Category Archives: Family history

draughts, also of the not-zephyr variety

1983-07-09 Woodville SA_01

Back in 1983, we held a surprise party to celebrate your 70th birthday. Just fancy, Dr B is now the same age as you were in this photo. He certainly doesn’t have as much hair!

Dear Dad

It’s your birthday! You would have turned 106 today. The wondrous thing is that some people do actually live to that sort of age. You were never going to, but that’s OK. You did well. Knowing how little you liked the cold, I can say with some certainty that you wouldn’t have enjoyed today much, at least with regard to the temperature.

It is cold, wet, windy and unquestionably wintry. In short, it’s a good day to stay home in front of the fire, with big mugs of cocoa and a plate of hot, buttered scones, accompanied by a book (or two), or perhaps a spot of knitting (or crochet), or a board game or some euchre. Given the number of technology problems we’re having – by “we”, I can probably infer half the country, since there was a major communications outage yesterday – it’s certainly a day where the simpler things hold great appeal.

Fancy a game of draughts? To counter the other sort that are announcing their presence loudly and making our ankles chilly? Yeah?

Tell you what, because it’s your birthday, I’ll let you go first 😀


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believing something I’ve read


Demholm family grave at the Cheltenham Cemetery, Port Road, Cheltenham, South Australia

You might recall that a few years ago I undertook a semester-long unit of online study, “Writing Family History”, via the University of Tasmania. The writing part wasn’t difficult, although I appreciated the discipline of having to fit something meaningful into the 250-word limit allocated for most of the exercises. Researching the family history and finding ancestors was often trickier, but one perk of the study was free access to some otherwise costly online resources. Via Ancestry, I tracked down a potentially intersecting family tree that had a date of death for one of my great-great-grandmothers, whom I had never been able to trace at all in any local resources.

Because that other family tree contained names and dates that seemed dodgy to me, allowing for what I actually knew and for which I had concrete evidence (such as the above photo of the family grave), I included the date of death information in my own family tree as a query; but haven’t really stopped looking for secondary sources or corroborating information for the GGGM in question.

I am presently undertaking another short course on family history, because it’s an obsession I can now indulge (the beauty of being between jobs, I suppose). Also, it’s useful to keep updated about new techniques and database changes. People who do it all the time – the course is being taught by people from the state genealogical society, so it’s their full-time passion – are usually on top of that in a way that we who do it more sporadically are often not. I am certainly not.

Part of this week’s homework was to find an ancestor by using Trove. I refined my searches and did all sorts of fancy things, and would you believe it? I found one reference, and only one, to Ellen O’Grady: her death notice in the Advertiser on Wednesday, 30 Jan 1901. Well, I never! She was properly Mary Ellen, I believe, but obviously always known as Ellen; and perhaps that’s part of why I’ve struggled to track her down. I now need to dig further to find out when and where she arrived in Australia.

As the death notice only names two children, I also need to follow up to ascertain if there were others. I say that because a death notice I found for a great-grandmother includes the name of only one of the children; and I know there were four who survived to have families of their own. So, the fact that only two are mentioned in the O’Grady death notice does not necessarily mean that there aren’t others.

Her connection to the above grave is that her daughter is the Ellen Teresa Denholm there interred, who died at the ridiculously young age of 54. She’s another mystery because, although I’ve viewed her death certificate, tracked down three separate newspaper death notices and have a photo of her grave, I have yet to find any information about her birth.

Ah, the thrill of the chase! I hope all your chasing is as thrilling as mine has been this week 🙂



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all change!


SAHMRI on North Terrace, Adelaide. Copyright SAHMRI.

You know how YoungB has been working as a bartender for almost two years? Well, he’s finally found a full-time job in his professional field. He’ll be working in that fabulous building, known locally as the Cheese Grater (we’re an obvious lot, as I’m sure I’ve said before). He starts work the day I start my long holiday. We’re all excited for him.

Though I say holiday, it’s actually unemployment. Of course I’m still looking for work. Equally of course, my age is more against me this time; and it was a definite deterrent last time. Realistically, however, I do need a holiday before I commence any new position, because I am physically and mentally exhausted. It’s almost five years since I started the job from which I’ve just been retrenched, one that was described by my predecessor as a nice little “roll into retirement” job.

Yeah, not so much. It was busy when I started. I put that down to end-of-financial year reporting requirements, which did play a part. But it not only never stopped being busy, it became even busier, and the obligatory two-week break over Christmas is more about exhausted collapse than genuine R&R. The last year has been a nightmare by anybody’s standards.

As mistaken as my predecessor’s comment proved, I didn’t think that I would finish, a week short of five years later, thinking, “Good riddance,” but that has proved to be the case. So, after the doors shut on Friday, we had a wake at a nearby watering hole. It’s an end, and a very sad one, but also a beginning. What sort of beginning is yet to be determined in my case.

First up, though, is some genealogy homework arising from a short course that I’m presently doing. This week it’s tracking down missing or collaborative information for some yet-to-be selected ancestor from a not-too-distant generation. I’m only looking as far back as my great grandparents for this exercise, meaning there’s hope for me to find the information without too much head-scratching. In any case, it will be a distraction from constantly rewording my resume to capture all the subtle nuances attaching to “excellent”. Yeah.

May all your beginnings reach successful conclusions, and may change be always a positive thing for you 🙂



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amidst the gloom

Tropical paradise – imagine being there 🙂

Life, of course, is never all entirely one thing, so there have been some joyful events, chief amongst them Eldest Nephew’s recent wedding in a faraway tropical beachside paradise (which probably looked nothing at all like the one in the picture). There’s to be a very large housewarming party when they return from honeymoon.

