What do you know about your ancestor’s village?

Grace Oates was my mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s mother. She was baptised in the parish church of St Keverne, Cornwall in 1833 to Thomas and Elizabeth Oates. She married Henry Pascoe, a man that I believe was her first cousin for reasons I won’t go into now, and they had one daughter, Elizabeth Grace Pascoe, in 1856.

By 1861 Grace and her daughter were living alone in St Keverne and her husband had migrated to the Colony of Victoria, never to return. In 1865 Grace migrated to the Colony of New South Wales with her daughter Bessie and her widowed mother Elizabeth to join her brothers in the Millthorpe area. She claimed her husband was in Victoria to the Immigration Board, so at least she knew where he’d gone.

Grace had no more children but she did eventually remarry, becoming a midwife to the people around Millthorpe and Blayney. She died in Her ex-husband Henry also remarried and had a few children, who, to my knowledge, never knew of their half-sister in New South Wales.

It’s good to have the name of the village where she came from, but unless I look into it it’s just a name that means little.

Firstly, it’s good to know exactly where it is. Google Maps can show you exactly:

Google Maps St Keverne

Satellite View shows me even more:

Google Maps St Keverne satellite view

From there I can go on a virtual tour of St Keverne, floating down the streets to the church, past the shops and the pub, and perhaps find the houses where Grace and her family lived during the censuses.

There’s more to find on the internet though.

GENUKI lists resources for the whole of the UK. The page for St Keverne is quite comprehensive, with descriptions, cemeteries, church histories, locations of censuses, church registers, civil registration district, court records, photographs, directories, land, manors, and much more.

St Keverne has an Online Parish Clerk, and their website has databases of parish registers, censuses, and links to Sunday School registers and much more.

The St Keverne Local History Society has a lot of family history and local history resources from parish register indexes to accounts of shipwrecks.

A general Google search for St Keverne shows many, many images of the place, both contemporary and historical.

St Keverne images

 There is no substitute, though, for a contemporary account of the place. …

ST KEVERNE. Time and the ocean and some fostering star, says William Watson, have made us what we are. Time and the ocean have made St Keverne what it is, a grim and tragic spot in a green land which we may truly call the Garden of Cornwall.

The description goes on for nearly two pages. The Manacles off the coast were a menace to sailors coming into Falmouth Harbour, and the grimness appears to apply to the large number of shipwrecks and drowned sailors buried in the churchyard.

Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of England, published in 1848, is another such resource. The entry for St Keverne is less atmospheric but more factual:

KEVERNE, ST., a parish, in the union of Helston, W. division of the hundred of Kerrier and of the county of Cornwall, 11 miles (S. by E.) from Helston; containing 2469 inhabitants. This parish, forming part of the wide district of Meneage, and comprising by measurement 10,158 acres, whereof 2002 are common or waste, is situated on the shore of the English Channel, by which it is bounded on the east and south. It contains three fishing coves, called respectively Coverack, Porthalloe, and Porthonstock, at the first of which is a good pier, affording shelter to small vessels from the rough winds and stormy seas frequent on this part of the coast. In these coves the pilchard-fishery is carried on to a considerable extent, and several boats are also otherwise employed. A yellow clay found here, is much esteemed for fine castings in silver, brass, and lead. Fairs for cattle are held on March 5th, June 19th, October 2nd, and the first Tuesday after Twelfth-day. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £18. 11. 5½., and in the patronage of Mrs. Griffith; impropriators, the landowners: the tithes have been commuted for £512. The church has a handsome tower surmounted by a spire, and contains many monuments, among which is one to the memory of Major George Cavendish, Capt. Dunkenfield, and sixty-one men of a regiment, who, returning with dispatches in a transport from Spain, were shipwrecked, and perished off Coverack Cove, on the 22nd December, 1809. There are places of worship for Baptists, Bryanites, and Wesleyans. Charles Incledon, the celebrated singer, was born in the parish.

You can find  online here.

When I first researched Grace few of these resources were available to me and none of them online. It’s worth going back to the ancestors you think you know well and searching for their villages again.

My grandfather’s World War II service

My mother had always said that her father didn’t serve in either of the world wars. The stories I remember were that he was too young in the First World War and too old in the Second World War, and that he was a farmer and needed at home to grow food. He was born in late December 1900, and was a farmer and grazier all his life, so I accepted these stories without question.

There was also a story about how he had to go to help search for the Japanese that broke out of the camp at Cowra during World War II. I don’t know if he ever found any; probably not or it would have been more of a story.

Yesterday I was searching the NameSearch at the National Archives of Australia website for others of the same surname and there he was:

NAA NameSearch

My grandfather is the last one. As you can see by the lack of an icon in the “Digitised item” column, it hasn’t been digitised yet. If it had been I would be able to see, and download, the images of each page in the file straight away. I can pay $16.50 to have it digitised early, before its ‘turn’, or $25 to have it digitised and colour photocopies sent to me.

I’ve paid the $16.50, and now I wait. It may take up to 90 days for a file which is “Not yet examined”, but I can’t imagine there will be anything in there that would cause it to be restricted once it has been examined.

If only I’d searched earlier! Why didn’t I? I think because I accepted what my mother told me. I don’t always believe what people tell me, but parents are different. Of course, my mother also told me that the Easons came from Wales and I have proven that they came from County Tyrone in what is now Northern Ireland. Talking about her own father is different, I guess.

So the lesson for today is – If there’s an index, search it! What have you got to lose?

This post was first published as If there’s an index, check it! on my blog NSW GenealogyI am trying to keep all my family posts in one place.

Pinterest, again

About four months ago I deleted my Pinterest account because of issues I had with their sharing policy. Now, every time I see a mention of Pinterest I think perhaps I was a bit hasty. Well, today I tried to get back into my account, and after requesting a password reset, there it is! All my followers and followings, all the photos I uploaded myself, all my boards are there. I had deleted all the pins I’d borrowed from others because of my concerns.

Pinterest profile

I admit now that I can’t remember precisely what those concerns were, and when I read the current Terms and Conditions I can’t see anything to make me delete my account. Perhaps they’ve changed? Or perhaps I’m less picky.

So, for better or worse, I’m back on Pinterest. Yet another social network to take up too much time!