Friday, October 9, 2015

What's On - Friday 9th October to Thursday 15th October 2015

Helen Smith speaking at In Time and In Place last weekend
I'm still coming down from the "high" that was experienced from attending In Time and Place last weekend.  But there's still plenty to enjoy in Brisbane and surrounds this week in terms of local and family history.

Windsor State School is celebrating 150 years this year and there is a special Heritage Day this Saturday.  

It's Brisbane Open House all this weekend - an opportunity to go on Cemetery Walking Tours, visit Museums and see some of Brisbane's history.  

Next week State Library of Queensland is hosting a special symposium reflecting on how we remember Anzac stories.  

Check out the calendar below.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Exciting Find

The Brisbane Art Deco book edited by Kimberley Wilson

Somehow, I'm not quite sure how, but fortuitously...I came across this book - Brisbane Art Deco.  I think it was on Facebook.  The book was launched in June this year at Avid Reader.  Anyway, the Facebook page intrigued me enough to borrow a copy of the book from my local library.  At the time I was really trying to control my spending on books.  There was a bit of a wait list for it at the library and when I finally got it, I didn't really have time to read it.  It was only recently that I borrowed it again and finally delved into it.

It is such a joy to read.  Lots of beautiful photos and great text.

What I love about it, is that it is introducing me to a city that I never knew as a child but only arrived at as a twenty-year old.  It makes me look at the architecture of the place. That's why I love Brisbane's Open House weekend too which is coming up this weekend and that's how I discovered Coronet Court which I got to troop around with a friend last year.  Coronet Court is featured in this book.

On Saturday night, I did my usual "wake up" in the middle of the night and so I decided to read it cover to cover.  Joy oh joy, on page 66, I sat straight up in bed and softly breathed "Oh! Oh! Oh!" as I read the following words...

"owner occupiers Daw and Slack...."   

My husband's great-great grandfather Thomas Daw was a butcher and was in partnership with Frederick Slack.  Hoorah!  I had found one of their shops!  I have to say that it is probably the most uninspiring looking building in the book but I'm still very excited to have found it.

The Brisbane Courier 7 June 1890 - courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I'd been looking in all the wrong places.  I think I annoyed John Oxley Library people at State Library at one time trying to find photos of the streets where their shops were but to no real avail.  

I now realize I should have been looking at Brisbane City Archives so am resolved to go back there and search the archives more thoroughly.

By the way, if you want a copy of the book Brisbane Art Deco, they have sold out online copies.  I found mine at fabulous Folio Books in the city...they had about 30 copies left on Sunday afternoon.  But be quick.  Other retailers like Mary Ryan and SLQ had sold out.  You won't regret it.  It's a beautiful publication.  I paid $34.95.

So that was my exciting find for the week.  What was yours?

Monday, October 5, 2015

In Time and Place - Just right

Jacaranda tree at entrance to Botanical Gardens in Brisbane City
Here in Brisbane (sometimes colloquially referred to as Brisvegas), the jacarandas are blooming.  Jacarandas blooming make Uni students nervous because it means exams are just around the corner.  Many heads will be sore today from the excitement of a long weekend filled with sporting finals. There was the AFL on Saturday night and the Rugby Union yesterday morning when the Wallabies defeated England.  Last night was the Grand Final of the NRL when the North Queensland Cowboys triumphantly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and the Brisbane Broncos are feeling no doubt very sore and sorry for themselves. 

I tell you all this to give you CONTEXT dear reader.  Draw from it what you will. Perhaps you could draw from it that you would have a clear head if you weren't a football fanatic and an easy conscience if you weren't a student.  If you were a family history nut like me, you would be in heaven from having spent the weekend with other mad genies attending In Time and Place at Riverglenn at 70 Kate Street Indooroopilly.

In Time and Place.  In Time and Place.  Keep muttering these words to yourself as you mosey on down the family history path.  I was somewhat smug about this event being so close to home.  A hop, skip and a jump and I was there.  It didn't start til 9am but I thought I would rock up at about 8 because that is what my Eventbrite ticket told me to do and it never hurts to be early right? 

