Sunday, 18 February 2018

Weekend Wanderings

We had to go out for a bit yesterday because the estate agent has suddenly decided to market our rental home for sale a little more aggressively than they have over the past months.

Since it was a nice morning, I went for a walk around the lake and then home. It is always so busy there, dog walkers, runners, walkers, families, friends. Great to see the community out enjoying the outdoors.

I took some photos of the birds. So many swallows flitting about but all congregating in the one place. No turtles on that circuit and I didn't see the swans with their growing cygnets. The galahs and rosellas were way too fast for my reflexes, but I did spot one pelican having a great feed out in the middle. First time I have seen one there, but apparently they are regular visitors.

#52Ancestors, Week 7, Valentine

Valentine’s Day as a celebration hasn’t been a big thing in New Zealand and Australia until probably the last 30-40 years. It definitely wasn’t a “thing” when I was growing up, like it appeared to be on US television programmes we saw. A bit like Halloween, it was one of those odd American celebrations that I used to wonder at, in letters from my penfriends. It is definitely a “thing” now though – very commercial and over the top.

So, where to start for this topic? I looked in my tree for events which had occurred on February 14. There were a few, but they were all for very distant relatives, and mostly long ago.

I did come across someone for whom I don’t know a lot, and I have spent most of the day trying to discover more, to no avail.

Valentine Becker was born in Rüdesheim-am-Rhein, Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis, Hesse, Germany in 1846. He was the first child to Friedrich and Elisabetha Becker. I wonder if he was born on February 14? He soon became an older brother to Emelia and Gertrude and possibly to Friedrich who was born in October 1850. I can’t be sure though until I can locate those records as Valentine died aged 4 sometime in 1850. Two short years later his parents and siblings left their home on the banks of the Rhine and emigrated to Sydney Australia. In all my searching there doesn’t appear to be another Valentine in the tree perpetuating his memory or existence.

But here is another Valentine’s story.

My parents became engaged on Valentine’s Day 1957. My Nana, born in England where Valentine’s Day had been celebrated by the exchange of small tokens of affection or handwritten notes between friends or lovers since the mid eighteenth century, thought it was very apt they had chosen that date. Mum and Dad though were completely unaware of the significance – at the time. It is one of those little facts that is stuck in the recesses of my mind, and just happened to pop into the forefront when I was pondering what to write about this week.


Monday, 12 February 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 6, Favourite Name

So, I have said it before – I’m a bit of a name nerd. This topic “Favourite name” is hard for me. How do I choose?

Names are one of the things that attracted me to genealogy in the beginning.
Why did some families just use the same names over and over again? Why did some families give their children two names, or three names or more? Let’s face it more than three is a bit over the top, but there are some which do sound great, have a pleasing meter.

Why did some families give their children names and then call them something completely different? Why did some children get one name and others two – did the ones with only one name feel gypped? Why did some get much used names, then one sibling a really out there name?

So, which name to choose?

Alianore Mary Christina Cameron-Ramsay-Fairfax-Lucy – love the sound of that one;
Minnie Mildred – there are a bunch of girls with this moniker. But I have mentioned them before.

I am eternally grateful to my forbears that they did give some thought to the “sound” of the names they bestowed on their children and the pairing of names with each other and the surname.

Emma Louisa, my great grandmother and her siblings all had names which sounded great. My grandmother Elsie Lilian did too.

Any name that is a little different gets bonus points for me. Kerenhappuch, Roxillana, Vergetta, Zenobia, Balthasar, Julius, Mowbray, Cornelius. They make research a little easier than just searching for Ann and James. Then there are the ones with clues to the past where a surname has been added as a helpful hint for researchers.

But, the name for today is Peternell, sometimes recorded as Peternall/Peternel/ Petronel or Petronella.

Peternell Eastment was my 5xgreat grandmother. She was born in East Chinnock, Somerset about 1733. Her parents were married there, in Blessed Virgin St Mary, eleven years earlier and there are 3 daughters and 1 son appearing in the baptisms for them in the years before Peternell’s baptism on 5 November 1733.[1]

Peternell lived her whole life in East Chinnock, marrying Richard Bartlett on 7 April 1760 in the same village church.[2] She and Richard had a family of seven, all but one reaching adulthood. Two of her sons included her name in their choices for their own daughters, and at least one grandson followed suit.

