Category Archives: Reflection

Solemn Grandure

On the ninth of February, 1895, a man known only as a “Special Reporter” described the scene of a recent bush fire, perhaps this was how John Davis may have felt that night.

He wrote:[1]

“Having left Echunga after sunset, I had at least one advantage of travelling in the dark. The innumerable burning logs and trees which mark the extent of the devastation caused by the recent fire presented a scene of solumn grandeur not easily to be described. For many miles in every direction these brilliant glaring objects shone with an intense ruddy light, which, in the deep silence and solitude of the forests, was most imposing to behold.”

It could not be easily described, because to describe something, is to equate it to some similar thing already seen and known. These early Europeans would have been used to seeing a bright star-lit night, something that amazes many modern people accustomed to light pollution. They would not have been used to seeing a brightly lit landscape, unless they had recently arrived from Europe, Adelaide was yet to have universal street lighting. Few if any would have seen fireworks and no one could imagine have imagined flying, let alone the visage of city lights far below.

No, the scene facing this nameless reporter would not have been easily described. It would not have been easily forgotten either. The landscape, many locals escaping with only the clothes on their back,[2]  having lost their entire life’s work, and some who lost their lives. Everything changed, and all in a matter of a few short days.

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[1] 1859 ‘MACCLESFIELD.’, South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), 11 February, p. 3. , viewed 03 Feb 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49897242

[2] 1859 ‘No title’, The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), 8 February, p. 3. , viewed 03 Feb 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article788749

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Fire

In 1859, John and Rosa Davis had been married for nine years[1]. had four young children,[2] and lived in Macclesfield, South Australia, a colony less than thirty years old. [3].  In February of that year, a bush fire ravaged the area and several lives were lost.

There are no less than ten contemporary newspaper accounts. The damage caused by the fire was so widespread that detail about individual losses is lost. An Inquest into the fire lists J Davis (among others) simply as houseless.[4] It found, “That the fire originated in a section belonging to Mr. John Heyward, near Echunga, but by what means it was started, there is no evidence to show.”

In 1859 rural Australia, communication was by post and printed newspapers. There were no fire engines, motorised or electrical devices, no weather reports, or warning systems. The Bureau of Meteorology.[5] and even the clichéd outback radio were more than fifty years away.

One can only guess at how this could have been experienced by these European inhabitants.

 

[1]Australia, Marriage Index,1850, p 160, Vol 14 John Davis and Rosa Sophia Marry Wills (http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ retrieved 31 January, 2017)

[2] Adams, GF, Family History Workbook, unpublished, p 83.

[3] Tourist Information Distributors, “Exploring Adelaide: Brief History” (http://www.exploringaustralia.com.au/history.php?s=adel retrieved 3 January, 2017)

[4] 1859 ‘MACCLESFIELD.’, South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1867), 12 February, p. 5. , viewed 03 Feb 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96494916

[5] Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, “Centenary of the Bureau, A hundred years young” (http://www.bom.gov.au/inside/centenary.shtml retrieved, 3 January, 2017)

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Layers

Thirty-eight and fifteen Robert St, Glasgow. My great-grandparents Archie and Jane Rowley lived here, and raised twelve children from 1911[1] until their deaths in 1932[2] and 1942[3]. Today it is a car park in a light industrial area, a candle workshop and retail outlet.[4]

I do not see the carpark. I see nineteenth century tenements, taking their shape from the road. Covered in black grime, dirty dusty windows, filthy grimy footpath, few cars and much horse dung. Children everywhere, playing, laughing, running, fighting, talking, shouting, screaming. All in the melodious tones of my mother tongue, music to my ears, indecipherable to outsiders.

Two streets away, the shipyards overshadow all of Glasgow. It fills the air; with still more noise, hammering, welding, scraping metal; smells, acrid, dusty, foul. Its smoke, clouds everything with underworld, ghostly dimness.

This is my inherited memory, layering the landscape, in ways that only family can. The shipyard disappears taking the pollution, noise, and jobs. Next, the tenements, children and adults. Progress is what it is, the sun is bright here now, in the carpark of the candle factory.

