29 November 2011

The graves of Matthias and Catherine Von Holst

"April 11, in London, aged 86, Matthias Von Holst, the celebrated composer of music." Liverpool Mercury, 25 April 1845.

A while back I found that Matthias and Catherine/Catharina/Katherina/Katharina Von Holst were both buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London. Thinking particularly of Matthias, I wondered if there was an inscription on the grave so I decided to send an email and ask. I have found in my family history research that there are people who ignore email requests for information or assistance (I probably get answers to 1 in 5 of my emails) and people who go out of their way to help you.

On this occasion I got a reply from a wonderfully helpful lady who told me the grave number (4671, square 118, in the Church of England section) and said she would have to go out and find the grave to see if the memorial still existed. She sent a photo the next day, which showed a very old grave, with the stone grave covering on an angle and no obvious headstone or inscription.

I also enquired of her whether Matthias' wife was buried in either of the graves beside him. No, in fact Catherine Von Holst was buried in a public vault, Catacomb A, vault 50 (ref 1092). She advised that for various reasons the catacombs cannot be visited.

I am so grateful to this lady for her assistance. That she even went out of her office and took a photo for me amazes me. It just goes to show, you should always ask - you never know how helpful the person is willing to be!

28 November 2011

Useful family history sites - A vision of Britain through time

Never having been to the UK, I don't have a brilliant understanding of where everything is in Britain, though it grows as I do more and more research into my British ancestors. Plus, sometimes locations given in censuses and the like don't appear on Google Maps, which can be very frustrating.

One website which I have found incredibly useful is A Vision of Britain Through Time. Covering 1801-2011, it has maps, historical descriptions, census reports, etc for lots of little places across Britain. Although the website can be quite general in the information given, I've found it terribly helpful to get an idea of where places are/were and what they might have been like.

23 November 2011

An epidemic in Mulhouse?

My very astute mother pointed something out to me, from my recent post on the children of Gaspard Weiss.

Looking at the last five children in the family:

  • Paul, born 1791, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was seven years old i.e. 1798.
  • Fréderic, born 1792, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was six years old i.e. 1798.
  • Jean Antoine, born 1794 in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was four years old i.e. 1798.
  • Guillaume, born 1797, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was only one year old i.e. 1798.
  • Rosine Angélique (she appears to have been known as Angélique), born 13 April 1798 in Mulhouse. Her mother [Marie] died four days after the birth of Angélique, presumably from complications from the birth - in 1798.

All apparently in 1798. This suggests that perhaps they all succumbed to an illness, and that possibly Marie did not die as a result of childbirth itself, but perhaps weakened after childbirth, succumbing to an illness... I've looked and haven't found any references to any epidemics in Mulhouse in 1798 but we live in an age of antibiotics and so it is possible that they might all have succumbed to an illness which would be considered relatively minor these days. We'll never know, but it's something to ponder.

I wonder whether it is possible to get something like a death certificate for Marie? It would be just my luck that it wouldn't specify a cause of death!

21 November 2011

Useful family history sites - historical directories #2

Last time I wrote about historical directories it was about English and Welsh directories. I have just, in the course of my research, found a great website for Scotland historical directories, offered by the National Library of Scotland. A great website, seemingly very easy to use, however it does not cover the whole of Scotland.

Now if I could actually find any of my relatives in them that would be brilliant!

17 November 2011

(Jean) Gaspard Weiss

Ages ago I wrote about an article that I had found which showed that at least one other person in the world was interested in Jean Gaspard Weiss. Tobias Bonz is a German cellist who has rediscovered the music of Jean Gaspard Weiss, through works held in the British Library. He has also found an autobiography of Weiss, held in the archives of Mulhouse.

One of the things I have learnt from Tobias is that Jean Gaspard Weiss called himself Gaspard Weiss, dropping the "Jean". This has been hard for me to get used to, because my research first found him as Jean Gaspard Weiss, but from now on I shall try to refer to him as Gaspard Weiss.

Tobias leads a baroque ensemble called Antichi Strumenti, which has been playing some of Gaspard Weiss' music. They have recently made a recording of some of his works, which I hope to get a copy of, as I have not yet heard any of his music!

