DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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6 October 2014

My family, now and in the past

Shane, Sarndra and Alex.

Whenever I hear the words: we've got something to tell you, I know I'm in for something very special and, maybe, life changing. I heard those words when Shane and Sarndra decided to get married, when their son Alex was on his way and again from Kerry and Sunny when they got engaged and when Sunny was pregnant with Jamie. I heard it again when Shane and Sarndra visited recently (photo below). They announced their wonderful news when we gathered at Sunny's for our family dinner. Yes, they're having another baby! I can't tell you how happy I am to see my family grow and get stronger.


I'm so proud of Shane and Sarndra, they're both hard workers, they're active and interested in so many things, and they're wonderful parents to Alex. And now another baby. My heart is so full I can hardy express my feelings, and to think we have to wait until next April before we can welcome another little life into our family. I'm crossing my fingers for 15 April (my birthday). :- )

Before my own sons were born in 1980 and 1981, I'd never really thought much about my family. I'd met assorted cousins, aunties and uncles, my mother's mother and father and my mother's sister and brother. My father's family lived in Brisbane when we lived in Sydney so I only met my Swedish grandma once, when I was two, just before she died. I knew most of my extended family only through old grainy black and white photos. But when Shane and Kerry where born, it was like a switch had been turned on and I just had to find out more about who I was and where I came from. I think this is a common thing among Australians - all of us, except our aboriginal friends, came from somewhere else.  In 1982, I wanted to know where somewhere else was and I started looking.

I knew we'd been in Australia for a long time. When I was born the prime minister was Ben Chifley, the monarch was Kind George VI and the population of Australia was 7.7 million. I knew my father's family had come out from Ireland during the potato famine in the mid-1800s and I certainly did confirm that when I started my research. I looked into my family history for a few years, but then life took over and I had no time for genealogy. When I returned to it, technology had made things much easier. Instead of searching microfiche at the local library and sending letters of inquiry to the archives office and waiting weeks for an answer, I could join ancestry.com and geni. com and not only get answers immediately, but also link up with other people in my family who I'd never heard of but who happened to be researching a different branch of our family. The early online family trees I found were so interesting!

The most endearing part of my research was discovering that on my mother's side, I am a seventh generation Australian, descended from convicts William (Lumpy) Dean and Elizabeth Hollingsworth, who arrived here in 1797. They married at Parramatta and when they served their time, they were granted leave, and started working in the very young town of Sydney. They were given a land grant out on the road to Parramatta, and they operated the government toll on that road as well as a pub called the Corporation Inn, where they lived with their eight children. That area is now know as Eastern Creek. When Lumpy died, aged 78, he was a wealthy man and an advocate of good education for the poor. It was said he could dance the hornpipe as well as any man half his age. (LOL) Below is a photo of the Corporation Inn which was the house Lumpy and Elizabeth lived in until they died. It was situated on Parramatta Road but was demolished to widen the highway in the 1960s. There is now a suburb and school in Sydney named after him.


The most surprising discovery was finding some American relatives. I thought we all came from Europe, but my ninth great grandfather, John Winthrope, is related to me by blood through my mother's family. John Winthrope (born 1588) was the founder of Boston and the first governor of Massachusetts. He sailed from Suffolk with first major group of Puritans. His third wife and my great grandmother (x 9), Margaret (right), had her portrait painted and imagine my shock when I saw it for the first time - she looks like my mum! It is through John Winthrope and Margaret Tyndal Winthrope, that I'm related to the American politician, John Kerry. We share John and Margaret as great grandparents, John Kerry's eighth and my ninth, so I guess we're cousins, many times removed.

Family is such an important part of us. These are the people we share not only our genes with but also our history. I'm very lucky to have been born into my family. Sure there have been ups and downs - we have convicts and politicians, but we're an interesting family and I like that.  And soon our family will have a new member. I'm looking forward to meeting my new grand child and then adding their name to our family tree. One more link in our family's strong chain. ♥︎ 

If you've never done any research into your own family roots, I encourage you to do it. It's fascinating and sometimes surprising. I started on ancestry.com.au but there are other websites too. My American family is better served by using geni.com  If you have some time, go exploring. It will give you a good idea of where you fit into your family.



33 comments:

  1. Congratulations, another grandchild on his/her way.

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  2. Congratulations! I wish them all the health and happiness with their new addition.

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  3. What a fascinating post, made all the more interesting as I have just watched a programme which was about Explorers leaving British coastal waters. The programme mentioned both the Puritans and an early governor of Australia who is buried on the Isle of Mull. What an amazing coincidence to read your post straight after!

