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My passion is genealogy and family history. I host a podcast about Australian family history, Genies Down Under. In my day job, I work as a lecturer and a researcher in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

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Monday, 26 September 2016

A proud moment: My ancestor came second in the "Ugly Man Competition"!

Imagine my surprise when I found a series of newspaper articles describing how one of my great-uncles, Carew Standish Aloysius NORTHCOTE, was entered into the Ugly Man Competition in Gulgong in 1937. The competition was organised to raise funds for the Gulgong Hospital. Although I never knew my great-uncle Carew, his family and friends thought he was a great fella, with a generous heart, a happy disposition and a good sense of humour. He would have needed it to be nominated for this competition.

Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative,
Thursday 7 January 1937, page 6

When I chased up the subsequent articles about the winner of the competition, I found out that sadly, or happily, my ancestor didn't win the competition but he was the runner up. What a claim to fame!

Excerpt from The Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative,
Thursday 6 May 1937  Page 18

Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative,
Thursday 9 September 1937, page 18

The "winner" of the competition was Mr Thomas Britt who was publicly congratulated on page 19 of The Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative on Thursday 13 May 1937.

Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative,Thursday 13 May 1937, page 19

I'm not sure if he warranted the honour or not but I'm sure my great-uncle Carew NORTHCOTE took the nomination with his typical sense of humour. Here are a few pics I have of him from our family's photograph collection.

Carew (on the right) digging up his big cabbage at Gulgong in 1934

On a visit to Sydney about 1936.

Above photograph was extracted from this photograph, with some of his brothers and his nephew, Carew Northcote (junior) in Sydney

Carew Northcote (Junior), Carew Northcote (Senior) and Ellen Northcote, nee Keneally about 1934 in Gulgong

Carew and one of his brothers in Sydney, about 1937

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Week 3 NFHM Challenge: Military battle, family anniversary or significant event

Military battle, family anniversary or significant family event
Week 3 - Sunday 21 August - Significant military battles are commemorated during the month of August such as Mouquet Farm in WWI and Milne Bay in WW2.  The Australian Comforts Fund was also founded in August 1916.  Did your ancestors have connections to these places or battles?  Is there another anniversary or significant event that your family commemorates/remembers in August?

Just over 100 years ago, my great-uncle, Walter John NORTHCOTE, enlisted for active service in WWI at the age of 44 years of age. 

Walter John NORTHCOTE, in about 1938

Although we don't celebrate any military anniversaries in August in our family, I decided to commemorate the decision to join the army by one of my great-uncles Walter John NORTHCOTE in 1916. The thing that makes his decision to join the army a little bit different from many of his fellow military men is that he was 44 years of age when he joined. He was one of the oldest men in Australia to enlist during World War I.

Walter was one of 420,000 Australians who enlisted during 1914-1918. This represented 38.7% of the male population of Australia; their ages ranged between 18 and 44.2. [Statistics in this paragraph were drawn from the website, "Enlistment statistics, First World War", accessed 21 August 2016 at: https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/enlistment/ww1/]

"The National Average Age for soldiers enlisting in WWI was 24.25 years of age. Having fluctuated from 23 in 1914, to 26 in 1916 and fell again to 24 by 1918." [Source: WWI Age at Enlistment: http://mq.edu.au/on_campus/museums_and_collections/australian_history_museum/online_exhibitions/oua_anzac_unit/wwi_age_at_enlistment/, accessed 21 August 2016]

He enlisted on 27 January 1916 at Casula, NSW. He was in the Mining Corps and 1 to 3 Reinforcements. His number was 2488.

Other information from his records include:
  • Born in Wellington, NSW
  • Was married
  • Next of kin was his wife, Elizabeth NORTHCOTE
  • Wheelright by occupation
  • Address: Albert St, Newtown
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Had completed an apprenticeship

Below are some snippets of his military records.

Physical description:

Source: National Archives of Australia

His signature, dated 27 January 1916:

During his time in the army, he travelled to France and England. He was eventually discharged on 27 June 1919.

Source: National Archives of Australia

He was awarded two medals: 1) British General Service Medal; and 2) Victory Medal.

Source: National Archives of Australia

I would like to acknowledge the contribution Walter John NORTHCOTE made to the military forces in Australia.

In sickness and health: Harry NEWTON of Trangie

Over the past few weeks, I've been researching the lives, times and deaths of two of my great-uncles, Henry Augustus NEWTON (born approximately 1861-1863, died in 1930) and his younger brother, Thomas NEWTON (born approximately 1864-1865 and died in 1926). Both men lived most of their lives in rural NSW in the towns of Orange, Wellington, Narromine, Trangie and Warialda. They also regularly travelled to Sydney in the early 1900s for medical treatment and to visit their mother and some of their seven half-brothers.

