Part of the worldwide genealogy/family history community

FamNet eNewsletter April 2023

  ISSN 2253-4040

Quote: I have reached the age when a “Happy hour” is a nap – unknown


Contents  1

Editorial 1

Do you want to receive this newsletter every month?. 1

Regular Contributors. 1

From the Developer 1

Keeping Your Family History Research Safe and Accessible. 1

The Nash Rambler 1

Excrement can happen. 1

DNA Testing for Family History. 1

Are you making full use of your FTDNA Autosomal results?. 1

Chinese Corner 1

Illustrious Energy. 1

More Famous New Zealanders You have Probably Never Heard Of 1

James Kingston (Jim) Stellin. 1

Diane Wilson. 1

Hidden treasures in the Wilson Collection! 1

Guest Contributors. 1

Ken Morris. 1

Granny Was a Brothel Keeper and Grandad Did a Dastardly Deed. 1

Diana Caldwell 1

A conversation with Christina. 1

Robina Trenbath. 1

WW.1 – The Liberation of Le Quesnoy. 1

An Invitation to Contribute: 1

From our Libraries and Museums. 1

Auckland Libraries. 1

Talks Programme. 1

2023 Auckland Family History Expo. 1

Group News. 1

News and Views. 1

Various Articles Worth Reading. 1

The future of Rootsweb. 1

Penny Weddings & Dirty Dancing. 1

Ancestral Memory Is It Fact or Fiction?. 1

In conclusion. 1

Book Reviews. 1

Help wanted. 1

Letters to the Editor 1

Interesting family Death. 1

Advertising with FamNet 1

A Bit of Light Relief 1

To Unsubscribe, Change your Email Address, or Manage your Personal Information. 1


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Description automatically generatedHello fellow hermits.

Greetings and welcome to another issue of the FamNet newsletter.

Well the recent floodings has achieved something positive. I have cleaned out my computer room and started to do the “stuff” I recommend in my article below. My attention was focussed by the sad tale a friend of mine told me about her recent flooding and what happened to her genealogy treasures. I hadn’t thought too much about what could happen at any time. I just quietly kept stacking “things” around my computer chair and my bookcase. The prime consideration was that all “things” had to be in reach in case I needed them which, in all honesty, never happened. We must all be disaster aware. Look after your precious things and take steps to avoid the bonfire that may take place after your burial.

Anyway, back to reality. Once again, we have an interesting newsletter. The articles are varied. The jokes are funny although they are not the main reason for reading the newsletter.

I hope this month’s issue occupies some of your time and you find something valuable.

Peter Nash

Do you want to receive this newsletter every month?

This newsletter is free. There are not many free newsletters of this length in New Zealand. I am biased but it should be an interesting read.

To subscribe is easy too. Go on - don't misspell it as I have, twice already.

The front page is lovely, but click on [Newsletters].  A page opens showing you a list of all the past newsletters, you can click the link to read one that you’re interested in.

Like the front page, the newsletters page has a place where you can log on or register.   It’s in the top right-hand corner.  Put your email here and click [Continue].   If you aren’t already on our mailing list, there will be a message “Email not in database” and a button [New User] appears.  Click this and follow the dialog to register.  It’s free and easy.  You should receive a copy every month until you unsubscribe.

Robert has assured me that he will not send begging letters to your email - apparently, he has enough money at the moment. You will not have to put in your credit card number. You will not be charged a subscription.

Tell other genealogists so they can enjoy the newsletters too.


Peter Nash

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Regular Contributors

From the Developer

Keeping Your Family History Research Safe and Accessible

A person with a beard

Description automatically generated with medium confidencePeter’s comments in The Nash Rambler are spot on.  If your family history is worth doing, then it’s worth preserving, and as a minimum you should have your own copy and another copy somewhere on-line.   But Peter misses one thing: you may have created an on-line backup, and this would be just what you need if your house had been destroyed by cyclone Gabrielle, but it is very little use to your descendants unless they know it’s there, know the relevant passwords, they know how to find their way around it, and (if it is not free) they have kept paying the annual costs.   What you need is a searchable copy of your family history that is free, provides the ability to store all your family history including supporting documents, can guarantee its own long-term survival, and can manage privacy concerns so that, for example, information about living people is only disclosed to approved users – the record owner and their friends and family.   There are only two options that I’m aware of that meet these criteria.

Obviously I’m going to list FamNet as one option, because it meets all these criteria. If it were just up to me FamNet would not be able to guarantee its own long term survival, but as you all know this problem has been solved through our relationship with FamilySearch.   Eventually I’ll be unable to keep supporting this site, so everything in FamNet will be copied into FamilySearch when their new system is able to receive it.  Everything that is except for one tree, whose owner has said “No” (I’m still trying persuade her, but it’s her decision).  And another reminder to anybody who has a tree in FamNet who DOES NOT want it to end up on FamilySearch: PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

The other option is to use FamilySearch directly.  I don’t know if it currently allows you to store documents linked to your records – it didn’t when I started developing FamNet about 20 years ago – but it certainly will with the new system that FamNet will be copied into.  I still don’t know much about this new system, but I do know that it will meet the essential criteria.

