Discovering my family and preserving their goodness

18 February 2020
It's been a good week here at home.  I've been researching my family tree again - an ongoing, intermittent project since 1980. Learning about my long-ago family is so interesting and engrossing.  Their lives would have been much harder than ours so I would like them to know that we survived and their hard work paid off. Collectively, they laid a firm foundation for our family and that I'm very thankful for their resilience, strength and intelligence.

Genealogy is such a rewarding pastime. I started my research in 1980 when getting just one piece of information took many letters and a lot of time.  Now we're connected to archives all over the world. All you need to start is a name and a birth, death or marriage date and you'll soon see connections happen as your past comes alive.

In my family, I have a colourful mix of about six or seven male and female convicts, police and members of the NSW Corps. For instance, my great, great grandfather, William Dean, was sentenced to death aged 16 for stealing, which was later commuted to life in the colonies. He married my great, great grand-mama, Elizabeth Hollingsworth, a convict, and in 1817 was awarded a land grant at Eastern Creek west of Sydney. Soon after he operated the toll road from Sydney to Parramatta and built a pub at the site. They ended up with eight children, the toll gate, one of the first pubs on Parramatta Road and much later, the Sydney suburb of Dean Park and a school named after him.  He was a great supporter of education for the poor and when he died, hundreds of people came to the funeral. 

It's a strange feeling connecting the dots, remembering family names and working out little mysteries along the way. This is family and it should be familiar and although some of it is, much of it is a beautiful surprise as bit by bit, layers are pulled back to reveal our connections.



Hanno has been busy on his trusty ride-on lawnmower as the rains triggered fast and thick growth in both the front and back yards. He also did the grocery shopping this week and has been sorting through his German papers so I can include his side of the family in our evolving family tree.  Originally he thought much of his family history would have been lost in the war but I got a world heritage membership for a month, which includes Ireland, UK, Scandinavia and Germany, and as soon as I typed in his grandparents' names and dates, hints started flowing in and it all came together. It was a wonderful thing to be able to tell him the names of his great, great grandparents, names he'd never heard before.



Of course, I also had to make beds, cook, bake and do the washing and I've done a fair bit of mending and a little bit of sewing. There's always something to do here but we are calm and the general feeling here is tranquil so it doesn't really feel like work.


I also spent some time knitting while I watched Nigel Slater's fabulous series Middle East. It's really a lot more than cooking, it was also heavily focused on families and traditional living in Lebanon, Iran and Turkey. I've watched it three times so far and think it was by far, the best cooking show on TV last year.


There seems to be an influx of new readers finding my blog, so welcome if you're a newbie here.  I hope you find what you're looking for.  And for everyone, I used to run a co-op of writers in the blog Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op . We stopped writing there a few years ago but the blog is still online and it has a lot of good information there. So if you're looking for some mid-week reading, click on the link. 


24 comments

  1. Family history can be so absorbing. I know some of my ancestors have been in Australia a long time. One earned his passage by being a whip hand. Not really popular with Australians.

    Good hunting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Family history is so fascinating to look into isn't it. I read a biography a few years back which mentioned an unusual surname that was my grandfathers middle name, I mentioned it to my mum who has been researching family history for years and it turned out we are related to the poet Robert Browning, the biography was about his wife.


    ReplyDelete
  3. as usual a wonderful post, i'm still pottering along trying to do a little of my house work everyday, so easy to get into bad habits through illness but it's slowly breaking as my mind starts changing back.
    i've also had a thought of what i can make my bread bag out of too; my girls have been travelling overseas & i ask them to bring me tea towels home & they are all made from linens or %100 cottons :)) i just have to chose one...
    great reading
    thanx for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great info you've researched. My mother's maiden name was Dean and a lot of relatives came from Scotland/Ireland. They even have a Dean Family Cemetery in Xenia, Ohio, where a lot of them landed. I'm from Cincinnati, OH which is just south of there - live in Calif now. My mom's two brother are buried there, The cemetery is behind rock walls in the middle of someone's cow pasture you have to drive thru to get to.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My family seems to be a mix up of horse thieves and Preachers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Rhonda. Hope you are handling this horrible humidity we are having without to much hassle. What genealogy sites do you use please? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lyndie. We've been fine here with the weather. We do our outside jobs first thing, then retreat to an airconditioned house. We don't put the A/C on full blast. It's on at 26 and low fan. That gives us a low humidity house at a comfy temperature.
      I use ancestry.com.au for my tree building and general research - with a World Heritage account for a month ($49). I also use the Morman site Family Search - https://www.familysearch.org/en/. and Google. Are you starting yours?

