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

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OGS Region II Meeting Hosted by Oxford County Branch

On Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the Ontario Genealogical Society at the Region II meeting hosted by the Oxford County Branch of OGS.

There was a large crowd in attendance. The first speaker was Shirley Sturdevant, Vice President of OGS, sharing the latest news from the society. She gave us a pictorial tour of the office and introduced us to the people who help keep the OGS provincial office running.

My lecture was called “The Whys and Wherefores of Scottish Emigration.” The lecture looked at the reasons behind Scottish emigration and where they went throughout the world.

The ladies of St. David’s United Church in Woodstock provided a lovely lunch. After lunch the elections and business meeting for Region II were held.

James F.S. Thomson was the last speaker of the day and his lecture was “Coming in Waves: British and Irish Emigration to Canada.”

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and they were introduced to some new resources to research their own ancestor’s emigration to Canada.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

Library and Archives Canada Blog has a post announcing that “Lester Bowles Pearson Images Now on Flickr.” I remember Lester B. Pearson as Prime Minister. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his suggestion to the United Nations about a peacekeeping force to help prevent issues during the withdrawal of British, French and Egyptian forces from the Suez Canal. Pearson was Prime Minister during Canada’s Centennial celebrations and Expo ’67 in Montreal.

Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog wrote an “eBook Review – My Family History Toolbox, by Paul Larson.” This sounds like an interesting addition to the genealogist’s library.

Fiona Fitzsimons, of Eneclann, continues with her informative expert series on the blog with a post called “Griffith’s Valuation, the gateway to Irish research.”

The National Archives Blog has a post on the subject of biodiversity in the area surrounding The National Archives called “Swanning around…” I love these posts because it shows that the archives is not just an edifice where records are preserved, they preserve the area surrounding their building as well.

Cassmob of the Family history across the seas blog has a post called “Insights into Australia: a book list.” Here she provides a list of reading materials to help you understand your ancestor’s experiences living in Australia.

What were your favourite blog posts this past week?

Let me know in the comments below.

Other bloggers that write their own lists are:

Genea-Musings – Best of the Genea-Blogs

British & Irish Genealogy

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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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

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Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

The blog had a post called “The Popularity of Remembrance” which looks the many events that are being remembered this year and how the act of remembrance is conducted. Last week was the 95th anniversary of Vimy Ridge which represents Canada’s coming of age.

Come Here to Me! has a post called “Some foreign media coverage of key Civil War events.” This looks at the Irish Civil War. There is an image that shows people in the street picking up pieces of paper in Sackville Street (O’Connell Street now) after the explosion at the Four Courts (public record office).

Enniskerry Local History blog has a post called “A Letter to Henry Grattan: The life of labourers in 1796” which makes for very interesting reading. It provides a list of the average prices for provisions.

John D. Reid of the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog gave a wonderful review of my presentation “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project” which I presented at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa last Saturday.

Irish Genealogy News had two posts this week: “Was Dracula Irish?” and “Dracula was Irish – the genealogical evidence.” The first post talks about the centenary of the death of Bram Stoker who wrote Dracula. He was an Irish-born author. The second post provides evidence, discovered by FindMyPast Ireland, to suggest that the character of Dracula was Irish.

The FamilySearch TechTips blog had a post called “Using Pinterest for Genealogy.”

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter had a post called “Genealogy Tourism” which looks at the rising popularity of this type of tourism. If you would like to travel back to Ireland to do research you could decide to join our group “Touring the Research Trail in Dublin” in 2013. You can find out more about our trip here.

What were your favourite blog posts this past week?

Let me know in the comments below.

Other bloggers that write their own lists are:

Genea-Musings – Best of the Genea-Blogs

British & Irish Genealogy

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Mapping Dublin with a Twist

The Storymap website says “Storymap presents a charming vision of Dublin through its stories and storytellers.” You have a map of the city of Dublin with colourful circles that look like the voice boxes from cartoons.

As you put your cursor over the top a brief tag shows up giving you an idea of what you may find. When you click on the circle you get a brief description of the story, the storyteller and a video link of the storyteller sharing their story.

There are modern stories mixed in with historic stories. There is one connected to a student prank at Trinity College in 1734 that ends up in murder. There is another that looks at the Huguenot Cemetery in Dublin.

There is even a link telling the story of Dan Donnelly’s arm. This has a family connection to me as one of my Kelly collateral lines, Captain William Kelly, was said to have been Donnelly’s manager at one point.

