Each year when writing a post to mark the “birth” of Western District Families, I describe the occasion differently whether it be blogiversary, anniversary or birthday. After finding the traditional gift for a sixth anniversary is candy, I settled on an anniversary this year. So, Happy 6th Anniversary Western District Families.
The idea of candy took my mind straight to my cousin “Sweet” Daisy Diwell, an employee at MacRobertson’s Chocolates in Fitzroy and to a Trove Tuesday subject the “Sweet-toothed Fox” a nocturnal visitor to the MacRobertson factory who feasted on the delights within. Next, I thought of chocolate boxes, particularly the beautiful MacRobertson’s Chocolate boxes.
MacRobertson chocolate boxes are not all that comes to mind. I often think of Forrest Gump and his chocolate box while I’m researching, particularly the men of Hamilton’s WW1. Starting with the name of a man I know nothing about, I then delve into his life never knowing what I might find. So many times I’ve been surprised at what’s under the lid when I lift it. Researching family history generally is much the same. If you’re lucky, when you do lift the lid you’ll find something like this…
When I began reflecting on Western District Families’ year, I felt I hadn’t achieved a lot. Looking at the “Home” page and the low numbers of posts, it would seem not much has happened. Then I thought about why that was the case and only then realised how much I had achieved. As well as being very busy on the home front, Hamilton’s WW1 has been time-consuming with most stories taking several hours of research and writing. At the same time last year, I had seventy-five biographies and it’s taken a year to add another forty-three but it’s been worth every moment.
As well as the lists of Hamilton enlistments and posts about Hamilton’s WW1 memorials, Hamilton’s WW1 now has 118 biographies of enlisted men. Each includes a family history, photos and links to relevant online records. Those 118 men make up most of the names of the Hamilton War Memorial and Hamilton’s Anzac Avenue combined, so by this Anzac Day, I hope to have available a full biography of each man. And not forgetting the nurses, I am also close to finishing the first biography of a WW1 Nurse who trained at Hamilton.
Passing of the Pioneers and the associated Pioneer Obituary Index achieved a milestone in the past year, with 700 pioneer obituaries now indexed. As I’ve been looking for an opportunity to highlight some of the female pioneers, Women’s History Month was perfect to look back at ten of the women who were Passing of the Pioneers subjects over the past five years in “Wonderful Women of the Western District” Part 1 and Part 2
The Facebook pages, Western District Families and Hamilton’s WW1 continue to grow. I’ve been delighted to see the interest in the WDF page as it nears 3300 “likes” up from 2000 at this time last year. During the year, I’ve led the page followers on three virtual historic tours of Western District highways which have been great fun. The wonderful memories shared by those following brought another dimension to the posts. Last month the page’s theme was Women’s History Month and this month, we are remembering the enlisted men and women of the Western District. Then it will be time for another virtual historic tour, this time along the Henty Highway.
A personal achievement was successfully completing a Diploma of Family Historical Studies with the Society of Australian Genealogists, a goal for some time. The task was to complete a 20,000-word family history using a range of sources. Of course, I chose the Harman family because I knew the most about them. It was a valuable exercise for my family history research. When I started Western District Families, I soon learnt writing a narrative about family members leads to new discoveries but writing a family history such as I did took it to another level. Now I have a broader knowledge of the family and more understanding of their motivations and emotions but there is still more to learn. It’s something I’d like to try with some of my other families…if I ever get the time.
So that’s the year all wrapped up in a bow. When you lift the lid on your next box of chocolates I hope you are pleasantly surprised at what you find inside.