Researching my family history – No 1

Right up front. Thank you Ruby and Raymond of Digital Pacific for getting my website up and running again from half way around the world. Let me say that you each helped reduce my stress levels quite markedly and I am very grateful.

The formal part of my researching and travelling finished yesterday. And what better way to do that than catch up on the AFL from an avid Eagles fan on the train down from Edinburgh.

My IT has been a mess for a while. Such things must be on the opposite of my brain that deals with creating and reviewing research processes in this rapidly changing world of family history research. It’s been six years since I travelled and how things have changed. I am tempted to mention generational change. Or perhaps I was still stuck in the world of paper in archives and microfiche and microfilms.

At my last visit at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City i just collected an image of every record I found as it used to take money, money and more money to order in films and so long for them to come. Family Search are still digitising their books and films but already so much will be available when I get home and where I can view digital images at the GSV.

I think the only set of records I found it necessary to take an image of were the apprentice records for Nottingham. My ancestor, George Watts, completed his framework knitter apprenticeship with his father, a lacemaker. Perhaps the Luddite riots shortly afterwards influenced George’s decision to join the Army – where he served almost his full time in Ceylon.

So this trip I concentrated on expanding and tuning my processes for, where such methodologies existed, they were very rusty. A case in point has been George’s army records. The TNA has made more of these available online these days, some on FindMyPast, some on Ancestry, some on FamilySearch and some on the TNA website itself (some free, some for a fee).  But there are still some muster books I want to go back and look at the original documents at the TNA. You can see how a half hour discussion about how to go about such a search ended up taking me over a week to do the actual searching – reviewing and updating my process as i went. And I found the baptisms of my great great aunt Mary Ann Watts in Cambridge. Not in Nottingham as is the case for the rest of the family. One down. Another aunt to find. More about George’s story later on. And then at the Scottish Genealogy Society on Saturday I have had to rethink that my processes all over again (Have a look at John Grenham’s blog today too).

Of course I still have the official baptism of Christopher Abbey in about 1816 somewhere up near Elland, Yorkshire – just to confirm the family bible entry. It may also be useful to establish a DNA Circle in AncestryDNA.

And the baptism of my great great great great grandfather John Fulford. Imagine my surprise to find the bathroom in our London accommodation was based on an old map of London. Front and centre was Millman Street near the Foundling Hospital – before it was redeveloped by John Fulford for the Hospital. There is more about the Hospital and John Fulford to come. And perhaps Christ’s Hospital and my great grandfather Charles Salter too.

For puzzles there is none greater than my great great grandfather John Learmonth, a flesher in Edinburgh. Retours of Heirs, testaments, sasines and a guarantee on a promissory note that was not honoured. Remember that saying threw the book at him? Well John Learmonth threw the book at Alexander Livingstone (aka Learmonth). John Learmonth took more than 50 pages of a 60 page statement setting out his case to list all of Alexander Livingstone’s property assets. I suppose he meant to demonstrate that Alexander Livingstone had more than adequate means to honour his guarantee. Not that he ever did. But more on another day.

Now? I should be thinking about my Baulch and Turner ancestors in Somerset as well as Salters just over the border in Wiltshire. then to return to London to see if I can pin down more about my favourite ancestor John Bourke Ryan. Then to finish with Alica in  Geneva to follow (in reverse) Uncle John’s journey through German POW camps.

A little progress

A little progress or none at all? I was taken by this little motivator from my gym earlier in the week: A little progress each day adds up to big results.

The second week here in Salt Lake City is drawing to a close and it feels that I have worked into the night and made no progress at all. One week to go and I have London (including my favourite Irish ancestor who lived mostly in London) as well as Somerset/Wiltshire to look at. And the DNA matches and questions continue coming.

Six years ago I spent most of my time here in the Family History Library scanning baptisms, marriages and burials from books, fiche or films to a USB drive. This time I am finding that most of the information will be available at the GSV when I get home. Except for an intriguing book about the Black Loyalists. After half a day of searching we found that it is at scanning so an electronic version will be available at home in the fullness of time.

