Thursday, 30 April 2015

Z is for Zoo

I love visiting the zoo. I would really rather see the animals in the wild but sometimes that is just not possible.
Obviously my dad liked the zoo too as here he is in about 1930 at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The story is he was sitting at the back and hit the elephant but the elephant reacted and hit him with its trunk. I can imagine him doing this as he was always a bit of a tease.
In 2011 elephants at the Taronga Zoo as I saw them. Don't you love the little ones. They were so cute.
As I really like elephants I did go to
Africa to see them in the wild in 1978. This one was in Amboseli National Park Kenya-no zoo for this one.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Y is for yesterday

How often have you heard "I wish I asked them yesterday"?  Often we think we will ask them but leave it too long and then they are gone. You wish you had asked them about the family or the photos that are unlabelled. Now it is too late.
Don't leave it so you are saying " I wish I asked them yesterday"

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

X marks the spot where Lionel Edgar Laws was born on February 12 1868.

This was an email sent by Helen Butler to many Laws descendants on 2 September 2010 and she has kindly given me permission to publish it here. 

LONDON to BRISBANE in 141 days non-stop.   
 On Christmas day 1867 William and Sarah Laws and 3 of their children left England for Australia in the immigrant ship “Bayswater”.   The eldest son William Camper Laws was left in the care of Sarah’s parents.  
They left from central London, probably from St Katherine’s Dock.  The small steam tug would take them to Gravesend, 50 kilometres  down the Thames along all its curves and bends . At the first bend  they pass Wapping and Shadwell where  William was born and grew up, but had probably not seen for many years.  There would be much to see on both sides of the river.  Only one of them would  ever see these things again.  Only Lily would return.
The Laws family paid their fares and travelled Steerage, the cheapest berths, conserving their funds  So they had no cabin, only dormitory accommodation with double-decker single bunks in one area with many others. William was 38 years old, Sarah was 32,  Florence 7, Lilian 6, and Ernest 3. And Sarah was very pregnant.
It was to be over four and a half months before they ended their voyage on the other side  of the world, where they would sail up  another river along all its curves and bends, 30 kilometres to the centre of another city – Brisbane.


This map is taken from Don Charlwood’s book, “The Long Farewell – Settlers Under Sail .”  It  tells the story of  immigration to the Australian colonies through the nineteenth century. There was the Old Admiralty Route which looked shorter, but was not shorter and there was the new Great Circle Route which used winds and currents to more advantage, and was much faster. Many of the Clipper ships were coming to Australia in 70 days and less, using this route. The ‘Bayswater’ used a composite route, going a fair way south to catch the Roaring Forties for the easting.  But it still took 115 days actual sailing time on the open sea. Only after the Suez Canal was opened in the next year 1869, could steamships travel to Australia and compete with the Clipper  Ships in speed and with more comfort and more safety.
The red line shows approximately the course of the ‘BAYSWATER” in 1868, sketched from eight positions noted in the report of the voyage printed in the Brisbane Courier  on Thursday 30 April 1868 Also using the exact position of the boat when the baby Lionel  was born.

 “Lloyd’s Register of British & Foreign Shipping” for 1870/71 records the “Bayswater’ was a SHIP of 1256 tons with 3 decks.  Its length was 168.6 feet,  breadth 37.6 feet,  and depth 21.7 feet.  It was built in New York in 1847.  It is denoted as a SHIP, so it is a sailing vessel, not a steamer.
The book “Log of Logs” has some further information. The “Bayswater is denoted as a fully rigged sailing ship—with 3 masts and all the sails and not assisted by steam power. This ship was bought by the Black Ball Line shortly before its first voyage to Queensland in 1864,  when it was renamed  “Bayswater”  In 1864 it brought 281 immigrants to Keppel Bay ,Rockhampton.  In1866, Bayswater brought a  similar large number to Rockhampton. In 1868 it made its third and last voyage to Queensland but this time to Brisbane and with only  58 immigrants.
No picture of the ship has been found.  It is very likely there is no surviving picture.

   The Queensland government had many different schemes to attract immigrants.  So there was much official paperwork about the people,   the boats they came on, the related land orders, etc.       These  papers are now in the Queensland State Archives, if surviving, and also  many on microfilm in libraries. The QSA has the 1868` Bayswater ‘s list of all passengers by name, and the medical officer’s report.
There they are – William and Sarah Laws with Florence, Lily, Ernest ,and now the infant Lionel.

 The log goes with the boat and the Captain, so it is lucky to survive til now .  The Greenwich Maritime museum has the “Bayswater” log for the 1864 voyage and all the weekly newspapers printed on board.[ John Oxley Library Brisbane has Numbers 1 to 16 of these }
 Unfortunately, there is nothing  for the 1866 or 1868 voyages.  So there is nothing to tell us the daily detail of their journey.