Many of her grandchildren left East Chinnock. Some moved to other counties in England, others emigrated to Australia and New Zealand – and quite likely to other colonies; America, Canada and South Africa. Although she did not live to see them leave, dying in March 1816, I wonder how she would have felt.[3] Would she have understood their curiosity to explore new lands and seek new opportunities far away from the only place she had ever called home?

[1] FreeReg, 'FreeReg',, Accessed 12 February 2018.
[2] FreeReg, 'FreeReg'.
[3] FreeReg, 'FreeReg'.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 5, In the Census

Searching for connections and reconnecting

Back in the early 1990’s when the 1881 UK census was the only census available freely to researchers with roots in the United Kingdom, (and only on CD or microfiche) many researchers spent hour upon hour trawling through fiche after fiche in darkened Family History Centre rooms and libraries.

We had only begun piecing together information in my maternal grandmother’s family from the little information she had given away to us over the years. My Dad and I spent hours in the evenings at the Family History Centre reading church records hoping to find something concrete. Sometimes we went alone.

We knew from Nana that her mother’s family was from the “Black Country” and that she had a brother. We also knew that Nana’s grandfather married three times and that she also had two half siblings. Her mother’s brother and a half-brother (although I don’t think that Nana referred to him as such) had emigrated to the US. We knew their names and the names of their wives. We also knew an elderly aunt had emigrated to the US.

Between 1989 and 1991 some certificates were purchased from the GRO and we discovered that my great grandmother had been born in Wolverhampton on 17 July 1878[1], and that her parents were married in Dudley in a Primitive Methodist Chapel on 23 August 1875[2] (a WHAT !!?? – researching Primitive Methodism soon became another obsession). We also learned that her mother died in Wolverhampton on 5 May 1879[3]. What became of the children ?

I remember Dad’s jubilation when he returned home one day from the library with a piece of paper detailing the residents of one household in Dudley.

Residence: Paradise, Dudley (Worcs), Staffordshire, England[4]
Henry James
Leintwardine, Herefordshire, England
Elizabeth James
Leintwardine, Herefordshire, England
Albert Kelsey
Grand Son
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Laura Kelsey
Grand Daughter
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Amnie H Richards
Mold, Flintshire, Wales

So, here she was, living with her grandfather and aunt…and a cousin ? To be fair, we didn’t make much more progress until the arrival of that wonderful phenomenon – the internet. I dabbled, I joined Ancestry in 2002.

One day (5 March 2003) while dabbling, I came across a post on a bulletin board -remember those ? Someone in the US had come across that same census entry. She was looking for more information about the Henry James family, last known living in Dudley with a daughter, niece and two grandchildren. I posted a reply, from work. Could it be ?

On returning to work the next morning there was a reply email. Needless to say, not much work was done that day. I couldn’t wait to get home. I replied, I sent the email to my Mum and Dad, I rang them to make sure they checked and read their email. I was dancing on air. The poster, was the great granddaughter of my great grandmother’s brother Albert who had emigrated to the US. We are 3rd cousins. We knew they existed somewhere in the US – they had no idea we were down here in New Zealand searching the same tree.

Since then we have filled out the family so much more, broken some brickwalls down and reconnected with other members of the extended Kelsey family all over the planet. There are still some brickwalls to smash, but to think this all began with people on opposite sides of the Pacific, reading microfiche in Family History Centres and libraries.

[1] Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth, Laura Ellen Kelsey, General Register Office, England.
[2] Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage, Thomas Kelsey and Mary James, General Register Office, England.
[3] Certified Copy of an Entry of Death, Mary Kelsey nee James, General Register Office, England.
[4] "England and Wales Census, 1881," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2017), Henry James in household of Henry James, Dudley (Worcs), Staffordshire, England; from "1881 England, Scotland and Wales Census," database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing p. 2, Piece/Folio 2881/23, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey; FHL microfilm 101,774,821., accessed 4 February 2018.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 4, Invite to Dinner

The prompt for this week “Which ancestor would you most like to invite to dinner?”

Well ! There are a few contenders to choose from.

All of my grandparents – to be able to ask all the questions we didn’t ask and to share what we have already found. They’d be amazed, I think.

A couple of great-great-grandparents, the ones we know a little less about. Maybe a few even further back. But I think the obvious one to choose would be one of my maternal great-great-grandparents.

Julius Fuller.