I thought I now had a process for looking for all of my non conformists and Methodists. But it failed on its test run. Probably not because of the process but because I have failed to find the right combination of Christopher Abbey born 1815 in Yorkshire or thereabouts to search. Suggestions for optional search parameters will be gratefully received.

I have gone back to fixing up my Family Search family tree which got in a mess when trying to use the Legacy Family Tree extension. It still has a way to go before it is up to scratch for the FamilySearch Tree App.

Army records are a class of records that I have am slowly getting a handle on although I have avoided them for years. After all Uncle Charlie’s biography has been written by Charles Page and we a good deal of Uncle John’s diaries – except for the one that covers his journey from Crete to prison camp in Lubeck, Germany. So I was pleased to discover in TNA’s catalogue that this journey was investigated after the war. Another thing to read at the TNA. Of course I have read a little about my great uncles in World War I – Uncle George who didn’t come home and Uncle Lou who did and who left a repatriation file of a couple of inches. Then there is Lieutenant Colonel Sir Edward Michael Ryan.  The Michael came from his Ryan grandfather and the Edward I assume comes from Edmund Burke the Anglo Irish statesmen born in 1729 and family connection. Wikipedia has a nice entry on the action that led to Edward Michael Ryan receiving a foreign decoration.

That leaves George Watts of Nottingham who joined the 19th Regiment of Foot in 1812. I have spent a lot of time looking at his records this week. For a little progress I hope. Again, it will be my visit to the TNA where I am relying on finding the muster rolls and pay lists to turn a little progress into big results.

Y DNA: Is it worth the expense?

Submitting samples for DNA testing can be expensive. Especially when testing for Y-DNA. If paternity isn’t an immediate issue does Y DNA testing assist in confirming our family tree based on paper evidence? Especially beyond census returns and parish register sources.

Maybe so. Maybe not.

Four years on from when I first opened the gate to the wide world of using DNA for family history purposes I think I can weave a family story based on traditional sources and on Y-DNA. Just as my father, grandparents and others told us stories that it has taken us decades to confirm (in most cases) or dismiss (in some instances) let me weave a family story around Y-DNA, family stories and ancient sources.

There has been a long standing brick wall in my paternal line. Well, to my mind at least. Perhaps I’m not as accepting as others. I am a descendant of a Charles Baulch who married Ann Biddlecombe in Muchelney in 1799. The apparent candidate for the groom has been a Charles Baulch baptised in the beginning of 1767. Yet a few lines down in the same register there is a burial recorded for a Charles Baulch. An obvious case of a death in infancy it seems and therein goes my candidate for Ann Biddlecombe’s groom.

Yet his elder brother Henry may have been a witness to that marriage. And, further more, I have two autosomal matches (in Ancestry) that take me around that brick wall. Now Muchelney, as I have always sort of known but not really absorbed properly, is only a small parish and the walk to any neighbouring parish and indeed some more distant parishes isn’t all that onerous. So what method should I use for selecting surrounding parishes in which to search for records of a Charles Baulch?

DNA is a fast developing source so it may be just a case of waiting for the right Y-DNA matches to come along.

Or maybe not.

Another fast changing world is the number of traditional sources that are being made available to us in not only electronic form but either at our home or to a local family history centre. This makes it far cheaper and more timely to access a number of sources. But which sources to select? Which are the sources that are likely to add surety to the story I am about to create?

Let me begin.

My paternal second great grandfather, Francis Baulch, and his two brothers Charles and Enoch together with their families and other friends, emigrated from Somerset arriving in 1842 in Tasmania Australia. There’s no doubt that the boat load of emigrants had listened to stories told by the emigration agent Henry Dowling.

But Francis Baulch and his brothers weren’t the first Baulchs to emigrate from Somerset.

In 1623 John Balch arrived in Massachusetts as part of Captain Robert Gorges army company. They had followed the Plymouth Brethren to New England seeking religious freedom. Robert Gorges and, it’s understood, John Balch, came from Bridgewater, Somerset – in the middle of Sedgemoor.

