Sunday, 29 January 2017

#52Stories, Week 5, Do I remember how my primary school smelled ? or where my desk was in primer 4 ?

It is funny what you remember from your childhood. Maybe not so much WHAT you remember but HOW you remember it.

I’ve been thinking about school memories. My first “school” was actually kindergarten – more of a preschool though as you went to afternoon "kindy" 3 days a week initially, and then morning kindy 5 days a week as you got closer to starting school and your fifth birthday.

I went to Miropiko Kindergarten on River Road in Hamilton. It is a small brick building with children sized everything, cubbyholes, coat racks, toilets and washbasins at 3-4 year old height. There was a big sandpit area outside in the front and a big tree stump and log to climb all over and jump off. I don’t remember swings or other playthings. We would have story time on the mat inside. It was set back off the road and down a drive or path, on the river side of River Road. I remember this driveway/path as being quite steep, and being warned against playing on it, riding pedal cars (or did I just imagine them) down the hill. They were fun times though; I still have a friend who was a kindy buddy from way back then.

I used to walk past with my daughter many years later. I attended the farewell for the teacher who was there when I was there in the late 1980’s – how is that for career stick-ability ? Something that we rarely see today. That big steep hill pathway ? Not steep at all ! I can’t remember if the log and tree stump were still there. I bet they aren’t now – it will have been deemed a health & safety hazard for sure.

After, kindy I attended Fifth Avenue Primary School, located in Fifth Avenue as you would expect. There were no other avenues nearby though; 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th not even 6th. I guess it was just named as it terminated at Five Cross Roads and they needed a name for the 5th road ! It was just about 5-10 minutes walk from home. On my first day, I walked with Mum and my little brother and I think one of the girls who lived next door. I remember it was a misty foggy morning – or I think I remember that. I also think I wore a dress which had a border print of kittens chasing a ball of wool. I had my little brown case with my lunch in it – and that is all. What else did you need ? At school we had milk delivered to the classroom to drink straight from the bottle at morning tea time until they stopped that a couple of years after I started. I was buddy-ed up with someone to show me around the classroom, and I remember being mildly devastated to turn around and discover that my mother had just left me there ! Still, I enjoyed learning, and it wasn’t so bad. In the summer the whole classroom had afternoon naps outside on the concrete play area. 

This was the school where I learnt to swim (in the school pool), began doing gymnastics, where I would go across the road at lunchtime to have a piano lesson, where I broke my front tooth, wrote to my first penpal, learnt to cross the road and look after my bike. Back then the Ministry of Transport had their own traffic police and educators who would visit schools to teach kids these basic skills. Now, they’ve been absorbed into the actual Police force and schools probably never see them. I remember where my desk was in most years and thanks to painstakingly named class photos (thanks Dad), I can remember the names of people from my classes. Mum and Dad were on the PTA and the School Committee, we were really involved in the school community and I enjoyed my five years there progressing through Primers and then Standards 1-4, before moving on to Intermediate School.

My next school was Peachgrove Intermediate, for just two years, Form 1 & 2, (Years 7 & 8 in today's lingo) it was supposed to prepare us for high school or college. Kids came from many contributing schools, some by bus from the country. Some walked and many, like me, rode our bikes using all those skills we had learnt about road safety from the traffic cops. We wore a uniform as well. I got mine from my cousin I think who had just left and started at high school. Were there gloves ? I know there was a beret for winter and a panama hat for summer – these were abolished in the year I began so I didn’t need to get hat hair riding to and from school. I made lots of new friends here, some came with me from primary school as well – and I got reacquainted with my buddy from kindy. We had new classes like sewing and cooking – the boys did metalwork and woodwork. You could join the choir or play in the orchestra, art was a whole different subject with a teacher who just taught art.

