Glen Innes 2018

Lyn, Carlene & Val on St Patrick’s Day @ Glenn Innes Conference


St Patrick’s Day at the Glen Innes FAMILY HISTORY Conference

What better place to be on St Patrick’s Day than at Glen Innes with its Celtic celebrations. I don’t know if the Conference was intentionally earmarked for that particular day, but, with Lyn, Carlene and myself all having Irish heritage, we decided to “go green”! Lyn donned the green hair, Carlene wore the Irish cap and I was allotted the leprechaun hat to wear on top of my ‘convict bonnet’.

We had a St Patrick’s Day trivia quiz which stumped many; an Irish landmarks quiz; images of symbols you may find on Irish graves; shamrock decorations; and a bowl of green lollies to hand out. Normally at conferences and family history fairs we are able to offer advice to those researching their convict heritage – but what a pure lot they are in the Glen Innes area – not many admitting to having convict heritage!!

At the meet and greet at the Land of the Beardies History House Museum, two other members of our convict group had arrived – Steve and Robyn. Robyn’s ancestors from the area are the Risby family. So that was five of us from GSQ. There were also another two from Brisbane – one of the guest speakers, Eric Koppitke, and his wife Rosemary. Eric is an authority on German migration to Australia. Rosemary is skilled at reading DNA results. So, here we all were at the Museum, and I was eager to show the Qld contingent my Rodgers family oil portraits painted by ex-convict Joseph Backler.

The first speaker at the Conference was William Oates who spoke about Scottish Settlers and Celtic History. He was proud of his Cornish ancestry. Of particular interest was his announcement that we were looking at the UK map wrong. We should turn it on its side and then we can better see celtic migration – an interesting concept.

Robert Heather spoke about How Artists Depicted Us. He is passionate about art and gave examples of the New England region mostly from items in the Howard Hinton Collection held at Armidale’s New England Regional Art Museum. He produced mostly landscapes but he did have a rather unflattering portrait of a woman painted by Joseph Backler. After the talk, I asked Mr Heather if he was aware that there were three Joseph Backler portraits in History House. He wasn’t – and he was quick to seek them out. Apparently he is keen to arrange for them to be part of a travelling art show.

Another speaker at the conference was Janis Wilton who has written books about the Chinese who came to Australia. She likes to obtain oral histories and plays the recordings to enhance her talks. As a result, Lyn and I detoured through Emmaville on the way home to see where the Chinese joss house once stood.

On the Sunday, Eric Koppitke spoke about the reasons why Germans migrated to Australia. It reminded me of a family story I was told when first researching my family history back in 1989! The father of Sarah Hann had supposedly been brought out from Germany by Edward Ogilvie to build the cedar staircase in his Yugilbar castle on the Clarence River. The myth was busted when it was revealed that Sarah’s parents were not German at all – both were English convicts transported to NSW!

Larissa Townsend, Glen Innes born, works at the National Archives of Australia in Perth, and travelled to her home town to talk about Researching Local Families in the Archives. Naturally, she spoke about the war service records available on the web-site, as well as immigration and naturalisation documents.

The next speaker was Graeme Hosken who gave a very interesting talk on correspondence during war time – between the soldiers and the family back home, and also letters written by worried family members addressed to the Department of Defence and the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Inquiry Bureau.

The final speaker was Greg Alder who spoke about the growing importance of social media in promoting societies and museums.

It was a most informative week-end.

Eric and Rosemary Koppitke generously offered their time on the Sunday afternoon to help Lyn and Carlene sort out their DNA results.

St Patrick’s Day Irish Quiz