A generation later another John Balch arrived in 1658 in Maryland. It’s understood that this John Baulch came from Horton in the parish of Illminster. His son Thomas returned to Somerset and joined the Duke of Monmouth’s army which was destroyed at the Battle of Seymour in 1685. Thomas managed to flee home to Maryland that same year.

So here there are at least four groups of Balchs from Somerset who became separated in time and place and in whose communities their Y-DNA may have mutated along separate lines:

  • those Balchs who continue to live in Somerset
  • those Balchs who are descendants of the John Balch who arrived in New England in 1623
  • those Balchs who are descendants of the John Balch who arrived in Maryland in 1658 and
  • those Baulchs who are descendants of the three brothers who arrived in Tasmania in 1842.

Can Y-DNA help me confirm any connection between these four groups?

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Let’s look firstly at whether the time frames may fit and let me use my brother John as a starting point. With each Family Tree DNA Y-DNA match there is a calculator as to the probability of a match within a certain number of generations. Here are some back of the envelope examples:

The task of matching Y-DNA to paper genealogy may not be as onerous as I first thought. I have paper genealogy placing my brother John as a descendant of Charles Baulch and Ann Biddlecombe. Skip around a brick wall and I can find another John Baulch or two as his ancestors in Muchelney, Somerset.  It may seem a daunting test to find traditional genealogy sources to take brother John’s paternal line back 20 generations to find a possible match with an ancestor of either of the American Balch families. But we are already half way there.

But where to look? The Muchelney parish is a very small parish and mention of Balchs fades out about 10 generation ago. Should we look at the whole of Somerset? Don’t think so. Balch Genealogica divides the Balchs into four groups:

  • High Ham and Horton, Ilminister
  • North Curry
  • Bridgewater
  • Wells-Bruton.

One possible strategy may be to look at the parishes of High Ham and Ilminster and those in between (including Muchelney) and across to Martock.  And possibly into the nearby towns? A task for tomorrow. A task to combine the resources of DNA testing and of traditional paper sources to take our family story back further in time.

Meanwhile, it is just another Pleasant Sunday Afternoon here in Salt Lake City as the fluffy clouds float by with one woolly idea.


Lieutenant John Learmonth of the 2/3 Australian Field Regiment

John Learmonth and Diary Extract

At the end on Crete he took to the hills, and said he’d fight it out with only a revolver.
He was a great soldier …

“I wonder,” mused my brother a few years ago now, “whether things would have been different if we had had uncles.”
I stopped short. I treasured my two aunts. Mostly for their abundance of attitude. Would my brothers, likewise have respected and revered their uncles had they had them?

Last year I reflected a little on the life of Uncle Charlie.

Uncle John’s diaries are his very personal story. But can I put his story in the broad context of the war? What were the conditions like in Germany at the time? How were the prisoners treated? Did this differ from camp to camp – Uncle John spent time in four officer camps:

Oflag XC Lübeck
Oflag VIB Warburg
Oflag VIIB Eichstätt
Oflag IX A/Z Rotenburg

In June or July this year I hope to follow John Learmonth’s restricted World War II journey through the German country side. This post is my starting point.

I would love to hear suggestions as to what might add value to what Uncle John wrote in the diaries that have survived him.

We know that John Learmonth wrote eleven diaries before he died in May 1944. We don’t have them all. Nor do the ones we have cover all of Uncle John’s experiences.

At the beginning of Diary 3 and on 3 November 1939 John Learmonth wrote about his previous diary (Diary 2):

I cannot remember when I wrote the last entry in my previous diary, or even what I wrote about. That diary will probably be found amongst my other possessions at Carramar, Tyrendarra, Vic.

John confirms in later diaries that he sealed his first two diaries and sent them home with the rest of his possessions at the time he transferred from the Militia to the AIF. We assume they were later destroyed.