At the end of Form 2, we moved to Wellington. Just a bit of culture shock. No riding bikes to school for me now – those hills were killer. Suddenly I was at an all girls school, catching the train there and back. There was a co-ed college closer to home, and I had been going to attend a co-ed college if we had stayed in Hamilton, but not now. There were many more parts to the uniform - but no hats or gloves. Sensibly, given Wellington’s windy reputation, hats had been abandoned prior to my arrival. My first day was very scary. I don’t remember if I had caught the train independently beforehand or not. It was arranged that I would go with the girl next door who was a year ahead of me. One of her friends had a little sister starting too. Wellington Girls' College is a BIG school, over 1000 pupils, probably closer to 1200 then, I think. There were so many buildings to find your way around.

I knew no-one. Other girls in my form class knew girls from their old schools, or had sisters already there. The little sister of my neighbours' friend had her own friends from Intermediate. I think we only spoke a few times in the 5 years I was there. It felt like a pretty lonely year.

Over time I did make some friends. Many of them were other girls who like me - knew no-one. I didn't really start to find my feet until 4th Form. We mostly had all our classes together during the first two years – but we had to cross the school to go to Latin in Brook Building, French and Science in Tower Block, English back in the prefab classroom which was also our Form room. Where was Maths ? maybe in another prefab. 

Teachers wore black gowns and strode like dementors down the corridors. At assembly Miss Fraser told us firmly what was expected of us. For example we were not to wear our sleeves rolled up looking like "washer women". "Girls" was always said in a tone that you knew you had better stop and listen - and do as you were bid. There were sometimes reports of misbehaviour on the trains or the buses - most often the girls on the Karori Park Special or Mornington bus were "requested" to stay behind after assembly. There was no eating in uniform outside of school grounds and there was definitely no chance of going off school grounds at lunchtime. Even in 7th Form when we could wear mufti and were less conspicuous, getting off school grounds during school hours was an art.

When I look back though, it was okay. I might have been lonely, but I do have some friends who I have stayed in contact with over the years since school.

It was fun going back for the 125 year celebration in 2008 walking the halls and chatting to people I hadn't seen in 30 years. 

I had been back before. Some of my stories must have left an impression as my daughter chose to go to there too. The scariest part of that was the teachers (there were two) who had taught me. One in particular made me feel like she was telling ME off in a parent/teacher interview. Some things never change.

Lumen Accipe et Imperti - Take the light and pass it on. Words that bind students past and present together still at Wellington Girl's College and Wellington College.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

UPDATE - One brick at a time

A short update to my earlier post about breaking down a brick wall.

It occurred to me after I had posted the discovery that I now had an alternate (correct) spelling for Mary's surname - Gerrard - and that I hadn't searched the GRO for that combination.

So I went back and looked again and lo and behold there WERE two more children born to Mary and Robert before they emigrated to Australia.

Two baby girls - one who had included in her name, a surname linking her to a previous generation, just so that I could be doubly confident. They lived only briefly though, Ellen 9 months and Lilian for 15 months.

I do have a copy of a photo of one of them....if I could only find the right box, I could include it here, or at least make a better guess about whether it was Ellen (Nellie) or Lilian (Lily). Or maybe it isn't either of them ? Perhaps it is a younger brother ? There are only two children in the photo and at the time both of these babies were born, eldest child Margaret was still alive.So if the baby is either Ellen or Lilian then there should have been three children in the photo. 

Oh well, another day.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

#52Stories, Week 4, What goals am I actively working toward right now ?

More goals !!

I've gone back to my list of goals from my first story to look more closely at them, and decide which ones I am actively working on right now.

#1 - write a story each week, seems to be going okay so far. Not always a week apart, but I'm keeping up.

Most of the others are all sort of linked and I hope will all suddenly progress at once.

