Saturday, 21 May 2016

A very surprising death notice

I was visiting Mum and Dad recently and arrived by train.
Pretty much as soon as I got in the car, Mum pushed a newspaper page into my hands 
“Look at this!”

It’s a death notice for a lady with the same name as my Mum, and living in the same area.

I photographed it and texted it off to my brothers, sure of a couple of interesting responses:

One brother: "She should have told us!"

The other: 
"Not sure if I can take time off for the funeral as I’m about to go on leave. Any chance we can delay for a few more years?"

Mum went into her favourite coffee shop to a greeting of 
“Oh! I’m so glad you’re not dead!”

The age (and family names) does give it away but if you were only skimming headlines, you could easily draw the wrong conclusion.

Of course the next question is:
Are they related?

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Where is Ballentarsen (Victoria)?

I’m spending a week at my parents and Mum raised one of her ‘mysteries’:
I wish I knew where Ballentarsen is / was.”

Ballentarsen / Ballantarsin / Ballentarsin was the name of one of the properties where her mother (Mavis Garrett nee Long) and grandparents (Edward Long and Sarah nee Stonehouse) lived.
(We have different spellings on various documents and photographs.)

It was in The Sisters / Ellerslie / Ballengiech area of the Western District of Victoria (see map below).

Sometime in the 1970s, Mum’s sister drove her mother, aunt and uncle to the house but now doesn’t remember exactly where it was.
She took some photos (included).
The house looks like it’s made of solid stone, so could be still there.

Our timeline seems to show that they lived there between 1918 and 1922.

They sold their property at Glenormiston Warrawong to O’Keefes with possession date of 1 Oct 1918.
They sold Ballentarsen through McDonald Bros, Mortlake on 15 Aug 1922.
The purchase of their next home Watch Hill in Beeac was on 18 May 1922.
I’ve written about the beautiful Watch Hill a couple of times previously, including here.

The only thing I’ve found that relates to any spelling of Ballentarsen on Google or Trove is a reference on the Terang Cemetery Index to a James Graham who died in Feb 1919 at Lake View Keilambete, which is in the same area. 
Lake Keilambete was featured in some of the old photos from my Nanna’s collection.
This reference states that James Graham was born in Ballantarson, Inniskillen, Ireland about 1835.

Perhaps he lived on the property prior to my ancestors and had named it after his home town? 
Perhaps he gave it the name?

Perhaps he sold it in 1918 because he was ill? And moved to his elder son’s property?

Searching for James Graham reveals:
·      his youngest son, Gunner Jack (John) Graham died 31 July 1918 aged 32, from effects of gas poisoning during WWI service.
·      another son, Harry died in 1908 aged 25.

·      at the time of enlistment (15 Sep 1914), Jack Graham’s next of kin was his older brother Charles Augustine Graham who lived at Lake View via Terang.
·      Jack had two service numbers: 1136 in 1st Bn on enlistment and then 1235 in 14th FAB

·      at the time of his death, James Graham had been ill for several years: possibly why Jack put his brother down as next of kin. His mother had died in 1900.

·      The children of James Graham and Margaret Armstrong were: George (1867-1956),   William James (1869-1939),   Mary Ellen (1870-1954),   Eliza Jane (1873-1966),   Matthew Armstrong (1875-1954),   Charles Augustine (1878-1940),   Thomas (1880-? in Tasmania),   Henry / Harry (1882-1908),   Robert Johnson (1884-1969),   John / Jack (1885-1918).

·      Margaret Armstrong d1900 was the daughter of a Western District pioneering family.
·      They married in 1866 in Victoria.

Ellerslie / The Sisters / Ballangeich / Keilambete area from Google Maps

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

5 generation Health History / Cause of Death chart

Many of my family and friends know I studied biochemistry and immunology, and worked in hospital pathology laboratories for many years.

So, with my own fascination and inspired by Helen Smith’s blog including her health history charts, here is my own ancestral health history / cause of death chart.

It was hard to know what colours to use as there are many different causes of death, and multiple causes for some.

For most of these, it was hard to tell which was the overriding cause of death, and which just symptoms or other conditions that existed at the time of death.

I coloured the boxes or text of those with heart disease as that seemed to dominate my family’s chart – a fair warning to us all to take care of our heart now.

I’ve entered the age at death too.
Many lived long lives (especially for those early times) so no surprises that a number died of organ failure or senility.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

I'm back / 5 (6) generation charts

I’m back!
I made a new year’s resolution to resurrect my blog this year.

5 Generation charts
I’ve seen so many of these charts on other blogs and Facebook lately that I couldn’t resist giving it a try – and testing out my rusty old excel skills.

My places of birth chart is pretty boring compared to most of the others I’ve seen: 
Everyone back to and including all my great grandparents were born in Victoria. 
The 5th generation adds a little more colour with a few from Tasmania, and the rest from England, Wales and Scotland.

Then I tried a places of death: even more boring: only one death outside Victoria, in NSW.
It was so monochrome that I added a 6th generation to get some colour!
Then of course I had to add a 6th generation to my places of birth chart.

Here are the results:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Thankful Thursday(s) - a surprise win

This time last week I got an email from Shauna Hicks, co-ordinator of National Family History Month sent me an email to say I had won one of the fabulous prizes from the many sponsors of NHFM.

I won a full registration to Congress 2015 in Canberra next March - the 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry 26-30 March 2015.

What a wonderful prize!

