Aug 202011

Have had a great weekend giving two presentations in Coffs Harbour.

The first on Friday evening was at the Coffs Harbour City Library on Next Steps in Family History, looking at a number of sites of interest and some research methods. The Library has a nice selection of family history resources. They have set up a good gateway site on their links webpage.

Light refreshments were provided (thank you for the ginger kisses which were delightful!). The audience were great and the talk went well.

On Saturday it was the Coffs Harbour District FHS and the presentation was in a nice size room at the Botanic Gardens.This presentation was on Death Certificates, Archaic Medical Terms and Headstone Symbolism. The forty plus audience were enthused and asked interesting questions.

It was good to meet up again with people who I had initially met on the Unlock the Past Cruise and also at the Unlock the Past NSW Expo. One person whom I had helped  at the NSWExpo, with some ways on breaking down her brick wall, had followed my advice with great results. Always nice when people are successful.

Another had heard my pleas to talk to their relatives about the stories to show why they are interested in family history. She was rewarded with a pile of old books “that she might as well have, as they were of no use to them”. Among that pile was an old Birthday book from around the 1880s with birth-dates of the family listed from the 1830s onwards including some death dates and causes of death. A happy dance was done by all.

Having Judy Webster’s company and expert knowledge along on this trip has also made this a great weekend.

The next trip on my agenda is the Unlock the Past Victorian Expo in Geelong in September. Apart from the many speakers and wide range of exhibitors of interest to me, the area is particularly interesting  as three brothers of my Esther Plumridge (my great-great-great-grandmother) emigrated to Victoria.

Henry and William and their families settled in the Geelong area while Frederick and family settled in Ballarat. So while I am there I will be speaking to the Geelong Family History Group and the Geelong Heritage Centre.

Aug 102011

The Brisbane Exhibition started as the ‘Intercolonial Exhibition of 1876″ and was originally held in Bowen Park.

Planning began a couple of years before with the ideal to “embrace not only the pastoral and agricultural interests, but industrial products, the fine arts, and objects of general value, so that the importer and manufacturer could come in side by side, and assist not only in promoting their own interests, but those also of the whole colony.” (Queenslander 13 Feb 1875)

It was held over five days and an estimated 15 000-17000 people visited. As Brisbane’s population was around 20 000 at the time if your ancestor was in Brisbane there is a good chance they would have gone and seen the produce and entertainment on display.

Since then it has gone from strength to strength with the finest produce, animals, crafts and skills on display.  Check out Trove to see if  your family ever won a prize at the Show?

My great-grandfather, George Howard Busby acted as a recruiting Sergeant during Show week in 1917.

The show-bags or as my Mother called them, sample bags, because when she was a child they contained samples of everyday products. My Mother did grow up during World War 2 so this may have been a sign of the times  with the show-bags 

This picture is of Heather Rollason and a friend probably late 1930s early 1940s with a number of those sample bags! If you look  closely you will see one of them is a Cadbury bag which you will still find available today. In fact, Cadbury has six bags, ranging from $4 to $20 available at this years Show.

The Show did not become the “Royal” show until 1921 under warrant from His Majesty King George V.

Did you know that the Animal Nursery which is now a firm family favourite only started in 1964? You can see more highlights and a timeline of the RNA for when our favourite exhibits first started.

In 2008 Joanne Scott and Ross Laurie released the book:

Showtime: A History of the Brisbane Exhibition.

 304 pages packed full of information on the history of a well-loved Brisbane institution, available from UQ Press.

Who can forget their first visit to the Show? The noise and screams of Sideshow Alley, the many goldfish who went home in plastic bags?

Then there was the famous strawberry topped ice-cream, the wonderful Tasmanian chips which sadly are no longer available and fairy floss. We used to wait all year for the fairy floss while today it is easily found at the Sunday markets.
The amazing cakes, beautifully and meticulously decorated, the fine handicrafts, the copy-books from the school-children. The fruit displays where you would look to see what image had been made this year and you would dispute which was the best display!

Then the walk through the animal pavilions to see the well brushed  animals, the size of the cattle and the amazing Clydesdale horses. Who would ever have thought there were so many breed of chickens!

Then out to lunch and watch the Grand Parade followed by the sheep-dog trials then off marvel at the speed of the wood-choppers and so on until you had covered every foot of the grounds. Then evening starts to fall and that can only mean one thing: the evening entertainment followed by what we had all been waiting for, the Fireworks!

The presenter would get the crowd to yell for their favourite colour, which would go highest? Red or Green or Blue? The many bright flashes of colour which seemed to over all too soon, then it was time to gather all the sleepy children and head home.

Today you can have all of the traditional things and also Rock concerts, Firemen Calendars which raise money for very worthwhile causes, a wide range of food and entertainents.