In my research about the elder of the two brothers, Henry Augustus NEWTON, also known as Harry NEWTON, I found a very public account of his sickness, health, recovery, a recurrence of his sickness and, eventually, his death in a number of NSW newspapers. Below is an account of his illnesses during the past few years of his life.

If I had to explain the one main aim of all of my family history research, it is to find out about my ancestors' characters - what makes them tick, their personalities, their likes and dislikes, as well as their faults and strengths. That's why I think the most touching part of the story below is the phrase where Harry is described as follows:
"Although a great sufferer, Harry is always cheerful and apparently contented with his lot". (Source: Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, Friday 13 December 1929, page 4, via TROVE Newspapers)

By the late 1920s, Harry NEWTON was not a well man. He was living in Trangie, a town in NSW which is located about 500km north-west of Sydney. More specifically, he seemed to be working and living at a place called Bundemar, just outside of Trangie.

Friday 17 September 1926

The first reference I found to Harry's health in the newspapers was on page 8 of The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate on Friday 17 September 1926. He was described as suffering from pneumonia and was spending some time in the Dubbo Hospital. It seems that he was living at Bundemar, between Trangie and Gilgandra.

Mr. Harry Newton, of Bundemar, is at present an inmate of Dubbo Hospital suffering from an attack of pneumonia.

The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, Friday 17 September 1926, Page 8 (via TROVE Newspapers)
Bundemar seems to be a farm located somewhere between Trangie and Gilgandra, I found it on a couple of different maps ...

Bundemar, Source: Google Maps, 2016

Friday 13 December 1929

A few years later, on Friday 13 December 1929, the Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, under the heading of TRANGIE TOPICS on page 4, reported the details of Harry's illness and recovery.

Mr. Harry Newton, of Trangie, is certainly having a rough spin, as far as health is concerned. For some months he was an inmate of a North Sydney hospital, where he underwent a severe operation. Although a great sufferer, Harry is always cheerful and apparently contented with his lot.
Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, Friday 13 December 1929, page 4 (via TROVE Newspapers)

Friday 10 January 1930

The following month, Harry NEWTON's was reported as recovering from his illness in the Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, on Friday 10 January 1930, page 3, under the title of TRANGIE TOPICS and A Rough Spin.

We are pleased to report that Mr. Harry Newton, who has been having an exceeding rough spin during the best half of the old year, having underwent several serious operations in Sydney Hospitals, and for the past three weeks has been an inmate of Dr. Maclean's private hospital, Trangie, is once again on his feet and able to stroll around with the aid of a stick. It is to be hoped the New Year will see him permanently recovered.
Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, Friday 10 January 1930, page 3, TRANGIE TOPICS (via TROVE Newspapers)

Friday 7 February 1930

By February 1930, the state of Harry's health sounded quite serious. He was now under the care of Dr Maclean's private hospital. 

The many friends of Mr. Harry Newton will regret to learn that he has again been compelled to seek medical attention and is now located in Dr. Maclean's private hospital. There is no doubt he is experiencing a very rough spin, it being well over twelve months since he underwent a serious operation. Since then he has been unable to do anything, the most of the time being spent in hospital. It is hoped that on this occasion his stay will be short and that under the skilful attention of Dr. Maclean he will recover normal health.
Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, Friday 7 February 1930, page 3 (via TROVE Newspapers)

Friday 14 March 1930

By March, Harry was required to travel to Sydney to seek further hospital treatment.

Mr. Harry Newton, who, as recently stated in these columns, has been having more than his share of ill health, has disposed on his plant, and left for Sydney, where he will again enter hospital for treatment.

The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, Friday 17 September 1926, Page 8 (via TROVE Newspapers)

Friday 6 June 1930

Sadly, it seems that Harry's health did not return to normal. A few weeks after Harry died in Sydney, his death was reported on Friday 6 June 1930, in the Narromine News and Trangie Advocate. Although he had actually died a couple of weeks before on 20 May 1930, he was reported to have died in Sydney a few days before.

Mr. Harry Newton, a one-time well known resident of Narromine, died in Sydney a few days ago. Particulars next issue.
Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, Friday 6 June 1930, page 9 (via TROVE Newspapers)

Thursday 22 May 1930

Harry NEWTON died on 20 May 1930 in the Liverpool District Hospital in Sydney. His funeral notice was published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday 22 May 1930 (page 9).