Telling your story: Index

1.    Writing your story as notes, or with Word.  

2.    Embedding pictures in Word documents

3.    Saving Documents for Web Publication.

4.    Saving Scrapbook Items

5.    Sharing your Story: Managing your Family Group

6.    On Line Editing: More Facts, Family, GDB Links

7.    Comparing and Synchronising Records

8.    Producing and Using Charts

9.    Merging Trees.  Part 1:  Why Bother?

10.  Merging Trees.  Part 2:  Adding Records On-Line

11.  Merging Trees.  Part3.  Combining Existing Trees

12.  Finding Your Way Around FamNet (Getting Help)  

13.  FamNet – a Resource for your Grandchildren

14.  FamNet’s General Resource Databases
15.  Updating General Resource Databases

16.  Privacy

17.  Indexes: beyond Excel.

18.  Linking trees

19.  Uploading a GEDCOM file

20.  Uploading Objects to your Database

21.  Bulk-uploading Objects.  FamNet resource: Useful Databases
22.  Publishing Living Family on Family Web Sites 

23.  Have YOU written your family story yet? 

24.  Editing and Re-arranging your Family Tree On-line.

25.  It’s the Stories that Matter

26.  Using QR Codes for your Family History

27.  What happens to our Family History when we’re gone?

28.  Our Shared Database Grows

Robert Barnes

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The Nash Rambler

Excrement can happen

A picture containing text, person, person, smiling

Description automatically generatedAllan and I had a coffee with a very good friend of ours who has been addicted to genealogy for a very long time. She has a lot of books, magazines, photographs and, of course her digital collections. We didn’t realise that, although she lives in upmarket Onehunga, she experienced the joys of knee-high flooding of her expensive mansion. The flooding was high enough to make her car an insurance write-off so it was high enough to be very concerned about her genealogy valuables.

I live on a hillside and, although I didn’t flood, my neighbours did. There has been a lot of infill housing on the hillside above us and this has caused the water table and water flow from rainfall to change dramatically. My neighbour had to throw out everything in his ground floor.

Even the upmarket suburbs like Remuera, Epsom and Mt Eden flooded. Cliffs collapsed and houses got inundated with mud and/or whole hillsides. We couldn’t blame slash in Auckland but it was a “pleasant feeling” to see that everybody, whether rich or poor, was subject to the aftereffects of being inundated with a month’s (or more) rainfall in an hour or two.

There is nowhere in New Zealand that is immune from some or all of the joys of earthquakes, floods, cliff collapsing, landslips, volcanic eruptions, fires and house breaking. Therefore we must seriously think about keeping our genealogical valuables safe.

Let’s consider each valuable asset:

Computer files:

Obviously we need to back up our files and store offsite. It’s no use if your computer and back up disappear in the same episode of disaster. Store the back up in a place some distance away. The cloud is a good start (says the luddite who doesn’t use the cloud). But even this may be destroyed by Emperor Vladimir 1 (nee Putin) sending a drone to obliterate the building which “stores” your data (says the sceptic).

Make sure somebody else in your family knows what is on your computer. I sat my daughter down and showed her what I had so that she could be the caretaker of my “valuable files, records” and, of course, my huge range of writings. This will ensure that your hard drive doesn’t get dumped when you decide to stay some time with your ancestors i.e. die.


The important photos should be scanned. There are no ifs or buts – it has to be done and while you are about it label the photos naming the people or places in them. Then store the photographs on shelves or in cupboards that are above knee height. I have just looked behind myself to see mine are on the floor or on the bottom shelf of a bookshelves. Do as I say not as I do.

BDM Certificates:

Scan these. Then donate the paper copies to the NZ Society of Genealogists – this is one of the few valuables that society has now. I have scanned about a half of mine.


We all have really valuable books which are very pertinent to our ancestors and, maybe, almost impossible to replace. I have started the process of “downsizing” my library.  I have divided my large library into four classifications:

pertinent to my ancestors,

local histories,

“Nice to have” and

“What the hell is this doing here”.

The “What the hell is this doing here” are no longer here.

The “Nice to have” are being culled over time

The local histories (mostly Hokianga and Northland) have been donated to the Hokianga Museum for their library or to be disposed of in a fund-raising manner. Boy did I feel good when I delivered three cartons or more of books to them.

The “pertinent to my ancestors” are now on a high shelf in the bookcase and my daughter knows their value, both financially and genealogically.

Your Filing Cabinet:

Hmmm!!!!! I bet yours is full of valuable pieces of paper which you haven’t looked at since you created them. In fact, you probably wouldn’t miss them if they got dumped due to being inundated. I think you must “digitalise” them. I have scanned some and created a few Excel data bases with the rest.  Remember most parish records are now in a digital format and you can easily get a digital copy..

I used to have about 10 boxes and am now down to three or four and 1 drawer of a small filing cabinet and I need to redo that process to make the pile less.

Your research:

A lot of your genealogical knowledge with respect to your own ancestry is stored in your head. It is classified as “one day I’ll write their story”. Maybe you should start that process now. Write your family history. (End of that lecture).

Your computer floor:

If you are anything like me you would be good-looking but the floor of your computer room is not. We all have (sometimes nicely stacked) piles of paper on the floor or on the desk. And I bet that the computer room is in the lower part of the house. Housekeeping is required but don’t let your spouse do that job. My floor is now a clear piece of carpet and my cats have lost their favourite sunny sleeping spots

Another great point to do all this safe-keeping exercise is that your partner will be pleased on two fronts:

You are cleaning out the computer room and

You appear to be doing something ie not lazing about sleeping and/or reading.

Nobody is immune to a natural disaster. We must make sure our valuable resources, data and photos have the best chance of survival.

Peter Nash

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DNA Testing for Family History

From the editor: Gail has written quite a series on DNA Testing. You will see them all on the FAMNET website and they are a must-read, particularly if you are considering or have had a test done. They are easy to read and not too technical.  Click Index so far to see these articles

Are you making full use of your FTDNA Autosomal results?

