Tuesday, 4 February 2020

So Far Away

We are very lucky these days to be able to flit across the world. I always feel very sympathetic when I consider our ancestors leaving their 'mother country' to come to Australia.

In most cases they would never see their homeland or their family and friends again. How heartwrenching the goodbyes must have been.

The motivations for making the move must have outweighed those negatives. In some cases a family only made the move after the death of parents, and other family members, siblings and their families, or cousins also emigrated.

Of course, in Australia we had some who had the decision made for them, as many were sent out as convicts. One of these was William DROVER, my 3rd half-great uncle.

From "The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh Scotland), Monday 17 Jan 1831 page 4":
William Drover was charged with murder, in so far as he did, on 4th or 5th November, within a house near the Fireworks, at Govan Colliery, wickely and feloniously assault Isobel Crooks his wife, with his fists or some other weapon unknown ; and did inflict severe bruises on her head, breast and other parts of her body, in consequence of which she died on the 6th November following, having been this cruelly murdered by the prisoner William Drover. He pleaded Not Guilty, and a written defence was handed in, in which it was stated that the prisoner and his wife had been married for twenty-seven years during which they had lived in the greatest harmony; that of late she had unfortunately become addicted to the drinking of spirits, but notwithstanding of this no change had taken place in his conduct towards her; that she frequently, while intoxicated, got severe falls; that on the Thursday preceeding her death, she left home to go to Glasgow, as she said, to the church ; but instead of doing so, she got herself drunk, and on coming home she bolted the door. On leaving his work, he could not get in by the door, but found entrance by a window, when he found her lying on the floor. He put her to bed, and she complained of being unwell, and died on Satruday morning.
After a long trial the Jury found a verdict of culpable homicide; and on Friday morning Drover was sentenced to transportation beyond seas for life.
He was transported aboard the convict transport "The Camden" to New South Wales in 1831, sailing into Port Jackson on 25 July 1831 (1), over 7,800 nautical miles (2) from home.

Whatever the truth of the case, it appears that their eldest son, John, did not hold any blame or malice towards his father, (regarding the death of his mother), as in 5 years he emigrated with his own family, to join his father (1).

John Drover soon after arriving in Australia in 1836 (1)
It is not believed that either of the other children of William and Isobel, (George or Alison), ever came to Australia. 

There are currently 266 known descendants of William and Isobel, 260 of these in Australia. Despite a tragic start, this has led to success in a new land, far away from Bonnie Scotland. 

(1) 'Convict William Drover and His Descendants' (The Early Lasswade Parish Drovers in Australia, compiled by Geoffrey William Drover, Feb 1993, ISBN 0 646 13718 2.
(2) https://www.quora.com/How-long-does-it-take-to-sail-from-Australia-to-the-UK

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Close to Home - my genealogical journey

I thought I might tell you about how I became interested, (although my husband says it is an addiction), in family history. Over the Christmas holidays of 1983, (I was 23), my parents came to visit us. They 'had' been visiting my maternal grandmother, and there was an argument, so they left and came to us.
Xmas 1983
I don't know if it was because he was feeling emotional due to the argument, but suddenly Dad blurted out that he had been adopted! It was a total shock, and I really felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach, (so, I can only imagine how much more of a shock it must be for adoptees to learn it about themselves in later life).
Jack Smith (brother), Barrie Smith (baby), Jean Exell (baby cousin), & Arthur Smith (father) Ross River, c 1934/5

Bill Smith (borther), Maud Butler (aunty), Jean Excell (baby cousin), Barrie Smith (baby), Aitkenvale, c 1935
Dad had always known and, apparently, my mother knew, but my brothers and I had never been told. It suddenly made sense why Dad had kept us away from his family in Townsville, (as much as he could), as I think he was worried that someone might say something to one of us. We grew up really only knowing our mother's side of the family. I later wondered if it also had something to do with Dad relocating our family every few years. Perhaps as people got to know us they started asking prying questions...

Dad 'was' interested in family history himself, and had a folder with certificates and charts, which he showed me, but as a teenager I wasn't 'grabbed' by it. It had never occurred to me that when he said his mother was 46 that she really was getting a bit too old to be having a baby. And when he told me that he had been raised on goats milk it really didn't hit home. 

