Sunday, May 27, 2018

52 Ancestors - Military

This week's theme in #52ancestorsin52weeks is Military (because it's Memorial Day in the US). Pretty sure I have no ancestors who fought in the American Civil War, so this week I'm going to explore my Step-Grandfather Wilfred "Bill" Norman Saunders, who fought for Australia in World War II.

Bill was born in Bingara on 16 December 1911 to Walter George Saunders and Ivy Pearl Harris.


He had 3 sisters and 5 brothers and grew up in Bingara and lived there until at least 1936 (from the Electoral Rolls).

He enlisted in the Australian Army on 29 May 1940 age 28. He was listed as being single and was sent as part of the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion, which was comprised of men mostly from New South Wales.



In June 1940, the battalion went to the army camp at Greta, then Dubbo. At the end of September, it joined a convoy to the Middle East, reaching the Suez on 2 November. They travelled by train to Palestine.

2/1st Battalion on parade in Palestine
In January 1941, they moved to Tobruk, where they helped restore the port, repair roads, and reclaim engineering material. For the next five months, the Battalion helped defend the "fortress" by manning various posts and fighting as infantry. In May it was involved in fighting in the Salient, with 37 men killed in action and seven mortally wounded. Nine became prisoners of war while another 68 were wounded. The Battalion was evacuated from Tobruk in September 1941.

After a time in Palestine, the Battalion left the Middle East in early March 1942 and returned to Australia, to conduct engineering tasks in Brisbane At the end of August 1942, the Battalion went to Papua, arriving on 5 September.

After two days in Port Moresby, A, B and C Companies moved to the base of the Kokoda Trail and up the track through Uberi to Ioribaiwa. The Battalion patrolled and manned defensive positions along the Imita Ridge. It also helped the 14th Field Regiment move their 25-pounder guns up the track to the foot of Imita Ridge.

Moving 25-pounder guns


In November 1942, they moved to 9-mile Quarry and for the next seven months, they worked as miners and labourers to produce crushed metal used to surface airfields and roads.

9 Mile Quarry

Bill was promoted to Corporal on 10 April 1943 and the Batallion returned to Australia in October 1943 for leave. They spent time on the Atherton Tablelands doing Infantry training.



Perhaps during this time, he met my Grandmother, Martha Pearl Martin, because they were married on 9 February 1944 (she was divorced from my Grandfather, George Arthur Hardwick on 11 January 1943).



Also at some stage, they had a child, William, born in 1944, who sadly was stillborn. They never had another child, and my mother only found out about this after their deaths.

Towards the end of the war, operations aimed to reoccupy areas of the Netherlands East Indies, and the 2/1st came ashore at Balikpapan, Borneo on 1 July, the first day of the battle. They consolidated the beachhead and then defended Balikpapan Harbour. Bill was injured at some stage during this battle and this artist sketch is found in the Australian War Memorial archives.



Japan surrendered on 15 August and the war ended. The men was discharged or transferred. Bill embarked Balikpapan on 11 October 1945 and was discharged from the Army on 9 April 1946.

My Great-Grandmother Elizabeth Jennings, my Mum, Pearl (Martha) Martin, and Bill

Bill and Pearl lived in Sefton, in southwestern Sydney until their retirement, where they lived in Gorokan on the Central Coast then back to Bingara.

My Aunty Yvonne, my Dad Terry, my Mum, Bill and Pearl on Mum and Dad's houseboat, the Cooma

Bill was always my "Poppy". I never knew my biological grandfather, George Hardwick, but Poppy was always there. He was the kindest, gentlest man, who had a lovely collection of ditties at the ready ("I like bananas, because they have no bones").

Sunday, May 20, 2018

52 Ancestors - Another Language

This week's theme in #52ancestorsin52weeks is Another Language.

My paternal great-grandmother Cecelia Morley was born in County Mayo, Ireland; my paternal great-grandfather Charles Parsons was born in Papanui, New Zealand, but his father was from Dorset England. Susannah Freeman (paternal), Fred Martin (maternal) and Elizabeth Jennings (maternal) were all born in the Tamworth area in Australia. Arthur Hardwick and Emma Morton were both born in Manly, Sydney. So all very Australian/Irish/English and certainly all English-speaking.

There is one exception to the English-speaking great-grandparents is my father's father's father - Gaspar Sedgwick.



Gaspar is variously recorded as "Gasper", "Jasper" and "Jaspar" - goes to show how they rarely wrote their own name and the person recording it just wrote down what they thought they heard.

Gaspar married in Australia twice. The first time was in 1882 to Catherine (Kate) Morley (or Marley, depending on the document), when he was 27.



The certificate lists Gasper Segwick as being as Seaman from Austria, his parents were Jacob and Mary Sedgwick and Jacob was a Shipwright.

