Saturday, 20 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 3, Longevity

Back in 1987 when we gathered, four generations of us, to celebrate Nana’s 80th birthday she announced after she blew out the candles that

“I’m the oldest in my family. No-one has got as far as eighty before.”

Quite a logical statement, all things considered.

Nana’s parents had died aged fifty-seven & sixty-one and she never knew any of her grandparents. They had, all four of them died before her parents married. Her grandmothers both left young children at thirty-one & thirty-six and her grandfathers were still relatively young (by today’s standards) at forty-seven & sixty-five.

By the time of our celebration in 1987, both of her sisters had already died, leaving only her younger brother to potentially reach and exceed this grand age. Sadly though, he too predeceased Nana by just 6 months, the following year.

She did often talk about her Aunt Lizzie (who turned out the be Aunt Bessie, but that is another story). She would say she was a “remarkable woman who went to America on her own when she was SEVENTY!” So maybe? Turns out Aunt Lizzie was closer to fifty when she emigrated, but at seventy-four she did get a little closer to the elusive eighty.

Oh Nana, the things we have learnt in the years since you left us, as we have researched further. You would be so amazed.

Three out of eight of her great grandparents were in their eighties – not bad for people born in the early 19th century. Even more surprisingly six out of sixteen of her great grandparents passed eighty – two even going further and into their nineties! People born in the mid-18th century!

So, when I put these ancestors together with those from other branches of Mum’s family and from Dad’s, things are looking promising. A sister of my great great grandfather was just two months short of her 102nd birthday…in 1895! Living in the country can’t have been all bad back then.

In a lecture this week, life expectancy was discussed. Since then, there has been a fair amount of googling too, on my part.

When we see statements to the effect that life expectancy at birth was 33-40 in the 18th century and 40 in the early 19th century, it is easy to forget that that average age for adults was being driven down by the high infant mortality rate. It wasn’t that everyone would only make it to forty, there would always be exceptions. It was just that there were less people dying in the 40-100-year range than there were between 0-2 and 2-10 years of age. Reaching your tenth birthday improved your life expectancy dramatically.

I think I must have realised this before – because it sounds so logical now. But I don’t think I had considered it fully. How fortuitous that it was this week, coinciding with this blog topic.

How lucky we are today to have access to immunisation and improved health care for older persons.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 2, Favourite Photo

This is a family photograph of my grandmother’s family. It was taken about 1912. I am not sure where it was taken either. (The questions I should have asked will haunt me forever.)

George Timms 1877-1939 was born in Milverton, Royal Leamington Spa and lived his entire life within 2 miles of his birthplace. He began his working life as a groom, then a coachman and motor car driver. His father had been a carman too. Later in life George became a taxi cab driver.

Laura Ellen, nee Kelsey 1878-1935 was born in Wolverhampton and raised in Dudley by her grandfather and aunt until her father remarried when she was eight years old. Before her marriage to George she was a housemaid employed by the Holt family who lived at Oaklands, a large house on Kenilworth Road, Lillington.

They married 1 July 1901 at St James the Great, Old Milverton. George was the coachman at Cranford House which is located at the other end of Kenilworth Road. I’m not sure how they met, but location and social standing offers a few clues. For about seven years they lived above the stables in the coachman’s house at the rear of Cranford House.

In 1909 George left his job as coachman and moved his family into the village of Milverton where he became a motor car driver. By this time they had three daughters. By the time of the census in 1911 they had moved 32 Milverton Crescent West, off Rugby Road. It was here a few months later that their son was born. This could be the location of the photograph, the family group gathered outside their home. The alternative location is 6 Stamford Court – which no longer exists – but is the address my grandmother remembered from her childhood. George and most of his siblings had started their lives at 6 Stamford Place too.

But what of the occasion ? Who knows ?

My grandmother’s recollection of the photograph was that the grimace on her mother’s face was because her baby brother had “wet her knee” – no waterproof outer layer to diapers back then.

What you cannot tell from the sepia photograph is that the MC1R gene is very strong in this family. Laura and their three daughters were all redheads. Research tells me that to have red hair you need to have two copies of the gene, but that that might mean only one in four children would have red hair. That theory blown, I wonder if George and his son were also redheads ? It looks that way with the colouring of the photograph.

Laura May, Elsie Lilian, Violet Georgina and baby George Albert James. Named for his two uncles who had gone to America, my grandmother said. George and Albert James Kelsey. Though it could be debated that George was for his father and that Albert James was for just one of his uncles. I like this photo because it shows them as a family group, clean and well dressed. A few short years later family life would be much different.

The photo was in the possession of George after his elder sisters had all grown, married and emigrated, while he remained in England. It seems though that when visiting some fifty years after they had left England, one of those sisters took the photo with her. Oops. Thank goodness for good cameras, photographic reproduction and digital technology - now we are able to share it with as many of their descendants as would like to have a copy.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 1, Start

This is the beginning. A start. My new blog challenge for 2018.

Hope I can stick at it. There is a lot of writing going on in my life right now.
Assignments, job applications, emails, blog posts (in no particular order).

Some prompts for this topic included focussing on me, or the person/s who got me hooked on genealogy, someone who started a business…

So, this might be my only chance to be an ANCESTOR.

I have only one direct descendant and I think the branch stops there. Life takes many turns though, so one day I might need to revise that.
Maybe I will be the aunt, grand aunt, great grand aunt, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6thor 7th cousin who people will refer to in the future as they begin their genealogical research.

Who Am I ?

