Friday, 20 November 2015

The Introduction Letter: What Would You Write?

In the Internet age we take communication for granted.  We use email, Facebook, the phone and even at times write a letter to communicate with each other.We share (some people rather too much information) online about what we are doing, put up photos so the concept of not knowing people is not an easy one to consider.

Imagine being in the past, in this case 53 years ago which doesn’t seem that long ago but phone calls were not something you made as a usual thing. People did not always travel much. 

Imagine you are a parent whose son is marrying a girl in another state. 

You have never met them, only know what your son has told you and the girl’s family also don’t know you. 

They have had a short engagement of five months and the wedding is fast approaching. You are attending the wedding. 

What would you write to introduce yourself to the girl’s parents?

Below is the letter written by Lillian Smith, my grandmother, introduce herself to her new soon to be in-laws. She did leave it a bit to the last minute as Violet and David married just ten days after this letter was written.

Lady Gowrie Legacy House
12 Jersey Road
Strathfield, NSW
1 March 1961

Dear Mr and Mrs Busby,
I have tried many times to sit down long enough to write to you but as you will realize it isn’t easy, in a position like this. Seeing that the children will soon be married and no longer our responsibilities we will have the chance of meeting and getting acquainted, at the wedding. I had hoped David would not think of marriage for a few years but as they are of age and have prayed about it, and feel it is the real thing, there is no more to be said. I guess you feel the same. It seems strange doesn’t it to think they are old enough, we watch them grow up and think of them as children , then all at once they are adults. I do trust that all will go well for them, and that god will spare them to have many happy years together.
When I come back from England I hope you will come and stay with me at Manly when you come to Sydney.
I don’t know if there is anything you would like to know about us, giving your daughter to a young man is not easy, I guess, especially when you don’t know his family. David’s father was a wonderful man. He broke his neck and back getting ready for the D-Day invasion. His father was a grand man also, he died 6 years before my Husband was killed.
My own Father was a Station Master on the British Railway and served 53 years unbroken service. His father was also on the Railway. We never had any money to spare but we had big home which was open to all, there were six boys and six girls in my family and we all took our friends home, my parents expected it. We had a very happy family life. I was very disappointed at having only one son, however I shall soon have a Daughter. The Lord always supplies our needs if we wait.
I ran a long splinter down my finger yesterday so my writing isn’t all it should be, please excuse it.
I do hope you are feeling better in health, Mr Busby and that you are not too anxious about the choice your girl has made. David has always been a very self-reliant boy, at 3 years old he would collect his teddy and be in the dugout in record time. As the years went by after my Husband’s death he gradually became the man of the house. 

At 11 years when we moved into our first Australian home, he laid the lino with me and did repairs, helped with the garden and housework, more like a boy of 18. When he was 15 he started on the Railway and after just a few months asked for country relief, often he would be on level crossing gates 16 -20 miles from anywhere, in a small room out in the bush alone for 12 hour shifts sometimes where there were snakes and things he had never been used to. He did so well they transferred him to Metropolitan relief when I moved from Goulbourn to Manly. He made good progress there also and after getting five certificates and having to mark time for 18 months he decided to join the Military for 3 years. 

In some ways this may have been good, but in other ways it wasn’t so good. However it was his life and in June he will finish his 3 years and as far as I know go back to the Railway. I think boys go through a silly stage, and have crazy ideas about cars and making money etc but I believe it happens to most boys. It certainly did with David but I think I can safely say that he will take great care of your girl. He is so like his father in many ways and if I can help them in any way I can , you can rest assured I will do my best, as David will be on the Railway they will travel cheaply or free, so you will not be separated from her altogether.

I had better close, if there is anything you would like to know about us please ask and very soon now we will meet, I trust you are both well and feel happy bout Violet’s future.
God Bless You
Yours Sincerely
Lillian M. Smith


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

World War One Portraits: Museum of Brisbane

The Museum of Brisbane have put out the call for images of soldiers or nurses in uniform from World War One.The individual can be from anywhere in Australia.

They need to be original photos. The Museum has had a scanning weekend but you are still able to send your photos for the planned exhibition: 

Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love - See more at:
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love. - See more at:
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love. - See more at:
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love. - See more at:

Images must be scanned at a minimum 600 dpi and jpeg format. The deadline for emailing images is 30 November and should be emailed to
Please call Curator Phillip Manning on 07 3339 0827 if you have any queries.
For more information visit

Ernest William Weeks 5th Light Horse

Friday, 16 October 2015

Myrtle Doris Weeks

Myrtle Doris Weeks abt 1935
Myrtle Doris Weeks was born on the 17th October 1917 at the Brisbane General Hospital to Violet (nee Rollason) and Rupert George Weeks. She was the second daughter, the first being Gladys Evelyn Weeks born 1913.

Rupert & Violet Weeks, Toowong Cemetery

Sadly 29 July 1921, her father Rupert died of tuberculosis, the scourge of society until the advent of the vaccine and treatments. 

Myrtle and Gladys attended Kelvin Grove school the second generation of their family to do so. 

Myrtle enjoyed writing, winning an encouragement award in the Brisbane Courier Children's day essay competition in 1927 and another in the RSPCA Essay wards in 1930.

The three Weeks women were not well off but were better off than many as Rupert had taken advantage of a Government scheme to allow people on lower incomes to purchase homes. 

Myrtle had met William George Busby in 1930 at the Church for Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints at Wooloongabba which she attended with her grandmother Lucy Rollason. Myrtle's mother Violet did not want her younger daughter to marry as she felt it would be better if Myrtle would remain and look after her in her later life. Perhaps this fear of being alone was a result of being widowed so young.

