Time wise, I guess I haven’t been researching for that long, however throughout the time I have spent I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge and techniques to help me find the answers I seek. That’s why I find that one of the most emotional parts about researching your family tree is when you hear that someone who you knew as being alive is no longer.
Sometimes I knew the person quite well and other times I may have only met them once or twice. It doesn’t really matter either way. Take, for example, my Mum’s Uncle, Dennis Robert Harwood. He passed away on 6 February 2011. Unfortunately, I didn’t know him. I’m sure my Mum would say that I have met him a few times but sadly, it wasn’t enough to leave a memory. Despite the fact that I didn’t know him I still felt sadness at hearing of his passing. Somewhere along the line I added his name to the family tree and began searching for records. I may not have known him personally but I began to learn many things about him.
I know that at the age of 16 he broke his collar bone after falling off his bike at Scarborough Beach.
He was also engaged twice. The first was to Roma Bethel Palmer in 1952 and the second to Betty Gladys Blair in 1953. I don’t know why the engagements were called off but I believe that neither of the women became his wife.
His negligent driving was reported in The West Australian in 1952. Found to be at fault, he was fined with both driving negligently as well as driving without a licence.
Involved in quite a serious accident in 1954, he was admitted to North Midland Hospital where he was lucky to be treated with only bruises, lacerations and shock.
That same year the Australian Electoral Roll lists him as living with his parents at 111 Hay Street and working as a farrier.
Birth records, electoral rolls and newspaper articles all paint a picture of a person who, like Dennis, may be unknown to me but give me the opportunity to find out who they were and what their life was like. Their death is ultimately the closing of the final chapter and I find that there is nothing sadder than when I have to update my tree with these new details.
- 1945 ‘ROAD ACCIDENTS.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879-1954), 17 December, p. 8, viewed 24 February, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44835375
- 1952 ‘They Are Engaged.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879-1954), 23 August, p. 12, viewed 24 February, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49048798
- 1953 ‘They Are Engaged.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879-1954), 15 June, p. 14, viewed 24 February, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49214039
- 1952 ‘THE LAW COURTS.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879-1954), 20 May, p. 6, viewed 24 February, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49032550
- 1954 ‘Car Overturns At Mingenew.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879-1954), 29 December, p. 5, viewed 24 February, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52971611
- Ancestry.com. Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954 [database on-line].