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  4. Congratulations to you all Rhonda! :) Our family is also expanding- with our daughter and her husband expecting their next little one in May. XX

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  5. How interesting! I have only recently in the last few years found out I am a descendant of a convict too - John Chandler. My Grandmother never spoke of it as it was deemed a great shame back in her day.

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  6. Congratulations on the wonderful news :) I have traced some parts of my family history back to the 1500's in Scotland. I love researching family, it's so fascinating and exciting to get an idea of what our ancestors were like and the kind of people we come from.

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  7. My mum was into family history big time and we used to yawn when she would tell us that we were related to this or that person. We always were told of our great-grandma in Scotland who was a local heroine for saving a boatload of sailors during a storm but that was the only story that held our interest until I had my children and then I had to find out more like yourself. When I think of the hours that my mum spent doing family history research years ago she would have been amazed that all the information is now there for us to access on our computers from home. Now Rhonda, when are you catching up with John Kerry?

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  8. Lovely news about your new grandchild. I have taken the same path as you re family history except that I did know my family (or thought I did). It is amazing what you can think is true of immediate family and find to be untrue. None of my family appears to have come out as convicts but they might have been better off if they had. They were so poor I can't imagine their lives. However I have become very grateful for the hardships they endured which have resulted in my having a much more comfortable life than they did. I also take comfort from the facts that because I am from English stock I am a descendant of King Henry IV and also Charlemagne. Just didn't get any of the fame, money or kingdoms.
    JillN, Laidley

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  9. congratulations on the new little one. My uncle traced the family tree back to the first fleeter William Roberts (ship -- Scarborough), & he married the second fleeter Kezia Brown(e) (ship -- Neptune), both were out of Bodmin Goal, for seven years for theft (cloth, bread, etc), He was granted land in the Windsor NSW region, they had a large family & prospered. I am very proud to have them as my ancestors -- to have suffered as they surely must have, survive (when so many died), make good names for themselves & prosper, shows a fortitude not many of us have today

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  10. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited for you, Rhonda :) Grandchildren are a precious gift - how fortunate you are to have a THIRD on the way! Please send my best wishes to Sarndra and Shane. XO

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  11. Congratulations-there's nothing more exciting that a new grandbaby on the way! Isn't it amazing what you find when you start researching your family history? Ancestry.com has been a wonderful source of information and a good way to find new family members!

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  12. Congratulations! What an exciting time. I have always known a lot about my family history as my father wrote a book when I was a small child about his family history, he even traveled back to Ireland to do research. My Mum is currently writing her memoirs and it's lovely to learn more about her side of the family, which is much more varied than Dad's (Irish, English, and Scottish). I was quite shocked when I realised my husband didn't really know much about his family history. His Mum is Aboriginal and his Grandfather was brought up on a mission and due to the stolen generation etc. they have only recently been able to track down exactly where their mob is from. Family and culture is so important to them but it can be very hard to connect with, and prove, who they are. My father in law recently discovered his family is believed to be Belgian Jews. They never knew where they came from and it's still all very murky but I think he will do some more research when he retires. I can't imagine not knowing where I came from. It's such a big part of my identity. We're luckily it's much easier to find our these days.

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  13. What great news and lovely that your two grandchild will have another child to run around Grandma & Opa's back yard and feed the chickens. Congratulations to the new to be again parents. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

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  14. My goodness, isn't it appropriate that bushranger beards are all the rage -- Shane illustrates your family history post so aptly!

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  15. A new baby to knit for ! What joy! John Winthrop is one my favorite authors to teach. He was such a prolific writer and speaker! Have your read his journals? Fascinating stuff!

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    1. I've only read a couple of his love letters to Margaret, Matty. I didn't know about his journals or that he was considered an author. My research is very slow - maybe an hour every few months. It's one of the things I'll get into when I stop writing.

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  16. Congratulations to the whole family, exciting news!
    I'm also researching my family tree and it's an interesting, albeit a time consuming pastime!

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  17. I did a quick google search we come from mourilyan stock in QLD it's not the most common name I don't think so most seem to be related, but I have no idea how to do a family tree, I can get back as far as Mums great grandad, then nothing on the net.

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  18. Congratulations on the future addition, what wonderful and exciting news for your family :)

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  19. Isn't family history fun? As with Australians, most Americans can trace their roots elsewhere as well. When I began my search, I was looking for information on my maternal great-grandparents. They weren't too difficult to research and, as a result I have found cousins still in England who I am fortunate enough to have been able to get to know. It is very interesting to know that you have American ties. I had a friend once, in Texas, whose mother was Australian and a Slattery who was one of the first individuals sent off to Australia, I believe. The more genealogy you do, it becomes a VERY small world, indeed. Love your blog.

