Friday, January 28, 2011

Waitangi Day Blog Challenge
Your earliest known New Zealand ancestor

Recently our Australian cousins have all been encouraged to blog about their earliest piece of research about an Australian ancestor in celebration of Australia Day (see Shelley’s blog at Twigs of Yore)

We think this is a terrific idea and have noticed that it has provoked participation from loads of people.

Waitangi Day, on February 6, is our national day.

Its intent is to celebrate a bringing together of the peoples of New Zealand and its usually a family day. Often we spend it on the beach, or maybe have a barbecue with family and friends.

We'd like to invite you to write a blog - post the link to your blog in the discussion board on our Facebook page.

If you don't have a blog, perhaps post your story itself within this discussion board instead. Just click reply.

Write about:

* How different is our life from that of your early NZ ancestors? (settler or Maori)

* What stories can you tell us about their lives?


If you are first generation New Zealander or maybe a new Kiwi, perhaps you might like to tell us of your first impressions of New Zealand, and your experiences, of settling in here; and how Kiwi traditions and culture differs from your own.

If you are on Twitter, you can follow the hashtag #waitangiblog for updates and alerts.

Please join us, we’d be interested in hearing your stories!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy:
- Home

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

A new challenge wil be listed each Saturday which should be completed by the following Friday. This week's challenge:
Week 4: Home. Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today?
 My childhood was spent in loads of different places, with my father being in the Navy.

However, the home I remember most as being the family home, was the house we lived in, when we were in Lower Hutt, Wellington - 49 Chapman Crescent.

It was basically a two-bedroom with sunroom home, average size lounge, and a combined kitchen diner. I shared the sunroom with one of my sisters.

Looking back, it now seems quite small, for a family of six:- two adults and four children. Finding somewhere for peace and quiet was always difficult. I remember struggling to concentrate on my homework frequently: my siblings were quite a bit younger than me, and didn't yet have the pressure of homework, study, exams etc.

However, it was most probably the norm for those days, and it didn't feel small to me then. Houses were smaller, families did live in close proximity, and there was no such thing as "personal space". If you search further back in your family history, most will see that families had even less space.

As each generation has passed, the need for space seems to have grown. Affluence and expectations have changed. Where once, whole families or even just children were packed in six or more to a bed in one room, now we all get our own bed, and often even our own rooms.

Anyway, back to the home in question:

My bedroom had windows on three sides. It was the sunroom, so jutted out from the front of my house slightly (the room with the venetian blinds in the picture). It had a concrete patio attached to it. There was just enough room in the bedroom for a single bed down each side of the room, and a chest of drawers between the beds. You accessed my bedroom through a sliding door off the lounge.

The lounge was a good size with many nights with us sitting there as a family watching TV. My parents and I used to often play cards, scrabble or Monopoly in there too. Good fun.

The house had a large back garden. Dad had a vege plot down the back, and grew a wide variety of vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, marrows, lettuce, cauli, radishes, and tomatoes. Dad loved radishes especially and would eat them straight from the soil.

We had a small Para Rubber swimming pool, that was a real bonus in the summer. Great for keeping cool. I lived in the house from about 12 to 17 years old. It was by the far, the house I lived in the longest till I left home. In fact, to this day, I don't think I have lived longer than that in any house - even as an adult!

I took my daughters to Wellington for a holiday two years ago. I had a lovely time, showing them where I went to school, the playground I used to play on (Avalon), and man-made lake I learned to kayak on, and the house in Chapman Cres I used to live in. Would love to have gone inside, to see if it had changed!

It had been painted (of course) and the patio had been changed. But still brought back that nostalgic feeling you have when you revisit the home of your childhood!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday
- in memory of Able Seaman George Harvey

My father was the youngest of seven children. The nearest sibling to him in age was eight years older. The oldest sibling was a whole 20 years older than him.

Grandad, and Dad's two oldest brothers and his sister all served in the Second World War. All in the Royal Navy.

