Friday, 30 December 2016

Lost and Found

This is a genealogy post - instead of a commentary on where I have been or what I have been eating. When I started blogging family history was going to be the focus of all my posts ! Best laid plans, hey ?

Anyway, this year I have been studying our cousin matches at Ancestry, from our DNA tests taken in 2015 and have attended a few workshops and seminars to try to get my head around the science of it. Some of it is sinking in - a lot of it is still mumbo-jumbo. At the end of last year I had uploaded two kits to GEDMatch but still haven't really got the hang of that either. On there, as on Ancestry my closest matches (aside from Mum, Dad and Lauren) are 3rd-4th cousins - most are more distant. It all makes the searching to find the common link a little more time consuming. 3rd cousins share great-great grandparents. But if those great great grandparents (and we all have 8 sets of them) had even just two children, and those two children had two children each, and those four children had two children each, of their own - do we KNOW all of these people ? Remember then, that most of our great great grandparents had at least six children (not two) - and some just kept on going and had like FOURTEEN !

This year I uploaded two kits to FamilyTreeDNA - which has different tools to Ancestry, and a smaller database of testers. But again, I've not really got my head around all that it offers. 

I have actually met two 3rd cousins this year, while on holiday in the States, and spoken to another on the phone. Two of these were new discoveries thanks to the DNA test and the other confirmed our paper trail (YAY). But I have also corresponded - a little sporadically - with several others. For the majority who have responded to messages, we have, between us been able to determine our common ancestors. All that paper research starting way back before the internet has been right - so far. Thanks Dad, Chris, Bessie Peggy and Grev for all that painstaking research.

I've also been trying to fill out our tree - the more we know about siblings in each generation the more likely we are to be able to identify a common ancestor (eventually). So I have been searching people's trees on Ancestry for common families and contacting them to offer to collaborate - or to elicit assistance. I've been making fairly good progress there too.

In November I got caught up in the GRO pdf trial (Births, Deaths and Marriages in the UK) £6 for a certificate to be emailed, rather than wait for the snail mail ! Thanks twitter for alerting me to this ! The GRO had also launched a search facility on their site. Previously this needed to be carried out on a 3rd party site, and then the actual order for a certificate was made on the GRO site. The new search function had a bonus not found on other sites, in that the mother's maiden name was included in the results - even as far back as the beginning of registration in 1837. Yuss !! This meant that even if you didn't order a certificate to be doubly sure you had the right person, in a lot of cases you could confirm the children you had included with your family did all have a mother with the maiden name you suspected they should have. You could also discover children previously unknown. Those who may have been born, and died between census'. In England the only helpful census in this regard is the 1911, where wives were asked to note how long they had been married and how many children they had had - and how many were still living. Thanks to that helpfulness many families in my tree have

"Child Xxxx b. ? d. before 1911". 

But that only works if the parent was still alive in 1911. This new search enabled many people participating in the trial to find children between all of the census'.

I ordered copious numbers of certificates. I now know the birth dates of all of my grandmothers paternal aunts and uncles - and where the family was living at the time of each birth and what job their father had at the time. For most of these I already had their baptism dates from previous research. I also attempted to find the birth certificates for as many of her mother's paternal aunts and uncles (we already have the maternal ones). But I am still missing two. One was born just prior to registration beginning - I do have his baptism date though, sadly with our the birth date noted in the church register. The other is a complete mystery - she seems to have not been registered at all. I thought at first she might have been registered under a slightly different name or spelling. Her sister Emily as registered as Emma, but no. I have just in the last couple of days found her baptism though - with the surname spelt a little weirdly. I have a great great grandmother like this too ! Grrr. 

Also this year I joined the NZSG and took advantage of that membership to change my subscription at Find My Past from pay-as-you-go to annual. The things I have found !! I've searched on here before looking at shipping and church records some of which are not available at Ancestry, and exploring the 1939 register (taken at the beginning of WW2). But now, since I don't have to be too exacting about what I use my credits for, it is like Pandora's box. I have read the baptism books for each parish I could, to find the baptism dates for most children in one branch of the family. I also read the marriage and burial registers if they were available. 

What did I find that I wasn't expecting ? 

That my great grandmothers Uncle Henry had 14 children not 13, that one his children died as a result of an accident when he was a baby. How grief stricken they must have been, but yet they went on to have 9 more babies. Baby George was 13 months old and being carried by his mother when one of her other children called out to her from the top of the stairs and as she turned to reach out to the child she lost her balance, falling to the floor below. Their eldest child at this point was just 7 years old. What a thing for her, and her three younger siblings to witness. How did it affect them ? Their mother was pregnant at the time with her sixth baby, how guilt-ridden and anxious she must have felt. 