#7 - Get fitter - because there are some legendary walks I would like to do. I've not been working on the fitness so much just yet. I thought though, that if I wrote down some of the walks I had in mind that it might make it more real. So here they are -

Queen Charlotte
Abel Tasman
Milford Track
The West Highland Way (Glasgow to Fort William)
The Great Glen Way (Fort William to Inverness)

#9 - Finally had some time to sit down and begin to study those DNA results. Is science proving that all the paper research carried out over the past 40 or so years is correct ? So far, so good. No surprises yet, like others I know have found - or not in direct lines anyway.

It still confuses me a bit - how do you actually know for sure ? A third cousin match has the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) relationship as 2 x great grandparents, does that mean they are both correct according to DNA ? (2x great grandpa and 2x great granny ?) Or do I need to have confirmed the next generation back, by finding 4th cousins in each line ?

Based on all of this here is what I know for sure from DNA & paper evidence so far -

both parents, 4 grandparents, 6 out of 8 great grandparents and 8 out of 16 great great grandparents

both parents, 4 grandparents, 7 out of 8 great grandparents and 9 out of 16 great great grandparents.

So, just looking at this evidence it must mean that Lauren has at least 9 of her 32 great great great grandparents confirmed. I just haven't counted them all up. I'm still trying to work out the best way to record that I have confirmed them all.

Some lines have been confirmed back even further where there are 5th-7th cousins involved. 

But for now, this is enough about goals. I'm looking forward to a different focus in writing topics for next month.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

#52Stories, Week 3, What is your earliest memory of feeling proud of yourself - at school, in sport or...?

This one is hard too. I’ve been procrastinating because I didn’t want to do another goal oriented post. I already told you I’m not goal oriented.

So I chose this topic from the list – I was never really sporty, I don’t think I am competitive like that. I took part but it didn’t matter if I came first (at either end of the race) or finished in the middle. I played netball a bit at primary school but I was short, so the teachers always made me play Wing Attack or Wing Defence and I really wanted to be in goal. (That came later, when I was at college I was a bit taller and I played Goal Defence or Goal Keep, sometimes even Goal Attack)

I was pretty good at swinging myself on the swing my Dad had put up in the lean-to from when I was quite little. I remember being a bit smug that I could get on and off, swing myself and jump off to miss the mud puddle underneath it – and my little brother couldn’t – does that count ?

When I was about 9 or 10 I seem to have suddenly got involved in everything. My last year at primary school I was in so many school photos; choir, netball, gym club, librarian, stationery monitor, prefects – add to this piano, Brownies, more gym and skating outside of school. I must have been running Mum and Dad ragged with all of these activities to get to.

I got a pair of roller skates for my birthday. We didn’t have a lot of concrete to practice on; just one path from the front door to the driveway. Our driveway was gravel and the footpath was dirt, so no skating on them. There was a skating rink down by the lake in Hamilton, close to the huge slide. We used to go there and somehow became members of the club. I don’t know how this stuff happens. Parents get talking and nek minnit ! Anyway, I got involved with figure skating. This meant I needed new skates with white boots and a big rubber stopper. I remember going shopping for them one Friday night. My teacher/coach was also a teacher at school. I practiced going backwards and turning, and forwards, and gliding; propelling myself without taking a foot off the ground and pushing. Good for the muscles that ! I had to practice figure eights, gliding around each circle on one leg and only pushing off once at the intersection of the two circles. I didn’t enjoy that so much. Then I began to learn dances and dance steps. I don’t remember ever seeing anyone do this before. It was like ice-dance I guess, like Torvill & Dean, but way before any of us knew who they were, and not quite as fluid and graceful as it is on ice. I learnt some jumps, and little dance steps, and how to glide in Eagle position with one foot facing left and the other right. I arabesque-ed at speed. We went to competitions at weekends, clubs against clubs. I figure skated and my brother was in the speed skating team. I had to have the right dresses too – not just the boot skates. My favourite was a red dress my Nana knitted for me with white pompoms all around the hem. I don’t remember that I ever won anything, but it was a lot of fun. When I was thinking about writing this I did a bit of research (as you do) and I discovered that one of the jumps I learnt was a Salchow – not a Sour-Cow as I have always thought it was. Who knew !! If you want to see some old school roller skate dancing (not mine) – check this out.