Like many families, our family lost someone in the War. My Uncle George, Dad's second oldest brother, died during an enemy engagement in 1943. My Dad was a toddler at the time.

We'd always been told that Uncle George was buried in Hull, and as a consequence, my father had never had the opportunity to visit his grave.

A chance Google search, led me to an entry on Flickr, and we discovered he was buried in Great Yarmouth - not that far from Kent where my father grew up. And in fact, I had visited Great Yarmouth myself a couple of times.

George Henry Harvey, Able Seaman, Royal Navy

G. H. Harvey
Able Seaman R.N. C/JX.317419
H.M.M.G.B. 612
19th September 1943 Age 19
"Thy Will Be Done"

Son of Hedley and Edith Mary Harvey, of Sheerness, Kent.

For many years Great Yarmouth was a naval base, containing a Royal Naval Hospital and there are three naval plots in the burial ground at Great Yarmouth (Caister) Cemetery which contains war graves of both World Wars, as well as other Naval graves dating from 1906 onwards. Some of the 1914-1918 graves are in groups to the west of the entrance, while others are scattered. After the 1914-1918 War, a Cross of Sacrifice was erected near the mortuary chapel. During the early months of the 1939-1945 War, ground in plot M in the eastern part of the cemetery, north-east of the mortuary chapel, was set aside for service war graves, and this is now the War Graves Plot. It was used for Army, Air Force, Merchant Navy and Allied casualties, and the Naval plot A was used for Royal Naval casualties and for some of the Merchant Navy men; but there are a number of scattered war graves in the cemetery. There are now 168 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war and 115 of the 1939-1945 war commemorated in this site. Of these, 13 from the 1939-1945 War are unidentified. There are also 3 Foreign National war burials there.

(Special thanks to UK taphopile "Claire" from Flickr, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

I went online to do further research, to see if I could find out any information about the gunboat and the action George died in. I was fortunate enough to find naval researcher, Ted Else online - World Naval Ships forum - , who provided me with the following info:
According to Leonard Reynolds book “Dog Boats at War” (ISBN 0 7509 1817 9) MGB 612 was hit during a surface action with M class German vessels (not aircraft).

On the night of 19th/20th September 1943 an offensive unit of 6 “D” boats made up from the 17th and 31st Flotilla’s led by Lt Bradford RNR, Senior Officer of the 31st aboard MTB 617 (MTB 624 had returned to base - HMS Bee Yarmouth with engine problems) leaving the unit as - MTBs 617, 621, 652from the 31st Flotilla, with MGBs 606, 612 and 610 of the 17th Flotilla .

The action is graphically described in the above book which is certainly recommended. There were 2 fatal casualties on that night :-

MGB.610 ROBSON, Eric, Leading Motor Mechanic, P/MX 503089, killed
MGB.612 HARVEY, George H, Able Seaman, C/JX 317419, killed
(source Naval-History.Net)

MGB 612’s Commanding Officer was Lt P Wilkinson RNVR.

RIP Uncle George

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Surname Sunday

I've collated the raw information from my husband's family, but not had a chance to verify any of the information given so far.

His family does have a family researcher doing the Lewis side, so I have quite a lot of her research.

Anyway, we're interested in hearing from other family researchers, and hearing from descendants, and also about ancestors of course.
• LEWIS, Caernarvon, Wales
• JONES, Caernarvon, Wales
• FIPKIN, London, England
• ANDERSON, London, England

Specific persons of interest:

• Richard Evans LEWIS b1888 Caernarvon, who m1913
• Catherine Grace JONES b1892
• Their children: Elizabeth Martha, Myfanwy, Gracie, Gertrude, Richard, Hugh, Robert, Beryl, Morfudd, Eric

• Hugh William JONES b1861, who m
• Elizabeth ROBERTS
• Their children: Grace Catherine, ?any others?

• John LEWIS b1862 m Martha ??
• Their children: Richard Evans, (any others?)

