Sunday, 31 May 2015

Casualty in The Blitz

Islet Miriam Mackay, my 2nd cousin 3x removed, was born in 1892 in Kempsey, New South Wales. She was the fifth of ten children born to Mercie Caroline Wright (1870 - 1945) and Hugh Adam Mackay (1854 - 1930). Her siblings were Alexander, Ivor, Edwin, Olive, Irwin, Garnett, Ruby, Arthur, and Howard.

In May 1922, it was made known that Islet had passed her fourth year examination as a nurse and was top of her class. In fact, she was the top of her class every year as described in this article from Trove.

Rollands Plains Lady's Success, Port Macquarie & Hastings River
Advocate, 20 May 1922, page 4.
[Source: Trove]
In 1926, Islet left Australia for Canada. However, she was not alone. She was travelling with a Miss Leila Small, also a nurse. After arriving in Canada, Islet & Leila made their way to New York where they spent six months doing post graduate work in nursing. They remained in the US for 18 months gaining further experience in the field. Islet & Leila then went over to the United Kingdom where they spent time traveling around England, Ireland, and Scotland for eight months. They then worked in a nursing home in London for a year. After this, it appears Islet and Leila went their separate ways for a few years as detailed in this article below. Leila went back to the US for a few years, while Islet remained in London. The article is more about Leila's career though. 

Nurses Abroad, Coffs Harbour Advocate, 14 Jan 1938, page 4
[Source: Trove]
When Leila returned to England, she and Islet stayed at the same hotel in Bath where they both continued to nurse. In August 1937, Islet & Leila went on a cruise around Portugal and Bermuda for a month.

UK Incoming Passenger Form, 10 Sep 1937
Arrows marking Islet Mackay & Leila Small
[Source: Ancestry, UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878 - 1960]
Islet & Leila returned to work in Bath, and as explained in Leila's article above, Leila returned home to Australia at the end of 1937. Islet remained in London nursing. However, in 1941, she became a patient. I was quite stunned to find that in early 1941 Islet was a victim in an air-raid.

Air Raid Victim, Macleay Chronicle, 12 Feb 1941, page 4
[Source: Trove
After reading, my reaction was something like - An air-raid?! A bombing?! What?! Wait a minute...1941. That's World War 2!

In school I learned about Australia's involvement in World War 2 and Nazi Germany, but I do not recollect learning about England's involvement in the war. I thought if London was bombed during World War 2, there is going to be something about it on the internet. I googled "air raids in London 1941" and struck gold. Between September 1940 and May 1941, Nazi Germany bombed and launched air-raids on England. It was this period that became known as The Blitz (BBC, n.d.). The raids were almost continuous in that they happened almost every day and/or night, with London being bombed about 70 times (History Channel, n.d.). Islet's father had died in 1930, but her mother Mercie was still alive. This would have been a very worrying time I'm sure.

“It was Hitler’s belief that the war from the air would terrorise London into defeat. He was wrong. The city’s inhabitants, on the contrary, took a perverse and particular pleasure from being the front line of the war. ‘We can take it’ became the catchphrase of the Blitz.” - Jon E Lewis, London: The Autobiography (History Channel, n.d.)

I also found an interesting website called Bomb Sight which has mapped where all the bombs fell in London during The Blitz. They have made it available online and is interactive in that you can type in a London address and see if it or the surrounding area was bombed. In the article above, Islet is working at Wellhouse Hospital and was living a mile away. Googling Wellhouse Hospital led me to Wellhouse Lane which is now the location of Barnet Hospital.

Map showing the location of Wellhouse Lane & Barnet Hospital
[Source: Google Maps]
I put Wellhouse Lane into Bomb Sight to see if there were any bombings in the area....and yes, there were.

Screenshot of Bomb Site showing locations that were bombed. I have labelled the location of Wellhouse Lane & Barnet Hospital.
[Source: Bomb Sight]
I wonder if it was any of those bombs that caused Islet's injuries? I do not know what happened during the rest of Islet's time in England or how long she remained there for, as by 1949 she had returned to Australia. I found her in the 1949 Electoral Roll living in Killara, Sydney.

1949 Electoral Roll for Subdistrict of Gordon, District of Bradfield, NSW.
[Source: Ancestry, Australia Electoral Rolls, 1903 - 1980]
After a definitely interesting life, Islet Miriam Mackay passed away in New South Wales in 1980 at the age of 88. She outlived eight of her siblings. 

