NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.





by Noeline


In last month’s newsletter I made mention of submitting member’s interests to the NZSG website, and, taking my own advice, I have recently done just that.  As I didn’t fancy our email address floating out there in the world of the web, I created an email ‘alias’, which when set up correctly within my computer, allows me to both send and receive emails using my special genealogy address.  I submitted my names, feeling quite proud of another step in computing, and being fairly new to the wonders of the web etc, sat back and waited!


A couple of weeks ago, there arrived in the mail, an envelope from England with an odd address and sticker on the back.  ‘Who is that and what’s all this about?’ I wondered, casually leaving it until last, thinking it was someone I didn’t know trying to sell me something I didn’t want. Well I read the paper, filed the bills, burned the junk mail, had a cuppa and finally got around to opening the envelope. 


Can you imagine my excitement (and embarrassment) when I read ‘I saw your family history interests on the NZSG site and tried to e-mail you, unfortunately the mail was returned’…  ‘What?’ I thought.  (Investigation proved that I had set my alias up perfectly on my computer but failed to execute one tiny little step and my new alias was going nowhere – All fixed and working now and please, just ask, I really do know how to do it - now!)


Anyway, to cut an already long story short, this contact has proven to be the best genealogical link for this particular side of my family tree that I could have ever wished for.  She appears to be an excellent researcher and is working with the Waltham Abbey Historical Society, researching the family of Waltham Abbey in Essex – and it appears we belong on that particular tree.  Wow!  She has generously shared the relevant data, plenty there to get my teeth into.   She has put me in touch with a man in the Channel Isles.  Contact with him and a bit of head scratching and a large piece of paper has shown us to be 8th cousins.  He is rather excited as he says I am the ‘closest relative’ he has found through genealogical research!  Not half as excited as I am!


A few wet days later, I did a search using ‘Waltham Abbey, England’ and the first site entreated me to book my hotel in Waltham (I wish!).  The next one I checked out was incredible.  There, for my delight and further dipping into, was the extensive tree/s and contact of another branch of the family who emigrated and settled in Tasmania, Australia.  Even applying a huge amount of scepticism at the quality of research published, I think I’ve got to be the luckiest little gene’ in South Otago!


So, all in all, already a very worthwhile exercise.  Who knows, next time I check my emails, there may be someone else, from who knows where, keen to help and be helped by a complete stranger who just may turn out to be a cuzzie!                                                                                  

(Mar 2004)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



(Notes from Last Month’s Speaker)


Our speaker at last month’s meeting was Mr Cosgrove who shared with us the written history of the Minahan family from County Clare, Ireland whose descendent Ellen, his grandmother, was one of thirteen children.  Ellen’s first husband died in an accident in the first year of marriage with no children.  Ellen was to later marry Walter Cosgrove and have eight children, one of whom died in 1891.  On 25 May 1904, following long and intense storm conditions, two slips hit the family’s house at Brunnerton, West Coast while the family slept.  All seven children, aged from 14 yrs to 18 months died and Ellen was buried to her neck.  A nearby publican was also killed as he slept in the cellar of his hotel.  We were all moved by the photo of the seven coffins, laid out in a row, from the eldest to the youngest.  The community rallied round in support and collected £100 for the couple which Ellen used to start a confectionary shop.  They had one more child, a son, Gerry’s father.       The generosity of a West Coast farmer has recently formed a trust to preserve educational and historical sites and the children’s grave site has been restored and tidied.  The grave site is alongside those who died in the Brunnerton mining disaster.

(Aug 2004)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




by Bev


The first recorded meeting to form a volunteer corps was held in the Alexandra Hotel, Port Molyneux in 1864.  Eighty young men signed for enrolment.  In the same year a meeting was held in Balclutha and from these two gatherings arose the first volunteer corps.  However it would seem that it was about 1870 that the local volunteers was firmly established in Balclutha consisting of two units, No 1 and No 2, the latter drawing members from Kaitangata and Stirling districts.  Captain JP Maitland (the police magistrate in Balclutha) was in command of 50-60 men.  The Balclutha contingent drilled in an old stable below the then Court House which was down by the traffic bridge, but they often joined their comrades at Stirling where, when weather conditions were unsuitable, they trained in the Drill Hall on Inchclutha.  Weather permitting, the drill was done in the streets or roads.


