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Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…

August 11, 2011

The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman RisingThe careful reader will notice that I have not kept up the gruelling post-a-day schedule over the last few months.  Well spotted.  Luckily I had scheduled the Manny’s birthday book posts for the whole year, and pre-prepared a few others, so there have been occasional new posts along the way and my blog is not looking entirely abandoned.  Which it has been.

A number of things have happened over the last few months.  My eldest daughter moved to the other side of the country in March/April, I started a new job at the beginning of the year, and a massive project with a ridiculously short deadline in April.  I clocked up over 60 hours of flexi-time in four weeks, leaving little time for ANYTHING else apart from occasional eating and sleeping.

I have not been totally genealogically idle throughout the period though.  I have loaded quite alot of my old documents/sources and information into my new iFamily software, and figured out how it all works as I went.  And I’ve been doing some research.

Back at the beginning of the year I ordered some books from Amazon.com.  Some of them arrived, but a couple of them were held up, due to being out of stock, or not yet published.  One of these is a book called The family tree Problem Solver – Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors, by Marsha Hoffman Rising (Published by Family Tree Books).  Although it is written in the United States, and has an American focus, I thought it might give me some ideas to track down some of my older and more elusive brickwalls.  Chapter Four of this book is called “Consider the Collateral Kin: Genealogical Research in the Full Family Context.  The chapter summary says this:

Your ancestor’s associates can be used to form a network in a new community to create collateral families, find new records, and link new communities to old ones.  Learn how to identify those important to your ancestor and discard the many others who will not provide essential clues, as well as what to study about those who do prove significant and how to find those records

It’s not rocket science – basically, it describes a process we probably all already do to some extent.  But I for one, am guilty of getting so obsessive about searching for a particular individual, that I forget to look more closely at records I find or names that don’t immediately jump out at me.  One example is my recent discovery of the illusive daughter of my great great great grandmother, step sister to my great great grandmother, as a witness to my great great grandfather’s will.  I have had this document for some years, but the names at the bottom of the will meant nothing to me – they were Rachel Suffern and Marion Lawrence.  A search on Trove earlier in the year led to my discovery that my g-g grandfather had a sister living in Victoria when he died in Western Australia, having moved here many years earlier.  Her name was Rachel Suffern, and I thought I’d never heard of her before.  Then when I was going through my old documents to load them into my new software, I found her name (and this time recognised it) at the bottom of his will.  It was then that I looked at the other witnesses name and saw that it was Marion Lawrence.  My g-g grandfather, Frederick Greer Hanna married Rosina Hammond, daughter of Rosina Lynch and James Hammond.  When Rosina Lynch married James Hammond, she already had a daughter, Marion.  I only discovered Marion’s first name when I located Rosina’s death certificate this year.  But there was no last name listed.  Rosina’s first husband’s name was Elijah Ealden.  I could find no Marion Ealden, and similarly no Marion Hammond, which I thought she might have used as she was only a few years old when her mother married James Hammond.

That would be because she went by Phillips before she married and became Lawrence.

I wonder if I had paid more attention to the names at the bottom of the will when I found it, whether I might have found both Rachel and Marion earlier.  But possibly not.  It is through the wonders of the internet that I have been able to resolve these puzzles in recent months.

But finding and recognising, and subsequently searching the name Marion Lawrence, brought up a whole lot of information about Marion that I would never have found searching Hammond or Ealden, even after I discovered that her first name was Marion.  I still have not figured out who John Phillips is, who she lists as her father, on her marriage certificate (and is also listed as Rosina’s first husband on her death certificate – probably informed by Marion).

So reading chapter four of my new book, I already understood the concepts being explained.  I decided that I should take a more methodical approach to trying out this ‘new method’ of research – following up leads of connected people to locate my researchee’s in their community and extended family, to discover otherwise elusive information about them.

But one look at the size of my existing data base and the task looked prohibitive.  Where to start?

It was then that I had an idea.

When I was born, there was an old unmarried lady who played the organ in the church my father was the Minister of.  She became a close family friend and she and I had a special relationship.  She sort of adopted me as a niece/granddaughter.  Her name was Ethel Mary Holmes, and I called her Dat-Dat.  When I was about 11 years old, I asked her why she never got married.  She told me that there was a young man, before the war, but he’d gone to the war and didn’t come back, and after that she was living with and looking after her parents with her also-unmarried sister, until they died, and just never got married.  I never got any more of that story from her and have always wondered who that young man was and what might have happened if he hadn’t gone to the war, or had returned.  My recent interest in the first world war, and particularly it’s effects on those left at home has had me thinking about that story again.  And then when I was looking for a project, I thought about perhaps tracking Ethel’s family to see if through researching ‘collateral family and community’ I could discover who her young man was, and perhaps something of his background.  Certainly if I could come up with a name, the AIF Project would furnish me with the details of his war service.

So I began a new project in my iFamily program, and started researching Ethel’s family.

