Monday, November 28, 2011

Family Ties

I have been a family historian for many years but it has taken a backseat lately due to other commitments and pursuits. However, contact by several people querying relationships prompted me to upgrade my Family Tree Maker software so I could open my files on my new laptop, which runs Windows 7. I also fired up my account.

More and more people are joining and that means you get a lot more hints as the program finds people who match those in your tree. It is great fun clicking on the waving leaves that attach themselves to your family members and confirming those who match. Before you know it, further generations are added on and time tumbles away before your eyes.

Well, I was quite giddy to find that a previous brick wall - my paternal grandmother's family line Fenn - crumbled before my eyes and missing links appeared, leading me back to the original name Fiennes, then de Fiennes and time was marching backwards toward the Norman conquest of England! And then beyond even that. Before my eyes, family history crossed into world history and I was faced with my pedigree running right back to the Emperor Charlemagne! How exciting to be one of the 10% of the population who are descended from this historical figure! My kids were quite impressed and my son fired up a world history timeline on the internet and started plotting the family names against historical events.

A day or so later, I asked him what could "top" an Emperor and Pope. I asked if a Saint would do? You see, I had stumbled across another famous connection, this time on my mothers maternal line, where just a few generations back and to the side, who should appear but Mary MacKillop, Australia's first Saint! Turns out, she is my second cousin, four times removed! A newly-found third cousin who had connected with me via just a few weeks ago confirmed this was known in her family line and there were stories of her giving aid to family members!

Only a couple of years ago, I visited Temora cemetery, where my great-great-great grandfather Hugh Lindsay Sinclair is buried, alongside his wife, Mary McDonald.
Hugh Lindsay Sinclair 1815 - 1906
It is Mary McDonald's family that includes Mary Helen Maria Ellen MacKillop, daughter of Alexander MacKillop and Flora Hannah McDonald - "my" Mary and Flora were first cousins! Mary Helen Maria Ellen went on to become Mother Mary MacKillop who was recognised as a Saint in 2008, just a couple of months after I had seen those graves in Temora.

There are a whole lot of family photos here on the official website!

Isn't it amazing what you can find out with a few clicks of the keyboard from the comfort of your own home?

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