Monday, 27 April 2015

W is for waiting

Well today we are waiting-waiting for the train, waiting for the bus, waiting for the rain. Of course genealogists are always waiting for certificates to arrive by post and waiting for more records to be indexed. Then they wait for them to be digitized and then wait for them to be uploaded to web.
Now I'm sorry but you will have to wait for the real W post as I've been called away. X Y & Z are scheduled but unfortunately the topic I had planned is not ready yet for scheduling.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

V for Veteran:Clues from Lorna Bessie Laws's diary for a soldier in World War 1

April 25 in Australia is ANZAC Day. We remember all our fallen soldiers not just the ones from the battle at Gallipoli where the word ANZAC originated.  So today I thought it fitting to write about a veteran who survived World War One.
After Lionel Edward Laws and Lorna Bessie Holmes married on October 22 1919 they set off on a 5 week honeymoon. Bessie kept a diary and it has survived. It was one of the pocket type with 4 lines to a day so you don't get much information for each day.

 However I was looking through it a few weeks ago and found this.

I hadn't noticed before that the last entry for Tuesday was "Meet N McKerihan from early "letters". I had no idea who this person was as we did not have this name in the family tree. As I had just seen one of the army issue postcards from Richard William Laws I thought that maybe N McKerihan had been in World War 1 too and that he had sent one of those army postcards like this one.

He was in the army. He enlisted in Toowomba on October 13 1915 and embarked on the HMAT Wandilla  at Brisbane on 31 January 1916 and I now had found he was Norman McKerihan.(1)
When I visited my mother I asked if she knew how he was connected to her father. She directed me to the photo of the Boomerang Rugby Team photo, 1913 and there he was in the team with L E Laws and R W Laws and others.
OK I now knew he was in the Rugby Team in Warwick and I knew what he looked like.
From his Army record I discovered he was wounded and returned to Australia.(2)
From the Australian Electoral Rolls (3) I found him living in Sydney and from Public Service records(4) I found him living and working in Sydney.
Now that wasn't enough for me. I knew I had a postcard of the pyramid dated March 28 1916 sent to my grandfather Lionel Edward Laws from Egypt.

I had never been able to put a name to the sender so I read it again. It was signed "your sincere cobber Mac". Now I think I've found the sender-Norman McKerihan.
Out came my trusty Magnabrite to read the tiny writing. Yes he had travelled on the Wandilla. he describes going visiting the Mohammed Ali mosque and the Citadel in Cairo from where they were stationed at Heliopolis. Here he was sightseeing and sending a tourist postcard-amazing. I wonder how that got past the Army censors.

On this day we also remember Richard William Laws (1895-1918), Lionel's brother who died in France on 23 August 1918 and is buried in France.

Friday, 24 April 2015

U is for Unknowns

Don't you just love it when you can't find a mother for the child because the christening record only gives the father's name. Who had the baby?  A woman did of course but she's not even given a mention.
Then there are the ones where the father is unknown. Well there had to be a father but obviously he doesn't want to admit to being the father or the mother doesn't want him to have anything to do with the baby.
Sometimes in the UK National Archives you can find the father's name if the parish was wanting to have him pay maintenance. Look for bastardy papers.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

T is for Trains(and bridges)

Building a railway bridge North Queensland

Lionel Edgar Laws( x) Railway bridge gang North Queensland
How do trains get across a river? They have to have a bridge. So Lionel Edgar Laws (1868-1945) sub-contracted to build  railway bridges at the beginning of the 20th Century. The railway system was progressing north along the east coast of Queensland. The family shifted to Gladstone while he was working on the bridge over the Raglan river.
Lionel (1893-1981) and Richard(1895-1918) enrolled in the Gladstone School on 21 January 1902. Lily enrolled on 23 March 1903 and Jessie enrolled on 21 March 1904.
In the 20 November  1903 edition there was an article in the Morning Bulletin  Rockhampton listing donations to the Rockhampton General Hospital appeal. The Lionel Laws bridge gang gave 1 pound 11 shillings.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

S is for Shearmur Album part 6

My Shearmur family came from Wotton under Edge in Gloucestershire. Georgina, my great great grandmother came to Australia in 1864. She has left a photo album that has been handed down in the family to one of my cousins. Unfortunately there are no names , dates or places on the photos. I have put some on previous blogs ( but here is another.

The photographer for this one was Zephaniah Dodson and he had a business in High St Swindon in the 1870's(1)   In the immediate family of Georgina's I cannot find a matching sibling with a son in this time. So who are they? I might just have to admire the photo.