Tobias has given me the names of all fifteen of Gaspard and Marie Weiss' children which is fantastic new information - previously I only had names of eight of them. Tobias believes that the information I have found on the son Gaspar Weiss actually refers to Willoughby Gaspard Weiss. I'm not yet convinced, but he's read the autobiography and I haven't, so I guess that trumps me!

The children of Gaspard and Marie Weiss were:

Charlotte Mary, born 30 June 1776 in London. It is believed Charlotte died young, probably while the family was still in England. Charlotte is portrayed in a painting of the family.

Gaspar, born 12 September 1777 in London. Tobias believes Gaspar also died young.

Mary Ann (Marie Anne), born 6 September 1778 in London. Mary Ann married Godefroi Hofer in Mulhouse, and died in 1839.

Sarah Elizabeth (Elisabeth), born 19 May 1780 in London. Details and the date of her death are unknown.

Willoughby Gaspard, born 12 May 1782 in London. Although it is extremely likely that Willoughby Gaspard travelled with the rest of the family to Mulhouse when they returned there in 1783, at some stage he did return to England and worked as a music dealer, and in 1814 he married Ann Hunter at St Oswald, Chester, in Cheshire, England. Willoughby and Ann had six or seven children, including the famous opera singer Willoughby Hunter Weiss. Willoughby Gaspard died in Nantwich, Cheshire on 25 March 1853.

Jacques, possibly born 1784 in Mulhouse.

Jean Georges, born 12 June 1785 in Mulhouse. He married Barbara Blech in 1809, was briefly mayor of Mulhouse in 1843, and died 26 February 1874 in Mulhouse.

Martha, possibly born 1786 in Mulhouse.

Samuel, born 1788, presumably in Mulhouse.

Charles Nicholas, born 20 June 1789 in Mulhouse. My great great great grandfather. Moved to England, and married Benigna von Holst in London on 9 September 1828. He was a flautist, worked as a Professor of Music, and joined the British Army to serve as a bandmaster. He died in Bombay India, whilst stationed there, on 14 June 1845. Charles and Benigna had six children, the youngest of whom I am descended from.

Paul, born 1791, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was seven years old.

Fréderic, born 1792, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was six years old.

Jean Antoine, born 1794 in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was four years old.

Guillaume, born 1797, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was only one year old.

Rosine Angélique (she appears to have been known as Angélique), born 13 April 1798 in Mulhouse. Her mother died four days after the birth of Angélique, presumably from complications from the birth. Angélique married Jean George Schmaltzer in Mulhouse on 21 April 1826. They had at least one child, a daughter, who married into the Desaulles family. The autobiography of Gaspard Weiss appears to have been handed down through the Desaulles family until it ended up in the Mulhouse archives. The date of Angélique's death is unknown. The name "Angélique" was passed on down through many generations of her brother Willoughby's family - perhaps Angélique was Willoughby's favourite sister.

16 November 2011

The Macindoe family

The photo above was taken of the Macindoe family before they left Glasgow for Sydney. By my reckoning, which could be wrong, the people are as follows:

back row: Walter Walker (1866-1955), Andrew Paterson (1868-1956)

middle row: Stewart (1872-1944), Ellen (seated, 1845-1922), Ellen Paterson ("Nellie", 1876-1967), Thomas (seated, 1841-1901), Norman (1874-1956), Thomas (1870-1947)

front row: Margaret Kirkwood ("Maggie", seated on her mother's lap, 1883-1929), John (1879-1953)

10 November 2011

One mystery solved

... but plenty more unsolved!

When my parents visited Uralla earlier this year they were confounded by some flowers which had been very recently left on the Beringer graves at the Uralla cemetery. Happily, I have been contacted by a relative of John Valentine Beringer who was visiting Uralla at the time and left the flowers. I'm so pleased to know who it was, and to connect with another member of the extended family. To be able to share information is great!

If you are a relative and want to get in contact, leave a comment, including an email address if you like, and even if you delete the comment immediately I will still get the information and the rest of the world should only be privy to your email address if they happen to be looking right at that moment. : )

I've actually been contacted by three new distant family members this week, so it's all quite exciting. I've just got to make sure I remember which of them is linked to which part of the family and not get them mixed up!