Uncle John’s Diary 3 covers the period from when he attended training at Seymour until he sailed from the Clyde on the Empress of Canada for Egypt. At the beginning of his Diary 4 he wrote:

My third diary, covering the twelve months (approx) ending 19/11/40, is with me now and will probably remain with my possessions wherever I go until the end of the war.

This was not to be the case. Written when he was a prisoner of war in Germany entries at the beginning of Diaries 8 and 9 indicate that Diary 3 was in his uniform trunk which was stored in the AIF kit store in Alexandria. However, this diary must have become separated from his kit for John wrote

Mum says my diary has been removed from my trunk returned from Alexandria.

The original of Diary 4 is held in Russian Archives. A copy was given to the family in 1998. It covers John’s Greek and Crete campaign but not, alas, the final two months leading up to his capture in Crete on 30 May 1941. Perhaps mindful that his diaries were being read by the German censors Uncle John recorded in Diary 9 that he had destroyed Diary 4

on being captured in Crete in May 1941.

Diaries 4 & 5 were probably destroyed in the Parcels Office fire. Just be careful here:

The fourth I destroyed on being captured in Crete in May 1941 and subsequently rewrote as the 4th and 5th while in Salonika.

Uncle John was in the Salonika Transit Camp in northern Greece 11 June to 22 July 1941. This was a large transit camp where the conditions were appalling. The prisoners were starving and covered with lice and other bugs. They received no letters, no food parcels from home nor any Red Cross parcels.

The rewritten Diaries 4 and 5 together with Diaries 6 and 7 were confiscated on Uncle John’s arrival at Oflag XC Lübeck. This camp was located near Hamburg and Uncle John was there for 6 weeks – 29 July – 8 October 1942. The conditions were better than Salonika but rations were minimal and still there were no food parcels nor any Red Cross parcels. On the nights of 7 and 8 September 1942 the Parcels Office in the Lübeck camp caught fire and it seemed that John’s diaries had disappeared forever. On 4 December 1942 he wrote

I regret very much losing the diaries preceding this one (No 8). They throw an interesting light on my state of mind when first taken prisoner. Although I am now well on the way to re-writing them I cannot entirely recapture the atmosphere of that period.

Despite the loss of his previous diaries John handed a completed one in for censoring at his new camp Oflag VIB Warburg – near Dossel in Westphalia. John’s trust was rewarded as it was eventually returned to him. Uncle John arrived at Warburg on 9 October 1941 and stayed for 11 months. Here Red Cross Parcels started to arrive – together with the first of many letters and parcels from home.

Uncle John moved yet again – to Oflag VIIB Eichstätt for ten months until July 1943 and finally to Oflag 9 A/Z Rotenburg for the ten months until his death there in May 1944. During this period he wrote his last three diaries – Nos 9, 10 and 11.

John Learmonth is remembered in Hanover Cemetery looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

No story about Uncle John is complete without including John Manifold’s elegy. Yes, there is a story in the words written but the genius of the poem is in its form – based on the Classics? The form accentuates the emotions expressed. From the second verse look at the first and third lines. They rhyme with the second line of the preceding verse:

This is not sorrow, this is work: I build
A cairn of words over a silent man,
My friend John Learmonth whom the Germans killed.

There was no word of hero in his plan;
Verse should have been his love and peace his trade
But history turned him to a partisan.

Far from the battle as his bones are laid
Crete will remember him. Remember well,
Mountains of Crete, the Second Field Brigade!

Say Crete, and there is little more to tell
Of muddle tall as treachery, despair
And black defeat resounding like a bell;

But bring the magnifying focus near
And In contempt of muddle and defeat
The old heroic virtues still appear.

Australian blood where hot and icy meet
(James Hogg and Lermontov were of his kin)
Lie still and fertilise the fields of Crete.

Schoolboy, I watched his ballading begin:
Billy and bullocky and billabong,
Our properties of childhood, all were in.

I heard the air though not the undersong,
The fierceness and resolve; but all the same
They’re the tradition, and tradition’s strong.

