An un-success story, so far… now resolved (see below)

… or a proverbial brick wall! If you can help with further information please contact us.

Early in 2016 with some waiting time on my hands, I ventured into the Victor Harbor Antiques Shop on Eyre Street. Typically, it’s crammed with old stuff. As I browsed I noticed at floor level a dusty but charming old framed photo of two young boys, both with Victorian wide lace collars. One lad, standing, is dressed in knickerbockers and the other in a dress, is sitting on a bicycle/tricycle. I turned the frame around and found an inscription: Frank and Alex Read.

Now, my dog Pip’s favourite walk is on the beach adjacent to the G S Read Reserve on the Esplanade. One of the members of our Encounter Bay Family History Group researched George Septimus Read and wrote his story as part of our Who Were They? project 2010-2013 which tells the personal family histories of those after whom our parks and reserves are named. George Septimus Read’s story is included in this website under the tab Local History.

As I was leaving the premises I thought it only polite to speak to the proprietor seated at her cluttered desk in a dark corner. I mentioned the photograph and commented that Read was a significant figure in the early history of Victor Harbor. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘There’s another one.’ We walked back to the place where I had spied the first photo and she turned around another one, similarly framed, of an elderly gentleman, seated, with two young boys, one of whom was obviously the younger one of the first photo. Could this be George Septimus Read with grandsons? Sale price for the photos was $40 each.

I accepted the offer for the pictures to be held pending consultation with other members of our group and further research.
READ Frank and Alex READ Grandad and boys

Digging through Digger revealed one Read grandson, Frank Victor, but no Alex or Alexander with a credible family link.

I explained the mission to members at the next meeting of EBFHG and returned to let the shop proprietor know the investigation was ongoing. She insisted I take the photographs on appro. I displayed them at the following meeting. Members agreed that we purchase the photos and two members were delegated to negotiate a price. In the event, we had to pay the full price but at least the photos were in hand.

I also looked for Alexandrina Read now because some members were suggesting that the boy on the bicycle was in fact, a girl. Certainly, the bow in the hair seemed odd for a boy, however young and dressed.

George Septimus Read died in 1900. I booked into a History Month session at Strathalbyn with an expert on dating old photographs. I took ours along and was able to confirm that these were indeed taken in the late 1800s.

In the meantime, one member had made contact online with the wife of a direct descendant of GSR. She was very interested in the photos and sent information and photos from her research.

By now I was beginning to doubt the photos were in fact (touched up) photos, but possibly drawings/paintings. I took one (two boys) from its frame but found no inscription. I was consequently loath to remove the second frame (grandfather and boys). Time to consult with ArtLab!

The Senior Book and Paper Conservator confirmed that they were indeed photographs using silver nitrate processing and good examples of this technique. She removed the frame from the second photo which was inscribed ‘With every good wish’. But some joy: she revealed the name of the photographer, Ernest Gall and his address, 11 Alma Chambers, Grenfell Street, Adelaide.

Ensuing research at the State Library of SA uncovered a wealth of Adelaide and country town streetscapes, and photos of a few prominent citizens of his day taken by Gall from about 1880 to 1910. But delve as I have, there seems no extant collection, list or index containing a mention of our photos.

Conclusion: While my first reaction that these photographs might be locally historically significant I have as yet no proof. An EBFHG member is going to contact the Sunday Mail for help through their pages. The Read descendant has expressed interest in acquiring the photographs.

Update 3 August 2016: One of our members submitted the photos to a Can You Help page in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail and received several responses though nothing helpful.

I extracted faces from three photos we have, two of which we know are of George Septimus Read, and the consensus seems to be that they all could be of one and the same person. The interested family member from interstate expects to visit later in the year.

READ GSR comparison

Still needing proof!

Keep watching this space!

Update March 2017
I continued to have correspondence during 2016 with the wife of the descendant of George Septimus Read. In early 2017 the EBFHG requested the project be finalised. Our client had consulted various cousins and relatives and they believe that these photographs are indeed of their family, probably of Henry Joseph Tite, another of Encounter Bay’s pioneers. Tite married GSR’s daughter Anne, and descendants believe that the photos are of him and Tite children. The client agreed to reimburse us for the photos and postage. In the event, we also gratefully accepted a donation.

