A Moment of May Madness Maybe?

Advertising. (1953, May 5). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69470334

Advertising. (1953, May 5). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69470334

My creative juices are not flowing freely at the moment, so while planning posts for May, my mind wandered and I set up a Facebook page for Western District Families instead.  I have considered it from time to time, but I usually talk myself out of it and head back to my Google+ page.

It is fair to say that while I love Google+ as a way to connect with other genealogists, it does not have the reach of Facebook and I am not connecting with Western District researchers or those with just a vague interest in their Western District Families.  I also find it has limited opportunities for followers to interact and share.

I have been wary of setting up a Facebook page because I tend to like pages that have regular, but not excessive, interesting updates.  Just like my blog has a pieces of the blogs I like to read, I felt the pressure to do the same with a Facebook page.  That would mean contributing more that just a link to my posts.

However, the upside is I like to share stories about Western District Families, places to find them and news about the history of Western Victoria.  I also love to hear other people’s family stories and marvel at the wonderful history of the Western District.

So I did it.  It may have been May Madness but I hope you like the Western District Families Facebook page all the same.

Two Today

It’s my blogiversary!


Considering I’ve had  plenty of other stuff going on in my life and limited time, it has sometimes been difficult to keep up with posts.   But remarkably I wrote 110 in the last 12 months and I really don’t know how I managed it.

It could have had something to do with  the genesis of Trove Tuesday thanks to Amy Houston of Branches, Leaves and Pollen.  I have prepared a post for every Trove Tuesday, a total of 33.  With so many quirky, cute and downright outrageous (thinking George Gladstone April 2  ) articles tagged at Trove, the weekly post has been reasonably easy to come up with.  Particularly so  in those weeks when I was totally lacking in inspiration.

Was it my biggest thrill for the year, having Western District Families named as one of Inside History Magazine’s Top 50 Genealogy Blogs?  This was a wonderful endorsement of the work I have put in and has inspired me to keep writing.  Thank you once again Jill Ball and Inside History Magazine.

Or maybe it was the simple fact that the history of the Western District of Victoria is full of interesting people, places and events.

I would have to say it was all the above.

TOP OF THE POPS – The Top 5 Most Viewed Posts:

Fastest Ship in the World – Holding the number place  two years running,  this post is about the clipper ship Marco Polo, often mistaken for Marco Polo the explorer.

Old Portland Cemetery – Part 1 – The interesting thing about this post is that it had over 250 more views than Old Portland Cemetery – Part 2, the forgotten chapter.

Alfred Winslow Harman – Stepping Out of the Shadows – The youngest son of Joseph and Sarah Harman not only stepped out of the shadows after his post, he stood in the spotlight.

Left Behind – Joseph and Sarah Harman left children in Cambridgshire, both living and dead, when they came to Australia.  Research for this post lead to one of my favourites for the year, Everybody Happy.

Passing of the Pioneers – It was pleasing to see one of the Passing of the Pioneers posts in the Top 5.  April 2012 Passing of the Pioneers contained obituaries of some prominent gentleman of the Western District.  There was James Dawson, the Protector of Aborigines in Victoria, pastoralist James Thomson of Monivae, near Hamilton and James Kirby of Mt Koroite station, near Casterton.  His obituary inspired me to write another of my favourite posts, A Western District Melbourne Cup.


Each of my favourite posts required more research than the rest, particularly at Trove.  There is something relaxing about Troving and a regular need to relax led to posts such as:

Everybody Happy – My 2nd cousin 3 x removed Rupert Hazell was a vaudeville and broadcasting star.  This was such an enjoyable post to write and I loved hearing from relatives of his wife Elsie Day and their memories of the couple.

On the ALG Trail – A tour of  landmarks in the South East of South Australia and Western Victoria frequented by Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Alice Hawthorne – The Western Mare The small grey mare that won races for the Chirnsides in the 1870s and raced in a match race that would lead to the first running of the Melbourne Cup, had previously been a work horse at Mt. William station when my ggg grandfather James Mortimer worked there.

