Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rootstech Photo + Story Competition

There are just 90 days to go before RootsTech 2018 gets underway.  To get in the mood, why not enter the Photo + Story Competition

Brandon Stanton
This competition complements one of the Keynote Speakers, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York.  The RootsTech press release says "Recognized worldwide for his revealing photographs of everyday people and their stories, Stanton will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech, held at the Salt Palace February 28 to March 1. His personal glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in New York has set a standard for quality photo stories."

Brandon's web site has photos of everyday New Yorkers and their stories.  Why not write your own  story or a story of your family?

The competition is looking for photos and stories in one of four categories: Connect, Belong, Family, and Heritage. The objective is to use the power of both photo and story to share, persuade, inform, inspire, connect, and belong. This links back to the theme of this RootsTech conference:

Connect. Belong.

Me and my Teddy Bear
Everyone has stories. I have been using my blog to record some of mine, like the day my father blow-dried the cat, the story of my Teddy Bear, my grandfather's World War I experiences, and even the story of my chimney-sweep ancestor who hunted with the Duke of Badminton.

Why not write down your stories and enter the competition? You can submit one photo and story in each of the categories. Winners will receive prizes from Canon or Dell. The deadline is 31 December 2017. More information is available here.

You don't have to be attending RootsTech to enter, but it's a worthwhile experience. And until December 4 you can register for just $169, instead of the usual $279. Use the promotional code CYBER18.

Note: Entrants must be at least 18 to apply. No professional qualification, licenses, certificates, or certification is required. You to not need to be registered for RootsTech to enter.



Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Day my Father Tried to Blow-dry the Cat

I grew up being owned by two Siamese cats. They were mother and son, and the mother cat, Kiki, was really my cat, whereas her son owned the whole family.  Both cats have long since passed away, but I still have so many fond memories of them.  Like the day my father tried to blow-dry Kiki.


My family lived in a bushy area of Sydney, and one problem with that is that when the cats and dogs go out exploring they are very likely to get fleas. This is not any more pleasant for the animals than for the humans they inevitably pass the fleas onto, so it has always been necessary to try and prevent them from getting fleas, or to get rid of the little critters if your cats (or dogs) do end up with them. In the 1970s the first main option was to put a flea-collar on your cat. These strong smelling accessories were never terribly successful in tackling the flea problem.  Even when they were "fresh" they only seemed to reduce the number of fleas, not eliminate them completely, and as the toxins wore off, the flea numbers increased. 


My father discovered that far more successful was giving them a periodic bath with some anti-flea preparation.  As you can imagine, the cats did not like this, and considered it way below the dignity of a cat.  But the cats knew us, and knew we looked after them and wouldn't hurt them, so they accepted that the bath must be necessary. But each bath was accompanied by a constant low growl to protest the ignominy of the situation.

One winter's day Kiki's bath didn't take place until early in the evening.  My father was worried that a wet Kiki would be cold, or even catch a cold, if all he did was towel dry her after her bath.  The only thing they had that could be used was that old hair-dryer belonging to my mother.  You know the kind: a kind of shower-cap like covering that used to go over the hair rollers, connected to a source of warm air by a hose.  Dad just used the hose bit to blow dry Kiki.  She had no idea what was going on, and not only was there the constant growl, but also the tail flicking back and forwards that indicates a cat is not happy.  Then Dad decided that the easiest way to get her tail dry would be to put it down the hose. That was too much! A cat has to maintain her dignity at all times, and this was definitely undignified. With a yowl she jumped off his lap, raced to the other end of the house and hid under a bed.

He never tried to blow-dry her again.

Kiki on the day we got her

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Just who was Cordelia Knight?

On 27 Feb 1823 the Lord Sidmouth arrived in Sydney carrying a cargo of female convicts and stores for the colony. One of those convicts was Cordelia Knight.  She had been tried at the Old Bailey in the previous June and found guilty of stealing 20 yards of silk, with a death sentence being pronounced. Luckily for those of us who descend from her, her death sentence was remitted to transportation for life.

This was her second appearance at the Old Bailey. The first had taken place in April 1820, when she was found guilty (under the name Cornelia Knight) of stealing 11 yards of printed stuff and sentenced to one month in Newgate gaol.

On the voyage to New South Wales she took her four daughters: Sarah, born 16 Nov 1810; Lucretia, born 7 Jul 1814; Mary, born 7 Dec 1817; and Caroline (sometimes called Louisa), born 23 Apr 1821.  The eldest three girls had all been baptised in Hampstead, Middlesex, on 11 Jan 1818 as the children of John & Cordelia Knightes [sic]. The youngest was not baptised until 1828 in Windsor.

