Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Aonaibh Ri Chéile - Let us Unite

I had planned to post something interesting from papers of old about Halloween, since that is the date today. But somehow I got sidetracked, and discovered a couple of pretty amazing articles unrelated to Halloween - but relating to the branch of my daughters father's family that would have celebrated Samhain instead of Halloween - so there is a slight connection still.

So this is about her Cameron forebears.

When I first began researching I went back generation by generation tracking direct descendants through birth and marriage certificates. One of the earliest marriage certificates I have is for my daughter's 4 x great grandparents - married at Christ Church in Queanbeyan 27 October 1862 - just over 150 years ago. Fortunately the names of the bride and grooms parents were on the certificate allowing me to step back another generation on both sides. Alexander McIntyre's parents were Margery Cameron and Duncan McIntyre both deceased. I set about looking for their immigration and found them on a card index at NSW State Archives at The Rocks, where I was able to view the film and get some pages printed. Margery had emigrated with most of her family - parents and 10 siblings ranging in age from 26 to 2 years. Duncan had come on the same ship as a single man. They were a part of the Bounty Scheme sponsored by Charles Campbell, resettling highland shepherds to care for his stock and work his land as they would have done in Scotland. There is some great documentation about this scheme, for every passenger for whom a bounty was paid on immigration there is a description and references from employers and parish Ministers in Scotland. The Hooghley arrived in Sydney 12 October 1836. Then, I thought I would look in the newspapers to see if there was anything about the arrival of the ship. Imagine my surprise reading microfilmed copies of the Sydney Morning Herald when I found this.

The Sydney Herald (NSW 1831 - 1842) Thursday 27 October 1836 page 3 article12862554-3-001

Another of Margery's sisters married a fellow passenger some years after their arrival. Was it a shipboard romance ? Or had they been an item before they left ? They were both from the same area of Scotland, in fact Duncan's brother John was the Minister who gave references for most of the family.

A family reunion was held in 1986 and a family member published a book "Cameron of the Waterholes" (Waterholes being the name of one of the properties where the family were employed.) There is also a lot of information on Cameron Genealogies, which is where I found the most exciting link. I often thought wouldnt it be great to be part of Clan Cameron, but how could a shepherd be related to the Lochiel ?

There was the twist - the connection is actually traced back throught the McIntyre line, daughters marrying sons of rival clans to try to make alliances, keep the peace or build their own clan strength. So there are Campbells in the mix too. Lucy Cameron was the 3rd daughter of Ewen Cameron the Black Lochiel by his 3rd wife Jean Barclay. Ewen Cameron was born 1629 at Kilchurn Castle and is my daughters 9x great grandfather. How exciting. Amongst Lucy's children - Colin Campbell aka The Red Fox who was the victim of the Appin Murder in 1752. So much history right there at our fingertips. Culloden and all the campaigns beforehand in the Stuart uprisings - they were there, some even paying with their lives on the battlefields or the scaffold.

In 1989 my parents toured through Scotland and spent some time near Spean Bridge and Fort William which are in the general area where the family originated. I visited myself in 2007 and found the actual Kilmonivaig church with adjacent schoolhouse. I met a local who had bought the schoolhouse and was moving in. It was built in 1836 so about the time the family left, but it was built by Rev John McIntyre, Duncan's brother who was Minister at the parish at the time. In the churchyard I found the headstone for John. 

The church itself was built between 1802-1814 so will have been the church used by the families before they left Scotland. Oh to have had more time to chat to that gentleman.

Each time I visit Sydney I manage to fit in a bit of research at the Mitchell Library or even roadtripping down around Queanbeyan, Royalla and Michelago. This branch really intrigues me.