Around the same time I started doing gymnastics. I think I had a friend who went, or Mum and Dad knew someone who ran the club. It was on Saturday mornings at Boys’ High. You got to do exercises, tumbling, vaulting, beam, parallel bars and horizontal bar. I loved it. This gym led me to start doing it at school as well in the last years of primary school and then Intermediate. At Intermediate I was in the school team, there were inter-school competitions. Olga Korbut was who we all wanted to be like. She had won GOLD at the Olympics in Munich on beam and floor. I used to practice my beam routine on the top of the block walls of the garage dad was building at home. Cartwheels and forward rolls etc 8 feet up – on concrete. What was I thinking ? We did floor exercises too, like the Olympics. It was called rhythmic gymnastics but we hadn’t got as diverse as ribbon and ball exercises just yet. I remember choreographing my own voluntary (as opposed to compulsory) floor routine to “Burning Bridges” by the Mike Curb Congregation (no MTV or music videos back then !) I was pretty pleased with it in the end. There were badges to earn too, I don’t remember if we ever won anything in our gym competitions either. I earnt my Iron and Bronze badges and was well on my way to my Silver when we moved to Wellington. All the extra curricular, and school based activities stopped then. I did join the gym club at school, but it wasn’t the same.

As for which I felt most proud, or which came first, I’m not sure. I know I was proud of my floor routine and of achieving my badges in gymnastics. But I was also pretty proud when I nailed one of those jumps on skates. I’m declaring them a tie – it’s the sporting thing to do.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

One brick at a time...

I have been looking for ages for information about my daughter's 2x great grandmother Mary Millicent (sic) Hogg, nee Barnett or Jerrard/Jarratt. Since before she was born even !! 

When I started researching the family I had married into I asked lots of questions. I have stored all the answers and information, like a squirrel, for safe keeping in my mind. My mother-in-law had told me that her grandmother was a twin, that the twin died and then their mother (her great grandmother) remarried. But there was some confusion about whether the birth name of Mary was Barnett or Jerrard/Jarratt and which name belonged to the stepfather.

Her Australian death certificate has her name as Mary Millicent Hogg nee Barnett – and her mother’s name as Mary Milne.

I purchased her marriage certificate about 12 years ago. She gave her name as Mary Milne Jerrard in 1901 and said she was “over the age of 21”, when she married Thomas Watson Hogg. On most of her children’s birth certificates she gave her maiden name as Barnett.

It was also said that there were more children born in the UK before they moved to Australia, but I’ve not been able to find any registered. Especially now that you can search using the mother’s maiden name which you’ve never been able to do before. On the 1911 census, which was the last one taken before they emigrated, she says she had had 2 children and that they were both still alive (although only my daughter's great grandfather – Robert - was at home with her on census night). The elder child, Margaret, I later found enumerated as a patient in hospital. There are additional deceased children listed on her death certificate – but still no evidence !

On her husband’s Army enlistment papers for WW1 (found on Ancestry) her name is recorded as Mary Milne Jerrard (with Barnett crossed out) with the same marriage date. Just two children are listed, a 3rd was born in 1914 so not on the census, and the 1st had already died and was not included. When they emigrated to Australia after the war their 4th child had arrived.

When I was having a spend up on the GRO in their email pdf trial in November last year, I decided to take a stab at the birth certificate for their first child Margaret in case there was information on there to help. But not really – apart from confirming that the address where they were living in 1902 was the same as in 1919. I found her death in 1913 from TB, aged 10 years. Her death certificate gave her name not just as Margaret Hogg (on the birth certificate) but as Margaret Jerrard Hogg. A clue perhaps, considering the naming patterns that are commonly used in Scotland.