I had known about George though from census records and searching freebmd. I just didn't know the circumstances of his death or the actual date until Find My Past gave me that information in burial records and in a newspaper that reported the inquest in to his death which was held on the day of his burial. What I didn't know until I read the entire baptism register for the parish was that they had had one more child than I had been aware of. She was to be their last child. Her baptism is recorded in the register as "PB"- private, and a note was added in the margin that she had died the next day and been buried 2 days after that. In the burial register her age is given as 1 month. Once her parents and siblings had left this earth did anyone remember wee Lucy Kate ? Possibly only some of her older siblings would have remembered her in any case, perhaps only her parents remembered since these matters were not spoken of in times gone by.

I also had a penny dropping moment about one of the same great grandmothers Aunts. Why this thought did not occur to me while the GRO trial was still running I do not know. So I am patiently waiting for their next trial, or the introduction of the pdf service as a normal service. This Aunt had married and had 3 sons. They have been hard to trace into adulthood appearing on some census' and not others. She lived the majority of her life in an Asylum suffering from what I am not sure. Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me that I knew when she was admitted and I knew when her youngest son was born. There was space of a few years there - plenty of time for more children to have been born from her marriage. Being able to search on the GRO and cross reference her maiden name made looking for any so much easier. 

Bingo ! Two daughters !! I read the baptism register for the parish where they lived, and there were one son and one daughters, baptised on the same day, with another son having been baptised just days before. Sadly the other daughter died aged just 9 months and does not appear to have been baptised. I have been able to follow the surviving daughter who grew up with an aunt and uncle and cousins through to adulthood and possibly her own children. Exciting - there may be more living cousins to connect with yet !

So, here are my goals for Genealogy in 2017:

  • Save money and buy AncestryDNA kits for my cousins, brother, nephews, nieces - possibly even ex-in-laws (is that a thing ?)
  • Save more money and buy FTDNA kits for a couple of strategic people to possibly follow Y-DNA lines and mtDNA
  • Keep stalking researchers with trees on Ancestry that merge with mine on single or many branches
  • Buy more certificates when I can
  • Hope that some other rellies in NZ and UK get tested - USA matches are all very well and fine, but finding the common ancestor 6-9 generations back is pretty difficult

Happy researching people !

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Christmas-time, Mistletoe and Wine...

In the rush to Christmas I have been a little remiss on this front again.

This is my favourite time of year, holidays, traditions, craft, packaging, hunting for the right gift, food. But I wasn't so organised as I would have liked to be, people - if they were lucky - got store bought cards this year. I just couldn't get motivated to get crafty in time this year, My mind has been focused on other matters when I should have been planning. 

Oh well.

There were Christmas lights to hunt out again. We found a few locally, but there was a lot of driving for not too much reward. One little cul-de-sac though had almost every house taking part. Some with just a string or two of lights, others all out - snow foam machines, piped music and all manner of lights. Franklin Rd was a wonder again this year. Residents of some side streets joining in too. I wonder if it is a clause on the house sale/rental agreement that they MUST participate. You couldn't be the Grinch and live there.

Typically, as soon as work finished for the year I wanted to do more - bake and ice cakes, make thing. But with just one day (Christmas Eve) between finishing work and the big day, it just couldn't happen.

Food though, had been planned, and we ate well.

Beginning on the last day of work when some of us ordered lunches from Eat My Lunch which is a fairly new local business with a heart. A social enterprise giving back to the community. Much like many that we found and embraced while on holiday in the States earlier this year. Delicious too.

Lauren is working through (again) but didn't want to miss out on the cooking so she planned a Christmas Eve feast, as well as Boxing Day dinner and I looked after Christmas Day. Everything turned out well.

 Crunchy Apple and Cheese nibbles

Homemade Butter beer - just like Harry Potter ! 

Spinach wraps filled with Cucumber and Pesto with Peach, Tomato, Mozzarella and crouton salad

Bulghur tabbouleh with halloumi & pomegranate, Potato pesto cherry tomato & herb salad, Green salad with avocado, strawberries & Feta and mulled wine 

 Watermelon and mint infused water

Zucchini loaf, Israeli couscous & cherry salad, roasted carrots with yoghurt & dukkah dressing

...and each night a little bit of that pavlova roulade which seems to have become a traditional part of Christmas now.

We were spoilt with gifts, and enjoyed watching Christmas movies which are also becoming a tradition - can you wear out a DVD with too much playing ?