So, as I said it wasnt my intention for this week to talk about this family, but then it was the 176th anniversary last Wednesday of Duncan and Margery's marriage as well as the 150th anniversary of Sarah and Alexander's. I remember wondering at the time I got their marriage certificate why they were married "at" the church rather than in it. A bit of research helped with that. The church was being rebuilt and not completed at the time of their marriage. They were married by the Rev A D Soares though who was the driving force behind the building of the new church.  Then over the weekend what did I find on Trove but this

The Canberra Times (ACT 1926 - 1954) Tuesday 25 October 1927 page 4 article1218757-3-002
I'm 95% sure that the baptism just mentioned by chance is the first child of Duncan and Margery born August 1838. (I feel another trip coming on !) A little mystery surrounds Duncan death. No record has been found and some members of the family assumed he had gone to the goldfields and met his end. Margery remarried in 1849 and died in 1853. Recently, I came across a tree online which had a death date for Duncan in 1844 and cause of death "accidentally shot". I still need to contact the tree owner to verify the source of this information. I wondered then, if his past had caught up with him as on the Cameron Genealogies site there is a reference to him in the Kirk sessions. He was named as the father of a child borne to Isabella Cameron (I dont believe she is related to Margery). It stated that the father had left the country already and gone to Australia (and married as soon as he could it would seem !) Isabella Cameron's family also emigrated to Australia, had they found him and dealt some form of justice ? No, a little more research found that they did not arrive until after this new death date.

Just in case I could find a report in the paper I searched some more, and came across this last wedding notice instead. Duncan's niece had emigrated to Tasmania, I wonder if she had any contact her cousins in New South Wales ?

The Courier (Hobart Tas 1840 - 1859) Wednesday 6 April 1859 page 2 article2468910-3-001

So, that's a little bit about the almost royal blood running through my daughters veins - never mind how diluted it is now. She is proud of this branch on her tree and I am sure that some of the characteristics of those fiercely loyal people are amongst her strengths today.

Thanks Trove for delivering such treasures again for me. Happy Halloween.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Great Great Grandma Cooper

This is the story of my Great Great Grandma Mary Cooper. She was born in Camberwell Surrey about 1833. Her father was William Barratt a painter & glazier and her mother Mary Ann Moore. William and Mary were married 15 March 1830 in Westminster, and Mary Ann was their 2nd child, baptised 17 April 1833 at St Giles Camberwell.

In 1842 with their family of six young children William and Mary left England for a new life in the colonies. Much of their story is published in a book "Beginning in God's Own" by Peggy Crawford. They are also mentioned in "No Simple Passage" by Jenny Robin Jones which builds a story of the voyage of the London from diaries kept on the journey. Admittedly, there is not much information about the family except that baby Ellen was seen by the surgeon during the voyage and is so documented in his diary.

The family arrived in Wellington and set about making a home. A year after their arrival a 2nd son was born. Not a lot is known of their early life in Wellington, apart from events documented in church and registration records.

Mary aged 17 married 28 year old John Cooper on 23 April 1850 at St Paul's Wellington. This was a predecessor of the church known now as "Old St Paul's" and stood on the site now occupied by the Beehive. Mary's sisters Sarah, Caroline & Sophia all followed and were married by 1856. At some point around 1856 several members of the family took up positions on large sheep stations in Marlborough - Kekerengu and Flaxbourne - and so the story moves to Kaikoura a former whaling station on the east coast of South Island. Mary and John had thirteen children, and he continued to work in his trade as a Tailor both in Kaikoura township and at Kekerengu Station until his death in 1895.

My great grandfather William was their 9th child born in 1867. He became a builder apprenticed to his uncle Tom Cooke who will appear in another story.  This story is about Mary Ann and her three youngest children. Great Grandad told the story that his mother had left when he was very young (maybe 10 or 12) and had taken his baby brother with her and gone to Australia. As late as the early 1990's we realised that the two youngest daughters may also have gone with her as no further information was found for them in New Zealand. My Dad remembers that in the late 1940's or early 1950's his grandfather was visited by a man from Melbourne who he said was his nephew. In 1952 my uncle visited Australia before his marriage, like an OE I guess. Before he went their grandfather gave him the contact details for the "nephew" who had visited earlier. My uncle met these people somehow in Melbourne. He recalled an elderly gentleman propped up in bed as though unwell, who resembled his grandfather and so must have been his brother. There were at least two other males present, one possibly named Clarrie. On his return to New Zealand my uncle recounted this visit to his grandfather who denied ever having given him any such address, and of even having a brother in Melbourne. This puzzled both my Dad and his brother for years afterward. Sadly, when my Dad asked his brother about it again later in life he too denied the whole event had taken place.