A picture containing text, clipart

Description automatically generatedTo begin with, have you placed your tree on your FTDNA account?  It does not have to be a large tree and needs only to concentrate on your mother’s line and your father’s line as best you know it.  Remember to include the siblings and their offspring, as best you know them.
Ensure you add the places and dates of birth and death if applicable.  And if the person is deceased, please state this.
If you do not state it and instead rely on the death date, FTDNA will show the person as being ‘private’ meaning still living. 

If you have your tree on Ancestry (as an example), you can extract a GEDCOM of your tree from Ancestry and transfer it to your computer and then upload that GEDCOM to your FTDNA Account. To extract your tree from Ancestry, go to your Ancestry account and on the right side of the Tree Settings page, click Export tree.  The button will begin spinning and say Generating a GEDCOM file.  When it stops spinning, right-click (Mac: Ctrl+ click) on the Download Your GEDCOM File button that appears.  Save the file to your Desktop.  In your FTDNA account go to ‘FamilyTree’ and follow the instructions for uploading a GEDCOM file (usually found on the bottom right hand side).


Have you added your most distant known paternal ancestor into your Account settings?  You do not have to have personally known them, but you do need to have done research to learn who that person was.  And by paternal ancestor, this means a male who is a direct line back from your father.  So often I see a woman’s name! In addition you need to be able to give a birthdate, a place, a death date and a place.  As accurately as you can, please.  You may have to abbreviate certain words to ensure you can fit them in the space available.

What about your most distant known maternal ancestor?  The same applies to the woman you are naming – if you cannot go back very far, that’s okay.  But please state more than say ‘Mary Greene’.


These are the basics taken care of, but before I continue, have you found someone in your family who would be willing to take over your FTDNA profile (should you no longer be capable of managing your account)?  I cannot stress how frustrating it is to learn someone has a close match or a match wants to fund an upgrade but nobody is available to say “Yes” because the kit owner only has one email address and no named beneficiary.

The following also applies to those of you who have transferred your autosomal results to FTDNA from another testing firm.). By the way, here is the official list of available transfers as at April 2023.  Such a transfer is free, but if you want access to all the FTDNA tools, there will be a small charge.  The amount alters at sale time and we are expecting the next sale around Anzac Day.
            23andMe© (V3, V4, and V5)
            MyHeritage (Results received after March 1, 2019)
As to how to transfer, the answer depends on whether or not you already have an FTDNA account.  Go to and select the correct option.  Once this is done, follow your nose.


Right!  You have been notified your results are available, so log into your FTDNA account with your kit number and your password. 

Now you can join a project.  To begin with, I suggest you join a Surname project – one for your father’s name and one for your mother’s name.  BUT, be aware not all project administrators will accept autosomal results and will prefer YDNA results.  Be courteous and actually write to the Administrator and tell him or her why you want to join their project.  It will make a difference as to whether they will accept you.

The method you need to use to join a project will be in your top navigation bar – press Group Projects, then press Join a Project.  You will be greeting with a number of recommended projects, but ignore these and scroll down to ‘Surname Projects’ and locate the first letter in your father’s surname and press on it.  Locate the actual project and join it. Do the same for your mother’s name. 

And finally, here is the interesting part.

There are two methods available to learn who is matching you.  My favourite is Advanced Matches.  It is further down your account page. 

 Press on Advanced Matches and up will come something like this (the exact graphic you see will depend on what other tests you already have in your FTDNA account).

Graphical user interface, text, application, email

Description automatically generated

Check the Family Finder box and if you want to, you can enter a Surname, but I recommend leaving it blank to start with.  (Later, input the first 3 or 4 letters of the surname – not the entire name because of spelling variants). 
The box for the ‘Entire data base’ can be filtered for whatever projects you have joined.
Finally, when you have finished your selections, press Run Report.

If there is anyone matching you (it depends on how tight your selections are and whether or not other autosomal testers have joined the project you have already joined), up will come your pre-selected persons with an autosomal match to you.  

From this point, you can press on their name to get their profile or hover your mouse cursor over the icons associated with their name to learn which one will give you an email address or the ability to see their family tree etc.  Note that you can also see the abbreviations as to what tests that match has already taken.

Now you are able to write to them.
HINT:  if you want to know something, be certain to also give them information.  Be certain to explain how you came to find the person to whom you are you are writing.  It is not enough to merely state that you are a cousin to them without stating why you think you are a cousin.  Be precise.


The question now becomes one of “if ‘Advanced Matches’ is so good, why should I look at the Autosomal Report ‘Family Finder Matches’”? 
You will need this if you receive a notification from FTDNA that you have a match.  This is where you alter the match settings to learn what the date of the match is. 
If you do receive such a notification, take note of what the match is.  If you are told you have a Y67 match, there is no sense in looking only in the Y111 listing. 
If you are told you have a Family Finder match, look over to the right and see  
Here you can choose Most recent matches.  But of course there are other options – it all depends on what you want to see.  Please take your time whilst you become accustomed to the methods available to you.

In addition, hover your mouse cursor over the other icons you can see, especially the ‘In Common with’ option. 

There are many more options on the page, so please enjoy yourself and the discoveries you make.  Be aware that the more of your family and 1st and 2nd cousins you can find to test for you, the more rewarding your experience will become.

All the best

Gail Riddell 

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Chinese Corner 

 Illustrious Energy
PG 1h 30m • Drama • 1988 Directed by: Leon Narbey, written by: Leon Narbey and Martin Edmond
This largely unseen little gem gives a brilliant and honest view of the racism faced by Chinese immigrants who came to New Zealand in the 1890s to mine for gold.

