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Geneabloggers Do-Over Week 2


I have decided to participate in The Genealogy Do-Over, organised by  Thomas McEntee of Geneabloggers, This 12 week project has come along at exactly the right time for me. I have been thinking of how messy and disorganised my research materials and results have become, mainly due to the spasmodic and casual way I have approached my family history in recent years. It’s been doing my head in trying to decide where to start.

The task for Week 2 was to conduct a self interview. This sent me into a bit of a spiral, until I realised that the “When I was Young” Geneameme I completed  recently for fellow blogger, Alona told part of the story of my life. If you’re interested you can see my geneameme here. 

I probably need to do another on the topic of “When I was a grown up” to complete the story. Will put that on the ever increasing to do list.

The next topic was to conduct family interviews . 

I have this underway, having had discussions with a couple of family members, and more planned to come.

We were also expected to set research goals this week. This, I need more time to think over. Will revisit goals in the next few days. I have so many research goals that I need to spend a little time getting clarity around them.


My Bastille Day Baby – 38 years ago

CRAIG GEOFFREY DEMPSTER  14.07.1977 – 02.11.1995

Yesterday was Bastille Day and on that day 38 years ago, my son Craig was born. I’ve posted previously about Craig  here


This photo is bad quality as it was taken from a VHS tape featuring Craig just a few days before his death

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This song of Nat King Cole’s  says it all. I heard it on radio recently. It says everything about how I feel about losing Craig, and living the past almost 20 years without him.

I’ve spent those 20 years trying not to think every day about the way Craig died or the fact that he died. When I think of him, I try to think about the good times and how much joy he bought to my life, and how lucky I was to have him for 18 years.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve always been sad for the past 20 years. That isn’t the case at all. But there is a tiny piece of me that suffers just a little.

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile



Genealogy Do-Over – Week 1


I have decided to participate in The Genealogy Do-Over, organised by  Thomas McEntee of Geneabloggers, This 12 week project has come along at exactly the right time for me. I have been thinking of how messy and disorganised my research materials and results have become, mainly due to the spasmodic and casual way I have approached my family history in recent years. It’s been doing my head in trying to decide where to start.

Below are the topics for Week 1:

1.   Setting previous research aside

This wasn’t really overly difficult as I recently moved and most of my genealogy papers are still packed away in storage. But the papers I do have with me are in a big disorganised mess, so the first job was to get them packed away into a big box. Just for now! It seems strange having all my precious documents  packed away out of sight, but I have committed to do the do-over whole heartedly. So in that box they will stay.

2. Preparing to research

It might seem a bit strange to make preparations before beginning research. But I’m hoping this will make a difference to the quality of research getting done. For me, in recent years, its usually 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there, whatever piece of time I can grab, and lately, all with very little focus.

My work area has now been tidied. The desk is clear and organised. Shelves have been re-arranged ready for the colour coded folders which I will get sorted this weekend. I’m surprised at the transformation,  The  work area is now calling me to get started. Previously, I felt in a bit of a muddle, and couldn’t really see my way clear to get started.

I have printed out Thomas McEntee’s research logs, templates etc and have them in a folder within easy access. At the moment, I’m using a laptop until my new computer arrives. I havee ordered a hard drive to back up my precious files. I have also puchased this week, a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, from Gould Genealogy, so need to get it set up, ready to use.

I am planning on using Evernote to store files and photos etc  and have downloaded it to my Ipad. Will put it on to the desktop of new  computer.

Put current digital files into a “do-over holding folder” – out of sight is out of mind

I need to update Family Tree Maker, so will get that done this weekend

3.  Establishing base practices and guidelines

Track all work, keeping a research log, to avoid duplication, as so often happens, wasting valuable time.

Prove all evidence before entering into FTM

Attach source/citation to all recorded evidence

One year ago Facebook told me my Dad died

On July 4 last year, my Dad died. At the time I was in Spain, on the final day of walking 1000k on Camino de Santiago.  Dad was in hospital, and I knew he was struggling, but he was my father, and looking back I thought he was invincible and would still be here when I arrived home.

This week, I’ve been thinking back to that day. I remember it well. I had walked 40k, a bit further than usual, but I was anxious to get to Finisterre, or Land’s End as it’s known. I had got into the habit of checking  my emails wherever a bar appeared with WiFi, but that day walking was very remote, with no opportunities for internet connection.

On arriving at Finisterre, I stopped for a much needed coffee and of course checked my phone. Facebook opened up immediately and there on my news feed was a post  announcing that my Dad had died. It was such a shock to get that news on Facebook. Of course on checking emails and calls, I found many missed calls and emails asking me to pkease contact the family.

I will never, ever forget the shock of getting that news on Facebook.

I posted recently about my Dad  here

Below are some of my favourite photos of him.


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Anniversary – Lost children of Daylesford

On this day, 148 years ago three children went missing in Daylesford. I blogged about it previously here.

There is also a walk through the Wombat Forest, starting in Daylesford, which follows the route that the children took. Recently, due to my interest in the story, and my passion for fitness, I did the walk to try to get a feel for what it would have been like for the small children to be lost out there in the Australian bush. It was a fairly nice day other than slight drizzly rain early, but my main thought was what it must have been like for those children, to be lost out there in the Wombat Forest, in June. Winter in this area can be very cold, and often there is snow. The walk was over 20k on a marked track, but 148 years ago those tracks wouldn’t have been there. The children would have been walking cross country through rugged bush. At ages 6,5 and 4, I’m sure they would have been very frightened, and most likely very cold.

If you click on this link to the Department of Sustainability and Industry, you can read an article about the children with a map and information about the walk.


Above is the burial site for the three children in the Daylesford Cemetary

Two years from now will be the 150th anniversary of this sad event. I can’t help thinking how nice it would be if it was marked some way in Daylesford.

