Saturday, 31 December 2011

Familton Matriarch

Check the FAMILTON DNA project blog for latest dna results - mtDNA this time.
And as Elizabeth is the mother of Margaret RUNCHAMAN, that's some of the RUNCIMAN mtDNA identified as well.

Nearly the end of 2011 here in NZ, all the best for 2012.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ego-less genealogy?

In my dim and distant past as a computer programmer I remember being much taken with a book Ego-less Programming, or some such title.
WeRelate looks like the genealogical equivalent.

It's another collaborative tree aiming at no duplications, people linked and working on ONE version of a person/family in a wiki, same concept as Wikipedia but purpose built for genealogy, and much more easily pre-loaded with data (by gedcom).

So far I've only experimented with one small family whose research was completed (as much as any genealogy ever is) over the last few days, the Pawtucket FAIRBAIRNs from Glasgow who have sat in my database for several years without a home or further work until I stumbled upon a missing link that enabled me to link up Robert Bruce FAIRBAIRN, the banker of Roxbury, Massachusetts to Robert and Jean FAIRBAIRN, and identify Jean's maiden name as URQUHART despite the inventive spelling of the Americans over the years.  Throw in a couple of Thaddeus FAIRBAIRNs, and a Florence Nightingale FAIRBAIRN ++ and there's a little family unit to test out WeRelate with.
(if there's any direct male line FAIRBAIRN still around willing to join the FAIRBAIRN  Surname DNA project, there's still discounts going to the end of this month)

Love the validation of the submitted gedcom.
Took me a couple of goes to pass the first hurdle of date and place warnings.
Also love the ability to link to existing sources and places where appropriate.
Yet to try out the merging of submitted data with existing data, and can only see one of my RUNCIMAN clan there already to test that out on, but have to get my submitted gedcom past the next level of scrutiny first.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

North Island Strays

Having fun swapping information with Julie at the moment.
She was all excited as her husband didn't think he had any relations until she found my web pages.

The MEIKLE branch of the HENDERSON tree is one of the North Island strays that few of the Southeners knew much about when I started documenting HENDERSONs  back in the 1970s/1980s.  And so it mostly stayed.
Without purchasing certificates, I'd always been puzzled by the 37 year age gap between Grace and the most likely candidate for her husband in the records.
Grace ROBERTSON in my HENDERSON tree turns out to have been the third wife, with the second having the distinction of having died in 1906 as the result of a motor car accident - yes 1906 - check the photo of Janet MEIKLE's headstone online in the Timaru cemetery records.

Inspired by the contact, a couple of shared certificates and trusty Papers Past, quite a bit of meat has been put on the bones now.  Bruce's grandfather John MEIKLE built the Grosvenor Hotel in Timaru, was a coach driver between Timaru and Christchurch, and appears to have driven the Vice Regal party of Sir James & Lady FERGUSSON in 1873.

Wonder what Grace thought about his ashes being buried with the first wife back in Timaru?
Grace seems to have travelled around the country quite a lot, playing croquet.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


 Ralph has posted a wonderful slideshow of Heatherhope, his ancestral RICHARDSON home on the RICHARDSON Family Group (open only to descendants of William RICHARDSON of Pringlestead).
Also contains some other wonderful old photos of the RICHARDSONs.


Kudos to our Dept of Internal Affairs for a very prompt, efficient response to an incorrect death index online.
The death index for a William FAIRBAIRN, known to have died in 1912 by the online Christchurch City Council cemetery records, was not immediately obvious in the NZ Historical Death index online as either FAIRBAIRN or FAIRBURN (not so much kudos for no wildcard search facility).
Back to the fiche index at the local library, and there he was, as FAIRBURN.
Sent an email last night to the Dept of Internal Affairs to inform them that their index had a chap missing and by the time I checked my email in the morning there was a reply explaining that he had been mistakenly indexed initially with his occupation as his surname, and it had been corrected. It was.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

What happens when you vote!

