Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Quick 4-Day Trip

Last weekend Mrs. Geni of Oz and I set off on what hopefully wasn’t a bucket list trip to Canberra and the Southern Highlands to look at a few craft shops, enjoy a few restaurants and clear up a few family history matters. It was overcast when we left and we were in and out of showers and sunshine on the drive but nightfall on the first day saw us ensconced in our motel room in Queanbeyan for the night.

The next morning we were off to Riverside Cemetery to look at a particular headstone to get more detail from it than could be seen in the previous photo but disappointment struck when we discovered that it was no longer there. The area had been flooded again and presumably, as had happened in the past, the headstone disappeared somewhere down the river. Let's hope there were no coffins this time. Undeterred I obtained a couple more photos of other headstones which, based on the family names, might have relevance in the future and then headed for the Canberra War Memorial.

My Great Uncle George Owen who served in both the Boer War (twice) and then the Great War at Gallipoli was on the Roll of Honour but I had never had a photo of it. We found his name and the image was satisfactorily obtained but unfortunately it doesn't display his distinctive Service Number of 1111. Lunch at the War Memorial at the outside restaurant, the name of which now eludes me and we headed for Goulburn.

My great Grandparent Gegg's headstones were in remarkably good condition and still very legible but the corsages in the flower boxes had completely faded. Thankfully we still had the photos of them when they were in a better condition. I didn't have my own photo of their house and property which are on a sideroad literally on the other side of the road to the cemetery. A small hill overlooks the property and I thought I could get a good photo of it from there but when we got there, the trees completely blocked the view and any chance of an image. Health no longer permits me to go walking through a forest to get a better vantage so I decided to go in and see the people.

As we got to the end of the driveway, a woman came
out. I got out of the car and was immediately descended upon by what seemed like a hundred puppies but which in reality were three as they tried to lick me to oblivion. Discussions with her led to revealing she had the Gegg surname in her background but she was not certain how. She didn't know the history of the property but she gave me permission to take some photos of the house. She did know that there was a possibility of the house being demolished as part of a proposed $17m development not unlike the one which is currently occurring on the land next door. So if I ever get to Goulburn again, the house may not be there! A visit to the Goulburn library (which others should note is open on Sunday afternoons) produced early maps of the area and rate notice records which I was able to copy and these verified to me that I did indeed have the right property.

The next day, we headed for the craft shops, the first stop being the Big Merino at Goulburn to get some fleeces for Mrs. Geni of Oz as she loves her spinning. The fleece was purchased along with one-third of a teapot, cup and plate set. We were minus the cup after it was dropped on the floor. Mrs Geni of Oz promised not to touch anything else but was this really her plot to get the teapot? Moss Vale and its district's shops were next and I ended up with a nice new cashmere jumper (teapot guilt?).

Moss Vale cemetery was visited and photos obtained of the graves and headstones of an uncle plus his sister, her husband and the husband's parents and some siblings. This was the only time I got wet even though the weather had continued to be the same as the first day. More shops (Berrima) and restaurants and we headed east across the range through Jamberoo Pass to the coast at Albion Park. My Grandparent Collins' graves are there. Over the years as changes have occurred we climbed through the post and rail fence and then over three different small fences but now the cemetery is surrounded by a 2.5 metre steel fence. Whereas I used to be able to park on the street right alongside the graves, now there is a long walk from the parking - really not appreciated but I suppose this is where vandalism has led things.

The aunty in Moss Vale cemetery had lived in Albion Park for at least thirty to forty years and amazingly I had never taken a photo of her house and so that was the next stop followed by lunch and then off to drive across SeaCliff Bridge, a truly remarkable engineering feat and one which now makes the drive safe from the falling rocks which used to continually pound the road. We then travelled to my sister-in-law's place to stay the night. She has taken up painting as a hobby and I quite liked them so I took some images to put on the net. The next day was the trip back home and the joy of sleeping in our own bed while now comes the job of adding the photos and information obtained to the site.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Changing the Calendar

I must admit when I first found out about this proposal, I looked for the date of the article's posting to see if it was the 1st April. Why would you want to do that? However, I soon found that the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar was a serious suggestion being offered for the world to adopt. Hanke, an expert in international economics, including monetary policy claimed practical advantages would be "the convenience afforded by birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc. falling on the same day of the week every year while economic benefits are even more substantial. The calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate the 'rip-off factor.' To determine how much interest accrues for a wide variety of instruments - bonds, mortgages, swaps, forward rate agreements, etc. - day counts are required. The current calendar contains complexities and anomalies that create day count problems. In consequence, a wide range of conventions have evolved in an attempt to simplify interest calculations.

Specifically, discrepancies between the actual/ actual and 30/360 day count conventions occur with all months that do not have exactly 30 days. The best example comes from calculating accrued interest between February 28th and March 1st in a non-leap year. A corporate bond accrues three days of interest, while a government bond accrues interest for only one day. The proposed permanent calendar - with a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days - eliminates the need for artificial day count conventions." (See. A sample calendar is also shown).

The actual Earth year is 365.2422 days while this calendar takes up 364 days. Hanke and Henry deal with that extra one and a quarter days by suggesting an extra week added at the end of December every five or six years. Hanke says "We propose a new calendar that preserves the Sabbath, with no exceptions. That calendar is simple, religiously unobjectionable, business-friendly and identical year-to-year. There are, just ...... 364 days in each year. But, every five or six years (specifically, in the years 2015, 2020, 2026, 2032, 2037, 2043, 2048, 2054, 2060, 2065, 2071, 2076, 2082, 2088, 2093, 2099, 2105, ..., which have been chosen mathematically to minimize the new calendar's drift with respect to the seasons), one extra full week (seven days, so that the Sabbath is unaffected) is inserted, at the end of the year. These extra seven days bring the calendar back into full synchrony with the seasons." This insertion of the extra seven days every five or six years may upset the Epiphany purists who will always want it occuring on 6 January at the end of the twelve days of Christmas. These twelve days would have to become the nineteen days of Christmas. We'll need a few more objects to add to the partridges and pear trees won't we!

How would Australians feel if Christmas Day always fell on a Sunday; Australia Day always on a Thursday and Anzac Day always on a Wednesday (as they would)? Maybe it wouldn't be a problem but I suspect that with Australians seeming to want their public holidays always associated with a weekend but not on a weekend, there would be some resistance to the idea. When there is a birth, death or marriage on one of these days, how would the the event be remembered?

The Gregorian calendar started in 1582 and Family Historians seem to have handled it fairly well but what are the implications if the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar is adopted?. Generally, we use actual dates and would continue to record them as such but that extra seven days will raise some questions. What do we call those days? What month or year do we record them in - are they actually in December or January; 2011 or 2012 or are they not in any year? Software programmes would also need to be varied but that shouldn't be too difficult.

Hanke-Henry suggested 2012 as the year to start the new calendar as it commences on a Sunday but they have missed the boat with that one. Will it ever be adopted? Naturally, I don't know but given the world has extreme difficulty coming together and agreeing on any topic, I suspect the natural resistance to change will probably prevail and we'll never see it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why’d They Do That?

Bartholomew McNamara was born about 1791 in Clare, Ireland. His native place as shown on the shipping records when he came to Australia was Lisdrumlandna, Clare. He married Bridget Lenehan in 1830 and like many of their countrymen, they and their children were followers of the Catholic faith. Bartholomew and Bridget migrated from Ireland to Sydney, arriving on 14 August 1851. They travelled to Australia on the ship "Sarah" which departed about May of that year. They departed with all eight of their children but their eldest son Patrick died four days before they arrived. They settled in the Queanbeyan, NSW district.

Like many others of the time they were escaping from what was known locally as "an Gorta Mór" meaning "the Great Hunger" but is more commonly known as the Great Potato Famine. The famine was a period of widespread starvation and disease and it caused mass emigration from Ireland between 1845 and 1852. The McNamaras survived most of the disaster period but eventually in 1851 had to leave. Family legend tells that they had a choice of going to America or Australia but didn't know how to choose as they knew nothing about either country. So why did they choose Australia? That same legend tells us that they resolved the dilemma with a simple toss of a coin. Whether Australia was heads or tails is not recorded.

The Outdoor Kitchen

It was some time in 1905 or 1906 and John who was always known as Jack and his wife Rachel who hated her name and went by the catchall Sis, had been married about six or seven months. They were living with Sis’ parents on their property "Rose Valley Farm" in Texas, Queensland. Jack decided he should get to and build an outdoor kitchen for Sis and so he set to work. Over a number of weeks the job progressed until finally it was finished and Jack felt quite proud of what he had achieved. It had all the requirements of a modern kitchen with an outstanding oven, the stack of which proudly pointed into the air high enough to carry all the smoke away.

Its not known how long after but it was probably a year or so and Sis was working in the kitchen with the oven fire burning away making its usual whooshing sound as the smoke rose through the chimney when the disaster struck. That stack of which Jack had been so proud, suddenly collapsed and came down over Sis, setting fire to her sleeve and severely burning her. She was saved by her sister who was able to throw a bucket of water over her. She was months in care and when she finally recovered her arm was fused to her body so that she couldn’t lift her arm over her head. That was why about fifty years later, although I didn’t know it then, I used to peg the clothes on the clothesline for her which led me to having many enjoyable talks with Nanna.

My cousin Margarette says that John never forgave himself for, as he saw it, not having built that stack correctly. She told me that at about 90 years of age, not long before he left us and with Rachel herself some years gone, he confided in her that he still felt guilty about it.

My grandfather John who I was named after, was a truly wonderful man. What a shame it was that he felt he had to carry that guilt for the whole of his life.


I have had a small blog at John's Musings but had never done much with it. I've recently had exposure to the Genealogical Blogging community and thought it might be a good idea to join it and so have created this blog, the title of which is a play on words based on my favourite childhood movie, The Wizard of Oz. (Australians often refer to Australia as Oz).
To start, I've copied a couple of my items from John's Musings.