My mum has this photo - we are assuming it's Gaspar on a ship. It's undated.

After having 8 children, Kate died in 1894. He then married her sister Cecelia, who came out from Ireland with her brothers, sponsored by Kate, in 1896. Apparently, they needed special permission from the Catholic Church to get married, but we haven't been able to get any records of that (yet). By then, he was working as a fireman.


Ann Cecelia (Celie), Gasper and Cecelia Sedgwick

For years, I assumed that he was born in current-day Austria and I imagined myself as having Sound of Music genetics and swirling around the snow-capped mountains singing Edelweiss! 

Gaspar was naturalised in 1900 and the certificate also states he was from Austria, and that he came out on the Lady Belmore in 1874 when he was 25.


I have searched extensively, but have been unable to find a record of a Gaspar Sedgwick (or anything remotely close) coming out in 1874 or in any year on the Lady Belmore.

Now, a Sedgwick relative was able to find out that he was from Cherso, Austria, which turns out to be the Italian pronounciation of Cres, an island in Croatia (and there goes my dreams of the hills being alive).


It was known as Istria at the time and actually was ruled by Austria, but has also been in French, Italian and Yugoslav rule. In the 1850s, many Croatians came to Australia as seaman, but jumped ship for the goldfields of Victoria. They were recorded as being "Austrian" because it was part of the Habsburg empire. I still haven't been able to find a record of him arriving in Australia, but I will keep trying!

My brother took this photo of Cres when he visited in 2007
But this information makes searching further back a bit easier! Because the Croatian church records have been digitised and you can search through them. You can't "search" them, because they haven't been indexed, but you can read through them, page by page. Which brings us to "another language" because at first, they are in Latin, then as you go further back, they are in Italian. Fun times for this family researcher, because I can read neither! But - there is Google translate! What did we do before the internet? I would have to travel to Croatia (wouldn't that be a shame)

Estimating his birth date of being 27 in 1882, brings us to 1855, his parents were Jacob and Mary and I guessed that he was Catholic from his marriages as well. So I started reading pages of records and finally found this:


Gasparus Aloysius Sigovich was born on 24 February, 1855 to Jacobus Sigovich and Maria Bolmarcich in Cres, Croatia. Aloysius is a Latinised name for Leo or Louis and Gasper and Kate's son Gasper Leo, reflects this.

I was then able to work back and find Jacobus and Maria's marriage on 24 November, 1844:


Jacob is listed as being a "navium magister" which translates to Master Navigator, so the seafaring tradition is quite strong. We are also able to find their parents on this record - Joannes Sigovich and Jacoba Duncova, and Antonius Bolmarcich and Andreana Coglievina.

I have been able to find Antonio and Andreana's marriage record - we are now back to 21 October 1812! The records aren't as neat and easy to decipher:


I had to call in the big guns for this one! There is a fabulous Facebook group that translates documents from other languages. This one came back as:

"21 October 1812 After 3 wedding proclamations prescribed by the Holy Council of Trento, first at 1st October, 2nd at 8th October, 3rd at 15 October and having discovered no impediments, D.Francesco Mons. with my license D.Giuseppe Bolmarcich has interrogated Andrea Coglievina son of the deceased Mattia and Antonia daughter of the living Bolmarcich son of Antonio, living in this town and having obtained their consent I married them according to the rites of the Holy Catholic Roman Church"

So, I am able to trace back our "Sedgwick" part of the family tree to Croatia in the early 1800s. It will take quite a bit of reading through Italian parts of Croatian church records to go further back, but when I have a spare few hours, I will keep going.

So, I'm not really a Sedgwick, I'm a Sigovich from Cres, Croatia (and also a Morleys from Ireland, Parsons from England, the Freemans from probably England or Ireland, the Hardwicks from England, the Mortons from Scotland, the Martins from England, and the Jennings from England).

We think Gaspar probably anglicised his surname to better fit in his new country and maybe to be much more acceptable to the Morley family as he married their daughter. Imagine coming from a Mediterranean island to Australia, learning a new language, gaining new employment and almost re-creating your identity. 

I find myself actually quite fascinated by Gaspar more than any of the other grandparents, maybe because it is all so foreign. One day I hope I can post more about that branch of the family tree (in fact, Cres has been inhabited since paleo-lithic times, so maybe I do have a lot of work to do!). My DNA results say I'm 10% European East, so it will be interesting to go further back.



Sunday, May 13, 2018

52 Ancestors - Mothers

The theme this week for #52ancestors in 52 weeks is Mothers, so I am going to show you my maternal direct line as far back as I can. Maternal lines can be a bit difficult to research because they gave up their maiden when they got married and often that isn't recorded on things like birth certificates of children. Anyway, here is what have found so far.