An interesting set of circumstances followed my early vote last month.
The chap taking my details ruled the line through my name and paused with his finger on it.
Is this really your occupation?
Probably, what did I put?
Ah, yes, that's me.
"Can you find my father?"
Most definitely not what I was expecting, and obviously not a particularly easy task given the son had failed for over 40 years.
What followed over the next fortnight was a fascinating exercise for all concerned.
Known basic information:
Death (1981 Bristol as Frederick GOVIER) and marriage (1936 Bristol to DRAKE), both of which were quickly confirmed, but as suspected, birth around the Sep 1904 date in Fulham not to be found.
Nor any Frederick, son of Frederick GOVIER, platelayer to be found in the 1911 census.

Warning him that this could mean at least one of two things, an illegitimate birth, or a mis-indexing of the surname, and hoping that the late Sep birth was indeed registered in that quarter, and that at least the Fulham was correct, off to the Fulham births. Pages of them.
The name Frederick was popular enough to still make this a daunting prospect, at least two screenfulls, so I took a punt on a possible mis-index first and scanned the index on that basis.
Up popped a Frederick GROVER, Sep qtr, Fulham.
And, there in 1911 was a Frederick GROVER, son of Frederick GROVER, plate layer for the SE Ry, living in Brixton.
Was this QED?
Subsequent research found deaths for Frederick Snr and his wife, but both beyond the childhood stories of Frederick Jnr's parents having died when he was in his teens.
However, noone researching the family of Frederick & Ellen Violet (DAVIS) GROVER could specifically eliminate their son Frederick from my enquiries.
It was suggested that he had married a Ruth YOUNG, and died in 1982 but the researchers were working from the same indexes I was, so no certificate had been sighted.
The Fulham GROVER birth certificate was ordered, in full knowledge that it could be a completely different person.

There was also an interesting sidetrack which raised a few eyebrows and questions in that the birth indexes showed a potential (unknown) sibling for my chap, birth registered in Exeter in the same year as the parents' marriage, with the same mother's surname - and no other GOVIER/DRAKE marriage in evidence. That was fairly easily solved once descendants were tracked down, and I was put in touch with her - parents had married in Canada and returned to the UK.  (The Exeter registration, as opposed to Bristol, wasn't really a warning sign as my chap's mother had come from Devon.)

In due course, the certificate turned up - showing Frederick's birth date was an exact match to that from his death certificate. But it also showed that the above Frederick and Ellen (DAVIS) GROVER was a complete red herring, and an absolute coincidence of names, dates, and occupation!
As suspected, there was no father given on the birth cert., only the mother, one Elizabeth Kate GROVER, of Farm Lane, Fulham.
And I'd only picked the GROVER cert. because it might have been a mis-indexed GOVIER!

Back to the 1911 to see what could be found now that we had the mother's name.
Lo and behold, there in Neath, was a Frederick GROVER in the index, with the transcribed entry showing him as the son of a "Fred Thome" and Elizabeth Kate GROVER, with "Fred Thome" working for the GW Ry (Great Western Railway) - but the image actually showed they were GOVIER.
So the misindexing of this record meant I hadn't found them in my initial GOVIER searches, but I should have found them once I'd started searching for GROVER - if I'd widened my search beyond England, and not stopped at the first one that mostly fitted.
A correction to the transcription has been lodged, and we are all off to buy our lotto tickets.

After 40 years, my chap now has information about his grandparents, or at least his grandmother, and his potential grandfather, and we are all still marvelling at the coincidences, and luck, in actually finding the right chap with the first certificate.
Frederick Thomas GOVIER, of Rowburton, Taunton, Somerset, married Elizabeth Kate GROVER in Qtr 2 of 1905 and comes from quite a line of railway employees, with the Great Western Railway records on Ancestry showing a number of cautions between them for derailments, damaging good shed doors, and one commendation for catching a chap riding in a goods wagon.
Elizabeth Kate GROVER comes from a family based in Fulham back to a Charles and Frances (GRANT) GROVER who married in 1810, Chelsea St Lukes.
My electoral officer would love to hear from anyone related to either side of this family.  His tree is now online on MyHeritage and WikiTree.

Morals: remember to widen your search, and don't assume an index is right without checking further.
Or - keep looking, but make sure that a genealogist comes in to vote when you are looking for your father.
Read the sequel here.