A Little Help Needed

For a few years now I have been searching for information regarding one of my Great great grandFathers.

When we first started looking for him we only knew him as Ken Mckenzie and that he was a surveyor.  This information was provided on his  son’s ( Walter John Wooller/McKenzie, my great grandfather) death certificate, by his father-in-law, Edwin Buckman.

My Great great grandmother, Eliza Matilda Wooller, had three children that we know of at present, as far as I have been able to establish she never married.  On all the children’s birth certificates no Father is listed, but on wedding certificates and death certificates their last name is given as McKenzie.

Now my grandmother, Eliza Matilda, had 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl being the youngest of the 3.  speaking of the girl, (Amy Christina Wooler/McKenzie).  In my researches I lost track of her I knew she had been born but I couldn’t find what had happened to her.  And I looked in the records of 3 states.

One day when I was visiting my father he asked if there were any certificates that i would like to get.  So I did a quick search on the DBM database and found a record of a marriage with the brides name similar to my great aunt’s name, so I asked him to order that and see if it was the right one.

As it turned out it was.  The reason I hadn’t found it before was that on the marriage certificate her name was spelt the french way, Aimee instead of Amy.  And this certificate was more helpful in the search for my GGgrandfather.  From this certificate we learn’t that his name was George Kenneth McKenzie, and that he was deceased at the time of his daughter’s wedding in 1901.

So this is what I know about him so far.  His name : George Kenneth McKenzie ; but went by the name of Ken or Kenneth.  Also he was dead by the time his daughter got married in November 1901.  And that his occupation may have been that of a surveyor.

The closest I have come in my search is  the death of a George kenneth McKenzie in Perth Hospital in Perth,WA, Australia just prior to his daughters wedding.  On the death certificate his occupation at time of  death is listed as being that of a Civil Engineer. So that comes close to my search criteara.

But what I need is some documented evidence that ties the man who died in Perth hospital with the family over in Sydney.  So this is why I am asking for some help.  If anyone knows of any document or photo, or certificate, connection between a George Kenneth McKenzie and either a Eliza Matilda Wooller or William George Wooller/mcKenzie; Walter John Wooller/ McKenzie or Amy/Aimee Christina Wooller/McKenzie.  I would be happy to have you contact me and let me know of the details.


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)

Website Review – WWW.Genesreunited.co.uk

If you have English ancestors, then this is an ideal site for you to use. I have been a member of this site for a number of years now and I have found it a great help for both mine & my wife’s genealogy/ family history.  And over the years I have watched it grow and develop in both size and features.


While this website has many of the features you would expect from a family history website. One of the features that I find very useful is the Hot Match feature. When you upload or input your family tree into the site it matches the information with other trees on the site and gives you a list of those that match the closest with your information so that you can contact the tree owner and check the information.

Another thing I like about it is the subscription costs. They have 3 levels of subscription, free, standard member and Platinum member.  In both standard and platinum subscriptions you can either get a 6 or 12 month membership, and in platinum you can also get a monthly payment plan. It goes with out saying that the longer the membership you take out the cheaper it costs. Below is a chart that gives an idea of what you get for standard & platinum membership.  With platinum you also get access to military records from WW1 & WW2

Membership    Features Platinum Standard
View trees of   over 13 million Genes Reunited members  •
Contact members   who share your ancestors to discover your family history  •  •
Join the Genes   Reunited community to ask for genealogy tips and advice  •  •
Victorian   Census Records from 1841-1901 (England, Wales and Scotland)  •
Birth Marriage   and Deaths from 1837-2004 (England and Wales)  •
The complete   1911 census for England and Wales – See your ancestor’s own handwriting!  •
Non indexed   Birth and Marriage records from 1837-1983 (England and Wales)  •
50 free   credits to access all of our records  •

(from Genesreunitied subscription page)

They also have a pay as you go feature which enables you to purchase credits to veiw their records (50-200 credits) but give you no access to member’s trees or forums.

In the last 12 months they have added 2 new features to the site.  These are Keepsafe:- a place to save photo’s and other documents.  I have not used this myself as yet but I can see the benefits of it.  I wish they had had it a few years ago. As I would still have copies of some photo’s that I had on my hard drive of my computer that were lost due to hard drive crashes & computer viruses.