A Western District Melbourne Cup – The story of 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, The Parisian was a chance to indulge in my interest in the history of Victorian horse racing.

My regular need to Trove also resulted in seasonal fashion posts, Spring, Summer and Autumn.  Hasn’t it been fun to see what our female ancestors wore through the decades?  I look forward to the Winter post in June.

Passing of the Pioneers has grown and I have now shared over 300 Western District pioneer obituaries.  I just love the stories I find, especially of the ordinary people and those that time has forgotten.

A goal I set for myself when I started Western District Families was to post twice a week.  I have achieved that in the past year but in doing so I have often broken one of the rules I set for myself, to respond to comments promptly.  Sorry if you have posted a comment and I haven’t got back yet.   I have set today aside as “comment” day and I am going to get back to each of you.  Thank you so much for your comments, I do appreciate them.   Special thanks to Anne.  Your regular comments are encouraging, informative and fun.

Thank you to the 65 followers of Western District Families.  This time last year I couldn’t  have imagined  that the blog’s followers would more than double from 29.

The question I now ask myself is can I keep up the pace?  Despite being about to embark on a Diploma of Family Historical Studies, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel time wise.  So while I  continue to find stories about our Western District Families, I will give it my best shot.

Last Word

Blog of the Year Award 3 star jpeg

There has been some negative spin about Blogging awards over the past few days, however I felt that it would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge my third nomination for the Blog of the Year 2012.

Aillin for Australian Genealogy journeys nominated Western District Families.  Aillin wrote:

“Many of Merron’s quality posts are obviously the result of many hours research on her own and other families of the Western District of Victoria, Australia”

Thank you so much Aillin.  To be nominated by you along with some highly respected blogs was a thrill.

Regardless of what others may think are the negatives of blogging awards, I appreciate every nomination I received and greatly admire the blogs I in turn nominated.  It is great to be recognised by one’s peers and, hey, it means I’m doing something right.

That’s enough about awards from for now,  I’ve got a Trove Tuesday post to write.

Wow! Another Nomination

Blog of the Year Award 2 star jpeg

Maybe it was excitement from Pauline s Blog of the Year 2012 nomination or maybe it was the incessant cries of MUUUM! that distracted me, but I somehow managed to overlook a Blog of the Year 2012  nomination from Catherine Crout-Habel from the blog Seeking Susan – Meeting Marie-Finding Family.  Last night when she drew my attention to my nomination, once again excitement set in.  Two nominations for Blog of the Year 2012.  Who would have thought?

Catherine wrote in my comments – “I want to thank you for the information you provide and the pleasure I get from your thorough research. Your Trove searches are brilliant. It therefore gives me great pleasure to nominate you for the “Blog of the Year 2012 Award”…”

Why thank you Catherine, I feel humbled by your kind words.  But of course I couldn’t have done it alone.  Trove, the resource, many of us know and love, plays a large part in my research and it is the information there , that is so easily accessible and searchable, that makes blogging so much easier and fun.

When I considered who would be my next nominees, I thought I would go for two Trovites.  My nominations are:

Branches, Leaves and Pollen   – Amy Houston – Since the end of August, Amy has sent many of us scrambling to Trove each week to find a special treasure for our Trove Tuesday  posts.  Thanks to Amy and her Trove Tuesday idea, I have been able to regularly share some of my Trove treasures.  Also Amy has a knack of finding some great treasures and her blog is testament to that.  Thank you and well done Amy.

Small History – Chloe Okoli – Thanks to Amy, I found Chloe and her blog Small History.  Chloe has also been a regular contributor to Trove Tuesday and her well researched posts and her ability to write about history in a refreshing way, make it a pleasure to read.  And she has big things planned for Small History in 2013.  Well done Chloe.

Apologies to Catherine again for missing your comment and thank you for your nomination of Western District Families.


