Land – Laverton

At the corner of Landers Lane
At the corner of Landers Lane

My methodology for researching land ownership is not necessarily the only way to do land research.
Where and when we start with our research depends on the information we have or don’t have.
For our current home that is easy. We have the date. We have a place.
There is always an element of truth in family stories but often the truth is sufficiently different to make research difficult. Have I said that with enough feeling? For example, there is a story in our family that my great grandfather Samuel Baulch owned a hotel in Cavendish – some distance from his home in Kirkstall. A visit last year to the Hamilton History Centre confirmed Samuel was indeed a publican in Cavendish for a short while after the previous publican, his brother-in-law, had died. I found extra information recently when some of the Hamilton Spectator was added to Trove. Information I had missed when I visited the Spec office some thirty years ago!
If your family was here in Victoria very early on then another place to start may be at the Registrar of Titles General Law Library at Cherry Lane, Laverton. Susie Zada has written an excellent blog about using this resource. You will note, as I didn’t, that the indexes to the first series of vendor books are at the END of those books. Down the bottom.
Also, if you are going out to Laverton, think about taking the opportunity to look at aerial photographs. It may be worth looking at the University of Melbourne Map Collection first though.
I haven’t personally looked at aerial photographs. Because, until the hot rock geothermal pilot went in nearby, there was nothing to indicate that Landers’ block was hotly disputed over by the occupying squatter and the family of selectors when it was opened for selection under the 1869 Land Act.

Melbourne’s laneways

Image courtesy State Library of Victoria
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria
This is not a story of my family home but of my volunteer home – the Genealogical Society of Victoria. This is a story about the GSV’s home in the lower basement, or cellar, of 257 Collins Street in Melbourne.
Sometimes I am so engrossed in searching for stories amongst the books and memorials of various archives and family history societies that I neglect to look at the family history around me.
So it was a year or so ago I was in one of Melbourne’s small laneways off Flinders Lane. That day Flinders Lane was closed to vehicle traffic. As I had my coffee I watched a very large crane load an equally large and heavy duty truck close by with several combination safes.
I never thought more about it at the time. Should I have? Yes.
Should I be viewing my surroundings with a family history frame of mind? Yes.
I had never given much thought as to why there was cellar beneath the car park at 257 Collins Place before. If questioned I may have replied that the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney added it when they redeveloped the block in the early 1970s. But 257 Collins Street has been a bank premises for a very long time – from the 1840s and right through the Victorian gold rushes.
257 Collins Street
257 Collins Street

This summer the Carlton Clydesdales will again be delivering kegs to Melbourne’s hotels. Will this be more a show than an imitation of how beer was delivered in the early days of Melbourne’s settlement?
I grew up on a farm where the front door was rarely used. All the action on the farm went on out the back. It wasn’t until I looked at the parish plan for Melbourne that I paused to think. City businesses operate the same way.
Parish of Melbourne map
Parish of Melbourne map

There were no laneways as I know them. Just allotments facing Collins Street but also running right the way through to Flinders Lane. Next time I walked out the back door of the GSV I crossed Flinders Lane and turned around. The rear view of 257 Collins Street is quite different to the front view. Firstly, there is access to the carpark, not directly from Flinders Lane but from a laneway off Flinders Lane.
Lassi map
Lassi map

What had Governor Bourke intended when he visited Port Phillip with surveyor Robert Hoddle in 1837?
Bourke and Hoddle laid out Melbourne with wide streets and wide footpaths.
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria

However, Governor Bourke recognized that if there was to be no encroachment onto the footpaths then lanes were required behind the buildings facing these wide streets and footpaths. So he requested that there be lanes between the streets. Flinders Lane between Flinders Street and Collins Street for example.
Even so, the blocks were quite deep and at just under half an acre quite large.
With an ever increasing population outstripping the ability to provide accommodation for them. For those fortunate enough to acquire land in one of the early Melbourne sales there was the opportunity to lease portions requesting the lease payment up front. Then the purchaser had the balance of the purchase price to be paid to the government by the due date.
So it was that Michael Carr leased portion of Allotment 15 Section 4 – the allotment on which the GSV is located.
Michael Carr had arrived in Port Phillip in November 1835 and operated the Governor Bourke Hotel in Little Flinders Street half way between Market and Queen Streets – on land he also purchased in the first Melbourne land sales.
It is interesting to note that the first person who leased part of the block from Michael Carr was the brewer Oliver Adams. He didn’t stay long before moving to the fledgling Geelong.
So how did a brewer and a publican get their supplies delivered to each in Flinders Lane? Not from carts coming down Collins Street but from carts coming down Flinders Lane as Governor Bourke had intended.
However, Michael Carr had a problem accessing Flinders Lane. Having leased the rear of his block he had no access to Flinders Lane for supplies. So he retained a carriage access or laneway which remains today as Flinders Way.
Furthermore, the two sub allotments became separated over time – the one part facing Collins Street and the one part facing Flinders Lane. The divisions can be seen quite clearly across Flinders Lane.
Carriage-Access
It was not until the CBC acquired the two in the late 1960s that Michael Carr’s allotment became one again. Well almost. The laneway is now the property of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. What is interesting to me is that the laneway hints at how deliveries were made to Oliver Adams’ brewery and other businesses in Flinders Lane.
Often when I am walking about in Carlton and Fitzroy I come across a grate in the footpath. These grates can be lifted to give access to the cellar in the adjoining hotel. The grates also give light to these hotel cellars.
Where were the supplies to a publican, or a brewer, kept? Not at street level as this was valuable retail area. But in a cellar. The MMBW maps of Melbourne (accessible online from the State Library of Victoria) indicate that most of Flinders Lane had cellars, including the rear, at least, of 257 Collins Street.
MMBW-Sewerage (State Library of Victoria)
MMBW-Sewerage (State Library of Victoria)

But were they cellars in the manner I think of modern day cellars? Were they entirely below street level?
When I look at the building on the Swanston Street side of the GSV carriage access, or laneway, it seems to me that there is a foundation of bluestone underneath what would have been the bluestone walls of the cellar. This cellar has windows above the ground. Certainly to give light.
Window in Bluestone Wall
Window in Bluestone Wall

But the windows aren’t all that far above the level of Flinders Lane. Just far enough that the cellar ceiling would be high enough, or low enough depending upon your perspective, to have a loading dock above at the level of a cart or wagon used delivering or loading supplies. Probably not says my brother. It was more likely to have been done manually.
Window in Bluestone Wall
Window in Bluestone Wall

Nevertheless, it seems that Governor Bourke’s intention to keep the streets and footpaths wide and uncluttered is still the case. The purpose of Flinders Lane as a delivery access remains. Possibly with the same difficulties for complex deliveries. And our laneways seem to be a consequence of Governor Bourke’s recognition that to keep a clear front entrance requires more a complex network of landways to service all the buildings facing the main streets.

Victoria Land Titles – Introduction

An old Broadwater home
An old Broadwater home

Almost always I have found family stories in Victorian land titles.
So where should one start looking?
Certainly not by searching current online databases for family historians. Most of the interesting family stories remain buried in files, memorials and research notes in either the Registrar General of Titles’ General Law Library of land titles at Laverton or at the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) in North Melbourne or maps at the State Library of Victoria.
In this blog I outline my personal methodology to search Victorian land titles for my family stories.

I generally start by purchasing the current land titles for the parcel of land I am researching. But before that I start finding what the current title may be with a Google search. But before I go further the following is a brief outline of my methodology:

  • Search for the address of the land on Google Maps (I am currently boycotting Bing Maps as they include Fitzroy North in their database but not the more important and relevant Fitzroy)
  • Using the Google Maps information, search for the address of the land on Landata’s Lassi map
  • Search the original parish map
  • Purchase the current computer title online
  • Purchase earlier computer titles back to the first computerised title
  • Search for earlier cancelled Torrens titles at the Public Record Office of Victoria
  • Search for the Application Note relating to the conversion of the old title to the Torrens Title at the General Law Library
  • Search for when and how the Crown Grant was acquired (remembering for some very early grants this information will be in NSW records)
  • Having started with the current title and worked backwards to the Crown Grant, start with the Crown Grant and work to the current title
  • Confirm information found by searching other sources alluded to in the land records. These may include probates, insolvencies and BMD information but may also include less common sources such as those for divorces, neighbouring landholders and dowers.