Swagman and bushranger die hard, die game,
Die fighting, like that wild colonial boy –
Jack Dowling, says the ballad, was his name.

He also spun his pistol like a toy,
Turned to the hills like wolf or kangaroo
And faced destruction with a bitter joy.

His freedom gave him nothing else to do
But set his back against his family tree
And fight the better for the fact he knew

He was as good as dead. Because the sea
Was closed and the air dark and the land lost,
“They’ll never capture me alive,” said he

That’s courage chemically pure, uncrossed
With sacrifice or duty or career,
Which counts and pays in ready coin the cost

Of holding course. Armies are not its sphere
Where all’s contrived to achieve its counterfeit;
It swears with discipline, it’s volunteer.

I could as hardly make a moral fit
Around it as around a lightning flash.
There is no moral, that’s the point of it,

No moral. But I’m glad of this panache
That sparkles, as from flint, from us and steel,
True to no crown nor presidential sash

Nor flag nor fame. Let others mourn and feel
He died for nothing: nothings have their place.
While thus the kind and civilise conceal

This spring of unsuspected inward grace
And look on death as equals, I am filled
With queer affection for the human race.

The Tomb of Lieut. John Learmonth, AIF
by John Manifold

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2017

The best thing about 2017 was its path into 2018 – or so it seemed on initial reflection. That doesn’t mean the short-term memories of the last days in 2017 were bad. Not at all. I spent my time in 2017 where I almost always spend it – in the preparation before undertaking the actual research.
I took a journey this year but first I read the biography of my Uncle Charles and the personnel file of Granddad Daly.
Yes, I did take a cruise in order to gain some context of where Uncle Charlie and where Granddad Daly were and how they fitted into the overall conduct of the Pacific War. And yes, I still have the same question: where was Granddad Daly when he counted out the planes such as Charlie’s and counted them home again. I don’t think he can have done so for Charlie’s squadron.
More planning and research to do in 2018 about Granddad Daly’s war – mainly in war diaries not yet available in digital form.
I took a journey back in time to St James around Anzac Day. It was just as I remembered – the morning sun filtering through the windows and dappling the font in colour. Just the minister, a parishioner and me. I hadn’t been there for a baptism 65 years ago (as I had remembered) but to the dedication of the windows to my Uncle John and Uncle Charlie. The memorial gates were still not back from being restored so I shall be back again this April – and to the Learmonth Burial Ground just up the road.
Squire Turner, my third great grandfather, remains as elusive as ever. Not too rich to attract attention of the papers nor too poor to draw attention of the parish. How can there be so little evidence of a man whose death in 1830 warranted inclusion in the Bath Personal Notices as published in a London paper? In 2017 I found his signature and occasional mention of Squire Turner in the Bathford parish chest material.
My question in 2018 is – where was Squire Turner when he wasn’t in Bathford?
The real joy of 2017 was my DNA research.
It took a while for some of us to get our family trees in order but finally we managed to create a DNA Circle. Now DNA circles for my second great grandparents Francis Baulch and Ann Bowles have expanded to over 20 members each. Furthermore, DNA circles have now been created for Francis Baulch’s parents and for his maternal grandparents Joseph Biddlecombe and Miriam Locke. I certainly wasn’t expecting this success given the difficulties we had getting the first ones created.
Can we expand Francis Baulch’s DNA circle to 50 by year’s end and can we create DNA circles for other ancestors?
More planning and reviewing of family trees and DNA matches in 2018.
Finally, I have really, really enjoyed the past six months engrossed in Visual Phasing (mapping DNA of three siblings or more to their grandparents). It has been a fascinating journey. The learning curve is steep. The learning process is continuous and iterative. Visual Phasing is totally addictive. It has got me around one of my most enduring road blocks. What more can I say? Oh yes! My success with Visual Phasing wouldn’t have been possible had not my sister who wanted an all in one Baulch family tree some years back. Nor would we have had sufficient DNA tests for Visual Phasing without that discussion with my brother and his view of what a good base for DNA testing looked like. Nor would it have been possible without using a workbook for my Visual Phasing in the fashion my daughter used a lab book. My workbook is not only a source of WHAT I have found and WHERE but, more importantly, HOW I have found it and WHAT is still to be found.
In 2018 I shall review what I have done to date, incorporate tips that are still being shared generously by others and, hopefully, glean a family story or two.
Some further reading:
Charles Page, Wings of Destiny (Sydney: Rosenberg Sydney, 2008)
https://the (and the following parts follow) (closed group)