St John-at-Hampstead, where three of
Cordelia's daughters were baptised
[Chris Gunns, via Wikimedia Commons]

So the natural course of events would be to search for the marriage of Cordelia to a John Knight or Knightes. The only such marriage people have found is the marriage of John Knight and Cordelia White on 5 Jun 1810 in Bloomsbury.  The date looks reasonable, given the birth of their first known daughter, therefore many people have seized on it and used it in their family trees. Subsequently, more and more people have copied that information, so that it seems to many that it must be correct.

But there is a problem with this. 

Cordelia's first conviction, in April 1820, says she was aged 26.  This would indicate a birth about 1794.  At her second conviction in Jun 1821, she is still said to be 26, though she should have aged a year by then.  This would make her born about 1795. The 1828 census of NSW says she is 33, indicating a birth about 1795. Her ticket of leave, granted in  1830 says she was born in 1794 in Hampstead, and her conditional pardon in 1852 says she was born in 1795 in Hampstead. Finally, her burial record in May 1853 says she was 57 years old, pointing to a birth in 1796.

So most records point to a birth in 1794-95, with only her burial record – when she was unavailable to provide the information – gives a birth about 1796. And the convict records state she was a native of Hampstead, and these records are usually correct in this regard.

And here is where the problem arises. Why would someone born in Hampstead (and whose children were baptised there) go down to Bloomsbury to get married? And not only did they marry there by banns, they were both said to be "of this parish", which means that they were definitely living there at that time (though not necessarily born there).

Further, most online trees have decided that she was Cordelia Elizabeth White, who was baptised on 7 Oct 1781 in St Peter le Poer in London. This is 14-16 years before Cordelia Knight always claimed to have been born. And she was not born in Hampstead, as the convict records state our Cordelia was. And there is no single record showing the woman who was transported to NSW having a middle name of Elizabeth. Could this really be the same person? 

There are other online family trees that say Cordelia's surname was Rudd, but none of them give any source for this or place of marriage to check.

Just because only one event for a particular named person has been found, it doesn't mean that it is the correct one. Even now, not all records are online, and not all records have survived. It was not unusual for a parish priest or clerk to forget to record some of the events.  If other surviving records provide conflicting information to the one record found, then it should not be accepted as the truth without further confirming evidence being found.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chance to win a free RootsTech pass

UPDATE: The winner of the free RootsTech pass was Julie Wood


As a RootsTech Ambassador, I get to give away a free pass for RootsTech 2018, valued at $279. If you win and have already registered for the conference, your registration fee will be refunded.

The conference will take place in Salt Lake City from 28 February to 3 March. The pass gives access to
  • Over 300 classes
  • Keynote / General sessions
  • RootsTech classes
  • Innovation Showcase
  • Expo hall
  • Evening events

This 4-Day Pass DOES NOT include airfare, hotel or the coverage of any other expenses.

In order to go into the draw to win you must send an email to jennyjresearch@gmail.com with the answer to the question below:

Who am I?
  1. I was born in 1819 in Kensington in London.
  2. My father, Edward, had died before I was less than a year old.
  3. I married my first cousin.
  4. I had nine children.
  5. I lived into the 20th century.


All correct entries received by the closing date of 12 noon, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on Sunday 5th of November, will go into a draw and one lucky person will win the RootsTech pass.

The winner will be notified by email by Tuesday 7th of November at the latest. One entry per person.



Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NSW & ACT Conference in Orange

Recently more than 300 people trekked out to Orange in the mid-west of NSW for the annual family history conference.  This year it was hosted by the Orange City Library, aided by the Orange Family History Group. The hosts of this event were so friendly and welcoming that it was an absolute stand-out feature of the conference.

In a break from tradition, some long workshops were held on the Friday. A few were only one hour long, but several were two hours, a couple were three hours and one was five hours long.  We hadn't known this when we signed up, so it did eat into the time we had available to look at the Family Fair. 

One of the workshops I did was "Eat Your History" with Jacqui Newling of Sydney Living Museums (formerly known as the Historic Houses Trust).  We started by talking about food memories, and then looked at some old recipes from books in the houses managed by Sydney Living Museums, and discussed the differences from recipes and menu items we see today.  Then we got to try out a recipes.  But first we had to make our own butter, which was to be used in our cooking.  Then we made a soufflĂ© omelette, and we had to beat our egg whites in the same way that had been done by the girls at the house named Meroogal in Nowra: namely, by beating it with a knife on a dinner plate!  The end result was served with some jam, and tasted very nice!