• Richard LEWIS b 1833 Banger, m? Martha ??
• Their children: John, William, Richard
The LEWIS and JONES family seem to have come from mainly round Caernarvon. Banger, Llanddeiniolen, Llanbeblig, Llandwrog are mentioned.
• Thomas FIPKIN b? London who m?
• Alice Martha ANDERSON b? London?
• Their children: James, William, Katherine, Reginald, Violet Margaret
The FIPKINS come largely from the East End of London. Notably Holborn. We know nothing as yet, about the ANDERSONS.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Info and Library Industry Tweet-Up:
- aka the power of social media

A few of us on Twitter: myself (@genebrarian), @seanfish , @catatonichic and @kowhaiAnne , had been discussing the possibility of a bit of a Tweet-Up, just to chat about the exciting changes in our professional lives, brainstorm new ways of using social media, and oh a whole heap of things we were excited about.

This idea has grown to a general more inclusive, but much broader invite to all who might be interested.
Event: Tweetup / MeetUp / We’re not eliteup
Venue: Auckland Domain, near the Band Rotunda. See number 24 on this map:
Date: Waitangi Day, Sunday, February 6
Time: 12 noon
Bring: yourselves, a picnic, a blanket, a musical instrument (if you are keen to join the jam session) . Its a family day, so partners and kids also welcome
Enquiries to: or follow #aucklibtweetup on Twitter
Agenda: Fun, socialising, (food?), a bit of "shop-talk", music - and a group visit to the Museum about 2pm for those interested

The only requirement for attendance is an interest in the information and library sector. You don't even have to be an Aucklander, just be able to get to Auckland Domain on that day. You don't even have to have had an official invitation, just see the event publicised somewhere.

What I find interesting about this process, is that each of the organisers have been using their own individual streams of social media to send the word out.

It started on Twitter: #aucklibtweetup and is being re-tweeted.

More info is available on @seanfish's blog here:
and its being blogged here -and I've seen it being re-blogged elsewhere already!

A Facebook invitation has been sent out, with the idea that people being invited, "pay it forward" to others already not invited that are in their circle of FB friends. The FB invite also links to @seanfish's blog.

And its been announced on LinkedIn on my profile page  with links to the Facebook invite.

Hopefully, it will be a good day - with an opportunity to meet loads of my social media "friends" IRL (in real life).

I am looking forward to it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 3 - Cars

This week's genealogy and history challenge:
Week #3 – Cars.  What was your first car? Describe the make, model and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it. This challenge runs from Saturday, January 15, [...]
Our family's first car was a Mini, then we had a few Ford Cortinas, and I seem to remember an Austin Maxi.

I used to get horribly carsick as a child. Especially when we had reason to travel from our home in Lower Hutt, over the Rimutaka Hills. My parents put a rubber strip trailing from the back of the car to the ground, allegedly designed to "earth" the car to the ground to help prevent carsickness. I don't think it made much difference.

My first car was purchased with my then-boyfriend. It was a red 1963 Hillman SuperMinx. I was living in Hastings by then, and we spent many a weekend, either travelling down to Featherstone to visit his father, or going further over the Rimutaka Hills (the other way) to visit my parents in Lower Hutt.

We had a series of Humbers and Hillmans, and also a Holden Stationwagon at one stage.

By the time we moved to Auckland we were the proud owners of a chocolate Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback. I inherited the car when we split, and it became my first real car that I owned all by myself.

I loved that car. I drove it all over Auckland, and up and back to Hastings on a regular basis, to visit my old friends, Even drove it all the way to Wellington a time or two.

I affectionately called the car "Mitsy" (of course), and was gutted when I had to part with her to travel overseas to the UK. I left her in good hands though . . . she was sold at a car fair to a couple of Scottish nurses that were planning on travelling around New Zealand. Made perfect synergy to me!

When I was in London my English husband bought this horrible a black Vauxhall Cavalier. I hated it on sight. Hated it even worse, when a few weeks later, someone hit the front passenger door and we ended up buying a red door from a wreckers. Only really used the car at weekends, as we used the Tube or a train to get from A to B.