BBC (n.d.). The Blitz. Retrieved from

History Channel (n.d.) WW2 - The Blitz Hits London. Retrieved from

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

SNGF - Colouring Maps

The most recent Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver is about what states in the USA and/or Canada you have been to.

The challenge is…

1)  What states in the USA and what provinces in Canada have you visited or lived in? 

2)  Either list, or make a map of them (at the website) and indicate the following:
red for states/provinces where you've not spent much time or seen very much.
amber for states/provinces  where you've at least slept and seen some sights.
blue for states/provinces  you've spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.
green for states/provinces  you've spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.

3)  For extra credit, you could make a map to show where your ancestors resided at any time (e.g., in 1900), or perhaps where your 16 great-great-grandparents or 32 3rd-great-grandparents married, or where your ancestors were born, all with an appropriate legend.

1) Map of where I have been

Being half American, I actually have not been to that many States, but I am pretty happy with where I've been so far. As my family is from Texas, I have been there many times. I have spent at least a week in  California, Utah, Louisiana, and Hawaii which is why they are marked amber. Colorado is marked red because I have only been to Denver airport. Does that even count? When I was a baby I lived in Virginia for a few months, so that one is blue as I have not been there since. Finally, Maryland is red because my parents say we went there whilst living in Virginia.

2) Map of where my Great Great Great Grandparents were born

The color code I used for this map was -
red for states/provinces where 1 or 2 were born.
amber for states/provinces where 3 or 4 were born.
blue for states/provinces where 5 to 8 were born.
* green for states/provinces where 9 or more were born.

Six were born in Tennessee, five in Alabama, three in Mississippi, one (Daniel Guyton Smith) in South Carolina, and one (Louisa Clementine Brister) in Virginia. The other 16 were born in Australia, Scotland and England. 

3) Map of where my Great Great Great Grandparents married

The color code I used for this map and the next was -
red for states/provinces where 1 or 2 resided at marriage.
amber for states/provinces where 3 or 4 resided at marriage.
blue for states/provinces where 5 or 6 resided at marriage.
* green for states/provinces where 7 or more resided at marriage.

Eight of my 3x Great Grandparents were living in Mississippi at the time of their marriage. Four married in Alabama and another four married in Texas.

4) Map of where my Great Great Grandparents married 

Two married in Mississippi, two married in Alabama, and four married in Texas. The rest married in Scotland and Australia.

That was fun! I think I might make more maps for my American ancestors. As my geography of the US is not that good, having a visual diagram like these maps make it a lot easier to understand! It really puts the states my ancestors came from in perspective for me, especially as to where these states are in relation to each other.   

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Postcards & Photographs - A Mystery.

In among my Grandfather's box of family history stuff were a couple of postcards and photos. I would like to try and figure out who they are. Sadly two of the photos were not labelled, and the sender of the postcards did not use full names. If you have any opinions after reading this post, please do comment and let me know what you think!

Postcard A - Front
Postcard A - Back
Please correct me if you think otherwise, but I believe this postcard is from an A. Gibbins at 10 Kingsley Street, Camberwell, Victoria, and was sent at Christmas 1915. I cannot seem to find a 10 Kingsley Street in Victoria's electoral rolls from 1912 - 1919 (Subdistrict: Camberwell, District: Kooyong). Perhaps A. Gibbins was visiting or had not enrolled to vote in Victoria, but from what they said, it sounds like they had moved from Macksville (where my Great Grandparents & Grandfather lived) to Victoria. There were Gibbins living in Camberwell but not in Kingsley Street, and none of their names began with A. 

Postcard B - Front
Could the man and woman in the middle of this photo above be the same man and woman in Postcard A? I thought the women looked very similar, but was not sure about the man. However, Postcard B is from somebody with the surname Hay.

Postcard B - Back.
The only Hay I have in my family tree is John Eric Hay, born 1891 in Waratah, New South Wales and died 1951 in Newcastle, New South Wales. John Hay married my Grandfather's cousin Elizabeth Jeater in 1943 in Newcastle. As far as I am aware, John and Elizabeth did not have children. John was Elizabeth's second marriage. Elizabeth was the daughter of Ernest Edwin Jeater and Margaret Croal, my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal's sister. My Great Grandmother Elizabeth did not die until 1952, so one possible explanation is that John could have sent this to my Great Grandmother?
But that would mean the two couples are completely different people? I have no Gibbins in my family tree that I have found thus far. Still, I did not think in the 19th or 20th Centuries people would send postcards with strangers on them, but who knows. If only there was a date and address on Postcard B! John Hay was one of four or five siblings, so I doubt it is his family, and Margaret and Edwin had three boys and two girls, where as the family in the postcard have four girls and two boys. I have not seen a known photo of Margaret Croal/Jeater before either.

