Moon Landing – memories of a 6 year old

moonwalk in progressThe Moon Landing of July 20 1969 is one of those events which makes people recall where they were at the time. This weekend it is 50 years since that momentous day. For those of us who were small children at the time, our memories are a little unreliable and lend a creative context to the official documents of the time.

In the mid north of South Australia, heavy snowfalls were recorded, lending a contextual layer of reality to the day. Given the rarity of snow in the region, the day was far more memorable than it might otherwise have been.

snow in the Mid north of South AustraliaMy mother had driven us to school because of the inclement weather, snow not yet falling. In front of the school cars arrived, parking on angle to the pavement to drop off their cargo of children. On the pavement stood a teacher dressed for the wet weather, approaching cars as they appeared to inform the unsuspecting parents that school had been cancelled for the day. Cars then reversed out and moved off without unloading children.

On returning home, my sister and I were allowed to play in the lounge room, and more unusually, we were allowed to have the television on. The snowy black and white images did not hold much interest for us. Our story telling Grandfather had always told us stories about ‘The Man in the Moon’, and he had reliably informed us, the moon was made of cheese.  Surely this was about him, ‘The Man in the Moon’. As a five and a six year old, we were more interested in playing with the dolls we had acquired for our recent birthdays.

In the warmth of the kitchen, Mother had set up the baby bath on the kitchen table and was attending to her six month old babe.
We were busy with our dolls when Mum called from the kitchen to look out the window. Snow! I remember dashing straight to the kitchen to ask permission to go play in the snow. The answer was a firm ‘no’. Bargaining – ‘we will wear our rain coats’. Still no!

Resigned to the fact that the snow was beyond our reach, we returned to the lounge room, but now our attention was held completely by the scene outside the window. When Mum entered the room some time later, she found us perched, like cats, on the cupboard in front of the window absorbing a memory that would stay forever.

When school resumed the next day, there was discussion about the moon landing, and children moving about the class room in re-enactment of the moon walk. The snow long gone. I do remember being a little confused about the men walking on the moon, after all, the was already a ‘Man in the Moon’!

For many years, I had assumed that we had a day off school due to the snow. Growing up in a Peterborough, a small country town, the shared memory of my friends re-enforced this impression. It was not until I had left school and moved to Adelaide, that I became aware that the day off had been widespread, and granted because of the Moon Landing!

Peter and Roseanna – the Lovebirds

Peter Frederick Thomas Giles was just nine years old when he emigrated to South

PFT & Rosanna2 (2)
Peter Giles and Roseanna Glass in Peterborough South Australia.

Australia from Cornwall with his parents and brothers aboard the Art Union in 1864 from Cornwall [1]. They settled with members of his father’s extended family in the Adelaide Hills after arrival.

Roseanna Glass by contrast was born in  South Australia. Her parents had emigrated from Gloucestershire in 1858 aboard the Bee [2]. She was the oldest surviving daughter of her parents. Her birth record tell us she was born in 1868 in Mount Arden, a remote town in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

Peter would eventually go north, presumably in search of work. He would take up employment with the South Australian Railways. At that time, the Railway lines were being laid to allow establishment of a Railway network within South Australia.
Peter and Roseanna married in Blinman on September 1st 1882. The marriage record gives Rosanna’s age as 16, but if we calculate her age, using the birth record, she was in fact 14 years old [3, 4].

Theirs was a marriage of mobility and frequent movement through remote areas of South Australia where Peter was employed as a ganger on the Railways. The back breaking work of laying railway tracks. Much of their journey around South Australia is documented in the birth locations of the 14 children born to this couple over 25 years [5]. Many of the birth locations were not towns, but railway sidings, temporary in their existence. Seven sons and four daughters survived.
A life lived in harsh remote locations is never easy, and to have raised a large tribe of children who thrived is evidence of a strong bond.

      Rosanna – Blinman April 29 1883. Blinman, SA.
Ellen Mary – Feb 8 1885. Norton’s Summit, SA
Mabel – October 6 1887. Camp Hergott and Peake Railway camp, SA
John Henry – April 18 1889. Blinman, SA.
Jane Mary – May 21 1891. Wangiana, SA
William George – April 25 1893. Tintinara, SA.
Fanny Elizabeth – June 28 1895. Gulnare, SA.
Thomas – June 6 1897, Gulnare, SA.
Philip – April 25 1899, Gulnare, SA.
George David – June 5 1901. Oodla Wirra, SA.
Ernest Charles – August 22 1903. Oulnina siding, SA.
Richard – August 1 1904. Oulnina siding, SA.
Peter Frederick Thomas – July 9 1906. Petersburg, SA.
Samuel Rye – December 5 1908. Rose Park, SA.