Just as well I went early.  I had been to Riverglenn once before years ago on a conference venue hunting expedition for work. I knew it was near Nudgee Junior where my nephews went to school in their primary years and around the corner from Boulevard Gardens where my sister-in-law Patricia and buddy, from Canberra days, Deborah had their wedding receptions.  I quickly became disorientated as I approached what essentially is a building site with construction banners on the fencing.  Our kids have long left school and I don't go to the fancy gym nearby, so it's been a while since I drove down Jerrang Street. Nudgee Junior is no longer there.  Instead, it's a new school called Ambrose Treacy College.  It's a P-12 school which means they need land. Riverglenn, the conference venue, is living on borrowed time and will be demolished in a couple of weeks.  

I mention these things because, as we were listening to talks about the importance of time and place in our historical research, I was conscious that we were ourselves participating in something that was about to be history.  The buildings would be razed to the ground and it would be difficult to believe that we were ever there.  Maps will change.  Signs will change.  Names will change but we were here.  One day as I tell this story, someone will think I am a silly old woman who can't remember things properly.  Remember this.

Delegate Bag from In Time and Place Conference

So I picked up my beautiful delegate bag and said hello to fellow blogger Helen Connor who shares some of the same ancestry as my husband and is the Hon. Secretary of GSQ which itself is about to move - in time and time and place.  

Notice re GSQ re-location

I purchased the obligatory raffle tickets and said goodbye to my last $5, wondering why I hadn't thought to go to the ATM again this week.  I took a photo of my delegate bag and tweeted it.  I got a cup of coffee and said "G'day" to a couple of QFHS members who were manning stalls or acting as marshalls/gofers.  I wandered around the Trade Exhibition in the light-filled Atrium of the Centre and finally met up with fellow blogger Caitlin.  We scoped the venue for lecture rooms and toilets and then agreed to go in early and get good seats, saving one for fellow blogger Pauleen.    

Dr Denver Beanland opened the conference.  I remember that Dr Beanland got to sit in the kitchen of our first home in Taringa 20 odd years ago when he was canvassing as a local member.  I was thumping the table at the time about the importance of having plentiful child-care in the area.  He was recently appointed as the Chair of the National Archives Advisory Council.  Memories.  

Kitchen at 31 Equinox Street Taringa

Dave Obee gave his keynote address about the importance of context.  As he showed maps of Australia and its connections to British Columbia Canada and vice versa and told stories about places and names, my brain was ticking over with all sorts of possibilities for my own family history research.  I was reminded just how intrepid our ancestors were.  Just because they didn't have air travel didn't mean they didn't get about.  The Forfars on my mother's side of the family went to British Columbia Canada AND Australia.  We were lucky enough to meet one of the Canadian descendants about ten years ago.  I really should do more research on my Canadian Forfar cousins.  I'll start by working my way through this page.  Warning - it may be a while before you hear from me again ;)

Edward Forfar grave at Fort St James Municipal Cemetery Vanderhoof Canada

I tweeted during the conference.  If you want to see tweets about the conference, go to Twitter and enter #intimeandplace to see all the tweets from the conference, not just mine.

After Dave's talk, we then had a choice of speakers for the next 3 x 45 minute sessions with a 20 minute break for morning tea.  I chose Jan Richardson's session on convicts and ex-convicts living in Queensland after 1842, Rowena Loo's session on behind the scenes at Queensland State Archives and Diana Hacker's session on memorials to those lost on the RMS Quetta.  

At morning tea, I think I snavelled the last QSA pencil case...hoorah!

The coveted pencil case...what is it about pencil cases???  Thank you Qld State Archives.

You can get a sense of Jan Richardson's presentation by reading her paper online here.  For me the stand out thing about her talk was how much information there was in other supposedly "incidental" records about a person. She told the story of trying to discover on which ship a particular convict had come out to Australia.  The name of the ship given in court proceedings could not be matched with any known convict transports or any known voyages for that particular ship.  Looking up the same woman's record in the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum records produced a different ship name and the real answer. Would you expect to find information about shipping/immigration in asylum records?  See what I mean?  Check all never know what you'll find.