08 November 2011

Allan Wickham's war

Allan Wickham was originally in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve before he enlisted, and upon enlistment was placed into the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train unit. The RANBT built piers and wharves etc to enable the landing of troops and supplies. Allan was well suited to this as he was a carpenter. The unit sailed from Port Melbourne on the Port Macquarie on 3 June 1915. On the voyage Allan noted that they lost 80 horses and they stopped off at Bombay on 29 June to unload the rest. He spent much of his time suffering from sea sickness until he noted on 11 July "First day I have been really free from sea sickness." They sailed on to Port Said in Egypt, where they took on coal and water and 3 British and 3 French seamen, and then sailed to Lemnos on July 18 with mounting war tension - "Everybody bitterly disappointed not going to England. Official. Armed guards put on. Sleep abreast our boats with arms and life belts. In the submarine area. All lights out, even steaming lights."

July 20 [1915]: Entered Lemnos Harbour pioloted (sic) by torpedo boat, the first I have seen. As we entered three destroyers were appearing on the horizon. Evidently our escort although we never saw them. Fine harbour. About 30 men of war, British and French, as well as torpedo boats and destroyers and twice as many transports. No town, small villiages (sic) scattered about. 120 000 troops camped around the shores. 4 large transports besides outselves arrived crowded with troops and 3 left. Do not know whether we land or not. A good object lesson to those who are crying out what is the British Navy doing. Only 30 mls from the Dardenells (sic).

July 23: Troops embarking and disembarking all day. Something definite at last. Orders to be prepared to land at a moments notice tonight or tomorrow morning. We are to do a fortnight's training and then to leave to build piers and suchlike for disembarking troops and guns. Where we are not told but surmise Dardenells (sic). Two monitors arrived from Dardenells (sic). Have been in action for 3 days. Marvellous how news travels around fleet. Fifty days out from Melbourne and only had 3 hours ashore. What with the uncertainty as to our destination are glad of the move, though all are disappointed at not going to England. But I'm confident we'll get there before it's all over. No mail from home yet.

They sailed on to Imbros to do their training there, and then on to Suvla Bay, where they landed under fire and got straight to work. He soon saw the awful reality of war: "Went for a walk over ground taken. Saw some of the Turk trenches and entanglements. Came across some of the Manchesters killed by shell fire. Awful sight. Ground very broken. Wounded arriving on beach all day. Terrible suffering among wounded for want of water. Turks reinforced and we are driven in. The Munsters and Royal Irish suffer heavily. Built two piers. Snipers busy round the camp. Very daring."

The camp was frequently shelled by enemy fire and killed a number of people, including Chief Petty Officer Edward Charles Perkins: "Shell fell in Perkin's dugout, struck him and wounded his mate. Buried him at 8 o'clock at night." Further details about CPO Perkins can be seen here. Allan himself was (on this occasion) luckier, on August 20: "Ships cannot find battery that is annoying us. Had a narrow escape this morning. Shell burst within 10ft of me, covered me with sand. Killed one and wounded two. Several others injured throughout the day", and again on December 1: "Hit in head with shell splinter. Lucky." I can imagine his mother weeping, reading those entries.

By December of 1915 the decision had been made to evacuate the area. On December 15 Allan was told that he was in a party which was to remain behind and destroy the stores. He was disappointed to find out two days later that others would be staying behind and he was to leave that day. They were on Lemnos for Christmas, and then from January 13 to February 4th the RANBT mutinied over (a lack of) pay, and they were placed under armed guard, under arrest. Allan was appointed as a representative to state their case to the commander who had just returned from a stay in hospital for malaria. Once the situation was resolved they carried on as normal.

In February they returned to the Suez Canal to work there. Allan applied to transfer to the 5th Engineers in March but his request was turned down, then on April 1 his request to transfer to the artillery was affected to the 12th Field Artillery Brigade, and he was posted to the 48th Battalion as a gunner. He was made an acting Bombardier on May 19.

