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I wanted to know where all my ancestors came from before immigrating to Australia

Discussion in 'How I got started in Family History' started by CathP, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. CathP

    CathP New Member

    Hi all, I was invited to the forum some time ago but today, decided I should actually check it out properly. I began FH seriously in 1995 when my oldest two children had to do a family tree for their Social Science class. I was also keen to find out where each of my and my husband's ancestors had come from so that when we retired we could visit these places and walk where they had trod. I have since visited a couple of these places.
    I knew our parents', grandparents' and some great grandparents' names but not a lot past that. I visited the local Mormon FHC and checked out the microfiche and after the first visit had discovered lots of my mother-in-law's Tasmanian ancestors. I thought "How easy is this"? I obviously had a lot to learn! In the intervening 24 years, I added to my focus, finding out as many of our direct ancestors as I could and then following the lines "down" as far as I could to the present day. Both of our fathers' fathers' families came from Catholic Ireland and that has meant I cannot get past the first half of the 19th century, but we also have ancestors who came from England, Scotland and Germany. There are also many cousins from all over the world. I now have more than 20,000 in my family tree program (which happens to be Brother's Keeper), all entered by me - they are our relations and personal to us. After about 15 years my mother asked what was the good of collecting names? She wanted to know about their lives, so I have been writing up about various families. Two years ago I finished a "book" (450+pages on Word) on my mother's mother's father's father's family who hailed from Scotland. I made contact with various 2nd and 3rd cousins and now send the latest copy via a site called Wetransfer as a Christmas present each year, always in the hope that they will send me something new back. I did the couple who came out, their immediate families, then their children and grandchildren. I stopped there as the next generation had people who are still alive and I thought that would produce a can of worms. Being in Australia, I found out an incredible amount from the Trove Newspaper site, but I included as much anecdotal evidence as I could, for me (and others) to prove or disprove. They were the voices of earlier family and it is that which will be lost, not the records. Now I am doing a similar one for my husband's paternal grandfather's family.
    My 3 surviving children are not really interested - but I tell them they don't have to be interested, they just have to preserve my work. If they don't, I have threatened to haunt them!
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  2. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    Well done, Cath. You have put in a lot of work. Many of recognise the 'problem' of the next generation not being interested, but one day......who knows?
  3. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Several friends of mine who have never been interested in family history before are planning to take it up when they retire. As one of them has the same maiden surname as one of my recently-discovered ancestors, and the families came from the same part of Suffolk, there could be interesting times ahead....
  4. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    Trove has been an invaluable source of information in my research into my husband's convict forebears and their subsequent families. I have to say, though, that many of my discoveries have met with disapproval from current family members!
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I can imagine that some people are ashamed to have convict ancestors - and that others are proud. I suspect I'd be somewhere in the middle, ashamed of what my ancestor had done, especially if others had been hurt, but proud of the way they had turned their lives around.

    One of the convicted murderesses in the book I've just reviewed had her death sentence commuted to transportation (as the vast majority of death sentences were), and started a new family in Australia. There could well be some of her descendants who are LostCousins members.
  6. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    I completely understand your desire, Cath! Sounds like a lot of fun (and I agree, Trove is a wonderful thing!)

    Actually I think currently it's more of a badge of honour to have a convict ancestor when you're Australian - at least that is the impression given by a lot of people, regardless of what their ancestors did in order to get transported.

    I am the unlikely type of Australian without a single convict ancestor in my tree! (all free settlers from 1840 onwards)
  7. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    How sad.
  8. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    But not really surprising when it comes to Australia - one of our national "heroes" was a criminal (Ned Kelly) and one of the songs that many wanted as an alternative national anthem is about a sheep thief who suicides instead of facing the consequences for his actions (Waltzing Matilda).

    Plus, a lot of the cultural values that are considered quintessentially Australian are suggested to have a basis in our convict history above and beyond those attributed to the failed Gallipoli campaign and the ANZACs.
  9. GrahamC

    GrahamC LostCousins Member

    Our history is to blame for that. Not having revolutions, civil wars, wild wests and guns, guns, guns we have had to manufacture folk heroes. Ned Kelly was a vicious cop killer. If he had lived in the 21st century he would be reviled.
  10. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    I can certainly endorse what jorghes says, and well recall my sister saying after recounting to her the news of our two convict ancestors, her grandsons (by now in their late teens and early twenties) received the news with some great joy seeing it as a 'badge of honour' amongst friends. Even after relating how each fared after serving out their transportation sentences for petty theft and burglary - one making good, marrying a free settler, raising a large family and becoming a wealthy tradesman, the other absconding, being caught and marrying a fellow convict lady and together continuing to commit crime and receiving jail sentences - it did nothing to daunt their image of having convict ancestors.

    Even more recently a contact lady in Australia found through Ancestry thru lines in a reply to me about our (somewhat limited) shared ancestry made the comment..."I was hoping to uncover a convict past, but as yet it seems they all came of their own accord". I think that speaks for itself!
  11. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    But of course, without a defining moment - or a country created by a war or massive event, we pick other things and other people to revere. I always like telling my students that the closest Australia ever came to civil war was three days in Ballarat at the Eureka Stockade - and again, this is why that flag and that emotion is so important.
  12. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    Remember Bob, that there are comprehensive convict records available which may lead to interesting research, whereas free settlers' records may consist of one line in a shipping manifest!
  13. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    Absolutely true Margery, and most of the information about my two convict ancestors was extracted from such records, and abundantly so with 'black sheep' one, with numerous absconding and brushes with the law. All faithfully recorded and enhanced later by many 'Trove' news extracts about him and his ex-convict wife. ('Trove' is aptly named as it is indeed a veritable Treasure Trove).

    In contrast one has to dig deep into more conventional records to find out about the one who made good, married and settled down. However I was able to find Military records detailing sons who enlisted to serve the 'mother country' in WW1. Thankfully all survived and returned home and raised families of their own.
  14. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    I remember reading a bit about the siege when looking up Ballarat (which I visited in 2002) and when about 4 years ago my sister and brother-in-law chose to move to a Retirement Village there. I was also intrigued by the name of the Ballarat suburb of Sebastapol (a Crimean war legacy) where the village is located.

    I was not aware of the importance of the Eureka Stockade siege in Australian legend which I see is regarded as the birth of (Australian) democracy because of the courage and determination of the gold miners in defending their rights. It will make an interesting topic when I next talk to my sister (now a widow) on Skype.

    Edit: Have spoken with my sister who has shown me a picture of the Eureka flag (a cross with stars, white on blue) and she has visited the Eureka museum.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019 at 11:20 AM
  15. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    One of the members of the Eureka Stockade became a Victorian Parliamentarian, so yes, quite important, although in the overall scheme of things, relatively unimportant.

    The flag itself is brought out frequently, unfortunately often as part of far-Right rallies, but also every time someone discusses changing the national flag.

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