Next car we had was a red Peugeot 405 sedan. I loved that car. We did a lot of travelling around in it. Often taking off for long weekends out to quaint country villages.

When I got pregnant with the twins, we realised we probably needed something a bit bigger. My husband had a son from his previous relationship, and we needed something that would fit us all, including two car seats, a double buggy and luggage. We bought a Ford Galaxy, an MPV. Another vehicle we loved.

Now in New Zealand we have a Honda Odyssey that we really love. A seven-seater, it is really adaptable, and can be a van, or a stationwagon as well as an MPV. We have a dog (Sasha, big labrador), so we can fit her in along with everything else. Its easy to drive and doesn't feel like a van.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

Today I'm writing a "Tombstone Tuesday" blog, in honour of the paternal great-grandparents that I never knew.

James Edward HARVEY and Evelyn Julia POTTLE were my father's Newfoundland grandparents. He also never knew them, as his father ran away from Newfoundland at age 15, to join the Royal Navy and sign up for WWI.

James was born in Freshwater, near Carbonear, Newfoundland in 1851. He married Evelyn Julia POTTLE in 1895. Evelyn was born in the next door village of Flatrock in 1872. They had 10 children including my grandfather.

James was a fisherman who went to sea on extended fishing trips up the coast of Labrador for months at a time. The family were from "planter" stock - that is settlers who were settled near the coast, and had "fishing rooms" and land. From what I have read about early Newfoundland, it seemed like it was an incredibly hard life.

The little we knew about my great-grandfather was that he died young, while at sea and had been pickled in rum to preserve him and buried much later. Terrible waste of rum I thought.

I found out later, he was actually packed in ice and buried three months later. His youngest child Julia, was born three months after he died.

I was relatively new to family history research when I found out about James and Evelyn. I had posted my interests in researching my grandfather Hedley HARVEY from Freshwater, Newfoundland on a Newfoundland genealogy site (Newfoundland Grand Banks), and got a message through from a Fred HARVEY. Fred (now in his 80s) turned out to be a distant relative. His great-grandfather John and mine (James) were brothers.

So he sent me the above picture of my great-grandparents tombstone. Up till then, I wasn't even sure of what my grandfather's parents names were. Fred was able to give me all his research, which I have incorporated into mine (correctly cited of course), and he has also been kind enough to send me what photos he had, and also any copies of certificates I might be interested in. Fred had been unaware of my grandfather's children and grandchildren.

This was sufficient information to really get me started on researching my father's family tree.

Sadly, I don't have any photos of James and Evelyn - apart from this one of their tombstone.

Maybe one day.

And I am still trying to find out about Evelyn's POTTLE family. I have been told that they owned the general store in Flatrock, but have yet to verify it.

Anyway, RIP to my great-grandparents James and Evelyn. Wish I could have conducted an oral history with you, I'm sure there are lots of great stories that you could have told.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Using Social Media

Why do you use social media? (you are here, so you do - whether you realise it or not!)  People use social media for all sorts of different reasons.

Some use it to converse and interact with people that they know very well. Either professionally or socially.

Some people use it to network with mere acquaintances. Some with people they do not know at all. Sometimes peoples motives for using social media aren't apparent.

The reasons I use social media are wide and varied. I use my personal Facebook account to converse and share with family and friends. I also use it to create Groups pages for my personal family history interests. I've had quite a few previously unknown family members and/or fellow researchers contact me as a result.

I manage a professional Facebook account (Auckland Research Centre) I use to promote my specialist subject and collection (family history) and my library.

My personal Facebook account has strict security controls, so that I can control who sees what exactly. The professional account has very few security controls - I want as many people to find and interact with us as possible.

I use my Twitter account (@genebrarian) for the widest reasons: to converse with friends and colleagues, network with professionals, to promote my library and collection and for my learning. There's an amazing amount to be learned by clicking on someone's link. I also follow people "for the hell of it". Their "Tweets" interest and inspire me.