Today then is the first day to start sorting boxes which have been moved, and moved again and never opened. Maybe I might even find my missing linen ! Time to reorganise the chaos and sell some of the items which can be replaced when need be. 

I am going to have to limit my online distractions too - or nothing will get done. But, there have been many family discoveries in the last month and they keep niggling away at me to find more out.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Mother Nature sends us a reminder

So, like I said in my last post, we had made a surprise trip to Blenheim for Dad's birthday.

Turns out we surprised more than just Mum and Dad - the nephews had been kept out of the loop as well ! We all went out for dinner that evening which was enjoyable. We spent Sunday - birthday proper - catching up, sharing morning tea with other family...and inevitably discussing a bit of family tree. 

It had been pretty wet on Saturday, but was looking a little brighter on Sunday. Lauren was keen to go see "her" cob cottage. She even mentioned it as we had crossed the Wairau River on our way from Nelson to Blenheim on Saturday. But the river was so high with all the rain I didn't fancy driving along the riverbank. On Sunday, the river levels had begun to drop but the road up to the cottage is unsealed and alongside a small stream (including a ford) which was likely to have been running higher than normal - so again the opportunity was lost.

And so to bed - late as usual. Only moments after I had turned off the light, but long enough to have been half asleep, I suddenly became aware that the earth was moving. Initially, I lay in bed listening to the coathangers clinking against each other in the wardrobe, then it became more violent. The house felt like it was twisting and turning and trying to lift itself off its foundations. I remember thinking in blurry half asleep thought "where is this happening if I can feel it this strongly in Auckland ?" and then "Gah !! I'm not in Auckland, I'm in Blenheim". About the same time things began banging, and crashing and falling. I decided then that the door frame might be where I should be, so I shot out of bed and stood there, holding the frame while the house bucked and twisted and things crashed about. I'm usually a freeze on the spot person, wait and see. Earthquakes don't scare or terrify me. They are just one of those things that happen. It's where we live. But I had never felt anything like this one in all my time living in Wellington or Christchurch. And then it stopped.

The power was out, so the light on our cellphones came in very handy. We all checked on each other - no injuries - and began checking to see if anything was broken. Miraculously just a few cd cases were casualties having been thrown across the floor when the cd towers had fallen over. An orchid in a pot was strewn across the floor as well, and the vases of flowers on the dining room table had fallen over and emptied water over the table and onto the floor. Ornaments had fallen or been thrown from the large wall unit, but landed without breaking on the carpet. Glasses of water on bedside tables had tipped their contents on the floor or on the beds. All the while we could feel aftershocks. Since there was no power, there was no wifi either. Dad had his little radio on. Radio New Zealand were great - imagine doing that show !! So 7.8 near Culverden. Crikey.

Eventually we managed to get some signal outside - yay for mobile data. I text everyone I could think of in Wellington, Marlborough and in Christchurch, checking they were all okay and reassuring them that we were. Neighbours checked on each other and nephew #1 called by to check that we were all okay on his way home to be with his Mum and brother. An hour or so later, with things tidied up and other things moved to the floor - just in case we headed back to bed to try and get some sleep. There was some sleep, but it was interrupted with the earth wobbling constantly. 

In the morning on the tv we began to see the effects and damage. Kaikoura, Waiau, Mt Lyford, Ward, Oaro. Small rural and coastal communities, completely cut off from the rest of the country. Just crazy. I had a few messages from rellies overseas checking in to be sure we were all okay. 

We didn't have time to look at much as we needed to fly back to Auckland. It felt odd leaving it all behind. If not for work, we'd have preferred to stay and help in some way. It felt even more peculiar to be so far removed from it all that we couldn't even feel the shaking - having been in the thick of it initially.

Over the next few days as the media were able to get access to the impact zone our newspapers, online and tv news, social media were flooded with images and stories. The force of Mother Nature is just awe inspiring, yet freaky. Great chasms forming new valleys, monster landslides, uplift of the land and seabed in place up to 2 metres ! giant boulders tossed to the ground, the railway line thrown across the coastal highway and on to the beach, the road subsiding and cracking, the movement north, east and west of parts of the country.

Slowly things are returning to whatever normal is, some roads have reopened, the trip from Picton to Christchurch now takes 7 1/2 hours instead of 4, the earth is still moving. Many buildings in Wellington were damaged and some are being demolished - that was a surprise since the quake wasn't felt as strongly there as it was in North Canterbury and Marlborough. Doesn't bode too well for that big quake they are still expecting. 

My heart is with Kaikoura though, it is where my family settled after first being in Wellington - and leaving after the 1855 quake. Some of them where already there though as they are referenced in diaries and accounts of that quake and its damage to Flaxbourne (Ward) and the Clarence.