Ethnicity Estimates

Phased Chromosome 21

When some of us started researching our family history we were advised to start with ourselves, then confirm our links to our parents, grandparents and so on up our family tree.
Based on our family stories, photographs and the written records we had we developed our research plan, one that was often focused on looking for more information about a favourite ancestor.
In doing so we used a variety of sources.
Now we have another source to add to our toolbox – DNA – and just as we planned our traditional family research plan so too can we plan our DNA research plan.
Just as in the past we scraped and saved to purchase the next birth, marriage or death certificate so too we should be saving up to purchase the next DNA test in our DNA research plan.
Not to have a DNA plan leaves us open to being flooded with hundreds of supposed DNA matches that in general have little, if any, application to our DNA research plan. We are looking for specific matches – those with other researchers who have ancestors, or an ancestor, in common with ourselves.
The first step in our DNA research plan is to avoid those bright shiny objects that pass across our eyes and distract us.
The first bright shiny object is DNA advice provided by the medical profession. In our role as family historians we are not entitled to provide medical advice. Consequently, the DNA we use for our family history research is quite separate from that used for medical purposes.
The second beguiling object that floats across our eyes is DNA used for anthropological purposes.
For example, it has been exciting to read the research that found evidence of human occupation in northern Australia by 65,000 years ago (see Chris Clarkson et al “Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago” Nature 547 306-310 (20 July 2017).
But do such discoveries help us conquer our own brick walls? The discovery in northern Australia was dated by reference to the fluorescence in the sand in which the discovery was made. Where is the link from our DNA today back to DNA of 65,000 years ago.
However, what is important to note about such discoveries is that they are made at a point in time.
When we think about our own ethnicity are we looking at one point in time?
When I look at myself:
My Parents were born in Australia. Is my ethnicity 100% Australian?
Six of my great grandparents were born in Australia. Two in England. Is my ethnicity 25% English?
Most of my second great grandparents were born in England. Does this make my ethnicity 81% English? It certainly doesn’t account for my Irish fourth great grandfather, John Bourke Ryan.
I have followed our paper family tree up through the branches for this example.
With respect to DNA we receive half our DNA from our father and half our DNA from our mother. But which half do we receive? And which half, as displayed in our family tree did they receive from their parents? And which half did they receive from their parents? And so on. Why, then, do we expect our ethnicity to be precisely the same as that of our siblings when there is doubt about what was received from which grandparent in the first place?
or example, on Chromosome 21 all my maternal DNA came from my maternal grandfather Learmonth. My sister also received all her maternal DNA from our grandfather Learmonth. While our brother also received most of his maternal DNA from our maternal grandfather Learmonth some of his maternal DNA came from our maternal grandmother Learmonth.
All my paternal DNA came from my paternal grandfather Baulch whereas my sister’s paternal DNA came from our grandmother Abbey. Our brother’s paternal DNA originally came about half from our paternal grandfather Baulch and about half from our paternal grandmother Abbey.
This simple example shows quite clearly that we each are unique. While receiving half our DNA from our father and half from our mother what we received that came from each of our grandparents may be very different. If we each calculate our proportion of DNA we get from each of our grandparents the answer is not the same for any two of us. Even at the grandparent level our ethnicity is different. Each of us is, after all, unique.
So why do we expect our ethnicity to be the same?
If we are using DNA as a source for family history purposes we should confine our family history research to the DNA that is used for genetic genealogy or family history purposes.
Results based on DNA used for medical purposes are given for medical reasons. Results based on DNA with ancient origins are for anthropological purposes.
We family historians have our own little sections of DNA that we use for family history purposes.
This doesn’t mean we can’t put our anthropological hat on now and then and tell a good story about our ancient origins. However, there is not necessarily a link between our ancient origins and our family stories of very recent times.