Diamond wedding notice from ‘The Times’ September 1942.


A Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration took place in 1942, to mark 60 years of marriage [6]. At the time of this celebration, there were 55 grandchildren and 26 great – grandchildren. They are remembered by their grandchildren as being a ‘pair of old lovebirds’. The legacy they leave is large.















References –

[1] The Ships List – Art Union 1864.  Accessed Feb 16 2019.

[2] The Ships List – the Bee 1858. Accessed Feb 16 2019.

[3] Birth Record of Roseanna Glass, born March 20 1868, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, South Australia, 61/298.  Accessed online at Genealogy SA online database – Accessed Feb 17 2019.

[4] Marriage record of Roseanna Glass to Peter Frederick Thomas Giles, September 1 1882, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages , South Australia, 132/1011. Accessed online at Genealogy SA online database – Accessed Feb 17 2019.

[5] Genealogy SA online database  Accessed Feb 17 2019.

[6]Anon.  ‘Diamond Wedding.’  The Times and Northern Advertiser, Peterborough South Australia, Fri 25th Sept 1942. Page 4

James Quinlan – Farm Apprentice

James was born and raised in Battersea, London. He was seventh of eleven children, and at the time of the 1911 Census, there were 12 people living in a 3 roomed house [1]. Conditions were crowded to say the least. It is little wonder that as a young man, James had a dream of a life less crowded.

In 1914, at the age of seventeen, James boarded a ship bound for Australia in search of that life. The story told by his wife and children followed the line that James had travelled to Australia to join an older brother, Fred and his wife Lily, who had emigrated to South Australia two years earlier. When I asked him directly why he had emigrated to Australia, James  answer was different to the assumption provided by his nearest and dearest. James would say “I came to join the Australian Army, (to sign up for WW1).” The next question was naturally, about why he had not joined the English army. His response “both the pay and the were better in the Australian army.”

After my teenaged interview of James, armed with this new information, I followed my own assumptions regarding his reasons for emigration, which revolved around his intention to enlist for the war, but James had withheld a key piece of information.
Thinking logically about how a 17-year-old could travel alone in the year the war began raised new questions. I found him emigrating on the Irishman, March 1914 [2]. The Passenger list consisted almost entirely of teenaged boys! There were a few girls also listed of similar ages. The girls were all listed as ‘domestic servants’, while the boys were all listed as ‘Farm Apprentices’. Interestingly, his ship sailed from Liverpool, rather than London. With WW1 just months away, this was likely a safety issue.
How had James, a city lad, gone from being a ‘printer’s messenger’ in the 1911 census to being a ‘farm apprentice’ in the passenger list?

Brother Fred had undergone some agricultural training prior to emigration, likely a condition of his passage. Looking at this new information with fresh eyes, it dawned on me that James had possibly been a ‘Barwell Boy’. What transpired through further research, was that James was part of an earlier assisted immigration scheme, known as the ‘Farm Apprentice Scheme’. This scheme was aimed at providing an agricultural workforce for regional areas of South Australia. There was a contract to be signed and criteria to be met. Within the contract was a clause which stated compulsory military training would be required [3]

requiremnt for military service
page nine of the Farm Apprentice Brochure reveals a military obligation.

In James mind, this was likely his way in to the Australian Army. It explained his answers regarding his reason for emigration. His early life in South Australia was not happy. He and the farmer he was allocated to did not see eye to eye [4].


unhappy placement
From a letter by James to the Immigration Officer dated June 11 1914.

As part of his contract with the immigration department, James was required to write a monthly report to the Immigration Office. Part of his wages were given to him, the remainder were ‘held’ for him at the Immigration Office and would be paid to him on completion of his contract.[5]

JQ Hinndmarsh Is
A portion of the wages were with held for payment to the apprentice at the end of the contract.

James, unhappy with his placement, sought and found a new employer. This placement was however short lived. Unhappy with conditions provided by his contract with the Immigration Office, James resigned his post and enlisted for service in WW1 [6].
Discovery of James previously unknown life as a Farm Apprentice provided a significant surprise in more ways than one. It had changed the script of his arrival, but it had also provided a rich and informative file held at State Records which told the tale of his brief life as a Farm Apprentice.