This is me, Ingrid Elizabeth Sedgwick, born 7 July 1969 in Camperdown, NSW, Australia. I married Andrew McCarthy in 1995 and we have two children.



This is my mum, Heather Jeannine Hardwick, born 1 July 1939, in Manly, NSW. She married Terence (Terry) Sedgwick in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, in 1963. They had three children.



This is her mum, my grandmother, Martha Pearl Martin (known as Pearl), born 7 June 1917, in Tingha, NSW. She married George Hardwick in 1938 when she was 21 and they divorced in 1943. She then married Bill Saunders in 1944, who I always knew as my "poppy". They had a little boy who died at birth. She died on 16 December 1991 in Bingara. 



This is her mum, my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Jane Jennings (whom I'm named after), born 21 September 1896, in Bingara, NSW. She married Fred Martin in 1913 and had four children. She died 3 May 1969 (a couple of months before I was born) in Sefton in Sydney, NSW.

Heather, Pearl and Elizabeth

Her mother, my great-great-grandmother, was Mary Ann Pegler, born in 1867 in Bingara. She married Edward Morris in 1885 and had two children with him before he died and then she married John Jennings in 1896 and had a further three children with him. She died 15 July 1944 also in Bingara. She is the first generation I don't have a photo for.

(As an aside, and a little twist to the tale, I do have a photo of her Aunt was also Mary Ann Peglar (born 1857 in Warialda, near Bingara) who married George Nay who then married Mary Melba Martin, who was Elizabeth Jennings daughter and Martha Pearl's sister. Just to confuse you - you can imagine my confusion trying to work out THAT bit of the tree!).

Mary Ann Peglar and George Nay

Anyway, Mary Ann Pegler's (my great-great grandmother, not my great great great aunt), mother, my 3rd great-grandmother, was Sarah Freeman, born 12 February 1832, in Painswick in Gloucestershire, England. She married David Pegler in 1852 and had eight children. She came to Australia on 4 October 1859 on the Caribou. She died on 2 September 1902 in Bingara. 

(Another side note - I'm almost sure that she may be related to the Freemans on my dad's side of the family, but that's another post and research for another day!)

Her mother, my 4th great-grandmother, was Sarah Warner, born on 2 January 1790, in Hilcote, Gloucestershire, England. She married Joseph Freeman in 1815 and had 12 children! She died (probably of exhaustion) in July 1851 in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England.

And then her mother, my 5th great-grandmother, was Sarah. That's all I know about her and brings us to my (current) dead-end on that branch of the family tree.

A strong line of mothers and from the photographic evidence, quite a bit of genetic resemblance! Happy Mother's Day!




Sunday, May 06, 2018

52 Ancestors - Close Up

This week's theme for #52ancestors in 52 Weeks is "Close Up." No-one lived close or lives close to Canberra. So I went with a portrait of an ancestor - mum and dad had a bunch of old photos and I'm slowly going through and scanning them and uploading to my family tree. I did this one this week.


John (Johnny) Patrick Callinan was my first cousin, once removed. 

(On a side note - do you get confused with all this first, second cousin, once, twice removed? Sounds like an auction! Well, so did/do I - so maybe this diagram will help you and me figure it out):



So Johnny was my Great Aunt's firstborn son. Aunty Hazel was the youngest sister of my paternal Grandmother. There is a whole other story to her, but I'm saving that up for later.

Johnny was born on 18 April 1927 to Hazel and John Michael Callinan, who of course, was known as "Jack". 

When he was 17, he was mobilised for service by proclamation to the Royal Australian Navy Reserve on 28 September 1944. He reported for duty as a Supply Probationer II and was allocated to HMAS Cerebus, a navy training establishment at Melbourne, before posted on the HMAS Glenelg on 2 February 1945. 

According to Navy records, the HMAS Glenelg departed Sydney for Manus on 16 March 1945 where she escorted the Morotai and Biak convoys. In April, she escorted a convoy to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and spent some time in the Borneo area. On August 12, three days before hostilities ended, the Glenelg entered Darwin Harbour. 

HMAS Glenelg (credit: Allan C Green, State Library of Australia)
On 14 February 1946, Johnny got sent to HMAS Penguin in Sydney, until he was demobilised on 19 September 1946.

Having survived the War, Johnny was visiting his girlfriend on his motorbike on 21 November 1948 at Kirrawee, in southern Sydney, when he was in an accident and was killed. He was just 21 years old.



Such beautiful portrait, such a young life ended too soon.















52 Ancestors - Unusual Name

In this week's post, we have been asked to look behind an "unusual name" and I've chosen my great-aunt's husband, Fred...