Part of the worldwide genealogy/family history community

FamNet eNewsletter May 2018

  ISSN 2253-4040

Quote    Families are like fudge... mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~Author Unknown

Editorial 2

Regular Features. 2

From the Developer 2

Newsletter Delays. 2

Bulk-Uploading Objects. 3

FamNet General Resource – Useful Web Sites. 6

The Nash Rambler 6

DNA Testing for Family History. 8

Wairarapa Wandering. 11

Hanley Hoffmann: 11

Digging Into Historical Records. 12

Chinese Corner 14

A Wholesale Resurrection. Exhumation of Deceased Chinamen. 14

From our Libraries and Museums. 15

Auckland Libraries. 15

Group News. 17

Whangarei Family History Computer Group. 17

Some interesting sites for wet weekends. 17

Waikanae Family History Group. 17

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group. 18

News and Views. 18

Why Waste Time and Money Researching Your Family History?. 18

FamilySearch Adds 2 Billionth Image of Genealogy Records. 19 to Preserve Your Genealogy Research. 21

Inspiring Genealogy Blogs – April 2018. 22

Announcing the Virtual Genealogical Society. 24

Why I cancelled my Ancestry subscription after 12 years. 25

Book Reviews. 26

Advertisements. 26

Help wanted. 27

Letters to the Editor 27

Advertising with FamNet 27

In conclusion. 27

A Bit of Light Relief 27

To Unsubscribe, Change your Email Address, or Manage your Personal Information. 28


Back to the Top. 17


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Greetings and welcome to another issue of the FamNet newsletter.

This month I have been converted, seen the light etc. I am convinced that pyjamas genealogy is the way of modern genealogy. My column below will tell you why.

There are more and more NZ primary resources, such as wills, coroner's reports, service records and police gazettes appearing on line in a searchable form, many for free. I have started another project - a spread sheet showing what NZ primary resources are available on line and where to find the website. It may take me a month or two but it will be done. I'll post it in a newsletter so everybody can use it. I am absolutely staggered by the sheer amount of NZ data available on line and the rate at which new "stuff" appears. It's about time this spreadsheet was created but it must be regularly updated. One of the biggest problems my genealogy group of beginners is "finding where is what" and every meeting I'm adding to their problems by finding more. So, to be perfectly honest I'm doing this for them.

I hope you enjoy this issue. Have a deep look at what this newsletter consists of and maybe you could contribute a small article. I have a couple of readers who are in the process of writing an article. The more contributors the more interesting and useful the newsletter becomes.

Hopefully you will find something of interest among all that. I have enjoyed assembling this month's newsletter.



Peter Nash

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Regular Features

From the Developer

Newsletter Delays

Apologies for the delay in sending out this newsletter.  For some reason that we don’t understand, (and and the other web sites that run from our Amazon server) were flagged as a source of spam by Xtra (Spark), so emails that were sent out containing a reference to were being rejected if they passed through an Xtra server.  This meant that I couldn’t send out emails from my normal with my normal signature that included FamNet and Jazz Software URL’s – I had to change these to www dot so that they weren’t recognised as URL’s – and of course if we were to send out the newsletter then those of you with (and some other) emails would never have received it – and I probably wouldn’t know that you hadn’t.

I had to pay for some help to sort this out, but fortunately my technical support company had struck this problem before and it only took a few days to get Xtra to sort it out, so now we can send out the newsletter.  Hopefully this problem won’t occur again.

What caused the problem in the first place?  I have set up a page that can be accessed directly from Online Cenotaph, so that if you look up one of your soldier ancestors you can click a link from Cenotaph that takes you directly to FamNet, logging you on as user “Cenotaph” so that you can search FamNet and look at records.  FamNet’s log showed me that there was a Cenotaph logon about 5 times per second, much more than expected.  I suspect that somebody (probably a program rather than a person) has discovered this back door into FamNet and has been using it to relay spam, so I have temporarily shut down the Cenotaph link.  I’m working with the Cenotaph team to modify the link to close this loophole.

This cartoon arrived in my inbox yesterday. Very apt.


Bulk-Uploading Objects

In last month’s article I described how you could upload individual objects – pictures, documents, etc. – to your database.  It takes some time, although less than you might think, to create FamNet records like these in which each record is a rich source of information about its subject with pictures, documents, links, even audio (in the case of Mary’s Aunt Freda) or video: -

What if you have created a personal database on your computer with software like Legacy or Family Tree Maker that already contains scrapbook information.  When you look at your data locally you may see these pictures etc, depending on your software you may even see something like this FamNet tree view in which each person’s photograph is shown: -


It would be nice if you could achieve something similar without having to individually upload each photo, but obviously a web site like FamNet is not permitted to reach back to your computer to upload objects from your hard drive.            

So it’s not possible?   Well, perhaps it is.   When I was developing FamNet I found a way that sometimes works.  To develop the Chart feature (see Producing and Using Charts) I’d learnt how to write Windows programs that can be downloaded from a web site to run locally.  I realised that this could provide a solution, at least for the users of software like Legacy that manages scrapbook data by storing a file reference like
            C:\Users\Advanced Computers\Documents\FamNet\FamilyDocs\FamilyPhotos\JA Pym About 1916.jpg

A web site is not permitted to reach into your local drive, but if you download a program it is permitted to read information from a web page, and to push information to it.   Here’s how my idea works: -

On the home page, click the link Manage your GDB Data: -

Click the link [Upload Scrapbook Data]: -


Select Source will give the names of your databases, so in this example it starts with _SmallDummy.ged, and will have the four databases shown above.  Select the one that you want and click [Continue].   FamNet then checks the database to see if it has the information that it needs.  If the database came from Legacy or one of the other systems that handles scrapbook as standard file references then it will continue, but if your database came from Family Tree Maker or another using a proprietary format you’ll simply get a “no information” message.


If you’ve survived this first hurdle then FamNet will attempt to download a program to upload files from your computer to FamNet.  This may not be possible, either because your computer can’t support Windows programs, or you don’t give the download permission, but if we survive this second hurdle and you start the program running it will start by extracting a summary of your database so that it knows that your record of John Alfred PYM has an associated object at C:\...\JA Pym About 1916.jpg.  The program uploads this picture to FamNet, and links it into your FamNet record of this person. If it is the first .jpg or .png object uploaded for this person, the picture will be used as a thumbnail in the tree view, as well as being available full size from the normal page view.


I think that about 30 or 40% of users should be able to use this facility, so if you think you’re one of them and you want to try it, give it a go.  Let me know how you get on.

FamNet General Resource – Useful Web Sites

When I saw what Peter had written about creating a spreadsheet of NZ Resource URL’s, I drew his attention to one of our General Resource Databases tables.  Click (home page) [General Resource Databases], in Other Tables section, open “Useful Web Sites”.  A table of Top New Zealand sites, and Top Australian Sites presents a few highlighted entries from a table of a few thousand URL’s.  The full table is searchable by various criteria for those wanting more.


