September 2013

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Last night was the premiere episode of the US version of the “Genealogy Roadshow.” This is a program that originated in Ireland on RTÉ. The format follows that of the “Antiques Roadshow” a long time BBC production. You can certainly see that format with the presenter and the enquirer at the same table and the crowd surrounding them listening to the evaluation. The crowd around the table provides an extra component to the proceedings as they react to what they are hearing and seeing. The new element is the screen and digital images.

I am a huge fan of the “Antiques Roadshow” and the “Genealogy Roadshow” didn’t disappoint. It would have been nice if we could have found out a little more about some of the documents. I would like to have learned more about who wrote the Austin Peay letter, why it was written and where it came from. The presentation of some of the documents on screen was so fast you could hardly read them.

This show was all about the family stories of everyday people. This is something that a lot of viewers have been looking for according to comments I have heard about the program “Who Do You Think You Are?” and its use of celebrities. What we need to remember is they are only celebrities because they are in the public eye and we are aware of what they do for a living. If they were teachers or firefighters their story would be the same and it would be considered the story of an everyday person.

The main difference for me between the two programs is that you get more of a history lesson on “Who Do You Think You Are?” than you do on “Genealogy Roadshow.” “Who Do You Think You Are?” is all about the story. On “Genealogy Roadshow” they are proving or disproving a family story or they may prove that it is actually a little different than the family thought.

“Genealogy Roadshow” is a fast paced production which fits in with the instant need to know, get the story and move on of most of today’s viewers. As researchers we know this isn’t the way researching your family history works. If it gets more people interested in their family history, in particular young people, then I’m all for it.

How many of us actually knew what we were in for when we first started researching our family history? As researchers we follow good research practices but that is not going to be shown on genealogy based programs. The research is the behind the scenes hard work that makes the program come to life. What I love most about family history based programing is the story. These programs present the stories found in the history of a family.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Mark Anthony Toomey was born in Dublin in 1844 to Mark Toomey and Jane Kelly. He married Julia Adelaide Bourne in 1868 at St. Peter’s church in Dublin. She was from a respected legal family. When his daughter was born in 1875 he was a wine merchant.

Mark Anthony was very active in Freemasonry and was initiated in Commercial Lodge No. 245 in 1871 in Dublin. In 1878 he was installed as Worshipful Master of this Lodge. He was also a Life Governor of both the male and female Masonic Orphan Schools in Ireland.

There were six children in the family: Mark born 1869 and died in 1871; Louisa Alice born 1871; Mark born 1873; Jane born 1875; Walter Bourne born 1878 and Richard Fenton born 1880. The children were all born in Dublin.

Mark Anthony Toomey got into what was described as “financial trouble” over a debt he had guaranteed and could not pay. This was an offence you could go to prison for and two of his Bourne brother in laws suggested he went to Australia. According to family lore he left for Sydney in 1883. There is a letter dated 2 March 1880 that suggests it may have been closer to 1880. If this is the case then the reason Julia and family did not go with him at the time could have been because she was carrying their son Richard.

When Mark Anthony arrived in Sydney he hired a Chinese girl to look after the house and then Julia and family joined him.

Julia and the children joined Mark Anthony in 1890. They left London on 5 February 1890 and arrived in Sydney on 27 March 1890. They were on the Coromandel which originated in Greenock Scotland. Julia could not settle in Australia and did not like the Chinese help so she went back to Dublin. She left her son Mark behind. Julia wanted to leave Jane in Australia because Jane wanted to stay but Mark Anthony said no girls.

Walter Bourne Toomey returned to Australia via Canada. He arrived in Montreal in 1907 and arrived in Sydney in 1909. It is believed that Richard returned to Australia in 1911. The female lines were the only ones to remain in Ireland.

On arrival in New South Wales Mark Anthony joined the Freemasons. In 1885 he helped to form Lodge Hiram No. 41 and was elected Secretary. In 1887 he was made Grand Secretary and also held the position of Deputy Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales. He was a member of the Leinster Marine Royal Arch Chapter No. 266.

Mark Anthony Toomey died in Sydney on 29 March 1916. He died at the home of his son Mark Toomey at Rubyville, Church Street, Chatswood. The funeral was at the Church of England Cemetery Gore Hill.

Julia lived in the home of her daughter Jane and her family. She retired to her bed to die when she was 60 and did not die until she was 91. She died in 1932 in Rathmines Co. Dublin.

Julia Adelaide Bourne Toomey is buried in St. Nahi’s Cemetery in Dundrum Co. Dublin. The headstone reads: In Loving Memory of our parents Mark Toomey who died 21st March 1916 aged 72 and his wife Julia Adalaide (daughter of the late Walter Bourne of Taney House in this Parish) who died 9th April 1932 aged 91 “Peace Perfect Peace”with loved ones far away. This must have been put up by their daughter’s as the sons were all in Australia at this time. Mark Anthony Toomey is actually buried in Sydney Australia.

Mark Anthony and Julia Adelaide only lived together for about 14 years. They spent more than double that living apart from each other. If Julia had not returned to Ireland then I might not be here writing their story.

© 2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Here are my favourite blog posts from the last few weeks.

The Archives Blog had a post called “Use Your Ancestor’s Social History to Your Advantage.” To understand the life of your ancestor you need to understand the times in which they lived. This is where understanding the various forms of social history can be helpful.

The Genealogy Canada blog has a post entitled “Some land records are being digitized.” This is good news and is part of the Canadiana.org Heritage Project. One of the first projects is the “Heir and Devisee Commission of the Upper Canada (Ontario) Land Records.” You can access an index to the Second Heir and Devisee records on the Archives of Ontario website.

The National Library of Ireland blog has a post called “Looking after your Family Archives – prevention is better than cure…” This post provides some very useful information on preserving the paper in your family archives.

The Ontario Genealogical Society blog has a post called “Profile: Current OGS Projects: Cemeteries” which looks at the cemetery project being done by the OGS and its branches over the last 30 years. There are links here to help you access the information.

The Ancestry Insider blog has a post entitled “Lessons Learned from WDYTYA at #FGS2013” This post is about the FGS breakfast hosted by Ancestry.com on Saturday morning. It looks at how the program “Who Do You Think You Are?” can be used to help engage people in family history. It is very interesting reading.

John Grenham’s Irish Times post called “The Cowboy and the Farmer should be friends” first made me think of the Rodgers and Hammerstein production of Oklahoma. But reading further it should read “The Historian and the Genealogist should be friends” and how the availability of records may help.

The Genealogy Insider has a post entitled “PBS Series “Genealogy Roadshow” Explores Roots of Everyday Americans.” This post provides more information on the upcoming show and a short clip. I am glad that PBS picked up this RTÉ program. They are already in their second season.

Irish Genealogy News has a post called “Guide to Genealogy Resources in Donegal.” You can download the 32 page booklet by following the link in their post.

Anglo-Celtic Connection has a post called “LAC’s 2007 blunder.” Is there any way of protecting our history from LAC?

The National Archives blog has a post entitled “The gloves are off” where they say that in some cases wearing the white cotton gloves can damage documents.

The Olive Tree Genealogy blog has a post called “All Our Relations on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.” This is a new family history series being shown in Canada.

What were your favourite blog posts? Let me know in the comments below.

Other bloggers that write their own lists are:

Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog

Genealogy Insider – Genealogy News Corral

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved