31 August 2015

The failing eyesight of James Arthur Wilkey

My great grandfather, James Arthur Wilkey, died in 1907, aged 30, after falling from a train, while trying to rescue his hat which had blown off.

I was searching through some of the recently added records on Ancestry this morning, plugging in some surnames to see if anything new came up. I was particularly interested in the NSW Teachers Rolls, 1869-1908, as there were a number of teachers in my own ancestry around that time. On a whim I put in the surname "Wilkey" not expecting to find anything, but....

James Arthur Wilkey, who I understood to have been a clerk when he died, had a record in the NSW Teachers Rolls! Slightly surprising.

The record says he was employed on probation as a Pupil Teacher at Darlington Public at the end of 1895, but by the beginning of the 1896 school year he had been transferred to Stanmore Public instead. Sadly though, his teaching career never really started before it was over because on February 24 of 1896 he called the Chief Inspector and stated that on account of his failing eyesight (aged only 19) he didn't feel he could continue his appointment as a pupil teacher.

No one in the family has ever mentioned his eyesight to me, probably because they didn't know about it - his son, my grandfather wasn't even born when he died. I wonder what the cause of the poor eyesight was? And now I wonder if his eyesight contributed to his death... 

14 August 2015

Hints and Tips: German family history - historical newspapers

I have always found that historical newspapers can be very important sources of information when researching family history. In an English speaking world that can be reasonably easy, however switching to other languages can make it more difficult.

I have a considerable amount of German ancestry, and have in the past, on the suggestion of Pauleen Cass from Family History Across the Seas, researched German newspapers with Google Books by guessing newspaper names e.g. Blatter, Zeitung and putting it with location names. It's hit and miss, but can yield some wonderful results.

The other day I found a fantastically useful book to assist with German historical newspaper research: Zeitungs- und Zeitschriftentitel- Register by Gert Hagelweide, published by de Gruyter in 2007. It is available (though with limited pages) on Google Books. If you want to buy the e-book it will only cost you €269...

Of course, you still have to find access to those newspapers, and not all of them are available online. Your best bet is to start by searching Google Books and also Internet Archive for the online ones. Look for newspapers with the town/city/region name in them. Once you've found some search the newspapers for the surname(s) that are relevant to your research. If you find the surname, and assuming you don't know German, use Google Translator to get the gist of the information. Then you should be able to work out if it is useful, even if the sentences only vaguely make sense!

Good luck!

13 August 2015

The Holsts in Riga

It has been a long time because I've been working on other things, but I'm here!

I've recently been researching the Holst family, in memory of Harro Lange, who was a distant Holst relative and a keen researcher of the Holst family. Before he died in 2013 he hoped that others would take up the reins.

I'm interested in the Holst family because my 3x great grandfather Charles Nicholas Weiss married Benigna Catharina von Holst. Her father Matthias adopted the "von" when he moved to England, but he was born Matthias Holst, in Riga. I've recently discovered online parish records for the Lutheran churches in Riga, through Raduraksti.lv, and so have been delving into the Holsts. The records are written in German, which is something I'm reasonably used to reading, so I'm finding lots of new info.

Benigna's parents were Matthias Holst and Catharina Rogge. The story goes that Catharina's brother, Johann was a knight or a prince of Russia but there has never been any evidence found to support this. Catharina was married before Matthias, to Johann Wilhelm Becker. They appeared in Riga in the 1790s (from Russia?), and had a child, Matthias Alexander, of whom Matthias Holst was a godfather. On the baptism record for Matthias Alexander, Catharina's name was given as Catharina Beata Roggen. Was this really her surname, or a misspelling? I can't find her in any other parish records for Riga, so have no other primary sources with which to compare the spelling.

Matthias Holst's father was said to be Meno Holst. Meno Holst married Maria Saumann at St Peter's Lutheran Church on the 3rd Sunday after Trinity in 1753 - I think this was in July. I have found records for many of the their children, but still have to nail down Matthias' baptism record.

According to all published information on him, Meno Holst apparently died in Riga in 1805. I have searched the parish records for his burial record and cannot find it in his family church of St Peter's, Riga in that year (though it may be in another parish). I have, however, found a burial record for a Meno Holst, with the same occupation description as on the baptism records of Meno and Marie's children, at the same church, who was buried on 31 January 1787, aged 63 years. I think this could be him. Although I haven't yet found a baptism record which corresponds, working backwards, this Meno Holst's birth year would be about 1724, in which case, if it IS my Meno Holst, he would have been 29 years old when he married Marie Saumann, which seems reasonable.

