Saturday, November 14, 2015

Did Sir Charles Kingsford Smith inspire my grandmother to travel?

What will historians be saying about us in 100 years time?  

Growing up. I always considered my grandmother to be very old fashioned.  She was a very strong lady, who was very matter of fact.

She NEVER struck me as an adventurer!  But now I wonder?

Lloyd, Hazel, Lorna & Eva Pilgrim
on Trix 1924
"I boarded with Aunty Alice while going to High School and had visions of being a teacher, but Mum was going through change of life and when she went down with measles, I had to go home at 14.  I only had 6 years of schooling, as we lived over 3 mls from the school.  At first we had to walk.  They kept me home till I was 8 and John was 6.  Then he [dad] bought a pony for us and we got boils in summer from horse sweat, as we rode bareback........While at High, I always went home for wk ends and often got a ride back with the minister on Sun.  If not I rode Trix in Monday morning – 10 miles.  Tied the reins up and let her go.  Once she didn’t arrive home so Dad went looking for her.  She had pulled in to a farmers stable.  It was a paddock away from his house and only worked there some times.  There was a dam, green feed and some chaff in the mangers.  This old Trix was cunning and would come up with the horses Sat and Sun but not wk days.  When we had holidays, it would put her out.  I had to go and catch her as my brother could not.  I think he was cunning too.  He had a horse later – Kit.  Dad would drive Kit and Tammy in the buggy and the fruit van (before he got a motor vehicle) and they were a flighty pair.   In the van, we all sat on a board across the width of it and no back.  It used to take us over an hour to trot into Nhill – 10 miles – with a load and under the hour to go home.  The horses were always in a hurry to get home.  I love horses and working dogs, but not lap dogs." Eva Scott (nee Pilgrim)

Imagine if you can..............You live on a farm with your family and the main form of transport is horse and buggy, which you take into town (Nhill) every Friday to do the shopping.  How would you feel seeing your first aeroplane?   Would you be excited at the new technology and the possibilities?  Or would you be worried about the safety? Would you have had the courage to go for a flight?  

The Age (Melbourne, Vic.:1854-1954),
Thursday 16 November 1933,page 10

8th November 1933 - Nhill
Southern Cross
From the album of Eva Scott (nee Pilgrim)

8th November 1933 - Nhill 
Southern Cross
From the album of Eva Scott (nee Pilgrim)

8th November 1933 - Nhill
Percival Gull Speed Plane
From the album of Eva Scott (nee Pilgrim)

 Nhill 1933
Gran's first plan ride (in the centre with white collar and cuffs wearing pilots hat) -  cost was 7/6 for 10 minutes

She rode a horse to school and needed to stay with her Aunty as the High School was too far from home (10 miles) and then 44 years later as a pensioner, she was able to fly to the other side of the world!

Imagine how Gran felt over 44 years later when she boarded an aeroplane bound for UK and Europe?

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

A progressive old cemetery - stories from the grave

Does anyone else spend their spare time looking at old cemeteries?  Many would think this a strange thing to do when you are on holidays!  However, I find it relaxing as the headstones tell stories.  I found that the graves at the pioneer cemetery in Cairns tell better stories than any other cemetery that I have visited!

While recently in Cairns for a work conference and visiting my sisters, I noticed the old cemetery in the middle of town, which appeared very well maintained and preserved.  My sister was happy to visit it with me, although we have no family buried there.

The Rotunda has a map of the graves and alphabetical listings
of all the interred.
From the moment that I entered, I was impressed but my initial expectations were to be exceeded!

It is a relatively small cemetery, which is immaculately maintained and it is easy to see that a lot of time and money has been put into repairing and maintaining graves.

I was immediately drawn to the rotunda, which has walls of memorial plaques, listing in alphabetical order, the names, year of death, age, map reference and burial numbers of the interred. There is also a map, which shows the location of the grave, the name and grave number.  

How many people have spent hours wandering a cemetery looking for a headstone or grave?  Not at the McLeod Street Pioneer Cemetery in Cairns, where it is very easy to find a grave!  But it gets better!

