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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Burial Rights

I am lucky enough to have access to a real family history treasure chest. Over coming weeks I plan on sharing its contents with you as I rediscover what's inside.
It pays to re-examine documents. As I make my way through the treasure chest, I am trying to give each document the time and thought it deserves. This week re-examination of a right of burial has lead to the discovery of new (to me) family members, new information on known family members, and leads to further information.

Here it is. A certificate of right of burial purchased for one pound, dated 17 November 1881 (on reverse of paper shown). A piece of paper that was handled by my great-great grandfather, John Lee (1822-1905), almost 130 years ago!

Melbourne General Cemetery, "Certificate of Right of Burial in the Melbourne General Cemetery",
No. 62, made out to John Lee.

My first reaction was to check my database to see where John Lee had been buried. He was buried in Oakleigh Cemetery, not in Melbourne General Cemetery. I then checked my database for any burials in Melbourne General Cemetery. I was surprised to see that only one family member is known to be buried there, Joseph Lee, one of John Lee's sons. However he passed away in 1905 so was not necessarily buried (or the only one buried) in the plot.

Melbourne General Cemetery doesn't have a searchable database online, so I sent a request to the cemetery for information. I was very pleased when I got a reply just a few days later.

Buried in the plot were:
  • Lee, George K aged 21 buried 18.11.1881
  • Bowell, Robert aged 82 buried 17.11.1899
  • Bowell, Elizabeth aged 84 buried 05.02.1901
George King Lee (1861-1881) was another of John Lee's sons, so that made sense. But who were Robert and Elizabeth Bowell?

Armed with names, ages and death years, I searched for and found Robert and Elizabeth's death index entries. Elizabeth Bowell was John Lee's elder sister, previously unknown to me. I then looked for a marriage record for Elizabeth Lee and Robert Bowell and was lucky enough to find one, complete with an image of the marriage register, on Ancestry. They had been married in London in 1848.

Aside from the date and place of the marriage, the marriage register entry gave me two useful pieces of information. Firstly, that her father Joseph Lee was dead and secondly that Elizabeth hadn't been born in London, as had the rest of her family (or at least those I knew) but was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire.

I wondered if I might find them in any of the UK censuses.

Success! I found Elizabeth Bowell and it was better than I had hoped as her mother Jane was also in the house. This gave me a birth place and birth year for her mother, which I didn't previously have, and told me that she was still alive in 1851.

After some unsuccessful attempts, I decided to make searching for any Bowell children a bit easier, and I bought Elizabeth's Bowell's death certificate. Australian death certificates can be very informative. This one was no exception - but it showed that Elizabeth and Robert were childless. They arrived in Australia in around 1861.

In summary...
So, this Right of Burial document looked pretty dull when I was a newbie, but now it has lead me to a new sister for my g-g Grandfather, her husband, a new location where the family lived, has narrowed down some dates and filled in some of the blanks on my g-g-g grandparents and given me a lot of leads for the family generally that I have still to follow up on. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Twigs branches out (or 'The dangers of internet shopping')

A few weeks ago I went internet shopping. Literally. I bought myself a website.

As if I don't already have enough to do, now I have to tend to it! That's what impulse buying on the internet gets you.

Actually, I gave it quite a bit of thought before I jumped in. Recently I have been exchanging more information with other researchers - which has been great - but the experience has left me wishing for a better way of sharing. 

I created the site using TNG ('The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding') software. I know that Geniaus has a site driven by TNG that she seems very happy with, and that BobbyFamilyTree has one also. Having looked at the details of the software it sounded very much like what I was after. It wasn't the only option I investigated. The thing that struck me was that people who said they used TNG almost invariably followed up with "and love it".

So, was born. I've spent the last week or two playing with a little customisation, nothing too tricky, and trying to streamline the process of data transfer from my desktop program onto the site. I've also set things up so that a little custom "T" icon will appear in the web address box or on tabs. I put one on this blog, too, now that I know how to do it. 

CSS and GEDCOM and favicons, oh my!  

Now I have started letting a few family members in, and the reaction so far has been great. It's still a work in progress. The next step is to start getting more documents and photos up, more relatives in, and to continue checking through my note fields for anything that I would prefer wasn't in a more public forum that my desktop software.

At present, the site is available to registered users only. I want to get more feedback from family members who may contribute information on their preferences before I (perhaps) throw the gates open. I could arrange a peek inside for people known to me who are curious - drop me a line if that's you.

So yes, it's more for me to do, but I think I'm going to love it.