This one was taken in London by H Turner who had a business in Poplar London from 1871 to 1874( different dating on back of photo) (2) but this photographer was at Bedford Place Commercial Rd E. Poplar from 1871 to 1874.  She doesn't appear to be wearing a wedding ring. Is this Elizabeth Margaret Shearmur youngest sister of Georgina?  Did she visit her sister Arlette Bodnum in London and have this photo taken?
There  are always more questions for me and no answers. Does  anyone know any Shearmurs?



Tuesday, 21 April 2015

R is for roads

LE Laws road gang on the Darling Downs. Truck on the right is 1925 Republic with the first tipping body made on the Darling Downs, the one behind it is about 1927 Chev and the one behind looks like a 1928 Chev, on the left the first one I'm not sure what it is but the one at the back looks like another Chev.
Lionel Edward Laws on the job

 My grandfather Lionel Edward Laws (Pa)was a road contractor in the Darling Downs area of Queensland.
It must have been a hard life for my grandmother Lorna Bessie to have 10 children, lose one but bring up 9 children while her husband was away on road construction jobs. As well as her own children she sometimes had other relatives to look after too.

Now that Australian Newspapers are being digitised on Trove it has been interesting to see what tenders he won and lost.

This one intrigued me as it almost looks like collusion.
16 May 1914 Warwick

The following tenders were received by the Engineer of the Glengallan, Shire Council for clearing and repairs to the road between Margett's place and Willowvale State School, a distance of about six miles :-J. Reibelt, £48 4s. ; T. C. Eather, £47 19s. 6d. ; L. E. Laws, £47 19s. There is only a difference of 5s. between the highest and lower tenderer.(1)  ( L E Laws was actually father & son)

10 December 1925

At the meeting of the Glengallon Shire Council a letter was received from Mr.L.E Laws junr.,   stating that the recent increase of   8/- per week in the basic wage, which was made .retrospectively to September 28, had increased the cost of labor on his road making contract by £220. As this additional expense could not be foreseen when he tendered for the work, he asked for an  allowance in the contract price to meet it.      
The chairman explained that when the tender was let and the contract was being drawn up, Mr Laws had asked for the insertion of a clause providing for such a contingency, but this the Main Roads Commission  would not agree to. Mr.Laws had  then signed the contract,and gone on with the work.Now that the increase had taken place, the contractor was suffering a hardship,which he thought it was the Council's duty  to relieve if possible. The Council had no power to do anything itself but representation could be made to  the Main Roads Commission   After a good deal of discussion it  was decided on the motion of Crs. Brewer and Gamask, to ask the Commission to reimburse the contractor  for his loss without additional expense to the Council.(2)

Another  interesting piece 18 September 1926

The new road from Killarney to the New South Wales border is now nearing completion, and, in fact, has been passed by the Main Roads Board, but it is not considered advisable yet to throw it open. The Killarney-Border road is historic; it is the first start of the Main Roads Board work in Queensland. It is also the jumping-off point of a system which is designed to be far-reaching. In time to come the border of the southern State will be connected with Warwick by a track possessing facilities in vivid contrast to the almost impossible conditions now existent. Recently, this new stretch of road had its finishing touch put on so far as the original scheme is concerned, and the work of the contractor (Mr. L. E. Laws), under the supervision of Mr. L. B. S. Reid (engineer for Glengallan Shire Council), was handed over to the Board. As a tourist route the new road presents many attractions. The grade is easy—1 in 20—and as the track winds in a series of curves, the outlook is one of the most beautiful. There are 15 curves, two of which are complete semicircles. This road may be the start of a system that will connect Killarney to Warwick, and may yet reach out via Womina, Glengallan, Allora, Toowoomba, to Brisbane. It is certainly a very important work, as far as the Glengallan Shire is concerned.(3)

The importance of the new roads are again in the news, this time with a banquet. 23 November 1926

New Road Opened.-A length of about three miles of the road between Victoria Hill and the railway at Ellinthorp, built by a Federal grant of £4000, was formally opened on November 13. The residents of Victoria Hill held a banquet, in celebration of the occasion, at which about 200 invited guests assembled, including the chairman and members of the Allora Shire Council, the Chairman of the Clifton Shire Council, and many of the prominent residents of Allora, Goomburra, and surrounding districts. Councillor C. H. Morris welcomed the visitors on behalf of the Victoria Hill residents, and the chairman of the shire, Councillor T. Muir, apologised for the absence of the Main Roads Commis; sioner, Mr. Kemp. At the request of Councillor Morris Mrs. Muir performed the opening ceremony by cutting a ribbon held across the road by the Misses M. Frizzell and M. Morris. At the ban quet, Councillor Morris referred to the importance of the road linking such a district to the railway, and their pleasure in opening such a well-built, road over the most impassable portion of the route. It would be of great benefit to the residents. The toast of the Allora Shire Council was proposed by Mr. R. Frizzell, and Councillor Muir responded. He hoped that next year a further grant would enable the Goomburra-road to be built. The toast of the contractor, Mr. L. E. Laws, was then honoured. The toast of Victoria Hill and district was proposed by Mr. F. P. Donovan, and Mr. J. H. Pachske responded. In responding to the toast of the visitors, Councillor Meara, chairman of the Clifton Shire -Council, congratulated them upon obtaining such a good road. The toast of the Warwick Co-operative Dairying Association was proposed by the chairman, Mr. R. Frizzell supporting the chairman's remarks.Mr. J. E. Nussey, chairman of directors, responded. Mr. P. Young (Ellinthorp) also responded. Several other toasts were also honoured.(4)