Ireland is a nation with a strong history of storytelling and this is a wonderful 21st century way of keeping the tradition alive.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The Veterans Website for Victoria Australia

The state of Victoria in Australia has a website devoted to their war veterans called Victorian Veterans Virtual Museum.

The Victorian War Heritage Inventory is a database that “contains information and images of sites relating to Victoria’s war history.” They currently have over 2,000 records and it is an ongoing project.

Digital Stories – In Our Words is an ongoing project to collect stories of war veterans and civilians relating to wars in Korea, WW2 Europe, POW stories, Vietnam stories, Mediterranean and Middle East stories and Pacific and New Guinea. They present a small video presentation of the interview.

They are preparing to remember the centenary of the ANZAC in the First World War and have a page dedicated to the organization of events.

Victorian War Memorials looks at the different memorials to be found in Victoria and the States efforts to restore the memorials.

There is a section for teachers and students called Preserving Veterans Heritage.

The last section is called Victorian Unit Histories which is digitizing the histories of the 30 units that were raised in Victoria during the First World War. The searchable database is on the State Library of Victoria website.

If you have people from Victoria Australia who were involved in the military then this is a place to start your search for information.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

The blog had a post about the Registry of Deeds in Ireland. Fiona tells us what the Registry of Deeds is and who you may find recorded in the documents.

Along similar lines Eneclann had a post called “The Quagmire of Administrative Districts.” They provide a bit of history, definitions and how they will help you with your Irish research.

The National Library of Ireland blog had a post called “Improving access to the Lawrence Collection.” This is a collection of photographs held by the National Library. You can view some of them on the National Library website or at The NLI blog post provides a history of the collection, how it is catalogued and what you may find in the collection.

The Irish Story blog had a post called “The Irish Story archive on the Easter Rising” where they provide links to different stories relating to the 1916 Easter Rising.

The British GENES blog had a post called “RootsIreland protests continue.” It sounds like RootsIreland better start listening to their customers as this story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

The Scottish Military Research Group blog has a post called “Who was Captain Morley, late of the Light Brigade, U.S. Army and Ayrshire Yeomanry?” They are looking for information on the date of the poster found in the archives.

What were your favourite blog posts this past week?

Let me know in the comments below.

Other bloggers that write their own lists are:

Genea-Musings – Best of the Genea-Blogs

British & Irish Genealogy

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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366 Days of Genealogy – March

Once a day on the Blair Archival Research Facebook page a new post is shared. There is a theme for each month and March’s was Ireland. You will get bonus posts relating to the theme but only on the Blair Archival Research Facebook page these will not be posted on the monthly blog review.

March 1

Do you have Irish ancestors? Have you mapped out where they lived in Ireland? Check out my 366 Days of Family History posts for February 1-4 and create your maps.

March 2

A great book for mapping your Irish Ancestors is “A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland” by Brian Mitchell.

March 3

You must have a good gazetteer in your library. I use “Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland” which is dated 1851.

March 4

Two books that are invaluable to the Irish researcher are: “Irish Record Sources for Family and Local History” by James Ryan and “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” (all three editions) by John Grenham. John Grenham is about to release the fourth edition of “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors.”

March 5

Researching church records? Then I would recommend “Irish Church Records” by James G Ryan.

March 6

Are you just beginning your Irish research or have you been doing it for a while? Either way it is a good idea to attend conferences and lectures on the topic. If you can’t attend conferences then FamilySearch has an online learning centre with free webinars relating to Ireland.

March 7

Another great resource at FamilySearch is the Wiki. They have informative pages relating to Irish research on their Wiki. If there is a record group you are interested in learning more about you can find out more on the Wiki. There are pages that relate to counties, history and many others.

March 8

If you are not familiar with Irish history then it is a good idea to read up on the subject. The history of Ireland affected its record keeping and it is important to know how and when events happened.

Robert Kee has written “Ireland A History” and the three volume set called the Green Flag series. F.S.L. Lyons is the author of “Ireland Since the Famine” which will give you a good overview of the time period.

March 9

Read as much as possible about Ireland’s history, people and keep up to date with the availability of records. A good way to do this is to read blogs. I like The Irish Story blog for information on history. To keep up with record availability try the British & Irish Genealogy blog and Irish Genealogy News. Don’t forget to follow The Passionate Genealogist.

March 10

If your ancestors worked for a large estate in Ireland you may find them in the estate records. A good book on the subject is “The Big Houses and Landed Estates of Ireland” by Terrance Dooley.

March 11

H.V. Morton wrote a book called “In Search of Ireland” which was published in 1930. The book chronicles his first trip through Ireland. It is an interesting read.

March 12

Have you ever browsed the Eneclann website? They are a Dublin based company and they digitize records and items relating to Ireland. Some of their information can be found on Origins and FindMyPast Ireland. They have digitized journals such as The Irish Ancestor and The Irish Genealogist.

March 13

A useful book is “A Visitors’ Guide Irish Libraries Archives, Museums & Genealogical Centres” by Robert K. O’Neill. It lists institutions found in the 32 counties and provides information under the headings: contact information, hours, access and services, contact, description, holdings and location. You may find a small museum that can help you break down that brick wall.

March 14

Do you belong to a genealogical society in Ireland? I highly recommend joining one to help you keep up to date with new information and to learn more about researching in Ireland. You never know you might find a new cousin.

March 15

Are you looking for Irish maps? A good online source is Past Homes. They have a searchable database of Irish Townland maps that were surveyed between 1829 and 1843. They are in colour and show houses, churches, shops, woodlands and other things. It costs $25.00 US to subscribe for one year and then to download or order other forms of the maps costs extra.

March 16

A real treasure for the Irish researcher is Hayes Manuscript which has been available in large university libraries but is now online and searchable for free. The National Library of Ireland has put this publication online, including all the supplements. You can search by name, place and subject.

March 17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Do you have an ancestor who worked for Guinness? You can read more about the history of Guinness and their archives on their website. There is a section called genealogy where you can fill out a form to search their employee database. It is a transcription with basic details and provides descriptions of what your ancestor did for a living at Guinness.

March 18

Have you visited the Irish government website called Irish Genealogy? You can search transcriptions of parish registers for Dublin City, Carlow, Cork and Kerry. These records include Roman Catholic parish registers. They will soon be putting Roman Catholic records for County Monaghan (Diocese of Clogher) online.

March 19

The 1901 and 1911 Irish census records have been available since the 1960s. A few years ago the National Archives of Ireland, with the help of Library and Archives Canada, digitized and indexed the census records and put them online for free.

March 20

Have you ever visited the Library and Archives Canada website “The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf?” It provides online access to essays, music and a gallery relating to the “Irish-Canadian documentary heritage held by Library and Archives Canada.” They provide a list of published resources to help you with further research.

March 21

You can find more Irish-Canadian resources at Early Canadiana Online.

March 22

The IreAtlas Townland Database can help you find out more about the townland where your ancestors lived. It will provide you with the townland, what other name it might be known as, acreage, county, barony, civil parish, poor law union and province.

March 23

You can search Griffith’s Valuation online for free at Ask about Ireland.

March 24

The Registry of Deeds project is a work in progress. You can browse by many different categories to see if you can find information on your ancestors land holdings. Remember it is an ongoing project so if you don’t find something go back later. You can help by contributing to the project.

March 25

Findmypast Ireland has been in operation for about a year and they have many unique records on their website. They are a pay per view website. One year costs €59.95 and you can also purchase Pay as you go credits. The rumour is that some time this year you will be able to buy a world package from Findmypast similar to Ancestry.

March 26

Ireland Genealogical Project has been putting free information online. They are organized by county and provide links to many useful websites.

March 27

The Irish Genealogical Project Archives are listed by county and have listings of records available to search. These records are put online by volunteers so some might only have one record in the record source. It is still worth going in and seeing what you can find.

March 28

In the Irish Genealogical Project Archives there is a section called cemetery records. Here you will find a transcript of the monument inscriptions in the cemetery. These are still a work in progress. You can also find pictures of some of the grave stones under the title headstones.

March 29

Don’t forget to check out the Ireland GenWeb Project to see what new information they have.

March 30

Do you have Quakers in your Irish ancestry? Then check out Quakers in Ireland and learn more about their beliefs and their history in Ireland.

March 31

Are you planning a genealogical research trip to Ireland? Then my book “Planning a Genealogical Research Trip to Ireland: The Research Trail in Dublin” can help you prepare for your journey and provides some tips on using the repositories in Dublin. You can purchase a copy at the Genealogy Store. You can also sign up for my research trip to Ireland. There is only space for 7 and you can stop at Who Do You Think You Are? Live on the way to Dublin.

To get a new tip each day all you have to do is “Like” Blair Archival Research.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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