Thursday, 20 June 2013

The wish list

That’s the list of the projects I’m trying to finish. There are three of them. The problem is, I keep getting diverted around corners and down interesting rabbit holes.

(1) The sporty Carrs

I started by researching my father’s family – his mother and father, May Queenie Carr (nee Tyson) and Edwin William ("Slip”) Carr - and my great grandfather and great grandmother – Thomas Peter “TP” Carr and Harriett Carr (nee Augood).

I have a lot of information about many members of this group, especially Slip Carr and his father and brothers, who were outstanding sportsmen. Slip represented Australia at Rugby Union and competed at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. I decided to research and write his and their stories.

(2) The early Carrs

Then I discovered my great great grandfather and gx2 grandmother – Henry William Carr and Maria Carr (nee Lillyman). Henry had come out to Australia from Ireland when very young, most likely in the late 1850s, and settled in Wee Waa, New South Wales (pronounced “we wore”). There he met and married Maria Lillyman, an immigrant from England.

I decided to research these “first arrivers” from Europe and the founders of the Australian family. I would write their story up to the end of the 19thC and then move seamlessly back to project (1). Good plan.

(3) The Irish Carrs

But no. While doing that, I discovered that William Henry Carr had several brothers and sisters who had also come out to Australia in the 19thC. There were clues to them in a mysterious letter written by an Irishwoman, Mrs Magill, to a distant Australian relative, Fred Carr, in the early 1920s. The letter turned up in my grandfather’s trunk in 1994 (see “How the journey started”).

Who were these Irish immigrants? I had to find out. I delved some more, the list grew and I learnt there were still more siblings in Ireland. Also, a gx3 grandfather and grandmother, Frederick and Elizabeth Carr. They may have had 16 children or more.

I thought I had gone as far as I could with the Irish Carrs. But then, earlier this year, I made contact with other descendants of that big Irish family and found out more (see "Advertising works”).

So I have some partly written manuscripts, a growing pile of research and a whole lot of new questions.

One day maybe, I will find out more about my mother’s family tree - the Camerons and Davidsons - and about the Tysons – the family of my grandmother, May Queenie Tyson.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Letter from home 1918

My grandfather, Edwin William "Slip" Carr, enlisted in the AIF in October 1917 and sailed from Sydney to Egypt in the Troopship Darwin in April 1918. He was a Trooper (No 4481) in the 2nd Australian Machine Gun Squadron, part of the famous Australian Light Horse Brigade. He spent nearly a year in the Middle East, returning to Sydney in April 1919.

His family wrote him many letters and he wrote back. We have the letters he received because he kept them in a calico bag and brought them home. I have only one page of a letter which he wrote home, which is a shame.

He was 18 when he went away and his family and friends must have worried terribly. The news was very bad from a war that dragged on interminably. So many young men (mostly) were killed or maimed, at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

His older brother Ernie wrote more letters than anyone, giving him the news from home. Here is the first page of a letter Ernie wrote in August 1918.

Ernie said:

My Dear Brother,

            We received your welcome and interesting letter dated 30.8.1918. It was very good of you to write under such difficulties. My word you seem to be in the thick of the fighting. Hope you come through safely old man. We are all very worried about you. It is all a matter of luck & fate as you say. All the old towns must be very interesting. You will have some tales to tell us on your return. Take great care of yourself. In my last letter I enclosed a 10/- note. Hope it reaches you safely. Will do that now and again. Leo sent you a £1.0.0 note.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Advertising works

As a member of the Society of Australian Genealogists, you get to place one free "Enquiry" in the quarterly journal, Descent, each year. I did that for the first time, last March (2013). Here's the ad:

My copy of Descent arrived and I had just opened the plastic wrapping on my copy and checked that my enquiry was in it when the first reply came in - an email popped into the inbox on my screen!

In a matter of weeks, I had been contacted by the following people who were descendants of those listed in the ad:
  • BM (Sydney, NSW) of the Blake family into which John de Burgh Carr married
  • HC (Coffs Harbour, NSW). Her daughter-in-law is a descendant of Ernest Henry Carr
  • RJ (Petwood, South Australia), researching John Stanley Carr.
A gentleman from Newbury, Vermont (Mr P-H) had seen the ad and wrote. He is a descendant of a Parker Carr whose family came from Ireland.

Around the same time as hearing from these people, I made contact with Gillian Johnson - a fourth cousin in Wales, UK I never knew I had. She is a descendant of Charles Andrews Carr and Margaret Carr (nee McDermott) and a keen genealogist who is researching the Carrs in Ireland and her own branch of the family that settled in Liverpool, England. She, in turn, put me in contact with LG, a granddaughter of Augustus Edward Stanley Carr, on the NSW South Coast.

So I have finally contacted the living descendants of some of the siblings of my great great grandfather. I always knew they must exist. They, like me are researching their family history. This has provided a wonderful burst of new discoveries which I am still trying to digest.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Protecting privacy

People are concerned about their privacy on the internet.

I have come up with the following provisional “rules” for protecting the privacy of family members and others who could be mentioned on this blog.

  • I won’t mention the name, or other identifying details, of anyone living, without getting their consent
  • The same goes for photographs
  • I’ll try to avoid revealing someone’s identity indirectly
  • I may refer to living people by an alias or by initials, if that’s not too revealing.
What do other people do? I will look at other blogs to get an idea.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Census Sunday – vanishing ancestors

This point is so simple, I’m wondering if I should even mention it.

About a year ago, I was looking for information about the family of James and Lucy Augood who were Londoners, in English Censuses from 1861 to 1911. James and Lucy’s daughter, Harriett, is my great grandmother.

To my bewilderment, I could find not a single reference to any Augood when searching the Censuses online (on Could they somehow have dodged every census for 50 years? No they hadn’t.

The key was to look for alternative spellings (Angood, Argood, Aregood, etc). Doing that, I found them in every Census in that period. I must acknowledge the help of Sylvia Murphy, a lovely lady and volunteer at the Society of Australian Genealogists library (and an authority, among things, on researching British and other ancestors in India).

I assume the problem is that words in handwriting on a document like a census page can be keyed or captured incorrectly. Here’s an image of one of the census pages with the name “Augood” on it. Or is that “Angood”?

Ancestry gives the option to Add Alternate Information, allowing you, as they say, to “not only set the record straight, you help other researchers find this person.

ANZAC centenary project 2015

Ku-ring-gai Historical Society in Sydney (KHS) is commemorating the centenary of ANZAC day in 2015 with an interesting project.

ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps which came together to fight in WWI. On 25 April 1915, British, ANZAC and other allied forces, including the French and Indians, landed on the shores of Gallipoli to open up a new front in the war with Turkey and the Germans. It ended months later in bitter defeat, with a hasty retreat and a terrible loss of life on both sides.

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days for Australians and New Zealanders. It means different things to different people but for me it is a time to remember so many people who have suffered in times of war and who gave their life or made other sacrifices. And not only those in uniform but their families who also suffered and sacrificed with them.

KHS will publish a book in 2015 to commemorate the people of the Ku-ring-gai area (on the North Shore of Sydney) who served in WWI. Their names have been compiled from the many monuments to the “Great War” in the district. Volunteers from KHS (including me) are researching and writing 500-word stories of the soldiers, sailors and nurses who served. However, because there are so many names, the book will be limited to those who did not come back and those who were decorated.

There are many free websites for researching the stories of these people, including:
I am enjoying being involved in this project. It is a good way to honour the sacrifice made by these people and their families and to learn more about the past.