Donegal Ireland land evictions

My BOYLE family originated from Donegal Ireland. As yet, I haven’t really thrown myself into research of their lives in Ireland. But, as is the case with most fellow researchers, I do know the story of how the farmers were chased off their land and many made their way to Australia. But as yet I am not sure exactly how that story relates to PATRICK BOYLE and his family.

The following story was posted on the Why Donegal? Facebook page. When I read it, I felt a shiver of horror, at what it must have been like for those peasants who were driven away. How they must have wondered what was going to happen to them.

The paragraphs below are printed exactly as written and posted by Why Donegal.

On the morning of 8 April 1861, land speculator, John George Adair began seizing the lands and homes of 47 families in Derryveagh in the District of Gartan.
Anticipating mass resistance, Adair enlisted some 200 policemen, inspectors and a 10 person ‘crowbar brigade’ from County Tyrone to remove the settled from their homes and destroy the houses.
Though evictions were common in the 1800s if families caused trouble or consistently failed to make rent, mass evictions were rare.
Even then, evicted persons were allowed to sell their rights to the land, giving them some money to find shelter elsewhere.
The people of Derryveagh were not afforded this opportunity.
An eye witness account in a local newspaper, recorded how the Widow, McAward, and her seven children, were the first to be evicted.
“Long before the house was reached, loud cries were heard, piercing the air…frantic with despair and throwing themselves on the ground, they became almost insensible, and bursting out in the old Irish wail – then heard by many for the first time – their terrifying cries resounded along the mountains for many miles.
“They had been deprived of their only shelter – the little spot made dear to them by association of the past – and with bleak poverty before them and with only the blue sky to shelter them, naturally they lost all hope and those who witnessed their agony will never forget the sight.”
When the evictions ceased on 10 April 1861, The Derryveagh Eviction Report noted that 47 families and 244 tenant farmers were cleared off 11,602 acres in the valley.
“By two, Wednesday afternoon, the terrible work had been accomplished and a deathly silence descended over the whole area. The Derryveagh District had been cleared of people and Adair had accomplished what the ravages of the Great Famine had failed to do.”
Among the evicted family names listed in The Londonderry Standard on 10 April 1861 were : Bradley, Callahan, Doherty, Doohan, McAward, and Sweeney.
In the midst of the tragic events, a local newspaper reporter remarked on how peacefully families went, choosing not to resort to violence.
Most were made homeless, while others were taken in by relatives, nearby landowners, and sent to Letterkenny workhouses.
Some families were aided by priests and funds were raised in Dublin, France and Australia in support of the evicted. Adair organized a work-scheme with a local church and The Australian Donegal Relief Fund, founded by Australian Michael O’Grady to send all able-bodied men between the ages of 16-28 to work in Australia.
On 18 January 1862, several Glenveagh families left Donegal in pursuit of life down under, first stopping in Dublin before embarking on the long journey ahead.
A dinner was held at the Dublin Hotel to honour them and Gweedore priest, Father McFadden issued a farewell address.
It was said that “a finer body of men and women never left any country.”
143 Derryveagh and 130 Gweedore residents boarded the steamer Lady Eglinton, and were given a plot of land upon their arrival in Australia. Those who chose to stay found a much harsher fate.
The county, country, and world were made aware of the gross injustices inflicted by Adair, causing uproar in the British Parliament, and subsequent police investigations.
Still, Adair was never charged for a crime and became known as “Black Jack,” infamous throughout Ireland and England, and as far as the US and Australia.
He had been enchanted by he beauty of Glenveagh when he first visited in 1857, and began the acquisition of 28,000 acres of land which would become the Adair estate including the districts of Gartan, Glenveagh and Derryveagh.
In 1870, Adair went on to build Glenveagh Castle on the shores of Lough Veagh, near the eviction sites.
When he died in the US in 1885, his American wife had his gravestone inscribed with “Brave, Just and Generous.” Legend has it that the large rock was later struck by lighting and shattered to pieces.
In 1979, Glenveagh Castle was left to Ireland by its last private owner, Philladephia, US native and artist Henry McIlhenny, whose ancestors came from Milford.

Bren Whelan’s image from the Derryveagh mountains looks back towards the Gartan area and the scene of the evictions.


It’s our Blogiversary

Today is the 4th anniversary of this little blog, it’s Blogiversary. My very first post was a look at why and how I became fascinated about family history.

As my family research progressed, I knew that I desperately wanted to write a book about our family history. The problem was that the job seemed so large, and my time so small, so I knew it would never happen. Maybe, one day in my retirement there would be time, but I was too impatient to wait for that.

So the solution was to start a blog, where I could record family stories and research results which would be the basis for my planned book in the future. The plan I envisaged was to organise my posts as the stories would appear in the book.

But that plan went out the window in the first week. Mostly as it turned out, the posts are haphazard, written and posted as they occur to me. There is no organisational plan to them at all. At times they seem to be all over the place and they definitely do go off on unexpected tangents. At first I worried about this, until I realised this is exactly how my life seems to be – no plan, all over the place, and definitely taking unexpected twists and turns.

Also, I hoped that blogging would give me much needed writing practice. As it has. But I feel that I need much more of that, probably some formal workshops would be a good idea.

The one thing about the blog that has surprised me is that my stories have been found by other researchers, distant cousins, who have followed the blog & kept in contact with me. Many of these distant cousins I have met over the years. This is something I love about the blog. But I do regret that at the moment, I don’t have time for as much contact as I would like.

And even though I have huge time constraints in my life at the moment due to my work hours, there will still be regular posts occurring.

I look forward to the day that I can devote the time to the blog that I would like to and also continue to mark offmthe many jobs  on  my research to-do list.



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