In a remote valley, two miners are desperate to improve their lot in life. Change is imminent with surveyors scouting the area. Kim wants to return to China, and his son-in-law, Chan is restless and impatient with their ongoing failure to find the gold they seek. When they do strike gold on their claim, it looks like their troubles will soon be over. But for Chan, this is just the beginning of his journey.

The Central Otago setting is beautifully evoked and it’s hard to imagine that such cruelty could take place in a place so gorgeous. Yet the reality the Chinese faced was harsh and often life-threatening.

Illustrious Energy is the renowned feature-directing debut of cinematographer Leon Narbey whose work on films like Whale Rider has been much lauded.

The original article outlined the context in Rev Don's writings and was sent by Herbert Wong, Dunedin - Published by Ian Bing, in The Sun Gai Chan Genealogy Supplement November/December 2007. 

Helen Wong

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More Famous New Zealanders You have Probably Never Heard Of

James Kingston (Jim) Stellin

A picture containing text, person, person, wall

Description automatically generatedJames Kingston (Jim) STELLIN was born on the 02 July 1922 at Lyall Bay, Wellington, the son of James Karl and Beatrice Hart Stellin née HEARD. Though both born in New Zealand, his parents married in Sydney, NSW. Amongst other business interest, James Snr was a land developer and opened many sub-divisions in the Wellington area. He was an amateur pilot and had served during World War I.

James Jnr had been educated at Scots College and joined the Air Force when he was 18 doing his preliminary training at Rotorua and Harewood, Christchurch, gaining his wings at Woodbourne, Blenheim. He left for overseas in January 1943 travelling via the United States for final training in England.[1]

James trained on Hurricanes and Spitfires before volunteering for Hawker Typhoons. From 1943 this single seater fighter-bomber was equipped with rockets and could carry two 1000lb (450kg) bombs. On the 03 June 1944, three days before D-Day he was posted to the Royal New Zealand Air Force 609 (R.A.F.) Squadron, flying numerous missions over France before the squadron became based there. They flew daily missions attacking German transport convoys as well as tanks and radar stations. 

On the 19 August 1944, James was heading back to base when he reported he was short of fuel. A teacher at the small French village of 370 people, Saint-Maclou-la-Brière, about 34kms northeast of Le Havre in Normandy, wrote that it was “…10 o’clock in the morning when the sounds of an aircraft in difficulties first made us look up. The plane was about 1500 to 2000 feet up, and rapidly losing height. Suddenly, on realising the great destruction his plane would cause if it were to crash in the centre of the village, the pilot straightened up his plane with a vigorous and supreme effort, made a half-climb, then turning sharp left at an acute angle, it fell rapidly, crashing less than a mile away.” [2]

James saved the village but lost his own life. The funeral was attended by 1200 people from the surrounding area, and he has been honoured in the village ever since. His grave in the local cemetery was later designated a Commonwealth War Grave and flowers are still regularly left there. His name is etched on the village war memorial, and he was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. A large memorial stone was erected beside the church in 1964, and in 2001, the area in front of the church was named ‘Place Stellin.’

James Snr gifted land on the eastern side of Tinakori Hill to the Wellington City Council to create the James Stellin Memorial Park. A lookout was built in 1977. In August 2007, Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast and French Ambassador Michel Legras unveiled a long-promised plaque in the park.


[1] New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 and UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 (


Christine Clement

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Diane Wilson

Hidden treasures in the Wilson Collection!

Who would have thought that inside the New Zealand collection of cemetery microfiche there would be hidden away some BDM and marriage records.

The collection has under District U- Composite Transcriptions a large number of BDMs from local papers. Fiche numbers U001 - U038

The most interesting marriage records, however, can be found under the heading of SOUTHERN ISLANDS, fiche number 00246 - 00247 including records relating to Ruapuke Registers of baptisms, deaths, marriages, and mixed BDMs. Ruapuke is an island in eastern approaches to Foveaux Strait.

An alternative name is ‘WohlersRuapuke Registers. Archives of the North German Mission Society, Ruapuke Island Mission. (Rev Johann Friederich Heinrich Wohlers) These registers are also said to be found at the Hocken Library, Dunedin, and photocopies of the originals at the Turnbull Library, Wellington, and the Public Library, Invercargill.

The Register of Marriages include 1845, 1851-1857, (kept by Rev Wohlers in his capacity as Registrar), 1850-1882 (including loose marriage certificates 1855-1881), 1858 -1880 ( kept by Rev Wohlers in his capacity as Registrar). Marriages took place in Wohlers presence, either at the Ruapuke Mission, or during his visits to other settlements along the straits.

Some place names have also changed over time.

Spelling is always copied exactly as it occurs, Rev Wohlers was a native of Germany hence his spelling of some English words and names was not always in the usual form.

Māori names during the span of this register transitioned from individual names to gradual acceptance of ‘family’ names. Variations from names at baptism to Māori form (e.g. Nathaniel/Natanahira, Lydia/ Riria) mean that such variations are not always immediately obvious. The marriage information obtained in these records is amazing.It often includes names of the bride and groom, parents, ages, witnesses, and race.

e.g.“Stephen Pepe, son of Tutakai of Island of Ruapuke, about 20 years, Bachelor, a Maori, Elizabeth Titaua, daughter of Tehaumokai, about 17 years, spinster, a Maori, in the Mission house at Ruapuke 7 April, 1850, witnesses - in the presence of the congregation after afternoon service”.


