One of the biggest achievements of my life was being able to tell my 93 year old Grandfather, George Lockett, who his biological father was.
George sadly passed away on 15 June 2013, aged 94 and 1 month, after developing pneumonia. Having survived the infection the previous year, this time his frail body just couldn’t recover.
Since his death, I’ve been filled not with sadness, but with a sense of celebration. I was starting to feel a little guilty about it until I realised that I wasn’t the only one grappling with this conundrum. Of course I will miss him, and I am sad that I won’t see him again, but he had such a great and fulfilling life surrounded by such a loving family that my mind decided to remember the life lived instead of the life lost.
*Although when the Bugler played the Last Post at his funeral, I bawled my eyes out. But who doesn’t cry upon hearing that?!
George didn’t believe in the afterlife, but he always said he hoped to be proven wrong, and in completing a little family deal we have going on regarding its existence, I could actually feel his hand stroking my hair during the moment of reflection in the middle of the service. After a few seconds of contemplating what it was, I understood and smiled.
My Uncle, a firm non-believer later recalled that he got a tap on the shoulder when there was no one around him.
Actually prior to this, he’d been on a plane flying to Perth for the funeral when a woman seated near him lent over and said “You’ve lost someone close to you, but they say they’re ok, they’re happy and they’re in a better place.”
The funeral was mentioned by many to be the best they’ve ever been to. I’d created a media presentation to be played during it and I was a little embarrassed when it received a very loud round of applause. I’m sure anyone outside would have been wondering what on earth was going on in there!
So for posterity, I uploaded it onto YouTube. If you watch it, I hope you enjoy it and make sure to turn the volume on! Makes it much more worthwhile!
Posted by wheresshelly on June 27, 2013
Last week I was working on a distant line in my tree that centered around a notable figure, Rowland Taylor. Now Rowland himself is an interesting man. He was born in Suffolk in 1510, growing up under the reign of Henry VIII who separated from Rome forming the Church of England (only so he could divorce his wife and marry another).
Rowland went into the Ministry and became quite a popular pastor who tended the poor and believed in strong family foundations. But when Henry VIII’s successor, son Edward died young, the crown ended up in the hands of Queen Mary who quickly reverted the country back to Catholicism.
Rowland Taylor being burnt at the stake, c.1555.
Refusing to convert, Rowland was charged with heresy and sent to prison, later to be sentenced to death by fire at the stake.
He was steadfast till the end, never once considering exile or denouncing Christianity, which would have saved his life. On the day he was led to the stake, even the Sheriff’s wept at the sight of him saying goodbye to his wife and children. In the Commons where his stake was placed, he took off his boots and outer clothes, giving them away to those who needed them. The whole town came out to support him and hear his last words, but nothing could be done to save him as the Queen’s guards soon lit the fire. Fortunately a friend of his used a halberd to strike him on the head as the flames crept up, ensuring a pain free death. Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on June 1, 2013
Yesterday I decided to check out the latest newspapers that have been added to the Trove website - one of my favourite site’s for researching Australian Family History, to find a massive 54 newspapers have been added, mostly for New South Wales and Victoria but the sole newspaper added for Western Australia is one that I’ve always hoped to search through.
The Herald, which is a still a current day newspaper for Fremantle, is now available on Trove, thanks to the City of Fremantle Library, with editions from 1867-1886 currently available.
After a quick search I found a great article about a Great-Grand Uncle, Luke Tonkin, who allegedly had been involved in an assault on another man.
I was hoping to find something on my GGGreat Grandfather, John Foss Tonkin, but couldn’t find anything substantial, I’m hoping later editions will turn up something for him.
But for now I get to know Uncle Luke a little bit better…
Posted by wheresshelly on May 24, 2013
George Lockett, my Mum’s father, my Pop, was born in 1919 in Edmonton, England being the result of a short lived WWI tryst between his mother Eva-Rose, who was working as a nurse at a British Forces military camp, and an Australian Soldier, John (Jack) Scott. That story in itself is an interesting read!
Eva-Rose’s father made her put George up for adoption and a then childless couple adopted him before eventually moving to Australia under the Government Group Settlement Scheme.
He enlisted in World War II with the Australian Army in May 1940 and did initial training at Swanbourne Barracks
in Perth before being posted to Rottnest Island to dig trenches.
In late 1941 he headed to Darwin to protect Australia from the Japanese who were steadily heading south. George was listed as a Gunner with the 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battery, aka ‘The Ack-Ack
‘ who had the job of shooting at the Japanese planes from giant guns positioned in the ground. Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on April 25, 2013
The 25th April is pretty significant in Australia and across the water to our brothers, New Zealand. If you’re not from these parts you may wonder about all this ‘Lest We Forget’ stuff bombarding your social feeds.
Today is ANZAC Day. (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps), ANZAC was initially the name given to any soldier who served under these countries in World War 1, but later encompassed any soldier who fought in any conflict under these nations flags.
The date marks the day that ANZAC forces stormed the beaches of Gallipoli in Turkey, their first major battle in World War 1.
There were over 35,000 ANZACs wounded with over 11,000 of those, killed in action.