Rowena Loo's presented an engaging talk which attempted to demystify the work of Archives and its approach to filing or structuring its collection, which can sometimes seem impenetrable.  I learned some new terms and resolve to follow their You Tube channel.  One person asked a very good question at the end which revealed that there is no link between the indexes and the catalogue on the website so you need to search both.   

After lunch Janis Wilton delivered the next Keynote Speech.  This was about oral history and memory and I was captivated by her presentation despite the technical difficulties she encountered.  I was interested in the concept of "rehearsed" memories and moving beyond that in recording oral histories.  I was really struck by the importance of capturing the "senses" of memories e.g. colour, smell, sound...good stuff.  Particularly in relation to black and white need to ask, "What colour was the house/wall/dress etc?"  Alessandro Portelli's quote on conclusion was very thought provoking....Oral history tells us "not just what people did, but what they intended to do, what they believed they were doing, and what they now think they did.”  Note to self - do more Oral History.

Three more sessions took us to the end of the day and I chose to hear Rosemary Kopittke speak about Suffrage in Queensland and the work done to produce the index now on Qld Parliament's website.  I have done some indexing for the Society in the past but bow down to her expertise in deciphering Kurrent script of which I was previously ignorant.  Go Rosemary!

At afternoon tea, the ebullient Helen Smith waxed enthusiastic to me about the new direction the Registry Office is moving in i.e. digitising marriage source documents so that in future we will be able to see the originals rather than a transcription.  I crept back to their stand to hear more and asked if I could take photos of the beautiful bound registers that they had brought with them.  

Marriage Register for Queensland 1916

After afternoon tea, I chose to hear Michael Brumby speak about his work at the Charters Towers Archives which receives over 300 enquiries a year.  Goodness! My take-away from this session was how important local knowledge is when researching to get an accurate picture of how and where things were in a place.

The last session of the day for me was the very helpful Catherine Cottle who spoke with passion about her role in digitization at State Library.  She spoke about why State Library of Queensland digitizes material (access, efficiency, preservation to name a few reasons) and their selection criteria for digitization. If you want to make sure you are digitizing your own collection to standard check out their handy Toolkit here.

When I first registered for the In Time and Place Conference I "passed" on the Buffet Dinner but changed my mind a week or so beforehand and decided to take up the offer.  I'm glad I did.  It was a chance to unwind and get to know a few more people in a more informal situation.  I was still home by 7:30pm so my husband wasn't too disgruntled.

Sunday was only a half day.  This time I made sure to visit the ATM before I came to Riverglenn and made a beeline for the all-too-tempting Nepean Family History Society stall.  They had displayed these fabulous pictorial histories at the Congress in Canberra earlier in the year and  I managed to resist temptation. A second time proved me a "goner" and I purchased 3 in the areas of my family history research.  I think you know how much I love old photos and I think they are a great prompt for memories and oral history and plan to use them.  Watch out I come!

More books for my groaning bookshelves.

The first speaker for the day was the ever inspiring Shauna Hicks with the final Keynote Speech.  She chose to accept the challenge proffered by fellow geneablogger Jill Ball and delivered, to my mind, the standout keynote presentation.  She had the audience in the palm of her hand, enthralled to hear more about love, sex and lies in her own family history. If ever there was a case of write/talk about what you know, this was it.  We followed Shauna down the twisty trail of records, maps, certificates and oral history - marveling at her fortitude and perspicacity.  Of course she ended up with more questions than answers, but....we loved it.

Dave Obee reminded us in his next session "Mythbusters" that this is in fact the goal...every answer should provide more questions...keep asking those questions for a more fulsome account of your family's history.  Question everything.  Is your ancestor really not on that Index?  Go to the original source...indexers are after all human.  He also reminded us that we all use different language/terms for places/concepts e.g. First World War is apparently a Commonwealth concept whereas WWI is a more American term.  Useful stuff to consider when thinking about search terms.