One in particular is really missed.  A cousin of my wife had sent us a digital copy of a photo via email, of my wifes great grandfather who had served in the british airforce during WW1, standing in front of a Botha bomber which he and others had built on the base during the war.  We have since tried to get another copy of this photo but without success.

Relatives:-  In this section of the site you have a place where you can store   information on family and other relatives and also attach the information to your relative in your family tree on the site.

Recently they have also added Scottish cencus records.  The records are from 1841 – 1901. From Genesreunited news page we have this:-

“If you are a Platinum member then you get unlimited access to the Scottish records as part of your subscription. If you use pay-per-view credits they are just 5 credits each view. We have both individual and household transcriptions. We do not have copies of actual census images.”


The one big disadvantage I see with this website is that it is only for those who have English ancestors.  But having said that they do a great job and I think that while they may have considered broadening their database to include European records, their main focus is on English ancestry.  And the records that are available for family history/genealogy.


In conclusion I will state as I did at the beginning this is an excellent site for those of us who have English, Scottish & Irish ancestry.  It is in my opinion reasonably priced and offers a lot of benefits for the family historian, both in researching and the preservation of our family history. As you will see from the discoveries I made while researching  for this reveiw They are very committed to family history, and I plan on reviewng a few more of their sites in the near future.

Research Discoveries

In my research for this review I found that  www.genesreunited.co.uk  is owned and operated by Brightsolid Online Publishing.  To visit their homepage click here (www.brightsolid.com ).   If you look on Brightsolid’s homepage they state that their gaol is essentially to preserve both family history information and general history.  Brightsolid is in turn owned by DC Thomson publishers.

Brightsolid also operate the following websites:- www.Findmypast.co.uk ; www.Findmypast.ie ; www.Findmypast.com.au; www.Findmypast.com ; www.1911cencus.co.ukwww.ancestorsonboard.com ; www.cencusrecords.com ; www.1901.cencusonline.comwww.britishnewspapersarchive.co.uk. Brightsolid also hosts the www.scotslandpeoples.gov.uk site

Family History Programs

Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2004

Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the years we all have become familar with the different versions of the www.ancestry.com program; ” Who do You think You Are.” and there are a lot of things in it that can be very helpful in doing our own research.  But the other night I came across a program called, “Finding Your Roots“, I found myself pleasently surprized by not only the quality of the program but by also the fact that you get to see where the information came from and also some of the stories of the various ancestors of these people.

In this episode we get to look at the family tree’s of Robert Downey Jr; and Maggie Gyllenhaal, both are well known actors and both share a lot in common in their family tree’s.  Both have Jewish ancestry on one side of their tree and european ancestry on the other side of their tree.

Throughout the program you saw the use of different resources, such as state and federal government records.  Also the use of libraries, Historical & Family history societies and also the use of family information.

English: Actor Robert Downey, Jr. at the 83rd ...

It was interesting to note that Maggie Gyllenhaal’s surname means, “Golden Hall.”  And that one of her ancestors was a puritan minister and quite a well known one. His name was Reverend John Lothrop and who, along with some of his congregation, was banished to the America’s from england at a time of intense persecution of non-conformist religions.  John Lothrop & his parishoners arrived in Boston, Massachusetts  in 1634AD .  John Lothrop was one of the founders of the town of Barnstable, Massachussetts, USA.  And is an ancestor of many notable american figures. One of the homes he built in Barnstable is now a library and is considered one of the oldest libraries in the USA.

Robert Downey Jr can count among his ancestors his 5th great grandfather, Tobias Schucker (1747 – 1813), who fought in the American Revolution. He enlisted in the Berks county Militia, Pennsylvania in 1780 as  a private.  After the war finnished and at the end of his life, his will showed that he owned over 100 acres of land.  Tobias was descended from German emigrants and even though he lived and died in the USA, he never forgot his german heritage.  His will was written in German and he probably spoke german most of his life.

