Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2017

This is the second year I have taken part in this challenge, put out by Jill Ball at Geniaus.  It is a great way to review the year and celebrate the successes and discoveries in family history research.  So here is my list of positives from 2017:

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was:  My 4th great grandfather Matthew Grant was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in about 1793.  He married Janet Yates / Yetts in Edinburgh in 1815.  His son, my 3x great grandfather John David Grant was born c1820 and came to Australia in about 1827.  For years I have not been able to find definite records in Australia for Matthew & Janet.  There are 21 separate public trees on ancestry.com which give Matthew’s death as 8th June 1863 in Brighton, Victoria, but no-one has a source to back this up.  I happen to know that this death date & location applies to John David Grant, and have a copy of the death certificate to prove it.  Now I have always been sceptical that father & son had the same death date, although theoretically it is possible if, for example, they had both died in an accident or even in an epidemic.  But if that was the case, I would have expected both to be buried at the same time, and there is no burial record for Matthew.  In 2017, thanks to a tip off from a fellow researcher, I found Matthew’s death record in Scotland in 1827.  Mystery solved!  It seems that Janet and her three children emigrated to Van Diemans Land after Matthew died.

2.  A great newspaper article I found was: Not one in particular, but I have been enjoying searching through the Irish Newspaper collection available through Findmypast.  Lots of BDM’s, obituaries, reports of land transactions, livestock sales, local crime and political life – all add context to the lives of our ancestors.

3.  A geneajourney I took was:  No travels in 2017.  But I did journey back to the mid-1800s via the journal of my Great Aunt Charlotte.  Actually my third great aunt, Charlotte Keane was the younger sister of my great-great grandmother Anne Keane, who I have previously written about in Kilbaha – here and there.  Charlotte kept a diary from about 1830 when she was quite a young girl, up until the late 1880’s.  I had previously read some typed extracts of her journal, but this year had the opportunity to read it in its entirety.  What a great story of the times it is.

Charlotte Keane's diary 1831

4.  An important record I found was:  Late in 2017 Findmypast added the Crossle Genealogical Abstracts to their already excellent collection of Irish records.  These are the notebooks of father & son Francis & Philip Crossle, containing transcriptions of early Irish records the originals of which are no longer in existence.  I found fragments of the 1821 Irish census relating to my family, as well as copies of several land deeds and marriage settlements relevant to my research.

5.  A newly found family member shared:  a handwritten document written by my 2x great grandfather Alfred Haughton in 1835.  The document was shared with me by a previously unknown 3rd cousin 1x removed who contacted me via ancestry.com, and describes several significant family events including the birth of my great grandmother Mary Haughton.  What a treasure!

6.  A geneasurprise I received was:   In October I was contacted via my blog by someone who currently lives on the farm at Mullaghmast, county Kildare, Ireland, where my 4x great grandfather Benjamin Haughton lived from about 1740.  She very kindly shared with me a photo of a stone engraved with the Haughton name dated 1853 from the wall of a shed on her farm.

7.   My 2017 blog post that I was particularly proud of was:  Transported for 10 years.  This post was originally written as an assignment for the Convict Ancestors unit in the Diploma of Family History at UTAS.  Not having a confirmed convict ancestor of my own, I chose to research and write about Richard Pilkington, who could well be a distant ancestor as he came from the same West Clare location as my own Pilkington family.  I loved following his story!

Welcome Wall - transcript of Richard Pilkington's entry

8.   I made a new genimate who:  is helping me try to make sense of my DNA matches.  She is my 3rd cousin x1 removed, and we met on Facebook when someone else posted asking if anyone had McKenzie ancestors.  I replied that my 4x great grandmother was Benjamina McKenzie, whose baptism record in Scotland in 1801 noted that she “was begat in the honourable bed”.  Sharon immediately replied saying she was a relative too! Great to make the connection.

9.  A new piece of technology I mastered was: Master of nothing, but working my way through the intricacies of Gedmatch, and learning to use Excel for genealogy.  Still a long way to go!

10. I joined: the Clare Roots Project on ftDNA.  Hoping to make some new connections and trace my family lines in county Clare, Ireland and beyond.

11. A genealogy event from which I learnt something new was:  No events this year, but learning all the time!  Love reading what others are writing and picking up tips along the way.

12. A blog post that taught me something new was:  I’ve been enjoying reading Roberta Estes blog DNA eXplained – Genetic Genealogy.  Lots of great information for getting my head around genetic genealogy.

13. A DNA discovery I made was:  Last year in my 2016 post for this Geneameme I wrote about meeting Tom Pilkington in Ennis.  I’ve long suspected a connection between our families but have not found the evidence to confirm it.  Until now! Tom did a DNA test with ftDNA, and matches both my brother and myself at the range of 4th cousins or more.

14. I taught a genimate how to:  I don’t think I have taught anybody anything this year!

15. A brick wall I demolished was:   I haven't demolished anything yet, but have certainly put a good few chips in one particular brickwall.  See #4 & #13 above.  I am determined to find the actual link between these two Pilkington families.  The story will be a blogpost of its own one day!

16. A great site I visited was:  One of the best sites I’ve used this year is the irishgenealogy.ie website.  This site contains the civil registrations of births, deaths and marriages in Ireland from commencement in 1864 up until current law allows (ie 100years for births).  During the past year they have begun digitising the images, so the actual registration entry is now available for viewing and downloading free on the site for most of the registrations.  They are still doing the older ones, so a work in progress. 

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was:  I haven’t finished reading it yet, but “On Blue Water – some narratives of sport and adventure in the modern merchant service” written by John Fryer Keane and published in 1883.  John Fryer Keane was my 1st cousin 3x removed, and he lived a very interesting life which I will be featuring in future blog posts. 

18. It was exciting to finally meet:  Well, I had actually met her once before, a few years ago, but it was lovely to catch up again with my 2nd cousin Kathie.  She lives in Queensland and for several years we have been exploring our Dewar ancestors together, after making contact via ancestry.com.  We had a lovely day exploring the area where her mother had grown up in bayside Melbourne.

19. I am excited for 2018 because:  I’m hoping to complete the last three units for the UTAS Diploma of Family History.  I started out by doing the two units on writing family history in 2016, and loved them so continued on in 2017 to do 2 units on convict ancestors and another titled Place, Image, Object which I really enjoyed.  This year will be Families at War, and two other units presently undecided.

20. Another positive I would like to share is ...  I love the networks I’ve made through different groups on Facebook.  There is so much to learn from so many people and it’s great to be able to help others along their way as well.


  1. All in all, sounds like a great year... you have achieved so much.

  2. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at


    Thank you, Chris

  3. Thanks for participating. Just found your post. Will add to the list at http://geniaus.blogspot.com/2018/01/accentuate-positive-geneameme-2017-posts.html.