After morning tea, I chose to hear more from Janis Wilton who invited us to think about memorable museum encounters and what made them great.  She pointed us to District Six Museum in South Africa and Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre in Tassie (Tasmania) as examples of powerful, engaging museum experiences which invited you to dig deeper and explore further.  She ran out of time but managed to tell us a little about some of the work undertaken at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery to address people's interest in the history of the building and site, formerly a technical college.  You can download the MRAG audio tour from iTunes or Google Play Store for free. I look forward to exploring the App.

Helen Smith's informative talk on parliamentary reports and inquiries really opened my eyes to the wealth of information about your ancestors that could be gleaned from what might be regarded as  dry and dusty documents.  Some of the extracts she read from The Royal Commission Reports on Children Working in Mines, 1842 were heartbreaking but also fascinating accounts of the daily life of our ancestors.

After the raffle prizes were drawn, sponsors and organizing committee members and venue workers thanked, it was all over, red rover. 

I went home feeling very pleased that I still had half a day to pretend to my husband that I had been home and doing the housework.  I put a lamb on a slow roast in the oven, raced into town to buy a book that's out of print (more of that later in another post), cleaned the bathrooms and vacuumed within an inch of my life.  Even my Fitbit was pleased with my progress.  To my mind, the In Time and Place conference was "just right" ....not too big and not too small...digestible in both sessions, duration and price.  Thank you to the organizers, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors for all their hard work and efforts in making it so.  

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

But the big question is (and we always like questions don't we?) ...Will this kind of conference happen again?  Who will pick up the baton from the organizing committee and take it on? Do we need conferences like this or are AFFHO congresses enough?  It's a crowded marketplace and a big job.  What do you think?  Are you or your organisation up for it?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What's On - Friday 2 October - Thursday 8 October 2015

Some of the new additions to the QFHS Library

Hallelujah!  For once, something is happening on my side of town ;)  Of course I just want to say that the only thing happening this week is In Time and Place.  

You may have heard recently about the Annual Awards for Genealogy Rock Stars....  This is something fun run by John D Reid and our own dear Jill Ball of GeniAus fame won the Australia/New Zealand section.  Well, the winner of the Canada section was Dave Obee and he is one of the keynote speakers at In Time and Place - so I am very excited. How about that?

Other speakers include but are not limited to:

Shauna Hicks 

Janis Wilton

Helen Smith

Saturday and Sunday morning will be a great mix of family and local history.  I just want to split myself in two so I can attend all the sessions.  

Registration is only $140 - great value for such a feast of speakers.  Go on - spoil yourself.  Monday's a Public Holiday so you've got time to recover or do housework.

But if that doesn't appeal, there is plenty of other goodies on offer....Brisbane History Group has the second part of their great series on Brisbane and WWI. 

And if you are a fan of Art Deco architecture, don't miss the seminar at New Farm Library about Art Deco architecture in Brisbane.  It really is a beautiful book.  

Speaking of history and architecture, don't forget to register for Open House Brisbane next weekend either.  

And then I've been meaning to get to Museum of Brisbane's latest exhibition too, featuring Robyn Stacey's magnificent work using an old photographic technique - camera obscura...Cloud Land...

Really - there is waaay too much do here in BrisVegas.  How lucky are we???

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A birdsnest and a Magicienne

My great-grandmother, Eleanor Eliza Cook, was born 141 years ago tomorrow on 21 September 1874.

I have written about her before but it bears repeating.  

I have found some new information this evening which I need to record as well.

Eleanor's birth certificate shows that her father James was a Gunner on the ship the Monarch and that her mother was Caroline (nee Jefferies).  They lived at 25 Orange Street Portsea.

Eleanor was the eldest of many children.  According to the 1891 Census they were living in 120 Queens Road and the children were listed as follows:

  1. Eleanor E aged 16
  2. Emma M aged 14
  3. Beatrice L aged 10
  4. Mabel aged 9
  5. James T.R aged 8
  6. Walter D aged 7
  7. Albert H. aged 3
  8. Frederick W. 2
  9. Winifred I. 1

Caroline, Eleanor's mother was 39 years old at the time of the Census.