Check out these sites if you are interested in seeing the destruction that can be wrought in minutes, by natural forces

and many more - and in case you are wondering, the cob cottage at Bartletts Creek is still standing.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Two and a half months of neglect

I have no excuse except that I have just not been motivated.

My job is b-o-r-i-n-g, just not enough to do which makes for v-e-r-y long days. It is very unsettling and it drives me crazy. I don't like having nothing to do. Especially if I can think of other ways I would fill my days were I not sitting at my desk going demented from inactivity. The downside of days like this is that I become weary from the inactivity and then just can't get out of my own way to do anything productive once I am home.

Anyway, a few things have happened in this last two and a half months.

Mum and Dad went on an overseas trip which didn't unfold as planned and ended up being extended and with much of the time spent getting to know the NHS, with Dad in hospital and Mum visiting. They were well cared for by both the NHS and by cousins and friends which was a much better situation than if they had been staying in hotels the whole time. Still it was very stressful from here, trying to communicate between timezones, understand what was happening, keep everyone in the loop about developments and swinging between the urge to jump on a plane and go be supportive, or stay here and not be so reactionary. They are home now and stuck in our healthcare system waiting for decisions to be made, and battling their travel insurance provider.

In mid September we had a quick weekend trip to Wellington. Travelling together but socialising separately. It was a really wet weekend, but it was great to see a few people and catch up over meals. I ate SO much those 3 days. I really enjoyed being back in the old familiar streets, even if they were petty damp. I spent 2 or 3 hours at the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa. If you get the chance before 2018 you should go. I did a bit of shopping too.

After Mum and Dad had arrived home safely, it was off to Sydney for the long weekend for us. It was all a bit of a rush and we had accommodation dramas (which all worked out in the end) and had not packed the right sort of clothes for the weather. I lived in Sydney for 4 or 5 years and I don't recall it being so windy in October ! But we survived, we did most of the things we had on our lists and walked for kilometres and kilometres in between bus-ing train-ing and ferry-ing around the city.

This weekend just ended, we flew to Nelson and drove to Blenheim to surprise Dad for his birthday. It was a very wet weekend again - seems to be a theme developing with our weekend breaks ! Lunch at the Fat Tui in Marahau was planned (and happened) it just wasn't sitting on the beach taking in the stunning weather this time. There will have to be another visit in summer before they close for the season.

Then it was on to Blenheim for the surprise - which went down a treat. The weekend ended on a shaky note though as we were woken at 12.0am with the house twisting and rolling and jerking on its foundations.

7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake - more on that next post. But for now here is a link to photos and information about the event 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Ruminating, in an orderly fashion...

Well, it has been two months since I updated this. My holiday seems like a million years ago now, and the routine of work and stuff has just taken over again.

But, I have been doing things, and ruminating about blog topics or content. I just haven’t managed to devote any specific time to it.

I’ve been to a couple of genealogy workshops, and I have completed an online course in genealogy as well which was great fun. All of these things have refreshed my mind, honed techniques I was familiar with and given me new strategies to use in my search. It was enjoyable to spend time with like-minded people, even if the housework and other things suffered at that expense.

Even better, at one workshop I bumped into a 4th cousin who I have only met once a few years ago.  We had corresponded with each other extensively about our respective family connections, but even that had ceased over the last few years. Since moving to Auckland though, I have often wondered how she was but not actually done too much more than that. Our chance meeting has rekindled interest and the topic of one workshop session motivated me to look at new records – where I found something about our elusive relative. An extra bonus for a weekend away from housework and tv.

The workshops and the study course both reinforced the need to be organised in your research, and to make a plan, so that you covered all options, and didn’t research the same things over and over, and to be better at recording sources. By using a technique (which I had always used but hadn’t really thought of as a technique before) since my studies and the Family History Expo workshops, I have found whole new families which I had completely missed before.

What was the technique ? Revisiting sources that you have already used to check if there have been new additions in their databases, or whether other people are searching the same families so that there is potential to collaborate.

I knew I did this, I just thought it was part of my haphazard plan. My approach probably has been haphazard in the past. Now though I am consciously using this approach. In the past month or so I have discovered two whole families I had overlooked previously.

One by not properly looking at the information in front of me, and the other by being able to search new records which weren’t available on previous occasions when I had been searching.

I could be forgiven then for completely missing one family, until the baptisms and marriages became available. The spelling of the surname on other records will have led me to overlooking them in the past on census documents – but church records have definitely linked them on the tree. Interestingly we already had the parents names in our tree, but no information going forward to show any children or other life events.