One of the most interesting segments in this program is the use of DNA matching. Both Maggie Gyllenhaal & Robert Downey jr supplied samples of their DNA. These samples were used to determine their genitic origins.  The DNA testing was carried out by a company called FamilytreeDNA.com .  Despite the fact that both Maggie & Robert have jewish ancestry in their family tree.  The tests showed that Robert Downey Jr has only 20% of his genetic makeup comes from the jewish side of his ancestry.  Whereas Maggie Gyllenhaal’s genetic makeup is 100% jewish.  The tests also showed that Maggie’s  linage is part of the 40% of the american jewish population who are descended from a group of 4 jewish women who lived in the land of Judea over 2000 years ago.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this program and am looking forward to watching the rest of the series. I do not hesitate in recommending it, not just for its entertainment value but also because it is a good example of how to do family history and shows the resources that are available to us in our search for our ancestors.

ScotslandsPeople – Events

Family history sessions with ScotlandsPeople – Tuesday 13 November and Thursday 29 November, General Register House, Edinburgh
The next ScotlandsPeople family history events will take place at General Register House on Tuesday, 13 November and Thursday 29 November. Both events will start at 1.00pm and finish at 4.30pm.

photo of a family history class

The sessions will start with a brief presentation about the ScotlandsPeople Centre, followed by a taster session using the computer search system. To round off proceedings, there is another brief talk about the records that are held in the Historical Search Room. Light refreshments (included in the ticket price) are provided during the session. These informal events are ideal for people who are new to genealogy or the facilities at the ScotlandsPeople Centre.

There is a charge of £5.00 per place, which must be paid in advance, and seats can be booked from Wednesday 24 October, from 9am onwards. For further information and to reserve a place, please call 0131 314 4300 (option 1).

ScotlandsPeople at the 50+ Show – The SECC, Glasgow, Friday 9 and Saturday 10 November 2012
The 50+ Show will be taking place at the SECC (Hall 5) in Glasgow on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 November 2012, and ScotlandsPeople will be there. As happened last year, we’ll be giving demos of the website, doing a talk on Scottish records, helping with searches and offering advice to people about their family history research.

And if you register on the 50+ website before Thursday 8 November, you can gain free admission to the show (thereby saving yourself a tenner). Registration is free and only takes a minute or so – just click the image in the top right corner of the 50+ homepage to reach the registration page. We hope to meet you at the show!

Scotland‘s History Festival” – various venues in Edinburgh, Tuesday 13 to Friday 30 November
There is an excellent line-up of events at this year’s “Scotland’s History Festival” (SHF). There will also be a fair sprinkling of stardust, as Neil Oliver, John Sessions, Nigel Planer, Tom Devine and Lesley Riddoch will be attending the Festival.

The ScotlandsPeople Team will also be attending the Festival, and will be involved in the following events
•Library roadshows
•’Authors at the Dome’ talks

Here are the dates, venues and times for the Library Roadshow events that we’re running:
•Stockbridge Library: Wednesday 24 October, 2pm to 4pm (please note that this roadshow is taking place in October, not November);
•Leith Library: Wednesday 14 November, 2pm to 4pm;
•Morningside Library: Monday 19 November, 2pm to 4pm;
•Newington Library: Tuesday 20 November, 2pm to 4pm;
•Muirhouse Library: Monday 26 November, 2pm to 4pm;
•McDonald Road Library: Tuesday 27 November, 2pm to 4pm;
•Oxgangs Library: Wednesday 28 November, 2pm to 4pm.

The library roadshows are drop-in events, so you can just turn up on the day for these.

And here are the details of the ‘Authors at the Dome’ talks:
•’Travels in Scotland, 1788-1881′ – by Alastair J. Durie, Tuesday 20 November, 2pm to 3.30pm;
•’Rooted in Scotland: Getting to the Heart of Your Scottish Heritage’ – by Cameron Taylor, Wednesday 21 November, 2pm to 3.30pm;
•’Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors’ – by Tristram Clarke, Thursday 22 November 2pm to 3.30pm (free admission);
•’1902-1925 Wills and Testaments: what they tell us about the rich and the poor’ – Robin Urquhart, Friday 23 November, 2pm to 3.30pm (free admission);
•’Scots at Large’ – by Marjorie Harper, Monday 26 November, 2pm to 3.30pm;
•’Alexander II, King of Scots‘ – by Professor Richard Oram, Tuesday 27 November, 2pm to 3.30pm;
•’Scotland the Brave Land: 10,000 Years of Scotland in Story’ – by Stuart McHardy, Friday 30 November, 11am to 12.30pm
•’Arthur’s Seat: Journeys and Evocations’ – by Donald Smith & Stuart McHardy, Friday 30th November, 2pm to 3.30pm.

