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My 3 x Great Grandfather – Census Registrar

William Morison

My 3 x great grandfather William MORISON was born in 1780 at Glenshiel, Ross-Shire, Scotland, to parents Alexander MORISON and Margaret MacLEOD. In 1817, William married Jennat MacRAE at Glenshiel. They had a large family of eleven children – eight boys and three girls, including a set of twins, a boy and a girl, who passed away shortly after their birth. Their second child Farquhar was my great great grandfather, who arrived in Australia in 1848.

William was the schoolmaster at the parochial school in Glenshiel. He was also the Registrar for the area. At census time he was the census registrar. After his death in 1860, both positions, went to his eldest son Alexander MORISON, who passed them on to his brother, James. Their sister,Jane, eventually took on the positions, which it appears she kept until her retirement.

About The Census

The census provides a snapshot of the people at a particular address on a given night. This information can be used to further your search for direct ancestors, to broaden your knowledge of the local community and to act as a bridge between the statutory registers and parish records. An official census of population has been taken every ten years since 1801 with the exception of 1941. Little information about individuals survives for 1801 to 1831. From 1841 to 1911 enumerators copied information from schedules completed by heads of households and of smaller institutions into enumeration books for each district”. –

Census Registrar

As district census registrar it was William Morison’s responsiblity to ensure that all residents of the area, completed the census. He usually wrote a comment about the area, and why there may have been changes to the population numbers. These comments are really interesting for me, as a family historian in general and as his 3 x great granddaughter. In some cases his comments allow me to get inside his head and understand his thoughts about the area.

Registrars Comments – 1841 census

On the 1841 census William’s comments were attributed to the Schoolmaster, however in subsequent census he was referred to as the Census Registrar.

Registrars Comments – 1851 Census

Remarks of Schoolmaster of other Person appointed to divide the Parish by the Sheriff or Provost
1st. That the population has increased since 1831 to the number of thirty, which may be attributed to many strangers being introduced into the Parish. In the case of shepherds, the consequence of the Parish being converted into sheep walks, so that the greatest part of the population are crowded in a state of poverty along the ? coast
2nd. To an amount of strangers happening to be lodging on the night of 6th June?
Absent at the Linlithgow Railroad …..of ….this parish at an average of 25.
William Morison
Emigrated to America since 1831. Four families consisting 25 persons.
To Australia two families of 10 persons

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

August Family History Month Update #sentenceaday #NFHM021

August is Family History Month in Australia and New Zealand, and to celebrate, Alex from Family Tree Frog came up with a really great blogging challenge to blog each week in August. This is my 9th post for National Family History Month. Huge thanks to Alex for providing the inspiration to post more times than usual in August.

We have been in lockdown for most of August due to the latest Covid outbreak. To keep myself entertained during National Family History Month, I decided to do one thing, genealogy rated, every day. In some days those things were small, but on other days they were more time consuming.

While making a conscious effort to spend more time in genealogy, I’ve ticked a few things off my to-do list, which is a great outcome for this family history focused month.

Below is a list of all those tasks both big and small, that I concentrated on during the month. I’ve chosen to post the list in the format of a sentence for each day.

  1. Publish first blog post for National Family History Month Genealife in Lockdown: Learning and Research
  2. Plan posts for National Family History Month
  3. Transcribe indexes for Scottish Indexes Also #ANZAncestryTime discussion on Twitter
  4. Add missing source information to Legacy family history software
  5. Transcribe indexes for Scottish Indexes
  6. Sort and file archival documents for One Place Study Axedale Then And Now
  7. Publish post on One Place Study blog, Axedale Then and Now Fire at Axedale – Quarry Hill Hotel 1888
  8. Publish second blog post for National Family History Month My 2X Great Grandfather Joseph Henry Jones
  9. Research to fill in gaps for the life of my 3 X Great Grandfather (Corporal) James McEwan for a yocoming blog post.
  10. Watch National Family History Month opening, presented by Shauna Hicks. Also, #ANZAncestryTime discussion on Twitter
  11. Publish third blog post for National Family History Month Book Chat: Non Fiction – On Radji Beach by Ian W. Shaw Also publish post for One Place Study Axedale Then and Now Axedale Burial: Catherine McGrath 1921 and Mary McGrath 1895
  12. Transcribe indexes for Scottish Indexes
  13. Publish fourth blog post for National Family History Month Grandma’s Disease by Virginia Day McDonald
  14. Sort and file archival documents for One Place Study Axedale Then And Now
  15. Add links from family stories on blog to Legacy family Tree software
  16. Legacy Webinar: Three Letters From Sarah -A Case Study
  17. Publish fifth blog post for National Family History Month Corporal James McEwan – My 3 X Great Grandfather
    Also #ANZAncestryTime on Twitter
  18. Transcribe indexes for Scottish Indexes
  19. Publish sixth post for National Family History Month Historical Book of the Month – August
  20. Publish blog post for One Place Study Axedale Then and Now, Axedale Colonial Country Fair 1994
  21. Sort and file archival documents for One Place Study Axedale Then And Now
  22. Watch SAG Webinar: Introduction to WikiTree – Veronica Williams
  23. Publish seventh blog post for National Family History Month My Great Grandfather Ernest Welfare Waters
  24. #ANZAncestryTime on Twitter.
  25. Plan and draft blog posts for September
  26. Watch Legacy Webinar: The New Family Tree and Relationship Diagram
  27. Catch up on reading missed blog posts of other Family History Month bloggers
  28. Transcribe indexes for Scottish Indexes
  29. Publish eighth blog post for National Family History Month Kiva Micro Loans
  30. Family Search Geneopardy Quiz
  31. Post this final blog post for National Family History Month

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

Kiva Micro Loans

August is Family History Month in Australia and New Zealand, and to celebrate, Alex from Family Tree Frog has come up with a really great blogging challenge. The Challenge is to blog each week in August. This is my 8th post for National Family History Month.