The other family I found, and members of which I am sure there may be more to find, came to light when I was looking at a census record. It suddenly struck me that there was a member of the household who I didn’t know, and who wasn’t recorded on my tree. Who was this mystery girl ? Of course it had to be the 1841 UK census, which doesn’t show relationships. Everyone else matched with my tree; head of the household, his wife, their children…and then this older girl. On studying my tree more closely I noticed that the head of the household had been married twice, and that I had no children attached to his first marriage. This mystery girl fitted age wise as a possible child of that marriage. How many siblings did she have ? Anyway, I have her now, and for a few generations going forward from there as well. Cousins everywhere.

Speaking of cousins everywhere, isn’t Genealogical Genetics a fascinating science ?

Maybe that can be the topic of my next post.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Lost day

The dateline between New Zealand and the USA meant that we arrived in the US at the beginning of our holiday earlier than we left NZ.

We had gone from being 19 hours ahead of the US, to being 19 hours behind NZ. So it was inevitable that the "time travel" to return home would have some catches.

For us that meant we lost an entire day. We left LA on Thursday night, flew for 12 hours and arrived in New Zealand on Saturday morning. No Friday for us at all. It is quite an odd experience.

The flight was okay, I slept more than I had thought I would and was feeling not as rubbish as I thought I might. Still pretty rubbish, but mostly tired. We had a straightforward process at customs and were soon outside in the chilly damp winter air. Brrr.

Once we got to the car we piled in the luggage and set off for home. Initially the car did not want to co-operate about starting. Two weeks of sitting in the outside air were obviously not appreciated. However, it did eventually start with no added intervention. 


And because I have this extra post which sort of covers two days depending on which hemisphere you are in, I thought it was the best place to finally share the pics of the kitties from Best Friends who we spent a quiet afternoon with a week or so ago.

Almost over

When I woke up Thursday morning I felt SO much better. It was great !

We returned the rental car and then decided to do the Hop On Hop Off bus tour so that we could get a bit of a look around LA and Hollywood. Jackie came with us which was fun. The HOHO in LA offers several different routes and you can transfer between them at no added cost. Bonus.

We caught the Yellow route from Santa Monica to near Beverly Hills and then transferred to the Red route which goes through Hollywood.

My cold or whatever it was had transformed itself again by now and I had begun to think it was more like an allergy reaction. So frustrating !

We hopped off the bus in Hollywood near the Chinese Theatre and had lunch before wandering along the walk of fame for a bit, and then completed the loop back to transfer onto the bus back to Santa Monica. 

Another visit to the drugstore and hopefully the right cure. There was just time to squeeze last minute things into our cases, and enjoy our last meal with Jackie and David. Then off to the airport, to find traffic chaos !!

Goodbyes and thank yous were said and we made our way to check in. They were pretty slow, particularly at security. It is such a pain, but I'd much rather go through all of that and know that everything possible to ensure my safety has been done.

As it turned out by the time we were finished at security it was almost boarding time. So some rushed purchases were made, and we made it to the gate. I was starting to feel a little better as well - and hoping that I would make it through the flight okay.

The thought of my own bed kept me going.

Big Sur and our last big drive

On Wednesday we left Monterey and headed south on Highway 1. We stopped quickly at Carmel to have a look in daylight at the cute little town we had seen at sunset the night before.

Our plan was to drive down the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) through Big Sur. There were a few things we had thought we would try to see on the way, but slower traffic, less passing lanes, windy roads and roadworks put paid to a lot of that.

Plus I was sick. I got a scratchy throat from somewhere on our way from Salt Lake City to Carson City. I had taken a some medication for it and it seemed to have been on the mend. However by the time we reached Monterey I had developed a horrid cough. So another visit to the drugstore for cough medicine and things seemed like they were going well - except that I had woken up on Wednesday with no voice at all !

 Bixby Bridge built in 1932

Anyways, it was a nice drive, with great views in places. Big Sur was a surprise. I did not expect to find a redwood forest there. We saw signs about sea otter and elephant seals, but had decided we'd give them a miss since we have seals too - and we'd see them all the time driving from Blenheim to Christchurch. But when we came around a corner and were greeted with what looked like a carpet of seals sunbaking on the beach in front of us, we had to stop and get a photo of them as it was so different to anything we had seen before.

The Pacific Coast Highway is a lot longer and slower than the inland routes and that meant we were suddenly pushed for time at the end of the day. We phoned the rental company and confirmed we could return the car the following morning.

Once we were out of the car and had had a coffee back in Santa Monica I began to feel a bit more human, and my cough seemed to be responding to the treatment. Yay. I was tired though and really looking forward to bed.