Egg whites in the process of
being beaten

Omelette being cooked

The finished product

The class

The conference theme was "Your Family Story: Telling, Recording & Preserving" and the talks mostly fitted into this theme. The keynote speaker on Sunday was the very tall (6'4") actor William McInnes, who told us lots of stories of his family. The other speakers included Gail Davis from State Archives of NSW, Perry McIntyre, Jacqui Newling (who also gave a lecture as well as running the workshop) and Shauna Hicks, amongst others.


William McInnes with Lorraine Henshaw,
who is taller than me (but not much)
As usual, there was a Meet & Greet and a Conference Dinner, which were both great chances to catch up with old friends.

After the conference closed at lunchtime on Sunday there was a chance to visit local historic house "Duntryleague", which had been the home to the Dalton family, and now is home to the local golf club.







Thursday, October 12, 2017

Time to start thinking about RootsTech 2018

Next year will be my fourth RootsTech Conference.  The fact that I have attended so many times, given the expense of flying there from Australia, will give you some idea of how worthwhile I think the RootsTech Conferences are. In fact here is my post anticipating the last conference explaining why I was looking forward to attending RootsTech 2017. As it turned out, the conference didn't disappoint.  The Keynote talk by LeVar Burton was one of the most moving things I have ever experienced, and I don't think a single person who attended it would disagree with me. Here is my report on that session. 

RootsTech Expo Hall, 2017

This year's theme is "Connect. Belong" and there will be a few changes. Firstly, and most excitingly, the main conference will now run for four days from 28 February to 3 March. Previously the Innovator Summit and some sessions connected to it were on the Wednesday, with the Conference proper starting on the Thursday.  Now there will be an Innovator Showcase, where invaluable technologies for genealogists that have been nominated by genealogists themselves will be highlighted.  Read more in the press release about these changes. 

The next change is that the Expo Hall will now be open from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday night. This will be a great opportunity to look at the hall while not missing any of the sessions.

The first of the keynote speakers, Scott Hamilton, has already been announced.  He is a figure skater and Olympic gold medalist. And schedule of talks has already been published, though it is subject to change. The biggest problem with it is that with over 300 sessions you can't attend everything. Last conference there were large numbers of DNA talks, and the next conference looks set to exceed them.  Like everything, there are talks for all levels with all sorts of different aspects of DNA research being covered.


But if you are not interested in DNA, there are still plenty of other sessions to pique your interest.  These include technology talks and talks about recording your family story amongst all sorts of other talks.

As I am from Australia, with English and Irish ancestry, I am not very interested in the talks relating to US genealogy. But that isn't a problem, as there are also talks relating to England, Ireland and Scotland.  As I mentioned before, the only problem is that I won't be able to attend all the talks I am interested in.

As well as the formally scheduled classes there are always other sessions in the expo hall, especially the sessions given by the major players like FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast and MyHeritage. These can be incredibly worthwhile so don't forget to see what they have on.


But don't just take my word for it. Amy Ohms Archibald has written a  blog post about why she keeps attending RootsTech.

Early bird registrations for $169 are currently open here, but that is scheduled to end on 13 October and the price will go up.  Register for the event here.


Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Monday, September 18, 2017

RootsTech 2018 is coming

RootsTech 2018 is coming! RootsTech is the largest family history conference in the world, and attending it is a fantastic and unforgettable experience. I highly recommend attending it if possible. If you can't attend in person, some of the sessions will be live streamed, so you will be able to view it from home.

One of last year's keynotes was LeVar Burton, from Roots, Star Trek Next Generation and Reading Rainbow. His talk moved us all to tears. My report of it at the time is available here. Initially, his wonderful and incredibly powerful talk was not available online, but recently it has been published.  I strongly recommend everyone list to it, available here, but make sure you have your tissues ready.

LeVar Burton being presented with his family history
by Thom King of FamilySearch at RootsTech 2017

This year there will be some changes to RootsTech. Firstly, it will now last four full days, Wednesday to Saturday, starting on 28 February 2018. Another change is that the Innovator Summit and Innovator Showdown will be replaced by the Innovator Showcase, which will be part of the general opening ceremonies. It will highlight technology and products for the genealogy industry from around the world.

Up until 15 October 2017 you can nominate your favourite family history related app, product or service by using #RootsTechInnovation on Facebook or Twitter, or visit the Innovation Showcase Page or go directly here.

Following Wednesday’s General Session and Innovation Showcase, the Expo Hall will be open from 6-8 p.m. This will be a chance to look around the hall without missing out on any of the talks going on.

Registrations for RootsTech 2018 will open on September 20. Register soon if you can so you can take advantage of early bird pricing.





Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some exra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.