All of this was only a few weeks ago.  What I have discovered has been quite amazing.  I started with her immediate family – Ethel, her parents and her two sisters and one brother.  Only one of the siblings married – Annie Lillian Holmes married Henry Orlando Hasleby.  So that took me off on my first tangent, researching the Hasleby family.  What I discovered by doing a Trove search of the name ‘Hasleby’, limited to Western Australia, and over a fairly wide timeframe, was astounding.   For a start, all the Hasleby’s in Western Australia are descended from James Hasleby and his wife Eliza Barlow.  They married in Guildford, Western Australia in 1873 and had at least seven children.  A picture of the family developed just through family notices and articles on Trove, because although my search was very broad – just the surname and a wide date range, almost every single result was relevant to this family.  I then went off on another tangent, researching sons of the Rowland family.  A Rowland daughter married a Hasleby son. Both of her brothers died within two days of each other in France in 1917.  Researching their service records led me to an uncle who was also killed in the war.  The three war deaths created inheritance and estate issues that persisted for thirty years to 1947.  There is correspondence from family members and lawyers on all three personnel files right up to 1947.

The Hasleby and ‘collateral’ family research I have been doing has been fascinating and absorbing.  I have done little else in my ‘spare’ time since I started the project.  I’m no closer to discovering the identity of Ethel’s young man, but I have made contact with a Hasleby family researcher who sent me a beautiful photograph of a the Hasleby/Holmes wedding, at which Ethel was a bridesmaid along with her other sister, Isabella (Bell), and we are now working together to solve a couple of persistent brickwalls. Ethel is the bridesmaid on the right of the photo below.

The internet is a wondrous thing.  Welcome to WordPress, Sue!

Annie Lillian Holmes and Henry Orlando Hasleby wedding party

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2011 8:23 pm

    I am delighted to be part of the story – thank you Michelle for giving me the opportunity to tackle Word Press and also to tackle some more brick walls.
    I love your writings and have enjoyed reading so many of the posts over the last couple of days, especailly as I feel almost a part of it all.

    • Michelle permalink*
      August 12, 2011 6:50 pm

      Hi Sue and welcome (again) to WordPress. I’m delighted that you are part of the story too (or that I’ve become part of yours).

  2. tyler permalink
    August 11, 2011 11:25 pm

    Wow. Lots of info. quite interesting post, but a bit hard to follow. I like the concept and understand it would have been hard to simplify. Overall, good job, an interesting post that makes me want to read more of your blog.

    • Michelle permalink*
      August 12, 2011 6:51 pm

      Hello and thanks for commenting (and reading)!

  3. August 15, 2011 11:28 am

    Hi Michelle’
    In 1964 Woodville S.A.I have a Leon Kirwan maried to Helene Rosalind Simms
    She belongs to my Simms Family
    Joseph Simms our G Grandfather arrived in the Colony in 1853 on the Anna Dixon .
    I have research the Anna Dixon’s movements starting from leaving Uk in 1851 and not returning there but only trading from Aust.
    I have been unable to find where he was before 1853
    I do know he was born in 1833 and said to have come from Essex (Not been able to find him there)
    Your message has inspired me to look further as you did and hopefully I will be able to find a few more answers to his life
    Thank you

    • Michelle permalink*
      August 15, 2011 4:46 pm

      Hello
      Thank you for commenting! I don’t know your Leon Kirwan (I havent tracked all the Kirwans in the more recent generations) but I can tell you that my Kirwans also arrived in South Australia aboard the Anna Dixon from Western Australia – later than 1853. Did Joseph Simms come from England on the Anna Dixon, or get aboard at one of the other stops? One of my GGG grandfathers came from Jersey to South Australia, via Canada and New York… that is he went from Jersey in the Channel Islands, to Canada, where he had other family, from Canada to either Boston or New York, but perhaps to Boston and then to New York – and from there to South Australia. I havent been able to verify all of those journeys yet – but my point is dont get stuck on looking for a direct ‘from A to B’ journey – he may have gone from England to somewhere else, and then to SA, or he may have picked up the ship at one of it’s other stops. Have you tried a less specific search on Ancestry.com or similar? My GGG grandmother who claimed on her marriage cert and birth certs of her children, to have been born in Wales was actually born in England. The family moved to Wales later (after all the children were born) and she came to Australia from Wales, but wasnt born there. Or else there was a twin family in England.
      Good luck with your search – please check back in and let me know how you get on.
      Michelle

  4. September 23, 2013 8:13 pm

    Hi There, I’ve come to Ethel May Holmes too. Yet this time by following her maternal line. Annie Louise Holmes was born 1885 to Annie Francis Croft and James Robert Holmes in New South Wales. Her parents married in New South Wales, Newtown in 1881, and had four children. Reports show that Ethel’s brother James Walter Holmes having a “Lonely death” in 1928 while felling trees. Ethel’s grandmother Annie Francis Croft was one of 10 children, and born 1858 in Glebe New South Wales, to parents Matthew Croft (1823 – 1900(and Harriett Loasby (1828 -1923); her parents having emigrated to NSW in 1853. Damaris

    • Michelle permalink*
      September 23, 2013 8:19 pm

      Hi Damaris, Thank you for commenting and for that information! What is your interest in the family? I occasionally pass through Kirup, where I believe Ethel’s brother died. I keep meaning to have a look at the local cemeteries there. Michelle

      • January 10, 2014 7:05 pm

        Hi Michelle
        I am researching Croft family lines in and out of New South Wales.
        All the best
        Damaris

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