Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm buying this one

My local library is beefing up its collection of genealogy books so recently I have been able to try before I buy.

I have been eyeing off The Family Historian's Enquire Within (Sixth Edition) by Janet Few on websites for quite some time, I even had a browse when I was last in England but I didn't purchase it. After perusing the library's copy I have realised that this is a must have reference book for someone with British ancestry.

I've never been averse to sitting down with a dictionary and, while I don't read them from cover to cover,  I enjoy dipping in and out of the pages as I soak up new and interesting words. Over the past ten days I have enjoyed doing this with The Family Historian's Enquire Within . I doubt that much of what I have read will stick but that's ok; it's been an enjoyable exercise. I have been amused to find lots of interesting words set out in an alpahbetical sequence with clear definitions and descriptions. This work is more than a dictionary, some of the entries are only a few lines while some take up a page or two. 

Having browsed the book I have learnt that Scrivener is not just a piece of software I use for writing, Muniments are nothing to do with warfare and Dexter was a dyer.

The book's purpose is "to  point you in the right direction so you can find out more" and it does that admirably. Haaving done a lot of dipping I realise that I need this book on my shelves as a reference book, a place to go when I need to know.

The book retails at £12.95 and is available from several sites in the UK; I could purchase it for $39.95 (plu spostage) in Australia and have it on my doorstep in a few days. I want to get the most bang for my geneabuck so I will buy it on my next overseas trip which is looming. I see that it is in stock at The Society of Genealogists, I hope they still have a copy when I arrive for my visit. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Requiem for a Blog

From time to time I get an idea for a blog name so I go over to Blogger and set up a blog with that name in case I decide to use it in the future. On other occasions I have started a blog as a result of a particular idea, blogged enthusiastically for a year or two and then given up. Whenever I give a workshop on setting up a Blogger blog I give a practical demonstration on how to do so.

When I checked this morning I had twenty blogs on the Blogger platform. I haven't checked my two Wordpress accounts yet!

As I have been trying to tidy up or decrapify my life in both the physical and online world I decided that some blogs had to go. I exercised the Delete Blog key six times.

Please join me in saying farewell to these six blogs.

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 24 April 2015

It's been a wild week here in Sydney with dreadful storms and lots of rain. Our property is waterlogged and the dam is overflowing  as was the list of blog posts in my Inoreader RSS feeds. Being forced to stay indoors gave me plenty of time to review the many posts that presented themselves.

In this week prior to ANZAC Day I could have filled this list with stories of bravery but I deliberately stayed away from those stories. I could not single out one story from many about our brave men - there were so many.

 1. Donna shares a local spy story

2. Alona's post sent me scrambling for old autograph books

3. A blogger reminds us of the varierty of media that can be found in Trove

4. Thanks for sharing this useful resource Lilian

5. Janet reminds us to ask the right questions

6. Perkinsy discusses respect

7. Friday Fossicking - an interesting series from Chris

8. Sharon reminds us that we can all make mistakes

10. Debra remembers Nannie

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Determined to sign up

Why John James Ball went to Brisbane in 1916 to enlist in World War One has puzzled me for quite some time. When I was poking around earlier in the week and helping a grandchild with his ANZAC homework I found my answer.

I uncovered documents revealing that John James Ball had endeavoured to enlist in Sydney on 8/9/1915 and 21/12/1915 (aged 43 years 4 months) and was rejected each time due to his "defective eyesight". On his successful attempt to enlist in Brisbane on 14/6/1916 John James claimed that he was 41 years  4 months, he had somehow gotten younger by two years. He was actually 50 years and 4 months on enlistment.

Who was this man who was so anxious to join the services?

John James BALL the son of James BALL (1837-1911) and Betty CLEGG (c. 1835-1878), was born on 2 January 1866 in Passmonds, Spotland, Rochdale, Lancashire, England. John's father James was a self-made man in Rochdale, who worked tirelessly for a children's charity and was prominent in the Temperance League. John worked as a warehouse man probably in his father's business and lived with his family in Passmonds, Spotland, Rochdale until he married Emily ROYDS on 16 May 1887 in Baillie Street Chapel (United Methodist). John later worked as a wool salesman and a woolstapler, probably still with his father.