John Korako , about 24 years, a half caste, Charlotte Te Raerakau, about 24 years, a Maori, live at the island of Ruapuke, They have lived together in heathen marriage, 19 May 1850 in the church; Witnesses- in the presence of the whole congregation “


“Thomas CHASLING, living at the Bluff, 47 years old, widower, a European seafaring man; Margaret ANTHONY, daughter of Anthony Remond and Pura, not born in wedlock, 15 years old, spinster, half caste, 15 August 1850 in the Mission house at Ruapuke, By Notice; by the consent of Joseph ANTHONY, stepfather and guardian of Margaret Anthony; signature of parties - Thomas CHASLING and Margaret ANTHONY both made their mark; witnesses - John McKIBBON ( mark) Eliza WOHLERS ( signature) ……”


Diane Wilson

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Guest Contributors

Ken Morris

Granny Was a Brothel Keeper and Grandad Did a Dastardly Deed

Each with 50 More Family History Traps Text

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceBy Kate Broad & Toni Neobard, Published in UK 2013/14 & originally purchased from Gould Genealogy

Albeit they have attention grabbing titles both books have a wealth of ideas to avoid traps and tips to help achieve one’s family history goal.

One could read from cover to cover, the text, tone & the topical cartoons make it an easy read, I kept putting flags to come back to parts. Alternatively a skim read to find what it’s all about and then use the Sections & Traps to help with a particular issue also works.


Granny has 5 Sections.

Section 1 Lies, damn lies and family recollections.

Section 2 Chaos is not Just  a Theory

Section 3 What’s in a Name

Section 4 The Man who Never Was

Section 5 Census of Humour


Grandad has 5 Sections.

Section 1 Web of Deceit

Section 2 We Seek him here, we seek him there.

Section 3 Raiders of the Lost Archives

Section 4 Behind Every Solution Lies a Problem

Section 5 Telling like it is.


Each Section has 10 Traps which expand on the section topic and the authors apply real solutions to avoid the trap and do so with anecdotes and situations we can relate to, together with added comments & tips.  Some things I picked up on were:

·         Chinese Whispers where a family story can be tweaked in its retelling to suit circumstances.

·         We don’t use the available tools properly, i.e. only use 10-20% of some software’s capability, supposedly 64% of men & 32% of women don’t read instructions

·         Don’t back up frequently enough.

·         If you don’t ask you don’t get – and then it may be too late.

·         Which John Smith? I currently have two ships, same name built at same time, same type and of very similar dimensions, one built in USA & one in Canada, one had a name change and the other I’m still trying to find its history, so that I know I’m following the correct ship.

·         The census enumerator got it wrong, also applies to passenger lists, but we must be tolerant of the people in earlier times to get all the transcribing correct. I had an issue with a name Sign, turns out its Symes.

·         Once you find something, make sure you file it so it can be found easily.

·         Sometimes we have to stop and cut off research, otherwise we may never publish even if not perfect

·         Getting too caried away & the four levels of obsession: Mild, Intermediate, Dangerous & Certifiable.  How do you rate yourself?


And as the authors state, they don’t always practise what they preach but they try, as do I.

Ken Morris

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Diana Caldwell

A conversation with Christina

 – written in 2018

Christina, Christina, who were you?

For many years the family didn’t even know you existed.  But now that we have found you, I would love to know more about you.  What sort of a person were you?

I have discovered you were my great-great-grandma’s firstborn and that you died at the age of 27.  But we don’t know when or where you were born.

I do know that just three weeks after your parents were married in Scotland[3], they jumped on a boat and sailed to Australia[4]  They arrived in Melbourne in September 1852, just eleven months after gold had been discovered in Victoria, so Melbourne would have been young and chaotic.

Annie and all your other siblings were born in and around what is now called Castlemaine, and I have found christening records for most of them[5], but maybe you were born just a bit too early in those chaotic days of the goldfields when everyone was living in tents and record-keeping was not yet a priority.

In 1856 when Annie was born she was christened in the Presbyterian Church.  The minister was a gem – he recorded not only christening dates but birth dates as well.  And he even stated where the christening was held.  Most children were christened in the church but occasionally he noted one was christened at home.  Maybe those were the sickly babies because those christenings usually happened the day after the baby had been born. 

Also in 1856, your dad was on the Fryers Town electoral roll with a Miners Right and living in Campbells Creek[6].  When Rates Records[7] begin in 1861 he was paying rates on a “tent by the creek” in what is now Castlemaine.  It is variously described as being “south side of the Camp”, “back of the Camp” and “south side of the Camp” in Section C.  But you wouldn’t have been aware of that because you were still too young.

Do you remember William, Sarah, Margaret and Jessie?  They were the children born after Annie, and they were all born while the family was still living in the tent.  William, Sarah and Jessie died[8] in those years too.

The family continued living in the tent for ten years.  Maybe after three of her little ones died your mother stamped her foot loudly and insisted your dad build a cottage.  Or maybe he had been laboring hard to support his growing family and had finally managed to scrimp and save sufficient funds.  Whatever, from 1865 he was paying rates on a cottage by the creek, and that is where your youngest sibling James was born.

The cottage and the creek are still there, but the cottage has been extended to the point where you wouldn’t recognize it.  After your parents died it passed to their son-in-law then their grandson Murray who continued to live in it until he died in 1969.  I remember visiting and enjoying sitting out in the terraced back yard and playing with my great-uncle Murray’s black and white dogs – Laddie and Lassie.