1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

Blog of the Year Award 2012

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

What a thrill it was to learn of my nomination for Blog of the Year 2012, particularly as the nomination came from a blogger I greatly admire, Pauline Cass.  Pauline has been a great supporter of Western District Families, often leaving positive and encouraging comments.  In fact, she is second only to my other wonderful commenter Ann in the number of comments she has posted.  Pauline is also something of a mentor as she is one of the geneabloggers that shows me how its done.

On her blog, Pauline wrote my nomination was for…commitment to documenting the pioneers from the western districts of Victoria, Australia, not just her own families” and  I am grateful for that recognition.  When I dreamt up this blog it was to be entitled “My Western District Families”, hence the URL, however I thought that was too narrow, considering the many other interesting Western District families with fascinating stories to tell.   It has been great to hear from readers, not related to me, who have found a reference to their ancestor on my blog.

Since the latter half of 2012 I have been extremely time poor and I have unfortunately had to curtail my blog reading, but there are several blogs I read when I do get a moment.   I have narrowed those down to three blogs that I would like to nominate for Blog of the Year 2012:

FAMILY HISTORY 4 YOU – Sharn White – Sharn’s blog is quality.  She is an excellent researcher and her posts are informative and thought-provoking.

GENIAUS – Jill Ball – Like Pauline, Jill has been a great mentor to myself and other Australian geneabloggers.  She travelled a lot in 2012 and there were times I missed her daily presence in my life via her blog and social media, but she is back for now and for that I am glad.  Whether it be a review,  a family story or a geneameme, Jill inspires so many of us.

GOULD GENEALOGY & HISTORY NEWS – Gould Genealogy –  When time is short, the Gould Genealogy blog, which I have on a RSS feed, keeps me updated with the latest in the genealogy world.  In 2012 there was also the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge  which kept me and many others inspired, writing or reading some of the great contributions.


1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

Thinking of the Far S.W.

Today I planned to write a post about our trip to Nelson in the far south-west of Victoria, that we have just returned from.   We drove down last Wednesday, through towns such as Digby, Dartmoor and Drik Drik, tiny communities which feature in my blog particularity the Passing of the Pioneers posts.  As we turned into the Winnap/Nelson Road and entered the Lower Glenelg National Park, the beauty of the area was obvious.  I was particularly taken by the number of wild flowers on the side of the roads, pink, white and yellow .



I also made a note of the Drik Drik cemetery which I hoped to visit on our way home.  Ian Marr on his Cemeteries of  S.W. Victoria site describes the cemetery –

The most notable feature is the rather impressive entrance. On each side of the gates are honour rolls for both World Wars. The graves are mostly centred in one area, with a small grouping in the far right, front corner. 

Drik Drik cemetery is the resting place of many of the pioneers I have written about.  They include  William Mullen and his wife Emma Holmes, Robert Arthur Lightbody, Mary Hedditch and her husband James Malseed and the McLeans.  Descendants of these families still live in the area.

The temperature quickly reached 43 degrees Celsius Friday leading to an itinerary shuffle.  Friday afternoon, while at Nelson we received a CFA text message warning us that fire was 18 kilometres east of Nelson at Kentbruk.

On Saturday, the fire was still out of control and as we hadn’t made our planned trip to Mt. Gambier, rather than head back toward the fire we would go home via nearby Mt Gambier.

Today, four days after it started, as I sit here at home, smoke from the fire is beginning to become visible to the south.  The fire is still out of control and threatening the community of Drik Drik and the town of Dartmoor.  You may remember Dartmoor and the fantastic Avenue of Honour I posted on back in April.  Again we were going to stop on the way home and take some photos.  Also the road that led us into the area, the Winnap/Nelson road is now closed

Instead of posting about our holiday, I would like to wish everyone living in the area well and hope that soon life can return to normal.  While they are no strangers to bushfire that never makes it easier to deal with.   But they are from hardy stock down that way, it’s in the blood.  My thoughts  are also with the wonderful firefighters working hard in difficult terrain.

In these times, I also think of the wildlife which is abundant and diverse through the Lower Glenelg National Park and the adjacent Cobboboonee National Park.  May serenity soon return to their lives and they can graze again among the wildflowers, pink, white and yellow.

