Queenslanders in Western Australia – by Shauna Hicks

This weeks ‘Guest Post’ is from the well known family and local history researcher and writer Shauna Hicks. I have been a follower of Shaunas for several years and have enjoyed many of her articles.
You can follow Shauna on:- http://www.shaunahicks.com.au/
or her blog at  -http://diaryofanaustraliangenealogist.blogspot.com.au/

Queenslanders in Western Australia

You can find ancestors just about anywhere but if you have goldminers in the family, then it is more just a matter of following the gold. One of my families started out in Sydney, then headed to the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s before heading north to Gympie, Queensland in the early 1870s. Some settled there but others kept wandering north to the Gladstone goldfields where I ended up losing them.

Early Prospectors in their camp.

Early Prospectors in their camp.

With family history you also need to know history – local, state and even national history. Quite often history will give us clues as to where to look next. The goldfields of Western Australia were a huge drawcard to the other colonies who were all experiencing the great 1890s Depression. Thanks to some wonderful indexes my missing families were located on the Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie fields.

I have long been a fan of Outback Family History and the good folk behind it have helped me locate all kinds of information on my WA families. They stayed on and some eventually relocated yet again to Perth. People don’t always return home or back to where other members of their families settled.

On the Outback Family History home page you can see a list of WA goldfield towns and looking at Coolgardie there is instant access to the cemetery, directories, photographs, schools, WW1 and other topics. So much of a family’s story can be learnt from the indexes and by following up the resources.

Coolgardie Cemetery

Coolgardie Cemetery

William Bullen was just six months old when he was buried in Coolgardie cemetery on 18 Oct 1899. Was he one of mine? A quick look at the WA BDM indexes online confirms that his parents were indeed George Bullen (born at Magpie on the Victorian goldfields in 1860) and Annie Goody (born in Gladstone in 1868)  who had married in Norton on the Gladstone goldfield in Queensland in 1892.  George and Annie had one daughter there in 1895 before moving to WA. Their next daughter was born in Coolgardie in 1897 and named Vera Westralia – there’s a clue even if you don’t know your gold rushes.

But sometimes there are traps using online indexes. My first search for William Bullen’s death in 1899 returned no results so I left out the William and only searched on Bullen in 1899. This time there was a result – six month old William’s death was registered under the name of George William Bullen. You have to be careful when searching BDM indexes and sometimes a broader search, while yielding more results, also delivers entries under names you are not expecting.

This sad event tells me that William’s parents were grieving for their little boy who they probably called William instead of his full name of George William. Perhaps it was less confusing than George junior. His father George lived another 32 years before dying in Kalgoorlie in 1932. He is buried in the Kalgoorlie cemetery, also indexed and available through Outback Family History.

Another son Hector was born in Boulder in 1906 and  died in 1908, aged just two years old. The death is registered in the Boulder district but I was not sure what cemetery he was buried in. A simple site search on Outback Family History confirmed he was buried in the Kalgoorlie cemetery and that he was buried on 16 Apr 1908. The entry even gives me his middle name James – no longer just an unidentified J from the BDM indexes.

Kalgoorlie Cemetery by Paul Tonkin

Kalgoorlie Cemetery by Paul Tonkin

Annie Bullen nee Goody ended up moving to Perth with other family members and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery in 1956. One family, three cemeteries.

Fortunately, Annie and George Bullen’s other children all lived to marry and have families of their own. There are many descendants today who share their family’s history which placed them at the forefront of some of Australia’s most exciting gold rushes.

Anyone with gold mining ancestors should definitely have a look at all the wonderful indexes and other information freely available on Outback Family History. Through just writing this blog post I have discovered new information since my last look at the website. It is always a good idea to revisit websites that have new data added from time to time.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to do this guest post and now I’m off to see what else I can discover on my WA mining families. Thanks Outback Family History. www.outbackfamilyhistory.com.au

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My name is Moya Sharp, I live in Kalgoorlie Western Australia and have worked most of my adult life in the history/museum industry. I have been passionate about history for as long as I can remember and in particular the history of my adopted home the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Through my website I am committed to providing as many records and photographs free to any one who is interested in the family and local history of the region.

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