Now this methodology hasn’t been applicable for each piece of land I have ever searched but it is where I start out. Nevertheless, I shall use two parcels of land to illustrate how my methodology works.

GOOGLE MAPS

Not all land information is offline. Indeed the best place to start a Victorian land search is online with a Google search for the location of the property I am researching.
For example, one of my homes was at Broadwater in South West Victoria. Now, but not for a long time, I can see a Google Earth view of my old home.

Satellite View My Old Home
Satellite View My Old Home

A property in a town or city is a little simpler to locate on Google Maps. For example, the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) is at 257 Collins Street, Melbourne.

Satellite GSV
Satellite GSV

LASSI MAPS

Finding my parcels land on Google Maps often makes it easier to find them on Landata’s Land & Survey Spatial Info (Lassi) map. This map can be accessed directly http://maps.land.vic.gov.au/lassi/ or from the link under Other Access at the bottom of Landata’s home page at https://www.landata.vic.gov.au/.
Now, be warned, this map pre existed Google Maps so behaves in its own manner and for its own peculiar requirements. That is, the Lassi map doesn’t always work in the same way as Google Maps do.
For my old home I first searched for Dunmore Lane, Broadwater and then refined this to 503 Dunmore Lane. By building, refining and refreshing the map I can display the parishes and allotments that are relevant to the parcel of land. The current title covers several allotments across three parishes

Lassi My Old Home
Lassi My Old Home

Similarly, I searched Lassi for 257 Collins Street, Melbourne. This time I built the map to include the Application Note numbers as well.

Lassi GSV
Lassi GSV

PARISH MAPS

There is another map collection that is always useful in my land research. This is a map of the parish that shows the parcel of land at the time the Crown Grant was granted. In this case I was able to download the parish maps from PROV by searching within VPRS 16171 for the name of the parishes concerned.

Search within VPRS 16171
Search within VPRS 16171

For my old home I downloaded Banangal, Broadwater and Clonleigh parishes.

Parish Plan My Old Home
Parish Plan My Old Home

For the GSV I downloaded Melbourne South parish.

Parish GSV
Parish GSV

Parish plans are also generally available online from the State Library of Victoria.
I now have two parcels of land for which I can order the current titles. How I do this I shall describe this is a further blog.

World War I – Walking Wounded

If you are researching your World War I veteran ancestors don’t neglect Repatriation files.
WWI stories aren’t confined to those servicemen who didn’t return. Nor are they confined to those servicemen who were granted land under the Closer Settlement Scheme.
Stories about World War I veterans can also be found in Repatriation files held by the National Archives of Australia.
My great Uncle Lou’s repatriation files contain stories I was unaware of as a child. More generally, though, the repatriation files build on the stories found in the Army personal files which can be accessed by doing a Name Search in the National Archives for Australia search collection area.
You may have missed considering the repatriation files as they have yet to be included in the NAA’s online catalogue. Order them by making a general request about the collection. I included the following information in my request:

Service No: 3434
Name: Louis Aaron Holmes
Date of death: 7 Dec 1960 Victoria
His widow’s date of death: 11 Dec 1960 Victoria
Image 7 in Series B2455 indicates that Louis’s service records were sent to the Department of Repatriation in 1932