Part 1: The story behind Kiva's brand refresh | by Kiva | Medium

Kiva is a non profit organisation that works with microfinance institutions, to enable people, without access to banks, to expand their businesses, educate their children and provide a better future for themselves and their families.

A lender, of which I am proudly one, chooses a borrower to support with a loan of $25. Other lenders, combine to add the same amount until the required total is reached. All being well, the borrower quickly starts to pay back the amount in small instalments, to all lenders until the loan has been paid out.

When a lender’s $25 is paid back, they can choose to withdraw it, or to re-loan it to another borrower. Money that has been loaned and re-loaned over and over does more good than a one time donation.

My Involvement

I am extremely passionate about this cause and have re-loaned my original $25 many times over. I get to choose who receives it, male or female, the sector that they are employed in and their country. Kiva loans are my preferred way of giving.

I first heard about Kiva in 2011, when Judy Webster, a genealogist friend tweeted about it. I immediately made a donation, as it seemed like a great way of making a difference, without having to invest a large amount of money.

Very quickly Genealogists for Families, of which I’m a member, was set up and registered as a team on the Kiva site. There were just a handful of genealogists in the team at the beginning, but we now have 375 members from many countries. It is not necessary to be a genealogist to join our team. The team is made up of genealogists and their friends and families. Our original donations have now funded 15,501 loans for a total of $414,075 donated, as each member has loaned and re-loaned their original $25.

So far, my original donation has now become a total of $875.00, loaned to borrowers from 19 countries. This figure shocks me every time I see it. No matter how much I supported a cause, I wouldn’t be able to make a donation of $875.00. Microloans make it possible to make a huge difference without a huge financial outlay.

I love choosing my borrowers, deciding on a borrower from a particular sector and country. Kiva provides a brief bio of a borrower and how they intend to use the money. Some examples are to buy flour to bake bread for their street stall, or to buy equipment for their tiny business. I tend to loan to women mostly, as I think, in some of these countries, they could be facing big battles to have successful businesses, and provide income for their families.

The sectors I have loaned to over the years, are food, agriculture, retail, clothing, education, health and wholesale. The locations are Kenya, Philippines, Peru, Armenia, Bolivia, El Salvador, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Rawanda, Uganda.

The risk with these micro loans is that it is possible that a borrower could default. I decided the risk was worth taking, as it was such a small amount. As yet, I have had just one borrower default on a loan. The default amount was only for the final payment of $2.42, so I wasn’t at all concerned.

Kiva quote the repayment rate as 96%. 100% of the money donated goes to the borrower. A total amount of $1.6 billion dollars has been loaned by 1.9 million lenders in 77 countries. To me this is proof that small loans can definitely make a huge difference.

My Latest Loan

Borrower image

My latest loan, made just a few days ago, was to Susan from Eldoret, Rift Valley, Kenya who is raising money to buy cereals, to add to her business of dairy and crop farming. Susan is a mother of three children, and has been a farmer for more than a decade.

If you would like to loan to Susan click here

To join our Genealogists For Families team click here

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

My Great Grandfather Ernest Welfare Waters

August is Family History Month in Australia and New Zealand, and to celebrate, Alex from Family Tree Frog has come up with a really great blogging challenge. The Challenge is to blog each week in August. This is my 7th post for National Family History Month.

Ernest Welfare Waters

Ernest WATERS was born in 1878, at Rochester, Victoria, Australia. His parents were Thomas WATERS and Elizabeth COX, who came to Australia from England, and married in South Australia. He was the second youngest of twelve children. Just two of his siblings died soon after birth, the others all living long lives.

I knew my great grandfather, as a child, as he lived until I was 17 years old. We called him Grandpa.  I remember as a child, thinking of him as hard and just a bit scary, but I’m not really sure why. I did think he was very, very old. He passed away when he was 93, so I suppose any child would have thought he was ancient. I remember being a little fearful of him, but not because of anything he ever did. Again, I think it was a small child’s fear of someone of such a great age.

Ernest married Bessie MACROW at Rochester, in 1899, when he was 21. Unfortunately Bessie became ill and died a little less that two years later, in January 1901. Her cause of death was tuberculosis, and on reading her obituary, it would seem that she had a very long period of illness prior to her death.

On 29 January 1902, Ernest married Hilda Mary Beatrice GILMOUR at Fitzroy. They were members of the Salvation Army when they met, and this continued for their entire lives. I can well remember my grandparents wearing their Salvation Army uniforms at all times. They were both very active members and very highly respected by all at their Salvation Army corps. As a young person, most times when I came into contact with a Salvation Army elder they would want to talk to me about my great grandparents.