He has been a brick wall since forever, at least 40-50 years. There were all sorts of stories about him, most have turned out to be just that. Stories. Warped with time and telling. All my other brick walls have been slowly broken down. But Julius just refuses to give anything up !

What do we know ?

·         His father was William, a miller. (source: marriage certificate & death certificate)
·         His mother Elizabeth. (source: 1851 UK census)
·         He was born in Essex (source: 1851 UK census and death certificate)
·         He, himself was a journeyman miller and later a miller in his own right. (source: 1851 UK census & NZ electoral rolls and newspapers)
·         His wife was the daughter of a baker & confectioner. (source: marriage certificate, baptismal records and 1841 & 1851 UK census’)
·         They married between census’ and then left for New Zealand in 1860 leaving no further clues in England (apart from a niece and nephew who were named for them both, shortly after they left).
·         They had only two children.
·         He had several mills in Canterbury, New Zealand
·         His wife died when the children were relatively young
·         He may have remarried.
·         He died at his son’s residence a few months after his youngest sons marriage.

The stories

·         His wife died, or left him (and went to Australia) and he needed to find a wet-nurse. WRONG, the children were eighteen and twelve when their mother died.
·         He married again, and this wife ran off with all his money (source: letter from Auntie Hilda to Mum & Dad, Intentions to Marry & church records Christchurch Library)
·         His son John lived with the Turner family down the road from his future wife. WRONG (I think) he lived with his elder brother in the house that later became the Turner’s – and Julius lived there too until his death.

So, please come to dinner Great-great-grandpapa Julius, I’ve got so many questions for you.

·         Where you really born in Rayne, Essex ? I’ve been there you know, no sign of you anywhere.
·         When were you born ?
·         Were you baptised ? Where ?
·         What was your mother’s maiden name ?
·         Do you have any siblings ? specifically one named Henry who might have gone to Australia ?
·         Was that your sister Mary Ann who married your future brother-in-law Thomas Horskins ?
·         Where were your parents from ? When did they die ?
·         Did you know your grandparents ?
·         Were you gypsies ?( your great-great-great-granddaughter’s question – not mine)
·         Where did you learn your trade ? Did you serve as an apprentice somewhere ?
·         Did you meet your nephew Julius when he toured New Zealand in his role with the Salvation Army ?
·         Did you really marry Ellen Morris ?
·         Was she the woman who went to prison in Wellington for attempting to defraud an insurance company after a fire at her millinery business ?
·         What happened at Pleasant Point to put you in arrears ? Was that Ellen taking your money ?
·         What happened to her ?

It would be great to know a little more about you.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Where to from here ?

So, it’s been six months and it is looking like Bendigo isn’t all that it seemed, or that I had hoped.

Admittedly even at the outset, it did feel as if the job market was smaller and slower than other potential destinations, but I didn’t expect that it would be this small, insular or nepotistic. I’ve lost count of how many roles I have applied for, but can count the interviews on one hand.

I have started applying further afield, not quite in Melbourne, but closer. Having no car is a bit of a pain – just for the impulsivity and convenience more than anything. Public transport takes about the same time to get places anyway. On the plus side, all the walking is doing me good healthwise.

Now, it is back to that catch-22 – move and hope someone will rent me a property while still looking for work, or travel back and forth to interviews; get the job and THEN find somewhere to live. What is that ABBA song ?

Meanwhile, I still really LIKE Bendigo – even if the heat takes all the fun out of enjoying the outdoors right now. It is such a walkable little city, filled with parks and ancient trees, birdlife and other creatures, community events…

On the other hand, the little city which is trying to promote itself as the place to be in regional Victoria is struggling to keep retailers in town. So many stores have become empty since we arrived. Planning for the future and sustainability sounds optimistic, but seeing anything come of it seems like it is a l-o-n-g way off. Home building is exploding – but the house market seems sluggish too. Almost like development for development’s sake, and the buy in regional Victoria housing assistance schemes don’t seem like such a great deal if there is no work to be had.

SO frustrating because I could really make a home for myself here. Maybe in another life.

2018 I have hopes that you will be better than 2017 – so far, not convinced. Already, plans to make a trip back to NZ early this year have been shelved. (Anyone know anyone looking for Ed Sheeran tickets in Dunedin ?)

In other news, if I can sell said concert tickets I will be able to pay (and start) the 4th unit in my Diploma. Almost halfway ! If everything else comes together, the earliest I could graduate is December 2018 ! Now that is something I hadn’t quite anticipated.

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.