August is National Family History Month so for today, a Trove Tuesday post with a family theme. The digitised newspapers at Trove are a great place to look for photos of family members. When I search, I always filter the results to show any illustrated newspapers…just in case.
Recently I was searching the newspapers specifically for four and five generation family photos to share on the Western District Families Facebook page. Such photos were often in the papers, sometimes sent in by readers for “Readers’ Snapshots” pages or sometimes they made the general news. You may remember a newspaper photo I found of my ggg aunt Amelia Bell (nee Harman) with four generations of her descendants.
My search found the following photo from the Weekly Times of 25 April 1925 taken at Dergholm north-west of Casterton. The caption told me the photo included Mrs Jones, described as the oldest resident in the Dergholm district, holding her great-granddaughter Heather McCrae. Standing to the left is Mrs Jones’ daughter, Mrs McNamara and standing to the right, her granddaughter, Mrs McCrae.
When sharing photos on the Facebook page, I like to include some extra information about the subjects. Just using Mesdames Jones, McNamara and McCrae wouldn’t do. With not much to work with and common surnames, “Dergholm” was going to be key in the search.
Staying with Trove, I searched for “Jones Dergholm” and quickly found the obituary of James Jones, late of Dergholm in The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record from 1 June 1914. He was the second son of Mrs. Jane Jones and the late Henry Jones of Dergholm. Jane and Henry had ten children, four sons, and six daughters, and among the daughters listed was a Mrs. McNamara. Unfortunately, no Christian name for her, but James’ obituary had me a step closer to confirming Mrs. Jones was Jane Jones. Also, if I wanted to research the whole of the Jones family of Dergholm, there are a lot of good clues to go on with.
I then went to Births, Deaths, and Marriages Victoria to search for James Jones’ entry in the Death Index. There I confirmed his father was Henry Jones and his mother was Jane Holt.1 I then searched the Death Index for Jane Jones and found a Jane Jones (nee Holt) who died at Casterton in 1935 aged ninety-two.2 On that, she would have been around eighty-two in the photo. Although there were no further details of Jane’s parents if I wanted to find more about her, from the entry I knew she was born around 1843, possibly at Geelong. But I wanted to find out about her descendants next.
Turning to Mrs. McNamara, I took a punt she also lived at Dergholm and searched the Birth Index for McNamara births at Dergholm and found three daughters born to Michael McNamara and Eliza Jones – Hilda Constance in 18983 Annie Elizabeth in 1900 3and Queenie in 1909.5 One of those girls could be Mrs. McCrae. Queenie was too young, maybe it was Annie, but I thought I’d start with Hilda. Searching the Marriage Index for Hilda McNamara, I found her marriage to Alexander McCrae in 1923.6 While there, I found Eliza Jones’ marriage to Michael McNamara in 18967 and then back to the Death Index to double-check it was the right Eliza Jones who married Michael McNamara. I found Eliza McNamara, the daughter of Henry Jones and Jane Holt, died in 1928 at Casterton aged sixty-one.8 That was just three years after the photo and seven years before her mother.
The chances of finding more about baby Heather were slim, but I thought I would try it. A Trove search for Heather McCrae found nothing but a search of “McCrae Dergholm”, found the following engagement notice from The Argus. A tip for searching Trove using words with a prefix– I find I have better results if a drop the Mc altogether and search just Crae or Namara, for example. The same applies for “O” and “St” etc.
Back to the Victorian Marriage Index. With the groom’s surname from the engagement notice, I quickly found Heather and Lionel married in 1947.9
Something else I found at Trove was a letter Hilda McNamara wrote to “Aunt Connie” of The Weekly Times, published on 13 July 1912 when Hilda was fourteen. It’s hard to read but if I were related to Hilda, I’d be happy to find it.
In a short time and using just two free websites, I found out a lot more about the subjects of the Weekly Times photo. I found names, dates, a nice letter by Hilda, and plenty to go on with if I wanted to. But for now, I can update the caption to read:
Jane Jones (nee Holt) holding her great-granddaughter Heather McCrae, the granddaughter of Eliza McNamara (nee Jones), back left, and the daughter of Hilda McCrae (nee McNamara), back right.
1 Victorian Death Index, James Jones, 1914, Reg. no. 4830/1914
2 Victorian Death Index, Jane Jones, 1935, Reg. no. 12397/1935
3 Victorian Birth Index, Hilda Constance McNamara, 1898, Reg. no. 10478/1898
4 Victorian Birth Index, Annie Elizabeth McNamara, 1900, Reg. no. 25996/1900
5 Victorian Birth Index, Queenie McNamara, 1909, Reg. no. 18510/1909
6 Victorian Marriage Index, Hilda Constance McNamara, 1923 Reg. no. 165/1923
7 Victorian Marriage Index, Eliza Jones, Reg. no. 14/1896
8 Victorian Death Index, Eliza McNamara, 1928, Reg. no. 9356/1928
9 Victorian Marriage Index, Heather McCrae, 1947, Reg. no. 2300/1947