I created this table several years ago, and for some time FamNet had a reader who maintained this table, ensuring that any web sites mentioned in our newsletters, and other URL’s that she discovered, were added to the table, and put in the Top Sites summary when relevant.  Unfortunately when this reader retired nobody else volunteered to take up the task.


Peter and I are discussing whether this facility does what he wants, or whether it can be modified to do so.  Also, we’re hoping that we’ll get another “URL Editor” who can maintain the table: what’s there has not been maintained for a few years, in which time new URL’s have appeared, and some older ones have gone. 


A spreadsheet is beguilingly simple, but it doesn’t take long before the issues of maintaining current copies, and efficiently presenting information in various ways in a web page, start to bog one down and you find that you’ve created yet another spreadsheet of partial information.  On the other hand, a database can be too complex for many users.   Finding the right balance is a rare skill, one that I don’t always show.   But hopefully Peter and I, with some help from others, will be able to get it right.

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
Updating General Resource Databases

16.  Privacy

17.  Indexes: beyond Excel.

18.  Linking trees

19.  Uploading a GEDCOM file

20.  Uploading Objects to your Database


Robert Barnes

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The Nash Rambler

The Wonderful Internet

My eyes have been finally opened. I have been converted. The internet is king.

At my last meeting of U3A a lady approached me and asked if I could do a bit of research for her. She had been intrigued by a book of Wesley's hymns she owned that had been inherited from her mother. I'm not saying that the hymns intrigued her but the page inside the front cover did.

I was bored with my current research and my coffee mate didn't have any more research for me. You see I have been incredibly lucky with his research problems and he refuses to talk to me about other problem areas until he has entered all the data I have found for him and digested it all. He was swamped with data, theories to explain the scenarios he raised and theories to explain the theories. As a consequence of some theories he is in the process of family DNA testing and cannot cope with my lucky research methods. It is going to take him a year to catch up.

She wanted to know something about the three names and how they connected up. She was also confused because her married name was JENNINGS and wondered if her husband's family were related even though the book came via her mother's side. I volunteered to investigate the names.

So I started on the task. I decided to track Bertha's family through time. Using BDM website and PapersPast I managed to find Bertha's birth date and place and, of course her siblings and parents, Susan & James JENNINGS. There were two options for a marriage but one was eliminated because of the calculated birth dates from cemetery and death records. So far I had spent 30 minutes on this search.

So my deductions suggested that Bertha JENNINGS had married Henry Thomas SKILTON in 1901. I then proceeded to find the children of this marriage - eight in total. I then chased the will of Henry Thomas SKILTON and struck the jackpot. He seemed to be intestate - not a painful infliction or the result of an operation. The application to administer the will contained a lot of interesting information that confirmed that I was on the right track. I even found two more children that were born after the cut off date for the 100 year privacy rule for births on the BDM website. It stated that Bertha was born in Nelson. As a result of this I then researched the marriages of Bertha's children to see if I could come up with a BILLINGHURST surname. Alas no!

So I searched the Nelson Burial records for Bertha's parents and siblings. This gave me death dates which lead me to wills. These confirmed the list of Bertha's siblings and the marriage surnames for the sisters. This led me to the marriages dates from the BDM website.

I then looked up the World War 1 service records of her brothers which backed up what I had found so far and produced this great portrait of one of her brothers who was killed in that war at Messines - what a magnificent moustache.

I now had 3 or four generations of Bertha's family and the time taken was about an hour and a half including the time to wander away from my computer desk to answer the phone and make a cup of coffee. There did not appear to be any obvious connection between the names BILLINGHURST and Bertha JENNINGS and the JENNINGS that my lady married. This family came to Nelson in the early 1840s and some moved to Wanganui. I needed to change my focus.

Kate SMITH was too hard. I decided to not do any research on her. The name SMITH sent shudders down my spine.

So I focused on her husband's JENNINGS family. In next to no time I had the family i.e. parents and siblings of her father in law. The grandfather in law had an unusual middle name - Hiram. This lead me to burial records, will and similar records lead to me formulating a family tree for this JENNINGS family. It seems that the family came from Australia to end up in Gisborne.

The BILLINGHURST research was equally as satisfactory as the other families I had researched with me getting a further three generations back in about 15 minutes.

I could find no connection with any of the families.

I then decided to have a look at the family trees on A quick look showed me that I was right so far in my research and both JENNINGS families did not appear to connect.

I then explored Electoral Rolls on to check whether the families of N M BILLINGHURST and Bertha Jane SKILTON lived close together in Wanganui. Here I hit a brick wall because I didn't have enough information. So my research stopped here. Total time taken was about three hours.

Now the point of all this waffle. In three hours and a bit of luck I had researched three families back at least four generations. In the good old days that I have been raving about for so long it would have taken over a year, much letter writing and travel to distant archives. In this occasion I had not left my warm computer room. I had not spoken to another person. I had gone against everything I have raved on about in this column in the past.

Once again I will have to bang my head against the wall. I have to acknowledge and accept the value of pyjama genealogy. Bah Humbug!!!!

Regards to all

Back to the Top

DNA Testing for Family History

28.1   Wending your way through FTDNA – Segment 1


I receive many questions asking “how, what and why” from testers with FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), therefore I propose to aim the next few segments in these newsletters in an attempt to enable you to ‘hit the ground running’.  Please save these as you will likely want to refer to them at intervals as reminders.


For those who have chosen to test with another firm, you may not be all that interested in these segments because it is written specifically for FTDNA Testers. 


BUT before you throw this aside, please know that if you are

a)  an Ancestry DNA tester or

b)  a 23andMe Tester or

c)  a National Geographic tester (NatGeno) or

d)  a MyHeritage tester

you can transfer your autosomal results to FTDNA. 


Once you are a member of FTDNA, you can then join the specific projects such as Surname Projects and Geographic projects (there are also Haplogroup projects for the Y-DNA and the mtDNA testers).  These projects are all administered by volunteers who have a specific interest in the topic of project – there is no cost to join them. 


This first segment will consider your arrival into FTDNA and how to set-up your personal Home page.


The second segment will be to consider autosomal DNA (atDNA) whether you are a transferee from another company or you started with FTDNA.


The third segment will consider Y-DNA (men only can take any Y-DNA tests).


The final segment will consider the Big Y (men only).


Your personal Home page

Whether you transfer or start new with FTDNA, you will be sent a kit number and a password – these are unique to you and you need to place these in a safe place because unless you have abetter memory than me, you will need to use them each time you use FTDNA.