It took a  number of years, turning 21, pre-empting the wedding vows and having war declared but Myrtle did indeed manage to marry her Bill on the 11 September 1939. Bill went off to war.

Violet their only child was born in January 1940.
May 1946 Violet, Myrtle and Bill "Coming Home"

Monday, 12 October 2015

In Time and Place Conference

Last weekend (3 & 4th October) I attended the In Time and Place conference . It was ably organised by History Queensland, Genealogical Society of Queensland and Queensland Family History Society.

The State Library of Queensland had provided some free registrations for non-metropolitan people who wished to attend.

It had two streams: one local history and the other family history.

There were also a number of exhibitors and they were stationed around the eating area. Unlike the NSW-ACT State Conference they did not do an open day the day prior to the conference.

Guild of One Name Studies/Society for One Place Studies table
Exhibitors included Ancestry, Boolarong Press, Brisbane City Council Archives, Finders cafe, Findmypast, Genealogical Society of Queensland, Gould Genealogy and History, History Queensland, Guild of One Name Studies, Moreton chapter of the fellowship of First Fleeters, Nepean Family History Society, Oral History Queensland, Queensland Family History Society, Queensland State Archives, Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Ryerson Index, Sean Murphy Books Toowoomba, State Library of Queensland, Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society and Unlock the Past. 

So as you can see a lot of information providers and places to spend some genealogical dollars!

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages made an exciting announcement at the  conference which I have already written about on the Genealogical Society of Queensland blog which was that they have been digitising the marriage source documents so we will be able to get copies of marriage documents that contains our ancestors signatures rather than the copy of a copy we currently are able to purchase. Six to eight weeks for the first release so hopefully a Christmas present for Queensland researchers.

The conference was held at the Riverglen conference centre at Indooroopilly. I got there early as I was also an exhibitor for the Society of One Name Studies and also the Society for One Place Studies. Janice Cooper was also on the stand for the Society of One Place Studies although her conference duties kept her very busy.

Geoff Doherty and his sash
There were a number of very helpful people to answer questions who could be distinguished by their sashes which made it easy to find them.

I am only going to talk about a few of the presentations as there have been a number of bloggers who have already posted. See  Shauna Hick's post where she lists a number of other posts.

Denver Beanland opened the conference for the180 or so attendees.Then time for the first keynote Dave Obee, a well known Canadian genealogist, editor and writer talking about A sense of time and place: putting ancestors in context and showing the closeness between Australia and Canada. Dave was an informed and entertaining speaker. He loves our Trove (as of course we all do too!) and talks often about in Canada as newspapers all over the world fill their paper with news. So he suggests to his Canadians they should check out Trove to see  what Canadian news has been mentioned then check out the microfilms of the Canadian papers having an approximate idea of time frame.
Dave Obee

This is very true and in my own research I had found out about a grave robbing in Kent from a South Australian paper. It had not been reported in the Kent paper due to a very important person's death taking prominence.

Then we had a dual session and I went to Duncan Richardson talking on "Beyond distinguished gentleman" which was on using letters, diaries and anything you could to hear the real people and not just the formal things written down for posterity. people say it is just letters or diaries so not important to keep for posterity but if we don't keep these we never find out the emotions and thoughts behind what has been written for history.

Janis Wilton spoke on Connections: talking local and family history Oral history is a true marker as you are hearing people speak and remember in their own words what has happened, how they felt, their impressions and knowledge and reactions to events. Certainly memory of the past can be influenced by further knowledge gained after the event but  oral histories add so much colour and knowledge. Literally colour in one example, as when Janis spoke to a relative about the photo of the house the person said the colour the house was painted when she was a child (which was the time frame of the photo) rather than the white it was painted when Janis knew the house.

Take the time to capture your family or local community while you still can. 

Rosemary Kopittke spoke on Suffrage in Queensland and it is important to realise it is suffrage for men as well as women as women as there were requirements for men to have the right to vote. The knowledge of who has the right to vote at which time in which areas allows us to know in which records we can find our people.

Lots of food was available at the various meal breaks and a number of us met up at the buffet dinner. It was nice to get together in person rather than just online.

Sunday the first keynote was Shauna Hicks and if you ever get a chance to hear this presentation run don't walk to it! Shauna kept us all enthralled!

It was a fantastic interweaving of time, place, history utilising a wide range of records and using context. You can't work out why without the context.

Dave Obee gave a presentation on Mythbusters: challenging some common beliefs. A good presentation. You could hear the audience sighing and agreeing with each of the myths as they arose.

I was last on the day speaking on The Words of the People: treasures within government inquiries This fit in very well with a number of other talks as it was about hearing the words of the people from the past. These inquiries are in an inquisitorial format where a person is asked a question and they answer and the words are transcribed as spoken without being "interpreted" for posterity. Examples of the types of inquiries are Royal Commissions, inquests, some trials, etc.

One of the examples I used was from the 1842 Royal Commission on Employment in Mines in England. For those of you who have miners in your family you should read these accounts.

Then it was time for the closing session and the all important announcement who had won the many raffle prizes (I didn't win any but many people I knew were lucky). The big gift basket prize was won by Janis Wilton who asked for it to be redrawn as taking it on the plane home wasn't really possible

All in all an excellent conference and kudos to all the people involved in the organisation as I know how much work has gone on behind the scenes in the lead up to the conference.

Hopefully another society will take up the gauntlet and host the next conference in two years time.