Sunday, 30 September 2012

Doesn’t everyone have an Uncle Jack?

Not quite like mine though…
… mine wasn’t really Jack - he was Mervyn Collier FRANCIS (1918-2008), and he wasn’t my ‘uncle’ - he was my Grennie’s little brother, so he was really my great uncle – and he was a great uncle!
Off to Melbourne High
Growing up in the age of ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’, as kids, my brothers and I fondly called him our bionic uncle because of his artificial hips and knee. He was very tall, 6’7”, had played cricket and been in the RAAF. My brothers and their sons have inherited their height from this side of the family, luckily I did not!

Uncle Jack told me he didn’t know that his name was Mervyn until an aunt paid for him to go to Melbourne High School. He said he was sitting waiting to see the principal and they called out for Mervyn Francis and he didn’t respond.

My father’s father died in 1944, and Uncle Jack played a special role in the life of Dad and his younger brother.
Dad remembers Uncle Jack as being involved in the early days of setting up radar at Laverton in Victoria and then going to the USA to studying this new important part of the war effort. His WWII discharge papers state his ‘Posting at Discharge: RAAF HQ Washington’.
One of my Dad’s greatest memories was of him returning home with ‘funny-shaped bottles of a special dark fizzy drink’ – Uncle Jack introduced Dad and his brother to Coca Cola!
Uncle Jack with my Dad

I spent some time with Uncle Jack in his later years and although I didn’t take a recorder, I wrote a lot down and had photos and my family tree with me to prompt him. He had a fun sense of humour and was very easy to spend a day with. Sitting there with him and Auntie Lesley, Lesley Flora WEBSTER (1923-2008), I heard of many family and events all told in a way that made me want to keep listening.
He told me stories of his father, my great grandfather, William Collier FRANCIS (1864-1946) who went to the Boer War with the Victorian Mounted Rifles, from Gippsland. That will have to wait for another blog post.
He also told me stories of my grandfather Keith Leo GRENFELL (1911-1944) who married his sister - he was grateful to the ‘much older’ boy who took him camping, and he spoke fondly of a gentle friendly man who died too young. He told me things that Trove and the military records couldn’t, and made me sad my grandfather wasn’t around for his own children, or grandchildren – lucky for us all, we had Uncle Jack.

It would have been my Uncle Jack’s 94th birthday this week.

Uncle Jack (on the right) with his brothers in law.
My grandfather, Keith Grenfell is in the centre.
(I’m even more glad I wrote this post because it prompted my Dad to bring out photos of Uncle Jack that I don’t think even his daughters had seen before.)

Uncle Jack up 'painting the stink pipe'
Uncle Jack on the right with three of his nephews

Uncle Jack in his much later years

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Beautiful Lady

I just received another exciting email from my ‘new cousin’, the lady in Auckland who I began communicating with recently, see August blog post: Garrett Family Bible?

Attached is a photo of a beautiful portrait of her 3g grandmother. It is my 4g grandmother, Charlotte CLAVELL nee BULLEY (c1786 - 1853).

Charlotte was married to Captain John CLAVELL (c1776 – 1846) who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. Their daughters married Garrett brothers: Mary Charlotte CLAVELL married John Thomas GARRETT and her sister, Sarah Collingwood CLAVELL married Robert Birch GARRETT.

I’ll write some more in coming days/weeks – I was so excited to see this lovely photo, I just wanted to share it.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Trove Tuesday - Scientific van Bergens?

Continuing my search for some mention of the van Bergen clan in Trove, after my discovery of the photos of my father-in-law, see Trove Tuesday - The Dutch Connection

I found this article in the Perth Sunday Times that will probably amuse my husband and his brothers.
My father-in-law was Johannes Arnoldus van Bergen, mostly known as Arno but sometimes known as John.

This is not my father-in-law as he never worked for this US company. I wonder if this John is related somehow, and why it made the Perth newspaper - must have been a slow news day!

"Smell expert" - such an interesting title and one you really don't see these days.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Trove Tuesday - It pays to keep looking!

Trove has been down for a while now and I’m sure we are all suffering withdrawal symptoms!
Here’s a story I found some time ago.