So the photos have been packed and despatched, an exciting birthday present for the GSR descendant! Success!
Read photos parcel for web

DNA Testing. Is it worthwhile?

My Experience with DNA Testing.
I have come to a few roadblocks in my family tree, so in August this year I decided to see if DNA testing could help. In case anyone else is interested in going down this path, I have put together a few notes on my experiences.

What is DNA all about?
This is something I should have researched more before I started, and would recommend anyone else undergoing DNA testing does so. I am slowly finding out the basics and how to interpret the results.

As DNA is a bit like a zipper – pairs of chromosomes, one from each parent – you will share your DNA equally with your mother and your father. Each of your four grandparents will have contributed 25% to your DNA, each of your 8 GGrandparents 12.5% and so on. (There can be very slight variations due to X and Y chromosomes but I won’t go into that here).

Once you reach your GGGG Grandparents, some of your ancestors will start dropping off your DNA profile. i.e. it is not possible to represent ALL your ancestors in your DNA meaning that a particular ethnic group (though represented in your family tree) may not show up in your DNA at all.

Siblings will share approximately 50% of your DNA (this is random chance so may vary slightly), aunt/uncles approximately 25%, first cousins approximately 12.5% and so on.

The Process
There are several companies doing DNA testing. I chose Ancestry.com so that I could compare my results to other Ancestry.com members and receive notifications when other tested members share my DNA. They test Autosomal DNA which identified genes from both male and female ancestors.

1. I paid online (total cost was about $160, $30 of which was postage) and sent my request in August. Ancestry.com advised the process would take 6 to 8 weeks.

2. A week later I received my test kit. It was very straightforward and simple. A sample of saliva is required.

3. Return postage and packaging was provided and I produced the sample and sent it off about a week after it arrived at the start of September. At this point I also activated the test online (each test kit comes with a unique identifying number). When activating online I chose to make my results publicly available to those people with matching DNA and opted to link the results to my ancestry.com family tree.

4. Ancestry kept me updated at all stages via email, notifying me when my kit was posted, activated, had arrived for processing, had started testing, had completed testing.

5. The results are available online only at the ancestry.com DNA website. These arrived sooner than I was expecting, at the start of October.

The Results
1. Ancestry provides a basic breakup (in percentage form and displayed as a pie graph) of your ethnic DNA makeup. Mine was partly expected and partly very surprising.

2. My maiden name is McLeod and many of my ancestors are from Scotland and England, and yet my UK DNA was less than 1%. This created even more questions for my family tree research. Had all of these ancestors dropped out of my DNA, or did they come to the UK long before from somewhere else?

3. Large hunks of my DNA were from expected ethnic groups e.g. Greek and Irish, but other regions of the world popped up to surprise me e.g. Finland, The Iberian Peninsular, India and European Jewish to name a few. I turned out to be a real Heinz 57 variety. Looking at other people’s DNA makeup- this is not the case with everyone.

Lost Cousins
1. Ancestry.com provides a list of other people who have been tested and who match your DNA. They are sorted from closest match to furthest match, and grouped in expected relationship groups,
e.g. 2nd to 3rd cousins, 4th to 6th cousins, 5th to 8th cousins (this is about as far back as they go). These matches are updated weekly. They also advise you if there is a shared ancestor in any of the family trees. So far I have 30 pages of DNA matches – with about 20–25 people per page!

2. If the people you match have linked a family tree to their results, ancestry.com will show you any shared surnames occurring in both your trees, and map locations of ancestors’ birthplaces and whether or not these are shared between your two trees. You may then expand the siblings and their descendants in your tree to find possible links and matches.

3. There is also a function that shows if a particular match also shares a match with any other people in your DNA list – meaning the three of you (or perhaps even more) are related to each other. I have several of these groups – some are relatives who have been tested, others are completely unknown to each other.

4. Contact details for matching DNA members are provided and you can then communicate with each other to advance your research.

Successes and Failures
1. If Ancestry.com members have a private family tree, or have not linked a family tree to their results, then it is not possible to see how you may be related and the results are pointless unless you can contact them and get access to their tree. I have found some members respond well to contact and will work with you to find relationships, others will not answer your emails.

