Ancestral Atlas a Hidden Mapping Gem

Have you heard of Ancestral Atlas? It is a mapping website. It is free to register and you can upgrade to a subscription for £20.00. When you subscribe you have access to history map layers for England, Wales and Ireland; historical boundary maps for the USA; all new licenced data added to the site; Life Maps functionality and other benefits.

The map is world wide and you add events related to your family history and where they happened. If my Great Great Grandmother was born at 23 York Street in Dublin then I can go to that place on the map and upload the information of her birth. You can decide to keep the information private or share the information. You must register to add your own information.

There is a link for quick help where a box pops up and it has information to help you add a new person, edit an existing person, viewing the location of the people/events in your people list, adding an event when you know the location, and many other options. You have the choice of printing this help page so that it is close at hand when you are entering your information. There is a page of FAQ’s to help you with any questions you may have.

When you look at the map for the place you are interested in you will see little blue balloons and if you click on them then you will get information that someone uploaded regarding a person linked to that place.

You can filter your search by given name, family name, start year and end year.

Visit the website and see what Ancestral Atlas is all about.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Richard Fenton Toomey – ANZAC Day – Lest We Forget

April 25th is ANZAC Day in Australia. As a tribute to my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey, who fought with the ANZAC’s in Gallipoli, I am reposting this article from Remembrance Day 2011.

Remembrance Day is a very important day here in Canada. Last year I remembered my Great Grand Uncle Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell who lost his life in the First World War fighting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. This year I will look at the accomplishments of my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey who was an ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps).

Richard Fenton Toomey is on the maternal side of my family. He was born in Dublin in April of 1880 to Mark Anthony Toomey and Julia Adelaide Bourne. He was the last of six children, four boys and two girls. My Great Grandmother Jane Toomey was his sister. The other siblings were Mark (who died in infancy), Louisa Alice, Mark Anthony and Walter Bourne.

How the Toomey family got to Australia is a long story and I will elaborate on that in another post. Needless to say Richard Fenton Toomey was in New South Wales to sign up for the First World War on 1 March 1915.

There are no attestation papers in his military file. The first record is an Application for a Commission in the 12th Light Horse Regiment. This states that Richard was 35 years of age, a British subject, an accountant and that he is single. Richard was six feet tall and 11 stone (154 lbs/70 kg). His next of kin is his brother Mark Toomey and their postal address was Elbana Annandale St. Annandale NSW.

Listed under military qualifications and past military service are: 5th Lancers, Assam Valley Light Horse, Chittagong [unreadable word] Rifles, Lieut. [unreadable two words] and Lieut. Army Service Corps.

The Assam Valley Light Horse was part of the Cavalry Reserve in the British Indian Army and was formed in 1891. Chittagong was in Pakistan but is now in Bangladesh. To date no British military records have been found for Richard Fenton Toomey.

Richard was made a Honourary Lieutenant and Quarter Master on 29 June 1915. On 9 August 1915 he was transferred to the 1st Australian Division, 3rd Light Horse Brigade. On 3 January 1916 he was transferred to the Army Service Corps. He was made Quarter Master and Honourary Captain on 30 April 1916 and on 1 August 1918 he was made Quarter Master and Honourary Major.

He set sail on 12 June 1915 on board the “Suevic”. On 5 September 1915 Richard was sent to Gallipoli this was the battle that defined the ANZACS and a nation.

Richard was frequently in the hospital during his time at the front. On 3 September 1916 he was sent to hospital in Port Said Egypt with Pyorhea which is an infection of the gums. He was sent on to the hospital in Serapium and then Cairo. He was sent back to his unit on 20 September 1916.

Richard was back in hospital on 20 July 1917 with septic sores. He was sent to the hospital in Alexandria. He returned to the 4th Light Horse Regiment on 27 September 1917. He was transferred back to the 12th Light Horse Regiment in November of 1917. He was sent back to hospital with dysentery in August of 1918 and invalided in September of 1918. He left Egypt on the Morvada on 29 September 1919.

According to Richard’s military file his appointment was terminated with the A.I.F. in Sydney on 31 October 1919.

There are letters found in his military file addressed to Base Records Canberra. One is dated 20 February 1939 and Richard is requesting: “For the purpose of receiving employment in N.S.W. a discharge or Certificate of Service is required. I shall be obliged if you will kindly let me have either as soon as possible.” A copy of the form he was requested to fill out is in the file. It is stamped dated 27 February 1939. Richard’s address is Lisarow NSW.

Richard writes requesting a duplicate Returned Soldiers Badge of the one he had received “around 29 August 1919 on his return to Australia.” It appears the one he was given was lost in “think bush country” and it has not been returned or found. This letter is dated 19 February 1943 and he is a public servant and the address given is 110 Phillip Street in Sydney.

In 1919 Richard Fenton Toomey married Ellie Maud Stewart in Sydney Australia. They had no children.

I have a friend who lives in the same area as Richard Fenton Toomey. There was a family story that said he had surveyed and built a road to one of the highest points between Sydney and Brisbane and that there was a park named after him. She helped me discover that there was a place called Toomey’s Walk which we believe was named after Richard Toomey. The government body responsible for this area does not know how the name came about.

There is also Toomeys Road and these are both located in the Mount Elliot area. He might have lost his Returned Soldiers Badge while surveying this area.

She contacted the local history librarian at Gosford City Library and he sent some pictures of Richard Fenton Toomey and his wife having tea in the garden.

They also forwarded a newspaper article which talks about Richard nearly loosing his life because he had taken poison instead of medicine. Thankfully his wife was a nurse and she knew what to do.