1. Ancestry, 1911 England Census, Class: RG14; Piece: 2168, Corunna Place, Battersea, Accessed 25 January 2019.

2  Findmypast. “Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960”: Ship: Irishman, departing: Liverpool 21Mar1914

3. South Australia – the wheat & garden state. Opportunities for boys to become Farmers. Brochure. The commissioner of Crown Lands Immigration, p. 9.

4. State Records of South Australia: Attorney Generals Department; GRG7/3 Applications for assisted passage by agricultural laborers.  1911 – 1914.  Quinlan, James no 145, 1914. Letters form James to the Immigration Department, 1914.

5. SRSA: GRG7/3, 145. Account for J. Quinlan, 1914.

6. The AIF Project, James Quinlan 2412,, accessed 24 January 2019.

In search of Seven Brothers.

A couple of years ago, I spent hours at the State Library searching through old news papers on microfilm. I was looking for a particular photo from my family history, and I only had the memories of my 10-year-old self to rely on. I spent so much time at the Library, that the librarians were familiar with my search purpose, and often offered suggestions they hoped would be helpful.

In a significant moment in sparking my interest in family history, my father showed me an article in the Adelaide Advertiser. A photo of my grandfather and his brothers. Seven elderly gents all looking chipper. I was struck by the size of the family. As a girl with sisters, I immediately wanted to know if there had been any girls. The sisters had all died. I was intrigued by the size of my grandfather’s family and immediately recognised the fact that if Dad had that many uncles, then he must surely have a huge number of cousins! He told me there was to be a reunion of all the descendants of ‘Pop’s father’.
The reunion took place in a warm month, but not the height of summer. There was an estimated 500 people in attendance, and many photos taken on the day. I remember meeting my father’s uncles with a kind of awe. It was like discovering a whole bunch of new grandfathers. The respect and warmth my father held for them was evident.

Fast forward a few decades, and my interest in family history is renewed. I wanted to find that photo! So, based on the memories of my 10-year-old self, I spent hours at the State Library trawling through microfilmed newspapers in search of the article. I didn’t have much to go on. I remembered a full length photo of seven elderly gents seated in a garden. I had a photo taken of my family at the reunion where my brother was a babe not more than a year old. We were dressed in summer clothes, confirming warm weather. Based on my brother’s age I knew that I had to be about 10 when the photo was taken.

I spent months trawling through past editions of the Advertiser. I started in March 1973, and went on from there. I was going cross-eyed scanning old editions, sometimes getting distracted by events of the era. The Librarians were very helpful, and became familiar with my quest, offering suggestions to find my goal, and kept encouraging me.

My breakthrough finally came after I had met some descendants of my great grandfather’s brother, uncle of my grandfather. Those amazing women, older than I, had been collecting family history documents for many years, and were keen to connect and share information. There it was, in the large file they had collected, a copy of the article I sought! It looked nothing like the one I had in mind. The photo was from chest up, not full length, and the article I recalled was far briefer than I could have imagined. The date of the article stuck with me, it was May 1, 1973. I had begun searching in March of that year, but had such a strong image in my head that I had not been able to search effectively.7 brothers (3)

The day I returned to the library to download my own digital copy of the article, my favorite librarian was present. She had followed my progress and checked in with helpful suggestions regularly during my search. She understood my joy at achieving my goal.

The memory of my 10-year-old self had proved unreliable and misleading! The photo I was remembering was the one which family members had purchased from The Advertiser. That had been a full length version, and I had seen it more often than the one reproduced in the paper!

Memory, no matter how certain we are. can play tricks on us and be rather unreliable.

[1] ‘They are seven who total 512’, The Advertiser, Adelaide, 1 May 1973.


Elizabeth Raven

elizabeth (raven) westMy family tree is liberally peppered with strong women. There are several I would like to meet, not least Elizabeth Raven, my great – great grandmother.
Elizabeth’s arrival in South Australia is not clear. Her father William, came to South Australia as a soldier with the 96th Regiment. One source suggests William Raven was in South Australia by 1836 [1]. While I have not found a birth record for Elizabeth, other documents suggest her birth about 1834, making her approximately two years old at the time of arrival in South Australia. Elizabeth was the second child, and oldest daughter in a family of six children. She outlived all of her siblings.

