Blog post

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to make Google the default search in Internet Explorer 9. Not that Google, the proper Google!

Have you tried out Internet Explorer 9 yet? I like it much better than previous versions which I only ever used if I absolutely had to. In fact, I like it enough that I’m considering switching back to it after a long long time because it seems to play more nicely with my preferred add-ons that the other options.

In the process of trying out IE9 one thing has really annoyed me. In fact, was going to be a deal breaker for me. The problem was the default search engine. Not that it was Bing, but that when I replaced Bing with Google the result was rather less than I expected. I’ll explain.

Changing from Bing

It’s easy enough to change from the default search engine, Bing.

  • Start typing in the address bar and it will drop down with suggestions (or hit F4).
  • Click the word “Add”, found at the bottom right of the drop down box.

This will open the add-on gallery page. You will probably see Google listed right there on the front page. Click on it for more information and it looks like just what you want.

Stop there!!

So far so good, right? Not quite.

The trouble is that if you install that particular Google search, it doesn’t return the familiar results screen. There are no choices to switch between web, images, maps etc. There are no interesting options running down the side. There’s not even a colourful Google logo!

What it does have is a much more prominent set of advertisements at the top, and a little “what is this” notice that explains all about AdSense. That’s right, if you install the Google search listed you get a less useful product with more ads.

This was going to be a deal breaker for me so far as Internet Explorer was concerned until I discovered that it can be fixed.

Here’s how to get the right Google. Whichever Google you think is right!

OK, let’s start from the beginning again.

  • Start typing in the address bar and it will drop down with suggestions (or hit F4).
  • Click the word “Add”, found at the bottom right of the drop down box.
  • Ignore the options given and scroll down the page and click on the words “Create your own search provider”.
  • Follow the instructions on the page that appears
    • Go to your preferred search provider (in another window) and search on the word TEST. I searched using
    • Copy the URL returned to the appropriate box.
    • You also get to name your search.
    • Click Install.
  • A pop up window will appear confirming the installation. You can also decide at that point to make the new search your default search, but don’t worry if you forget, you can always fix it later.

If you want to change the default, change the order of, or remove the search options you can do so later on via the “Manage add-ons” menu item found by clicking the cog icon at the upper right of your IE window.

Here’s what the drop down box looks like for me when I start typing in a search term now:


Google is my first option. Followed by some others, which I may or may not keep there.

If you have eagle-eyes you will have noticed an Ancestry icon. Yes, this method works for genealogy sites such as Ancestry. So, now I can search Ancestry for a particular surname from my address bar. Whether I would want to search that way is a different story, but I could if I wanted to.

So, Internet Explorer is back in the running for the coveted default browser status on my PC.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: My grandmother’s autograph book

I am lucky enough to have access to a real family history treasure chest.
I will share its contents with you as I rediscover what's inside.


It’s been a while since my last “treasure chest” post, but I still have more items coming. This time, the item wasn’t literally in the chest pictured, but is a treasured item – my grandmother’s autograph book.


There aren’t many signatures inside and all have dates in July 1927, so I think the novelty of the book must have worn off fairly quickly for her.

Most interesting for me are two pictures, which appear to have been drawn on lined writing paper, cut out and stuck in the book. I don’t know if they were traced, copied, or are original pictures. At any rate, they are rather sweet.


Have a closer look at the signatures:

Autograph-signature-1      Autograph-signature-2

I think the one on the left looks like a stylised AS and the one on the right is DS. I suspect that one picture was contributed by her father, Arthur Stannus, and the other by her sister. Although her father was always described as a painter or builder in the documents I’ve found (so far), the family story about him is that he was more like an interior designer and would paint elaborate murals in the ‘grand houses’. Further, the story goes, he painted my grandmother’s room in such elaborate style.

Finally, a few words from my great-grandmother May Black:


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ANZAC day geneablogging

After our successful Australia Day and Waitangi Day blogging challenges, Seonaid (@genebrarian) from the Central Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries suggested that we get together to hold a joint Australian and New Zealand blogging event for ANZAC Day.

