Monday, 3 February 2014

Paton-MacEntee Down Under in Brisbane.

How do I even begin? Saturday, the 1st of February was a big day for little me! Last year, when I found out that Thomas MacEntee & Chris Paton were coming to Brisbane in conjunction with the 4th Unlock The Past Cruise (it begins tomorrow), I knew I had to go.

I pre-purchased my ticket for the full day online for an excellent price of $39.50. Even Mum was impressed with the price! Normally I work Saturday mornings, so I was very glad that the boss gave me the day off to attend (Thanks Mark! :-D).

The event was held at the Broncos Leagues Club in Red Hill. I don’t know my way around that part of Brisbane. Thankfully Dad & I did not get lost on the way, as he dropped me off right on the dot at 9am. I must say though, I never thought I’d set foot in the Broncos Leagues Club because I’m a Blues supporter. Upon arrival, I lined up with my ticket in hand. I was very excited, yet also quite nervous because it was my first major event with other geneabloggers present, and because I knew I was going to be the youngest there. My stomach felt like it was competing in the gymnastics at the Olympics! When I got to the registration table, I saw fellow geneablogger Helen Smith. She said something like “Finally! In person at last!”

Caitie & Helen
After entering the room, I had a look at a few of the stalls. There were people from organizations including History Queensland, Genealogical Society of Queensland, Queensland Family History Society, Queensland State Archives (QSA), State Library of Queensland, Findmypast, Guild of One Name Studies and Gould Genealogy & History. I spent some time talking to Susan who as at the QSA stall. I mentioned that I had been there recently with my Mum, and Janet Prowse (Executive Director of QSA) had taken us on a behind the scenes tour. Susan knew who I was immediately and told me that she had read my article on Scotlands People!

A few minutes later I was approached by another fellow geneablogger, Alex Daw. I didn’t know she was attending so it was a pleasant surprise to meet her. While I was chatting with Alex, another lady Michelle approached me and told me that she loves what I’m doing and really enjoyed my video on the Queensland State Archives. We also had a good chat for a few minutes. It was getting close to 10am when Thomas MacEntee’s first talk was due to begin so I found myself a seat. I was just checking the usual social media when the man Thomas MacEntee himself (the genius behind Geneabloggers and HackGenealogy), came up to me and asked if I was Caitlin. All I remember from the conversation is that he told me he had some things for me. Not even 5 minutes later, I heard an accent behind me. I turned around – Chris Paton was sitting right behind me! And guess what? He too asked if I was Caitlin! I’m still blown away by the fact that with Thomas and Chris I didn’t need to introduce myself. They both recognized me, and knew who I was.

Thomas’ first talk focused on Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox. This was about different ways of storing your research in some sort of a ‘container.’ A great idea that Thomas mentioned is to put an ‘If Found’ file on your USB. He said that at one library, 50 lost USB’s are found each day. That made me wonder how many USB’s are found at my University on a daily basis. I was also persuaded to give Evernote another try. I have it installed on my phone, but don’t use it that much. I also realized just how much I need to organize my bookmarks on Google Chrome. I’ve got university, genealogy and random things bookmarked in a much unorganized list.

Geneabloggers Goodies
I spoke to Thomas after his talk and he gave me a few Geneabloggers goodies – 3 badges and a ribbon. I’m so excited to have these. I will definitely be wearing them to University. My lecturers are going to love the ‘Keep Calm & Cite Your Sources.’

Chris’ first talk was about Irish Land Records. My Great Great Uncle’s wife Mary Ryan was from Ireland, however, her background is still a mystery to me. My Great Great Uncle John Gow also moved from Scotland to Ireland. I’ve always struggled with Irish Records, and noted down some ideas that will hopefully provide me with some new information about Mary & John.        

After that, Rosemary Kopittke gave us a brief overview of MyHeritage. I was recently given a 12 month subscription to MyHeritage but have not really used it yet. My interest in it was sparked when Rosemary mentioned the statistics and graphs it can generate about your family tree. Being a Math Tutor, and doing Statistics at University last year, I was very intrigued by this. I shall definitely be having a play around with it. Next was a brief demonstration of the Flip-Pal Scanner. Those who follow me on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube would know that I received one for my birthday last year. I took this opportunity to make an early escape for lunch with Alex and her colleague Pat. We enjoyed a nice meal at the 88 Restaurant & Bar and had a wonderful conversation about life, work, genealogy and the future.