But back to you.

What did you experience?  We didn’t know anything about you until you died in Melbourne in 1881.  You were only 27 and living in a house in Coromandel Place, a little lane off Little Collins St.  You seem to have been living with unrelated people in lodgings.  Your inquest[9] says you died on 2nd January.  You were seen alive at 6am but by 10am you were dead.  Louisa, who was living in the house with you testified that you were subject to fits and falling down.  The coroner said you were found dead in bed, having died from suffocation occurring during a fit.  The policeman noted you were in the habit of drinking heavily.

What choices did you make in life and which ones were forced on you by circumstances?  What sort of a person were you?  Why had you gone to Melbourne, and when?  And why go so far from your family?

And your fits, and your drinking?  Were you a rebel trying to run away from the family?  Or were you trying to drown your sorrows and escape from a hard and unhappy life?  Or were you an adventurous sort?

The rest of the family seems to have remained close – even in death!  With the exception of Margaret, they are all buried in the same grave in Campbell’s Creek cemetery.  Margaret was the last one to die and she had to be buried separately because there was no room left in the family grave.

After your inquest you were buried in an unmarked grave in the Melbourne General Cemetery[10].  They don’t even have records of exactly where – only the area has been recorded.

Christina, I’d love to know more about who you were.  I’ll keep looking but I suspect not many more records of your life have survived so maybe I’ll never know any more about you.


A second conversation – written recently.

Christina, what were you doing as a 27-year-old single woman living in Melbourne when your family were settled in Castlemaine?  Why were you there?  How were you supporting yourself? Your father couldn’t have been because he was continually in trouble: the rates he should have been paying were forever in arrears!  Were you a dressmaker or a milliner – occupations that other family members took up.  Perhaps you were, but was there more to your story?

Recently I stumbled across a book, “The Women of Little Lon”[11].  It piqued my interest because it was about the women living in and around Little Lonsdale St in Melbourne, and you died in a street just a block and a half away.  Auckland Public Libraries has an e-book collection and I found and borrowed it from there.  The book is about the ladies of the night.  Is that what you became?  I decided to trawl through Trove[12] to see if you were mentioned in any newspapers.  Yes, Christina Ross is mentioned several times, but it is a bit difficult to tell which ones might be you – I think there were at least 2 of you so I am sorry if I incorrectly attribute articles to you.

The first time is in 1860 in Castlemaine when Christina Ross was fined £5 for using insulting language[13].  I trust that wasn’t 6-year-old you! Then in 1864 in Sydney she was convicted of being drunk[14]. It seems unlikely this was 10-year-old you.

In early 1865 in East Collingwood a Christina Ross was convicted of stealing wearing apparel[15]. And two weeks later a Christina Ross was convicted of drunkenness[16].  Were these you?  You would only have been 11 years old so unlikely, but I wonder….

In 1868, when you would have been 14, there was a court case in St Kilda involving a domestic servant who was “left in charge of the house with all the plate, linen and etc. and gave her no orders to admit anyone into possession” while the owner, Mrs Campbell, went to Sydney.  Her son John came along with his servant and demanded that she “give up possession of the plate which she refused to do without her mistress’s directions.”  “The agreement was ordered to be cancelled on the payment in full of her wages.”[17]  Was this Christina you?  I think it might have been.  Did you get paid?  What happened next?  If it was you then I suspect you may have found it difficult to get another job.

Two years later “Jane Thompson and Christina Ross, two well-known vagrants, who had been loafing about the scrub on the south bank of the Yarra were each sent to prison for three months.”[18]  Six months after that court case there was another, “Christina Ross, accused of stealing 9s from the person of John Frederick Lowe, was dismissed as no one appeared to prosecute”[19].  And a month later, in 1871, “A gross case of indecency in public was heard at the City Police-office this morning. A man named Denis Kelly and a woman of the name of Christina Ross, were charged with indecent conduct in the Eastern Market, in the glare of a public lamp, and in the presence of the passers-by in Little Collins-street. The bench sent the pair to gaol for twelve months, with hard labor.”[20]  By this stage life in Melbourne must have been exceedingly hard.

The newspapers report on two more incidents.  In the first, in 1877, a Christina Ross is a witness at the inquest for another woman.[21]  The last, in 1881, reports on your inquest.[22]

What a hard life.  I’d like you to know your family never forgot you: when James was born your name and age is listed with all your siblings on his birth certificate[23]. And when Annie was married the newspaper announcement said she was the second daughter of your dad and mum[24].  If you had been able to go back to your family, I suspect they may well have accepted you.


[3] Scottish marriage:

[4] Ship:

[5] Christenings:

[6] Electoral Roll:

[7] Rates records:

[8] Burials: Contact for assistance with family history/research enquiries

[9] Inquest:

[10] Melbourne Cemetery: Email from BW of Castlemaine Historical Society who rang Melbourne General Cemetery for me.

[11] Book reviewed:

[12] Trove:

[13] Insulting language:

[14] Drunk in Sydney:

[15] Stealing wearing apparel:

[16] Drunkenness:

[17] Refusing to give up plate:

[18] Vagrancy:

[19] Stealing:

[20] Indecency:

[21] Witness:

[22] Inquest:

[23] Birth certificate: purchased -

[24] Marriage announcement:

Diana Caldwell

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Robina Trenbath

WW.1 – The Liberation of Le Quesnoy

(pronounced Leck con wah)

1917, November 12 – Christchurch N.ZI recall my aunt standing behind the net curtains in her bedroom looking for him. Uncle Dan had one day’s leave and she had baked scones. After my father died suddenly in 1913, Dan was the uncle I turned to.” (Ref. Letter No. 35. Egypt, April 1942. J.R.H.Trenbath)  

Private Dan BRAY (70961) was with the 37th Reinforcement, 1st Battalion, 3 N.Z. Rifle Brigade. Photo: wearing the black diamond swatch of the 1st Battalion & curved epaulette clip NZRB.