Dad said that he had been adopted by his paternal grandparents, (Arthur & Clara Smith), but had been told his biological mother didn't want him and knew nothing about her. I determined that I was going to find his biological mother.

Clara (nee Melchert) and Arthur Smith, Aitkenvale, 1930s
Over the years Dad had written to the Department of Children's Services many times requesting information on his adoption, but what they sent back was very high level and if there was anything original it was heavily redacted. 

It wasn't until the Queensland Government allowed adoptees to receive their original birth certificates what we found out the name of his biological mother, Doris Bray. Unfortunately, the certificate was completely blank of information in the area where information on the father 'should' be. 

Doris Bray
I made contact with the Bray side of the family and, unfortunately, discovered that Doris had died in 1969. I met her youngest sister, Flo, who welcomed us warmly into the family. Flo would have been 7 years old when Dad was born, so she knew nothing of Dad, but I guess stories had gone around the family, and she said she wouldn't be surprised if there were others 'out there'. She had also been present when one of the other sisters had been tricked by their mother into signing adoption papers. 

Flo Nye nee Bray, me, Shane, and Marc in the background

The trouble was the Smith side of the family. 'Was' Dad really adopted by his paternal grandparents? There seemed no way to prove it one way or the other until DNA testing became popular. I was then able to persuade a cousin on that side to test, along with Dad, and the result came back that there was 100% match, confirming that 'Pop' who adopted Dad, was his grandfather. That really made Dad very happy. 

DNA Test Result
Subsequent DNA testing has proven over and over that we have the correct family. We were also then able to get a copy of the papers from the Department of Children's Services without any redactions, by sending them the DNA proof, along with a family tree of what we 'knew'. 

Of course, I also researched my husband's family as well. During my high school years we lived in Charters Towers. As a 13-year-old I really resented moving there, as I had left behind all my friends in Mt Isa, and I couldn't wait to leave once I finished school, although I subsequently made lots of wonderful friends. Imagine my surprise to find that both of my husband's grandparents were born there, AND Doris was born there too! Now I can't wait to go back to meet cousins and do research. This journey has been really close to home!

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

A Long Line of Miners...

Mining goes back a long way in my family.

The first miner I was aware of was my own father, Barrie Robert SMITH. In 1966 we shifted to Mt Isa in Northwest Queensland, as he had found a job working underground in Mt Isa Mines. Dad was a fitter and turner so would have worked on the machinery underground. He really hated working underground and re-trained in 1968 to leave and become a teacher.
Barrie Robert SMITH
Dad's adoptive father, (and biological grandfather), Arthur Douglas SMITH had many occupations, but one of them was as a miner. The electoral rolls don't say where he was working as a miner in his early life, but Dad did say that after he retired he went North regularly to do tin-scratching. I don't know how he got up there, as he never had a car or a driver's licence.

Arthur Douglas SMITH

Dad's biological mother, Doris Hamilton BRAY, applied for gold mining licences with her husband, Norbert SMANS, in 1938.

Doris BRAY
Doris was only following in her Cornish ancestral footsteps. Her father Abdiel was a miner at Moonta in South Australia, before relocating to Charters Towers to work in the gold mines. His father, Thomas BRAY, grandfather William BRAY, great-grandfather John BRAY, on and on back in the family were all miners. 

Abdiel BRAY
On Doris' mother's side there were also miners with grandfather William Henry Harris KESSELL being a miner, in Cornwall, Kadina in South Australia, and Charters Towers in Queensland. His father-in-law, Edward VIVIAN was a miner in Cornwall and South Australia, and his wife's grandfather John LAWN was a copper miner in Cornwall. 

An engraving of Cornish miners form the St Ives area in 1866, Source=French publication Date=1866 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cornish_miners_-_1866.png

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

My Favourite Family Photo

There are many favourite photos in my collection, but this may be one of the earliest. It comes in a little black embossed velvet-lined case (about 8x10cm). The photograph is printed on glass and requires a black backing to see it (otherwise it looks like a glass negative), and is called an Ambrotype.

Sadly, I have no proof of who the lady and the baby are but I believe I have worked it out, and will give you the logic.