On June 3, on the anniversary of his sailing from Melbourne, Allan sailed from Alexandria for France. "Ship pretty rotten, tucker worse." They arrived in Marseille on June 9/10 and left for Le Havre aboard a train on June 11. Arriving in Le Havre on June 13, they stayed a few days and then moved to a camp closer to the firing line, somewhere in the north of France (he didn't really give precise details). He transferred to the 24th Field Artillery Brigade on June 15, though this is not noted in his diary. The diary details the fighting in his area and he certainly seemed much busier there than he was in Suvla Bay, and the fighting much more frenetic. His diary ended on September 17 with "Came back to the guns last night."

Allan's service record then shows that he transferred, still in France, to the 11th Field Artillery Brigade on January 25, 1917, and was posted to the 42nd Battalion. He was killed in action on May 3, 1917, at the second battle of Bullecourt, France.

I don't know if his diary made it home before the news of his death - I have no knowledge of when he posted it home from London as his service record does not show any visit to London. That his diary made it home and he didn't must have been small comfort for his mother.

Further information on the RANBT can be found here, and the second battle of Bullecourt here.

Allan Wickham's war diary

Allan Wickham (born 1893, died 3 May 1917) was my great great uncle, and my grandfather was named after him. Allan Wickham enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces on 11 March 1915, service number 94. He was killed in action in the second battle of Bullecourt, France, on 3 May 1917.

I've just finished reading through his war diary. He was a very to-the-point sort of writer, and generally just wrote one or two sentences for each day's entry. Still, you get an impression, albeit quite objective, of the war he experienced. I shall give details of his war in another post. He wrote regularly in the diary from when he left Australia on June 3, 1915, until September 17, 1916. He then abruptly stopped writing, and a few pages further on he pinned this undated note:

According to his service records he never went to London, at least officially anyway. A mystery for another time perhaps.

Allan mentioned a number of his mates in his diary and there was one in particular I wanted to track down, because he died and I wondered if the exact nature of his death was ever made known to his family. I searched through many many service records yesterday, and eventually found the correct one. Allan's diary entry was:

June 18 [1916]: Left Harve (sic) at 12 noon for camp nearer firing line. Storey is knocked out of train by a horse in tunnel. Train stopped and six of us went back to pick him up. Terribly mangled, stopped another train and took the body back to Rouen.

June 19: Arrived Rouen at 2am. Handed body over to A.M.C. Our first casualty. Left Rouen to rejoin battery at 2:30pm.

The soldier he mentions was Bertie Storey, service number 2043. Bertie was a 21 year old unmarried dairy farmer from Victoria. According to Bertie's service records he was killed in an accident on a train, but doesn't mention how. It also details his injuries, which must have seemed strange for an accident on a train - fractured skull comminuted, fractured femurs, tibia, both legs and left foot. It makes much more sense when you understand he was knocked from the train. He was buried in Boisguillaume Cemetery in Rouen, France. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention this, just in case any of Bertie's relatives are ever searching for information on him and happen to come across this.

02 November 2011

A school workbook

My aunt has a few family treasures and Mum borrowed them from her recently - the war diary of Allan Wickham, my great great uncle, and a school workbook of Adolf Beringer's (below). I haven't finished reading the war diary yet, so I'll write about that soon.

Mum and I had no idea of the existence of the school workbook because my aunt had never mentioned it before. Adolf George Beringer, known as Jim, was my great grandfather. The workbook was from 1894 and 1895, when Jim was 11 and 12 years old, about a year before his mother Caroline committed suicide. Jim was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1883 and travelled here with his parents and older sister Matilda, when he was 1 year old. As Matilda died soon after they arrived in Australia, Jim was the eldest living child in the family. His youngest sister, Mary, was born in 1894. The family moved to a new subdivision of the Mildura Estate in Canterbury/Campsie probably sometime in 1895. Their new house in 18 Clissold Parade, Canterbury (now Campsie) was where Caroline died in May 1896. It is possible that once the family moved to Canterbury Jim no longer attended school, as most children attended school until they were 12 or 13. At the time the closest school to the Mildura Estate was at Croydon Park, about 4kms away.