Many kit numbers consist of up to 6 numerals and one or two capitals.  This helps FTDNA staff and the project administrators identify from where the tester has come.  The password is usually a mix of numerals and capitals, but you are free to change this once you have signed in for the first time.


To sign in for the first time, go to  and enter your kit number in the top box, followed by your password in the next box and click on  SIGN IN.


This first screenshot shows you my Home page – when you first begin, you will not have as much information as is shown on my Home page, but I provide it as a basis of reference as I work through the information.


Let us begin with an overview.

Look at the top tool bar – it displays my name and kit number (in blue) on the far right hand side.  Clicking on my name enables me to enter or edit the information I provided when I first became a member of FTDNA.  Immediately above is a blue Upgrade button – this is where I go if I wish to order another test.

Notice the wee globe below the Upgrade Button with a red circle surrounding a 3?  This shows me I have three notifications from one or more projects I have joined.  If I click on the globe, then click on whichever notification interests me, I will be taken straight to that project where I can read, ignore or respond.

Move your eyes along to the left of that toolbar and see ‘Resources’.  This is where I get access to the Learning Centre within FTDNA.  Further to the left is ‘Projects’ and within the drop-down menu I can select to join a project or leave one.  To the left again is  ‘DNA Tests’ which lists the available tests at FTDNA.  Finally, if I click on the myFTDNA I get another method of accessing everything in the top toolbar as well as the items shown in the centre of the page.


As far as I am concerned, there are three very important areas to understand on this page.  These include my information provided, my Family Tree and my Family Finder results.  I shall begin with the information I provide.


Clicking on my name brings up a page that looks like this – 4 tabs along the top and each tab has sub-tabs


Input your current mailing address. This is used in case FTDNA needs to send you a new test kit to upgrade your kit. It is also useful if a DNA Project Administrator wants to contact you and your email is not working. 

Input multiple email addresses if you can. This is helpful if your email address stops working for any reason. If you have a beneficiary or relative that you might want to take over your kit someday, input their email address too. If you want, input the email address of your DNA Project Administrators. Any email that you input here could someday takeover management of the kit if you are no longer able to do so. 

If the contact person is not the person who gave the DNA sample, then please input the name of the DNA donor and put the contact person as c/o (Care Of) in the address line. For example, John James Smith, c/o Donna Smith Jones.



Earliest Known Ancestors

Please enter the known origin of your most distant researched paternal ancestor (your father’s father’s father’s father etc) and his name, year and geographical area.  Do the same with your most distant researched maternal ancestor (your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother etc).


Please enter as many surnames as you have in your family tree and their location.  (There is no sense in entering a name like ‘Smith’ if you do not state the area in which that Smith lived).


Select “All Levels” for the Family Finder matching

Select “All Levels” for the mtDNA matching

Select “All Levels” for the Y-DNA matching

Opt in to Sharing for ‘Origin Sharing’

Opt into sharing for your ‘ProjectProfile’

Opt into sharing your ‘Coding Region Sharing’

Click on Save


If you have already joined a project, please click on “Edit” and either give the administrator Full access or limited access.  If you require “No access”, then there is no sense in joining a project.  Currently, the default is “No access”.


Here you can select whether you want FTDNA to notify you regarding new matches and you can specify the levels for which you wish to be notified.  Until you experience these notices, turn them all on.


Please now return to your main Home page (use your browser back button or click on “myFTDNA” on top left and click on “My Dashboard”).  In the middle towards the top of your screen, you will see a box  myFamilyTree.  Click on it and start looking at the “Tool Navigation” that is displayed.


It is strongly suggested you load your familytree – whether manually or via a gedcom file exported from your home computer’s genealogy software.  At the very least please load your direct paternal line and your direct maternal line.  If one of your known relations has also tested with FTDNA, please add their name to the tree (use the same name that the relative has tested under).

HINT: females should test under their maiden name.


If you need help creating a gedcom or extracting your tree from Ancestry, go to 

If you don't have a gedcom file, and can't make one, then you can manually create a tree by clicking on yourself in the centre of the screen and “add relationship”. If you have a tree on or elsewhere then you can get a gedcom. 

Whilst you are waiting for your results to arrive, look at the “Resources” in your top toolbar.

Consider joining various forums – these are mainly on Yahoo and in Facebook or Rootsweb.  A good one to consider is


As always, please contact me if you have a question that has not been answered in any of the previous articles I have supplied to Famnet.

Gail Riddell

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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.

Index so far

Wairarapa Wandering

Carterton’s  Historic Buildings.

Last Sunday, 15th April, 2018, a group of interested folk met down at Wakelin’s Flour Mill.  This building had stood out like a sore thumb for years being neglected, unloved, having broken windows. But today it is standing up looking proud and cared for in High St South, Carterton. It is in the process of being restored as a private home. It has a new colour scheme - now green instead of a cream colour. Incidentally it is the tallest building in Carterton and is going to be a lovely asset to the town.

The mill was started up in 1869 by Edward Louth WAKELIN who was born in Lincolnshire in 1832 and sailed for New Zealand aboard the Southern Cross in 1857.

If one walked around the corner going south into Wakelin Street, there used to be a shop on the corner selling items from this Flour Mill.

We then moved on to Holloway Street to the oldest purpose-built library in New Zealand, Carterton Library, which was open for our visit, which enabled us to view inside the wonderful wooden building, built in 1874. 

Visitors were then allowed a walk through the Events Centre.

Next stop was next door, the Court House, which is now restored. It used to be further down Holloway Street.  This Court House was built in 1884 and is now being used by interested groups.

It just goes to show us that we should restore what we have, make use of the old historic buildings, and save them for tomorrow's people.

A most enjoyable afternoon was spent visiting these old heritage buildings.

To me, an old heritage place holds not only history, but it does look great when restored. They have their own atmosphere when walking into them and ghosts…. possibly some there! Wouldn’t worry me if I saw or felt them!

Wairarapa Wanderer.

Adele Pentony-Graham

12 Neich’s Lane



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Hanley Hoffmann:  

Write It Down, Record It

Do I sound like a broken record when I keep repeating those words “Write it down!” but I am saying immediately record it as well.  Over the years a death has occurred and maybe it got written in our phone diary.  Our main telephone “booth” is in the middle of the living area, next to the dining/kitchen area and the phone and diary are next to each other on the desk. But one has to train oneself to always add that important event while you are on the phone or immediately afterwards.  It does not always happen though. The next step is go immediately to the FTM programme on the computer – bring up the family page concerned – but it does not always happen – and give Jack his due date of death and the place of death and place of burial.

Should We Manage Our Time Better?

