Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Chance Encounter

My paternal Grandmother was from the small town of Bowraville in New South Wales. There has become a saying about Bowraville (which I am sure is probably true of other small country towns) – everyone is connected in one way or another! This has made researching my family history exciting, interesting, yet also very confusing at times. Because of this, I am often double checking who someone marries, and who their spouse’s parents were in case of a family connection.

Last night was one of those discoveries. First, you need to know what instigated it. The other week my Aunt visited my Grandmother’s sister at her nursing home on the Mid-North Coast of NSW. While she was there, one of the chef’s came around delivering the residents their afternoon tea. The chef started chatting with my Aunt and said, in reference to my Great Aunt, “I hear she’s from Bowraville.” This prompted my Aunt to ask the chef if he was from Bowraville. Indeed he is! My Aunt asked him what his family name was (I won’t mention it for privacy reasons) and she recognized it immediately. My Grandmother often talked about a lady named Joyce from Bowraville with the same surname. My Aunt asked the chef if he had known Joyce. Bingo! Joyce was his mother! Small world. The family is delighted that someone from Bowraville is working at the nursing home my Great Aunt is at.

As my Aunt was telling me all this last night, I checked the family tree to see if I had Joyce already listed. I sure did. My Aunt could not figure out how Joyce was related, so I explained it to her.

Joyce’s parents were Frank Ernest Grace (1890 – 1972) and Violet Bridgen (1888 – 1972). Frank was the brother of Richard (1872 – 1955) and William George Alexander Grace (1874 – 1966) who married two of my Grandmother’s father’s sisters – Alice (1882 – 1952) and Elizabeth Dyer (1873 – 1949). Joyce and I are not cousins, but we have mutual cousins courtesy of her uncles marrying my great great aunts.

Diagram showing the connection between Joyce Grace (1919 - 1996) and myself.

The story does not end there though.

When I explained to my Aunt how Joyce (1919 – 1996) was connected, she remembered that Frank and Violet had a son, Sydney Grace (1921 – 2002), whom my Aunt had known when she was little. She also remembered that Sydney was married to Mavis Laird (1912 – 1968). Mavis actually saved my Aunt from drowning when she was little. And Mavis is what brings me to the second half of last night’s discovery.

It turns out that Sydney was Mavis’ second marriage. Her first marriage? Francis Arthur Stephen Ward (1912 – 1982). When I went to add him into the tree I realized he was already in it, and I already had him as being married to Mavis. I suppose at the time I did not check to see if either of them had had further marriages. I noticed that I did have Francis’ parents listed in the tree too. Francis’ parents were Francis Herbert Ward (1861 – 1943) and Ellen Maude Wiley (1871 – 1939).

Wiley. Remember that name. 

Now, let’s go back for a minute to my Grandmother’s sister who is in the nursing home. My Great Aunt was married to my Uncle Charlie Jones (1916 – 1992). Charlie’s mother was Catherine Wiley (1881 – 1962). Wiley! I told you to remember that name. Uncle Charlie and Francis Jr were first cousins! Charlie’s mother Catherine and Francis’ mother Ellen were sisters. 

Diagram showing the connection between Mavis Laird (1912 - 1968) and Uncle Charlie Jones (1916 - 1992)

Is that the end? Not quite. But I shall give you a moment to breathe. I sure need one after all that information. 

Mavis’ parents were John Laird (1866 – 1913) and Sarah Usher (1884 – 1960). John died in 1913 when Mavis was a year old. In 1915, Sarah remarried a bloke by the name of George Thomas Ballard (1861 – 1930). I have a few distant cousins who were Ballard’s, so naturally I double checked the tree. George Ballard is part of a family I have not done much research into yet. He is my 1st Cousin 4x Removed though! George’s mother was Sarah Ann Walker (1838 – 1902), the sister of my Great Great Great Grandmother, Jane Gilliban Walker (1834 – 1911). While Mavis’ mother Sarah was married to George, Mavis and my Great Grandmother Eva Florence Mackay (1888 – 1976) (My Grandmother’s mother) were step 2nd cousins.  

Diagram showing connection between Sarah Usher (1884 - 1960), her 2nd husband, George Ballard (1861 - 1930), and my Grandmother.

And that my dear readers, is what I discovered last night after my Aunt told me about her chance meeting with a chef at my Great Aunt’s nursing home.

Do you have any interesting small world stories, or strange connections between ancestors?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Two Families, One Ship.

Welcome to my first post for 2016! I thought I would start with something I found quite funny. I had a *facepalm* moment the other day, and discovered a fact about my family history I probably should have known a few years ago.

My Great Great Grandfather Walter Thomas Dyer (1843 - 1911) arrived in New South Wales, from England, in 1849 when he was 6 years old. He traveled with his parents Thomas and Grace, and his older siblings on the ship Emigrant, which arrived in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbor) on June 8th, 1849.

Shipping Record of Walter Thomas Dyer and four of his older siblings on the ship Emigrant. His parents are listed on the previous page.
Source: New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828 - 1896, Ancestry

In 1871, Walter married my Great Great Grandmother Mary Ann Gore (1851 - 1889). Mary was born in 1851 in the Maitland area, 2 years after her parents Henry and Mary arrived in New South 1849. 

Can you see where this might be heading?

The other day I was adding sources to Henry and Mary's profiles in my tree on Ancestry. I had another look at their shipping record. Date of Arrival: June 8th, 1849. Ship: Emigrant. Me: Wait. That sounds familiar. THE DYER'S! Double checked the Dyer's shipping record. June 8th, 1849. Emigrant

Shipping Record of Henry & Mary Gore, & eldest child Elizabeth on the ship Emigrant. My 2x Great Grandmother Mary was their second child two years later.
Source: New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828 - 1896, Ancestry

Yes. The Dyer's and the Gore's arrived on the same ship. I also saw that both families are listed on the same page! The Dyer's at the top. and the Gore's further down the page. That, dear readers, was my face-palming moment. When I first found the Gore's shipping record a couple of years ago, I did not even think to read the other names. 

I started laughing once the initial realization had passed. But seriously, how did I not realize this until now?

Shipping Record of the Emigrant showing both families.
Source: New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828 - 1896, Ancestry

It does explain though, how my Great Great Grandparents Walter and Mary might have met. Their parents could have known each other from the ship and kept in touch upon arriving in New South Wales. It is possible. The other funny thing is, a few of Walter's older sisters married into a Brown family who also arrived on the Emigrant. 

As today is Trove Tuesday, there could not be a more perfect time to have a search on Trove for any mention of the Emigrant's arrival. I found the following two articles -

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1849, June 9). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4.
Retrieved January 19, 2016, from

HOBART TOWN. (1849, June 9). The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 - 1860), p. 153. Retrieved January 19, 2016, from
The Dyer's and the Gore's are the only ancestors I have found that arrived on the same ship. Small world! Or should I say small ship?

Do you have any two (or more?) families in your ancestry that arrived on the same ship?