Thursday, 24 September 2015

Centenarian Day: Richard John Rollason

In honour of Centenarian Day I present Richard John Rollason.

Richard  was born 14 July 1845 Pudding Pitts, Foleshill Warwickshire, England. 

He emigrated with his parents and siblings and his uncle and his family arriving in Brisbane Queensland 18 May 1863 aboard the Light Brigade. Their passage was paid by the Queensland Government as part of the Distressed Cotton Operatives Scheme (even though they were actually silk ribbon weavers! but that is another story). Their ship's kit and supplies were paid for by the Poor Law commissioners.

Richard married Lucy Evans 4 December 1878 in Brisbane.

Richard John Rollason & Lucy nee Evans about 1900

The Telegraph 11 July 1945
Mr Richard Rollason, of Lintern Street, Red Hill, is celebrating his 100th birthday next Saturday.
A fresh complexioned old man with a thatch of white hair and a strong voice, Mr Rollason celebrated the occasion when a   "Telegraph" reporter called at his home during the week by singing five verses of a hymn in a resonant baritone that could be heard all round the neighbourhood. When his daughter-in-law suggested at the end of the fourth   verse that the old gentleman might be tiring himself, Mr Rollason scorned the idea, saw the hymn through to its finish, and even added a chorus. Mr Rollason was born in Coventry, England eight years   after Queen Victoria came to the   throne. When he was 18 he came to Queensland and got a job in a baker's shop at Spring Hill at 4/ a week and keep. Neither the salary nor the conditions he says, with a twinkle, appealed   to him, so one night he   packed his bag and ran away to take a job in a butcher's shop at a weekly increase of 3/6. A few years later saw him trying his luck on the Gympie gold- fields. "I never found any gold, except a few grains," he says, "and soon came creeping back to my mother barefoot and hungry.” But it was all grand experience for a young man, and it stood to me." Mr Rollason is the father of nine children, seven still living, and has 18 grandchildren— one of them serving in Bougainville — and eight   great-grandchildren. He is rather deaf and almost blind, but his humour is keen, his memory good, and he has not seen a doctor in three years. His sight difficulties offer no serious obstacle to his activities. He finds his way about the house with uncanny confidence. He walked down 16 steps to have his photograph taken in the garden, brushing aside any offers of   assistance. "I can manage fine," he said, and counted the steps carefully under his breath as he made the long   descent.   Mr Rollason loves the wireless and says that now he is no longer able to read he would "go melancholy" without it. His remarkably long life occasions him no great surprise. If told, "You are a remarkable man, Mr. Rollason," he gives a disbelieving nudge and says, "Get away with you. Nothing of the kind."

Richard on his 101st birthday.  

Richard was a teetotaler (and long term member of the Independent Order of Rechabites Pioneer Tent Brisbane) and non-smoker his entire life.

Richard died in the Royal Brisbane Hospital 6 November 1946 after a fall causing a broken hip. He is buried in Toowong Cemetery.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Real Winner is You!

Rock Star 
 This year over 151 people were nominated and voting has now closed with results being announced very soon. It is an honour to be nominated by your fellow genealogists and I was honoured this year to be one of the nominees.

John D. Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections blog runs a Rockstar Genealogist Award each year. 

These nominees are people who in John D. Reid's words are:

"Rockstar genealogists are those who give "must attend" presentations at family history conferences or as webinars. Who, when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. Who you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter?"

Regardless of who wins the actual awards it is YOU the genealogists who actually win.

This list shows you 151 genealogists that share information that other genealogists consider worthy of nomination. 

Now it is time for you to go and seek out these nominees. 

Some are the powerhouses such as Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist who is a must see anytime you have a chance who lectures and who also manages to blog pretty much every day. Her blog The Legal Genealogist should be on everyone's reading list. Don't think because Judy is in the US that the law information is not relevant to people in the UK, Australia, New Zealand or Canada because we all started with law systems based on English Law. Many of Judy's posts show ways of evaluating evidence. Judy also writes on DNA.

Talking of DNA there were a number of Genetic Genealogists on this years list:

Judy G. Russell
Roberta Estes DNA Explained
Blaine Bettinger The Genetic Genealogist
Bennett Greenspan
CeCe Moore Your Genetic Genealogist to name but a few.

DNA is a research area with its own language and requirement for study to understand the "records" and results and these genealogists are there helping people enter this brave new world.

Others may have other specialist topics but all willingly share their knowledge.

Find their blogs, follow them on Twitter, see if they are lecturing at a conference near you, look online at the Legacy Webinars or other webinars and see if they are giving one, look at the new Ancestry Academy series of lectures.There are so many opportunities now is the time to take advantage.