The talks by Tristram Clarke and Robin Urquhart are free to attend. For all the other talks, there is an admission charge of £3.00. Booking is required for all of these talks – to book a place, click here.

For more information about the Festival, please visit the Scotland’s History Festival website.

Your family history stories – Lithuanian immigration to Scotland and the Slavo-British Legion
As part of the official ‘cocktails on the plettie’ celebrations for ScotlandsPeople’s 10th birthday, we asked you to send in your family history stories. We’re amazed by the wonderful stories you’ve sent in.

Just recently, we added a fascinating story about Lithuanian emigration to Scotland and the little-known role of the Slavo-British Legion in the Russian Civil War. Frances Togneri, the person who kindly passed on this story to us, is looking to contact other family historians who are researching these two areas. So if this is an area you’re researching, please give Frances a shout – her email address is listed at the end of the article.

Wee snippets of stuff we liked this month…
•Launch of the National Burns Collection,
•The Top 100 Irish surnames explained,
•Probably the best porridge in the world – winner of the 2012 ‘Golden Spurtle‘,
•’In yer ain words’ – a celebration of the Scots’ language,
•William McGregor – the Perthshire man who founded the English Football League,
•The Scottish emigrants who founded Seville Football Club.

All the Best,
The ScotlandsPeople Team

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Recording your Information (part 1)

Now that you have collected and organised your documents; certificates; photo’s etc. And also sifted through the information that you have into your notebooks, we need to record the information in a fashion that will be easy to see where you are at in tracing your family history. We do this in several ways, either manually on paper or through a computer program.

Today I would like to look at how to do it manually on paper. There are basically 2 forms we use to record our information on.  Initially you may want to use what is termed a pedigree chart.  Your pedigree chart is to put it simply, Your Family Tree, on this chart is displayed your direct line of ancestors.  Starting with yourself, then your parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc

Pedigree Charts

Pedigree charts can take many forms. Displayed below is what is known as  a 4 generation chart,( which means of course that only 4 generations are displayed on the page).

4 Generation Pedigree chart

You will note that on this page only important basic information is included.  Such as birth/ christening dates. And the place or location where the event occoured.  the same for marriage and death information.

When starting out you always place yourself in position 1.  you will notice that there is a position to list the spouse of Number 1 but no details.  This is because the spouse of number 1 will have their own chart, where they will be listed as number 1. Now this chart follows the Paternal, Maternal lines of number 1.  The Father of number 1 is listed in position 2, and the mother is at position 3, and so on you go for each generation.

When you have gone back 4 generations you will need to start a new pedigree chart as you progress back through the generations.  you will notice that after no 8 is filled in there is a little notation at the side that says ” Cont on chart no_”.  And at the top of the page there is another line that says,  ” No 1 on this chart is the same as No_ on chart No_”.  Using this notation will enable you to keep track of whose parents are whose.  For example if this chart was chart no 1 and we had gone back to no 8 on this chart and we had the parents of no 8 we would fill in the notation beside no 8 to read, “Cont on chart 2″  and at the top of chart 2 we would fill in the notation to  read ” No 1 on this chart is the same as No 8 on chart No 1.”  It is through this cross referencing that we  can keep track of whose who in your family tree, and where they fit in.  Also I should mention here the little box at the bottom of the page where the person compiling the information on this sheet can list their details. There is an important reason for this.  That reason is that if you are sharing this information with others they know how they can get in touch with you to confirm or query the information you have on your pedigree chart.

Family Group Sheets

In conjunction with the Pedigree chart there is the Family Group sheet.  It is this sheet where you can include more detailed information.