Ernest and Hilda went on to have eight children. It definitely was not easy raising a large family in the early 20th century, particularly during WW1 and WW2 and the depression. Ernest had a number of occupations. It appears that when work may have become scarce, he could always turn his hand to something else that was needed in the community. He worked in carpentry for many years and then went on to be a butcher, owning his own butchery, for most of his working life. Some of his other jobs were – Coffin making, working in a co-op and in a pottery, as a labourer.

WW1 brought sorrow, as the sad news from the front, continued to arrived. Three nephews of Ernest passed away during World War 1 – David WATERS of Rochester in 1917, age 18, and his cousins, brothers, Albert William MANCER in 1917, age 25 and Ernest Charles MANCER in 1917, age 19.

Ernest’s wife, Hilda passed away at age 81, four years prior to his death. For many years before her death, she had needed constant care, due to health issues, caused by a severe stroke.

Ernest Welfare Waters passed away at age 93, on 28 July1971, at the Salvation Army’s Bethesda Aged Care Centre, at Blackburn South. He was buried with his wife at the Shepparton Cemetery.


from ‘War Cry’, February 22, 1902
SALVATION BRIDES AND BRIDEGROOMS: Brother Ernest Waters and Sister Beatrice Gilmour, Fitzroy 11. (Vic).
A wedding at Fitzroy 11, is a rarity, therefore a good deal of interest was manifested in the wedding which took place at the barracks on Thursday night. Brother Waters and Sister Gilmour were the parties most nearly concerned.
The esteem in which they are held by comrades and friends of both Fitzroy 1 and 11 corps was evidenced by the number present. Major Albiston, our genial D.O. securely tied the ‘knot’.
The platform was nicely decorated, and the ceremony took place under a draped canopy, the work of the comrades. The ‘I wills’, were said distinctly and determinedly, the ring was brought forth and adjusted, and the major GODS BLESSING on the union.
The speakers for the evening were Ensign Blake, Captain Anstice, Brother Williams (best man) and Sister Considine (bridesmaid) and the bride and bridegroom, who both assured us the step was taken only after much prayer and for God’s glory.
A company of junior girls sang very prettily a song appropriate to the occasion, and each presented the bride with a bouquet. The major did not forget the main object of all our gatherings, and earnestly exhorted the unsaved to come and seek God. No one responded, but we trust eternal good has been done to some soul. CAPTAIN ANSTICE

Golden Anniversary

Golden Anniversary
To celebrate 50 years of marriage Mr and Mrs E. W. Waters, of 199 Skene street, held their golden wedding at the Salvation Army Hall on Monday night.

The hall was decorated with gladioli and hydrangea and with a large gold 50 at the back of the stage.
Mrs A. MacDougall gave a pianoforte solo; Mr Stan Chenery a cornet solo, Mr Albert Kellock and Mr Aberle piano accordian solos, and Lieut and Mrs German, a duet.
Congratulations were offered by Cr. A. Rigg, the chairman, Lieut German, Sergeant-Major Albert Wright, Mrs Bautivitch, on behalf of the Home League; Mrs Aberle, on behalf of the young people.
Little Leola MacDougall presented her godmother with a bouquet of flowers.
Baskets were also presented to Mrs Waters by Irene Livens, on behalf pf the Young People’s Corps; by her grandson, Leonard Waters, on behalf the Bernard Waters family, and by little Joy Chenery, on behalf of the Chenery family. Shepparton Corps presented the couple with a leather-bound Bible. They were also the recipients of many other lovely gifts.
Messages of congratulation were received from the Premier (Mr McDonald), State Commissioner of the Salvation Army, Mr Evan Smith; Divisional Officer, Mr Roy Darlow; Divisional Officer when Mr and Mrs Waters were living in Echuca, Mr R. Henry; Major A. Ahkow, and Sergeant-Major and Mrs Wright.
A delicious supper was served. The two-tiered golden cake was given pride of place.
Mr and Mrs Waters were married in Fitzroy Salvation Army Hall on January 29, 1902. Major Aldcrstone was the celebrant. Mrs Waters was formerly Miss Hilda Gilmore.
Mr Waters was a native of Rochester. He and his wife came to Shepparton 25 years ago. He was a butcher in High street for many years.

The couple are proud of their 15 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. They have three sons and four daughters all except one of which attended their golden wedding.

Diamond Anniversary

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_5137.jpg
Note: The girl behind the couch on the left is me.

Surrounded by members of their family on their diamond wedding are Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Waters of St. Georges Road. Mr. Waters holds his most prized personal possession, a cornet given to him as a youth, which he still plays. With them are (front) Ross and Leanne with Mrs. Smith and Mrs. T. Jones with baby Kristen and Lynette Smith. (Back row) Merna McDougall, Cheryl Sly, Jennifer Jones, Leona McDougall, Mrs. T. Morrisa, Mrs. A. McDougall, Chris and Ian McDougall.

*note some of the names in the above article have been spelled incorrectly in the newspaper.

Ernest’s wife, Hilda passed away at age 81, four years prior to his death. For many years before her death, she had needed constant care, due to health issues, caused by a severe stroke.

Ernest Waters & Hilda Gilmour on their Wedding Day
Ernest Waters and wife, Hilda Mary Beatrice Gilmour
on the occasion of their engagement
Ernest Welfare Waters with his son Bernard in their Salvation Army uniforms
Ernest Waters with his son, Bernard.
Ernest Welfare Waters as an older man. This is how I remember him
Ernest Waters, still wearing his Salvation Army uniform.

