Saturday, 20 January 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks week 3 –Longivity

I had always believed longevity was not an attribute I possessed as all my close rellies ‘popped off’ by fifty.
This week’s challenge has prompted me to take a deeper and closer look at my familial life spans and  the outcome has been somewhat surprising. Using basic statistics to analyse the life-span of 46 direct line ancestors, I conclude it’s not as bad as I had first thought, but I would like to see the longer bars at the end of the scale...     

Closer analysis of my closest direct ancestors included parents through to great-grandparents however brings both good and not so good results; with analysis of the past 4 generations only, the mean average of life span dropped to  55.5 yrs (-6.5 yrs) on my father’s side and rose to 68 yrs (+2 years) on my mothers.

George Edward KING- father- 48yrs-heart disease
Edna Rose O’MALLEY – mother- 73yrs- chronic lung disease (emphysema-smoker)
George Henry KING- paternal grandfather- 55yrs- heart disease
 Phyllis Olive GREENFIELD- paternal grandmother-57 yrs- breast cancer
Thomas Augustine O’MALLEY- maternal grandfather- 69yrs –myocardial degeneration and  
Beatrice BIRD-maternal grandmother-58yrs-heart disease and emphysemia (non-smoker)
Paternal  great-grandparents:   
Thomas KING-79yrs- heart disease
                                             Isabella MILES- 45yrs –deciduoma malignoma  (due to post-partum issues)
                                             Henry GREENFIELD- 69yrs- unknown
                                             Frances MOFFETT- 37 yrs –uterine cancer
Maternal great-grandparents:  
Patrick O’MALLEY- 68yrs- carcinoma of larynx (smoker) and heart failure
                                              Eileen Marianne SHERIDAN- 66 yrs- cerebral thrombosis and
                                                                                                                                      myocardial degeneration
                                              George BIRD- 65yrs- Carcinoma of the rectum
                                              Sarah TIPTON-78yrs –Myocardial degeneration

Once bringing the information together  I see heart disease is prevalent in the paternal side, whilst making itself known on the maternal side it would appear to be mostly degeneration probably due to other issues.
Lung weakness in one form or another prevails on my maternal side, and cancer in various forms from both lines.

An online test by My longevity considers 5 areas that effect longevity; surroundings, health, attitude, parental relevance, and eating...   it predicts I will live to 81ys..... that will mean I’m beaten by only  3 of my direct ancestors.

Friday, 12 January 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks -week 2-favourite photograph

Week 2 prompt: FAVOURITE PHOTO

How can one have a single favourite photo? Photographs are like children, all special in their own right, associated memories and feelings.

For this reason I have chosen my most precious photograph. It is not old; but the people, related sentiment, and reminiscences are priceless.

The first photo is my precious gem...
Taken in early 2005, it depict my mother Edna Rose O’MALLEY and my step-father Raymond Henry BRETT.
When I relocated to Australia in October 2004 I purchased a voucher from ‘pixie photo’ and asked mum to get a decent photo taken of her and Ray for me. This is the resulting photo.
Never could I have realised that within four years both would be gone.
This is their last photograph together.

Raymond Henry BRETT
, son of Wilfred Henry BRETT and May Victoria STOW, was born 27 April 1937 in Dagenham, England. He was the second youngest of eight children. Ray set to sea quite young where he jumped ship in New Zealand early 1950s. He married Betty WEHI, and had six children; Christopher (adopted, died as a baby), Christina, Maria, Raewyn (died aged 19 due to car accident), Stephen, and Vicky, before divorcing and subsequently meeting my mother about 1975.
Ray was the most significant male in my life, I considered him the closest to a father I would ever have and I loved him as such. I called him Da. Ray was a car/metal spray-painter by trade back in the days of little legislation or monitoring of occupational health and safety. Ray died unexpectedly on 11 April 2006 in Christchurch, New Zealand due to complications from a prescribed medication interacting with a occupationally compromised lung condition.

Edna Rose O’MALLEY, daughter and only live issue of Thomas Augustine O’MALLEY and Beatrice BIRD, was born 21 June 1935 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Edna had a checked life having married three times to produce four children; Corinne, John, Steven, and Ricky, before meeting Ray. I often say mum was a woman before her time; her own life experiences ensured  compassion, tolerance, and understanding of people from all walks and she was loved and respected by many in return. Always a smoker, Edna died from Chronic Respiratory Disease (emphysema) on 13 October 2008.