John James Ball and son James Ball (1890-1931)
John and Emily lived in Rochdale where their four children Hannah Kathleen BALL (1887-1974), James BALL (1890-1931), Fred BALL (1897-1972) and Emily Zara BALL (1899-1959) were born.  Both James and Fred served in the Australian forces in World War One.

John first travelled to Australia per Afric in 1906 and again per Suevic in 1908 as a wool buyer, John may have stayed in Australia from 1908.  After 1910 he worked as a wool classer at the  Challenge Woollen Mills in  Liverpool, NSW, Australia. It appears that he and Emily were not on good terms by this stage. In 1911 Emily and the two younger children came to Australia, in 1912 married daughter, Hannah and her husband arrived and James who was in the Royal Navy deserted HMS Forte and made his way to Australia. By 1912 the Ball family was settled in Liverpool, NSW.

Although James and Emily acknowledged each other as husband and wife and both gave their address as George Street, Liverpool I cannot ascertain whether they co-habited. Interestingly James Ball Senior made generous provisions in his will for Emily but left little to John James. Several newspaper articles found on Trove indicate that John James (who to confuse matters was also known as James) was fond of the drink, something his teetotalling father would have not liked. James also appears to have used colourful language and  enjoyed a fight. From 1910 John's name regularly appeared in the local paper.

1910 'Liverpool Court.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 24 December, p. 5, viewed 22 April, 2015,

1913 'The Cumberland Argus.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 4 January, p. 5, viewed 21 April, 2015,
James Thomas KAY, so an elderly relative told me years ago, was "Grandmother's Fancy Man". Kay, who was many years younger than Emily, emigrated with her and the children on Suevic and lived in the Ball family home until Emily's death. One wonders why John assaulted James Kay!

1914 'Liverpool Court.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 21 February, p. 5, viewed 21 April, 2015,
1914 'WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 21 March, p. 5, viewed 21 April, 2015,

1914 'Liverpool Court.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 11 July, p. 5, viewed 21 April, 2015,
I can only conjecture why John, who had been deemed medically unfit and was over age, joined up but he certainly demonstrated determination.
Physical Description John James Ball Source: NAA: B2455, BALL J J

After completing four months training in Australia, John embarked on HMAT A36 "Boonah" on 21 October 1916 in Brisbane. John's Service Record at the National Archives of Australia indicates that he arrived in England and states "owing to severe attacks of rheumatism in legs was unable to do full duty".

1917 'LIVERPOOL.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 31 March, p. 5, viewed 21 April, 2015,

John never saw active duty and, when he was not in hospital, was employed in camp in England. He was returned to Australia in September 1917 on HMAT Borda for discharge with the cause recorded as "senility and rheumatism". 

1917 'OF "THE BOYS.".', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 28 November, p. 3, viewed 21 April, 2015,

It seems that John still wanted to serve "King and Country" so he enlisted in the Home Service as a Concentration Camp Guard on 31 January 1918 at Holsworthy, NSW. Hecremained in that role until he transferred to the AIF Special Service 14 May 1919 in NSW. His new role saw him as a guard escorting prisoners of war back to Europe on Willochra. It doesn't sound like it was a picnic for this man who was now 53 years old.

1919 'TAKING THE HUNS HOME.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 16 August, p. 5, viewed 22 April, 2015,
John returned to Australia on Euripides and was disembarked on the 24th October 1919 and subsequently discharged. John James' only newspaper  mentions after his discharge were related to business so I can only assume that he lived quietly. He entered the State Hospital and Home, Liverpool some time around 1937 and resided there until his death from senile myocarditis, arteriosclerosis of coronary arteries and prostatic hypertrophy on 15 May 1950. He was 84 years old.

1950 'Family Notices.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 16 May, p. 18, viewed 22 April, 2015,
Although he was not a war hero John James Ball demonstrated, through his determination to enlist and continuing service, a commitment to serving his country.

John James Ball was  a bit of a larrikin, I'd like to have met him.

This post was written in response to the 2015 Trans-Tasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge


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