I wondered if there were two different Meno Holsts so I went through all the parish records that I could find for him, and checked his occupation:

Date Event Occupation of Meno Holst Source
Jul 1753 Marriage of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann Ältester der Schwarzen Häupter St Petri Riga 1712-1842 German, married
18 Mar 1754 Baptism of Adolph, son of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann No occupation given St Petri Riga 1737-1762 German, born
20 Mar 1754 Burial of unnamed child (possibly Adolph) of Meno Holst No occupation given St Petri Riga 1657-1811 German, died
Feb 1755 Burial of unnamed daughter of Meno Holst No occupation given St Petri Riga 1657-1811 German, died
Jan 1757 Baptism of Lorenz Christian, son of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann No occupation given St Petri Riga 1737-1762 German, born
Jun 1757 Burial of Christian Lorenz, son of Meno Holst No occupation given St Petri Riga 1657-1811 German, died
Jun 1758 Baptism of Anna Gerdrutha, daughter of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann No occupation given St Petri Riga 1737-1762 German, born
Aug 1759 Baptism of Matthias, son of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann Kaufmann St Petri Riga 1737-1762 German, born
Sep 1759 Burial of unnamed child (Matthias?) of Meno Holst No occupation given St Petri Riga 1657-1811 German, died
3 Oct 1764 Baptism of Meno Hinrich, son of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann Commercien Rath St Petri Riga 1763-1800 German, born
May 1766 Baptism of Martha, daughter of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann Commercien Rath St Petri Riga 1763-1800 German, born 
Jan 1770 Baptism of Meno Hinrich, son of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann Commercien Rath St Petri Riga 1763-1800 German, born
Oct 1770 Burial of Meno Hinrich, son of Meno Holst Commercien Rath St Petri Riga 1657-1811 German, died
Jul 1773 Baptism of Maria Eleonora, daughter of Meno Holst and Maria Saumann Commercien Rath St Petri Riga 1763-1800 German, born
Oct 1786 Burial of Maria Eleonora, daughter of Meno Holst Commercien Rath St Petri Riga 1657-1811 German, died
Jan 1787 Burial of Meno Holst, aged 63 Commercien Rath St Petri Riga 1657-1811 German, died

A bit of further research confirmed that unmarried merchants could become members of the Schwarzen Häupter, and then after the married they would join the Gross Gilde (the Great Guild). This would explain why he was no longer referred to as Ältester der Schwarzen Häupter (Elder of the Black Heads) after he was married. Commercien Rath was a title for someone who promoted trade activities, while kaufmann means merchant.

As far as I can tell, Meno Holst died in 1787, not 1805. All the information that I can find stating that he died in 1805 was written at least 100 years after either death date, so therefore I will stick with the death year of 1787, unless someone can prove to me otherwise!

Edited to add: I found Meno's wife Marie's burial record - she was buried on 14 August 1805. I believe that the year of Marie's death has been assumed to be Meno's. I'm not surprised no one had found her death record before - she was named as Maria von Holsten, however it says she was the wife of the Commercien Rath, and that she was 72 years old, which fits. Glad I sorted that out!

19 January 2015

Cemeteries in Mulhouse, plus my new website

Yesterday I took the kids on a very rainy day to do some searching for dead relatives in cemeteries in Mulhouse.

From my research I had found that the old cemetery of Mulhouse had now become Parc Salvator, even though I thought that some of the graves remained. No, I was wrong. There were none. All the headstones had been removed, and I have no idea if all the occupants have been reinterred at the new cemetery, or whether there were some left in situ. Perhaps if I understood French I would know! So after getting to Parc Salvator and finding it a wasted trip, with the rain and all, I decided we would head home.

Of course, I got us lost on the drive home (I have a good map but I can't read it while driving, and I'm not sure of any of my kids' map reading skills), and ended up very close to the new cemetery, so I made the decision we would go after all. Serendipity!

We found a lot of family buried there, and we didn't even finish exploring before the kids' whinging got the better of my searching and we headed home.