The Ekka is many things to many people and has changed with the times while still retaining the many things which make it the EKKA.

Today you can even download the free Ekka app from iTunes. You can use it to plan your event schedule, explore the Ekka map, search for your favourite ride and showbag or follow an exciting trail for your chance to win prizes.

So are you going to the Ekka this year?

Aug 022011
Rupert George Weeks and Violet Rollason – my great-Grandparents

Rupert died in 1921 of tuberculosis, one of the many who died of this disease before the introduction of antibiotics post WW2. His wife Violet never remarried and died 46 years later. The below photo of them is their wedding day, 7 April 1909. Rupert was very tall while Violet is quite small (maybe the person from whom I inherited my short gene!)

Aug 012011
It is nearly census time again. Census night is the 9 August 2011. 
In Australia censuses have been held every five years in recent times. Unfortunately only the statistical information has been retained rather than the genealogical information we would like to see so make sure you tick Q60 to retain the census pages for our descendents.
In 2001, the first time the opt-in system was offered, 54%of Australians ticked the box. If even higher numbers tick this year, there  maybe a chance it could become an opt-out system rather than the current opt-in system.
 I have photocopied my previous filled in census forms so at least I have a copy of the information among my family history papers and will do so again this time.
The first Down-Under complete census was held in November 1828 in New South Wales which included the whole Eastern coast at that time.  Previously the people were mustered together and counted. There were some concerns that it was not legal to force people to muster so another way was found. 
The new census was taken by specially appointed collectors who completed printed forms for each household in the territory allotted to them. The forms were given to the local Magistrates who checked them abstracted the required information and then sent it to the Colonial Secretary. Unfortunately the forms do not survive.The information was gathered together, statistics extracted and the final returns made. In 1881 there was a white population of 36 598 of whom just over 20 000 were non-convicts. At this time there were three men to each woman in the Colony.
1881 census in the Colonies of Australia
The 1881 census was held throughout the British Empire and showed the young colonies had had a major population explosion since 1828 as seen in this table from Wikipedia.
The Australian census was hopefully more accurate than a census taken in 1821 on the other side of the world as seen in the following letter (NLW: Bute L 74/15) from J. B. Bruce of Dyffryn, one of the Aberdare gentry, to the Marquis of Bute, lord lieutenant of Glamorgan:

March 9, 1831

My dear Lord Bute,

The census of 1821 was scandalously taken at Merthyr by a drunken clerk of the friendly societies. It is well known that whole families forbid & concealed themselves fancying a militia drawing.

His account of £10 houses was 264, which the very rate-book in that year w’d have shewn him (had he taken the trouble to inspect it) to be 373!

The census has been accurately taken this week, having been divided into districts for that purpose, & has been sworn before me this day to be 26,350 in the parish of Merthyr alone, and there are 2000 not included in this census, in a suburb called Coed-y- Cummar, parish of Vainor, county of Brecon, all of whom work in the Cyfarthfa works being only separated from them by the Taff. The vestry clerk has also sworn to 638 houses rated at £10 & upw’ds, not including 71 at the afores’d suburb. […]

Or this one from a census enumerator in1861
Thomas Mullinger finally signed his Declaration, covering some 573 Schedules

for part of Somers Town, one of the poorest and most populous areas of St.Pancras, on 13th.May, 1861, a month late. He writes RG9/113 fol.69b.

“A great portion of my District being Unchurched, Ignorant and Prejudiced I have great trouble and delay in Gathering in the Schedules at all, and when  gathered in they so abounded in Inaccuracies of the most surprising and puzzling description, I have been obliged to return them for Revision, and  generally to supply eventually Fresh Schedules, to Replace ] the Schedule as amended by myself will at once establish these Facts and I most respectfully submit these annoyances and Hindrances most Materially account for the Late Date in my Declaration.

Thomas Mullinger”
A report by a 1901 Census Enumerator in England was given in the Derbyshire Times on the 6th April 1901 and is worth a read. It may explain why some of our ancestors are missing!
Now Back in 2011
Soon the envelopes will arrive by post, will be filled in by a literate population and  will then be posted back (or retrieved electronically if you fill it in online) and the results will be tallied. A major change from the past! I wonder what my Great-Great-Grandparents Richard and Lucy Rollason would have thought if I could go back to them in 1881 as they were completing the census and tell them how we will do it today.
It would be interesting to see the major changes of occupations from 1901 to 201. So many of the trades followed by my ancestors have changed significantly. There are also so many new occupations that would seem very peculiar to them such as Mobile Phone Ring Tone Designer, App designer even my own profession of Molecular Epidemiologist!
There have also been so many changes in religion. I wonder how many Jedi Knights there will be in this census?
Remember, to give our descendents, some of the pleasure we have found in viewing old census pages and seeing our ancestors and the snapshot of their lives, please tick Q60 to retain the census.