Clutha Mounted Rifles

Clutha Mounted Rifles

The uniform was at first a dark grey, but some year later was a red tunic, blue trousers with a red stripe down the side and a helmet.  Eventually the volunteers disbanded and in 1887 or 1888 the rifle club was formed where khaki took the place of the red and blue uniform. About this time the Clutha Mounted Rifles came into existence under Cptn John Harvey (of the Bank of New Zealand) who fought and died in the Boer War (1899-1902).  In 1886 there was a review of Volunteers at the Kaik (Dunedin Heads) and on the return trip, the dredge conveying the troops got stuck on a sandbank in the harbour.  Mr GW Wood was then acting-Lieutenant.  In 1887 there was a contingent of Otago Hussars in Balclutha under Sgnt John Dunne.  Cptn S Parmenter who was associated with the Volunteers was formerly a Sergeant-Major in the 18th Royal Irish and was the proprietor of the old Criterion Hotel where later Messrs Bilzon and Smart’s butchery and JJ Webster’s photographic studio stood.


In 1875 the team which won the Ladies’ Challenge Shield was as follows: C Anderson, A Anderson (Stirling), Wm Willocks, Jas Willocks and Robert Smaill (Inch Clutha).  This shield was won four years in succession by the Clutha Club with one of the team, Robert Mason, having his name inscribed five times on this shield.  A team of five competed against allcomers in Otago and Southland.


When the County Challenge Shield was won by Owaka (who scored 867), the Clutha team consisted of: Private Jas Clark (83), Sergeant Maker (81), Private McKechnie (80), Private Thomas (76), Corporal MacNamara (68), Private R Mason (68), Lieutenant Mitchell (67), Private Miller (64), Private Stewart (54) and Sergeant J Sinclair (48) – a total score of 689.


On 19 December 1884 the 20th annual prize-firing took place at the Musselburgh range (St Kilda, Dunedin) and the names and scores of the Clutha Team were:  Vol. J Smith (72), R Mason (68), TA Johnston (66), R Smaill (65), Lieut. Hogg (62) – total 333.  The first prize was £20 and Private Mason secured prize-money in five different events during the day.


Source: ‘Balclutha Borough Council Diamond Jubilee 1870-1930’

NOTE – Balclutha Museum has a redcoat troopers’ uniform, an original photo of Cptn J. Harvey making his last stand and an amazing collection of photographs of troopers on horseback, camp photos including the cooks, all of which are named.

(Nov 2004)                                          


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.


Starting Out In Family History


Begin By

Writing down everything you know about your parents, grandparents and other members of your family.

Gather up all your old letters, documents, photographs and heirlooms to see what they can tell you about your family’s history.

If interviewing older relations take a tape recorder with you and have a list of questions prepared.  Tell them that you wish to tape the conversation.  Don’t start straight away, let them relax and lead them into the subject.  Show them how the recorder works, let them try out some recording and play it back to them.  When you have gained their confidence then start recording.

I have found books on the district help, especially if it covers the time frame that you are researching, the person that you are researching may be mentioned. It gives an insight into the life that they may have led at the time.

(Apr 2004)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



by Noeline


Before you set out, decide what you want to find.  Try to focus on one person or family or event BUT be prepared to follow leads you may come across.  It is not uncommon for different branches of our families to be in the same area. 

Do as much as you can from home 

This is especially important if you are on a one off visit, such as on a trip overseas.  Get as much information as you can from other sources prior to the visit and concentrate on what resources are unique to the repository you are visiting.  Look for guides and brochures, any indexes and catalogues for the repository.  Most, if not all, will have websites where you can view the catalogue.  Note any reference numbers applicable and also any special conditions for viewing the resources held, e.g. charges, any booking required, opening hours, public holidays and anything else relevant.