The future of genealogy is looking good when so many are nominated.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Lost Too Soon: David Smith

Leslie & David abt 1943
Remembering today my father David Smith, who would have been 75 this year 16th February, but who was taken too soon, 26 November 2003.

He was born 16 February 1940, Dartford, Kent, England to Lilian and Leslie Smith. Both Lilian and Leslie were staunch Salvationists.
Lilian, Leslie and baby David 1940
Leslie was sadly killed in the Second World War and Lilian and David emigrated to Australia arriving aboard the Asturias 4 June 1949. Leslie's brother Frank had emigrated to Australia arriving aboard the Largs Bay in 1934.It had been Leslie's dream to visit his brother and Lilian decided to do so in search of a better life in Australia after the rigors of a post-war England. Life was still difficult in Australia and David was placed in the Salvation Army home in Goulburn while Lilian worked at the People's Palace in Sydney. She was able to eventually find work in Goulburn.

Housing was difficult to find in the post-war period in Australia and it took quite a while as evidenced by the newspaper report in the Goulburn Evening Post May 1951 where she is making application for a home that had been left to the Salvation Army, a Returned Serviceman was also applying for the home. She had found work there but not a home where they could be reunited. Lilian was successful in her application to rent a home that had been deeded to the Salvation Army in Goulburn and they were able to be reunited.

They dug up the large back garden and planted vegetables and carnations plus had a productive hen house. When the crops were ready Lilian would take a string bag into work and sell the produce and eggs. Dad would talk sometimes about making the special warm mash for the chickens so they stayed laying through the cold Goulburn winters.

Originally they sold the flowers to the market until David decided to talk to the local restaurants and then he established a flower run along with his newspaper run. 

He also earned money by collecting beer bottles and handing them into the bottle depot. The bakery behind their home still used horses at that time to deliver the bread daily and his other job after school each day was to muck out the stables, some of which went to fertilise their garden.

Unfortunately later some of the money he earned went to support the smoking habit which he started in 1953.

Christmas Day 1953 Lilian's father Robert Henry Philpott died and in 1954 Lilian and David travelled back to England to visit with family.

David with his dog before they went back to England 1953

After the year with the family they returned to Australia. David joined the New South Railways as a porter and gradually worked his way up to shunter. He had wanted to be called up for National Service and when this didn't happen he joined the Army instead in 1958 and gets transferred to Brisbane
David Smith 1960 3RAR Enoggera Qld
He met Violet Busby at a church picnic and spent some time with her on the drive home as she had gotten travel sick on the bus. He drove her home and they started dating and in March 1961 they married.

David Smith & Violet Noreen Busby March 1961

From there they would start their new life.

Today Father's Day in Australia, remembering my father David Smith lost too soon.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Church of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg

The Church of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg is a spectacular building and is a must see for anyone visiting the city. Both the interior and exterior of the church is decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics.

It has an interesting history as it was built by Alexander III to be dedicated as a memorial to his father Alexander II who was mortally wounded by a bomb on the spot where the Church was to be built. Construction was begun in 1883 and not concluded until 1907 and it was funded by the royal family and private donations. It was not used as a public place of worship but more of a place for memorial services.

It is very different to the other architecture seen in the city as it is in an earlier medieval Russian architecture style and was also meant to resemble the famous St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The church has suffered during the 1917 Revolution when it was looted and damaged. It was closed as a church in early 1930's and used as a morgue during the Siege of Leningrad and was further damaged. In 1970 restoration began with proceeds from St Isaac's Cathedral and the restoration was completed in 1997. The church has not been reconsecrated.

We did not get to go inside so no pictures from there. Further information can be found here and you can do a virtual tour of the inside here.

Even the lamp posts have gold on them
The bridge near the church
Marriage locks on the bridge close to the Church
We are still on our way to the Hermitage but that is going to be another post.

St Petersburg, here we are!

Apart from the learning opportunities a major point for this cruise was the fact that the ship would be visiting St Petersburg.

St Petersburg the home of the Russian Royal family, the place of many history books I have read, the Hermitage Museum, Catherine's Palace, the many other Royal Buildings, the 1917 Revolution, the Siege of Leningrad and the Soviet Era.

Over the years it has taken on an air of mystique. The fact travel in was restricted for so long also added to this. Even today it isn't that easy to visit and being on a cruise ship was easier as you did not need a visa but you were not allowed to leave the ship unless you were on an escorted tour.

Buses all in a way!
I signed up for the two day St Petersburg tour and a full two days it was with us docking at 7am on day one and leaving 6pm the following day.

So we headed off through the Russian passport control where we were given an entry permit and a passport stamp, not sure why it had to be on the last page of my passport! So far the first seven pages of my passport are clear with intermittent stamps from various countries scattered throughout and most countries there is no evidence you were ever there! When I think of all the colourful stamps in my grandmother's passport it seems a little unfair.

