As previously reported, I have two Blog publications underway: There’s a pub in my family: The Solly and Head Families in the South Australian Hotel Trade from my Muir-Buirchell Tree and A horse named Kojonup from my Jones-Sexton Tree. Neither is ready for publication so I thought a general review of the year would be best as my final Blog entry for 2012.
Speaking of Blogs – launching this Blog has been an educative task to say the least. My inspiration is Jess; the author of the Blog Finding Family, who is a beautiful writer and with whom I share a connection in my Muir-Buirchell Tree. The nature of that connection is not finally determined except that there is a common mystery to be solved, hopefully, in the coming months.
The year began with me travelling to Victoria for the funeral of my cousin Peter from my Jones-Sexton Tree. I had started getting interested in family history in 1988 and one day over a beer, I related to Peter (who I had known for several years) a tale I had recently learned about my Sexton family’s Queensland connections. He was shocked – he had been brought up knowing the same tale of the death of Matthew Carroll on the Morehead River, near Cooktown. It seemed our 2nd great grandfathers were either the same person or brothers. It later transpired to be a case of brothers – Matthew Ambrose and Charles Carroll. I also met Raelene who in 2011 had published Cooktown and beyond: Story of the Carroll and Phillips families and which included a photo of Charles Carroll that was given to me by Peter’s mother years ago. Researching the Carroll family keeps me in contact with my E-mail friend Maureen although a number of ‘brick walls’ has meant 2012 was not quite so intense or as successful as our 2011 efforts.
Sad though the occasion was, travel to Maldon enabled me to spend three days touring around south-west Victoria in search of clues and to see what to me had just been place names on a map. One great discovery was locating the grave of my second great grandfather Robert Muir in the Dimboola Cemetery. Robert had sailed from Edinburgh to Sydney in 1848 aboard the Charlotte Jane. Robert hailed from Menstrie, Clackmannan in Scotland, and made his way overland from Sydney to Belfast, Victoria (now Port Fairy) and in 1853 in Hamilton, married Flora McInnes from the Isle of Coll. Robert later took up land at Dart Dart near Dimboola. Buried in the same grave is his son William, known as “Wullie”, who had died of diphtheria in 1877 aged 13 years. Sadly, the grave is identified only by a rusting marker. Flora is buried in Geelong Cemetery along with her daughter Margaret in a grave with a substantial headstone. This trip led to me writing Victorian Family History Tour 2012 which I could edit as a Blog publication in 2013.
During the year I called a halt to a two year research project for my mate Greg and handed over the report In search of Greg’s Grandfather: Philip Constantine, British ANZAC. This is a 58 page document plus appendices and with an accompanying CD containing a wealth of source material. I failed to solve the mystery of Philip’s origins but what a research adventure! Philip’s foster parents (and close relations) had strong connections to India including to the exploration of the sources of the Ganges River, the 1847 Mutiny and the construction of the Astronomical Observatory at Lucknow. Fascinating history! The project was also a research tour of Yorkshire rural life and with several unusual twists, some interesting Australian connections.
Equally fascinating is the research project I have underway for my friend Sue dealing with the Montefiore and Court families. Again enormous India connections along with the early development of business and trade in Australia, West Indies origins, the synagogues and Jewish cemeteries of London and connections to some of the great families of England. A by-product of this research was being contacted by Bev who it transpired was a second cousin that Sue never knew of. Bev travelled to Darwin in September and the ‘family reunion’ took place at my home and continued on over dinner at the local Sports Club. I am yet to solve the mystery of the fate of Sue’s great grandparents Sidney Benjamin Baron Gompertz Montefiore and Alice Maud Joyce – a search commenced by Sue’s grandmother some 80 years ago – except there is whiff of financial scandal!
I joined the Northern Territory Genealogical Society in 2011 and this year made a concerted effort to attend at the research centre every Tuesday. Unfortunately the pressure to earn a quid limited my attendance in the latter part of the year. Secretary June’s fortnightly email newsletter is an amazing mine of information and each one is a challenge to work through. My article The Search for Neville Robert Sexton (my great uncle) was published in the Society’s June edition of Progenitor so I can now claim to be “published”.
So what is in store for 2013? Aside from the two stories mentioned in the opening paragraph, I will possibly edit and update my 2011 story Sale-Trotter ‘Mysteries’ in the Buirchell-Muir Family Tree. Since writing that article, I have learned a lot more about the people involved as well as about the 96th Regiment of Foot (The Manchester Regiment) – Tasmania and Norfolk Island are involved as well as possibly New Zealand, Canada and India. The origins of William Jones (1829-1905), James Sexton (1827-1897), George Birchall (1829-1901), James Hoban (1823-1894) and James Carroll (1810-1879) each continue to present considerable challenges. In particular, James Hoban and James Carroll will involve my first serious, and probably daunting, delving into Irish genealogy.
The big plan for 2013 however is an ‘ancestral tour’ of England and Scotland as well as a visit to the World War I battlefields of France and Belgium. A planned highlight will be an excursion by car ferry to the Isle of Coll and several days of lodging in the hotel at Arinagour. I am busily honing my knowledge of the English and Scottish towns and villages from where various ancestors originated. I have discovered for example, that the Bell Hotel built around 1700 in Evercreech, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, still exists and still trades. But – given my 2nd great grandfather Edward Treasure (1825-1886) and his elder brother John robbed the place in 1840, will I be welcome for a pint?
* See Jess’ Blog Finding Family at http://ancestrysearch.wordpress.com/2010/07/