The management tools of punctuality, constancy and regularity all come into play here because most of us started into family history when 50 plus years of our being have passed us by.  It is very difficult to develop a good habit when one is advanced in age, but we have to persevere. Another is the switching on of our computer and looking at our email system – on a daily basis!  That is right – the Post Office have now practically deserted us because we have become emailers! Over the years at least one member of the household walked to the letter box every day, but it seems that we have not transferred the habit over to this new system, which does not even cause us to go out in the rain!  What do you do? I regularly hear members winge that they have not received the newsletter!  I mutter to myself (Toyota!) because they don’t open their emails regularly – “carm” on!  What do I do – try to get WFHG members to open up on the 14th of the month, in the faint hope that they might connect with our newsletter – oh and in the fainter hope that they might develop a new habit – and you would say, no chance! You can teach old dogs new tricks and you owe it to yourself, open at 9am every day plus view your emails several times in each day!

Computer On All Day!                                                                                          

Yes, and the power consumption is not huge and don’t get into the habit of turning it on and off during the day, the life of your computer will be preserved – leave it on. Just turn it off at bedtime.  (Note from Robert: use “Sleep” rather than turning your computer off: mine “runs” almost all the time because if I rarely turn it off completely).

Now have I brow beat you enough? No, and it is in your best interests. You ignore the above paragraphs at your peril, because this is the peak of the email era, look at how many around you are turning to texting and I ain’t going there.                        

How Did I Number that Photo Template?

We know that at least one person reads the FamNet newsletter because one Papakura lady sent me this email, I've copied part of it. "I have enjoyed your article in the latest FamNet newsletter and wonder if you would let me know what programme you used or how did you
put the wee sticky notes things over the faces of the individuals ….”

Anne was right when she described the numbering as “wee sticky notes things” because they were just that.

This minor project as part of my family History was done in 2009, and I am not all that computer literate, so I set about printing out lines of numbers on an A4 page. Then using a guillotine and scissors cut up those little bits and carefully applied them with a tiny amount of glue to a good photocopy of my photograph. The template was then scanned into my computer and applied to a page in my family history text. Then I composed the legend underneath the template.  All quite easily done! QED!

Handling those “wee sticky notes” would have been tedious but I am also a philatelist and I have a couple pairs of stamp tweezers. The spade shaped ends of these are made for manipulating stamps so they were ideal for use in this little project.  Ordinary tweezers would work just as well. You might say that producing this template and its legend would have been time consuming, but since it now resides in all the copies of my family history, there are at least thirty, and it appears in the booklet I have authored on “Filing your Family History” it was time well spent. The results speak for themselves.

Now if some computer buff amongst the readers has a computer programme that will do this it would be useful to hear about it.

My sincere thanks for provoking me into writing more for this issue.

Hanley Hoffmann

A New Zealand resident, born in Young, NSW.

Now Waikanae FHG Newsletter Editor

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Digging Into Historical Records  

A Whakarewarewa Postcard


Five years ago a Fergusson-Taylor postcard (No.2150A) titled “Mud Volcanoes, Whakarewarewa” appeared on TradeMe. The message on the back read “Dear Mercy, I am sorry to disappoint you but they won’t shift in to other house till August. I had wretched weather coming through & so was yesterday but today is alright, love to all, Warwick.” Although unposted, the card was addressed to Miss Mercy Claris of Trefoil Creamery, Opunake. There is no indication of date.


Besides being an Opunake related card it was ‘Trefoil Creamery’ that caught the eye. The only other reference found so far is an advertisement in the Hawera & Normanby Star dated 22 February 1908. “Mr and Mrs Claris and Family desire to express their heartfelt Thanks to their neighbours and other friends for their very kind help and sympathy during the late fires on the 18th and 19th inst., it being entirely owing to their untiring efforts under most trying conditions that the homestead was saved. Trefoil Creamery, Opunake.”


On 16 October 1891 William Holman Claris (1847-1930), a quantity surveyor, his wife Emily Anne nee Fairbank, and their six children embarked on the steamship ‘Culgoa’ and arrived at Melbourne on 07 December 1891. [1, 2, 3] The birth of their seventh child, Maurice Weldon Champrays Claris, on 16 October 1892 at Bellerive, was registered at Clarence, Tasmania. [4, 5] By the 2nd of May 1893 William Holman Claris had tendered for a 21 year perpetual lease of 285 acres of bush land in the Opunake Survey District. He was successful and secured Section 29 Block 13 at an annual rental of £23 15s under the provisions of the West Coast Settlements Reserve Act 1892. [6] The land was situated a few kilometres east of Opunake on the Lower Waiteika Road.


In late July 1907 William Holman Claris wrote to the editor of the Opunake Times with regard to another block of land “a few miles from my homestead, further up the road… One whare has been completely destroyed by gelignite explosive, another whare has been burnt to the ground, the gates have been in one case stapled up, and padlock after padlock destroyed. At another time, gates have been taken down, thrown on one side, and injured. Fences have from time to time been destroyed, and also a few days ago three new fences were cut and destroyed in about a hundred and fifty places, besides other damage.” William also indicated that he was “far from being the only victim” and that one neighbour fared even worse. William stated that “I think the time has come when public attention should be directed to what is going on.” [7]


Warwick, who wrote the postcard message, was Warwick Rusydael Claris (1884-1938), a brother to Mercy, and son of William Holman Claris. Perhaps the message relates to the aftermath of the February fires. On 06 November 1908 Mercy Claris married William Pettigrew at her parent’s home at Sans Souci, Opunake. [8] A wedding photograph, interestingly, appears to include the same distinctive conical hills as an earlier c1902 family photograph known to have been taken at Waiteika Road. Warwick and Mercy appear in both images. [9, 10] It seems very probable that the Trefoil Creamery and Sans Souci were actually situated on the Waiteika Road rather than in Opunake itself.


The address Sans Souci, Opunake is used again when William Holman Claris expresses his delight about purchasing a 25 volume encyclopaedia titled “Historians’ History of the World.” He wrote on 21 November 1908 that “I live some 30 miles from any railway, and from any available source of desired reference, so it is a great comfort to have by me a work of such scope and with such an index. In addition to its priceless value for reference, the reading is very entertaining and quite void of dullness, and the reader enjoys the company of high intelligence all the way through. The type is grateful to the eyes, and I consider myself fortunate in having decided upon the pig-skin style of binding, which, apart from its elegance, is uncommonly strong and suitable for books in frequent use.” [11, 12]


What about the postcard itself? As no other copy of this card has been spotted one approach would be to locate a card that is from the same Fergusson Taylor sequence that may provide a clue as to date. A postcard titled “Geysers, Sanitorium Grounds Rotorua”, No.2140A, is dated 21 March 1907 according to a post by Hayden Oswin in Pinterest. [13] A second approach would be to try and find other images of the same scene. Another postcard, published by Gordon & Gotch, No.234 titled “The Devil’s Pot, Boiling Mud, Whakarewarewa” is taken from a very similar standpoint. [14] Given the dynamic nature of the environment and that both of the images show a nearly identical topography it suggests that they were taken at about the same time. The number of the Gordon & Gotch card suggests that it may post-date the Christchurch Exhibition of 1906-1907. [21]


