motom on Family Tree Circles
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I know it was only last night that I made my first journal entry and spoke of my discovery of ten possible siblings and how my next task was to find them, as difficult as the task may seem...well, less than 24 hours later...I can report that I have identified which children are in fact my siblings and that I now know the names and birth dates of those that are!!
How? I knew that my father and his first wife were divorced. Luck had it that the divorce was finalised 60 years ago last December. In New Zealand these records are sealed for 60 years! Today I was able to view the court records pertaining to that divorce and of course, listed for the purposes of custody were the children of that union: names and dates of birth.
I have also found the marriages of all six children and for two of them, both marriages. Sadly two of my sisters have passed away but since I have not been able to locate the deaths of the others I am going to assume they are still in the realm of the living.
How about that for a portal opening...
I share this tidbit because although the more experienced hunters out there know these avenues many may not, and it is good to know that even when we think we will never find something that it is out there somewhere!
My great great grandfather, Thomas O'Neill, was born about 1837. According to his death certificate he was born at Ballyrock, County Down, Ireland. Unfortunately there is no "Ballyrock" in County Down). But according to his enlistment record he was born at Rathfryland, County Down, Ireland.
Thomas came to New Zealand in March 1856 as a member of the 65th Regiment of the Foot. He was discharged 31 August 1865 at Otahuhu, New Zealand and remained in New Zealand for the rest of his life.
On Thomas' death record his parents are listed as Thomas O'Neill and Isabella O'Neill (nee Campbell). He married Sarah Jane Robinson on the 12th August 1869 in the dwelling house of James Robinson, Sarah's father, at Bombay, New Zealand.
There are a few of us, Thomas' descendents, who have been bitten by the genealogy bug, and we have a pretty good record of most of Thomas and Sarah's children and grandchildren, although there are still gaps to be filled (Mostly on my Walker side!). But we have reached an impasse with Thomas' Irish roots.
Family legend has it that shortly after Thomas' death in 1909, two Irish men came out to New Zealand looking for their brother Thomas. They believed that our Thomas was their Thomas. However, Sarah Jane, not knowing whether he was their brother or not, sent them away none the wiser.
Locating Thomas' Irish roots is difficult because we don't know the townland or even the parish in which he was born. The "haystack" seems insurmountable but we shall endure...
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