Sunday, August 26, 2012

The importance of the right burial plot

Dick Eastman, in his online genealogy newsletter, recently reported about the lady who found another woman buried next to her husband in the plot that she thought was reserved for her own use someday.
It seems that the cemetery's previous owners had sold the cemetery plot twice in the 1980s. The husband was the first to occupy the plot but the second person to be buried there was a woman from the other owner(s). The cemetery owners could not dig up the strange woman, but were willing to relocate the husband, so they could still be buried side by side.

Such mix-ups are rare, but widely reported when they do happen. An incident at Manly Cemetery was reported as far afield as Broken Hill, Darwin, Perth and Victoria. About 1901 a man bought a plot of land in Manly cemetery. He did so to prevent his mother-in-law being buried there. His sister-in-law was buried in Manly Cemetery and knowing that his mother-in-law wanted to be buried beside her, he bought the plot alongside so as to thwart her. However in June 1926 he discovered that she had died in 1921 and that her remains had been interred in his plot. The man had been separated from his wife for 30 years and blamed his mother-in-law for the alienation of the affections of his wife. The man had moved to Victoria, but when he returned to Manly he found his plot had been used and insisted that his mother-in-law be removed, and as a legal fight was not desired, the undertakers exhumed the body of the mother-in-law and removed it to another grave.
The story was reported in Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) Sat 26 June 1926 p.1; Northern Standard (Darwin, NT) Tuesday 29 June 1926, p3; Mirror (Perth, WA) Sat 26 June 1926 p.1; and Gippsland Times (Vic) Monday 28 June 1926, p3.

And a sign of the times – A printed notice on the gatepost at Manly cemetery: “This way In. One Way Traffic” from SMH Thursday 16 July 1953 p.1 Column 8.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mosman 1914-1918

Accountant, clerk, farmer, storeman, nurse are just some of the 1,500 men and women of Mosman who enlisted during the First World War. Who were they? What did they look like? Where did they go?
To commemorate the centenary of World War One, Mosman Library is creating an innovative online resource to collect and display information about the wartime experiences of local service people ( )
The project aims to use web technologies to link previously unconnected documents and information. It intends to share all tools & techniques developed with other libraries & community groups for use in their digital history & commemorative projects. The project is supported by a State Government Library Development Grant.
Leading the team is a pioneer in this field, Dr Tim Sherratt (Mapping Our Anzacs (, Invisible Australians (
Mosman kicked off the project with a BUILD-A-THON ( on Saturday 11 August. 
All are welcome to come along and join the team. Subscribe to the newsletter for updates, follow the blog and attend events.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012


The question is being asked 'What happens to a person's digital footprint when they die?' facebook has responded with Evertalk, the only native Facebook application for remembering lost heroes, family members, and friends. evertalk was founded on the idea that there should be a place to celebrate the lives of lost friends and family members within Facebook. Thousands of people are using Evertalk within Facebook to create memorial pages, share photos, and send notifications. evertalk has emerged to become the obituary service for the social-media age. More than just obituaries, Evertalk is a 'digital afterlife' Facebook application for users to:
  • Create unique and beautiful memorial pages within Facebook to celebrate the lives of lost friends, family members and heroes
  • Leave thoughtful memories in a guestbook
  • Share the news and send notifications via Facebook, email and Twitter
  • Share photos and allow visitors to contribute their own photos to the Evertalk page
  • Provide details on upcoming memorial services
  • Post a video and remember great times
However will future family history researchers be able to find their ancestors there? To learn more or to access the app for free fo to:

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Family History Conference and Expo

Botany Bay Family History Society will be hosting the 28th Annual Conference of the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies on 14th to 16th September 2012.  
A pre-conference Family History Expo, open to the general public, will also be held  at Tradies on Friday 14 September from 10am to 3pm.  The VENUE, Tradies, is at 57 Manchester Road, Gymea. 
The THEME - Endeavour Resolution Adventure Discovery - takes its inspiration from the names of the ships associated with Captain James Cook's Pacific Voyages, and in their presentations, using that theme, speakers will explore both the history of the past and the challenges facing family historians as they embrace 21st century technology. There is an exciting lineup of speakers and events to entertain and inform you.  Further information is available at

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Surnames and Spelling

It may be tiresome at times, if you search databases with the ‘soundex’ system and you get lots of variations in the spelling of a name, however it is surprising just how some surnames have evolved and varieties of the same name can co- exist. A cousin of mine noted that ancestors coming directly from England spelt their name as ‘Nicolson’, but those that came via the United States added an ‘h’ to the name and now spelt it as ‘Nicholson’. Others have noted a similar process with ‘Thomson’ and ‘Thompson’.
Sometimes you have to imagine how a name was pronounced using a strong accent to find a spelling. This is not a transcription error, but simply how the name was recorded by an unfamiliar party. My grandmother had the name ‘Hackett’ written on her marriage certificate, but luckily it was then changed to the correct spelling ‘Eckert’. Another person tells how the Irish surname ‘Higman’ became ‘Hickman’ from listening rather than seeing the name written.
The moral of the story is that you need to be open minded about how an ancestor may have spelt their name and consider other versions when researching family history.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ancestry for iPad

Ancestry Insider has reviewed the new Ancestry for iPad app, saying it was the first app he downloaded onto his new iPad.  He points out all the features he likes as well as some that need some work.  Overall the Ancestry app is pretty well integrated into the iPad way of doing things. The philosophy is that little or no help is necessary to use an app. Do what seems intuitive and the app works.
Cora Num has also now listed lots of links to new devices for your mobile technology. Worth paying a visit to for reviews, ideas and tech tips, as well as the all important links to download some really useful genealogy apps.


Don’t be gullible - check your data

I had some interesting discussions last week during National Family History Week. One theme that was frequently repeated was ‘don’t trust everything you find on the net’. I had several people bemoaning the errors in family trees on line. This is usually because the person posting the information has not checked or verified their information. It is surprising how often I have heard this caution, and yet people still fall into the trap of trusting someone else’s research or lack thereof.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog  as recently as 3rd August asked ‘Is family lore good enough in genealogy?’ It is worth reading the whole article, but in a nutshell the answer is you cannot rely on family memories, but they can be used as clues for further research, and hopefully you will find a source that will verify the family memory. It can be surprising how stories get twisted over the years. I knew of one family that was positive they were related to the Duke of Northumberland. There certainly was a connection, but it turned out that some family predecessors had emigrated to Australia on the ship Duke of Northumberland.
Olive Tree Genealogy also cautions the researcher about the shaky leaf on, saying that the conscientious researcher should, as with any source, analyse and evaluate it before accepting it as correct.

Dick Eastman from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter  says don’t believe everything you read, and that even original documents contain errors. I couldn’t agree more. Always verify your information from at least two sources. My mother’s birth certificate is one example – at least they got her name and date of birth right, but information from her parents, marriage certificate, father’s death certificate and war records contradict the information in the birth certificate, so it is worthwhile reconciling all sources you have available.

Bob Brooke in Everyday Genealogy says quite emphatically that the burden of proof lies with you, the researcher, and to make sure you should prove your assertions ‘by corroborating the evidence’.

It seems everyone is agreed – you must check all your information before declaring it a fact.