Last night I decided again to see if I could find any additional children born to the Hogg/Jerrard Hogg/Barnett family. Nope.

So I thought I would try again to see if I could find Mary’s birth in Scotland. On the 1911 census (the only official UK document I had found where she had recorded her birthplace) and on her death certificate (where the information was supplied by her children) the place of birth was given each time as Aberdeen.

I’ve looked and looked there so many times !! Even back when one of my nieces was living in Aberdeen - at least 12 years ago, maybe 13. 

Scotlandspeople have updated their website and search function too and things are a little easier to navigate. I tried several searches, changing spelling, looking for the mother’s name as well and then BINGO !! A birth for Mary Milne Gerrard in Aberdeen ! I looked at the birth entry and the mother’s name was Margaret Gerrard (sound familiar ?).

To be doubly sure that I had found the right baby – I looked to see if there was a twin. Yes there was ! James Milne Gerrard, born 20 minutes earlier. (I LOVE the information on Scottish certificates !) They were born in the Poor House in Aberdeen to a single mother. Again, I am wondering if the naming pattern points to their father being a Mr Milne ?

So anyway, still trying to align with the information which I had been told, I looked for a death for the twin, and found one, aged 17 months, in the Poor House from croup. At that point I wondered had she left both of her babies there ? Her occupation on the birth certificates was Domestic Servant, and the same on the death certificate for baby James. How would a young girl look after 2 babies on her own back then in 1882, in a city like Aberdeen ? She would have had to keep working. Who cared for the children ?

The next event I needed to confirm was a marriage. Knowing now that HER name was Gerrard – and that the children’s birth names were Gerrard, the marriage should logically be to a Mr Barnett. And what do you know, there it was, in a slightly different part of Aberdeen. Margaret Gerrard (Domestic Servant) marrying George Barnet (a Paper Mill worker).

I eventually found them living as a family on the 1891 Scotland census, where he was working at a Paper Mill (which is actually still in existence today !) and Mary was listed as his stepdaughter. YAY !! Now I know I have the right people.

In 1901 when Mary and Thomas married, she said she was living in Benwell. I’ve not been able to find her (for sure on the 1901 census) but I did find her mother and stepfather, along with a half-brother and a step-grandparent living in the Benwell area of Newcastle on Tyne. The half-brother, George, isn’t on the 1891 census which is odd. I thought he may not have been born by the time the census was taken, but his birth certificate shows he was born in 1890 – to the correct parents. Maybe the enumerator just forgot to write him down.

Mary’s mother died in 1901 – between the census and Mary’s marriage. She was 38 years old. Her death is registered as Margaret Gerrard Barnet – further confirmation of the naming pattern and correctness of all this searching. Margaret must have been aged about 18 or 19 when she had her twins, and as I suspected Mary was not "over 21 years of age" when she married.

So there you have it, a story passed down which turns out to be true, I love it when that happens.

Very pleased with myself, I am. One brick wall smashed - now to focus back on those other ones. Julius, Mowbray, Charles et al., I WILL find you.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

#52Stories, Week 2, What is something you taught yourself to do without help from anyone else ?

So this is a tricky one for week 2. How many things do we actually learn without help from anyone else ?

Most of us look for a little guidance or reassurance when we start something new.

I learnt to walk and talk by watching other people and absorbing conversations around me.

I learnt to ride a bike by copying my friends, and falling off and getting back on.

I learnt to knit sitting next to my Nana and Mum.

I learnt to love jigsaws because they often led to getting takeaways for dinner when Mum got engrossed in getting them finished.

I learnt to roller skate by buckling them on to my feet, standing up and trying to glide.

I learnt to look for joy and wonder in the simplest things through the eyes of my daughter.

Baking, sewing, problem solving, driving, cross stitch, cardmaking, abseiling. All of these had mentors or tutors to get me started or help me when I got stuck.