We assembled at the bus and met our guide Svetlana and we were off. The sound system in use off the bus was very good as each person had a receiver and Svetlana was able to speak normally and we could all hear and if you got more than around 40 metres away it faded out so you could always find her. A bit like the old childrens game of "Hotter, Colder"

Opposite the port were banks of apartment buildings all looking drab, grey and utilitarian.

When I asked about these I was told they were built in the 1970s and were part of the "Soviet Era" and you could hear the capitals.

Apparently some of these were not built with kitchens as you were fed all meals at the factories in which you worked and they were more a place to sleep rather than to live and some even now do not have kitchens.

There were quite the variation in buildings particularly in closer to the centre. Many of the historic buildings showed evidence of need of repair although there were quite a number of buildings encased in a shade-cloth style of material that were undergoing "reconstruction" in Svetlana's words.  I am sure this is at a great cost but with so many still to do to retain their heritage it must be a concern.

There were quite a few flower boxes and gardens in public spaces which did make it look pretty.

St Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great 27 May 1703 on the Neva River in the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. It  was the imperial capital of Russia during this time and is still considered the cultural capital. It was renamed Petrograd in 1918, then Leningrad in 1924 then back to St Petersburg in 1991. Moscow became the capital in 1918.

Many of the original buildings were constructed of timber so very few of these survive today. Many of the buildings were rebuilt in stone and as these were the Royal residences and are the beautiful buildings we admire today. There is a strong European influence and in fact the Royal family did not speak Russian but instead spoke French as a language of culture.

Academy of Fine Arts

Gold Straw Anyone?
Rostral Column

Gold Statue on top of the Academy of Arts
Admiralty and St Isaacs Cathedral
Lots of photos on the way to the Hermitage which was our point of call this morning. The sun hid from us and we had grey skies but no rain at this time.

Even with this limited amount of sun the gold domes are quite visible.

There were so many things to see on every side and so much history.
Eric and Rosemary Kopittke beside the Sphinx

Sphinx on the bank of the Neva

There were two sphinxes facing each other on the bank of the Neva River. The sphinxes were collected by the Royal family.

Taken from the bus, unknown church
Burger King
He looks a fairly hungry lion, seen near the Burger King

We stopped next at the Church of the Spilled Blood but I am going to put that in a new post.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Goodbye to my Shannon

Today I had to say goodbye to my beloved Shannon. I am on the other side of the world when she left me, but thankfully two dear friends were there so she was not alone.

What is this little thing then?
Shannon joined the household in December 2004 as an eight week old puppy. Tami my older German Shepherd was not impressed as can be seen here.

You can see Tami wondering what on earth this little invader was all about.

Shannon settled in, much to Tami's disgust.

Shannon loved her car rides!

After ten and a half years today I said goodbye. As you go over the Rainbow Bridge to a place of no thunder or noisy plover birds and as many Smacko treats and lots of pats, know I will miss you so much.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Writing Directed Queries

When requesting any sort of information it is extremely important to write a directed query. You need to provide all relevant information. No, that does not mean reciting your entire family history!

Many archives will do a  very limited search and if you ask for "Everything you have on my Smith family" there is nothing they can do to help you. Don't laugh I have heard it being asked!

However if you have a specific question you have a much better chance of getting a positive response, particularly in these times of staff cutbacks.

For example, this is a recent query I did to determine if an archive held staff files relating to my father:

Dear Sir

I am interested in determining if you hold the service records for the Brisbane City council tramways and also for the Mt Crosby Water Treatment plant. And if you do if I am able to access the service record/s of my father, David who died in 2003. I am happy to pay any required fee.

David Smith born 16 February 1940 address at time 109 Duke Street Annerley was a conductor, then tram driver then bus driver at Ipswich road depot from around 1966 to 1974.

Previously he had worked on the Mt Crosby water supply from around 1963 to 1966, address at that time Mt Crosby

As can be seen from this the first question was: Did they hold these files? If they did not then there was no need for them to read the detailed information about David.

If they did hold the files my query was could I access them and that I was happy to pay any required fee. If at this point there is a time closure period then again they could stop at that point. Then they needed to know that David was dead and there would be no breach of his privacy.

Then the detailed information can begin as this is when the archivist needs to have this information. I also provided detailed contact information if there was a need to contact me for further information.

I am pleased to say that this enquiry bore positive fruit and I received copies of the two staff cards relating to his service at the Mount Crosby pumping station and his service as a tram conductor then driver then bus driver with the Brisbane City Council.

David Smith driving a tram 13 April 1969, the last day of trams in Brisbane