Living History

Today I would like to comment on how family history is not just about people but it also is about the places we live, our homes and also the area or communities we live in and the contributions we make to them.

For example, my wife and I have just moved into what we hope will be our permanent home for the next few years. We have kind of landed our dream job and home. We are currently the caretakers of a property called “Glenbarr.” It is a small heritage listed property of approximately 35 acres on the outskirts of Strathalbyn, South Australia, Australia. Glenbarr was established by William Rankine, a sheepfarmer from Dalblair, Ayrshire, Scotland, who along with his brother, Dr John Rankine were the founders of Strathalbyn,SA

The main house was started in 1841 by William Rankine, and was built in stages, till it reached it present structure. By the end of 1842 the front 3 rooms of the building were completed, using local sandstone for windows and doors & bluestone for the walls. The kitchen was a separate building at the back at that stage (as was common in those days of wood fires). Later in 1856- 7, after he returned from a trip to Scotland, he rebuilt the kitchen and made it a part of the main building and added some more rooms as well (including a dining room). (image courtesy of the “Glenbarr” historical archives)

"Glenbarr" in the mid 1800's

“Glenbarr” in the mid 1800’s

About 1871-3 an upper storey was added, again using bluestone as a building material. The present farm outbuildings were added about the same time.

While William Rankine was active in the town of Strathalbyn his brother, Dr john Rankine played a more prominent part in the affairs of the town.  Four generations of William’s family either lived here or were owners of the property before it was sold to Richard Giles by John Robert Rankine in 1923.

Later in 1932 Richard Giles and his family moved to Adelaide and leased the property out to a James Dodd. In 1935 Daphne Bowman, (Richard Giles niece), took over the lease. In 1945 Daphne bowman bought “Glenbarr” outright and with her English friend, Kathleen Bateman, made “Glenbarr” available first as a camping spot for girl guides and then, after remodelling and developing the barn and the stables,(as they are today), it became a place for school camps, small group activities and functions and also weddings & receptions.

Glenbarr stable 1945

In 1975 administration of “Glenbarr” was handed over to the Glenbarr Bowman Bateman Fondation who still manage it today. The house has been listed by the National Trust and is also listed on the State heritage register of SA. It is one of the oldest if not the oldest house in Strathalbyn. (Image courtesy of Google image search)

While all who have lived here have played a part in the history of “Glenbarr” it goes with out saying that “Glenbarr” has also played a part in the lives of those who have lived here and in their history and the history of the town of Strathalbyn and all those who have come here over the years. Now it is a part of my and my wifes history and that of our family siply because we are here, and loving being here.

For more information on “Glenbarr” you can go to their website:  www.glenbarr.com.au

Coming soon

Sorry for the delay in new items, but I have been away from an internet cinnection a lot lately. But I have been working on some things which will be ready soon.

Also I will be starting a new Blog, dealing with Quotes & Poems which I have been collecting even longer than I have been doing Family History.

Next Step in How To Do Family History

Now that we have looked at the basics of gathering information. And started to organise it in a legible manner. It is time to look at the next steps to take.

Lets take a moment to review what we have done so far.

1. We have gathered the information we have in the house and sorted it into the various types of information we have, e.g. certificates, (birth, death, & marriage), newspaper items, achievement certificates, and lets not forget the photo’s you may have discovered.

2. Entered the information either manually or electronically into Pedigree charts and or Family group Sheets.

3. Organised your photo’s in either an album or scanned them into your computer and either placed them into a Family History file and or attached them to the individual files in your computers family history program.

So now that we have done all the above we need to decide what to do next. If we look at the information that we have compiled we may find that there are holes in the information we have on various members of our family. So how to fill in the missing information then?

A good source of family information is your extended family, Aunts, uncles Grandparents, and on the rare occasions great grand parents. Below is a copy of a guide given to me by Elaine Van Gamert, Director of the Baulkham Hills Family History Centre of the Church of Jesus Christ Of latter Day Saints

 

How to Interview a Relative.

1. Schedule a time in advance. This gives everyone a chance to prepare.

2. Prepare a list of questions beforehand and either share them with your relative, or give them an idea of what you want to cover.

3. Bring several notepads and pens to the interview. If you plan to make a recording, be sure to have a tape player, microphone, extra tapes and batteries.

4. Take good notes and make sure you record your name, the date, the place the interview is being conducted, and the interviewee.

5. Start with a question or topic that you know will elicit a reply, such as a story you have heard them tell in the past.

6. Ask questions which encourage more than simple “yes” and “no” answers. Try to elicit fact, feelings, stories and descriptions.

7. Show interest. Take an active part in the dialogue without dominating it. Learn to be a creative listener.

8. Use props whenever possible, Old photographs, favourite old songs, and treasured items may bring memories flooding back.

9. Don’t push for answers. Your relative may not wish to speak ill of the dead or others reasons for not wanting to share. Move on to something else.

10. Use your prepared questions as a guideline, but don’t be afraid to let your relative go off on a tangent. They may have many things to say that you never thought to ask!

11. Don’t interrupt or attempt to correct your relative, this can end an interview in a hurry!

12. When you are done, be sure to thank your relative for their time.

TIPS

1. Put your relative at ease by telling them that they will have a chance to see and approve of anything that you write before you share it with others.

2. Keep the interview length to no more than 1 to 2 hours at a stretch. It’s tiring for you and for your relative. It is supposed to be fun!

3. Consider preparing a thank you note to your relative for their cooperation.

(In relation to step 3 of the above guide you might want to also consider videoing the interview as well, especially if it is an older relative).

Keep in mind that every person you interview is an individual and your approach in your interview with them is different to any other interview, as are the questions you will ask them.

Okay folks have fun, and let me know how you do.

New Discovery

While I have been continueing to merge my mixed upPaf files I often come across interesting connections between my wifes family and my own.  This time however I came across a connection in my own family.  It turns out that members of two branches of my family joined the australian navy and served on the same ship, in different capacities. One was a commissioned officer and the other was a non-commssioned officer. I present  Petty Officer William Reginald Devine Smith

William Reginald Devine Smith  Born on 9th Aug 1916. Joined the navy in 1934. He served on the HMAS Sydney and was promoted from Leading Seaman to Petty officer in July 1941.  He was among the 645 crew who were lost when the HMAS Sydney was sunk by the german cruiser Kormoran off the coast of Western Australia on 20th November 1941.

  (Photo credit :- National Archives of Australia)