Take with you

ID (to register as a reader)

Pencils (no pens or erasers)

Notebook/s for recording information (name and address inside in case you leave it behind)

Small change for photocopying, locker hire (sometimes available), parking meters (keep an eye on the time!)

Any relevant notes and documents (copies only) that may be useful

Your notebook with surnames of interest and basic vital information on your families

On the Day

If anything is unclear – just ask

Allow yourself plenty of time

Take regular breaks – don’t forget to eat! (no food or drink will be allowed in reading room)

Check original source wherever possible.

Record document reference, sources, titles, author etc.

Record as written, using [sic] for any unusual spelling

Write carefully – very frustrating when you get home and can’t read your writing!

A research journal is very helpful


(Jun 2004) 


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




A New Year’s Resolution – Read Telephone Books!

by Isobel

The background to this suggestion is when I have done research over the years, I often look up the local phone book to see if any people of the same name still live in the area that I have been researching, especially if the surname is anything other than Smith or Brown.  In my own research, I am fortunate that some of my surnames are rare and are quickly found in phone books when visiting other areas i.e., Coatsworth, Slater, Michelle, Faris, Phair.  There is a 99% chance that anyone with these surnames is related!

(Jan 2004)                                                                                            


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



by Nola


Look at the vital records in a person’s life.  Birth records are generally the most reliable as it was the parents in the main who filled them out.   Marriage records can be a little misleading especially if one or both of the persons getting married wanted to hide some facts.  An illegitimate person may invent a parent.  Death records are generally the most unreliable of these records as the person giving the information may not even be related and therefore not know the correct facts.


Other records which can be of assistance;


We also need to look into records which tell us of our ancestor’s backgrounds.  Why did they leave their homelands when they did?  Why did they settle where they did?


The internet gives us a lot of information but always double check what you find.  Family trees already done for you may be only partly true.


Join a Family History group in the area of your research as there may be persons still in the area who knew your ancestors.

(May 2004)           


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.


Recording Dates

A reminder that when recording dates, use numerals for the day and year, and the months should be written, to avoid confusion with other countries who record dates as month/day/year unlike New Zealand which records day/month/year. 

For example 5-8-2004 or should that be 8-5-2004?


When transcribing information from books, documents, newspapers etc, always copy the information exactly as it is written, even if forenames are abbreviated or names misspelt.  If you are quoting the text and consider something is incorrect, follow the wording with the abbreviation sic which means ‘as it is written’.

Barbara C (Aug 2004)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




Our ‘round the table’ at last meeting was a little different and very interesting, from the infamous murderer to the enthralling story of one member’s 3x great grandmother, Lady Florencia Sales (wife of Sir Robert Sales), whose remarkable memoirs of the First Afghan War are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.  One member brought an article and photographs of her ancestor who was a sea captain and she had visited his restored sod cottage at Ferrymead.  We heard about the engineer whose career took an interesting turn leading him to become the man who put together the concept and format for vehicle inspections under the old Warrant of Fitness system;  the ancestor who crafted some of the ceilings in Larnach Castle;  about the ancestor who was niece of the Countess of Warwick and was born in Warwick Castle; the grandmother who was born while her family and neighbours sheltered in a church during the height of the 1878 Clutha River floods.  One member brought the parchment citation and the boxed medal presented by the Royal Humane Society of Australia in acknowledgment of ‘the brave rescue from drowning’ in 1885.  Another member brought the bible belonging to her great grandmother and shared the story of her leaving home at a tender age following the remarriage of her father and unhappy relationship with her step mother, and something of her journey through life.  And then last, but not least, the claim that ‘I’m related to Rachael Hunter’ and ‘You can see the resemblance!’  Now come on Donald – even I can’t see that and I’m married to you!

(Mar 2004)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



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