We searched passenger records, electoral rolls, bdms for both Cooper and Barratt to no avail. Dad placed ads in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Adelaide Advertiser with no result.

And then ! Early this year someone on Ancestry saved a record I had previously saved - the baptism record for Mary Ann Barratt in 1833. I looked at their tree and thought they had everything mixed up, when suddenley the penny dropped. Here on their tree was Mary Ann Barratt with a husband named Charles Nicholls and two children with the same names as two of my missing children. Their birth dates were identical but one was a half sibling to the other - and where was the 3rd ? I studied their tree, could see where it could be untangled, even found a grandson named Clarrie and so I emailed with my story. The answer was very non committal, they would enquire from family and let me know. Grr. I spent some more time searching on Ancestry and found other trees related, but all seemed separate. Then I searched the bdms with the "new" name and ordered certificates which blew me away - and my Dad. The death certificates all gave the birth places as Kai Koras (an early name for Kaikoura), Wellington or New Zealand. The details were mixed up on Mary Ann's death certificate but as I said easily untied. The marriage certificates for the three children all gave their fathers name as Charles Nicholls. Who was he ? Did they meet in Melbourne ? Frustrated that I had no further response from my initial enquiry I set to hunting on Trove to see if I could work through subsequent generations using the family notices, using some of the dates from the ancestry trees.

The Argus: Melbourne, January 18, 1943. Viewed on trove.nla.gov.au October 22, 2012

The Argus: Melbourne, July 25, 1932. Viewed on trove.nla.gov.au October 22, 2012

The Argus: Melbourne, October 1, 1956. Viewed on trove.nla,gov.au October 22, 2012
Armed with some of these new names I returned to ancestry and looked for trees with the next generations. I found a couple, emailed and got one amazed reply. In a glory box inherited from her mother were some certificates, some of which made no sense and an Australian Centenary plate from 1888. Sadly this person did not know a lot about her family - cousins or otherwise, and was overwhelmed with the new family I had connected her with. The certificates in her possession included the original 1850 marriage certificate of Mary Ann Barratt and John Cooper and the original birth certificate of her great grandmother Mary Ann born in Kaikoura in 1873. She also sent a copy of her grandparents marriage certificate (which we had ordered a copy of earlier) and her own parents marriage certificate. The most intriguing thing was on Mary Ann's birth certificate (why does everyone have the same name ?) She was registered as Mary Ann Cooper, but the informant was not her father or her mother, it was Charles Nicholls of Kaikoura ! Since we had not had any luck with the other branches, who I now believe may have the originals of their respective great grandparents birth certificates, we ordered copies ourselves. No surprises there though, for Sarah Elizabeth and Walter Ernest the informants were John Cooper himself and Henry Barratt (Mary's youngest brother).

So who was Charles Nicholls ? Were he and Mary having an affair ? Was he the biological father of any of her children ? Was he just a kindly neighbour who felt sorry for the wife of the Tailor. Rumour has it that John liked his drink and Mary was still relatively young; in her early 40's at the birth of her youngest child Walter in 1876. Of her other children 2 daughters were married by 1876 and the others, except for my great grandad William and two brothers each side of him Frederick and Herbert, were married by 1883. So maybe if you were going to get out of a marriage, the mid 1870's - early 1880's was the time to go. Charles Nicholls only appears on one electoral roll in Kaikoura, and that fits in with the time we know he was there to be the informant on Mary Ann's birth certificate. I've not been able to find a record of them marrying in Australia, nor of Charles' death. Did anyone know their plans ? How did they organise it all back then with no internet or daily flights ? Did they just keep a big secret, then leave a note for those left behind ?