In the workbook we see some of the work Jim was doing in class and for homework, aged 11 and 12. There are pages of poems, on history, geography, parsing, anatomy, arithmetic etc. They learnt about King Henry VIII and all his wives and some of his children, about the rivers of NSW, different classes of birds, etc.

It is interesting to note that the workbook starts in 1894 and carries on into 1895. Clearly the preciousness of paper and books meant that they didn't have today's comparatively frivolous practice of starting new books at the beginning of each school year. I expect that Jim would have practiced all his work on a slate first and then carefully copied it into his workbook. There are headings at the top of each page, in fancy gothic-style text. My assumption that all work was done in black ink was wrong - he also used red and blue ink as well. You can read a little more about school days in the time of Jim's workbook here.

I don't know which school Jim was attending when he worked on this workbook. I assume it was Newtown Superior Public School, for there is a page in the workbook where he has carefully written out his address: 7 Nottingham Terrace, Simmons St, Newtown. At the time Newtown Superior Public School was a very large local school - with over a thousand students enrolled - so it seems safe to assume Jim attended there.

The cover had come away from the pages of the workbook and I decided to carefully take the brown paper wrap-around cover off the book to see what was underneath. It was an exercise book called The Austral Exercise Book, with the same sort of arithmetic tables that you still find on the back of exercise books today. However, the surprise was that in the spaces on the front cover for Name, Address and School Adolf's details were not there, but instead his son Reg's. The name was Reg Beringer, Address: Balmoral, Liberty St, and School: Belmore South. So I doubt that this was the original cover, and also because, looking at it more closely, the staples of the book don't quite line up with the staple holes of the cover. It is curious that the younger book cover of Reg's has his father's brown paper wrapper on it.

Incidentally, I had always assumed that Jim was known as "Jim" because the name "Adolf" had negative connotations from World War 2. However, considering he was known as Jim at least from young adulthood (his school workbook gives his name as Adolf, but perhaps this was just because it was an official school workbook), and he died, aged 57, in 1940, this is highly unlikely, and it is more likely that he/his parents just chose an anglicised name for him to be known as in Australia.

01 November 2011

Thomas Macindoe, estate agent

Knowing that Thomas Macindoe placed a number of advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald in the year after they arrived in Australia, for the real estate business that he started up in Petersham, I decided to check whether he used to advertise in Glasgow as well.

It turns out that he advertised his real estate business in the Glasgow Herald very regularly from around the time of his marriage (1866) until just before he left for Australia in 1884. It would seem that he sold the business a few months before he emigrated (to a Mr Lauder?) because the name of the firm suddenly changed to "Thomas Macindoe and Lauder". But considering he advertised so solidly for many years in Glasgow, it makes me wonder if he stopped working after only about a year working here in Sydney - certainly he stopped advertising after 1885.

Interestingly, on a number of his children's birth records as well as his own marriage record he is noted as an accountant (and increasingly as a "house factor" i.e. estate agent as well). He seems to have slowly given up the accountancy and focused on the estate agency as time went on.

I also found a short article about Thomas Macindoe moving to Sydney:

PRESENTATION TO MR THOMAS MACINDOE - Yesterday afternoon Mr Thomas Macindoe, house and property agent, was presented with an illuminated address by a number of his friends on the occasion of his leaving Glasgow for Sydney, New South Wales. The presentation was made in the drawing room of the George Hotel, where cake and wine were served. Mr David Bannerman presided. In the address, which was beautifully illuminated, the subscribers recorded their high sense of Mr Macindoe's worth, and expressed their conviction that if he was spared, those qualities of perseverance and constant attention to business and to the interests of his clients, combined with integrity and promptitude in all his dealings, which had brought him success in Glasgow, would soon yield a similar result in his new sphere of work. They sincerely hoped that the main object which he had in view, viz., the benefit of his family's health, would be attained, and that there were in store for him many years of comfort and happiness. Glasgow Herald, 18 July 1884.

So they moved for the health benefits of living in Sydney. Was someone particularly unwell, or was it just that they wanted fresh air, wide open spaces and a new outlook on life? I do know that Thomas' wife, Ellen Paterson Macindoe became an alcoholic, but I'm not sure exactly when this became a problem. Perhaps it was for her benefit that they emigrated to Australia?