Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coffs Harbour District Family History Society workshop

Yesterday I spoke about Trove at the Coffs Harbour District Family History Society's monthly workshop.  This was my second presentation to this group. My topic last year was on Google.

My main aim for this presentation was to show why is it important to register with Trove, why tagging is brilliant and the benefits for whole community if we correct the OCR text.

Before I started I needed to gauge what the audience knew about Trove so I asked the following questions?

  1. Who hasn't heard of Trove?
  2. Who has heard of Trove but never been to the website?
  3. Who has registered with Trove?
  4. What has made corrections to text?
  5. Who has added tags to articles?
  6. Who hasn't printed and saved?
  7. Who has used Trove but have not found anything useful or interesting? 
There were a couple who hadn't heard of Trove. Less than one half of the 40 people in the room had registered with Trove, fewer had made corrections and added tags. Others were not aware that you could save and print the articles. One person hadn't found anything useful or interesting. 

Participants were given an overview of Trove and the types of information they could find. I shared some of my finds. My most interesting find, my saddest find, how you can be lucky and verify some family stories and how country news was often reported in city papers. Several participants told of one of their great finds. One lady told the audience how she had managed to trace a family and their business dealings through advertisements in several Victorian papers.

Together we edited the text of a short article and decided on the appropriate tags. I then showed and explained a tag cloud and how they could immediately find all the articles relating to one tag.

I ran through a few advanced search features. The one that most people found very useful was quotes around words you want to be next to each other e.g. "Summer Hill" instead of Summer Hill when searching. There were some aha moments.

Thanks to Geniaus for lending me her Useful Tips, which I gave the participants with credit to her.

I took one comment from a lady that she wanted to go home straight away as a compliment. I think Trove  would have been her website of choice last night.

Thank you to the Coffs Harbour Family History Society for inviting me to speak to the group. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reunion 10 for Mac

This morning I went to the Reunion for Mac site and discovered that Reunion 10 was released during the past week. Of course, all other plans for today have gone out the window.

I have been using Reunion for a long, long time since I changed over from PAF (probably since 1985 or 1986). I tend to be a person who stays loyal to one product. Hence the reason why I have only ever owned an Apple computer, buy Fountain tomato sauce and Colgate toothpaste.

There are many new features to Reunion 10. Immediately I can see a couple of great improvements.

  1. Reunion now integrates with Google maps. This was one of the reasons I have dabbled with TNG over the past 12 months but I haven't really had enough time to play with TNG to get the most out of it. Perhaps I may leave it now and concentrate on Reunion now that it has this feature. Will need to investigate putting this on the web instead.
  2. It is now much easier to merge source information. At one stage I was lazy entering date and only added town names as I figured I knew which state and country they were in. Lately I have become more particular with entering data. I have been tidying my files for some time, but this will speed up the process.
If you own a Mac and don't use Reunion you can download here and use the demo version to load 50 people.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Inside History magazine

Yesterday, my copy of Inside History magazine arrived. I sat myself down and forgot to start getting tea. This is always the case when it arrives. I always need to set aside some time to peruse the latest edition and this one was no exception.
I was quite surprised when I began reading an article titled Entering the blogosphere by Jill Ball, aka Geniaus. In the article she mentioned 50 blogs which are worth following. These blogs included institutional, society, personal, international and organisation blogs. Amongst the personal blogs there was a recommendation to read and subscribe to this blog.
I was quite pleased that I actually follow most of the blogs that Jill mentioned. The remaining few have been added to my blog reader, Feedly. Like Jill, I enjoy reading blog posts and more often than not I can find posts that are relevant in some way to my families, posts that make me wish I had more time to devote to my passion, posts that give me clues to help me in my personal research and others that are just great reading.
Thank you Jill for mentioning my blog. I now feel that I will have to lift my game and blog more regularly to make my blog truly worthy of your mention.
If you haven't seen Inside history and are passionate about Australian and New Zealand genealogy, history and heritage click on the link and subscribe to this magazine. It will be worth the subscription cost and the time spent reading every two months.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting closer to Elizabeth Flynn

I have previously written two blog posts about Elizabeth Flynn which can be read here and here. Elizabeth was a young girl who went missing in 1861 near Cooma. I have just received an email with more of the puzzle revealed. This answer has been sitting on my bookshelf for more than 10 years.