Mary died in Melbourne in 1903 her death certificate gave her maiden name as Barratt and her mother's maiden name as Foote. Quite different to Moore but easily explained - Mary Moore was remarried in 1861 after the death of her first husband William Barratt to William Foote. The fact that these names were known by the informants to events in Australia and that "Clarrie" visited New Zealand 50 years later would suggest that there must have been some correspondence through the years. But sadly the link was broken over time, and is proving very difficult to remake.

I can imagine how confronting it must be to realise that the family you thought was your family, is not - and that you are part of a wider larger family in a different country. But I do wish these new cousins would welcome us into their families as we would love to welcome them all into ours.

Sarah Elizabeth Cooper/Nicholls married John Poole Smith in Melbourne 1893 (7 chn)
Mary Ann Cooper/Nicholls married Alfred Joseph Schneider in Melbourne in 1904 (2 chn)
Walter Ernest Cooper/Nicholls married Annie Sloan in Melbourne 1903 (1 child)

I am glad for my Dad, that I have almost solved the mystery for him after all this time. We have photos of all Mary's siblings who came to New Zealand or were born here - it would be great to one day be able to add one of her to complete the family group.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Great Grand Uncle Watty

My Dad's family were tenant farmers in Somerset. There were a number of farms which passed down through several generations. When he started researching our genealogy Dad spent hours at the British High Commission looking up addresses and wrote many letters in the hope someone would reply and be able to fill in the gaps and take us back further. It worked too - took a little longer than emailing mind you.

They were ecstatic about reconnecting as they had always wondered what had become of the family who emigrated. My great great grandfather and his brother were the only children from the marriage of their parents. Their mother went on to remarry, and I was to eventually discover, have several more children. It seems though, that the boys' paternal grandmother left them money in her will - 600 pounds. One brother remained in Somerset, but the other packed up his family and emigrated to New Zealand with the Albertlanders in 1862.

They don't seem to have ever taken up the land offer which was part of that scheme though and lived mostly in Auckland and Hamilton. When they emigrated James and Sarah bought with them their six eldest children. Later we would discover that they had lost their seventh  child  aged 6 months shortly before leaving their farm of 140 acres & servants & farm labourers, with a most amazing house which is still standing albeit partially rebuilt www.hurstone.com Surely I have a hereditary claim on it dont I ? Money shouldnt need to change hands at all.

Anyway some of the sons, and I think even James briefly, caught gold fever in the 1870's and 1880's and spent some time on the Coromandel and Thames goldfields. Dad had been able to account for all of his grand uncles (uncles of his father) except for one. Walter. He knew he had been mining near Waihi and I remember wandering around cemeteries with him, in the days before people began to transcribe headstones, in the hope we would find one with the right name. But no. Dad wasn't even entirely sure he had died in New Zealand. He recalled talk of him being in Australia as well, and most intriguingly he remembered that his grandparents had a gold nugget on their mantlepiece that had been bought back for them by Walter. But bought from where ?

Walter was 7 years old when the family emigrated to New Zealand, 18 months younger than my great grandfather. I wonder what it was that captivated him about mining, that led him to spend his life "chasing the weight". Was the excitement and adventure ? Or the monetary reward ? As a kid I remember my Dad being a rock collector with a view to polishing up the gems he discovered. There were holidays where he scrabbled around in the undergrowth being rewarded with bits of amethyst and quartz. Is that what it was like for Walter too ?

So my search began,  I tracked down a death index for a Walter James Davys with the correct age in Geraldton West Australia, so we ordered the certificate and it did seem we had found Uncle Walter. But we knew nothing else of his life - apart from that he had never married. So that was that, the certificate got filed away, and the date added onto his record on the family tree.

Then came the advent of digitised newspapers. Here in New Zealand Papers Past supported by the National Library, enabled me (and then Dad because he is so intrigued by it all) to search for Uncle Walter. We learnt he was quite a successful prospector in Thames and Coromandel. He had a number of claims, and popped up in the paper giving evidence in court over disputes with other prospectors and in a landmark case with the Kauri Timber Company who disputed the rights to the minerals being mined underground. Walter was also injured in a rockfall reported in the Thames Star 7 August 1885 (3rd column near the top) and his recovery in the Thames Advertiser 12 August 1885. In an article about Ohinemuri - History of the Goldfields in the Te Aroha News 3 October 1885 he was referred to as "the well known prospector". The ongoing enquiry investigating the dispute between the Kauri Timber Company and the propectors in 1897 gave me my next clue. It reported that Walter Davys had since left Tairua and New Zealand for Australia. And here is where my relationship with TROVE began.