In the first South Australian Marriage in my family tree, Elizabeth married Robert West in 1853 at the Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide. Robert was 20 years old, Elizabeth 19. The first child, Frances Elizabeth, was born the following year. There were a total of twelve children born to this couple over 19 years. Five of those children would pre decease their mother.[2]

She was 38 years old when husband Robert died at the age of 40, leaving her with nine children aged between 20 and one.

I would like to talk to Elizabeth about her strength, and how she kept her family together in a time when there were no widows pensions, or any significant social support.
Providing for a large family of growing children would have required a great deal of resilience, Elizabeth appears to a have been able to hold the family together and rear strong and resourceful daughters. For me this is evidenced by the handicrafts, and resourcefulness I witnessed in my grandmother who would tell of having learned her skills from her mother, my great grandmother, Mary Ann.

If I trace the newspaper death notices of the daughters of Elizabeth, there is evidence of headstone for robert & elizabeth west (nee raven) + several of their children. (reduced)strong bonds between them. A trait most likely forged through the need to work together for survival. In another show of unity, all of the children born to this line of women, bare the middle name of ‘West’, a way of carrying forth the family name. Only one son had survived to a marriageable age, but he did not had children. My grandmother had always been proud of her middle name and the connection it gave to her mother, and it has made the cousins of my grandmother easier to find in records.

There are so many questions I would like to ask Elizabeth Raven, matriarch of my line.



[1] Family History SA. ‘South Australian Pioneer Families’ Accessed Jan 22, 2019.
[2] Genealogy SA. ‘On line Database’ Accessed Jan 22 2019.

Snashall – an unusual name

Surnames commonly originated from the employment undertaken by an individual, in other cases it may have been based on location, or even a nickname [1]. In the case of a more unusual Surname such a Snashall, the origin is a little less clear, with no clear consensus among internet sources.

One source suggests the name as originating form the Gloucestershire area, and being derived from such variants as Kneeshall, or Snowshill [2]. Another suggests the name being a derivative of Seneschal, and meaning Steward, giving a possible occupation base [3]. In other suggestions of variants of the name, Marshall, Newhall, and Parshall are given as derivatives. In the 1891 census records found on Ancestry, there are 51 Snashall families living in Kent, and employed in occupations relating to agricultural labour [4]. This last scenario fits best with my own family history.

Thomas Snashall and Elizabeth Welch were married in Sevenoaks, Kent in 1847, and emigrated to South Australia, aboard the Indian in 1849 [5] [6]. There is no occupation listed for Thomas in ships logs. At the time of their arrival, they were the only Snashall family in South Australia.

After a harrowing journey, the family settled first in the Hindmarsh district. They had boarded the ship with one child (Elizabeth), birthed a second (Sarah), and witnessed the death of the first child within the duration of the voyage. Sarah died in May 1850, aged 13 months. Her death is recorded in the Hindmarsh district, as is the birth of Thomas William in July of that year. The birth locations of Thomas and Elizabeth’s children tell the story of their movement around the state [7].

Elizabeth – b. 1848 Kent, England – died 1849 at Sea
Sarah – b. 1849 at Sea – died May 7 1850, Hindmarsh, South Australia
Thomas William – b. July 17 1850, Hindmarsh South Australia
Richard – b. Jan 21 1852, Hindmarsh, South Australia
Charles – b. March 6 1855, Hindmarsh, South Australia
James – b. Oct 20 1857, Virginia, Gawler River, South Australia
Frederick – b. June 16, 1860, Hill River, Clare District, South Australia
Henry – b. Sept 18 1862, Hill River, Clare District, South Australia.

Of the eight children born to Thomas and Elizabeth, only Thomas William and James produced children. The name in is carried forth in South Australia via the male children born to Thomas William.

Having an unusual name, has not increased the ease of the search as you might think. In an issue common to many genealogical searches, the Snashall population of Kent appears to have shared frequently repeated Christian names, thereby ensuring confusion in tracing them with certainty.