This photo was given to me by my grandmother, Queenie Anderson (Charlotte Sophie Margaret nee Drover), and photography started in Scotland around 1839 (1), so candidates for the mother are:
  • Susannah Berry Drover (nee Millar) 1805-1886;
  • Janet Rodger (nee Traill) 1792-1866;
  • Margaret Sutherland (nee Irvine) 1792-1855;
  • Charlotte Reid (nee Forsyth) c1787-1851;
  • Catherine Drover (nee Rodger) 1810-1883; and
  • Janet Marnoch Sutherland (nee Reid) 1826-1884.

The Ambrotype was produced from 1855-1860s (2), so I think this knocks out Susannah (who would have been 50 years old), Janet Rodger, (who would have been 58 years old), Margaret (also 58 years old), and Charlotte (who would have been 63 years old).

This leaves:
  • Catherine Drover (nee Rodger) 1810-1883; and
  • Janet Marnoch Sutherland (nee Reid) 1826-1884.
Although I believe that these sorts of treasures are normally passed down the trunk or core of a family tree, I need to investigate their sisters as well.

Catherine only had one sister, Janet Rodger. I don't know much about her, but she was baptised 3 Apr 1830, so would be 25 years old in 1855, so I feel she would be too young for the mother in this photo. Catherine's children were John, born 1855, and James, born 1857. Son, (my ancestor) William Steedman Drover was born outside the 'window', so I don't believe it would be in my branch of the family if the photo was of John or James.

Janet had 2 sisters, Jean Inglis Souter (nee Reid) married 1860, and Susanna Frederica born 1844. Jean's children were all born after the 'window' for Ambrotypes. I believe that Susanna died in 1892, unmarried.

That leaves who I first believed the photo to be of, Janet Marnoch Sutherland. Janet's children were both girls, Charlotte Forsyth Sutherland (my great grandmother), and Jean Margaret Sutherland (who emigrated to Canada). Janet would have been 36 years old when Charlotte was born, and 38 when Jean was born, which fits with the age the mother in the photo looks. 

As the photo has come down my branch of the family, I feel that this photo is most likely to be of Janet Marnoch SUTHERLAND (nee DROVER) and baby Charlotte Forsyth SUTHERLAND, taken some time after 16 April 1862.

If these are the people in the photo then this is the christening gown the baby is wearing if as I have written evidence that it is what she was christened in. This 155 year-old garment is still in the family.

A video on similar photography:

Dating Early Photographs:

Many other examples of similar photographs:

Saturday, 11 January 2020

A Fresh Start for the Drover Family

Charlotte Drover was ill and her doctor told her that she needed to get away from the cold wet climate in Edinburgh. He had diagnosed 'false angina.' This prompted William Steedman to pack up his family and they sailed on the "S.S. Pretorian" for Toronto Canada on 28 July 1906. Queenie, (Charlotte's daughter also Charlotte), held up the ship. She said she was late for the train, but the train waited for her, and the ship waited for her to arrive. (I am sure the rest of the family was with her as she was only 4 1/2).


Many other family members had already made the journey and were living in the eastern parts of Canada, so I am sure that was a major reason for chosing it. The family took up residence at 50 Bellview Avenue in Toronto.

50 Bellview Ave, circa 1909

50 Bellview Ave, circa 1987

Queenie went to school, and William (her father) taught music, mainly the violin and cello. A favourite passtime was making snow angels, and Queenie and Gilbert quite enjoyed living in Canada. Unfortunately, the climate in Toronto did not improve the paroxysms in her chest that Charlotte was suffering, and the doctor told her that she needed to be in a warmer country. 

The whole family, William, Charlotte, Fred, Nettie, Gilbert and Queenie headed back to Liverpool England, where they boarded with a Mrs Grant (although the passenger card says that they were living with a Miss Northcroft in Wallington, Berkshire). They had a friend in South Africa and a friend in Australia, and they didn't know which place to go, so they drew it out of a hat! On the 22 September 1910 they boarded the "S.S. Osterly" heading for Brisbane Australia. 

Even though Charlotte was ill she did all the packing in Canada, and left half a house full of furniture. A woman was employed to sell that furniture and send the money, but of course the money never came.