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to see the graves: I have a new Weiss family website which I am working on. It covers my ongoing research into the Weiss family of Mulhouse, and brings all the information I have on each individual together. I hope there will be many people across the world who find the information I have put together useful. And now there are some photos of graves on the new website too!

See here for the new website: The Weiss Family of Mulhouse.

08 January 2015

Using a wildcard to search

A couple of days ago I was doing some research on Samuel Christian Frederic Baumgarten and accidentally discovered an extra child!

It turns out that Samuel Frederick Baumgarten was Samuel and Mary Baumgarten's first child - they were married on June 6, 1751, and he was born on March 4, 1752. I cannot find any record for what happened to him, but neither can I for most of his siblings, and can only assume that they died young.

But why hadn't I found him before? I'm pretty thorough with my research after all.

Spelling. The surname was spelled differently.

I've found Baumgarten transcribed as Baumgarton before, as a result of how they wrote the letter "e" in those days - which can these days be misconstrued as an "o". In this case though, it was recorded with an incorrect spelling - "Baumgerten", which could well have been transcribed as Baumgorton but amazingly wasn't! You can see the way they wrote the letter "e" below.

I found him by using a wildcard when searching for Baumgarten references. A wildcard is a symbol used to represent one or more characters. Usually the symbol used is a "?" or a "*" or a "%". On the off-chance that there might have been different spellings I used "Baum*" in my search, though usually I have used "Baumgart*" as I never expected them to get the second "a" wrong! And I accidentally discovered Samuel Frederick Baumgarten as a result.

So, if you're up against a brick wall, can I suggest you use wildcards in your searches. You never know what surprises you might uncover!

24 December 2014

A painting of Jean Gaspard Weiss

Living here in Germany, we are about an hour's drive from Mulhouse in France. The other day I took the opportunity to visit Mulhouse, and start ticking things off my family history bucket list!

First thing on the list was to visit the Musée Historique to see the painting of Jean Gaspard Weiss, my 4x great grandfather. The museum staff showed me where the painting was, as I asked about it, and then I told them that he was my great great great great grandfather, which was met with an exclamation of great surprise! They told me all about him, all stuff which I already knew of course! But it was amazing to see the painting in real life. Today when I Skyped my family back in Australia, I compared the faces of his descendants with my photo of the painting. Yes, there are similarities, even taking into account that it's not the best painting I've seen of him.

I also walked across the square to the Temple St Etienne, where Gaspard Weiss' father was a church musician. It was amazing to think of him in there, playing, over 200 years ago.

So there's plenty more for me to see and do in Mulhouse, but I'm saving those for another time. There will be plenty of opportunities.

30 November 2014

Mary Ann Wilkey and her links to Casino

Mary Ann Wilkey, who lived in Burwood, a suburb of Sydney, died in Casino, a town in Northern NSW. I had never been able to work out why she was there - it was an unlikely holiday destination for a widowed 76 year old woman, if, in fact, people actually took holidays in those days...

Last night I was searching Findmypast for information on the Wilkeys when I came across Mary Ann Wilkey's probate summary. From memory, when I tried to access this record in person at NSW State Records, it was missing, so it was good to have the details summarised.

Mary Ann's will requested that all her real estate properties (four of them) be sold after her death, and that the proceeds of the sales be distributed equally amongst her living children. She also provided some money for Ellen Wilkey (named as Helen), the widow of her son James Arthur Wilkey, and directed that the rest of her belongings be given to her youngest daughter Elizabeth Elsie. She named her son Charles and her son-in-law James Hall (husband of daughter Elizabeth Elsie) as executors of the will.

It was when I got to the section of the probate record stating that Charles and James were made executors that I made a sudden exclamation, startling my husband. It recorded that James Hall was a shopkeeper, in Casino. I'm guessing that it was very likely that Mary Ann was visiting her daughter Elizabeth Elsie in Casino when she died.

It's not the sort of information that changes much, but I'm glad I've finally solved that puzzle!

17 November 2014

Adolph Mondientz and his theatrical career

According to her death certificate, Caroline Beringer was born in Frankfurt. Dying in 1896, aged 38, she was born in approximately 1857. Her parents were listed as Adolf Mondientz, painter, and Charlotte Volker.