War Cry, Salvation Army, February 22, 1902
Golden Anniversary (1952, January 11). Shepparton Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1953), p. 5. Retrieved August 25, 2021, from
Sixty Years Wed, Shepparton News, February 1962

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Historical Book of the Month – August #NFHM2021

August is Family History Month in Australia and New Zealand, and to celebrate, Alex from Family Tree Frog has come up with a blogging challenge that I cannot resist. The Challenge is to blog each week in August. I’ve chosen to blog weekly, about research that I’ve done recently into three of my direct ancestors. There also will be posts on other topics, between those research posts. This is book review post is my 6th post for National Family History Month.

This is the first in my new series of highlighting my favourite historical book of the month. That book could be either fiction or non-fiction. As a family history researcher, I always have a non fiction history book at hand. When I read fiction, my favourite genre is historical fiction, particularly Australian history and World War 2 history.

My book of the month for August is one that I picked up as a holiday read when we were in Queenscliff, Victoria. The Bookshop At Queenscliff is a must visit for me each time we’re there. I always leave there with an armful of books. The Exiles is one of those books, and sat on my bulging ‘too be read’ pile, until I saw that blogger, Jill aka Geniaus recommended it. I have previously read books recommended by Jill, and found we have a similar taste in books, so I immediately off the shelf to be the next read.

This post isn’t a book review, but simply an overview of this book and my rating. My star rating is not at all based on literary merit. I have no qualifications for that. I base my star rating on enjoyment. If I absolutely loved a book and couldn’t put it down, I would give it 5 stars.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

The Exiles is is the story of Evangeline, who due to certain circumstances, finds herself being transported to Australia for a crime she committed. We follow her on her harrowing journey across the seas, after having spent many months in Newgate prison.

The young aboriginal girl in the story, Mathina, was based on a real person who was taken in by the new Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin and his wife Lady Jane Franklin, as an experiment, to see if a native Australian could be educated and integrated into their life. I found it upsetting at times, to read about Mathina, but do realise this this was the attitude of the times.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Exiles, even though some of the attitudes from people in the early days of settlement in Van Diemens Land, did make me cringe. I have read a few books about Sir John Franklin and his wife, and enjoyed the appearance of this strange couple, in this novel.

The female characters were all very strong, even though they faced impossible situations in their lives, which had me crying for them at times. There were scenes that I found absolutely heartbreaking and the thought that they were based on historical fact, made me feel even more sad.

If I was to give a criticism, it would be that I wanted to read more about Mathina in the final pages. It felt to me that her story was left incomplete. For this reason, I went to the author’s website, and found a link to Mathina’s life story. The link is at the bottom of this page.

From the back cover: “Amid hardships and cruelties, new life will take root in stolen soil, friendships will define lives, and some will find their place in a new society in the land beyond the seas

I love this quote from The Exiles: “All of them fused together to give the tree its solid core. Maybe humans are like that, she thought. Maybe the moments that meant something to you and the people you’ve loved over the years are the rings. Maybe what you thought you’d lost is still there, inside of you, giving you strength.”

My only disappointment about this book, is that it fell apart as I was reading it. By the time I reached the halfway mark, all pages from the first half were unattached from the book, and in a pile next to it.

Publications details
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published August 25, 2020 by Allison and Busby Ltd, London

More information can be found about Mathina on the author’s website. It makes very interesting reading.

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

Corporal James McEwan – My 3 X Great Grandfather

August is Family History Month in Australia and New Zealand, and to celebrate, Alex from Family Tree Frog has come up with a blogging challenge that I cannot resist. The Challenge is to blog each week in August. I’ve chosen to blog weekly, about research that I’ve done recently into three of my direct ancestors. There also will be posts done between those research posts. This is my 5th post for National Family History Month.

Corporal James McEwan

I’ve done very little research into my 3x great grandfather, and have relied on fellow researcher Marcia, for most of the information that I do know. Marcia contacted me through the blog a few years ago, and sent me the information she had found. Recently I have started to do a little more research and plan to do more in the future.

The Story So Far

James McEwen, born in Scotland, was a Corporal of the 33rd regiment in the British Army, which was known as the 33rd Foot Regiment. In 1853 this regiment became known as the Duke of Wellington Regiment. James McEwan was stationed in Jamaica when he married Susannah Jackson on 16 January 1825, at Trelawney, Cornwall, Jamaica.

Their son, Thomas James Jonathan (my 2X great grandfather) was christened at Trelawney on the same day as his parent’s marriage. Two more sons were born in Jamaica – James in 1826 and John Alexander on 10 November 1830.

The McEwan family came to Australia on the ship “Lavinia” which departed Liverpool on 10 June 1832. James McEwan’s name is recorded in the ship’s passenger list, but the rest of the family is recorded as the McEwan family.

The Lavinia was a barque carrying merchandise and passengers. The captain of the ship was Captain W.T. Gray The ship travelled via The Cape of Good Hope, arriving at Hobart on 28 November 1832 and Port Jackson on 6 December 1832.

From: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Saturday 8 December, 1832, page 2

Shipping Intelligence
From Liverpool, via Hobart Town, the same day, having left the former place the 10th of June, and the latter the. 20th ult. the barque Lavinia (300 tons), Captain Gray. Lading, merchandise. Passengers, Mrs Dillon and 2 children, Mr. Crozier, Mr. J. Fagan, Mr. James Fagan, Mr. J. M’Donald, surgeon, and 72 steerage passengers, principally mechanics, with their families.