S.S. Osterley

Queenie said the voyage took six weeks and the everyone was amazed by seeing "Halley's Comet".

Taken in 1910 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Halley%27s_Comet_-_May_29_1910.jpg)

The kids on the ship must have had a lovely time, sliding down the bannisters, collecting gum, calling out "The World's come to an end, Mrs McGinty's washed her face", and enjoying cocoa and cheese for supper at night.

On arrival in Brisbane the family took up residence in a house called "Meadowside" on Kelvin Grove Road. This house had been described in an advertisement as being double-story with eight rooms and a splendid position, although subsequent advertisements described 7 rooms and a bathroom. William started advertising for pupils, but he had initially been a part of the orchestra playing at "The Lyceum" for King's Pictures.

"The Brisbane Courier" Mon 6 Mar 1911, p11 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19677062

By 1915 William was advertising for Instrumentalists for the St Andrew's orchestra. William's trade was as a printer, but I can't locate any evidence of him working in that profession, only as a music teacher and having his own orchestra. Aroung 1919 William was able to purchase their own home at 37 Spring Street, South Brisbane, which they named in favour of a special family place in Scotland, "Lasswade".

Charlotte and William lived here until they died, and then the home was taken over by their son, Gilbert and his wife Annie. Despite the warmer, drier weather, Charlotte continued to suffer her 'false angina' and lived to be 75 years old.

They may not have been aware, but they were not the first in the Drover family to come to Australia, although the previous member did not come of his own accord. William's half-great Uncle, also William, was convicted of the murder of his wife and sent to Australia nearly 80 years before. They were also not the last Drover emigrants as another William, William Cuthbertson Drover (Bill) and his wife Dot emigrated to Victoria before 1956 on the "Stratheden".

Footnote: the full transcript of the interview with Queenie is in this blog post.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

My Father's Cars

Amongst the things that my father (Barrie Robert Smith 1934-2014), entrusted to me was a little gem of a list of the cars that he owned, and when:

  • 1953 - Austin A40 Ute
  • 1956 - Commer Ute
  • 1958 - Holden FC Panel Van
  • 1959 - J-Model Vauxhall Sedan
  • 1956 (???) - Holden FJ Panel Van
  • 1963 - Ford Falcon Station Wagon
  • 1964 - EH Holden Station Wagon
  • 1968 - Fairmont Station Wagon
  • 1973 - Volvo 144 Sedan
  • 1976 - Volvo 244 Sedan
  • 1986 - Toyota Corona Sedan
  • 2000 - Toyota Corolla (the only one he purchased brand new)
For some of the vehicles I have photos, and if I come across his own car I will exchange, but for others they are just similar vehicles off the internet.

Austin A40 Ute

Commer Ute

Holden FC Panel Van
Barrie's J-Model Vauxhall Sedan
Barrie and his Holden FJ Panel Van
Val and Chris with the Ford Falcon Station Wagon

EH Holden Station Wagon
Val, Barrie, Steve, Malcolm and Chris with the Ford Fairmont Station Wagon
Image Courtesy Volvo https://www.volvocars.com/
Volvo 144 Sedan
Volvo 244 Sedan
Barrie with one of the Volvos
Toyota Corona Sedan
Toyota Corolla Sedan

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Drover Family Heirloom

This lovely black glass milk jug was given to me by my Grandmother, Queenie Anderson, but was brought to Australia from Scotland by her mother Charlotte Drover in 1910.

It has no markings and is probably not worth anything in monetary value, but as the family came from Scotland I love the Scottish decoration of the rose and thistle.

Although the Drover family came to Australia in 1910, arriving on the "SS Osterley" on the 22 September, they came via a rather circuitous route. Charlotte Drover suffered from 'false angina' and was told by her doctors in Edinburgh that she needed to get out of Scotland to get relief. 

Charlotte Drover (nee Sutherland)
On the 28 Jul 1906 the family boarded the "Pretorian" and sailed for Toronto, Canada. I think Canada was chosen as there were many others in the family who previously emigrated there. Unfortunately, Charlotte's condition was no better in Canada, and doctors there told her she needed to go somewhere hot and dry, so they came to Brisbane. I don't know whether her condition was any better in Australia, but she lived to be 75, dying on 29 Oct 1937.