I thought it was a great idea. I hope you will join us.

Australians and New Zealanders know ANZAC Day - 25 April - as a national day of remembrance for Australian and New Zealanders who died at war.

Do you have an Australian or New Zealander in your family tree who was killed in military operations? We’d like to hear about not only their sacrifice, but the way their loss shaped their family history.

To participate:

  • Write a blog post about an Australian or New Zealander serviceman or woman’s family, and the impact war had on their family history.
  • Publish your post by 25 April 2011
  • Post a comment with the URL on this post, or under discussions on the Auckland Research Centre’s Facebook page.

By the end of April, all submissions will be listed in a summary posting on this blog and Auckland Libraries’ Kintalk blog.

If you are new to military research (as I am) you might try exploring the resources available on the Australian War Memorial site and the National Archives of Australia, or look further using the resources listed on Cora Num’s website.

Starting points for New Zealand researchers are listed on the Kintalk blog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Poetry Day

I just noticed this post on Geniaus' blog:

"I just read on Twitter that it's World Poetry Day and that gave me an idea!

"Let's recognise the day by posting a poem about genealogy or one that has relevance to someone in your tree to our blogs today. If you let me know via a comment on this [Geniaus'] blog or an email to of the link to where you have posted your poem I will compile a World Poetry Day hit."

I have worked through my lunch break to bring you this contribution:

A genealogist
Found evidence others had missed
Though family denied it
DNA couldn't hide it
Great-grandad had many a tryst!

(please excuse any formatting errors and lack of linkyness. I am posting this from my phone on my lunch break at work - I haven't posted this way before so it's all a bit experimental!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A quiet evening of study

Tonight I am focussing my attention on study and assignment responses for the Methodology course, which was free at the time I signed up. However, I am taking it as part of the basic Australian package of courses, which I signed up for at a substantially reduced price having won a voucher as a door prize at the Unlock the Past Australian History and Genealogy 2010 Roadshow late last year.

I am working on the second week of the course, which so far seems to be aimed at beginners who are writing names on paper (yes, paper. You know… that flat rectangular stuff?) for the first time. That’s not an entirely bad thing as part of my reason for taking courses is that I am self-taught. I attended one beginners 2-hour session in about 1994, and swung by a National Archives of Australia family history day 6 or 7 years ago, but that is it! Hopefully I have read enough of the ‘right’ books and have enough common sense that I haven’t gone too far wrong, but I don’t think it hurts to hear again things that I should already know. Just in case I don’t.

I’m not far enough into the course to say if I agree with the approaches taken, but agree or disagree it will get me thinking about how I do things and that can only be positive.

For now, I had better stop procrastinating, and get on with it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The incongruous sound I heard in the night

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. I haven’t been participating, but the week 9 prompt set me thinking. It’s past week 9 now, but better late than never.

Week 9: Sounds.  Describe any sounds that take you back to your childhood. These could be familiar songs, jingles, children playing, or something entirely different.

The sounds from my childhood that stay with me are the sounds I heard lying in bed at night when all was still.

Most distinctly, I remember hearing the slow clip clop of a horse’s hooves ringing out in the early morning before dawn. Before writing this post I called my father, to check that my memory was correct. It seems so out of place. I grew up in the 1970s in suburban Melbourne. I never saw horses on the streets. Was my memory true?

My Dad confirmed that yes, I would have heard a horse or horses slowly passing by in the early morning. Even in the 1970s, our milk was delivered each morning by horse and cart. Later in Canberra in the the 1980s I remember milk being home delivered each night by truck and exhausted runners. Nowadays we have to go to the supermarket and buy it ourselves.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

May Black and her feathered friends (Fearless Females)

In honour of National Women’s History Month (, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog ( presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

I am not going to attempt to respond to all of the topics, and I am already too late to attempt to post them on the appropriate days, but I thought they were such a great set of blogging prompts that I wanted to participate.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

May Black (1881-1951) and her feathered friends

This is May Black (1881-1951), my great-grandmother. I don’t know where or when the picture was taken, but no doubt the hairstyle and clothing reveal a lot to someone who knows about such things. Neither do I know if the cockatoos and galah were hers or if they belonged to someone else.

