Monday, 9 January 2017

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2016

Researching family history is a time-consuming and rewarding pastime. Sometimes little snippets of information are discovered by chance, while others are the result of painstaking research over a period of time.  One little clue will lead to another, until eventually the trail goes cold and the brick wall is reached.  At this point it is easy to become disheartened, and to forget about all the progress which has been made.

So today, prompted by Jill Ball who blogs at GeniAus, I’ve decided to take up her challenge and review my successes over the past year using the template she provides at Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2016.  Here is my list of positives:

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was:  my 4th great grandmother on my maternal line was Christiana Epton (1796-1875) of South Petherton, Somerset, England.  Although I’d had her name for some time, I knew very little about her.  Thanks to the newly on-line Somerset parish registers, I was able to add a lot of information, including identifying her parents Elias Epton & Jenny Dean, finding a 2nd marriage late in life, and locating her death and place of burial.

2.  A precious family photo I found was:  at a family gathering in March, a third cousin produced a wonderful old leather-bound photo album full of family photos taken in the late 1800’s.  My sister arranged to meet again soon afterwards to copy them, but unfortunately our cousin was concerned about scanning them, so we had to settle for iphone photos.  Not ideal, but better than nothing!

3.  An ancestors grave I found was:  a whole graveyard full of Griffins, my grandfather’s close cousins, in Kilfearagh, county Clare, Ireland.  I hadn’t been able to locate them on a previous visit, so it was exciting to find so many of them all together.

4.  An important vital record I found was:  the 1804 baptism record of my 4th great grandfather, James Miller Way, in the Oxfordshire parish records.  This enabled me to identify his parents, and so take this line back another generation.

5.  A newly-found family member shared: a previously unknown third cousin-once-removed contacted me via my blog after reading about my 2014 adventures in Athy, county Kildare, Ireland, where our mutual ancestors originated.  She is also a blogger, and her blogs filled in information for me about her line of the family, including a photo of my grandfather’s double first cousin.

Thomas Charles Haughton & his wife Margaret
photo courtesy of Cilla Sparkes

6.  A geneasurprise I received was:  finding some of my family in the Irish Roman Catholic parish records.  Given that my family were not catholics, I hadn’t really expected to find anything, but actually found several entries which allowed me to ‘tidy up’ some of the branches on my family tree.

7.  My 2016 blogpost that I was particularly proud of was:  The Stranding of the Strathgryfe.  This was written as a Trove Tuesday post.  I particularly liked doing this one because of the family connection, and also because it drew on information from a variety of sources to tell the overall story.

8.  I made a new genemate who: helped me to navigate and make a bit of sense out of land titles, freeholds and leaseholds, thus allowing me to confirm exactly where land once held by my grandfather is located.  Thank you Susie Zada!

Waratah North Subdivision
Grandfathers land in green

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was:  well I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve mastered it, but I have achieved a greater level of understanding of Blogger, thanks to the help and advice received from Jill Ball and others at Australian & Local Family History Bloggers.

10.  A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was:  Facebook, without a doubt!  So many great groups for sharing research and information from all around the world.

11.  A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learned something new was: Diaspora of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Clare Roots Society conference in Ennis, county Clare, Ireland, in September 2016.  This was a great opportunity to make new acquaintances and renew old ones.

12.  I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to:  no, I don’t qualify for this one!

13.  A journal/magazine article I had published was:  I can’t really claim to have been published, but I did have my blogpost A Little Bush Grave reproduced in the local community newsletter.

14.  I taught a friend how to:  I helped a young friend begin her family history journey by introducing her to and teaching her how to use it to best advantage while being aware of  the pitfalls for the unwary.  She’s found information previously unknown to her, including some great historical family photos.

15.  A genealogy book that taught me something new was:  Carol Baxter’s Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth. How do I separate Fact from Fiction?  Carol has a great writing style which is easy to read.

16.  A great repository/archive/library I visited was:  Cambridge Archives in England.  I found a document a year or so ago in their on-line catalogue which I believed related to my husband’s 2x great grandmother.  We took the opportunity on our UK trip to visit the Archive and obtain a copy of the document.  The staff were really helpful and we were able to research some other useful information while we were there.

17.  A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was:  Figures in a Famine Landscape by Ciarán Ó Murchadha.  This book contains a chapter about my infamous 2x great uncle Marcus Keane, who was given the dubious honour of the title Exterminator-General during famine times in Ireland.  I had provided a photo of the man for the publication, so meeting the author and receiving a signed copy of his book was a highlight.

18.  It was exciting to finally meet:  Tom & Peggy Pilkington in Ennis, county Clare, Ireland.  I had been briefly introduced to them at a presentation I did in 2014 for Kilrush & District Historical Society, but had no time to follow up on the meeting as I was leaving Ireland the next morning.  Tom is very likely a distant cousin – all available clues would suggest so, but the vital link which would confirm it has not yet been located!  I’ve been in email contact with Tom & Peggy since 2014 but it was wonderful to finally meet them properly in September 2016.  They very kindly showed us around the old Pilkington farmlands and pointed out various landmarks and places of family interest.

19.  A geneadventure I enjoyed was:  visiting Ardreigh House near Athy, county Kildare, Ireland.  Ardreigh House was the family home of my great grandmother Mary Haughton, whose father Alfred Haughton owned the local mill.  The current owner Frank is a keen local historian, and he has restored the home to its former glory (or better, with all the advantages of modern technology!)  Frank and his wife were very welcoming, and I did so appreciate them showing us their beautiful home.

Ardreigh House 1863
Sketch by Sarah Anne Haughton 

20.   Another positive I would like to share is:  completing the Writing Family History and Writing the Family Saga units offered by University of Tasmania.  This was such a fun thing to do, and helped develop important writing skills to tell the family story.  I really appreciated the support and encouragement I received from another genemate, Chris Goopy, who did the first unit with me.


  1. I, too, had a breakthrough in 2016 with Somerset parish registers - first with the index on FindMyPast (Somerset marriages post-1754), and then I found an image of the original register in Somerset, England, Marriage Registers, Bonds and Allegations on Ancestry.

    1. Isn't it exciting when we find things like this? We are so lucky to have so many of these records available on-line.

  2. Thanks for taking up the geneameme challenge. I enjoyed hearing about your Irish successes, spinetingling stuff. I didn't have as much luck but I still enjoyed walking in the footsteps of the ancestors so much so that I've aaready booked to go back this year. I've added your post to the list here:

    1. Thanks Jill. I'm sure you will have a wonderful trip to Ireland! I'm looking forward to reading the 2016 geneadventures of others who took this challenge.