In the Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser (Hobart) on Fri 27 July 1827, the proud announcement:
Government Notices
Colonial Secretary's Office, July 17, 1827.
His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to approve of the following Appointments:-Mr. William Graves, to be Pound-keeper on the South Esk.-Mr. Henry William Mortimer, to be Constable for York District.-Cornelius Randall (free), per Globe, to be Constable for the Clyde District - William Eldridge (Richmond), to be Constable for Hobart Town.-Mr. Robert Stonehouse, to be District Constable for Launceston.

This news of Robert STONEHOUSE (c1794-1855) my 3g grandfather, was proudly passed down the generations, and even published in a family history. Family papers state he was first appointed in 1823 (another fact to prove).

What probably wasn’t as easily found, until Trove came online was the following in the Hobart Town Courier on Sat 5 Apr 1828:
Colonial Secretary's Office, April 2, 1828.
THE Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to approve of the following alterations in the Police of the Territory : District Constable Robert Stonehouse, to be dismissed for drunkenness and improper conduct.
Constable George Porter, (junior) to be dismissed for improper conduct.
By Command of His Excellency,

A fall from grace!
I wonder if this played a part in his decision to move to the Port Fairy (then called Belfast) district of Victoria with three of his sons, including my great great grandfather William STONEHOUSE (1826-1904).
In a strange twist, in 1850, Robert (and his sons) signed a petition from residents of Warrnambool to the NSW Legislative Council requesting that a policeman be appointed to keep law and order in the district.

I still need to keep looking to find out more of the story of Robert and his young sons move to Victoria’s western district. Robert had been a sailor and traversed Bass Strait many times. There are many inconsistencies in the story passed down about the timing of the move. Three sons did move to Victoria but the other six children remained in Tasmania. Both his first and second wives died in Launceston, Tasmania. Robert died in Nov 1855 in Wangoom, near Warrnambool Victoria.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Trove Tuesday: Mc Names

Mum had done quite a bit of family history research before handing a pile of notes, photos, letters, etc over to me. Some of this included results from the really tedious searches through microfiche and microfilm – saving me!
A small note in one of her workbooks said:
Melbourne Shipping. Captain John Kennedy Freyer, 495 tons, from London 5/6/1848, arr 25/9/1848. Steerage class  Elizabeth McVey

Mum hadn’t had any training in family research and so wasn’t that great making notes of sources (sorry Mum). I put (proving) this on the back burner until I had time to check further. 
We also always wondered why Elizabeth McVEY (1828-1915) would have come out on her own when only 20 years old.

So, to Trove and the problems associated with OCR, and especially with Mc names.
Lucky break number 1: 1848 is the earliest year, and Sep the earliest month of the digitised Argus.
Elizabeth STONEHOUSE (nee McVEY)
Lucky break number 2: Mum’s notes. At least having the date, I could search the individual newspaper to find the entry and prove Mum’s note.

Of course I couldn’t stop there, I had to look into why she came here.
I found reference to a John McVey, a Tasmanian convict who got his conditional pardon just a few years earlier (The Courier, Hobart Friday 10 November 1843, p4). He was also from Glasgow, was similar in age to Elizabeth’s eldest brother, and had the same occupation. Elizabeth’s eldest brother John did come to Australia and lived in Bendigo. She was close to him and his family...
...and she married a man (although not a convict) from Tasmania in Mar 1850 in Port Fairy, Victoria: William STONEHOUSE (1826-1904).

Looks like I have some more research to do!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Trove Tuesday - The Dutch Connection

I didn’t really expect to find anything when I entered the “van Bergen” name into Trove seeing as they didn’t arrive here until 1952 and the newspapers are only digitised to about 1954. But going off on tangents is fun.

I certainly didn’t expect to find a photo!
I think most of us tend to think of Trove as mainly newspapers as that is where most of the ‘stories’ come from that fill in the gaps of our ancestors’ lives.

So imagine my surprise when up came a photo of my father-in-law from 1967 – linked from the National Archives of Australia through Picture Australia – a Department of Immigration and Multiculturalism photo in their ‘Migrants in employment’ series.

My inlaws came here post WWII and worked hard as did many migrants. There were photos taken of them published ‘back home’ in Holland to promote Australia as a migration destination. My husband didn’t know of this photo being taken and was quite excited to see it – I might get him hooked into genealogy after all!