      Delete
    2. Check if your local library has an account before signing up. I recently found out Sydney City Library has an ancestry.com.au account you can use for free if you're a library member. I LOVE my local library!

      Delete
    3. Trove can be a great resource for interesting snippets of information about your Australian forbears, once you have your basic tree. I have found a lot of references to my relatives in country digital newspapers, and also some photos. ( /trove.nla.gov.au ) The Australian War Memorial also has a lot of digitized information available now if any of your relatives have served in the forces.

      Delete
    4. I agree Marg. I've found dozens of family references on Trove and the War Memorial site.

      Delete
  7. I love it when I see posts like these as I’m passionate about researching family history ... but I love it even more when I get the chance to encourage people to tell their OWN story whilst they are alive ... to pass on the stories they know also about their family ... the stories that have never been written down. Genealogy and Oral History go well together.

    ReplyDelete
  8. In addition to Ancestry and Family Search, I use Find My Past which has a slightly different method of searching and can turn up information that the other 2 don't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sue and Peter for that information, I'll check that site out later.

      Delete
  9. I got a subscription to Ancestry.com for my birthday. Always thought my paternal uncle died in Fiji.....a merchant seaman...but died of pleurisy in Calcutta!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love doing my family history also. I got back to the 1500's recently. You really get on a roll. I also typed it all up with photos that i found and had it printed into a book with Blurb. So much fun and now i can show my son or family when they ask.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have all of Nigel Slaters cookery books. He is an intelligent and thoughtful writer and the recipes are interesting. I also have researched my family tree. I wonder if it just appeals to older people? My family were all working class and what hard work they did in those days.
    I like the look of your bread. What % rye do you use please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Catherine. I generally use 50% rye flour but occasionally I'd do more of a black bread and use about 70%.

      Delete
  12. I have also been delving into my family history since the 80's, how much easier it is now with so much more available. It truly is fascinating, and quite addictive. Life is busy here at the moment with so much coming in from the garden and fruit trees, what a pleasure it is to eat, preserve and share the lovely produce that we grow ourselves. The pantry is filling rapidly and the freezer also. The small joys help to soothe the curve balls that life seems to throw at us, sometimes in quick succession. I love Nigel Slater's cook books, they are more than just a group of recipes and value the simple approach to food, he is definitely one of my favourite food writers. Take care Rhonda, hugs for Gracie Kate from Tassie x

    ReplyDelete
  13. I havn't done much ancesteral research, but I know I have some Australian ancestors, and living relatives. My Mother-lin-laws brother was actually killed in Australia when his house was burgled. Pam

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Rhonda, That must be so interesting to read about your family's history. I would like to do the same. I'm sure your ancestors are very proud of you! I found an old photo of a Native American man when going through my mother's things. (after she died.) Written on the back of the picture it said that he was a cousin on my grandpa's side. He looked like a Sioux warrior.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Genealogy is fascinating. I've also been doing mine and my husbands :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sounds like your ancestors were very hard working people...much to be said for that!! We have done some work on ours too...though mine had been on hold for a few years...perhaps we will get back to that ere long. I find here in USA you can learn more by visiting the areas where your kin were...the local records can be most helpful!! Via that route, on one line, I learned I am descended from the Mayflower folks, John Alden and Pricilla Mullen...along with thousands of others at this point in time...ha! My grandpa had told me he had ancestors on that ship but he did not know their names and being he was a great story teller and loved telling jokes, we figured he was joking...turns out, he was not. Thanks for sharing some of your story!! Enjoyed it!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I too have been doing my family history on and off for years. At one point I was so involved in doing it that I felt like I had hundreds of people in my head, which was good early on because I would find something online, recall something about another person, and make the connections. For the most part, I have traced all lined roughly to the point the came here, but know little to nothing of any line from "the old country", so to speak. The most recent lines came over back in the 1850's. It is a lot of fun!

    My biggest regret is that I didn't have the fore site to talk more with my grandparents while they were living. I would have like to have known more personal stories about them and their family members.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Learning about our ancestors is very interesting, I ask mum and dad heaps of questions as they are in their mid 80s. Funnily enough my maiden name is Dean.

    ReplyDelete

EMAIL ADDRESSES, LINKS OR BUSINESS INFORMATION WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED.

Thank you for taking the time to comment. They are an important part of my blog because they help build the community here. Please don't add links or email addresses to your comment. This is a family-friendly blog and I don't have the time to check all the links before I publish them.

These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.