My request was successful.
I received two files in the series B73 [Deputy Commissioner for Repatriation, Victoria; Personal case files, World War I]: Uncle Lou’s medical records and his hospital records.
These files in general show a glimpse of Louis’s life on his return to Australia through his interaction with the Repatriation bureaucracy and the development of medicine over the span of his life.
For example, in the pre penicillin world, his syphilis was treated with the arsenic based Kharsivan and simultaneously with mercury. Fortunately the one course was sufficient! More unfortunate, Uncle Lou returned to sea after the war on the Commonwealth owned Australford only to fall from the mast shortly after his marriage to my Auntie Ev. Lou spent four months in Melbourne Hospital with a fractured skull and a broken pelvis. This injury, not directly attributable to his war service, led to a reduction in his war pension for most of his life. No longer able to work at sea Uncle Lou went to work for the Victorian Railways. First as an engine driver. This I do remember being told as a child but Uncle Lou only drove trains for a year before it became impossible because of his many injuries.
In addition to the wealth of information contained in these Repatriation records I also have Uncle Lou’s accident aboard the Australford, his time in the Melbourne Hospital and his employment with the Victorian Railways to pursue.
Where, in all this, did a sailor working out of Melbourne meet a Warrnambool girl?

Autosomal DNA and Probability

The general wisdom is that matches on autosomal DNA are only accurate for up to four or five generations (or to second cousins). Beyond this limit any matches that may occur probably occur by chance, not by inheritance. This is because there is always the probability that any match of any kind of 5% or less can be attributed to random chance and not to inheritance.
My purpose here is to suggest that, by referring to our traditional written family history research and by careful planning our DNA tests, we may be able to identify matches way beyond our great grandparents and our second cousins.

My Ancestors
My Ancestors

I have two parents. It is expected that I receive half or 50% of my autosomal DNA from my father and half from my mother. This seems to be an acceptable proposition.
I have four grandparents. It is expected that I receive one quarter or 25% of my autosomal DNA from each of my grandparents. That is, it is expected that I received 25% from my grandfather Bert Baulch, 25% from my grandmother Annie Abbey, 25% from my grandfather Noel Learmonth and 25% from my grandmother Edith Salter.
I have eight great grandparents. It is expected that I received one eighth or 12.5% of my autosomal DNA from each of my eight great grandparents.
At the fifth generation it is expected that I received one sixteenth or 6.25% of my autosomal DNA from each of my two great grandparents. Can the expected values for receiving autosomal DNA from my two greats grandparents definitely be attributed to inheritance? After all, the upper mark of 5% which is used to indicate matches that may be wholly attributed to chance is not all that far removed from the 6.25% that may be attributable to inheritance from one of my two greats grandparents.
Now none of my direct ancestors are alive and so aren’t available for DNA testing. I have to rely upon my siblings and upon my cousins. The expected values of a match on autosomal DNA tests for my ancestors, siblings and cousins can be summarised in tabular form as follows:
Relationship-Chart
The expected value of sharing autosomal DNA with one of my siblings is 50%. I actually share 38% autosomal DNA with one of my brothers. The expected value for shared autosomal DNA with any one of my first cousins once removed is 6.25%. I actually share 7.3% autosomal DNA with one first cousin once removed and 5.4% with another.
Should actual values that differ from expected values be cause for concern? Absolutely not!
However, rather than accepting the relationship for any autosomal DNA match by a testing company as being set in stone, I do believe that my written genealogy confirms the autosomal DNA match result. Equally, the autosomal DNA match is a further independent source that may substantiate my written genealogy. The two are not separate but dependent one upon the other.
The methodology for calculating the likelihood of what autosomal DNA we are expected to have should be familiar to us all.
Consider tossing a coin. The first toss may be heads. The probability of the second toss being heads is still 50%. Even if the second toss is heads the probability of the third toss being heads is still 50%. Thus in a small population of 3 tosses the result of three heads doesn’t indicate that a double headed coin is being used. However, if the result still remains heads after hundreds or thousands of tosses I might be inclined to check whether the coin is biased in some way. According to Bernoulli’s theorem, the more a coin is tossed the more likely it is that the actual value of the number of times a head is tossed approaches the expected value of 50%.
Now consider throwing a die or dice. The first toss may be a 4. The probability of throwing a 4 is one sixth. Indeed for an unbiased die the probability of throwing one of the six numbers is always one sixth irrespective of the previous throws. For a short number of throws there may be a run on a particular number but this in no way alters the probability for the next throw of the die. For each number that probability is one sixth. As for the coin toss, over hundreds and thousands of throws of the die the actual value over all of these throws will approach the expected probability of one sixth for each of the six numbers on the die.
This method of calculating expected values for the toss of a coin and the throw of a die can be applied to the passing of autosomal DNA from two parents to a child. The options for a toss of a coin are either heads or tails. The options for the throw of a die are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. The options for a child are that the child receives its autosomal DNA half from its father and half from its mother. As for the coin and as for the die the actual value of autosomal DNA received in the short term may differ from the expected value. As for the coin and as for the die over millions and indeed billions of generations the actual value of autosomal DNA a child receives from its parents will approach the expected value of 50% from its father and 50% from its mother.
But is this so? What is it that Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA testing with respect to autosomal DNA? Is there an equal chance of this autosomal DNA information coming from one parent as from the other parent? Let’s start by looking at DNA in the whole cell before focusing on autosomal DNA.
Each cell in our body contains DNA. In the cell proper DNA can be found in the mitochondria. This DNA is known as mitochondrial DNA. DNA is also found in the cell nucleus which contains 23 pairs of chromosomes each containing DNA. The 23rd pair is known as pair of the sex chromosomes. The 23rd pair for men is made up of one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. Women have 2 X chromosomes.  The first 22 pairs of chromosomes are known as autosomes. Autosomes contain autosomal DNA.