It is easy to locate graves at the McLeod St Pioneer Cemetery Cairns.
1.  Locate Deceased on alphabetical plaque (inset excerpt), which shows Surname, Given Name, Year of Death, Age at Death, Grave Reference and Burial Number
2.  Use Grave Reference to determine where grave is located in the cemetery.

At the rear of many graves, there are grave markers with QR codes
This is the back of the grave for Eliza Earl.

As I was wandering through the gravestones I noticed QR (Quick Response) codes on marble gravestone markers at the back of many of the graves.  My first thought was "Why are there such modern markers in such a nice old cemetery?  They just don't fit in!".  How wrong I was!

My kids had previously introduced me to QR codes, so I got my phone out and scanned the codes.  OH WOW!  Immediately I was directed to the website for the Cairns & District family history society website and a story about the person who was buried in the grave!  Amazing!  Imagine how you would feel if this was your relative!!  How wonderful!  How I would love for my blogs about ancestors to be available at their gravestones for family to read!

The Result of  the QR Scan directed me to a blog about the interred - in this instance Eliza Earl

I need to congratulate Cairns & District family history society!  Well Done!  I would like to see this completed by more cemeteries and family history societies!  I am going to look into doing this for some of my ancestors graves!

You can obtain a QR Code Scan Application from the App store or Google Play.  I have randomly included a few codes for you to scan if you are interested. Yes you can scan the codes from this blog with your phone or tablet!  Next time that you are in Cairns, take your phone or tablet and go for an interesting walk through the McLeod St Pioneer Cemetery!

William Real - Died 15 July 1912

Arthur Prime - Killed Accidentally on 3rd July 1915

John Samuel Pyne - Died 24th January 1890

Margaret Redden and 4 of her children - Died 1878, 1882, 1884, 1889 & 1904

Click to read more stories

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Guide to ordering Victorian Inquest Records

This summary to ordering Victorian Inquest Records was the first page of my recent assignment for the Society of Australian Genealogists Certificate Course in Genealogical Research.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cards from the Front

Card sent to Mabel, James, Eva & Lloyd Pilgrim
in 1916  from Melville Geyer (aka Mick)
My Grandmother, Eva Pilgrim, was a little girl when she received cards from her Uncles from the other side of the World.
"May 5th 1916
My Dear Sister Brother Eva Son (Lloyd)
My Letters are coming to ?? I received another letter from you today ?? to hear from you and to know that you are all well and trust that these few lines will find you all enjoying the best of Health as they leave me at present.  I am still in France having a good time.  I am glad to hear that you have plenty of hay this year. I am longing to see the Nips son must be a trick now. I think that it would be better if the Boys that are getting married came and answered their countrys call and helped their pals instead of hanging back. Ern is anxious to come isn’t he and would if Lloyd ever thinks of coming it’s not a bad job after all said and done.  Letter to follow. Love from your loving brother Mick"

Melville Geyer (known as Mick) was the first of the Geyer brothers to leave for World War 1.  You can read more about Mick here.

Ernest Geyer

"23 . 9 . 1916

Dear Mabel,
Just a photo of myself, hoping you are quite well as I am at present.  There is no news at present so that is the reason of my short note.

Best of Love from Ern"

It is interesting to note that this short note was written on the same day that Ern was charged with "Disobeying in such away as to show wilful defiance of authority and lawful commands given personally by his superior officer"

You can read more about Ern here

To Eva With Love From Uncle Lloyd
Undated "silk" embroidered card

1917 card from Lloyd Geyer

France 18 July 17
"Dear Mabel & Jim
Just a few lines to let you know that I am quite well hoping you are all the same.  This Card is for Eva.  Well the other day we had a visit from the King, It was at our sports and he seemed quite pleased with the events.  We are living in another rotten Village now I don't know how long we will be here I hop it won't be to long.  If we want to buy anything we have to pay double the amount that the Tommies pay for them.  A lot of the Villages......."

Unfortunately, I do not have the second part of the note but I know from the handwriting that the card was written by Lloyd as the initial words and writing are identical to those written here.