For these he moved over the Range for a couple of jobs  July1931

Gatton-Mount Sylvia Road-At the monthly meeting of the Tarampa Shire Council on June 30 the following tenders were received for the construction of one and three quarter miles of main road between Gatton and Mount Sylvia -J Aspinall £3253/1/ W B Carr £3535/10/10 Christopherson and Cameron £3242/10/3 M R Hornibrook Ltd £2n43/9/ll C J Hicks £2922/10 2 L E Laws £2270/0/6 G W S Dance £3558/0/11 J O Shea £4548/14/3 Albion Quarrying Proprietary Co Ltd £2631/13/6 Banks Ltd  £2332/4/9 E M William £3192/8/ The Main Roads estimate was £3026/15/ It was decided to recommend the tender of L E Laws to the Main Roads Commissioner (5)

Gatton-Mt. Sylvia Road.-The Main Roads Commission has accepted the tender of Mr. L. E. Laws of £2405 for the construction of the necessary links on this road between Gatton and the Tent Hill Hotel. The work will be started immediately.(6)

You win some but lose some
Clifton Shire 18 May 1832
Tenders were received for the construction of a section of the Nobby-Pilton main road from the railway line as follows:-A. Reid and Co. (Southport), £3038/18/7; John McIllwain, £3626/8/1; A. Lind and Sons, £3664/1/; P. Truss, £3537/17/; E. Sharman, £3720/ 1/; L. E. LAWS, Jun., £4065/16/; J. Garum, £4078/10/; A. Miller, £4116/2/6; W. C. Kerr, Ltd., £4255/1/8; M. R. Hornibrook, Ltd., £4315/5/4; W. J. Coates, £4546/18/. Messrs Reid and Co.'s tender has been submitted to the Main Roads Commission for approval.

 For the formation and metalling, and bitumen surfacing for a further section of the Toowoomba-Goondiwindi main road, the following tenders were received:-L. E. Laws, Jun., £2948/0/7; A. Miller, £3405/10/4; A. Reid and Co., £3564/2/3; John McIllwain, £3952/1/10; P. Truss, £3965/1/9; M. R. Hornibrook, Ltd., £3972/1/10; W. J. Coates, £4516/12/5: J. Garum, £4788/8/: A. Lind and Son, £4836. The tender of L. E. Laws was approved, and submitted to the Main Roads Commission.

 The formation of C class metalling, for further sections of the Nobby-Felton main road, the following tenders were received: -A Reid and Co., £3038/11/5; John McIllwain, £3287/13/1; Hicks and Burrough, £3308/14/8; A. Lind and Son, £3442/14/6; J. Garum, £3662/14/6; A. Miller. £3654/ 12/2½; L. E. LAWS, Jun., £3756/15/; M R. Hornibrook. Ltd., £3817/17/6; W. C. Kerr, Ltd., £3843/17/1; P. Truss. £3845/ 15/8: E. Sharman, £4011/19/6; J. Coates,£4085/19/4. The tender of Messrs. A. Reid and Co; Southport, was recommended to the Main Roads Commission.(7)

Of course there are many more contracts he worked on but these stories were my favourites.

(1)1914 'BRIEF NEWS, Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld. : 1867 - 1919), 16 May, p. 4, viewed 17 April, 2015,

1925 'A CONTRACTOR'S DIFFICULTY.', Warwick Daily News (Qld. : 1919 -1954), 10 December, p. 8, viewed 18 April, 2015,
(3)1926 'AN HISTORIC ROAD', The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), 18 September, p. 16, viewed 18 April, 2015,
(4) 1926 'ALLORA, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), 23 November, p. 9, viewed 18 April, 2015,

(5) 1931 'GATTON, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), 3 July, p. 7, viewed 18 April, 2015, 
(6)  1931 'GATTON, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), 21 July, p. 14, viewed 18 April, 2015,
(7)1932 'COUNCIL MEETINGS", The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), 18 May, p. 11, viewed 18 April, 2015,