Perhaps Warwick Claris holidayed in the Rotorua district sometime between the c1907 photograph and when Mercy married in November 1908? Warwick, now 24yrs of age, continued to work on the Waiteika Road farm “until the outbreak of war, when he served with the Mounted Rifles in Egypt and Palestine, and was wounded in action. In 1920 he married Miss Kathleen Eustace, a member of an early Taranaki family, and in the same year took up property on his own account at Marua, near Hikurangi.” [15] Warwick died on 23 October 1938 and is buried at Maunu Cemetery, Whangarei with his wife. [16]


By the end of the war William and Mercy Pettigrew had five children. [17] Two of three sons served in the 2nd World War – Archie Hamilton Pettigrew 36527 and John Holman Pettigrew 5913. [18] William took over a Stratford nursery business in July 1919 and named it Fairbank Nurseries. [19] The couple resided in Stratford until their deaths. Mercy died 02 August 1959 and William followed on 14 June 1970. They are both buried at Kopuatama Cemetery, Stratford. [20]


[1] 1891 Census – Claris family at 35 Goldhurst Terrace, Hampstead, London

[2] Ancestry – Victoria Passenger Lists and UK Outward Passenger Lists – Culgoa

[3] The Argus (Melbourne) 07 Dec 1891 p10 The S.S. Culgoa

[4] Tasmanian News 17 Oct 1892 Birth notice

[5] Tasmanian Names Index -

[6] Annual Report of the Public Trustee Office AJHR 1893 H11

[7] Opunake Times 21 Feb 1908 Bush Fires – The Country Ablaze

[8] Hawera & Normanby Star 10 Nov 1908 Marriage

[9] WikiTree: Mercy Claris – William Pettigrew marriage photograph -

[10] Claris family, on their farm at Waiteika Road, Opunake photographed by James McAllister of Stratford c1902 Alexander Turnbull Library Referenece: 1/1-005813-G

[11] Otago Daily Times 12 Dec 1908 Advertisement – Some New Zealand Opinions re “Historians’ History of the World”

[12] Wikipedia “The Historians’ History of the World” published 1907

[13] Rotorua Historical Postcards and Photos by Hayren Oswin

[14] Warwick Jost (Philatelist) website - sells postcards -

[15] Northern Advocate 24 Oct 1938 Obituary – Warwick Rysdale Claris

[16] Ancestry – NZSG Cemetery Transcripts – Maunu Cemetery

[17] NZ BDMs online

[18] Ancestry – WWII Nominal Rolls 1939-1948

[19] Hawera & Normanby Star 07 Jul 1919 Advertisement Fairbank Nurseries, Stratford

[20] Stratford District Cemetery Search

[21] Postcard Pillar Issue 88 pages 7-8 Gordon & Gotch Lithograph cards


Images of the postcard mentioned can be provided on enquiry. 

Pandora Research

Dawn Chambers

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Chinese Corner 

A Wholesale Resurrection. Exhumation of Deceased Chinamen

A considerable exodus of Chinese has taken place in this colony during the last few years. Most, if not all, the celestial emigrants are returning to the Flowery Land, and now that others contemplate removing, the Chinese love of their departed kindred is exemplified in a manner which, to Europeans, to say the least (says the Bruce "Herald"), is revolting in its ghoulishness. We refer to the wholesale disinterment of Chinese corpses taking part in this Island at the present time. From information received, it appears that the bodies of upwards of 400 Chinamen (recently disinterred) are now deposited in depots —chiefly at Greymouth and Dunedin—awaiting transport to their fatherland. On Tuesday morning a party of ten almond-eyed strangers arrived at Milton, and inquiries as to the purport of their mission elicited the fact that they intended removing all that remained of a deceased countryman, who had been silently reposing in Fairfax cemetery for seven long years. Armed with spades, shovel, and grappling irons, the squad, under the supervision "of a half-caste Chinaman, proceeded to work. When the long-buried coffin was brought to light, the scene which followed baffles description. It would take the imaginative pen of a Zola or a Defoe to fittingly describe in realistic language the revolting nature of the proceeding to a European. The modus operandi as described to us is as follows: —The Chinese after immersing their hands in some antiseptic wash, open the coffin and commence to remove any particle of flesh still adhering to the skeleton; they then smoke the bones in an ordinary riddle, and afterwards hold the collection in a wire sieve over a brightly burning fire to accomplish the final cleansing. The recital of this is sickening enough in cold print, but the reality—faugh! And yet this is the sort of thing that has been going on in Greymouth for months and is now daily being performed by a paid band of Celestials throughout the South Island. No doubt it may be said that the disinterment of Chinamen (who have died in a foreign country) by their fellows is in accordance with ancient Chinese religion or national obligations, but such a barbaric custom is hardly justifiable considering the sanitary aspect of the matter, judged from a European standpoint. According to accounts which appear most reliable, nearly every Chinaman in New Zealand has contributed something, according to his means, and the work is being carried out by a contractor and nine men. Those who contribute are presented with a ticket with the amount stated thereon, and this is negotiable in some way when the pilgrims return to China. It is estimated that an expenditure of £20,000 (including the charter of a steamer, etc.) will have been entailed before the skeletons can be landed in China. Altogether the remains of about 45 Chinamen will, be shipped. The contractors have been engaged on their unenviable and repulsive task for about ten months now and anticipate that their labours will be completed in another two months.

The carriage of the skeletons is also a matter of comment from a sanitary point of view. The bones, after removal from the original coffin, are placed in zinc-lined teak boxes. There is nothing suggestive about these and being varnished they might pass for ordinary travelling trunks. [1]

These were the coffins that were on the Ventnor when it sunk in the Hokianga Heads on 29 October 1902. The ship wreck was found in November 2014, as reported by Stuff.[2] A memorial is currently being prepared at Rawene Cemetery, hopefully ready by August 2018.


2 Shipwreck of SS Ventnor and its dead finally found -

Helen Wong

From our Libraries and Museums

Triggered by an email from Seonaid (Shona) Lewis, 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 is starting to make 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

HeritageTalks at Central Library, Auckland

Are you interested in family and local history? Or about the history of New Zealand?
Then come along to one of our fortnightly HeritageTalks

Where: Whare Wānanga, Level 2, Central City Library, Lorne StAuckland with some marked exceptions

Cost: Free

Booking: Not always essential but to secure your place, please contact the Central Auckland Research Centre on 09 890 2412, or complete our online booking form.

Experts in specialised fields deliver these talks and provide insight into our histories.