I manage and write for the Kintalk blog for work, and I've just started this blog.

LinkedIn is still relatively new for me, I'm dabbling to see what I can get out of it.
I suspect I can learn alot from it, as well as network.

My personal and professional interests are not just family history and libraries,
they are also graphic design and print (my old career), marketing, digital preservation/digitisation, internet and the web, and yes social media. So I hook up with as many contacts on there as I can.

I also use delicious to store the many hundreds of useful bookmarks I find when trawling the internet. They are portable, I can access them from any computer any time, and I can share them with people - I can "follow" others with similar interests as me, so I can share their bookmarks too.

Its great how you can link with people from one Social Media account to another. Someone you follow on Twitter, you feel you get to know them, so you then feel you can follow them on LinkedIn etc.

I think the Social Media explosion is definitely a boon for us family historians - as evidenced by the amount of blogging (and microblogging) being done out there!

Monday, January 10, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
Week 2 - Winter Memories

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

A new challenge will be listed each Saturday which should be completed by the following Friday. This week's challenge:

Week #2 – Winter Memories

What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.
I lived in a variety of different places growing up. My father was in the Royal Navy, then later, the New Zealand Navy, and we went with him as a family whenever he went anywhere.

I’m not sure I have many winter memories as such. I am a “summer” person, and I suspect I block winters out as I dislike them so much! Give me trips to the beach over ski trips anytime!

I remember being miserably cold in Gosport, England, when I was about eight. It was a snowy winter, and I had not long been there from New Zealand.

The school I went to, “Peel Common,” wouldn’t allow pupils to stay indoors during break times. I remember being discovered hiding under a desk at lunchtime, and getting kicked outside into a snow covered playground.

I was gloved up, scarved, with a thick winter coat and hat. But still freezing. I remember sneaking into the bathroom to run my hands under the hot tap (wrong thing to do, I was told later – but nice at the time!).

When I got to about 10, we lived a more settled life, as Dad was stationed on shore in New Zealand, pretty much from the mid-1970s on.

Winters growing up in Wellington, were mainly cold, wet and windy.  Different type of cold: the type of damp cold that gets into the bones.

Nice memories from then though, were going to Petone Beach and collecting driftwood for our open fire. Dad, myself, and my siblings would make quite an outing of it, and I remember enjoying the peacefulness of beach-combing.

I loved our open fire, not so much for the physical warmth it radiated (although I do like being warm), but also the visual warmth it gave you when snuggled up in front of the telly.

I was gutted when the fireplace came out to make room for necessary walk-in pantry in the kitchen. Although we really did need the extra cupboard space – and the pantry was quickly my mother’s pride and joy.

In my late 20s, I made the trip back to the UK to do my belated-OE. My friend Jude came over to visit me at Christmas time, and we had two weeks travelling around the south of England – mainly Devon and Cornwall.

Memories filled with English-pubs with roaring fires. Another memory of climbing over the fence to Old Sarum – we’d gone to sight-see and couldn’t believe they were closed, so we decided to have a look anyway.

On that trip, I also remember visiting Tintagel Castle, and walking over the bridge in the wind. Right on the coast, and quite exposed, it was cold. But so worth the effort. Medieval history, tales of King Arthur and Merlin . . . all good stuff!

English pub grub was the best. Really basic good fare. Sunday roasts that cost next to nothing. Yorkshire puddings the size of dinner plates, with your roast dinner inside it. Toad in the Hole. Lasagne and chips (in England, you can get everything with chips if you like – having chips with lasagne sounded gross to start off with, but you got used to it!)

I lived mainly in London, while I was in the UK, although I did spend a couple of years living in Hertford, Hertfordshire. We had heavy snow one year, so bad that I couldn’t get into work. I lived on a hill, and we couldn’t even drive the car down the hill. No trains running from the train station.

Winters in London, were drab and grey. It got light late and dark early, so days were incredibly short. We used to take advantage of the deals on Teletext, to go get some winter sun. The UK was great for that . . .  you could book really cheap, late last minute deals somewhere warmer. We holidayed in places like Lanzarote, Cyprus, and Egypt (Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh).