[1] Scottish Birth Register, 1911, GROS Data 646/02 1851,Georgina Marion Rowley (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : acessed 18 October, 2012)

[2] Scottish Death Register, 1932, GROS Data 644/24 0628, Rowley, Jane  (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : acessed 17 August, 2012)

[3] Scottish Death Register, 1942, GROS Data 644/24 0628, Rowley, Archibald (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : acessed 22 March, 2005)

[4] “Robert Street, Glasgow, Scotland.” Map. Google Maps. Google (https://www.google.com.au/maps/ : accessed 12 December, 2017 .

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Emigration – Why would you?

John and Julia Kidd emigrated to Australia sometime between 1907, when Clarissa was born in Durham, England[1] and 1913, when Selwyn was born in South Australia.[2] After extensive research, no record of either departure or arrival can be found.[3]

One thing that records cannot reveal, is what motivated this nineteenth century couple to emigrate to the furthest reaches of the British Empire, and rebuild their lives in a primitive and isolated foreign land. This question fascinates me, perhaps because I never received a satisfactory answer from my own parents.

There are several questions to research before attempting an educated guess. Did John have no extended family? Emigration meant a loss of connection with the extended family, but John was one of seven children, had seven aunts and uncles and presumably numerous cousins.[4] Clarissa’s extended family are yet to be researched. Were they young and just starting out? They were both in their forties, with three young children.[5] Were they poor? John was raised in a household with two servants,[6] and the eldest son, (his father’s estate was worth £8,484 15s 3d)[7] he must have been moderately wealthy.

So, middle aged, with a growing family, and moderately wealthy, not the kind of young-ambitious-nothing-to-lose stereotype that I had in mind. This leaves me wondering about the timing, (1907 – 1913). Were they politically savvy enough to foresee the world’s first global conflict?

There is much more that can be researched before making an educated guess about what motivated John and Julia Kidd to emigrate to Australia.

 

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[1] England & Wales births 1837­2006 Transcription, (http://www.findmypast.com/ :accessed 26 March, 2016)

[2] Adams, GF, Family History Workbook, unpublished. p 81.

[3] Adams, GF, Family History Workbook, unpublished. P 76

[4] Adams, GF, Family History Workbook, unpublished. P 77-78

[5] Adams, GF, Family History Workbook, unpublished. p 81.

[6] “England and Wales Census, 1871”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VBZ2-S1G : 24 July 2015), Pearson W Kidd in entry for Jane Bell, 1871.; “England and Wales Census, 1881,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/Q271-FQXD : 19 August 2016), Pearson W Kidd, Bishop Wearmouth, Durham, England; from “1881 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing p. 19, Piece/Folio 4993/145, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey; FHL microfilm 101,775,382.

[7] England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1883, Pearson Ward Kidd (http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ retrieved 11 January, 2017)

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Getting somewhere

This is week five of my family history course and I would be hard pressed to tell you half of what I have learned.

Pedigree charts and family charts are great for getting started as well as keeping up. This week it has been suggested to create a time line for the person of interest.

Wow and I mean wow! I spent the day transferring as much as I knew about William Charles HARVEY, as well as any other information contained in the documents. I carefully added the references (I was becoming a bit overwhelmed with references) and transcribed the detail wherever possible. I added a column for clues and inserted a hint where something must have happened before, after or between the documents.

Lastly I wrote the results into my Family History Workbook and when I was finished I had uncovered and/or documented ten more clues. That’s right, ten more clues.

I am a happy researcher.

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Begin at the beginning

For a host of reasons I won’t bore you with, I have decided to throw my current family history research out (figuratively and not so figuratively ). And START AGAIN.

The software I was using is now obsolete,  and I have to use some legacy software to retrieve it.  I have downloaded digital images of nearly all the information I have found so far and I am able to reference all my data.

Beginning at the beginning is easier than trying to backstep especially now that I know how to properly reference.

There is never anything wrong with rechecking my findings so off I go.

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Another new blog

A rhetorical question: Can one have too many blogs?

For some years I have been amassing information about my family history. I have reached a critical mass – that is, the amount of I formation I have is too great to be understood in a single, two dimensional array.

University of Tasmania to the rescue. I have enrolled in a unit, Introduction to Family History. It requires some reflective journalling, so here I am.

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