150 yrs ago one set of my ancestors eloped from Ireland to become Pioneers at Oxley Victoria (near Wangaratta). I’ve spent countless hours over the past 7 years attempting to trace their story, including visiting Ireland. This resulted in a mini-family reunion at Oxley on this past weekend, where we swapped stories, met cousins we didn’t know we had and visited places our grandparents and their parents (and in some cases, their parents and grandparents!) had lived and worked. Needless to say these events don’t just happen, it does help that I’ve felt the need to reconnect this family for years, but it has taken a lot of last minute time also – hence no blog here for the past week 🙂
I feel it’s a symptom of our increased frenetic lifestyle, but for the first 100 years in Australia this family were close. They visited each other, supported each other when sick or aged, knew each other’s children, celebrated their achievements and milestones…..and then over a decade it eased off, until the older generation had passed on. Consequently in the last 40 years there has been absolutely no contact between any of the branches – and this is a family that didn’t have dozens of children. There were 8 children born to the original Irish couple, and 22 grandchildren, but only 20 great-grandchildren.
I saw this as a chance to re-connect all the branches of the original 8 children – although one child died as a 3 yr old, another had no children, and another had no grandchildren, so only 5 branches to track….and I succeeded….except for one….still can’t find the current descendants of brothers Jeffrey and Kevin Martin from Belmore, NSW – born in the 1940s. That bugs me, that there’s still one I haven’t made contact with….but on the bright side we have now shared information between the other 4 families: Tom’s, Annie’s, Kate’s, and Maggie’s.
Annie is my great-great grandmother, I think she’s what would have been termed ‘a handsome woman’, an extremely strong willed and hard working woman that had a very difficult life at times – but I believe it’s wonderful family support that makes the difference to how well we get through life, and Annie had that. I’m glad she passed that on.