Mum and Da were introduced by my paternal uncle and, until ill health made it impossible, they often enjoyed  rock and roll dancing, it was always wonderful to watch them and see mum so happy.
Edna and Ray taken early 1985
RIP Mum and Da

Thursday, 4 January 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks -week 1 -START

 Week 1 prompt: START

A three word blog for this prompt could well be ‘where to start?’ fullstop.
Where is the start? Is it how one started? Who got one started?
Is start a person? A time? A place? A memory? A reason? The first amazing discovery?
Is it the first ancestor? The farthest away ancestor? Myself? My newest great-grandchild?
Each in itself could also be a complete blog.

I started my family history about 45 years ago. My best friend introduced me to her ‘hobby’, and I was hooked! By that time my four grandparents had all passed, my parents divorced when I was young, and my mother was an only child. My mother knew very little about either her father’s (Catholic) family history, or her mother’s (Church of England) upbringing. There was not a lot of extended family interaction. When I asked her why she hadn’t enquired about her own parents’ family history she replied ‘you just didn’t’. Not conducive for beginners or oral family history.

                                                   Paternal grandparents                         


               George Henry KING                               Phyllis Olive GREENFIELD
                      1893-1949                                                 1904-1962

                                                 Maternal grandparents

    Thomas Augustine O'MALLEY                             Beatrice BIRD                 
                       1903-1973                                                1902-1960

Research was very different back then. Personal use computers were still about ten years away, very complicated, and expensive. Research consisted mainly of physically visiting the library, Church of the Latter Day Saints, or by snail mail. One would write away for information and if that was overseas the process could take MONTHS... take for example my two year ongoing correspondence to find if my 2x great grandfather was indeed a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary... no conclusion after much to-and-froing, but confirmed serendipitous online decades later.

My research habits were different too... very lacking in documenting resources -sadly. There are things I definitely remember hearing or seeing but can’t recall from where, other things I think I remember, and no doubt some things I have totally forgotten😡.
The habit of gathering information and ‘filing’ them in a box to sort later is one I have unfortunately found hard to break, and as numbers of family tree members and availability of information has increase exponentially... so has my disarray of priceless facts, figures and photographs. My two filing cabinets, two bookcases, and numerous boxes would surely rival any hoarders stash.

Finally, there is the start of new friend and cousinships discovered and developed along the way, time and distance presenting no barrier. Some will only ever be cyber family, but the blood and history of those who started our lineages flow through our collective veins.
...and PLEASE don’t get me started on DNA genealogy!!!!!



Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Margaret FLANAGAN 1825-1912

Margarets probable TIMELINE                  

23 December 1825   birth to: John FLANAGAN and Mary BURKE probably Kilfenora, IRE
23 January 1856       married to: Michael MALLEY Kilfenora, County Clare, IRELAND
23 April 1883            emmigration:     from South Hampton, United Kingdom
16 June 1883            immigration:      to Lyttleton, Canterbury, New Zealand
05 April 1905             admission to:     Nazareth House, Christchurch, New Zealand 
11 Sept 1912     death:             fatty degeneration of heart at Nazareth House, Chch,  NZ.
13 Sep 1912       burial:                   Block 13B, plot 11.   Sydenham Cemetery, Chch, NZ

Siblings: Michael FLANAGAN (sponsored and paid for passage to NZ after husbands death)

Children:       John-      baptised 12 Dec 1858      sponsor: Michael Malone
                      Bridget-  baptised 20 April 1861    sponsors: Denis Flanagan, Mary Carroll
                      Michael- baptised 18 Feb 1863     sponsors: Michael Malone, Honora Hogan
                      Michael- baptised 25 Sept 1864    sponsors: Patrick Flanagan, Sarah O'Malley
                      Charles-  baptised 31 May 1866    sponsors: Thomas Carroll, Margaret Kierse
                      Sarah-    baptised 26 May 1869    sponsors: Denis Flanagan, Mary Hogan
                      Patrick (emigration records birth c1858-9)
 Correspondence:      Nazareth House/Sisters of Nazareth
                                   David Atkinson descendant of Margaret’s brother Michael-4
th cousin
                                   Tremauritz descendant of  Margaret’s daughter Bridget- 3rd cousin
                                   Clare Heritage Centre (17 Sept 2002)

 RECORDS:               Marriage (FMP from National Library of Ireland))
                                   Assisted Emigration (NZ Archives Passenger Lists)
                                   Death Certificate (NZ BDM)

                                   Cemetery record  (Christchurch Library Cemetery  Database)

Margaret and Michael married 23 Jan 1856 in the parish of Kilfenora, Barony of Corcomroe, Co Clare.

Witnesses: Michael & Margaret McNamara.

The priest was shown to charged $2 (pounds) to perform the ceremony.

Unfortunately from a research point of veiw Church Marriage Registers did not commense until 1864.

Parents and place of birth were not a requirement for documentation, however it was customary in Ireland at that time for the bride to be married in her native parish.

It is reasonable then to assume Margaret was born in the Kilfenora parish. 

Emmigrated to NZ 1883 aboard 'IONIC' 1883.  It would appear (by oral history given to David Atkinson) that after the death of her husband Michael O'Malley, Margaret was brought out to NZ with at least 4 of her children. Her fare paid by her brother Michael FLANAGAN who was already living in NZ. – noted on record as single woman, death cert as widow.

Records show the arrival of the "Ionic" which sailed from Southampton 23 April 1883, arriving Lyttleton 16 June 1883 witth passengers: O'Malley; Margaret aged 40, general servant, from Clare.
Patrick aged 24, labourer, from Clare.
Mary aged 23, general servant, from Clare.
Mary (Hogan) aged 23, general servant, from Clare.
                                      Bridget aged 22, general servant, from Clare.
Charles aged 21, general servant, from Clare.  
The 'Clare Heritage Centre' states: "it  is our experience from doing research down through the years that information the emmigrants gave with regard to their dates of birth were rarely if ever accurate with discrepancies of up to 4-5 years being commonplace. This was done for a variety of reasons ie. to obtain cheaper passage, better employment oppertunities, marriage propects etc 
Margarets death certificate states her age as 86 at time of death, it also states she had spent 50 years in NZ. 

Margaret is my maternal grandfathers Paternal grandmother, my 2x great grandmother
                                     Margaret --> 
 Patrick-->Thomas -->  Edna -->
Much of my information has been provided by David Atkinson, a 3rd cousin once removed  who was originally contacted through records and paper-trail and later confirmed through DNA testing.
According to information registered with Nazareth House, formally situated (pre 2011 earthquake) at Brougham Street, Christchurch, New Zealand,  Margaret was born to John FLANAGAN and Mary BURKE 23 December 1825 County Clare, IRELAND.
This date conflicts with immigration records held at Canterbury Museum which gives her age as 40 years upon her arrival at Canterbury in 12 June 1885 aboard the Ionic. However ages were often falsified to meet the immigration laws of the era.
                         Nazareth House, Brougham Street, Sydenham, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Based on my genealogical research this piece of flash fiction is written about a key event in the life of Margaret FLANAGAN. Some poetic licence has been taken and some gaps filled in without proof, but it rounds out an ancestor, adds character, personality and interest.

Margaret stood amid her four surviving offspring, they watched the coastline dissolve into the gloomy afternoon. She thought of the darling babbies and beloved man she left behind. They were covered with the same sod she was carrying in an old whiskey bottle tucked carefully away with her mammy’s lace kerchief  and the crumpled and tattered note she had received informing of husband Michaels death eight months ago.  
She shed silent tears that mingled with the salty sea spray. Her life in County Clare had not been easy... that it looked no better for Patrick, Mary, Bridget and Charles, impelled agreement to her brother’s offer of emigration to New Zealand. He had set sail from these same shores ten years hence and forged a new and prosperous life in the land so far away. None believed they would see him again but now he was providing an opportunity for his five kinfolk by paying their fares.
How she wished Michael was with her though.
"Come in Mammy, you’ll catch your death”, even her thickest woollen shawl couldn’t disguise the thin, slumped shoulders of her mother that Bridget gently put her arm around . Margaret smiled but the sadness of leaving hearth and homeland forever, even when coupled with the excitement of prospective changes, produced emotional bittersweetness.
BĂ­onn sĂșil le muir ach nĂ­ bhĂ­onn sĂșil le tĂ­r -There is hope from the sea but none from the land,  this brings new meaning to the adage she thought.
She resisted looking back one more time... like the view, nothing was left there for her anymore.                                                                                          



Thursday, 11 December 2014

Phyllis Olive GREENFIELD 1904 - 1962


Phyllis Olive GREENFIELD was born on 20 Oct 1904 in Temuka, South Canterbury, New Zealand as the seventh child of Henry Greenfield and Frances MOFFET. She had six older siblings, namely: Earnest Henry (1888-1960), Albert Percy (1889-1962), Joseph Leslie 1891-1942), Eveline Frances (1893-1948), Alexander William Moffat (1895-1976), and Alice Dorothy (1900-1941).


In these family portraits Phyllis is the infant. Oral history states there was a nurse behind her mother Frances keeping her steady during the sitting. Phyllis would appear to be six to eight months old. Frances died when Phyllis was 13 months.

Her father remarried on 15 December 1909 to Annie LARCOMBE, Phyllis was aged five years and two months. She was soon to be big sister to two more siblings: Meta Ellinor (1910-1994), and Zora Joy (1912-1983).    
On 1 May 1930 when she was 25, 
Phyllis married George Henry KING,
son of Thomas KING and Isabella MILES,
in Christchurch, New Zealand
(at Knox House, Carlton Mill Rd, Christchurch).                                

George Henry KING and Phyllis Olive GREENFIELD had the following six children:

Dorothy Maisie KING (1930-2012), George Edward (1932-1980), Frances Margaret Betty (1934-1985), Robert Sydney (1936-2000), Eveline Shirley (1937-2001), and Trevor Harry (1940-1987).
left to right: Betty, Shirley, Dorothy, Ted and Sid (Trevor is missing from this photo)

Following an interview I had with daughters Shirley and Dorothy in 2006, I have surmised that Phyllis seems to have had a unhappy life. Her own mother died when she was still a baby and although I have seen photographs with Henry and his youngest daughters, none include Phyllis. Her marriage was to a man who was not pleasant, and when he passed away, her oldest son stepped into the bullying role (as evident by correspondence from the armed services re his return to Christchurch, and information from interview with her daughters)... this was not a happy home. Memories of Phyllis by her daughters and daughter-in-law are fond but feelings for her are of sadness for what she endured.

 When her family had grown, Phyllis' great love was  'The Red Cross', of which she was a member. My one memory of Nana King is of her dressed in her uniform at the Labour Day Picnic in Linwood Park when I was about six years old.
Phyllis died in Christchurch Public Hospital on 09 September 1962 one month before her 58th birthday. Causes of death: 1) Left bronchopneumonia, 2) Right atelectasis (collapsed lung) and right pleural effusion,
3) Carcinoma left breast.

She was buried on 11 September 1962 at Addington Cemetery, Christchurch East, Plot 902c.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


My serendipitous discovery was this little angel.

Named for her maternal aunty, for whom I was searching at the time, Fanny was born the fourth child of John and Mary Jane GREENFIELD on or about 20 May 1863 in Oamaru, New Zealand. The first New Zealand born child in this line, and only 14 months after her mothers arrival there.

The only evidence of her existence (to date) is her death certificate, NZ BDM ref #1863/1840, which states:
WHEN DIED AND WHERE: 27 May 1863, Oamaru
NAME AND SURNAME: Fanny Greenfield
SEX: female
AGE: 1 week
CAUSE OF DEATH: inflammation of the lungs

God Bless you precious little one, such a short existence in this earthly plain, but duly noted and included in our family tree... remembered in future generations.

11 Dec 2014, Further to this blog:
Several months later I was advised by that there might be a match for Fanny GREENFIELD, there was. Fanny's birth had indeed been registered, NZ Registrars Return BIRTHS ref # 118 which states
WHEN BORN AND WHERE: 21 May 1863, Oamaru
SEX: female
NAME AND MAIDEN SURNAME OF MOTHER:  Mary Jane Grienfield formally Annet

I have since obtained photocopies of both certificates which were registered at the same time and both have Fanny's surname misspelled as GRIENFIELD