Where am I going to be:
28 July – 7 August 2017 – Unlock the Past Cruise – Papua New Guinea – to see where my uncle and father-in-law were in WWII
19 August 2017 – presenting “Using DNA to solve genealogical puzzles” at the Researching Abroad: British isles & European ancestors – Melbourne (find out more here)
11 November 2017 – presenting a half day session “DNA for family historians” for the Genealogical Society of Victoria (find out more here)
and when I get back from just cruising around the GSV will be taking bookings for DNA consultations (more here) . I expect to concentrate on autosomal DNA tests and I shall only be available on Fridays.
Hope to see you somewhere.

Charles Salter was my main focus in 2016

This post uses the Geneameme 2016 list as a border around which to reflect on my 2016 that was. In doing so my paddock is fenced by just a few of the suggested Geneameme 2016 talking points.
Ruth feels at home when she turns west onto the Hamilton Highway. I also feel the same tension disappear when I put city driving and drivers behind me. But for me the feeling of being safely home comes much later in my journey. That feeling of home doesn’t start until I have crossed the Paradise bridge. If it’s early in the night I look for home lights peeping through the plantation at the far corner of the Horse Paddock. But on I go. It’s when I turn right at Campbell’s Paddock that I feel a sense of home.
It may appear that I may have done little in 2016. Yet I have travelled in time to Campbell’s Paddock. It may seem that the year was full of obstacles, detours, Cheshire cats and afternoon tea parties. The reality is that not only 2016 but some of the preceding years have set the scene for 2017 quite nicely. Each year has over 360 days through which to travel before turning the corner at Campbell’s Paddock. It’s when my “driver reviver” reflection time starting at about day 360 that a year falls into place.
2016 wasn’t about laying any notable achievements on the table for all to see. 2016 was all about winding through the path that is my family history research. 2016 was about reviewing, planning and revisiting my research methodology and the tools I use. In this way 2016 was just another family history year. Nevertheless, there were a couple of highlights in 2016.

18 It was exciting to finally meet Clare and Mary.

Edith Learmonth (nee Salter) on the left and Agnes Salter (nee Skene) on the right.
Edith Learmonth (nee Salter) on the left and Agnes Salter (nee Skene) on the right.

It was coffees in one of Melbourne’s arcades that were the highlight of 2016. I met my Salter cousin Clare first. Then I met our cousin Mary. I had heard a lot them from Aunt Agnes when she came to stay with my grandparents over the summer. It was delightful to meet Clare in person some forty years after listening to the stories Aunt Agnes used to tell. These meetings with relatives and listening to their stories is what I enjoy most about family history. 2016 was a double delight when I met another Salter cousin Mary and listened to her in amazement. Mary is following in the footsteps of our great grandfather Charles Salter. But until 2016 she wasn’t aware that she is doing so. Is that genes? Perhaps. More likely, it is the tradition of Christ’s Hospital that has filtered down the generations.

1 Some elusive ancestors I found were the Salter children in boarding school at census time

Mary’s visit caused me to review my research into my Salter ancestors. Charles Salter was at Christ’s Hospital at the time of the 1851 census. I have now found his missing siblings and cousins who weren’t home at census time. They were also away at school. Plotting their whereabouts on Google Maps gave a nice little snapshot of where they went.

10 A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy were closed Facebook groups

It’s sad that the potential of closed Facebook groups hasn’t captured more attention from family history researchers. Two closed Facebook groups I am enjoying are Amy Johnson Crow’s course 31 Days to Better Genealogy (for the second years) and the Genealogical Society of Victoria’s one for their GSV Writers Circle.
The planning I did in 2016 has set up 2017 with just four simple goals. Now to polish each those goals into smart genealogy goals.
I wonder how different my Geneameme 2017 will be?