Cell with nucleus and mitochondria
Cell with nucleus and mitochondria

In a search for genealogical DNA the testing companies test in excess of 700,000 markers on the “junk” DNA portion of our autosomal chromosomes. These markers are the sites of single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (pronounced snips). A person’s autosomal SNPs can be identified and compared another person’s autosomal SNPs.
Apart from identical twins, each of us is unique. We see this as we walk down the street or glance around a football crowd at the MCG. It is easy, therefore, to apply the law of large numbers as discussed above to the more than 700, 000 SNPs. To me 700,000 seems to be a large number. Surely, for each marker or SNP there is a 50% chance that I inherited that SNP from my father and a 50% chance that I inherited that SNP from my mother. Surely, as with the coin and the die, I had an equal chance of receiving each marker independent of the previous marker and the marker following.
There are two difficulties with this assumption.
Firstly, autosomal DNA tests are not able to distinguish which markers I inherited from my father and which I inherited from my mother.
Secondly, if the first wasn’t a knockout blow, the markers are set out on a strand of DNA. Unlike each toss of a coin or each throw of a die, whether or not I inherit a marker from my father or from my mother is not independent of who I inherited the previous marker from or who I inherited the next marker from. That is, the 700,000 SNPs are linked along the DNA strand. For example, the autosomal DNA I share with my brother on chromosome 3 and which we must have inherited from our father or our mother or a combination of both occurs along most of the chromosome.

Chromosome 3
Chromosome 3

Now we don’t match along the whole of chromosome 3 but where we do match it is mostly in one long strand. Indeed, the longer the strand we share the more closely is our predicted relationship.
Consider a little. This phenomenon of linked markers has helped me detect relationships beyond those predicted by chance – beyond our great grandparents and our second cousins. For example, I have confirmed a relationship with a third cousin twice removed as well as – wait for this – a sixth cousin twice removed! These results are quite beyond my great grandparents and second cousins (that is second cousins without any removes).
DNA testing for family historians is still in its infancy. The databases of results are still very small. Nevertheless I think I can apply traditional genealogical research techniques to my DNA research:

  • DNA is no substitute for quality traditional genealogical research. Sad to say but true.
  • I have started my analysis with an autosomal DNA test and started with myself. Then I moved from my closer relations to my more distant relations.
  • I have tried to optimise my chances of detecting matches by including a family tree of my ancestors and of the names of my ancestors were possible.
  • I have uploaded my information to Gedmatch as some family have tested on Family Tree DNA and some on AncestryDNA. My challenge now is to encourage our family to also share their results by uploading to Gedmatch (www.gedmatch.com) especially those who have tested with AncestryDNA for AncestryDNA has no facility to examine results  (for those who tested with AncestryDNA go to Settings and download the raw DNA data. Create a Gedmatch account and follow the instructions for uploading to Gedmatch. BE WARNED! These raw files are very, very large and take quite some to download and upload).
  • It will involve some of that boring work that doesn’t seem to yield any exciting results but I suspect that it may be worthwhile in the long term to examine my results down to the 1centiMorgan level and by each chromosome. I see this as akin to searching through parish registers or census results.