[1] Wikipedia – ‘Surnames’ – Accessed Jan 16, 2019

[2] Surname DB – ‘Snashall’ Accessed Jan 16, 2019

[3 ]Forebears website – Accessed Jan 16, 2019

[4] – Accessed Jan 16, 2019

[5] Free BDM – ‘Thomas Snashall – Marriage’ Marriage of Thomas Snashall and Elizabeth Welch: Sevenoaks district 5, p.545. Accessed Jan 16, 2019

[6] The ships list – ‘The Indian 1849’. Accessed Jan 16, 2019

[7] Genealogy SA, ‘online database’ Accessed Jan 16, 2019

The Challenge of DNA

Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges I have had since I began tracking down and documenting my family history, is trying to get my head around my DNA results. It was an easy decision, to take a chance and submit a DNA test with Ancestry. I was hoping most of all to crack some brick walls and stir up some new direction.
There was initial excitement when my results came through. I don’t recall how many matches I had, but there were no close matches, and barely anything that made sense. There was one name which leapt out at me. A surname which matched the married name of my grandmother’s Aunt. I duly sent off a message, and was rewarded with confirmation I had made a right connection. Something was working.
There was one particular line, I was hoping to find help on, which has remained elusive. There are a couple of confirmed 3rd or 4th cousins descending from Henry Foreman, but they have produced no new leads as to where he came from or who his parents were. Despite having produced a total of 16 children from two marriages, the clues to when and where he came from continue to elude me.
Of course the success of a DNA test depends entirely on the number of people connected to you who have tested. There has to be something to compare it to. A stand alone DNA test without any known connections is difficult to interpret. Three or four years on, I now have some close matches which I use as comparison to help me sort how the more distant cousins might connect to me. I have managed to find people from almost every branch of my tree, and there is a large chunk of people who match each other, who cannot be placed confidently anywhere – I call them “the unknown contingent.”
And, it helps if those you send messages to in hope of establishing the shared link respond, or at least in a helpful manner. Some do not respond at all, and others want you to do all the work for them. The point is, we all want something different from our DNA results. There are the adoptees hoping to find biological parents, and others whose parentage has not been revealed to them who hope to find where they fit. A large proportion of DNA testers are like myself, just looking for information to help them build their tree.
Whatever the purpose of the DNA test, the learning curve in understanding and interpreting the results is steep, and there is almost no way to prepare yourself for it. For me, I learn best from ‘doing’, so despite having read, I had to actually ‘play’ with my matches to begin to bring it together. Knowing a little bit of the science behind it helps. People choose to delve as deeply (or not) as they need to. The number and quality of your matches goes a long way to determining the success of desired outcomes. Not least in measuring your success in understanding, or making sense of matches is the factor of time. It takes time to accumulate the matches that make sense. Be patient, it does begin to make sense, and yield results.

The First to Arrive

#52ancestors #week1 #first

My ancestors came to South Australia from various parts of England, Scotland, with some originally from Ireland. The first of those to arrive were Charles and Susan West who arrived aboard the Prince Regent in 1839 with children Maria and Robert in tow [1].
Some sources suggest four children travelling with the family, though I have only found accurate reference and record for Robert and Maria. It is entirely possible any other children may not have survived the journey, or life in the new colony, and died before accurate records were kept.
They departed London on June 6, and arrived in Port Adelaide on September 25 1839. The state of South Australia was not yet three years old when they disembarked. The first Proclamation Day occurred on Dec 28 1836[2].  I often wonder what their first impressions of their new home was. Many people will have been living in tents, and other temporary dwellings. The streets unpaved; muddy and slippery in the wetter months, dry and dusty in the summer months.
Charles is listed as being a gardener. He has not left a large footprint to follow. Did he work establishing gardens for the city, or in stately homes? Despite his tender age at the time of arrival, son Robert (about 7 years old) is listed as a farmer. Perhaps Charles found occupation farming, and growing food for the new Colony.
The paper trail they leave is scant. Charles and Susan were apparently married in Ireland, and until I stumbled across the obituary of Maria Hall (nee West) I had no idea of where to begin looking[3]. Maria’s obituary tells us she was born in County Wicklow, Ireland. Susan’s maiden name is currently ‘Unknown’.  In keeping with their small footprint, Charles and Susan are buried in West Terrace Cemetery in an unmarked grave[4].

[1] State Library of South Australia. ‘Bound for South Australia’

[2] Adelaidia. ‘The Proclamation’ accessed Jan 4 201

[3] Obituaries – Maria Hall. Critic, Adelaide SA: 1897 – 1924. Wednesday 21 Nov 1917. Page 6

[4] Adelaide Cemeteries Authority, ‘Charles West’, http”// Accessed Jan 4, 2019.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I have been researching the family history for a few years now, and have a collection of family stories which need to be shared.  Come with me on  a journey of discovery and story telling.

For the most part, my ancestors have come from England, a few originated in Ireland, and a couple from Scotland.  To date they are all free settlers with no convicts having been discovered…. yet!

Let the stories begin!