NEWTON - The Relatives and Friends of the late HENRY NEWTON, late of Narromine, are invited to attend his Funeral; to take place THIS THURSDAY at 2 p.m., in the Catholic Cemetery, Field of Mars.
And L. MURPHY and SON, Liverpool,
Funeral Directors in conjunction.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 1930, page 9  (via TROVE Newspapers
He was buried in grave no. 210 in the Catholic section of the Field of Mars Cemetery in North Ryde, in Sydney, on Thursday 22 May 1930. 

However, the year of his death is recorded incorrectly on his grave as 1936 (instead of the correct year of his death, 1930). An analysis of this error is included on the following blogpost:
The mystery of Henry NEWTON's death date ... solving one mystery reveals other mysteries , 11 November 2011

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Week 2 NFHM Challenge: Working ancestors - Gang of working ancestors

Working ancestors

Week 2 - Sunday 14 August - Blogger Anne Young reminds us that 16 August 1891 was the date the Shearers' Strike Monument was dedicated. This week why don't you honour your working ancestors and the challenges they faced in their occupations.

In addition to all the unpaid work done by my ancestors in mothering, fathering, housework and farmwork, here is a selection of my ancestors' occupations that I have found in my research so far:

Margaret NORTHCOTE, nee RILEY (1843-1927)
Midwife, Nurse, Boarding house keeper, Domestic servant

William Walter NORTHCOTE (c.1843-1888)
Farmer, Draper, Stockman, Auctioneer, Storekeeper, Labourer, Clerk, School teacher, tutor

Carew NORTHCOTE (1879-1937)
Publican, Butcher

Leo Bertie Bede Bernard NORTHCOTE (1887-1970)
Tailor, Bar tender, Florist

George KINGSBURY (1843-1910)
Gardener, Gamekeeper

Lily Anne WALTERS, nee KINGSBURY (1902-1996)

James Walter KINGSBURY (1867-1945)
Greaser, Caretaker

Mary KINGSBURY (nee HOLLOWAY) 1844 to 1936
School teacher

Margaret BUTLER (1853-1946)
Servant, Property renter, Governess

Sarah (aka Sally) KINGSBURY (1881-1967)
Tram conductress

Walter John NORTHCOTE (1871-1954)
Wheelright, Cyclist agent

William Montgomery NORTHCOTE (1875-1933)
Hairdresser, Miner, Mechanic

Percival Ernest Phil NORTHCOTE (1881-1958)
Shearer, hotelier

Carew Joseph Trevor NORTHCOTE (1932-2002)
Electrical instrument maker

William Joseph KENEALLY (1860-1926)
Crane driver, Labourer

Patrick (aka Paddy) James BUTLER (1860-1943)

John Joseph WALTERS (1871-1935) 

John  Joseph WALTERS (1905-1970)
Tailor, Plumber, Presser, Painter

Grace WALTERS (1907-1992)

Thomas Gregory WALTERS (1909-1975)
Roofer, Painter

Margaret FLEMING (1866-1939)
Tailoress, Vesthand

Catherine CARRICK (1877-1912)

And now for some ancestors whose photographs I don't have ...

Elizabeth Warren HOLLOWAY (1815-1891)
Shirt button maker

Maria WARREN (c.1774-1855)

Joseph KINGSBURY (1789-1866)
Agricultural labourer, Labourer

William Henry KINGSBURY (c. 1817- c. 1890)
Agricultural labourer, Labourer

Thomas RILEY (c.1816-c.1875)
Shoemaker, Bootmaker, Publican

Henry (aka Harry) Augustus NEWTON (c. 1861-1930)
Engine fitter, gold digger, butcher, electrical engineer

Thomas NEWTON (c.1864-1926)

Arthur Francis NORTHCOTE (1884-1960)
Pastrycook, Baker

William KENELLEY (c.1819- after 1884)

James Joseph KENEALLY (1895-1955)
Wire worker

Michael BUTLER (1851/1852-1913)

Thomas BUTLER (1862-1929)
Inspector, Water and Sewerage Board 

Thomas Joseph WALTERS (1871-1939)
Storeman, Wool storeman, Wool classer

Patrick FLEMING (c.1830-1880)

Thomas CARRICK (c. 1837-1901)
Agricultural labourer, Labourer, Fuel merchant, Contractor, Carrier, Funeral carter

Mary Ann McLISTER (nee CARRICK) (1865-1939)

Thomas CARRICK (1868-1929)

Thanks to all their hard work, we are here today.

Thanks also to Alex  Daw for setting up this National Family History Month Blogging Challenge.