HeritageTalks take place at Whare Wānanga, Level 2, Central City Library, Lorne St, unless otherwise stated. Booking is recommended.

Booking recommended, phone Central Auckland Research Centre 09 890 2412 or book online:



Establishment of the Chelsea Sugar Works; Impact on the local community with Brian Potter

Wednesday 23 May, 12pm -1pm

While the opening of the Harbour Bridge impacted North Shore communities, 70 years earlier the building and opening of the Chelsea Sugar Works significantly affected the fledgling Birkenhead community. Join Brian Potter, a local historian from the Birkenhead Heritage Society, as he discusses how the sugar works attracted new settlers, provided employment and enhanced the skill of the community.


Fateful choices with Cushla Randle  

Wednesday 6 June, 12pm -1pm

At the beginning of the land wars, landowner Roger Hill and his brother Henry, fought in the local Mauku Volunteers.  Roger later became the first Headmaster of the Native School at Omaio, north of Opotiki, and thus entered into a different struggle altogether. Join Cushla Randle for a look at two very different worlds at this compelling time in New Zealand's history.

Maori Cloak project with Bethany Matai Edmunds, Auckland Museum

Wednesday 20 June, 12pm -1pm

Nāu i whatu te kākahu, he tāniko tāku. You weave the cloak, and I’ll weave the border'.
Te Awe:Nga Taonga o te Whare Pora - An Auckland Museum project.

Auckland Museum is enhancing over 2500 textiles in the Taonga Māori collection through the Te Awe project. The Te Awe team are collaborating with a group of expert weavers to integrate language and cultural knowledge about how to best describe, conserve, store and display these taonga, to ensure that we honour the mana of each individual object and improve their records to the highest possible standard. 

Booking recommended, phone Central Auckland Research Centre 09 890 2412 or book online:

The Auckland City branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists meet monthly at Central Library Auckland, on the fourth Tuesday of each month 10.30am-12pm

Join the monthly meeting of the Auckland City branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists on the fourth Tuesday of each month.
There is a speaker and a topic at each meeting, with tea and coffee afterwards. Non-members very welcome!
Meeting is held in the Whare Wānanga on Level 2.

Enquiries to


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

Whangarei Family History Computer Group


image001 Wayne: (09) 437 2881

 Pat: (09) 437 0692


Thursday evening venue is 6 Augusta Place, Whau Valley. Call Wayne or Pat or;

email, if you need directions.

 Saturday meetings are held in the SeniorNet rooms in James Street.

The rooms are upstairs in the Arcade leading to Orr’s Pharmacy and Tiffany’s Café, Start time 9.30 till finished before 1.30pm.

Some interesting sites for wet weekends

Guédelon - EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY - Experimental archaeology attempts to observe a modern manufactured replica of an ancient site and/or objects based on the discoveries of items from the archaeological record, in a controlled environment where archaeologists can test and re-test their theories about the lost society.


This is an example of how your ancestors would have lived and worked.

“In the heart of France, in northern Burgundy, a team of fifty master-builders have taken on an extraordinary challenge: building a castle using medieval techniques and materials. In a once disused quarry, surrounded by woodland and all the natural materials required for the construction - stone, wood, earth, sand, clay – day after day, in the presence of thousands of visitors, the quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenter-joiners, blacksmiths, tile makers, carters and rope makers are building a castle from scratch.

Inspired by the past, this building site is also of great relevance to the 21st century.

Guédelon is of scientific, historic and educational interest; it is a tourist destination and, above all, it is a collective venture.

Throughout the seasons, Guédelon's workers rise to this extraordinary challenge. Visitors from across the globe have witnessed the building of the curtain walls, the Great Hall’s roof timbers, the antechamber and its mural paintings, the castle kitchen and storeroom, the rib-vaulted guardrooms and the crenelated wall-walk, on this, the only construction site of its kind in the world.”



“Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials or add photos, virtual flowers and a note to a loved one's memorial. Search or browse cemeteries and grave records for every-day and famous people from around the world.”



“The Gravestone Photographic Resource project is an attempt to provide a much needed on-line resource for family historians.”


Waikanae Family History Group


Email: Phone (04) 904 3276, (Hanley Hoffmann)

Venue: Meets every 4th Thursday morning at the Waikanae Chartered Club, 8 Elizabeth Street Waikanae, just over the Railway Crossing from 9.30am to 12 -12.30pm, every month from January to November.

                                                    Research days: at the Waikanae Public Library, 10am to 12 noon on second Wednesday of each month.


Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

The contact details of this group are:

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

Rose Cottage 33 Memorial Place


Tel: 06 – 754 – 3212

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News and Views                                                                                                                           

 Why Waste Time and Money Researching Your Family History?


Jane Roberts: Yorkshire-Based Professional Family History Researcher


It’s been an all-consuming interest for the past goodness knows how many years. I’ve spent countless hours on research. And don’t mention the small fortune shelled out on subscription sites, books, certificates, data storage, courses, archives visits, family-related antiques, postcards and ancestral tourism. I’ve amassed files full of records and reports. I’ve endured the frustration of dealing with the fog-plaiting myriad of online records. My living room floor frequently takes on the role of a temporary filing cabinet. I’ve risked eye-strain and headache trying to read scratchy, barely legible writing and faded documents, both original and on microfilm and microfiche. I spend hour upon hour caught up in suffering, harsh lives, misery and death. Some days I’ve nothing to show for it other than the eliminatation of yet another source. it really worth it? Should I have been living in the present and making memories rather than digging up the past? What really is the point of knowing my 6x great grandfather’s name let alone how many children he had and what happened to them all? And when I’m gone will all my research follow me into the ground or go up in smoke?


But then there’s that Eureka moment when I’ve found out something. The intellectual challenge of cracking what appears to be an insoluble family history puzzle, as well as the broader learning about aspects of history never taught at school: ones that are really interesting because I can relate them to my flesh and blood. There’s the thrill of actually reading that document or handling some centuries old piece of paper and feeling that connectedness with history. There’s the sense of belonging through finding my family, ones that are long-forgotten. It’s like bringing them back to life in a way.


There’s the sense of community too, with those pursuing the same obsession. There’s the brick wall that nags at me night and day. I’m never finished. Loose ends abound. There’s always more to discover. So day after day, week after week I’m drawn back.

Let this serve as a warning to anyone starting out on family history. Are you really prepared for the expensive, frustrating, 24×7 obsession you’re about to unleash into your life?


And if the answer is yes, you won’t regret it!                            