The New Zealand Rifle Brigade – Motto: Soyes ferme (Stand fast).     1915, April: it was formed as a second infantry brigade and saw action in Gallipoli. 1915-1916: 1st & 2nd Battalions arrived in Egypt in time to become the only New Zealand unit to participate in the Senussi Campaign. In January 1916, New Zealand’s infantry was divided into three brigades. The Rifle Brigade was officially known as the 3rd New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade for the rest of the war. It shifted to the Western Front in April 1916 & spent the rest of the war there. (Ref.


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1918, May 9 – Embarkation, Wellington N.Z:  S.S. “Maunganui” as HMNZT 103…

…departed with 37th Reinforcements N.Z. Expeditionary Force & the 29th Reinforcements Maori Contingent (roll No.82). A total of 970 troops under Major J.L. Saunders. Arrived 24 June, 1918 at Liverpool England. (Ref.

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1918, 21 March - Spring Offensive: The German  offensive created the biggest crisis of the war for the Allies. The New Zealand division, recovering in northern France after a difficult winter in the Ypres Salient, was among forces rushed south to the Somme.                                                                                                                                           

Len COLLINS, a private in 2nd Battalion, Wellington Regiment, left a description of the fighting on 27 March: As dawn broke…we passed through and halted just outside the village of Colincamps. We were warned that Fritz was in the vicinity. The Germans were marching along the road, half a mile, towards us. The skipper said, “Well boys, it’s up to us. I want this crowd stopped here, right here, and knowing you, I have faith in you. Now go to it.”  They were coming towards us in great style and pace. The officer said in my ear, “Sonny, you can start the ball. Fire.” (Ref. Gentry, K; McGibbon I; McLean G; (eds.) The Penguin book of New Zealanders at war. Penguin, 2009, p.209.)  The New Zealand Division’s 10-day effort had cost some 2400 casualties including more than 500 dead.

1918, late September - Advance to Victory: The Allies launched a massive offensive against the Hindenburg Line. Stunned by the scale and ferocity of the attacks, the German high command implored the Kaiser to seek an immediate armistice to allow their troops to withdraw to Germany and regroup. On 4 October, the German government asked the Americans to broker a ceasefire.

The British renewed their attack on 8 October. A week later the New Zealand Division took part in the closing stages of the Battle of the Selle (17-25 October). It advanced to within a kilometre of the old fortress town of Le Quesnoy which was encircled by elaborate and historic brick ramparts. 

During this attack, New Zealand lost one of its most courageous soldiers. Victoria Cross recipient Sergeant Henry James Nicholas was killed in action near Beaudignies, 4 km west of Le Quesnoy, on 23 October. He is buried in nearby Vertnigneui.  (


Le Quesnoy was an ancient walled town in northern France. The peaceful and friendly community, made up of cottage industries included potters, glass-makers, dairy farmers and hundreds of shoemakers.

As early as 23 August 1914 the Germans had invaded and held it as a key position (the way forward to Belgium and Germany). For four years the Quercitains lived under a brutal regime. (Ref. Le Quesnoy: Wikipedia)

1918, November 4 - The Liberation of Le Quesnoy 1918: The final attack of the war was the Battle of Sambre (British First, Third and Fourth armies).

“Over 77 days, from Hebuterne to Le Quesnoy, the New Zealanders led the way for 49 of the 56 hard fought miles to Le Quesnoy. In 55 days of combat, the Division would sustain some 10,400 casualties, over 2,700 dead. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded.” (Ref. The Liberation of Le Quesnoy: McKinnon, Sir Don:

Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, scaled the old fortress walls of Le Quesnoy. Heavy artillery could have rapidly demolished the walls of but at heavy cost to the inhabitants. No such attack was contemplated – the plan was for the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade to bypass the town and isolate the enemy forces there G

German defenders were demoralised, but their officers were not prepared to surrender without a fight. “Eventually the Germans surrendered (2000 prisoners) but 142 Kiwi solders died – not one citizen of Le Quesnoy was killed”. (McKinnon.)

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“This medieval, walled town, designed by the French engineer Vauban long before Napolean’s ventures, was to become the last battle for the New Zealand Division, concluding a week before the Armistice. It wasn’t just the last battle of the war, but also one fought with ingenuity, courage and humanity. The manner of the liberation of the town is remembered to this day by the citizens of Le Quesnoy.”  (Sir Don McKinnon, former New Zealand Foreign Minister and Commonwealth Secretary-General from 2000-2008.)

On 2nd November 1918 Dan BRAY was gassed and transported to 3 Con. Depot. He re-joined his unit on 11th December 1918 but had to be signed off with “defective vision.” He was discharged “physically unfit for service” and embarked on the “Marama” (Southampton) on 9 June 1919 for New Zealand.


Robina Trenbath

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An Invitation to Contribute:

I have a number of people that contribute occasional articles. These appear irregularly if and when the authors send them to me.  I use them to bulk up each month's newsletter. The more we have the more "rests "I can give my much-appreciated regular columnists.

This is a way that a person can get some of their writing published. Of course, we are all writing up our research results, aren't we? I have always said that every genealogist is an expert in some small piece of history, resources or research methods.