The McEwan family settled in Launceston Tasmania. Disappointingly, I haven’t been able to find the deaths of James, or his wife, Susannah. I have no real evidence at all that Susannah came to Australia, so it’s possible she may have died in Jamaica. The other idea is that perhaps she remarried after James death, causing her death to be registered under a different name.

I have searched in Tasmania for both deaths and found nothing, so I suspect James may have moved to Melbourne, to be closer to his son, who went there with his family, between 1845 and 1848. To make research of this family more difficult there are many variations to their surname – McEwan, McEwan, McQueen, McQuinn, McQuien.

Research to be done

I know very little about researching in Jamaica so have joined the Society of Australian Genealogist’s Caribbean Research Group to hopefully learn as much as I can, in order to go forward in my research into my ancestors who came to Australia from Jamaica
Finding deaths of James and Susannah would make further research very helpful
Find military records for James McEwan
Access the report of the voyage of the Lavinia at RHSV Melbourne, Entry No 131, Box 131/1
Research James and Susannah’s other sons James and John Alexander

Jamaican Family Research Library
Personal Communication from fellow family researcher, Marcia

Caribbean Marriages 1591-1905: Jamaica Easy System Batch No. 104099-9 Film 1291671
Jamaica Births and Baptisms 1752 ’96 1920: Jamaica Easy System Batch No. 104099-9 Film 1291671
Jamaica Births and Baptisms 1752 ’96 1920: Jamaica Easy System Batch No. 103863-0 Film 1291711
NSW Passengers List ’96 Assisted Immigrants Passengers 1828-1896 Film 1 Page 3
Shipping Intelligence. (1832, December 8). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved August 17, 2021, from
Shipping Intelligence. (1832, December 11). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved August 17, 2021, from

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

Grandma’s Disease by Virginia Day McDonald

I came across the following poem, when archiving documents for the small town of Axedale, the place of my One Place Study, Axedale Then and Now The poem made me chuckle, so I thought I’d share it. I’m sure many genealogists/family historian’s will identify with this Grandma. The poem was printed in the Axedale Antics, the Axedale community newspaper in September 2000. According to the Axedale Antics the author was unknown. I googled it but couldn’t find an author.

After publishing the poem with unknown author, and promoting it on Twitter, one of my Twitter friends, Jenny Hart very quickly told me that she found the author named in the Gwinnet Historical Society Journal, September Issue, 1987. Grandma’s Disease was attributed to Virginia Day McDonald, of Macon, Georgia. Gwinnet is a suburban county of Georgia, USA.

There’s been a change in Grandma, we’ve noticed her of late
She’s always reading history, or jotting down some date
She’s tracking back the family, we’ll all have a pedigree
Oh, Grandmas got a hobby – she’s climbing the FAMILY TREE

Poor Grandpa does the cooking, and now or so he states
That worst of all he has to wash the cups and dinner plates
Grandma can’t be bothered, she’s busy as a bee
Compiling genealogy for the FAMILY TREE

She has no time to babysit, the curtains are a fright
No buttons left on Grandpa’s shirt, the flower bed’s a sight
She’s given up her club work, and the soaps on TV
The only thing she does any more, is climb the FAMILY TREE

Away she goes to the court house, and studies ancient lore
We know more about our forebears than we ever did before
The books are old and dusty, they make poor Grandma sneeze
A minor irritation, when you’re climbing FAMILY TREES

The mail is all for Grandma, it comes from near and far
Last week she got the proof she needs to join the DAR
A monumental project, all do agree
All from climbing THE FAMILY TREE

Now some folks come from Scotland, some from Galway Bay
Some were French as pastry, some German all the way
Some went west to stake their claims, some stayed there by the sea
Grandma hopes to find them all, as she climbs the FAMILY TREE

She wanders through the graveyard, in search of date and name
The rich, the poor, the in-between, all sleeping there the same
She pauses now and then to rest, fanned by a gentle breeze
That blows above the fathers, of all our family trees

There are pioneers and patriots, missed in our kith and kin
Who blazed the paths of wilderness, and fought through thick and thin
But none more staunch than Grandma, whose eyes light up with glee
Each time she finds a missing branch, for the FAMILY TREE

Their skills were wide and varied, from carpenter to cook
And one, alas, the records show, was hopelessly a crook.
Blacksmith, weaver, farmer, judge – some tutored for a fee
Once lost in time, now all recorded on the FAMILY TREE

To some it’s just a hobby, to Grandma, it’s much more,
she learns the joys and heataches of those that went before
They loved, they lost, they laughed, they wept – and now, for you and me
They live again in spirit around the FAMILY TREE

At last, she’s nearly finished, and we are each exposed
Life will be the same again, this we all supposed
Grandma will cook and sew, serve cookies with our tea.
We’ll all be fat, just as before the wretched FAMILY TREE

Sad to relate, the preacher called and visited for a spell
They talked about the gospel, and other things as well
The heathen folk, the poor and then – ’twas fate, it had to be
Somehow the conversation turned to Grandma and the FAMILY TREE

He never knew his Grandpa, his mother’s name was…….Clark?
He and Grandma talked and talked, outside it grew quite dark
We’d hoped our fears were groundless, but just like some disease
Grandma’s become an addict – she’s hooked on FAMILY TREES

Our souls are filled with sorrow, our hearts sad with dismay
Our ears could scarce believe, the words we heard our Grandma say
“It sure is a lucky thing that you have come to me”
I know exactly how it’s done. I’ll climb your FAMILY TREE


Axedale Antics, September 2000. Editors: Ann Mason and Sarah Fahy.
Gwinnett Historical Journal, September issue, 1987, page 57.