FamilySearch Adds 2 Billionth Image of Genealogy Records
Posted: 23 Apr 2018 11:31 AM PDT

From FamilySearch (
Salt Lake City, Utah (23 April 2018), In your quest to discover your family history it might be time to take another look at FamilySearch’s online offerings. The genealogy giant’s free online databases of digitized historical documents have now surpassed 2 billion images of genealogy records with millions more being added weekly from countries around the world. Nonprofit FamilySearch, a global leader in historical genealogy records preservation and access, announced the milestone today.

Last September FamilySearch transitioned from its microfilm circulation services to a new digital model that makes its massive genealogical records collections more broadly and readily accessible online (See UPDATE:
FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm). Today’s announcement reinforces its continuing commitment to grow online genealogy resources. FamilySearch currently adds over 300 million new images a year online from its microfilm to digital and field operations efforts.

The free genealogy records include censuses, birth, marriage, death, court, immigration and other document types that are invaluable for individuals to make personal family history discoveries and connections. A host of online volunteers (See
FamilySearch Indexing), partners, and emerging technologies help to eventually create searchable name indexes to the images, but in the meantime, images (digital photos) can be browsed and saved.

The digital image only collections can be viewed at FamilySearch in three points of access:

  • The catalog includes a description of all microfilms and digital images in FamilySearch images. New images from field operations or digitized microfilms are added daily.
  • Historical records include collections that have searchable name databases or some waypoints to help in browsing unindexed images.
  • Books include digital copies of local histories and published genealogies from the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City and other affiliate libraries. This includes many books that were previously preserved on microfilm.

FamilySearch traces its preservation work to 1938 when its forerunner, the Genealogical Society of Utah, began microfilming historical genealogy documents. Eighty years later, the preservation science has changed from microfilming to digital preservation which creates convenient access to anyone with an internet connection. Today, FamilySearch has over 300 mobile digitization teams with specialized cameras, filming genealogy documents on location from archives worldwide. It also partners with libraries and societies to digitize their historical books and other relevant publications.

FamilySearch has billions more indexed records that are searchable by name online, and robust, free collaborative Family Tree and Memories features and mobile apps. To explore its records and images and these services, simply create a free account and start searching.

See also
FamilySearch’s Strategy to Help Preserve the World's Archives                  to Preserve Your Genealogy Research

Posted on April 29, 2016


You’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and money tracing your family tree. Not to be morbid, but have you thought about what happens to all of that when you’re gone? Don’t leave things to chance. Here are 5 ways to preserve your genealogy research.

1. Organize

(I hope you’re still reading.) If your organization method is “File by Pile,” your research stands a good chance of ending up in landfill. If others can’t make sense of what all of those notes, papers, copies, and scribbles mean and how they fit together, they’re likely to say, “Forget it,” and chuck the whole thing.

2. Write and Record

This is something we should be doing anyway. Don’t allow your conclusions to reside only in your brain or in your genealogy software (which your descendants probably won’t know how to use or understand its importance). Write them. It doesn’t have to be long. It just needs to be written. While you’re at it, record your memories. A binder labeled “Our Family History” is more likely to be saved than a pile of file folders strewn across the dining room table.

3. Pass It Around

After you’ve written something, share it. Send a copy to the libraries in the areas where your ancestors lived. Send articles to the genealogy societies for their publications. Even if your research files don’t survive, your conclusions will.

4. Find the Next Generation

Identify someone in the family who would be interested in picking up the baton as the family’s historian. If it isn’t one of your children or grandchildren, what about a niece, nephew, or younger cousin? Work alongside them now and when the time is right, give them your files. (You might even want to put it into your will, so there’s no misunderstanding in case something were to happen before you can transfer the files yourself.)

5. Donate — with Preparation

So you’ve decided to leave all of your files to your local library or genealogy society. You’ve even written it into your will. Awesome! But does that library or society know that stuff is coming? Do they even want it?

Not every library will accept loose materials like that. Also, it might not fit into what they collect in terms of subject. (If your local library is in Nebraska, but your research revolves around families in Virginia, they might not want it.) Talk to your intended library or society before you draw up your will. See if they’re interested and what shape the files need to be in. While you’re at it, include a cash donation in your will to help them offset the cost of processing your research.

Don’t be like the ancestors who tossed out their letters and lost the family Bible. Take steps to preserve your genealogy research. Future generations will thank you.

Copyright © 2018 Amy Johnson Crow, Reynoldsburg, Ohio                   

Inspiring Genealogy Blogs – April 2018


We’re back with more ‘Inspiring Genealogy Blogs’ posts and interesting articles for you to read.

In this edition we have posts that cover: understanding provenance, on etiquette, ethics and family letters, a big update on the FamilySearch website,  archives and why they are important, genealogy conferences, the challenge of Irish genealogy, getting info out of family, and so much more!

So grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee, get comfy, and enjoy some great reads.

As I mention every time, I find that reading blog posts helps me keep up with the latest news, products as well as what’s happening in general in the world of genealogy. And if you happen to already follow me on FacebookTwitter, and to some extent Google+, you already know that I like to share with you the interesting things I read.


Understanding Provenance
Lisa Louise Cooke covers a topic that many don’t think of, and that is “Provenance”. She writes “in the art world, knowing the provenance of a piece is crucial to understanding its value. Provenance looks at an object’s origins, history, and ownership. These can shed light on whether the piece is authentic. In other words, it tells us whether it truly was created by the attributed artist in the stated timeframe.”  The same goes for family history and the records you find. She has a few questions that everyone should ask themselves when they find a new record. 
Read the full article …


Dragging Genealogy Information out of your Family
Melissa Barker writes on the In-Depth Genealogist blog, something that I’m sure we can all relate to, and that is HOW to get information out of our family. You know they can help you with details and stories, but getting that information can be a challenge. Anyway Melissa gives us great covers numerous methods on how to do just that. Read the full article …


New Technology Reads Ancient Documents Without Opening Them
We’ve all come across fragile records (newspapers, letters, maps, or other documents), that are brittle, and you don’t want to open them, for fear of damaging them. Now there is new technology that is being used to scan records in archives, without even opening them. It’s truly incredible. 
Read the full article …


The Argument for Building an Offline Version of Your Family Tree
Online tree or offline tree? Or both? For those of you with it online, I recommend you to take a moment to read through the many benefits of having a tree offline. 
Read the full article …


Why Archivists Don’t Digitize Everything
The Peel Archives in Canada hits the nail on head with this post. They say that one of the most frequently asked questions is “Why don’t you digitize everything?”, which is then followed by “When will you be putting all your records on the web?” So from an archives point of view, this is an interesting read about records, and what gets digitized and what doesn’t. 
Read the full article …


Why is Doing Irish Genealogy so Challenging, and What Can You Do about It?
Will Moneymaker from Ancestral Findings asks the question that so many with Irish heritage do .. “Why is Irish genealogy such a challenge, and what can you do to make it easier for you?” Here he provides not only an explanation, but also some tips to hopefully open some doors that might help you with your research. Read the full article …