Walter was known as Watty in Western Australia. He was a much respected prospector and it would seem something of a billiards player too. He spent his days on the Coolgardie and possibly in Queensland (though I cant find much about that yet). He gave great names to his mines, Westralia Waihi near Davyhurst (the town named after him) was one, it yielded 20000 pounds ! Thats a lot of gold, and a lot of money. How amazing to read this (amongst other articles) and  to see the photo in the Perth Sunday Times 25 April 1926 . Watty continued to prospect well into his 80's in the Dongarra. I keep going back to see if there are more digitised editions where I can learn more abou this pioneer ancestor of mine.

On www.ancestry.com.au I found some shipping information for Walter returning to Australia from Auckland - I wonder whether that was after he bought the gold to give his parents and/or siblings ? It has been so great to find all this information and share it with my Dad. Newpapers are a mine (excuse the pun) of information to help build a picture of our forebears. If it werent for Trove we'd have still been calling him Walter - Watty has much more character dont you think ?

He was 88 when he died in 1944, and it seemed as late as 1939 still chasing the weight at Dongarra. I wonder what ever happened to the gold nugget on the mantlepiece...

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Climbing trees and looking under rocks

Aren't families such funny things ? Not one the same as the other, some small, some large, some nuclear, others extended. Some very close, others constantly battling or not even communicating.

Mine is small - well actually it was about normal when I was growing up. Two parents, two kids, a smattering of cousins and the usual four grandparents. What a difference a generation makes !

I always wanted to be part of a BIG family, or even just having a sister would have been great. They just seemed like they had so much more fun - always someone to play with, talk to, hang out with. I never once considered there could be a negative side to it all - that siblings might not get on with each other, that alliances could be formed and broken just like you see on Survivor.

From quite a young age I have been interested in names - people names, what our parents choose for us. Our first label, for some of us that label can define our lives. The fashions and trends in naming conventions still fascinate me. I remember once, when my Dad had not long started on the genealogical journey of our family, doing a survey of names. Took forever in those pre computer days to count how many James', Williams, Sarahs and Emmas there were. And then, we hadnt gone back as far as we have now !

What I was amazed about was that just the next generation back from my parents - there were the large families I'd always wanted to be a part of. If only I had had the chance to know them better, or if people who did know them had listened better - with interest, and passed the stories on. But of course back just a few generations children were seen and not heard, and you wouldn't have dared ask.

So now that is what I am doing, trying to find out - researching, looking under every stone, putting the flesh back into their lives - and learning what experiences they have shared and had. I love history, and putting historical events into context with my family just helps build the picture of their lives.

 As well as helping my Dad with the branches in his tree, in my Mum's tree I've contacted many long lost (and now rediscovered) cousins all over the world. I have also continued my research into my daughter's fathers family. The ultimate large family ! For most of the branches in these trees there are 5 - 6 generations in New Zealand and Australia before getting back to the mother countries. It's so fun, and addictive in a good way. Hope I can inspire others to find out more about their families while trying to make my research a litttle more orderly.

Come climb a tree or two with me.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Well here we go then. My newest online venture. I wonder if I can keep it up ? But I am sure it will help wile away the hours while I wait for a job offer to come my way.

Mostly I thought I might be able to eliminate lots of the pieces of paper that keep multiplying around my house when I am searching online for family discoveries. I find all sorts of things in the wee small hours, then lose the paper only to find it again days, weeks or months later - to reignite my interest. This way it will be a record that other family member can easily find - and I can share with other family detectives too.

Many thanks to Amy at http://branchesleavespollen.blogspot.com.au/p/trove-tuesday.html for getting me interested enough to get blogging, and my daughter for patiently helping out !