In this Family Group record there is room for more detailed information. Instead of just the brief synopsis of information as we find in the pedigree chart, here we find that each event has its own line. e.g. birth and christening dates are seperate.  At the top of the page we have the parents information, also space is made for the parent’s parents. (again we have cross-referencing taking place).

Then is listed the children of the family and space for their birth and death information, and also the names of their spouses, dates of marriage and places that the event occoured. Even though there is only space for 3 children there is often room for more children,(next page). Some families can be quite large.  Often you will find that as you go back through the generations there will be large families and this was often because of the high infant mortality rate.

One other thing I would like to bring your attention to on this family group sheet is that on the right hand side you will see a little box marked, “See “Other marriages” This can be handy if the individuals in the family were married more than once, which happens often.

Notes, Sources & “Other Marriages

Notes, Sources & “Other Marriages”

Lastly we have a page where you can record any notes you may have on the persons that you have listed in the family group sheet.  these notes may be information on where they lived, their occupation, and anything that you feel gives you more insight makes your ancestor more alive to you and or your descendants. Now the top section of this page is reserved for listing the “Other marriages” of the family members.

Lastly and a very important part of researching your family history is listing the sources of where you obtained the information you have on your family members. For example you obtained burial information from an obituary notice in a newspaper clipping that you found when you were collecting documents, clippings, certificates and other information that you had lieing around your home.  Then in listing the source for this information you would list it as burial info for (family member); obituary notice (newspaper if known) publishing date & page number where the notice was ( if known of course) If the newspaper is not known you may want to list it as a document held by family member. listing who the family member is who has the document. More on listing sources in a later post.

Where To Start With Your Family History

Over the years the most common question I have been asked by people just starting out in researching their family history is; “Where Do I Start”; “Who Do I Start With.”

And my answer is always the same. You start with yourself, simply because you know the most about yourself, then your wife and children, if you have any. And then your parents and siblings.  And then work on back through the generations, going as far back as you can.

Now the first thing to do is to get a piece of paper and sit down and write your date of birth, then the date you were christened, ( if you were christened that is), the date you were married,( again if you are married), and to whom you are married to or were married to.  One thing I almost forgot to mention is that for all these events you need to also include where the event occurred. And you need to identify it so that there is no confusion as to where the event occurred. It is not sufficient to just say I was born in the hospital, approx 56 yrs ago. A better and more informative way of identifying where the event occurred is to say,” I was born in Crown St Women’s Hospital in Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.”  So that last statement identified where the event occurred very precisely. This is very important when dealing with similar names in your family history as you go back, tracing your family’s history.

I can remember on one occasion I cam across a family where the mother seemed to have had children till a very late age. upon further research I was able to identify that the children belonged to 2 families. A Father and a Son both with the same name who both had wives with the same first name. The clue for this was in the dates or years of the births of their children.

So the next step is to collect and organise your photo’s, certificates, newspaper clippings and other memoribilla. One of the best and easiest ways of sorting out your documents, certificates, newspapr clipping etc.  Is to get a number of small cartons, about 3 or 4, approximately shoe box size.  And into each carton you put your documents, newpaper clippings etc into each of these cartons.  you maybe surprised as to what information you have.  About yourself, your family and maybe even some of your ancestors.

Each of these boxes represent a source of information about you and your family. Now I would like you to add one more box to those you have and in this box you should find and put any letters you may have from relatives or friends that may mention anything about you and or your ancestors.

Now that you have soorted out these sources of information into different catagories or types you need to process each collection and glean what information you can from each collection. A good idea may be to get yourself a number of small cheap notebooks that you can write information into. I would suggest that you have at least one notebook for each of your boxes.  That way you will find it easier to find specific information, instead of having to search through one big notebook for information.

Two things to remember when sorting and compiling the information you have put into your boxes. When you come to news and or  articles from newspapers and or magazines you need to make a note of where you obtained the article and when it was printed.and with photo’s you also need to identify who is in the photo, where it was taken, ( if possible), and the date or year that it was taken. I will explain the reason why in a later post.

Now that you have gathered your information and sorted it out. You will need to record and organise it. so that you can see what further research you need to do.  I will talk about that in my next post