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

Book Chat: Non Fiction – On Radji Beach by Ian W. Shaw

On Radji Beach tells the story of the 65 nurses from the Vyner Brooke: their service in Singapore and on the Malay peninsula, their desperate voyage to escape capture by the Japanese, and their courage, compassion, ingenuity and fortitude in the unthinkable events that followed” – Goodreads

When I saw this book, I couldn’t resist reading it. Firstly, I do enjoy reading about WW2 history. More importantly, my second cousin once removed, Ellenor CALNAN was an army nurse in Singapore, and was on the Vyner Brooke with 64 other Australian Army nurses, when it was bombed by the Japanese. The story in this book is also the story of her war service.

Ellenor, known as Ellen or Nell, was born at Culcairn NSW, Australia  in 1912, to parents, William CALNAN and Mary O’BRIEN. In 1941, at age 28 years, Ellen enlisted into the Australian Army, as a military nurse, serving in the AIF 2.10 General Hospital. Ellen, along with the nurses in this story, was on the coastal freighter, Vyner Brooke as they were attempting to leave Singapore when it fell into the hands of the Japanese. Also on board with them were patients and locals who were making a last minute dash from Singapore.

Passengers and nurses, died on the ship when the bomb hit, and others died after taking to life rafts and jumping overboard. There were about 100 survivors who, after about three days, eventually made it to Radji beach in two separate groups, among them the Australian Army Nurses. After trying to survive, they eventually realised, that alone, they would surely die, and decided to give themselves up to the Japanese, thinking they would be taken as prisoners of war. They considered that to be better than dying of starvation on the island.

However, after their surrender, on 16 February 1942, the Japanese, marched them to the water’s edge, and ordered the group of 22 nurses, to walk into the sea in a line, facing away from the beach. As they did so, they were machine gunned in the back, killing all nurses, except a lone survivor Vivien Bullwinkle, who became well known as a war hero, on her return to Australia. After surviving in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, for almost three years, she dedicated the rest of her life to the nurses who died, and to her post war nursing career. Vivien Bullwinkle told her story of the massacre at the War Crimes Trials, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Army.

The nurses who survived, spent almost three years in Japanese prisoner of war camps, and were in very poor condition, some having died and others close to death, when they were rescued, after the war was declared to be over.

Ellen Calnan died on the Vyner Brooke, when the bomb struck. On knowing the events that happened to the survivors, I would say sadly, that my cousin was fortunate to die early, and without torture. There were many tears falling, as I read this atrocious story. I knew the basics of the Banka Island Massacre as I had come across it, many years ago, when researching the life of Ellen, but to read the details was devastating.

The author tells the stories of each nurse before enlisting, and from the time they left Australia. He describes, very vividly, the lives they lived in Singapore, before the Japanese arrived. I now know what life was like as a war nurse, what Ellen did in her time off, what they ate, and much much more. Letters home were quoted to help build a picture of their lives.

I had a feeling of excitement, each of the three times that Ellen Calnan’s name appeared in the book. I’m not really sure what to say about my ‘enjoyment’ of this book. Enjoyment is not the word I would use about a book that reports on such a dreadful atrocity. I would give it 5 stars for it’s thorough research and telling the stories of the murdered nurses and survivors so well. Perhaps I’m slightly biased as my family member was part of the story. However, I would recommend that anyone interested in history, and particularly war history, read this book to ensure the story of these brave nurses doesn’t fade away.

Author: Ian W. Shaw
Title: On Radji Beach
Publisher: Macmillan (Pan Macmillan), 2010
ISBN: 9780330404259

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is calnan-ellen-photo.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is calnan-ellen-unit-photo-nurses.jpg
This is the last group photo taken of the nurses before they left Australia, bound for Singapore.
Ellenor Calnan is in the second row, eight from the left.

The Vyner Brooke.
May be an image of monument and text that says 'THE SINKING OF THE VYNER BROOKE As the Vyner Brooke was passing Bangka (between Sumatera and island) 11 am sixs Jap plane over and burst of machine gun the ship. 1.30 pm machine and bombs dropped around bombs)... Vyner Brooke tipping within 15 minutes of the first remained of the Vyner Brooke leaking boats, few rafts, wreckage and scores of hum bobbing on the oily sea adbeesunk the Bangka Straits on the same away and just visible in the distance. the lighthouse into a sandy'

From: Army News, Darwin NT (1941-46) Tuesday 18 September 1945, page 1

Plaque for Radji Beach victims - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting  Corporation)

Memorials to the Bangka Island massacre:

Augusta Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument,
Australian Military Nurses Memorial,
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour,
Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital Memorial Rose Garden,
Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery,
Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A.