I have not yet been able to find a birth record for Caroline, nor a marriage record for her parents. However, FamilySearch has two possible records for siblings of Caroline's: Johann Ludwig Mandientz was born to Adolph Mandientz and Charlotte Eufemia Arnoldine Voelke in 1849, and christened in 1850 in Iserlohn, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany, and Adolphine Franciska Mordientz was born to Adolph Mordientz and Charlotte Euphemia Arnoldine Voelker in 1848, and christened in 1848, in the Evangelical church in Cleve, Rheinland, Prussia.

Ignoring the different spelling of names, which could be explained by illiteracy or transcription errors, I wasn't at all sure if this really was all the same family, because of the vastly different locations across Germany - Frankfurt, Iserlohn and Cleve aren't really close to each other, and I generally assume that in those days people didn't move around too much, considering there were no cars, and getting around took a lot longer than it would now. I had to find something that suggested that the family might have moved around a lot. The best way to find that needle in a haystack was to find out all that I could on the family.

I searched FamilySearch for all the German records I could possibly find on the Mondientz and Volker/Voelke/Voelker families, using wildcards and every possible name variation I could think of. I stay away from the user submitted genealogies on FamilySearch because I never know what those users have based their records on - I need concrete evidence, not hearsay. Here's what I found:

Surname Christian name(s) Event date Father Mother Place of event
MONDIENTZ Louise Emily born 10 Dec 1865, christened 13 Dec 1865 Adolph MONDIENTZ Anna Catharina GEURTS Crefeld, Rheinland, Preussen, Germany
MONDIENTZ Friedrich marriage to Frieda KONCZEK, 11 Apr 1916 (born on 15 Feb 1892, Crefeld) Georg Friedrich MONDIENTZ Auguste PUNGS Evangelisch (Militärgemeinde), Freiburg Breisgau, Freiburg, Baden
MANDIENTZ Johann Ludwig born 28 Dec 1849, christened 12 Jan 1850 Adolph MANDIENTZ Charlotte Eufemia Arnoldine VOELKE Iserlohn, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany
MORDIENTZ Adolphine Franciska born 22 Sep 1848, christened 10 Oct 1848 Adolph MORDIENTZ Charlotte Euphemia Arnoldine VOELKER Evangelisch, Cleve, Rheinland, Prussia
VÖLKER Gottlieb marriage to Anna Barbara BECHTTOLD, 11 Jan 1875 (born on 11 Jun 1844, Cleve, Westfahlen, Germany) none listed Charlotte Euphrosine Arnoldine VÖLKER Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany

So what can we surmise from that? Adolph and Charlotte had at least three children together - Adolphine Franciska, Johann Ludwig and Caroline Mathilda. Charlotte had a child, Gottlieb, before she married Adolph, possibly as a single mother, or perhaps Adolph was the father but just not listed because they weren't yet married. If I could see the original record for Gottlieb's birth it might have an annotation on who the father was thought to be - I've seen that before. Of course, because I am in Europe, I can't actually get access to the microfilms of the originals through the Church of the Latter Day Saints, but would probably have to find which archives the actual originals are held in and travel there to see them. As for Friedrich Mondientz and Louise Emily Mondientz, I needed more evidence to connect them to my Mondientz family.

Google was the next step. A google search of Mondientz brings up many listings of people currently alive with the surname Mondientz, but I needed historical records, and the best option for that is Google Books. And Google Books revealed some listings for an Adolph Mondientz who worked in the theatre in Germany. I decided summarise the information I found, interlinked with the known events for my Adolph Mondientz, to see if they matched up at all:

Year Place Event Source
1848 Mühlheim a. d. Ruhr Hr. Mondientz: Dekorationsmaler und Theatremeister.
As a performer: Mondientz, Väter, Intriguants und Charakterrollen.
Almanach für Freunde der Schauspielkunst auf das Jahr 1848, Volume 12
Sept 1848 Cleve, Rheinland, Prussia Birth of daughter Adolphine Franciska FamilySearch
Dec 1849 Iserlohn, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany Birth of son Johann Ludwig FamilySearch
1850 Dortmund Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient und Dekorationsmaler.
As a performer: Mondientz, chargirte Rollen, Väter.
Almanach für Freunde der Schauspielkunst auf das Jahr 1850
1856 Cleve and Arnheim As a performer: Mondientz, Väter und Bariton-parthieen. A. Heinrich's Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 20
1857 Coblenz Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient.
As a performer: Mondientz, bedeutende Aushülfsrollen.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 21
about 1857 Frankfurt Birth of daughter Caroline Mathilda Caroline's death certificate
1859 Offenbach Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient.
As a performer: Mondientz, Komische Charakterrollen, Intriguants.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach
1860 Düsseldorf Hr. Mondientz: Souffleur der Oper.
As a performer: Mondientz, zweite Väter und chargierte Rollen.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 24
1861 Düsseldorf Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient des Schauspiels.
As a performer: Mondientz, zweite Väter.
A. Heinrich's deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 25
1862 Crefeld Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient.
As a performer: Mondientz, Väter und chargirte Rollen.
Kinderrollen: Marie Mondientz.
Deutscher Bühnenalmanach, Volume 26
1864 Crefeld Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient, Dekorationsmaler.
As a performer: Adolph Mondientz, Väter und chargirte Rollen.
Kinderrollen: Fanny und Emma Mondientz.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 28
1865 Crefeld Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient, Dekorationsmaler.
As a performer: Mondientz, alte Diener.
Kinderrollen: Fanny und Emma Mondientz.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 29
Dec 1865 Crefeld Birth of Louise Emily Mondientz - I don't know that she's actually a relation, but the place fits... perhaps Adolph had been widowed and then remarried and this was another daughter? FamilySearch
1866 Crefeld Mondientz, Inspicient. Ferdinand Roeder's Theater-Kalender

So, this would explain why his known children were all born in different places. Not sure why he moved so much though - unless he had itchy feet!

Caroline's death certificate said that her father was a painter. Was this his day job, and theatre was his hobby? A hobby in which he could use his skills from work, as a dekorationsmaler (decoration painter)? And who were Marie, Fanny and Emma Mondientz? Were they his daughters? Younger sisters? Nieces?

Searching through Google Books, I found one other useful item, in the "Intelligenz-Blatt der freien Stadt Frankfurt, Part 4", p.1346:

Der Unterzeichnete fühlt sich gedrungen, allen Denen, die ihm ihre Theilnahme bei dem Trauerfalle, der ihn betroffen, auf so wahrhaft menschenfreundliche Weise beweisen, insbesondere auch den resp. Mitgliedern des Frankfurter Stadttheaters seinen herzlichsten, tiefgefülhtesten Dank auszusprechen.
Bockenheim, im Oct 1858.
A. Mondientz, Mitglied des Bockenheimer Sommertheaters.
Roughly translated, this Mr A. Mondientz from the Bockenheim Summer Theatre is offering his heartfelt thanks and appreciation shown to him on his recent bereavement, particularly by the members of the Frankfurt City Theatre. Who died? I am guessing it was his wife Caroline. This would then fit with Adolph remarrying (to Anna Catharine Geurts) and having another daughter, Louise Emily, whilst working in Crefeld in 1865.

So, if we assume this is my Adolph Mondientz, and I think there is enough circumstantial evidence to make a case for it, it is interesting that Adolph's grandson (via his daughter Caroline Matilda), George Augustus Beringer, was in the silent movies in America, although he went by the name of André de Beranger. It always seemed an occupation quite unlike any of his other relatives, until we learn of his Grandfather Mondientz's apparent passion for the theatre, and then it doesn't seem nearly so unusual.

22 October 2014

The portrait of Gaspard Weiss and family

The Musée Historique in Mulhouse has a portrait of Gaspard Weiss, his wife Marie, and their eldest child, Charlotte. It is a pastel, and the family has always believed it to be by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the celebrated English portrait painter. I've never been sure of this - the portrait is unsigned, and it is done in pastels, which Reynolds did not usually use.

I decided to do a bit of research to see if I could come up with an informed opinion on the likelihood of it being by Sir Joshua Reynolds, though I'm by no means an art historian!

The portrait is below. I have no access to the full artwork in colour, so I'm showing the available partial colour one (from the CD of Weiss's music), plus a black and white image of the full portrait.

According to information on the back of the frame the portrait is thought to have been painted in England in about 1777. Charlotte, the daughter in the photo, was born in June 1776 - the child in the artwork would definitely be around 1 or 2 years old (though how they managed to get her to sit still for a portrait is beyond me!) which fits well with that date.