Today's winters, I associate with the beach . . . New Zealand's winter beach. We live near some of NZ's best beaches, and walk the dog there - summer and winter. The kids look in the rock pools to see what's been turfed up in the last storm.

We eat soup, casseroles from the crockpot, and roast dinners.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Surname Sunday

Every so often, I like to post my research interests on Twitter - hoping to connect with an unknown descendant or fellow researcher. I've often found (or been found by) descendants or researchers courtesy of the internet:- Rootsweb and other genealogy message boards, Facebook - even by Googling.

You never know who is looking, or might recognise a name and pass on info.

I have researched most of my branches back to the early 1700s - but it must be noted, that I only have verified info for them all up till 1800, as I haven't as yet been able to purchase certificates for them to be 100% confident. In some cases, these certificates just don't seem to exist (Newfoundland and Ireland having similar histories in that their records offices went up in smoke and destroyed quite alot of valuable info). But mostly, its a question of economics. I'll get round to it.

In the meantime, I am trying to flesh out the histories around the people that I have verified.

For those interested:

  • HARVEY – Carbonear, Newfoundland and Kent England; 
  • POTTLE – Carbonear, Newfoundland;
  • BOOTHER – Kent and London, England; 
  • SULLIVAN – Kent, England and Cork, Ireland
  • McKENZIE – Aberdeen, Scotland; 
  • SWANSON – Aberdeen and Olrig, Caithness, Scotland;
  • LITTLE– Kilmanock, Ayr and Edinburgh, Scotland;   
  • DUNCAN – Edinburgh, and Cupar, Fife Scotland
  • Seeking descendants of TURNER, BARCLAY, McKENZIE - descendants of Alexander McKENZIE  (b 1865, Aberdeen, Scotland) and Georgina SWANSON (b 1869, Caithness, Scotland) - children: George, Margaret (Cissie), Robert, David, Mabel and Elizabeth (Betty)
  • Seeking info on ancestors and descendants of James Edward HARVEY (b1871 Freshwater Newfoundland) & Evelyn Julia POTTLE  (b1872 Flatrock Newfoundland)  - Canada
  • John William HARVEY (b abt 1836 Clowns Cove Newfoundland), m Elizabeth SNOW; & father William HARVEY (b abt 1803 ?Ireland?) m Jane NOEL/NEWELL  
  • Seek descendants of Margaret (Cissie) McKENZIE (b abt 1897 Aberdeen, Scotland) & James TURNER, children Alex, Margaret, Doreen, Eric, James 
  • Seeking info Daniel SULLIVAN (b 1831 Cork?) m Julia UNKNOWN (b abt 1834 Cork?), children Ellen, Johanna, Michael, Margaret 
Anyone interested in learning more, or who thinks they may have a connection should go to my Tribal Pages site, and have a look.

You can contact me via a request to join there, or via this blog.

How I got bit by the (genea-)bug

Having been transplanted from the UK to New Zealand when I was four years old, I knew little of my extended family other than what my parents were able to tell me.

I grew up on stories of my mother's Scottish family. The characters and stories she told me were real and tangible and stimulated my imagination. They gave me a sense of belonging and a feeling of Scottishness. Helped me feel more accepting about having an annoying Gaelic name that no one could pronounce. I always felt very Scottish.

My father's family however, was something of a mystery. I'd met a couple of his relatives, and I'd met my paternal grandfather when I was very young, but knew little about him.

My father also knew very little about his family. His mother died of TB when he was a few months old, and he was brought up with a neighbour's family.

I was living in London, when my father asked me to look up some info at the Family Records Office for him. He'd been writing his life story and trying to piece together info from his older surviving relatives including his older sister.

I did the look up for him - and that was it. I was bitten by the bug and have been obsessed ever since.

The hobby, led to a new career, and the rest as they say is HISTORY (or in this case HERSTORY LOL)