However, mentioning the Croal's brings me to these two photographs...

Portrait C
Portrait D


My first thought on seeing these two photos was that they could possibly be the same couple in Postcard B, and possibly Postcard A. However, the back of the photos say they were taken at a studio in Newcastle which is where Margaret Croal and Ernest Jeater lived. I would like to say that they are definitely not the same couple in Postcard A as they never lived at Macksville nor Victoria, but could they be the couple in Postcard B? I'm not sure.

I mentioned before I had not seen a photo of Margaret Croal before. Could this woman be her? I compared it to the photos of my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal, and in my opinion, they do look very similar. Margaret died in 1949 at the age of 78, and Elizabeth died in 1952 at the age of 79. Here is a photo of Elizabeth. Do you think they look similar?

My Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal
I would like to rule out Postcard A and say that it is not the same couple in Postcard B or the individual photos above. A. Gibbins who moved from Macksville to Victoria is most likely an unrelated family friend at this stage. But why does 10 Kingsley Street not appear in Camberwell's Electoral Roll between 1912 and 1919? It could be part of another electorate...if so, I have not been able to find the relevant information.

What do YOU think?
Could the individual portraits be the same couple in Postcard B?
Or are they all completely unrelated to each other?
Could Portrait C of the lady be Margaret Croal/Jeater?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Elector's Right!

I have just come across this Elector's Right form which belonged to my Great Grandfather William Gow (1868 - 1943). It was folded up with some other documents of his that my Grandfather had stuck together with a nail. I have transcribed it below.

Electoral District of Newtown Erskine Division

The Holder Hereof William Gow of 227 Wilson Street, Newtown (Occupation) Constable of Police whose name is signed hereunder, is, if enrolled, entitled to vote at Elections of Members of the Assembly in the above district, being qualified in respect of Manhood and of Residence in such District.

It is dated the 29th of December, 1897.

Map showing location of 227 Wilson Street, Newtown
[Source: Google Maps]
Newtown was an electorate in the recent New South Wales State Election this year, but I wanted to know more about the Newtown Erskine Division at the time William was around. Why was it called Newtown Erskine back then? I found that in 1894, single member electorates were introduced. This required the Newtown local government area being divided into three seats - Newtown-Camperdown, Newtown-Erskine, and Newtown-St Peters (Electorate: Newtown, 2015). In 1904, the number of seats in Parliament was reduced from 125 to 90, and thus, Newtown became a single electorate. Up until 1947, Newtown had it's own local government, separate to Sydney City Council (Electorate: Newtown, 2015). William would have experienced these electorate changes in Newtown, but sadly died a couple of years before it became part of Sydney City Council.

I also found this awesome website, Atlas of New South Wales that shows the electoral history from 1856 to 2007. It's a lot of fun. Definitely check it out. I found the Newtown Erskine electorate for the year 1898 (the year after William enrolled). If you have an ancestors address over a few years or decades, you could follow their electorate over that time too.

Newtown Erskine Electorate
[Source: Atlas of New South Wales]
A new genie-tool! I wonder if the Atlas will have my political cousin Donald Walter Croal? Alright, I'm off on another tangent now.

Have you followed an ancestor's electorate over time?

Electorate: Newtown. (2015). Retrieved from

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Will of Elizabeth Wright

When FindMyPast released New South Wales Will Books 1800 - 1952, I was over the moon! As my Australian side of the family are from New South Wales, I have used this collection to no end. Not all Wills are detailed, and not all of my ancestors left a Will, but it's always exciting when you find that an ancestor was very specific in their Will. For me, that Will belongs to my 4x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Wright nee Graham. I won't tell you much about her life before she died except for the following - she was born in 1815 in England, and arrived in Port Macquarie in 1833. She married William Wright in 1835, and died on the 24th of December, 1895 in Kempsey. I have a separate post in the works about Elizabeth and William, so be on the look out for that soon.