1918 card from Lloyd Geyer

"France 18/10/18

Dear Mabel Jim and Kiddies
This Card for Eva, XXXXXXX
Just a few cards to let you know that I am quite well hoping these few lines finds you all the same I also received a very welcom letter from you dated 18/7/18 and was very pleased to hear from you.  I have not got that stripe yet but I suppose it will come through some
day.  It is hard luck getting the codlin moth in the apples.  What Church was it that got knocked about you did not tell me.  Tell Jim from one who knows that he is better off where he is, it is not bond over here.  It gets
me down at times.  I have sent the buckle home so you can write to Mother for it, I sent it this week so it will be home by xmas.  We are having very funny weather over here rain one day, and sunshine the next.  I met
Charlie Paterson over here, his father had the....."

Totally off topic this week as Anzac Day
 - Click to see more Sepia Saturday Posts

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Never Assume! Always Confirm!

OH NO! Anyone who has copied from my tree on Ancestry is wrong!  I've checked, and EVERYONE (over 20 trees) have the wrong immigration details for Donald Scott! Mine included!!  I wonder how many others will pick up the error?

In preparation for a research trip to UK next year, I am going back through my information to confirm the details held.  Over the years, additional information is now available online.

I have always wondered why my Great Great Grandfather Donald Scott came to Australia to be a poor farmer, when his family, who remained in Scotland, were wealthy compared to most.  His father, Adam Bisset Scott, was a tailor and owned at least 3 properties in Leith, with one of these properties being 3 units.

Everyone (including myself) had determined from the Public Record Office website that Donald had arrived at Port Phillip (Victoria, Australia) aboard the Sappho in 1852.

Unassisted Passenger Detail - Source
This put his year of birth at approximately 1833.  This aligned to the information in the Marriage and Death Certificates and also the birth certificate of his children, which all indicated a year of birth of 1832.(even though his baptism records show his birth year as 1829).

Donald married later in life, at age 48, and his wife Mary Ann (Polly) was 25 years younger.   I wondered if he had deliberately changed his year of birth so he didn't seem quite as old as he really was?

Today when checking details, the original passenger list is now available on Ancestry, which is how I realised that I (and everyone else on Ancestry) had made an error!  We had incorrectly "assumed" that we had the correct Donald Scott as he was the only one listed!

Sappho Passenger Manifest 1852
My immediate thought was "that looks like a family but Donald was single"!   It didn't take me long to confirm that the Donald Scott, who arrived on the Sappho was not my Great Great Grandfather. In addition to their names being the same, there were many similarities between the two of them (mothers name, age, occupation/s, for a time they lived in a similar area).  I was very annoyed at myself that I had many records and newspaper reports that I now know relate to the incorrect "Donald Scott" attached to my tree (and I apologise to anyone who has copied my tree).

So back to the immigration records I went!  So many years later, I now know from a letter that his wife wrote, that he was known as "Dan" (the same as his grandfather) so did not limit my searching to "Donald" this time.

There were now 7 different potential immigration records so I went back over my research again to look for "clues"

  • The death certificate indicates that Donald had been in the Australian colony for 40 years (so arrived in 1852) but it is also showed "England" as place of birth rather than "Scotland".  How could family members make such a mistake?  Hypothesis: Maybe he had moved to England prior to coming to Australia?
  • 1841 Scottish Census showed that he resided with his family in Scotland but no occupation (so no help)
  • 1851 Census (looking for an occupation or something to link to immigration records)  - After hours of searching all UK census records and discounting many potential people, I have been unable to local Donald/Daniel Scott.  Hypothesis:  Maybe he had left UK prior to 1851 census?
I got quite excited when I found convict Daniel Scott (age 19), who had been transported to Australia for a 10 year sentence in 1848.  All the dates seemed to fit.  Our Donald/Daniel Scott disappears between 1842-1877 so maybe this is the reason why?


Unfortunately, I soon realised that this was unlikely to be our ancestor as  the convict conduct records indicate that Braintree in Essex was his native place and not Scotland.  However I could not find any record of this convict dying or leaving Tasmania.

Although I have narrowed down to 3 potential immigration records, I cannot confirm or prove them so Donald Scott is now one of three ancestors, who I cannot confirm how and when they arrived in Australia.  Hopefully I can locate additional information when I visit Scotland!


Mary Ann (Polly) and Donald (Dan) Scott with their children -
Tom, Jane, Eliza, Elsie, Christian and William
 You can also read more about Donald Scott here.