Y-DNA Baulch

Cell showing nucleus and mitochondria
Cell showing nucleus and mitochondria

There are so many genealogical collections readily available these days it is tempting to try them all. Without thought or regard as to a collection’s relevance to the particular information sought. Those collections that are at hand are accessed first. Never mind the other 95% of collections which have yet to be digitised or indexed. It is easy to tap a key and search for the information online when I really do know in my head that my searching would be more productive if only I travelled to archives on the other side of the world or just spent time searching painstakingly through films and microfiche nearer to home.
But where to start searching further for my three greats grandmother Mary, wife of George Watts? I have found her in two English census returns indicating that she may have been born a British subject in foreign parts. Foreign parts? Where to begin?
I asked my cousin Val whether she would indulge my curiosity and undergo a DNA test. She kindly obliged. It was not until Val’s results arrived that I realised how little I know about DNA and today’s genetics. I was lost to Mendelian genetics when dominant brown eyes and recessive blue eyes were discussed. Where did that leave my hazel eyes? So the current genealogical literature about DNA seemed to me to be riddled with scientific terms that still leave me confused. I guess there is just so much to absorb that my little brain has been in overload for quite some time now.
Should I have done the more traditional or paper genealogical research that I had been avoiding before I set out on my DNA journey? Definitely. In a way my avoidance of a little hard work has voided the DNA results received – at least for the time being.
Val’s results have sent me back to reassess my research strategy and use of DNA as a research tool. But my brother John’s results are more promising if not equally confusing. So I am using John’s results as a medium for gaining an understanding of DNA analysis for genealogists.
John and I can trace out ancestry back on our paternal side to a Charles Baulch who married Ann Biddlecombe on 1 April 1799 at Muchelney, Somerset, England. On reviewing the information I agree with my sister. She says that because she couldn’t find the death of Charles Baulch in the civil indexes she concluded that he must have died before civil registration began in 1837. That doesn’t mean Charles Baulch died in 1836 and indeed our best guess is that Charles died between the time the Muchelney churchwardens wondered what to do with Baulch’s children and the time shortly later when their concern focused on what to do with Ann Baulch’s children.
We also have a dilemma about when our ancestor Charles Baulch was born. Certainly a Charles Baulch was born in Muchelney on 25 January 1767 to Roger Balch and Betty Gaylard. However, a Charles Baulch was buried just over a month later on 8 March 1767 in Muchelney and the infant son of Roger Balch seems to be the only candidate for this burial. So who married Ann Biddlecombe on 1 April 1799?
The obvious course of action is to search neighbouring parishes for a suitable Charles Baulch – fanning out to further parishes if necessary. Fortunately there is a copy of Dr Campbell’s index to baptisms and marriages for Somerset held on microfilm at the Genealogical Society of Victoria and indexes for many Somerset parishes now available on FreeReg  so I have a deal of work to do searching through these two sources available to me without having to travel the world.
Meanwhile, until I am able to motivate myself to do this paper genealogy is there anything in the analysis of John’s DNA that catches my attention? Maybe.
There are three parts to the analysis of John’s DNA. The first part involves analysis of his Y chromosome. The human cell contains a nucleus which includes 46 chromosomes. The first 44 are paired but the last two form the sex chromosome. A male has one Y chromosome and one X chromosome. For a male they receive their Y chromosome from their father who receives his Y chromosome from his father and so on. That is, the surname and the Y chromosome follow the paternal line.
In particular my brother received his Y chromosome from our father who received it from his father (our grandfather) who received it from his father, Samuel Baulch who received it from his father Francis Baulch who received it from Charles Baulch, our three greats grandfather. And there our paper genealogy trail finishes for the moment. But who did Charles Baulch receive his Y chromosome from?
Two tests are performed on the Y chromosome. In the first test short segments of DNA (markers) are measured and the number of repeats, short tandem repeats (STRs) are recorded. These results form an individual’s haplotype.