After lunch, the prize draws occurred. There were over $1200 worth of prizes, and I believe there were about 15 won in Brisbane. Sadly, my raffle ticket number was not called. However, Alex did win the Queensland Family History Society prize – the Queensland Passports Index 1915 – 1925 CD.

Thomas’ second talk was You use WHAT for genealogy? Thomas taught us about many unusual tools that we either hadn’t heard of or didn’t think they would be useful for genealogy. One great tool I learned about was EasyBib, a source citation generator. If only I’d known about this years ago! Because I’m a University student, referencing and bibliographies are an everyday occurrence. I’m definitely going to give it a go this semester. I’m always looking for new ways to make source citations easier. Another website Thomas showed us was Wolfram Alpha, a computational search engine. I immediately thought my Dad would love this. As it turned out, he already knew about it.

I took the opportunity in the break to have some photos taken. I also purchased Chris’ booklet Discover Scottish civil registration records which he kindly signed for me, and picked up a few fact sheets from the State Library of Queensland stall.

Caitie & Chris Paton


Caitie & Alex

Thomas MacEntee & Caitie take a selfie.
Chris’ second talk was on Scottish Inheritance Records. I listened intently as 80% of the ancestors of my Australian side came from Scotland. Gosh, Scottish inheritance records are confusing! I learned a lot though, and have got some new avenues to search such as the Calendars of Confirmation & Inventories 1877 – 1959.

I had another chat with Chris, Thomas & Helen each. Thomas and I talked about RootsTech in 2015 which is my goal to attend. I then had to have a bit of a de-brief sort of moment with Helen because my mind was going craaazy. And with that, the day came to a close.

Something that Chris noted about me in his blog post was “she seemed bemused at the interest in her from many of us.” It’s true! I know I put my adventures in genealogy out there on social media for the world to see, but I still have trouble understanding just how far it reaches. I never ever thought my passion and love for genealogy would become what it is now, and provide me with the opportunities I’ve had and continue to have. The support and friendship is truly amazing.

Thank you Unlock The Past for this wonderful day, and a special thank you to Thomas, Chris, Helen & Alex for making this young geneablogger very happy.

If I could put how I was feeling that day into one gif (and am still feeling), I think it would be this one. Seems appropriate, yes?


  1. So pleased you had such a fun day, Caitie.

    It would be cool if you went to Rootstech 2015 - quite a few Aussie geneabloggers planning on making the trip there again.

  2. I love that gif! It's so perfect.'s a funny thing this blogging isn't it? Sometimes we feel like we are just putting it into the great black hole of cyberspace but it's real allright. And there are others just like us from all over the globe. So lovely that you got a signed copy of Chris' book. I'm a bit pea green with envy but haven't stopped spinning and smiling yet ;)

  3. Your enthusiasm is rubbing off on those of us who have been around for a long time and sometimes feel a bit disillusioned. Keep up the great work! :-)

  4. Glad you enjoyed it Caitie - see ye when we next see ye!!!

  5. Well done Caitie, you are an inspiration to us oldies! I'm standing next to you in the geneabloggers photo. Cheers!

  6. Caitie,
    Life is so much better with a passion. Your Australian Grandparents would be busting with pride(as am I). Bee

  7. Caitlin,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  8. I'd recommend putting your contact information on the OUTSIDE of your flash drive. Attach a luggage tag, for example. At my university, we have tons of unclaimed flash drives, but we are not allowed to put them in computers to see who they belong to, because of the chance they might contain a virus.

    1. Of course! That totally makes sense. I have my USB's attached to either my keys or a ribbon, lol. I rarely use the computers at Uni, but for others, that is definitely a good idea!

  9. I love reading your blog and learning about your family and discoveries. I could feel the excitement in your post and I know I would have felt the exact same way!