Further Reading:
Remembering the fallen of the Banka Island Massacre – Australian College of Nursing
ANMC | Honoring Nurses Past, Present and Future
Angels of mercy: Uncovering the secrets of the Bangka Island massacre – RN Breakfast – ABC Radio National
White Coolies by Betty Jeffrey
Women Beyond The Wire by Lavinia Warner and John Sandilands

OUR NURSES AND SOLDIERS MASSACRED (1945, September 18). Army News (Darwin, NT : 1941 – 1946), p. 1. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from

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My 2X Great Grandfather Joseph Henry Jones #NFHM2021

August is Family History Month in Australia and New Zealand, and to celebrate, Alex from Family Tree Frog has come up with a blogging challenge that I cannot resist. The Challenge is to blog each week in August. I’ve chosen to blog weekly, about research that I’ve done recently into three of my direct ancestors.

Joseph Henry Jones

Joseph Henry JONES is my 2 X great grandfather. He was born in 1839, at Hobart, to parents Thomas JONES and Catherine. So far, I haven’t been able to find Catherine’s surname.

At St. David’s Cathedral in Hobart on 4 July 1855, Joseph married Ellen Virginia LOWE, the daughter of James LOWE and Bridget Berlinda KENNEDY.


I really do love timelines, as I find they’re a great addition to my research. Creating a timeline for an ancestor helps me to pinpoint any gaps that need to be followed up.

1839 – Born at Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

1855 – Married Ellen Virginia LOWE at St. David’s Cathedral, Hobart on 4 July 1855.

1856 – Son, John James, born on 10 May at Hobart. (Baptised and known as Thomas)

1856 – 1857 Left Tasmania and settled in Victoria

1857 – Son, Joseph Henry born on 13 November, at Port Albert, Victoria

1859 – Son, Cornelius born on 23 October, at Port Albert, Victoria

1862 – Daughter, Catherine Virginia born on 21 Feb at Hotham, Victoria

1864 – Daughter, Ellen Annie, born on 21 June 1864 at Emerald Hill, Victoria

1869-70 – Son, William Lowe born. (date and place of birth unknown)

1871 – Daughter Avonia born 3 November 1871 at Scoresby, Victoria

1872 – Death of wife, Ellen Virginia on 8 September 1872, at Scoresby, Victoria

1873 – Death of daughter, Avonia, on 29 May at Scoresby, Victoria

1874 – Death of daughter, Catherine Virginia on 13 April, at Scoresby, Victoria.

1883 – Death of son, William Lowe at Melbourne, Victoria

1892 – Commission Agent at Murchison, Victoria

1893 – Death of son, Thomas James, in a mining accident, at Goulburn River, on 8 November

1895 – Died on 24 October 1895 at Gaffney’s Creek, Victoria

One of the mysteries that I’ve been trying to solve for decades is why Joseph and his wife would fail to register the birth of just one of their seven children, William Lowe, the 6th child and fourth son. I know from William’s death certificate, that he was born in about 1870. William died on Feb 1883, at the age of 13. I had come to the conclusion, that Joseph may have been on the road seeking work at the time of William’s birth.

The following crime report, that I only just found last week, suggests that there were problems with the marriage. There is every chance that he may have deserted his wife again, at the time of William’s birth.

What I love about this report is the description that it gives of my great great grandfather. I’ve never found a photo of him, so this description helps me to imagine how he looked.

From Tasmania Reports of Crime 1861-1883, 14 March 1865
Joseph Jones is charged, on warrant, with deserting his wife at Emerald Hill, about 9 weeks ago. He is a VDL native, aged about 26, 5’11” high, stout build, 11 or 12 stone weight, round full features, blue eyes, dark brown hair, sandy whiskers and moustache, and one upper front tooth wanting; wore shepherd’s plaid coat, dark cloth trousers, wellington boots, and dark, drab, wide-awake. He is supposed to have gone to Woods Point. He has an uncle at Sale.

“Shepherd’s plaid coat” – A heavy checked, tweed coat, usually very long
“wide-awake” – Large hat, with a low crown and wide brim. Usually made of felt or straw

When Joseph Henry’s wife Ellen died of consumption, in 1872, all seven children were living. The eldest Thomas James was age 16 and the youngest, Avonia, was just eight months old. Sadly Avonia died, eight months after the death of her mother. Her cause of death was dentition. Almost one year later, another daughter, Catherine Virginia died, aged 12 from epilepsy.

Future Research

I often wondered who helped Joseph to care for these children. It appears that before his wife’s death, he took to the road, quite often, presumably to find work.

Since reviewing my research for this post, it seems that I may have almost solved that problem. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before, but I decided to check the Index to Registers of State Wards, which is available on Ancestry. I found three boys listed with correct names and birth dates, and all with the same file number. I couldn’t find any of the girls there, and the index doesn’t give the date that they were registered as state wards. I am presuming that the date would be after the death of his wife Ellen, and probably after the date of the deaths of Joseph’s two daughters, as their names weren’t there. The one surviving daughter also wasn’t in the index. It’s possible she was being cared for by a relative. I need to view this file to confirm that these are the correct children. I will be at the Public Records Office in Melbourne, immediately they are able to re-open when lockdown is over. I have added this file to my list of files that I need to order for viewing.