Would Gaspard Weiss have moved in circles which might have allowed him to sit for a portrait with such a well known artist? In a word, yes. Weiss had patrons, students and acquaintances who would have had contact with Reynolds. Through Lord Abingdon, who was one of his students, he became acquainted with Lord Cholmondeley (who also became a student) and Lord Wentworth. Weiss dedicated flute compositions to all three of these men. Reynolds had painted Lord Cholmondeley as well as portraits of members of both Lord Cholmondeley's and Lord Wenthworth's families. Additionally, Angelika Kauffmann, who had bewitched Weiss in his younger years, became very good friends with Sir Joshua Reynolds upon her arrival in London. It is possible that any of these people could have made an introduction for Weiss with Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Did Reynolds actually use pastels? Jeffares in his Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800 (Online edition) observes that Reynolds did not seem to like using pastels, but then goes on to give details of his pastel works, though many of them appear to have been studies for oil artworks. The only image of a Reynolds pastel that I can find online is Head and Bust of a Woman (see below), held by the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., which in comparison is a very simple work, though it happens to be done in similar colours to the portrait of the Weiss family. Comparing the two, it certainly isn't inconceivable that the same artist might have done both - there is something about the way the eyes are worked that is quite similar.

To compare other artworks of Sir Joshua Reynolds completed around the same time, there are a lot more options to consider.

Reynolds' portrait of Charlotte Grenville, wife of Sir Watkins Williams Wynn and her children (above), held by the National Museum Cardiff, is an oil, completed around 1778. It shows Lady Charlotte reclining with a book, while three of her children play at her feet. Lady Charlotte and Marie Weiss share a similar bored, unseeing gaze (to my mind anyway), and even their profiles appear similar. There is drapery hanging from the lefthand side in both paintings also.

The above portrait The Strawberry Girl, from The Wallace Collection, is an oil completed around 1772-3. While the overall tone of the painting is a lot darker than the Weiss family portrait, the lighting on the actual subject is similar - how the shadows fall etc.

Diana Sackville is an oil, completed in 1777, held by the Henry E Huntington Art Gallery. Despite the completely different background for the two paintings, the colour palettes are similar, as is the lighting.

So I've picked out some of Reynolds' paintings which definitely show some similarities, but it wouldn't be a proper assessment if I didn't compare the Weiss family portrait with the work of some of Reynold's contemporaries. I chosen the major portraitists of the day, including Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Thomas Lawrence and George Romney. George Romney wasn't working in pastels during the period the Weiss family portrait was painted, so we can count him out straight away. Thomas Gainsborough did use pastels, but most of his pastel works have not survived as he apparently didn't fix them.

Gainsborough's pastel portrait of Caroline, 4th Duchess of Marlborough, completed in the 1780s, while beautiful, is of a completely different style to Reynolds' Weiss family portrait. It is done much more in the style of a sketch drawing rather than a painting, with quite a bit of hatching. The colour palette is also very different, with the duchess being rendered in a very white/grey palette, giving her an almost ghostlike appearance.

Sir Thomas Lawrence's pastel portrait of Dr Banks Esq, completed in 1784 is also a very different style to that of Reynolds', and to be honest, is much more amateurish - Lawrence was quite young still in 1784.

So, although it is not an entirely comprehensive study of English portrait painters in the 1800s, I am quite content to consider that the pastel portrait of Gaspard Weiss, his wife Marie, and their infant daughter Charlotte was actually done by Sir Joshua Reynolds. If you are more of an expert on these things than me I'd love to hear your opinion!

12 October 2014

I've moved...

Things have been a bit quiet here for sometime, but there's a really good reason for that. We've moved. To another country. On the other side of the world. 

We've moved from my beloved Sydney to a small country town in Germany! No, I don't speak German, but I'm learning, and being immersed in the language now will help. 

We moved here for my husband's work. It's all very exciting and daunting, but there's been so much organising and packing and stuff to do that my family history research had to go on the back burner.

So, I'm not sure what moving here will mean for my family history research. I'm no longer able to visit Australian archives, but we're also quite close to some important places from my family history - the closest being Mulhouse in France, where my Weiss ancestors are from. I can't wait to take a trip over there to visit the Mulhouse city archives and have a dig around for information on Gaspard Weiss and his relatives. 

I'd also love to visit the part of the Rhein Valley where my Beringer ancestors are from, close to Frankfurt and Weisbaden. 

I'm not sure that we will have much opportunity to travel to the UK at all, but if we do, I would love to spend days in the UK archives. 

So that's what's been happening with me, and we'll see how I go with my family history research here!