I seriously can not think of anything. When I start something new, I research. I might not ask someone directly, but even help found online or in a book has been placed there by someone wanting to help newcomers by sharing their experiences and experience.

Oh wait, 

...maybe being able to problem solve IT idiosyncrasies and frustrations is a skill I have acquired with minimal input through osmosis and just bluffing it - and persevering until getting it right.

...or thinking outside the square to find long gone ancestors who have left few clues (I WILL find you all eventually). Perseverance again.

...or how did I get an in built GPS, so that I can get my bearings and find my way intuitively in new places. My TomTom hates me; the map in my head just takes over and renders it ineffective. This does only work in this hemisphere though. I struggle with east and west, north and south when I am on the other side of the planet.

Friday, 6 January 2017

#52Stories, Week 1, What goals do you hope to achieve this year ?

I have been inspired to challenge myself to #52Stories to define "my dash" - a project to help people get started writing their family history for the next generations. The project is being promoted by Family Search you can download the printables and just get started. Each week they will also share a question on social media that you can use to write your paragraph, story or even a few lines. By the end of the year, there should be 52 stories.

So, welcome to week 1.

My first goal will be to complete this challenge. I have marked it in my calendar to remind myself each week.

I don't think I am a very goal oriented person, so this could be a very short list !

  1. Write a story every week, to complete the #52Stories challenge 😊
  2. Sell or giveaway objects that have been packed, can be replaced and cost too much to keep moving and storing. (anyone in the market for a washing machine, drier, fridge, leather lounge suite ? - keep an eye on Trademe)
  3. Save some money
  4. Find a more rewarding way to make money - new role ?
  5. Get a bit more socially involved - this last inter-city move has been a fairly lonely time
  6. Live on my own (again) - probably not in Auckland then...
  7. Be more organised for Christmas 2017 
  8. Get fitter - there are some legendary walks I would like to do one day soon
  9. Plan new travel adventures
  10. DNA confirm 16 great great grandparents (or even better 32 great great great grandparents - could I dare hope for 64 great great great grandparents)
Well, there are ten goals of some sort or another. Not so bad for a not very goal oriented person. In 52 weeks time we will all know how successful (or not) I have been in achieving them.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Where to next ? I asked...

Puhoi, that's where.

We have seen that sign so many times driving north and always thought - one day.

Well, today was also One Day. What a cute wee town. We'll be going again I think to check out the General Store, Hotel and Cafe. If I won Lotto, maybe I'd live there. Probably too close to Auckland to consider seriously though, pretty sure it would be way outside my budget.

Being a tourist in my own country

So, I know I declared to many that this summer would not be filled with road-trips in stationary traffic and that I would be island hopping instead. Ooops.

There has been one trip to the best Berry Farm in the land, and we are still eating the last of their strawberries and blueberries. It must be almost time to go again.

On New Year's Day I DID catch a ferry. Across the harbour and then walked to the tennis centre to be part of the charity match for Kaikoura. A doubles match between Venus & Serena Williams and Julian and Ardie Savea. Plus a few others who stepped up for the fun.

Yesterday, we decided to get up early and beat the traffic and head to Rotorua to visit a geothermal attraction. It wasn't supposed to be a hot day, so perfect for a road-trip.

We went to Wai-o-tapu which is south of Rotorua on SH5, on the way to Taupo. There are plenty of attractions to choose from around Rotorua if you want to see geothermal phenomena occurring naturally. We chose this one because we had heard about the amazing colours at the Champagne Pool. We had seen pictures, but how accurate where they ? (Everyone uses filters these days, don't they ?)

I'll tell you what - you don't need a filter at all. The colour is just brilliant all by itself.

The sulphur smell though could do with a filter. Jokes, it wasn't so bad until the wind wafted hot steam from the surface of the lake all over you. It permeates your skin though and we could smell it all the way home.

We even found some proper mud pools which we could see without paying an entrance fee, before we started on our journey home.

Where to next ?