Postscript:  Since I started this post, a fire is now burning out of control at Chepstowe and Carngham around 20 kilometres from home.  There are reports of homes lost including an unconfirmed report that the historic Carngham Station homestead has been destroyed.  I will keep you posted.

Further Update on Carngham Station: Tonight it was confirmed that the homestead at Carngham Station was lost in today’s fire.  A photo released on Twitter tonight reveals the devastation.  .

Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme

Geniaus has asked geneabloggers to accentuate the positives of our blogging year that was 2012 with the help of a geneameme she  devised.  I  jumped at the chance because everything about my 2012 blogging year has been positive.  During a year where I struggle to draw many positives on a personal level, Western District Families has been both uplifting and a great escape thanks to the wonderful feedback I have received and friends I have made in 2012 thanks to blogging.  I have excluded a couple of the points as there were not applicable to my year but maybe next year.

Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was Rosanna Buckland.  Well, I had already knew about her but I found the elusive information I have searched high and low for.

2.  A precious family photo I found was of Susan Harman and another of my great-grandmother Edith Diwell and her sisters as young girls.  Thank you to newly found family members Janine and Judy for sharing these with me.

3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was Rosanna Buckland, well at least I now know which cemetery she was buried in, but a missing headstone, like so many other graves at the Old Cavendish Cemetery, stops me from pinpointing her grave.

4.  A newly found family member who shared – there are so many.  One of the great positives of blogging this year was the number of new family members I found (or who found me) and I intend to post about my new cousins in 2013.

5.  A geneasurprise I received was from Daryl Povey with an early Christmas present, Rosanna Buckland’s obituary

6.   My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was Everybody Happy, about my third cousin 1 x removed, Rupert Hazell.    Two posts that were not genealogy related but I am equally proud of were about Western District racing history.   They were  Alice Hawthorne – The Western Mare and a post about The Parisian, the 1911 Melbourne Cup winner with a Western District owner.

7.   My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was Alfred Winslow Harman – Stepping Out of the Shadows.  This post was assisted by a much appreciated mention in a Trove News forum of April 24 .  According to WordPress, the post which received the most comments was William Hadden – Wealth for Toil – Australia Day.

8.  A new piece of software I mastered was – The closest I came to new software was my recently updated Family Tree Maker software.

9. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Google +

10. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was at the 2012 Weston Bate Lecture at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat.  The topic was the  Lost Soldiers of Fromelles presented by Tim Whitford and Lambis Englezos.  I have an interest in the Lost Soldiers which I can hopefully revel in 2013 and I found Lambis and Tim’s presentation incredibly moving.  Their fantastic style of presentation also made it interesting, amusing and thought-provoking.  If you get the opportunity to hear Tim and Lambis speak, take it.

11. I taught a friend how to – It was a work friend actually.  I must bore them sometimes, but I helped one girl find her grandfather’s WW2 service records and request a copy.

12. A genealogy book that taught me something new was Unlock the Past’s Digital Imaging Essentials.  To tell the truth I bought it for Mum for Christmas but I did sneak a peak before I wrapped it.

13. A great repository/archive/library I visited was Hamilton History Centre…fantastic.  A new one was Portland’s History House

14. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was a 2004 publication, but new to my bookshelf, The Potato Village, Mount Eccles near Macarthur by Beverley Ross.

15. A geneadventure I enjoyed was a trip to Hamilton which included research at the Hamilton History Centre and the Old Cavendish Cemetery

16. Another positive I would like to share was Western District Families inclusion in the Inside History Magazine Top 50 genealogy blogs which was a thrill.  Also, the interest in Western District Families in 2012 has been really encouraging with 25,000 views this year and 55 followers.  Thank  you to everyone.

To top it off,  last week I received the results for the Certificate of Genealogical Research I have studied with the Society of Australian Genealogists and I passed with a distinction.  I’ll be starting the Diploma of Family Historical Studies in 2013 which I’m looking forward to.

I almost forgot,  Trove Tuesday has been great fun – thank you Amy for the idea.