2nd, 4th,5th generation New Zealander – depending which grandparent you focus on.
First child
Big Sister
Aunt (great grand aunt even !)

Born in Hamilton, New Zealand. A city since 1945, with a river delineating it into Hamilton East and Hamilton West, and a lake. An Inland city, the centre of commerce serving a large rural community. A city surrounded by wide open spaces. Less than an hour to the West Coast and 90 minutes to the East.

Went to school, joined Brownies, competed in figure roller skating competitions, did gymnastics, learnt piano…

Moved to Wellington. Capital city since 1865. A coastal city, a little bit shaky, and a tad breezy. But with one of the prettiest harbours in the world and stunning on a good day (no-one ever remembers them though). Coolest little Capital in the world.

Went to College. First job. First overseas holiday.

Alternated living on both sides of the Tasman for ten years or so. Then a much longer time back in Aotearoa before relocating recently back to Australia for study.

Genealogy ? When did that start ?

Probably with that question in Social Studies 

“How many generations New Zealander are you ?” 

And then it just grew. Dad had always had an interest in family history. He told me recently he used to make lists of who all his cousins were (he has a lot). I just tagged along.

Names have always been a fascination for me. I used to make lists and marvel at the few which were exceptions to the norm. What inspired parents to step away from the Mary/Ann/Sarah and James/William/John lists and choose names like Kerenhappuch, Violet and Peternel or Theophilus, Julius and Balthasar. Some of them will have been biblical choices, others linked to the fashions and trends of the time.

Stories piqued my curiosity – the great great grandmother rumoured to have left her family; great great grandfathers who had more than one wife. Incomprehensible to a nine year old from a “normal” nuclear family. Then came the internet and the whole thing exploded. So many late nights hooked in cyber space.

And then along came genetic genealogy - learning how to interpret DNA results and use them as another secondary source to verify the researched paper tree. (I'm getting there.)

I hope you are ready to learn about 51 of the people in my tree - I hope I can find enough to write about 51 of them !
 Think like them. 
Put yourself in their place. 
Be a detective. 
Never leave any stone unturned.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

This Year in Sunsets

In month order - JFMAMJJASOND - you know it


So here is a bit of a catch up on 2017

This is a quick run down to record happenings that have been missed while I was trying to keep up with the #52Stories blog challenge.

I've moved - house, country; the lot.

I'm enrolled in my first formal study since leaving school - holy heck ! A Diploma in Family History is going to be mine, in a year - or maybe three.

I got 84.5% in my first unit - High Distinction 😊 and I am expecting results for the 2nd unit in the next couple of weeks.

I've been walking lots - no car here (yet) so I have been wearing out the soles of my shoes.

Shopping and meal planning has become more thoughtful and measured. No more racing to the supermarket mid recipe ! And heavy shopping bags to carry home are not much fun either.

I'm still looking for a job. Consequently, I am contemplating whether staying in Bendigo is viable...I'm thinking not...maybe somewhere a little larger is on the cards.

We've done a bit of exploring, and we had a great visit with Mum and Dad before the weather got too hot.

There has been a bit of culture - "The Book of Mormon" in Melbourne and lots of markets and festivals in Bendigo.

I had a fun day in Melbourne with friends for Wellington and a chance meeting with an NZ cousin on Dad's side of the tree, who just happened to come to the Goldfields ! Then a planned meeting with 4th cousins on Mum's side of the tree just before Christmas.

I'm especially grateful for the support of family and friends throughout the year...most especially to my wonderful daughter for all she does for me.

#52Stories, Week 53, Woohoo !!

This is the 53rd Sunday of the year. Since I started on the first Sunday (January 1, 2017), it seems right to close out the challenge on the last one.

So, not much revisiting of the goals, because I don’t think I’ve made much more progress with them than I had in June/July.

There have certainly been some thought provoking topics through the year, some that I have really struggled to find something to write about. But I’ve finished.

Maybe I will print them all out and have them bound into a book, maybe I wont.

A lot of other things have gone by the by because of the challenge though. I haven’t posted as much general stuff this year, so I will have to do a couple of catch-ups I think before the end of the day.

It has been a pretty action-packed year, lots of change – and stress – but lots of learning too.

The winds of change and smiles of good fortune had better start going my way though, because I am starting to go a bit crazy with not enough to do. I have lots of plans for my life – I just need to be able to execute them, and a job would be a great help in that regard.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

#52Stories, Week 52, 'Tis the season..


It has to be my favourite time of the year. I’m not sure exactly what it is about it, that makes it so.

Maybe it is because all over the world people are celebrating together.

Maybe it is all the great (often cheesy) movies…

…or the baking – so many choices

…or packaging – it’s the craft geek in me, I can’t help myself

…or the sharing.

The counting down,

Carols in the park.

Taking time to breathe,

Searching for the right gift – not just a gift for gift-giving’s sake.

Making time to appreciate life…people, and to thoughtfully give to others who might not share the same opportunities.

Following traditions, making memories, reminiscing, starting new rituals.

Summer days – although a white Christmas is still on my bucket list, even if it is only once.

The joy of homecoming (not that there is much of that goes on in our family) – maybe next year.

Ours is always a quiet day – 2, maybe 4 people. Those rowdy, fun cousin packed, extended family events I always long for aren’t really an option. Maybe I wouldn’t enjoy them anyway, as used to solitariness as I am.

Mostly I think it is that cosiness, mindfulness feeling…

…seeing the joy in others – young and old.

It is MAGIC.