And, as silly as this sounds, it gave me great pleasure to see YoungB swearing a beautifully laundered-by-him but ironed-by-me shirt, as he set off for a day of work and jollity! Yes, I know. Sad, innit? I iron only when I absolutely have to. But I agree that a lovely cotton shirt always looks better for such treatment, so hen he asked me if I would iron a couple of his shirts, I did so willingly.

Oh, and while I had the iron out, I pressed a couple of my own work blouses. No point wasting all that input if you’re not going to ensure maximum output Right?!

I hope you’re also managing to maximise your outputs 🙂


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when you’re all a mob of crocks


We recently tested the pergola, which doubles as our home gym. Even unfinished, it’s already a pleasant space for birthday celebrations.

So yesterday was Federal election day here in Australia. I tripped over at the polling booth and went sprawling. I smashed the glass in my watch, so you’d probably agree that it was a reasonably decent fall. Embarrassing, and because in front of so many people, no swearing allowed! The young couple who helped me up off the ground urged me to sit down and recover before I got going again, so there’s every chance I looked as rattled as I felt.

I’m happy to report that nothing was broken – other than the watch-glass, which has now been replaced – but I have a very swollen knee, lots of bruises and enough grazes to be messy. By the time we came home, I was hobbling so much (because of the swollen knee) that all I wanted to do was put my foot up on a chair with an ice pack that I could swap between my knee and various other aching bits of musculature.

Dr B has recently had some minor surgical procedures on both feet so, although he’s generally not too bad, by the end of the day he was also ready to sit down and put his feet up. Visiting cousins rocked up at the door, as they were going past anyway: she with both hands bandaged, he with one arm in a sling. We sat out under the pergola with a cuppa and admired Dr B’s handiwork – as you’d agree from what you can see in the photo, it’s a lovely space if a little chilly on a wintry day – all while commiserating each other on how much we hurt. 😀

I hope that you’re faring better, and that all your DIY projects produce such great results as Dr B’s most recent undertaking.



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and is it really nearly midwinter already?


Recent flurry of floral activity in the garden

I think we all know the answer to that.

Knitting progress? Not quit nil, but very slow. Crochet progress? Minus – that is to say, I’ve had to unpick the little I’ve managed. Sewing? Nil. Surviving? Yep, we’re managing that in the face of some serious setbacks. We might not be the creators we once were – I couldn’t tell you how long it is since any of us was involved in a live performance – but I think we could safely claim that we are survivors.

It hasn’t all been horrible. YoungB graduated. Yeah!! That’s not his afternoon ceremony, but one from the following morning. I thought you might like a glimpse of the lovely (nowhere near as old as you might think) hall in which Adelaide University graduations take place (as did Youngest Aunt’s in the late 1970s and Dr B’s in the early 1980s). Eldest Aunt (who graduated interstate) and Youngest Aunt attended the ceremony too, so we made plenty of noise when YoungB’s name was only slightly mispronounced – the small matter of a gender change with his middle name! – and he was presented with his two testamurs.

We had some time to kill between the end of the ceremony and our dinner booking. So we dodged downpours to consume coffee at the nearby Art Gallery cafe, then tramped up side streets to a trendy, inner-city bar with wondrous heating, for more refreshments. Youngest Uncle joined us at the celebratory dinner here, where our attentive waiter plied us with some spectacular wines. It was a long and tiring day, but a most worthwhile celebration. Well done, YoungB. That was a long half-decade, but you did it.

But it is true that matters medical, matters of family history, matters of world uproar and domestic repercussions, matters of friends and some of their woes have all tried to tip us off the planet this year. All the same, here we are. And in a delightful twist, a visiting cousin’s recent – joking – insistence on needing a splayd to eat his slice of orange-and-almond cake was met with provision of the requisite implement; a set of which had been a wedding gift from his parents. Impressive stuff. Right? Dr B was actually more impressed by the fact that I knew precisely where to go to locate the splayds. Plainly, there’s a great deal of chaos but it hasn’t yet overwhelmed us.

May your world still be wobbling on the usual orbit, and remember that fingernails don’t have to be talons to enable you to hang on. 😉



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getting another run

Wedding bunting

A bit wrinkled after more than two years in storage, but still looking fabulously festive 🙂

Middle Niece was married on Friday. The reception was held at her parents’ house, under a marquee on the back lawn. Among the decorations? The photo is a little blurry – phone cameras have their limitations, after all – but I’m sure you’ll get the general idea. It was lovely to see the made-by-me bunting adorning another celebration. This space was smaller than the previous one, with a steeper ceiling pitch, so the bunting appeared much denser and it certainly draped differently.

On the subject of matters crafty, I’m still knitting the scrappy scarf or shawl. It’s making progress. I’ve decided to embrace the knot. There seem to be many in the yarn I’m using and there’s a limit to my patience for dealing with them. My theory is that you’d be hard pushed to notice the occasional bump when the scarf is tucked under a coat collar, as is likely to be its final destination.

Also, I’ve booked to attend a beginners’ weaving course. It’s being held near the town where I grew up, so Dr B and YoungB will cycle the Riesling Trail (more info) while I learn all about looms, weft and warp and other wondrous new terms.

Whatever you’ve been doing, I hope your plans are all turning out exactly as you’d expected. Mine never do; but I hope yours are!



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