The picture is rather scratched, but beyond the scratches the image is quite clear.

What I like about this photo, and the reason that I posted it, is that… look! She’s posing with cockatoos and a galah! So many of the photos from generations back are stiff and formal but I think that this one has a warmth and sense of humour about it.

Elizabeth Tregonning - my favourite female ancestor (Fearless Females)

In honour of National Women’s History Month (, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog ( presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

I am not going to attempt to respond to all of the topics, and I am already too late to attempt to post them on the appropriate days, but I thought they were such a great set of blogging prompts that I wanted to participate.

March 1 — Do you have a favourite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

When I first read the question I immediately thought of my ancestor, Elizabeth Tregonning (1858-1952). I was drawn to her because her death record was so elusive for a long time. As a result I spent a lot of time looking at what I knew about her and thinking about her life – wondering what it much have been like. The more I learnt, the more I wanted to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

What I know and what I would like to know

Elizabeth was born in Avoca, Victoria, Australia on 11 September 1858. Her father was William Tregonning a copper miner from Gwennap, Cornwall, England, and her mother was Elizabeth Martin. Her parents and brother, William Henry Tregonning, had arrived in South Australia on the ship Reliance in 1851. They didn’t stay in South Australia for long – less than a year – before making their way to the Victorian goldfields where the family stayed.

In 1860 when Elizabeth was two, her mother died in childbirth. Her father married Elizabeth Hill just two months later. Two years later Elizabeth had a half-sister, Mary Ellen.

I would like to learn more about what life was like on the Victorian goldfields for women and children. I plan to do a literature survey to identify sources. I also want to look into what schooling was available and see if any records exist.

Fast forward to 1884. Elizabeth, 26, had a son Albert William Tregonning and two months later married a widower 50 years of age, Joseph Tregonning (no known relation between them) also from Gwennap, Cornwall. Albert William’s birth was registered by Elizabeth two days after her marriage to Joseph but he was not named as the father. She had a daughter to Joseph, Violet Adeline Tregonning, in 1886.

I may never know who Albert’s father was.

The next period of Elizabeth’s life seems to have been difficult. It appears that her husband Joseph was insolvent in 1887, and possibly went to gaol. While these events are yet to be proved I do know he died in 1891. Even before I saw references to an insolvent fitting Joseph’s description, I had wondered how strong this family unit was. The details given for his first wife on the death certificate are complete with names and ages for each of their five children; the details of his second marriage to Elizabeth were sketchy with the children described as “1 boy and 1 girl” “ages unknown”.

I am in the process of trying to obtain the insolvency and prison records to confirm it is the same person. Perhaps they will shed more light on the family circumstances.

Elizabeth remained in Avoca and married again – a widower called James Henry French. It was a family of ‘yours, mine and ours’ with young children from two previous marriages and their own five children, the youngest being my grandfather. Elizabeth’s daughter Violet (by her marriage to Joseph) died at age 11 from tuberculosis. All five of Elizabeth and James’ children survived to adulthood.

After her second husband, James, died in 1915, Elizabeth stayed in the Avoca area until around 1924. Elizabeth seems to have lived with her daughter Bessie Ada French, and moved as Bessie moved, even after Bessie’s marriage to Bruin Farquhar Bernard.

I have limited success tracing Elizabeth, Bessie and Bruin through the electoral rolls. I may have more luck as more rolls are included on I have some other ideas about how I might trace Bruin, but they are a lower priority for now.

Finally, Elizabeth moved with Bessie and Bruin to Brisbane, Queensland, where Elizabeth passed away at age 94 on 11 November 1952.

Further details and source references for Elizabeth are available on my research data website. Please contact me if you are researching Elizabeth, I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I’ve finally done it!

Four months after buying the domain and software, I have finally opened up my research data site for public viewing!

Please stop by and visit. You might like to browse the surnames page and see if we have any interests in common.