According to the 1901 Census there were two more children:

Grace L aged 9 and
John F aged 7

A big family indeed.

At the age of 17 Eleanor married Edwin Conner on 24 May 1892 at the Parish Church in the Parish of Portsea.  (Number 319 on the register)  She was then living at 3 Queen's Road.  Edwin was an Engine Room Artificer at 31 Regent Street.  

Their first child Constance was born in 1893.

Here is the article I found today about Eleanor's younger brother Walter.

Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle Saturday 30 June 1894
Of course this is a very sad story but it does add more detail to our knowledge about the Cook family. It's interesting to note that Cook was spelled with an "e" on the end in this article.  I haven't seen the name recorded this way before. The article also provides us with a new address for the family - 101 Leesland Road Gosport. 

I wonder who the two children in the perambulator were that James was minding?  Perhaps Winifred and Grace. I wonder how they transported Walter to the Landport Hospital - by boat?  Not being familiar with the area, I'm not sure what would have been possible.  

I wonder where James Cook, Eleanor's father and Caroline's husband was at the time.  It says he was abroad.  

If I go back to look at his record of service from the National Archives it says that he was on the Magicienne from August 1893 to November 1896.

This article mentions where the Magicienne was at the time:

Hampshire Telegraph 30 June 1894 page 8
I think that the Blewfields that the article refers to is in Nicaragua.  

Things were just about to escalate there as this article in Wikipedia outlines...when Nicaragua annexed the Mosquito Coast.

By the end of July, the Magicienne was reported to have arrived safely in Halifax Nova Scotia in the Portsmouth Evening News on 28 July.

I wonder how long it was before James found out about the death of his second son Walter.  Lots to ponder here.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sepia Saturday 297 : 19 September 2015

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt is about know...that stuff that for some reason we did on Mondays....

Now we seem to do it on a daily basis.  

I love this photo of my mother hanging out the washing in Edinburgh..she looks so hip and gorgeous.

See how the clothes line is in the kitchen?  Neat huh?  For colder climes obviously.

In Australia, our clothes lines are generally in the backyard because the weather is mostly fine.  In Queensland the washing can be dry in an hour or so - bliss! In my earlier share houses in Brisbane, the laundry was always under the house - often a cool place to be in the heat of summer as in this photo from Picture Queensland....

courtesy of John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Sitting in the laundry at Maryborough, ca. 1929 Negative number: 164965

This house plan, also found on Picture Queensland, shows how the laundry (if not under the house) is located at the back of the house, maybe near the kitchen. This is pretty much what our last rental property was like at 88 Leybourne Street Chelmer before we bought our first home at Taringa.

courtesy of John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Approved design for a low set two bedroom dwelling with attached laundry, ca. 1945 Negative number: 126919 

When a friend and I went on the Brisbane Open House Tour last year we checked out the old laundry at Coronet Court which looks like this....not very glamorous at all....but pretty standard for the day.

Coronet Court Laundry New Farm 2014

One of my all time favourite paintings features the laundry and you can see it here...

I picked up a book about doing the laundry at a Lifeline Book Sale earlier this year.

Someone has handwritten notes about the effect of soap on hard water in the inside front cover.  That was what I noticed about moving to Brisbane.  The water is hard here.  My hair didn't lather as much in the shower when I washed it.  

But for today I wanted to tell you another was the first kind of "real"story that made me stop in my tracks when I was researching in the Queensland State Archives many years ago.

I was researching the Grieves - on my husband's side of the family.  I found a listing for a Grieve in the Inquest Index and looked it up.  You can find  the reference details here at the Archives.

It is a very sobering story.  Here is the transcript.  Please don't read it if you think you will find it too upsetting.  It isn't gory as such...just very sad.