Some Australian newspapers are online and searchable at Trove. Advertisements were found relating to a chicken farm owned by Richard and Ellie Toomey. In 1929 Ellie was selling White Longhorn chicks and the farm was called Phoenix Poultry Farm. In 1933 she was selling Khaki Campbell’s ducklings.

In 1927 Phoenix Farm was dealing with floods.

Bush fires are a common happening in Australia. It seems that in 1928 a fire wiped out the poultry farm, residence, stock and plant owned by Richard Toomey. The name of the farm seems appropriate since it rose from the ashes to start again.

Richard Fenton Toomey died in 1968 in Gosford, New South Wales and is buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery.

Lest We Forget

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

BIFHSGO and my visit to Ottawa

Last weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa monthly meeting. The topic of my presentation was “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.”

The presentation looked at how using a cluster research project can help you break through some of the brick walls you may encounter during your research. This is a technique I have successfully used many times for clients and in my own research.

I arrived in Ottawa a few days early to enjoy the city and spent some time researching in Library and Archives Canada. I went to the National Gallery of Canada and wandered around ByWard Market.

I came across a very interesting sign outside a pub.

Parliament may not have been sitting but the nice weather brought out the crowds and the patios were doing very good business.

If you get the chance to visit Ottawa and attend a BIFHSGO event I would recommend it. The people of BIFHSGO are terrific hosts.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Have You Checked Out firstworldwar.com Yet?

The website firstworldwar.com bills itself as “a multimedia history of World War One.” There is a wealth of information to be found on this site. The page titles under the heading details are: how it began, battlefield tours, battles, an encyclopedia, source documents, special features, a timeline, war in the air, weaponry and a who’s who. Then you have other headings like multimedia, narratives and site information.

Under the multimedia heading you can find images of battlefields today, maps, propaganda posters, vintage audio and video and vintage photographs. The narratives heading provides links to examples of memoirs and diaries and prose and poetry.

You can read a collection of telegrams between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II sent in the four days before the start of the war.

There is a story called “A Slow Fuse: Hitler’s Wartime Experience” which looks at how Hitler’s experiences in the First World War shaped the man he became.

If you are looking for more information on the First World War you may find something of interest on the site. The site is a work in progress and is done in the spare time of the sites creator.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Twelve Months of Genealogy – November

November is a month of Remembrance in Canada and other places around the world. This is the time when we remember the veterans of all the wars and conflicts that have involved Canadians. The poppy is the symbol of remembrance. This month we will look at places to find information on your veteran ancestors.

In the first week of November we will look at records for Canada. The first stop should be the Genealogy and Family History section of the Library and Archives Canada website. Here you can find information on soldiers of the First and Second World War. The Soldiers of the First World War database has digital copies of attestation papers. You will find a link so you can order a copy of their military file online.

In two previous posts (post 1 and post 2) I have gone through the information to be found under the topic of military in the Library and Archives Canada Genealogy and Family History section. This section used to be called the Canadian Genealogy Centre.

In the second week of November we will examine the military records for England. Here the first stop is The National Archives of England and Documents Online. Documents Online have databases for Army, Navy and Air Force. The First World War Medal Index Cards are a great resource.

You can find the First World War Medal Index Cards on Ancestry as well as digital copies of the surviving military files. At Findmypast you will find Chelsea Pensioner records as well as many other military records.

In the third week of November we will look at military records for the United States. The first stop is usually Ancestry but you will also find information at World Vital Records which covers the conflicts from the Revolutionary War to World War II and at FamilySearch. The National Archives and Record Administration has a section on their website dedicated to Veteran’s Service Records.

The fourth week of November we will look at the military records from Australia. The ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) hold a very special place in the hearts of the people of Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian War Memorial has descriptions of all the conflicts Australians have been involved in from 1788 through to the present day. They have a wonderful site that you should visit and take time to go through all the different links and pages.

There is a general database you can search to find information on veterans from many different conflicts.

The National Archives of Australia hold the military personnel records. They have a page dedicated to the First World War and if you scroll down you can access a link to a search page. You can search their records to see if a reference can be found for your ancestor and you can usually access a digital copy of their military file.

You will find a link to Mapping our Anzacs which is a virtual scrapbook to remember those who fought for King and country in the First World War. There is a link here to access the military files and they encourage people to create scrapbook pages to remember their loved ones.

The last week of November we will look at some general places to find information. If you have a regiment name then the first place to start is a Google search. In England you may find a regimental museum which may be able to help you with more information.

Research the battles in which your ancestor fought and find out what the soldiers went through. I know that one of my collateral lines fought in the Battle of Waterloo and that his first child was born just behind the field of battle. Women were sometimes allowed to follow their men during campaigns. They would stay behind at the camp during battles. This usually happened if the soldier was an officer.

You may be able to find sketches or pictures of the uniform your ancestor might have worn. Did they wear a uniform or their regular clothes? This sometimes happened if they were in the militia.

The military file might be the first place to look for information but not the last. What about muster rolls, pension rolls, and other records where you might find someone who was in the military.

Do not forget things like military diaries. Library and Archives Canada have digital copies of the war diaries of the First World War online.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a searchable database online. You can search for casualties of the First and Second World Wars from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, India and South Africa.

Is your ancestor remembered on a war memorial in their home town? You can search online and see what you can find. Scotland has The Scottish National War Memorial online. You can search the Scottish Roll of Honour for entries from the First and Second World Wars and post 1945.

This Remembrance Day why not write the story of your veteran ancestor so that their sacrifice and their accomplishments will not fade away.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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