DNA strand
DNA strand

The second test examines particular points on the Y chromosome looking for mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). That is the particular point is examined to see whether an instance of adenine, thymine, cytosine or guanine has mutated to one of the other three. Paternal lineages may be constructed for the Y chromosome using these mutations as nodes in the paternal lineages.
The results from both tests for Y-DNA analysis predict which haplogroup an individual belongs. John, for example, belongs to haplogroup I-M253 based on analysis of his Y-DNA. And while the database is still small there are also several Baulchs that belong to this haplogroup including many who can trace their ancestry back to Somerset. But many generations earlier than I have been able to establish our genealogy.
There is still a great deal of research to be done.

Genealogy Do Over Cycle 1

Thank You
Thank You
Thank You

It was serendipity.

Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over arrived in December 2014. Just when I had bedded down using Legacy Family Tree‘s To-Do Lists, my tablet, my camera and a USB drive instead of my trusty pen and notebook. When I was despondent. When all I seemed to have were insurmountable brick walls. Just when I was considering my projects for 2015.

Thank you Thomas MacEntee for addressing a gaping hole in my genealogical research practices. More than 6,000 Facebook members suggests I am not alone.

So are you considering doing the Genealogy Do Over in Cycle 2? I know that many of you who I spoke to at Congress 2015 were watching from the sidelines. Here are three suggestions:

  •  Just go for it. A job started is a job half finished. You don’t have to set aside the next thirteen weeks for the Genealogy Do Over. It is a matter of personal judgement whether time away is absolutely necessary for your peace of mind and well being or whether you are being distracted by some Bright Shiny Object.
  • Set your own pace. By the end of Week 4 my mind was in a whirl. This was exciting stuff. I needed time out to take stock (I had another time out at the end of Week 9).
  • The Genealogy Do Over doesn’t need to be completed in just the one 13 week block. In Cycle 2, now that I have the flavour of the Genealogy Do Over, I hope to tweak my new work practices and consolidate my new work practices. I set aside implementing any use of spreadsheets in Cycle 1 but in Cycle 2 I shall give more consideration to using some of Thomas’s spreadsheets – particularly for project management (I still employ the student mentality of doing all the project the night before the deadline date). I shall also look further at the role of social media in my genealogy research. The social media aspect totalled overwhelmed me in Cycle 1. And consideration of my Research Toolbox might creep into Cycle 2.

Thank you Thomas for identifying that my genealogical work practices should no longer be confined to remembering those stories spoken of whenever and wherever my family gathers. These days my work practices should focus on managing my time economically while maximising my chances of extracting family stories from the overabundance of information available in newspapers, books, archives and online. That is, I should be focusing not on the WHAT I find but on the HOW I go about finding my family stories. It is there at the beginning of the Genealogy Do Over:

“Research is the course of action I undertake in order to find and gather my family stories. Research is the process I use to find Sources from which I extract my family stories.”

Now just in case you think applying a new set of work practices has brought all those brick walls tumbling down and all my family stories have been revealed let me assure you that this hasn’t been the case. Yes, when I set aside my previous results for my three greats grandfather George Watts and started over I found that accepting a death certificate I had previously rejected was far more relevant than the Census results I had been relying on for so many years. No wonder I had a brick wall! While I still know nothing about his wife I now have George’s Army life to pursue. I see lots of seemingly tedious searching ahead of me. But I have a plan. The possibility of understanding why George joined the Army and what life in his home town of Nottingham was like at the time the leaders in the Luddite rioters were tried and transported to Tasmania.

Just like searching in those pre computer days really.

My enthusiasm for genealogy research has returned.

Thank you Thomas.