From: Jamieson Chronicle, Saturday, November 9, 1895

Our representative at Gaffney’s Creek, The Other Vagabond reports:  One of those horrible discoveries, which makes the most hardened of us shudder, was made on Wednesday last, by Mounted Constable Polmear.  He had that morning received information that a man named Joseph Jones, an alluvial miner who was ‘a hatter’, on the Goulburn River, a few miles above Knockwood, had not been seen at his home for nearly 3 weeks.  The energetic constable at once set about finding the missing digger.  The result of shrewd and careful inquries caused him to take an old and unused bush track leading from Luarville, to the German Spur.  Mr. James Cadam accompanied Mr. Polmear, and they had not proceeded more than a quarter of a mile from the Commercial Hotel, when the gruesome spectacle of poor Joe’s dead body, in a very advanced stage of decomposition, barred the way.  The unfortunate man, who was known by the sobriquet of ‘Joe the Quacker’, had taken this track as a shortcut to his temporary home on the Goulburn River, never dreaming, no doubt, that instead of reaching his camp in good time, he would never see it again; that he would die a lonely and miserable death, within sight of the houses and active bustling humanity.  He was about 60 years of age and though not of robust constitution, was lively and active but….Ah, the but….Joe had periodical failings. ‘Tis the old, old, very old story; an empty whiskey bottle; an empty pain killer bottle; a grinning corpse; a ghastly spectacle; a  noisome thing; a hideous putrid mass to be tumbled into a coffin to fill a pauper’s grave; just one more nameless mound, which will for a short time mark the spot, where a little of the flotsam and jetsam of the bush were covered up out of sight.  But the remains of unfortunate Joes are not buried as I write.  The putrefactive remnants lie in an outhouse at the Commercial Hotel awaiting official enquiry. 

Baptism: Kempton Church Records, Joseph Henry JONES
Marriage Certificate 1855/360: JONES Joseph Henry and LOWE
Birth and Death Certificate of all children Tasmania, Reports of Crime, 1861-1883 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Tasmania Reports of Crime. Ridgehaven, South Australia: Gould Genealogy & History.

Link to previous post: Obituary – Joseph Henry Jones alias Joe The Quacker

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

Genealife in Lockdown: Learning and Researching #NFHM2021

August is Family History Month in Australia, and to celebrate, Alex from Family Tree Frog has come up with a blogging challenge that I cannot resist. The Challenge is to blog each week in August. Alex has chosen the theme, Genealife in Lockdown, as many of us in Australia are in lockdown at the moment, due to a resurgence of Covid-19. Alex has suggested that we could also post about the Olympics, or our own choice of theme.

I posted recently about Researching Your Family History During A Pandemic, so I will be going with my own choice for this challenge. My theme will be Learning and Researching. I plan to participate in a number of webinars during Family History Month, while also updating and adding to the research that I’ve done into the lives of my direct ancestors.

How My Genealife Began

I have been researching my family history for over 30 years. My obsession began, when I was asked by a friend, to help organise a family reunion for her family. I was amazed at the information she had collected over the years.

Immediately, I was keen to find out about my own family history, as I knew nothing at all about my father’s family. My father was orphaned at age 6, and I’m ashamed to say that I had never questioned my father about why, or how his parents died. When I found that they had died within just a few weeks of each other, and left 11 children behind, I felt devastated, but I was hooked, and wanted to know more about this branch of the family.

I’ve since, extended my research to all branches of my surprisingly large family. Along the way I’ve met many cousins, both close and distant, through this blog, and done collaborative research with other family researchers.

Shortly after I first started, I ordered a copy of Family Tree Maker software and a family friend gave me her set of Diggers CD, with indexes of births, deaths and marriages in Australia. I spent many happy hours finding family on those discs, generation by generation, as my friend told me I must do. The advice was to start with myself, and work backwards. I can remember my excitement as I entered names and dates into the software. At that time, as a beginner researcher, my only interest was names and dates. How far could I go back in time? That question was my entire focus.

It wasn’t long before I knew that I wanted to know more than names and dates. I wanted to know about how my ancestors lived. I soon realised that I had no idea how to find out this information. This was in the days before computers, so over the next few years, I attended courses, and gradually learned how to research in a way that ensured the information I had was correct and well sourced.

In these days, when much of the information that we want and need, is very quickly accessed online, I’m thankful that I was able to learn how to do family history research, the long and slow way. I feel this gives me a good understanding of the records that I’m able to find online. I have memories of spending hours in Genealogy and Family History Societies, viewing parish records on micro fiche. Nothing was instant in those days. We would have to order the fiche that we wished to view, and then wait patiently for weeks or even months for it to arrive. When it finally arrived, I had a two hour trip to Melbourne, where I would have booked an appointment for a few hours on micro fiche reader. What an exciting day that was!

August Genealife Plans

Once again, I’ve been enjoying learning more about family history research, from the many conferences and webinars, that have been made available, during the pandemic. Particularly I’ve been concentrating on Scottish research, as this was an area of struggle for me. I’m pleased now, to have decided to spend time, once again, on learning, during August. I plan to participate in webinars with a wider interest than just Scotland.

The ancestors who I intend to contentrate my research efforts on, have gaps in the information I have previously found. This is either due to them being a brick wall, or to my lack of time to chase up information. Watch out for my posts on the following during August:

Joseph Henry JONES

James McEWAN

Ernest Welfare WATERS

I’d love for you to follow along with my Learning and Researching, during the month of August. If you would like to, you can subscribe by email, so you don’t miss any Genealife in Lockdown posts.

Do you have any plans for Family History Month? I’d love to hear about them and promise to reply to all comments.

For more information about National Family History Month: National Family History Month Australasia – Family History Events in August 2021

For more information on this blogging challenge: Genealife in Lockdown – NFHM Blogging Challenge

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