Keeping in mind that Australia had only come together as a federation only 14 years earlier, it is said that the country’s true psychological independence and patriotism was achieved through this baptism of fire at Gallipoli.
This post commemorates the Morton brothers; my Great-Grandfather Wilfred and two Great Grand-Uncles. All three enlisted in World War 1, fighting in separate divisions but all in Field Ambulance units. The FA was a highly mobile unit whose role was the rapid collection of the sick and wounded, the rendering of essential first aid treatment to casualties, their preparation and classification for further disposal and completion of documentation. They had no surgical capacity and in many dangerous situations their only main protection was a Red Cross on their arm, donkey or truck.
These are their stories… Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on April 25, 2013
It’s one thing to wonder where you got your nose or eyes from and it’s pretty amazing seeing them in 100 year old photos of ancestors, but have you ever wondered where all these body parts originated?
Is my dark hair from the Italian side or is it Black Scotch?
I’ve always wondered where my dark hair and light olive skin came from. At first I thought it was the Italian in me, but my mother has the same colouring’s and from what we knew there was no mediterranean blood on her side.
With the recent discoveries I can confirm this and have come to the conclusion that it must be Black Scotch, but it made me wonder just how much of me is English, Scottish, Italian etc, so I applied a little bit of maths to figure this out in percentages.
Of course with DNA testing, you can only figure out the exact percentage of DNA inherited by testing each generation, but you can still make a good go of it.
You could also take the chromosome route which means males are 50% whatever their direct paternal line is and 50% whatever the direct maternal line is. For females, who only inherit their chromosomes from their mothers, you would be 100% whatever your direct maternal line is. So in that case I’m 100% Polish but my brother is 50% Polish and 50% English (Cornish). Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on April 5, 2013
If you’ve been following my previous blogs, then you’ll know all about my search for my Great Grandfather, so as you may have gathered from the title, I found him!
But for others I’ll recap.
My Grandfather George was born at the end of World War 1 in 1919, being the result of a short lived romance between an English WAAC nurse, named Eva-Rose, and an Australian soldier.
His mother desperately wanted to keep him but her family soon after, forced her into signing the adoption papers.
George’s new family immigrated to Australia where they eventually settled in Perth. He went on to marry a local girl and have four children of his own.
Having always known he was adopted, it wasn’t until he was in his 60′s that he decided to try and look for his birth mother.
Fortunately his mother’s name and address at the time of his birth were on his birth certificate and so they wrote to a local newspaper in the town, asking if anyone knew her to contact them.
Eva-Rose saw the paper and wrote a letter to him and eventually they were reunited the following year when George and his wife flew to England. It was a very happy occasion and George always seemed to have a spring in his step from that moment on.
But what of his father? Eva-Rose could only give us a name, ‘Jack Scott’ and said that he was in the Australian Army and came from Melbourne.
*Actually, when the story was relayed to me I was only told that he was from somewhere on the East Coast, let this be a lesson not to trust the memories of older people! (Seriously, this small piece could have saved me 100′s of hours of research!)
Fast forward years and years of trawling army records and collating information in spreadsheets, when I decided to do a DNA test with 23andme.com as they provided a Relative Finder search. I figured this would be my only hope. Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on March 28, 2013
A few weeks ago I had to drive my car from one side of Australia to the other, after recently deciding to move back to my home town of Perth, Western Australia.
Although I was living in a remote area of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory at the time, my car was in Melbourne, Victoria, having been looked after by my friend for the past two years. But now it was time for the two of us to head home.
Australia is a pretty vast land, being around 4000kms (2480mi) wide at its horizontal extremities. Melbourne to Perth is 3400km and would definitely be the longest drive I’d had to undertake in my lil, black Toyota Yaris, whom I affectionately call Bruce. (Same distance from Tennessee to LA.)
Making the most of it, I decided to drive down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, through Mount Gambier in South Australia to Adelaide and then cross the Nullarbor into Western Australia, stopping in Kalgoorlie to visit some family. Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on February 25, 2013
It’s a pretty common stereotype and sometimes an attempted insult to us Australians to say that crime is in our DNA because Australia was settled by Convicts. But I don’t see what they’re trying to get at as I’m proud to have one in my tree! (I then usually point out their per capita crime rate which seems to shut them up quickly!)
For the record, not all settlers to Australia were convicts and the majority that were deported Down Under went to Tasmania or New South Wales. The Swan River colony started out as a free settlement and they tried very hard to keep it that way, but by 1850 they soon realised they were in dire need of cheap labour to build up the place. Over the next 18 years nearly 10,000 convicts were dumped on our shores, but it allowed the WA economy to boom and prosper.
Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on January 20, 2013
I’d like to bring to your attention, the story of one Grace Bussell and the family’s stockman, Sam Isaacs.
While they’re not part of my family tree, the Bussell family are intertwined with mine, the first of their family arrived at the Swan River Colony with my GGGreat Grandfather, John Foss Tonkin, on the ship Warrior in 1830.
This story is about the heroically brave actions of this young girl and the indigenous stockman who worked for her father. They lived on a large property in what is now part of the Margaret River area. The nearby town of Busselton is named after the prominent family.
Read the full post »
Posted by wheresshelly on December 21, 2012