Before finding Elizabeth's Will, I had known that she and William lived in Kempsey, however I had not been able to find any record of where in Kempsey they lived. Elizabeth's Will changed all that. She gave exact street names! I have inserted maps where appropriate, added punctuation for an easier read (hopefully?), and everything underlined was underlined in the Will.

The Will of Elizabeth Wright

This is the last Will and Testament of me Elizabeth Wright of East Kempsey, Macleay River in the Colony of New South Wales, Widow, Revoking all former Wills and Testamentary documents hereinbefore made by me and I declare this to be my last Will.

After the payment of all my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses “are paid” I do hereby give devise and bequeath to my grand daughter Caroline Elizabeth Gill an allotment of land having frontage to Sullivan Street and William Street, East Kempsey, with cottage erected thereon and all outhouses. Also the whole of contents of such cottage consisting of furniture and personal effects with the exception of any legal documents.

Sullivan Street & William Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
[Source: Google Maps]
     I also give and bequeath to the said Caroline Elizabeth Gill an allotment of land containing half an acre having frontage to Lord and Innes Street, East Kempsey, and I do hereby direct my Executors to have a cottage built on the said land, such cottage to cost and be of the value of two hundred pounds, the amount to be paid out of the sale of my freehold estate. I also give to the said Caroline Elizabeth Gill one milch cow now running on my selection at Inglewood also my chestnut mare Beauty and one Comus filly.

Lord Street & Innes Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
[Source: Google Maps]
     I will and bequeath the above mentioned with all deeds relating thereto absolutely to Caroline Elizabeth Gill. I will and bequeath to Edwin James Wright an allotment of land at East Kempsey bounded on the North by the allotment bequeathed to Caroline Elizabeth Gill, on the South by C. L. Gabriel’s land, on the East by Inness Street, and on the West by Lord Street, to be held in trust by him as long as he may live. And at his decease to my grandson William Frederick Barker Wright absolutely.

    I further direct that the whole of my freehold property remaining after the above bequests are “made” to be sold as soon as my Executors can arrange for such sale, and the amount realized from such sale to be equally divided amongst my four daughters namely Alice Gill, Caroline Gill, and Matilda Walker and Charlotte Winslow share and share alike with the exception and reserving therefrom the Two hundred pounds as above stated for the erection of a Cottage. I also will that the estate bequeathed to me by my late husband William Wright as follows to Mrs Matilda Walker, wife of George Walker, about eight acres of land now occupied by William Parker and fronting Washington Street, to hold the same as long as she shall live and at her decease to her two sons Percy Walker and Augustus Walker.

Washington Street, East Kempsey, New South Wales
See Wrights Lane on the right? I wonder if it was named after the family.
[Source: Google Maps]
    To William Henry Wright I bequeath the sum of Fifty pounds to be paid to him out of the sale of my estate. I will and bequeath my selection at Inglewood containing forty acres to my daughter Alice Gill for the mutual benefit of herself and her son William Wright Gill. I further will and direct that the whole of the remaining portions of the estate whatsoever shall be equally divided among my children Charlotte Winslow, Caroline Gill, Alice Gill, Matilda Walker, Edwin James Wright, Christopher Wright, and Edgar Graham Wright share and share alike. And I hereby direct my Executors to see that a satisfactory division is made And I further direct my Executors to collect all monies due to me by my children, such monies to be paid before they participate in the property or any money they may be entitled to out of my estate, and upon such monies being paid it shall be divided among my children share and share alike.

    And I do hereby constitute and appoint James William Wilson of West Kempsey and William Thomas Daugar of West Kempsey to be Trustees and Executors to this my Will. In witness whereof I have set my hand hereunto this seventh day of December one thousand eight hundred and ninety five.

    Elizabeth Wright

    Signed by the testator Elizabeth Wright as and for her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request and in her presence and in the presence of each other, all being present at the same time, have hereinto subscribed our hands as witnesses.

John Campbell, Auctioneer Kempsey.      
H.E. Palmer, Inspector of Stock, Kempsey. 

     20th Ferbruary 1896. By Act of Court Probate of the last Will and Testament of the said deceased granted to James William Wilson of Kempsey, Macleay River, Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for the Macleay District, and William Thomas Daugar of Kempsey, Saddler, the Executors in the Will named.

    Testator died 24 December 1895 at East Kempsey.  Estate sworn under $2499.

What a Will!

Which one of your ancestors has the most detailed Will you have found thus far?