2. My greatest success has been working with a distant cousin from the UK. We matched only a locality in our family trees, but after expanding our siblings, have discovered our families share many of the same surnames and are intrinsically linked through intermarriage in that one locality.

3. My greatest failure has been finding the strongest match on my DNA list had a private family tree, discovering they also share matches with me and five other tested members, only one of whom had a public family tree. I have written to this excellent match a couple of times but had no response. This is my strongest possibility of finding a link through one of my family tree roadblocks, but although the information must be there, it is totally unavailable due to the unwillingness of others to share information.

What next?
1. As new members are tested, I gain more opportunities to match DNA, find lost cousins and break through family tree roadblocks.

2. I have also decided to have other members of my family tested to help narrow connections through group matching and excluding. My mother, sister and several cousins are having their DNA tested.

3. I have downloaded my DNA from Ancestry.com and uploaded it onto a website called GEDmatch (this was done at the request of one of my Ancestry DNA matches). The process was fairly simple but took quite some time – several days before results were fully processed. This has provided more in depth results of DNA makeup and offers more tools for research. The site is free and allows you to:

  • Read and research DNA information.
  • Check DNA makeup through several different systems.
  • Match with other tested members in minute detail e.g. exact matching chromosomes and degree of match,
  • Check if your parents are related to each other (just from your own DNA),
  • Check predicted eye colour,
  • Obtain visual representations of your DNA makeup etc

I have yet to fully explore and understand this website, but will keep anyone interested updated with its usefulness.

Is DNA testing helpful in family history research?
I would say definitely yes. The more I research DNA and how to apply it to my matches, the more useful it will be. As more people are tested over time, we will be able to see how we connect with others – with one proviso – if you do test, make your results available to those who match you, otherwise prospective matches may not bother to contact you (I know I don’t bother now if a person has no family tree available). Without the ability to compare trees and make contact, the whole exercise is pointless.

I will be happy to assist anyone interested in undertaking this method of research, or share future insights.

Tracey Treloar

Quest for Sarah Helen Coventry

Sarah Helen Coventry funeral card
In our Hunt family archives is this funeral card, about the size of the present day business card. It was customary in the 19th century to send these to all members of the community bidding them to a funeral. The name does not occur in the family tree and having put it on the back burner for years, I finally tackled it a few weeks ago. The only clue to a possible family connection is a handwritten annotation ’sister to my grandmother’.

With help from another researcher I have pieced together some parts of Sarah Helen’s story.

Congregational Church DriffieldSarah Helen’s parents were John Fletcher and Elizabeth nee Pinder who were married on 1 July 1820 at Great Driffield, Yorkshire. Mary Ann was born there in the following December, Sarah Helen on 2 August 1822, Jane Elizabeth in 1824 and George Frances in 1827. The last three, strangely, were all christened on the same day, 28 September 1827, soon after George’s birth, in the Providence Independent Church, Great Driffield, now the Congregational Church.

Sarah’s father, John, died in 1838. In the following year her mother, Elizabeth married James Davison, a coachman five years her junior, at Holy Trinity, Hull. In 1841 the Davisons were living at Kingston upon Hull, Garrison side. It seems that Elizabeth’s daughters, the three Fletcher sisters, Mary Ann, Sarah Helen and Jane Elizabeth remained in Great Driffield, living in the household of rabbit dealer William Thompson and his wife, Elizabeth. This couple may have been relatives or guardians or friends. Who knows? Mary was a dressmaker and Sarah, now 18, a milliner.

At 21 years of age, in 1843, Sarah Helen married Jefferson Hyde and their son, Robert was born in 1845. Sadly, three years later, in 1848, Jefferson Hyde, died.

In 1846, Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth was again widowed when James Davison died at Myton, Hull. But by 1851, Elizabeth had set up a lodging house at 108 Middle Street, Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Sarah Ellen (sic) Hyde, milliner, aged 26 years and her son, Robert aged 6 years, were living there also.

In January 1857, Sarah Helen and her son, Robert, now 11 years old, her mother Elizabeth Davi(d)son, and Sarah’s sister, Jane Elizabeth Fletcher, all sailed together on the “Sabrina” bound for Australia. They arrived in Melbourne on 13 April after 83 days at sea. Sometime in the following two years, probably sooner rather than later, this group made their way to South Australia.

One of Sarah’s sisters was already living in South Australia. Mary Ann and her carpenter husband, Edward Truslove, had arrived in South Australia on the “Abberton” on 22 October 1849. Also aboard the “Abberton” was Absalom Fletcher, possibly a brother/cousin to Sarah Helen’s father. Absalom had married Susana (sic) Jones in Scarborough, Yorkshire, on 31 August 1828. In 1841 he was a pawnbroker, living with his wife, Susanna and their three sons, John, Francis and George, at Bridlington about 13 miles east of Driffield.

The Trusloves moved to Encounter Bay. In 1855 Edward opened his general store and post office on the corner of Beach Road (Maude Street) and Waitpinga (Bay) Road, Encounter Bay. Robert Hyde worked for his uncle in the store.

On 8 December 1859, Sarah Helen then 36 years old, married John Coventry, four years her junior, at Absalom Fletcher’s residence in Adelaide. It appears that John Coventry may have become a railway guard, but in a continuing saga of family tragedy, he died of fever at Kapunda on 11 April 1861.

There was yet another wedding in 1864 when Jane Elizabeth, the third of the Fletcher girls, married Peter Ferrier who had arrived in Australia in 1854 from Scotland. The wedding took place at the Riverton Arms Hotel. They had no children and moved to Encounter Bay from Riverton in 1875. Here they were, according to Anthony Laube (Settlers Around the Bay) ‘respected and well-liked residents’. Peter became Chairman of the District Council in 1887.

In 1865, Robert Hyde, Sarah Helen’s son, married Mary Thirza Tomlinson at Pt Elliot Congregational Church, and eventually had ten children: five boys and five girls. Their first child, Clara Mazella was born in Adelaide, but the other nine were all born at Encounter Bay. The second child, and first-born son, was named Earnest Eduard (sic) Truslove Hyde. Another son bore his grandfather Jefferson’s name.

Fred Hunt and Sophia Grimble marriage certificate Mary Tomlinson signatureAnd so the clues to the connection with my family begin to emerge. Mary Tomlinson had been a witness to the marriage of my great grandparents, Frederick Hunt and Sophie Elizabeth nee Grimble, on 31 March 1862 at the Grimble home in Encounter Bay. Frederick was the youngest son of William Henry Hunt and Elizabeth nee Toogood, who arrived in Encounter Bay in 1848. William was the miller at the old mill built on the foreshore at Encounter Bay. Sophia Elizabeth was the daughter of Jabez Grimble (of Cut Hill Wall fame, and one time Chairman of the District Council) and Sophia Mary nee Felgate.

Sarah Helen died at Encounter Bay on 13 March 1886, aged 62 years. Cause of death is stated as aortic aneurism, and her residence at the time is given as Parkside. I expect she spent her last days with Robert and Mary and their large family at Encounter Bay. She was buried in the Victor Harbor General Cemetery. The headstone indicates that Robert (d 1899) and Mary (d 1906) are with her. In the adjacent plot are the graves of Elizabeth Davison (d 1880), her gravestone inscribed with a memoriam to her son-in-law, Edward Truslove, who died at Orroroo also in 1880, and Jane Ferrier and her husband, Peter. Mary Ann Truslove, nee Fletcher, died in 1906 at Victor Harbor, but I have not been able to find a grave site for her.

All these families were pioneer settlers of Encounter Bay and I believe part of the congregation of Newland’s Tabernacle Church. Sarah Helen was born around the same time as my great great grandmother, Sophia Mary Grimble and I now believe that these two may have been close friends. May be Sarah Helen became Auntie to Sophia Mary’s family, as was the custom then for close family friends. Hence the ‘sister’ comment preserved among our family papers. As yet I can find no family connection with Sarah Helen.

PS. A cousin of my father’s now tells me that his mother Pearl, the youngest of eleven Hunt children, was born a few weeks before Sarah Helen died, and was to have been named after Aunt Sarah. One of Pearl’s older sisters (by 16 years) always called her Sarah.

Davidson and Ferrier headstonesSarah Helen Coventry grave