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  20. Congratulations on the new baby! What a wonderful way to usher in spring!

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  21. So happy for you Rhonda..now more knitting can be done!!

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  22. Congratulations to all the family, Rhonda! This is such exciting news, and I am sure that you are completely overjoyed! A new baby always brings such joy, happiness, and promise to the future...they are truly little gifts from God! :)

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  23. Such great news !!! I hope Sarndra is feeling well ?
    Family is so very important. I love genealogy. I looked from mother to mother too and that was very funny. All women, until the 1600's came from the same province, eventhough we live in another province now and so do my parents. My daughter is the only one that wasn't born in the province of North-Holland ; ) My father's eldest ancestor came from Germany to The Netherlands in the1680's and that is where we lost the trail unfortunately.
    I love to search, though it takes up such a lot of time.

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  24. Congratulations on your new grandchild to come! I agree that family history research is fascinating, even for those of us who don't have descendants. I've found cousins across the western world and have grown close to them via email and some brilliant holidays in their area. It makes history and geography all the more interesting, learning how your family members were impacted by world events and understanding what made them take the decisions they did.

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  25. The trunks of the tree feel stronger as a family grows.
    Congratulations and blessings to you all
    Vicki
    Trinidad & Tobago

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  26. In the last 10 years I discovered my Indigenous Aussie roots and that has been a very interesting learning curve. Once upon a time you never told anyone you had Convicts or Indigenous Aussies in your family.
    When I was a child my full blood Aboriginal Grandmother's photo was kept in a drawer. Kinda sad don't you think?

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    1. Yes, it's sad and a great shame. I hope you have your grandma's photo proudly displayed in your home now. I doubt anyone in my family knew about our convict ancestors but when I was much younger, I clearly remember hearing whispers from friends about convicts that were never to be said aloud. Thankfully, most of us are more accepting and educated now because no matter whether we give or take it, racism and bigotry diminish all of us. You might remember that one of my best friends is aunty Beverly who is an elder in the Kabi Kabi mob. My life has been enriched knowing her just as it's been enriched knowing that I am a descendant of convicts who helped build modern Australia. xx

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    2. Thank you Rhonda and yes I do remember Aunty Beverley. To all the Peramangk Mob (my Mob) I meet I am Aunty Merryl. You know that always makes me feel good when they call me Aunty.

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  27. Congratulations on another grandchild on the way, Rhonda! What a blessing. If your sons have any questions about Hanno's family tree and do not speak German I would encourage Hanno to get out there and have a look for them, old records in German (particularly local rural records) are often not written in the German spoken today (Hochdeutsch) and can be a nightmare to sift through!
    I was fascinated to learn of your family tree. How proud you must be to have such a long Australian heritage! My own family (Mother and Grandparents) came to Australia in the early 1960s, so I am a first generation Australian :-). We love it here. My Grandfather moved from Scotland to England for a better life, and then he, my mother, and my grandmother moved to Australia for a better life. Australia is so young and free. There are a lot of things we've achieved as a family that we wouldn't have been able to in London, particularly as we didn't come from money. We've owned businesses and land, and houses and large gardens. I am thankful every day for the blessing of living in Australia, it's truly like nowhere else.
    Bec

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  28. So excited for you!! There is nothing like grandchildren! Two of ours are on their way to spend the day with me as I type. Your family tree is quite interesting. Our middle son lives outside of Boston and I have seen that name when visiting the historic sites there. My mother-in-law's cousin many times removed was Stonewall Jackson's second wife. Also I am always fascinated by the fact that my great grandmother went west in a covered wagon just like and in the same time period as Laura Ingalls Wilder. One of my great grandfathers was a black jack dealer on the Mississippi Queen riverboat. It is all so interesting!

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  29. Congratulations to you and all your family! What a joy to look forward to!

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  30. Congratulations!
    My uncle is the family historian and has chased the family tree back to 1553! We are descended from the Stuart family - The royal one! :) A (the?) son of Lady Lillian Stuart was disinherited for marrying the maid. I don't know just how direct the link to King Charles I is but it is there. :)
    We are also McKenzies so my uncle has seen the family castle in Scotland too. I hope to see it one day.
    I've followed up some of our history myself too when we travelled Cornwall about 8 years ago. The Varcoes came to Australia in the 1840's, owned or worked in pubs, were involved in horseracing and owned land on Hindmarsh Island at some stage too I believe.
    I also recently found out that Lake Merrimu, about 15 minutes drive from where we moved in Bacchus Marsh was once the family owned farm too. Rather special being local, and far more recent.
    Family history is fascinating. :)

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