The email gave reference to "in those days..." Numeralla-Countegany-Peak View and surrounding areas which was compiled by the Numeralla and District Community History Group. I have had this book for many years but have only read some sections - obviously not the significant one which pertains to Elizabeth Flynn. Like all research, it answers some of my questions but it raises further issues to be investigated.

The following extract is from p. 66 of the publication and was written by a J.W. Evans.

George Scott an Englishman came to the Kydra area around 1911.
One evening at the home of Mr and Mrs P O'Neill, George was invited in for afternoon tea and while having his 'cuppa' casually remarked that he had found a human skeleton in the hills that day. When questioned if he was sure it was human skeleton, said he had picked the skill up and had examined it and was quite sure. Asked how he had come to find it in such a place, said he had wounded a fox and it had got into its lair under this big rock. He walked up to the rock and saw the bones. Asked if he had informed the police, he replied, "no, I thought people could died where they liked in Australia."
Being the smallest there I was called on by the Police to crawl into this crevice where adults could not get and gather all bones, and there seemed to be millions of them.
I was frightened of the policeman and frightened of the rock , and I knew one little boy that wasn't going to be killed by either. When I got out of that crevice I was like the lad in the outback Christening. I felt like heading for the scrub where pursuit would be risky.
Having collected all bones in a heap, the Medical Officer drafted them, throwing out the animal and bird bones. It must be remembered that foxes and perhaps dingoes had reared their cubs and pups under this rock for years, so many of the bones were from animals brought in for food. The bones were packed in tea tins and taken back to Cooma where a coroner's inquiry was held a few day later. Although the remains were identified as that of a Flynn girl missing from Countaguinea for fifty-one years (the only lost person not accounted for), the relatives would not claim the remains for burial, so the police had the remains buried in the Cooma cemetery.
Here is an interesting part to this story. My father had the property, where the skeleton was found, leased for years. My mother who helped muster the stock and did some shooting on the side, knew bush lore better than most men, told me this story after the bones were found.
"Whilst shooting in the locality about 1905 or 1906 she picked up a bone and after giving it a thorough examination, could not identify it with any animal. She put the bone on top of a stump, and when she went back to get it, it was gone. It was thought that hawks, crows or foxes had taken it. It proved to be the pelvis bone of a human body, the only bone by which the sex of the remains could be identified.

This is a great example of a story which was probably retold many times over many years after the event. With stories like this we need to look at the facts.  What further questions need answering? How much of the story has been altered over the years?

What facts can be elicited from the article?

1. George Scott found the skeleton around 1911.
2. J.W. Evans crawled under the rock to collect the bones.
3. The Medical Officer sorted the human and animal bones.
4. A coroner's inquiry was held in Cooma a few days later.
5. Remains identified as those of the Flynn girl.
6. Remains not collected by the family.
7. Remains buried in Cooma.
8. Evans had property leased where skeleton was located
9. Mrs Evans had found a bone in 1905 or 1906 which may have been part of the skeleton

I now have the following questions which need answering.

1. What was the exact year was the skeleton found?
2. What was the name of the property on which the skeleton was found?
3. Where in the Cooma cemetery was the skeleton buried?
4. What information can be located in both local and possibly state newspapers?
5. What information can be discovered from the coroner's inquiry?
6. The final statement about the pelvis bone is confusing. If it went missing from the stump, how did they know it was a pelvis bone?
7. What is the probability that this skeleton was that of Elizabeth Flynn?
8. And of course, the main question will always remain - What happened to Elizabeth Flynn?

What have I missed? Does anyone have any further suggestions or lines of inquiry for me to follow?