.

The house cost a total of £236 3s 6d to build. From the ledger in William Lee Dawson's diary we can ascertain that the house had a green baize door. The baize would have been attached to the door that separated the servant living quarters from that of the family. Baize had the effect of quietening the noise. (Wikipedia) There was calico on the shop ceiling (I assume this was his surgery) and the rooms were papered. There was a stone hearth and steps, a stove in the front room of the house and the chimney was whitewashed. The front door had a bronze knocker and handle. Out the back there was a shed and an orchard of fruit trees of various descriptions.

The ledger contains more than 120 entries for costs associated with building the home. These include: shingles, palings, nails, hinges, paint, oil, turps, cartage, room paper, stone, lime, calico for shop lining, varnish, green baize for door, bronze knocker, scraper for door, timber and labour including cartage,  lathing, plastering, painting.

Unfortunately the house is not standing today and efforts so far have been unable to locate the block on which it once stood. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

National Year of Reading - Genealogy Challenge

I have set myself a genealogy challenge for this Australia's National Year of Reading. As I am a teacher librarian I also need to read to keep up with the students at my school. It looks like it will be a busy year.
Each of the books listed below come from my bookshelf. I have selected 12 - an equivalent of one per month. Most of them have a special significance. Some will be more challenging than others and a couple of them I'll be able to read in an hour. I'll review each of them here. What books are you going to read this year?

Image Title/Author When completed

James C Whorton
7th January 2012

Michael Lenihan
27 February 2012

London: The Biography
Peter Ackroyd

Free Passage: The Reunion of Irish
Convicts and their Families in
Australia 1788-1852
Perry McIntyre

Our Daily Bread
German Village Life, 1500-1850
Teva J Scheer

The Great Irish Potato Famine
James S. Donnelly, Jr

A New History of Ireland
Christine Kinealy

The Victorian Chemist
and Druggist
W.A. Jackson

The Victorian Hospital
Lavinia Mitton


Built by Seabrook:
Hobert Buildings Constructed by
the Seabrook Family from the 1830s
Malcolm Ward

Graham Kennedy Treasures
Friends Remember the King
Mike McColl Jones

Kelly Country
A Photographic Journey
Brendon Kelson & John McQuilton

Sydney Morning Herald Archives

As I'm on holidays I have taken out a week's subscription to the Sydney Morning Herald Archives. These archives cover from 1st January 1955 until 2nd February 1995. I have been using them to look up death  and funeral notices to add names to more recent branches of my families. I use the Ryerson Index and electoral rolls on Ancestry in conjunction with the SMH Archives.

The archives are relatively easy to search. When you hover over a page, a section turns yellow and that section is enlarged when you click on it. You can print or save the page as a pdf if you wish or add it to My Collection on the website.

Each time I find a death on the Ryerson Index I add it to a spreadsheet with the details from the index and the main family name it pertains to. I have a separate page for each newspaper. After I find the information from the newspaper I delete the line from the spreadsheet. Usually I conduct this research at Dixson Library at the University of New England in Armidale, which has microfilms of most of the newspapers I'm interested in. However, as my list is extremely long,  I'm pleased to be able to make significant inroads this week without leaving home.

I've already got my money's worth. A few queries have been proved correct and others have been disproved. I've even discovered that I lived at a university college with one of my third cousins in the early 80s.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Arsenic Century - James C. Whorton

As 2011 is the National Year of Reading here in Australia I decided that I'd needed to start today. Each time I go to Sydney I treat myself a book from Kinokuniya. I love to browse their history section and always have to contain myself to select only one from several that look interesting. On my last visit I purchased The Arsenic Century - How Victorian Britain was Poisoned at Home, Work and Play by James C. Whorton. You can read a review here.  Already I am enthralled.

Apparently there was a network of women in Essex who "placed poison and knowledge of its (arsenic) use in women's hands so they could do away with any bothersome person." Members of the community knew what was happening but did not often report their knowledge. Many women murdered their husbands and several children. These women probably don't have any living descendants today as I think they got rid of them all!

Poorer members of the community could pay Friendly Society memberships (life insurance policies were out of their league) and join burial clubs. Upon death, the cost of a funeral (and a little profit along the way)
could be met. It became common practice to enrol children in these clubs. In Manchester  there was a saying, "Aye, aye, that child will not live, it is in the burial club!" Living as we do today, this is inconceivable.

As well as being used for devious purposes, arsenic killed many Victorians via green wallpaper, cake ornaments, baby powder and pints of beer. The list goes on and on. It's a wonder anyone survived!

If you have family who lived in Victorian Britain I think this book will be a must. In fact, I'm off to bed to read more now.