We circulate this newsletter to about 7,000 subscribers worldwide but is read by many more as it is passed on to other readers and LDS research centres. Every month I get feedback on my poor attempts at writing and I have now made many "new friends", albeit digital ones, I have even had some very helpful assistance in my research.

Why don't you contribute an article?

My basic requirements:

1) The column must be in English

2) The column should be no longer than about 1,200 words

3) The article should be emailed to me in a Word document format

4) The subject should be genealogical or historical in nature

Do not be afraid about your "perceived" bad English. The article will be edited, in a friendly manner, by me and then Robert. Then all columnists and a few valuable proof-readers get to read the newsletter before it is emailed out.   You’ll be paid $0 for your article, which is on the same scale that Robert and I pay ourselves for editing and publishing the newsletter.                  

From our Libraries and Museums

We are offering a forum to our libraries and museums to publicise their events, and to contribute articles to this newsletter that may be of interest to our readers. Auckland Libraries makes good use of this free service, let’s see if other libraries and museums take up this offer.

For readers of this newsletter: please bring this to the attention of your local libraries etc, and encourage them to participate.

Auckland Libraries

Are you interested in family, local and social history, the stories of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific, and beyond?

Then why not come along to one of our fortnightly HeritageTalks | Waha -taonga and hear more about both our personal and our shared heritage?

These talks are given by experts in their field and can provide valuable insight into our histories and our cultures.

When: Wednesdays, February to November, 12noon - 1pm

Where: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki  Gallery,
Cnr of Kitchener & Wellesley Streets . Also online via Zoom            Cost: Free

For queries contact Research Central ph 09 890 2412.

Talks Programme



2023 Auckland Family History Expo

Fri 11-Sun 13 August

Fickling Convention Centre, Three Kings, Auckland

(under Mt Roskill Library)


Sponsorship/exhibitors/raffle donors and speakers sought.


The uptake for all categories this year appears to be quite limited. Maybe people are just slow responding?

If we want the Expo to go ahead, we need responses please – I can’t organize the Expo without it.

If I do not have responses soon, I will have to cancel altogether.


Particularly important is the request for sponsorship.


Please email me and cc in any responses



Did you miss one of our HeritageTalks, or would you like to listen to it again?

Enjoy our podcasts - recorded events and presentations

And see more on our YouTube channel


Nga mihi | Kind regards


Seonaid (Shona) Lewis RLIANZA | Family History Librarian

Central Auckland Research Centre, Central City Library

Heritage and Research

Auckland Libraries - Nga Whare Matauranga o Tamaki Makarau

Ph 09 890 2411| Extn (46) 2411 | Fax 09 307 7741

Auckland Libraries, Level 2, Central City Library, 44 - 46 Lorne Street, Auckland

Visit our website:

@Kintalk on Twitter / Auckland Research Centre on Facebook

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Group News

News and Views


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From the Editor: Because of space restrictions and copyright issues I cannot put the complete articles in this newsletter so here are some URLs that are worth looking at.  Just click the heading.

The future of Rootsweb

Penny Weddings & Dirty Dancing

Ancestral Memory Is It Fact or Fiction?           

In conclusion

Book Reviews

Help wanted

Letters to the Editor

Interesting family Death

If you were serious about collecting interesting family deaths, here is a summary of a crime that made headlines in 1947.

Gladys Ruth Rusden nee Macown (1899-1947) was a cousin of my daughter-in-law’s grandmother. She had been married since 1924 but had no family.

In 1947 she made the headlines in a way no-one would choose -

“On the 5th June 1947, Mrs Gladys Ruth Rusden was found with fatal head injuries in the kitchenette of her One Tree Hill home.  Her husband Mr. Richard Alfred Rusden, 48, returned home after his day's work at a brewery at Otahuhu, nine miles from the city, and found his wife's body lying in a pool of blood alongside the kitchenette stove, with her head battered by a heavy instrument, probably a spanner…”

After a long police enquiry – which included an affadavit that Mrs Pansy Louise Frances Haskell had tried to hire someone to commit the murder – Mrs Haskell was proved to have been a lover who was determined to get the wife out of her way as divorce had been refused.

On 8 March 1948, the Accused was sentenced by Mr Justice Finlay to imprisonment for life with hard labour but spent the first two years in the Auckland Mental Hospital.


Jeanette Grant

From the Editor:

Thanks for your interesting death.

I did the updating and correction of the Hillsborough Cemetery records. I was intrigued by her headstone and researched her death. In fact, when I do a public tour of the cemetery (which is quite often) I stop at her grave because she is the only murder victim I could find in that cemetery.

Advertising with FamNet

Every now and then we get requests to put an advertisement in the newsletter. I have therefore created a new section which will appear from time to time. Advertisements will be included only at the Editor's discretion and will be of a genealogical nature.

If your organisation is not a group subscriber then there may be a charge for advertising events and services, which must be paid for before publication. Charges start at $NZ25 for a basic flier, and increase for more elaborate presentations.

A Bit of Light Relief

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Some definitions:

BEAUTY PARLOUR - A place where women curl up and dye.

CHICKENS - The only animal you eat before they are born and after they are dead.

COMMITTEE - A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

DUST - Mud with the juice squeezed out.

EGOTIST - Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

HANDKERCHIEF - Cold Storage.

INFLATION - Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

MOSQUITO - An insect that makes you like flies better.

SECRET - A story you tell one person at a time.

TOMORROW - One of the greatest labour-saving devices of today.

YAWN - An honest opinion openly expressed.

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