There’s a great program of talks and workshops, and some amazing venues for the welcome function and dinner.

Then today, it arrived in the post - not just a note on how to register but beautifully presented - a special prize indeed.

I had been intending to register before the early bird registrations end on 31 Oct but hadn't got around to it.

Just like I haven't got around to writing my blog for ages.

Here’s my excuse: This is what I’ve been up to in the meantime: the first Volume of our Society’s WWI Commemorative books.

Maybe this is just the inspiration I need to get back to blogging.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Sepia Saturday – There were three in the bed and the little one said...

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt is of girls on a bed with dolls and other ‘toys’.
As kids, my brothers and I were always climbing onto each others beds and ‘reading’ stories or making up stories using our toys.

There’s only 3½ years between the three of us so despite living on farms, there was always ‘someone to play with’, or to fight with!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Sepia Saturday – The (lost) innocence of youth

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt is of a lady filling a sandbag - and a little boy in a sailor suit.
Straight away it reminded me of a photo of my father-in-law Arno van Bergen taken in Limburg, Netherlands around 1930 and wearing a ‘sailor suit’, and so a good prompt to begin writing his fascinating story.

Arno was born Johannes Arnoldus van Bergen in 1925 in Maastricht to carpenter Johannes Jacobus van Bergen (b1895) and tobacconist Maria Elisabeth Hardy (1898-1993). Many generations of both sides of his family had lived in Limburg, with his mothers family going as far back as I could trace - all from Maastricht.

The innocent looking boy in the photo knew nothing of what was to become of him as war broke out in his country by the turn of the decade. He had a very strict Catholic upbringing so he is almost certainly not wearing a sailor suit at all – it is probably a choir or altar boy’s outfit, and he is likely to be holding a bible or prayer book in his hands.

He was a mischievous boy who loved to run and play soccer. He was very good at maths. By 1940 he had probably finished school, or was in his last year.
Despite the destruction of the Wilhelminabrug and the Sint Servaasbrug (pictured)
German troops passed Maastricht, a vital traffic hub, relatively quickly.
Photo taken 10 May 1940 in Maastricht (from Wikipedia)
A month after his 15th birthday, on 10 May 1940, German troops invaded the Netherlands. The inexperienced Dutch Army held out for four days until the Germans bombed Rotterdam and 800 people were killed. The Royal family and the government went into exile in England. Anyone in a government position who stepped down was replaced by a member of the NSB, the Dutch Nazi Party. Some government officials tried to stay on to protect the Dutch people from things like conscription into the German army. Some newspapers and radio stations were banned or shut down in an attempt to control.
The aftermath of the 1940 bombing of Rotterdam from Wikipedia
Before he turned 16 years old, the first ‘roundups’ of Jews occurred, on 22 Feb 1941 and this shocked the Dutch so much the illegal Dutch Communist Party called for a national strike (and marches) three days later. It started in Amsterdam and spread to outlying towns. The Germans were caught by surprise and reacted by shooting at groups of strikers. The strikes didn’t prevent further persecution of the Jews but it did strengthen the disgust for National Socialism in the Netherlands.
In 1941 every Dutch citizen over 14 years (so including Arno) had to carry an identity card. Propaganda was increased, with an overwhelming amount of cinema newsreels, pamphlets, brochures and posters. Aversion to Jews was stirred up.
The Netherlands had pride in their educational system, with different religious groups having separate schools. The Germans had trouble gaining influence in the schools apart from giving preference to NSB teachers, banning school books and increasing the hours of German study. Pupils and teachers were fiercely anti-German so jokes and songs circulated.
Many more people became church-goers as protests were preached from the pulpit and clergymen urged their congregations to help those in hiding.
Catholic and Christian trade unions came under National Socialist leadership in 1941 and when the churches urged members to cancel their membership, 95% took their advice.
The standard of living dropped, imports were impossible and many goods were transported into Germany. There were long queues at shops, petrol became scarce and bicycle tyres were replaced with wooden ones.

Just after he turned 17, at the end of April 1942, all Jews were required to wear a Star of David, and deportations began in that summer. About 80% of the Dutch Jewish population was murdered in the extermination camps.

As Arno turned 18, the Germans decided they needed labour forces and announced 300,000 Dutch soldiers would be transported to Germany. Spontaneous strikes broke out and spread across the country. Known later as the ‘milk strikes’ because they were mainly in country areas where farmers refused to deliver milk to the factories. The German occupiers responded, executing strikers and shooting at groups of strikers. They insisted on all radios being handed in, resulting in many being hidden.
In May 1943, all men between the ages of 18 and 35 had to report for forced labour – this included Arno, aged 18 years and one month – bad timing!

About 140,000 Dutch citizens were taken to Germany and forced to work very long hours in factories that were Allied bombing targets. There were promises of good meals, cigarettes and payment, that in reality didn’t eventuate.
About 120,000 more were used to dig trenches and build fortifications in northeastern Holland – “soldiers without guns”. Arno was one of these - moved from his home in Maastricht, Limburg over 200 kilometres to the area around Lochem, Gelderland.

Many of those in forced labour died or suffered long term physical and/or psychological effects. Many tried to go into hiding but this was difficult as they had no money or ration coupons, and they were fearful of what would happen to their family.

This move was in one sense a good thing for Arno as it is how he met his future wife, and mother of my husband.

This post is long enough – I’ll talk to my mother in law and write more later – including how Arno escaped!