I hereby certify that on the 28th day of September 1889, I held an Inquest of Death at Rosewood in the Police District of Marburg and that the following particulars were then disclosed: -

Name of deceased: Ernest Grieve
Profession or calling: None
Height, colour of hair, peculiar clothing, and any other means of identity: Identified. 

Where found and when: Walloon, 17th September 1889
Date of death: 17th September 1889
Supposed cause of death: Accidentally drowned
Persons last seen in company of deceased and names of suspected persons: No suspicious circumstances
Names, residences, and callings of witnesses
Andrew Grieve of Walloon, Farmer
Jane Grieve of Walloon, wife of A Grieve
Annie Grieve of Walloon daughter of A & J Grieve

Suspicious circumstances: None

Signed John Lane Justice

Andrew Grieve on oath says as follows: I am a Farmer residing at Walloon.  I knew the deceased child Ernest Grieve.  He was my Grandchild and lived with me at Walloon.  I remember the 17th of the present month about 6pm on that date I was coming home from work when I got to the gate of my house.  I saw my wife with a clothes prop lifting the child out of an underground tank in my back yard.   I ran to the place and caught of hold of him and pulled him out.  He was quite dead.  The tank was about six feet deep and had about four feet of water in it.  It is about ten feet from my house.  It is protected on top with slabs laid loose which were sometimes shifted for the purpose of getting at the water. I reported the matter to the police at Ipswich the same evening and got an order for burial.  On the following day a constable came from Ipswich and saw the body.  Andrew Grieve his mark

Jane Grieve on oath says as follows: I am the wife of Andrew Grieve the last witness.  I knew the deceased child Ernest Grieve; he was my grand-child.  I remember the 17th of the present month. I was out on the farm on that day.  I returned home between five and six o'clock.  From something my daughter Annie said to me when I came home I got a clothes prop and searched the underground tank and found the child in it.  As I was lifting him out my husband came up and took him out he was then quite dead.  I tried no means to restore life as I could see plainly it would be useless.  I saw the child alive about two o'clock the same day.  He was then all right. Jane Grieve (her signature)

Annie Grieve (my husband's great-grandmother) on oath says as follows: I am the daughter of Andrew Grieve and reside with him at Walloon.  I knew the deceased child Ernest Grieve.  I am his Aunt.  I remember the 17th of the present month.  I was at home in charge of the house on that day.  The deceased child was with me.  He was about the house by himself.  I was not taking particular notice of him.  He was four years and nine months old.  About four o'clock I missed him.  I looked all about the place but could not see him.  I sent my sister to a farmers place about a quarter of a mile from our place to see if he was there.  He was in the habit of going there.  Between five and six o'clock my mother came home.  i said to her did you see Ernest.  She said no I did not, I said I sent Harriet to Brassey's to look for him.  When I told my mother he was missing she got a clothes prop and searched the underground tank and found him.  Annie Grieve (her signature)

Taken and sworn before me at Rosewood in the said colony on the day and year first above mentioned John Lane JP

Here is the newspaper report from the time:

Brisbane. (1889, September 21). Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Toowoomba, Qld. : 1875 - 1948), p. 2. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from

So who was Ernest?  

Ernest was the son of Laura Grieve and, it would seem from this article, Robert Manthey.

Friday, May 29. (1885, May 30). Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), p. 6. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from

Laura came out to Brisbane on the Wansfell in 1865 when she was 6 months old.  She came with her mother and father - Andrew aged 26 and Jane aged 22 -and her brother Phillip aged 3 from Truro, Cornwall.

Laura would have been about 19 or 20 when Ernest was born.  Her younger sister Annie or Mary Ann Grieve would have been about 17 when Ernest died. Laura went on to marry a couple of years after Ernest died.  

Family Notices. (1891, August 7). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 4. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from

Annie or Mary Anna Grieve (my husband's maternal great-grandmother) married William George Cathcart later in the same year.

Family Notices. (1891, December 19). Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), p. 4. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from

Here is Andrew Grieve's obituary from when he died in 1911.

OBITUARY. (1911, March 6). Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), p. 4 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from

For more laundry stories go here.