Are Large Genealogy Conferences Going the Way of Microfiche?
Christine writes about the noticeable low attendance at several large genealogy events, and raises the question “are large conferences are going the way of microfiche”. What she writes is interesting, so I urge you to read the full article …


Ethics, Etiquette and Old family Letters
Family historians are all for digging up the secrets … using whatever means  it takes, which often includes reading old diaries, journals and family letters. Denise, (aka the Family Curator) writes about the ethics and etiquette of reading (and using) old family letters. Her response might surprise you. 
Read the full article …


Incorporating Social History into Family History
Sandy writes on the National Institute of Genealogical Studies blog about how she started out as a name collector.  “Years later I became a family historian. Besides those names, dates and places, I wanted to know the what, when, where, and how. I needed the meat on the bones.” And she goes of to explain how important understanding the social history of the place and time has been for her and her research. Read the full article …


FamilySearch/FHL Catalog: A Change You Need to Know About
If you use the FamilySearch site to any degree, here is another new change to their site that you need to know about. Read the full article …


Windrush Scandal: A Historian on Why Destroying Archives is Never a Good Idea
I think that any historian or family historian would agree and be horrified at the thought of records being destroyed, but it is a sad fact that some do. This article covers some very interesting points, and is well worth a read. Read the full article …


Happy reading!



Announcing the Virtual Genealogical Society

Dick Eastman · April 30, 2018 

So many other things are virtual in today’s world, why not a genealogy society? The following announcement was written by the organizers of the Virtual Genealogical Society:

The Virtual Genealogical Society is a global organization serving family history enthusiasts of all levels, geared towards those:

  • whose circumstances make it difficult to attend local genealogical society meetings
  • who prefer online presentations, special interest groups (SIGs), conferences, and socializing
  • with an interest in connecting, networking, and mentoring with global genealogists

The Virtual Genealogical Society began with the recognition that many family history enthusiasts are merging technology and globalization in their genealogical pursuits. We aim to provide a forum for genealogists to connect, network, and mentor with genealogists around the world through monthly meetings online, webinars, social networking, annual conferences, and in-person meet-ups at conferences, institutes and events around the world.

Membership is just $20 per year and provides:

  • 24/7 access to Members-Only section of website
  • Recorded monthly webinars by nationally-known speakers
  • Webinar handouts
  • Live chat with featured speakers in members-only Facebook group
  • Fillable PDF forms for family history research
  • Digitized monthly newsletter
  • Eligibility for prizes offered during monthly webinars
  • Access to Special Interest Group (SIG) discussions and handout
  • Discount on annual virtual conference registration cost
  • Eligibility for prizes during annual virtual conference
  • Discounts on genealogy software, databases, publications and products
  • Members-only Facebook group for networking, mentoring, and socializing

The Virtual Genealogical Society encourages all members to continue joining the genealogical societies in their local area and/or in the area where their ancestors lived. These societies can provide additional benefits that include:

  • Access to their local database of records and indexes
  • Mentorship from society members with expertise in local records and repositories
  • Field trips to area repositories

The Virtual Genealogical Society will be hosting a three-day virtual conference from November 1-3, 2019. Confirmed presenters are listed on our website:

For more information, contact us at or visit

Image result for genealogy jokes       Image result for genealogy jokes

Why I cancelled my Ancestry subscription after 12 years

Posted on  by Gail Dever

I love Ancestry. I have loved the online databases and family trees for 12 consecutive years. But I had to put a stop to the love affair.


Since early 2006, I have subscribed to Ancestry’s World Explorer Membership for $300 each year. I didn’t subscribe to just the Canadian package or just the US one. I bought the entire world package that gave me access to international records. I also purchased and now manage a dozen AncestryDNA kits.

I promote Ancestry’s products on my blog, even though I have no financial affiliation with them and do not benefit from doing so. I promote Ancestry because I like what they offer and I think others will too.

Despite this, I had to stop my subscription from automatically renewing tomorrow. I did so reluctantly.

Loyal customers do not qualify for discounts
I cancelled my subscription because Ancestry does not reward loyalty. They reward disloyalty.


Friends have repeatedly told me to drop my membership for two or three months. Apparently, they do it all the time. They allow their subscription to lapse and then sit back and wait for Ancestry’s email to arrive in a couple of months, wooing them back with a 30 or 40% discount. Apparently, it works every time. Even Ancestry associates admit this is how to get a discount.

When Ancestry offers reduced subscription prices, it is almost always for new subscribers and for those who haven’t subscribed for a while.

Loyal subscribers, on the other hand, must pay full price. (Full disclosure: I did benefit from a 40% discount last year during their late winter promotion. The sales associate made me work for it, but I finally got it.)

What would happen if stores operated the way Ancestry does? How would their customers react?

Imagine one of your favourite department stores offering a 40% off sale on some of their popular products. You shop there all the time, and you want to take advantage of the sale prices to save a bit of money.

So, you drive over to the mall and, after some manoeuvring, you find a parking spot.

You get out of your car and walk toward the store.

When you arrive at the door, the store manager stops you and says, “Sorry, this 40% off sale is for people who have never shopped here and for people who haven’t bought anything in a while. Long-time, loyal customers must pay the regular price.”

Withdrawal symptoms
The decision to cancel my subscription has been a tough one. I will probably regret not being able to research all the databases for the next two months. For a quick fix, I may visit my local library to access Ancestry.

Already, I’m going through withdrawal.

Now, I wait for Ancestry to woo me back.


 Image result for genealogy jokes


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Book Reviews   

From the editor: We have no book reviews this month. Maybe I'll start reading more erudite literature soon.

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From the Editor: 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.

Help wanted

Letters to the Editor

Some years ago I purchased a Chatterbox 1914 book & treasured it but now wish to give it to the family /descendant of the person to whom it was presented in the first place.

It has a bookplate Church St (handwritten) Wesleyan Sunday School - awarded to "Maude HOOLE" 1914. The bookplate was printed by Chas H Kelly, 25-35 City Road, London, EC.

I had it recovered professionally on first acquiring it but the original rather tatter outer cover is still intact.

I have searched New Zealand records - Electoral Rolls, Deaths & Marriages NZSG Index, Victoria Outwards & England B M Ds to no avail.

Hopefully someone will recognise the name. 

 Kind regards,


Nancy Croad

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In conclusion

A Bit of Light Relief

 A child asked his father, “How were people born?” So his father said, “Adam and Eve made babies, then their babies became adults and made babies, and so on.”

The child then went to his mother, asked her the same question and she told him, “We were monkeys then we evolved to become like we are now.”

The child ran back to his father and said, “You lied to me!” His father replied, “No, your mom was talking about her side of the family.”


  Image result for genealogy humour



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