Sunday, May 11, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogical Research - Week 14 - Cemetery Records

This is my post for week 14 of  Shauna Hicks challenge for 2014.  Shauna said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

My husband's direct ancestors in Australia are buried from Glen Innes to Uralla - a mere 1.5 hours driving time. My direct ancestors however, are buried in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. This means, that wherever I go there just happens to be an ancestor buried there. My daughter once asked if a visitor wanted to see our holiday photos - yes they were headstones.

There is now a proliferation of Websites such as Australian Cemeteries Index and individual cemetery sites which makes finding the resting place of family members much easier than in the past. These sites can be used to make research trips more effective. 

I was fortunate to be able to locate headstones for two sets of great, great, great, great grandparents in Ireland before I visited.


  • James (d. 1857) and Rose Hannah (d. 1858) are buried at the Bushvale Presbyterian Church at Stranocum, Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland.
  • Andrew (d. 1853 and Rosannah (d 1830) Lagan are buried at Swatragh, Magherafelt, Co. Derry, Ireland.

Armed with this information I was able to visit these cemeteries and easily find what I was looking for. Without prior research it would have been impossible to take these two photographs.


Hannah headstone, Bushvale, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland


Lagan headstone, Swatragh, Co Derry, Ireland





Saturday, May 10, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 - Week 13 - Personal Names and Surnames

This is my post for week 13 of  Shauna Hicks challenge for 2014.  Shauna said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

My story this week is about a man I never met but with whom I corresponded for many years. It is about how his personal name allowed me to know I was going to make a connection to my family.

William Lee Dawson had moved from Kilronan in Ireland to Franklin in Tasmania in 1854. After his death in 1871, his wife Emma moved to Melbourne to be closer to her siblings. Her four children Catherine, Harry, Louisa and Robert ended up living in Victoria, northern New South Wales and western Queensland. By the late 1800s cousins were scattered over three states.

More than 20 years ago, I was attempting to find descendants of Robert Ernest Dawson. I scoured electoral rolls in vain to find a clue to connect with family members.

I came across a name - Franklin Heathcote Dawson. I stopped my search and wondered if he might be the man I was looking for. I hoped he might be my grandfather's first cousin. My grandfather's second name was Franklin. I knew that Robert Dawson had been born in Franklin in Tasmania and his wife Nelly Spinks had been born in Heathcote in Victoria. Was it possible that they had named their son after the towns in which they had been born? The electoral roll was not current. Did he still live there?

I wrote to Frank and yes he was who I though he was. We continued corresponding for many years. He shared many stories;  his father holding a man down so his father could amputate his leg; stories about growing up at Glenlinton near Whittlesea in Victoria; the death of my great grandfather who was visiting his brother over Christmas 1916; the suggestion that there was a family connection to Ned Kelly (he was right) and his experiences as a pilot during the Second World War and with ANA after the war.

I'm so pleased his parents named him after the towns in which they were born. I am truly thankful for all that Frank shared with me. 

Thank you Franklin Heathcote Dawson (1910 - 1996).






52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 12 Gazetteers

This week is week 12 of  Shauna Hicks challenge for 2014.  Shauna said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

A gazetteer  is a dictionary of place-names. Gazetteers describe towns and villages; parishes and counties; and rivers, mountains, and other geographical features. Gazetteers generally list place-names in alphabetical order.  Gazetteers may also be called topographical dictionaries. (Family Search)

The Family Search website give beneficial information about Gazetteers in Ireland. One of the most useful is Samuel Lewis' typographical Dictionary of Ireland which can now be downloaded or viewed online.

Gazetteers have been very useful in my research. 

A family property near Armidale is called Mothal. A search of Samuel Lewis' 1837 typographical dictionary reveals that :

Mothell, a parish, in the barony of FASSADINING, country of KILKENNY, and province of LEINSTER, 4 miles (S. by W.) from Castlecomer, on the road to Kilkenny, and on the river Dinin; containing 2427 inhabitants. The Roman Catholic parish formed part of Muckalee. 

This property name and the gazetteer allowed me to narrow down the search for the Brennan's home in Ireland.