Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.


History and family history have always been present throughout my life in some way. Whether it was sitting at my Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen table as a young girl looking at old photos of my ancestors, visiting historical places like the Swan View Railway Tunnel or Fremantle Prison or even high school and the immeasurable joy that I felt when first learning the history of the Ancient Egyptians. It was always there, it just took me a while to realise it.

Now that I have realised, my passion for genealogy and history has grown in leaps and bounds. I am always thinking about my research and I am often at my happiest trying to solve a family mystery, working on my family tree or hunting through the newspapers in order to find the next clue or piece of information to add to my collection.

Along with my family tree research, I also focus on writing posts for this blog. Writing these posts forces me to focus and because of this, quite a few of my discoveries have been made simply by choosing to write an ancestor’s story. It is also through Finding Family (and that I have met some wonderful, likeminded people, many of whom turned out to be my distant cousins. Forging connections such as these and collaborating on theories and research makes what I do even more worthwhile and I thank them for all their help and support.

My future goal and dream is to somehow turn what I love into a career. Whether it be through writing or research, one day I want to be able to do this full time. Until that day, I will continue to follow and live my dreams until I discover the pathway I wish to take.

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead. – Louisa May Alcott

Some of my tips for researching your family tree:

  • Think outside the box.
  • Don’t leave it too late to ask questions and talk to older relatives. They are your link to the past and their memories may provide you with fascinating stories or even your next clue.
  • Focus on all children and descendants, not just your direct ancestors.
  • Search through the newspapers on Trove. Seriously. It’s run by the National Library of Australia and you can access the newspapers for FREE! Take advantage of it because not all countries have resources such as this.

For more historical stories, be sure to visit and follow The Dusty Box.

31 thoughts on “The Writer

  1. Charles Barnard says:

    Hi Jess. Just wanted to let you know that I love reading your family history posts and your enthusiasm for such research has really rubbed off on me. I’ve recently become obsessed with tree building on You and I share Ephraim Digby as an ancestor. His daughter, Harriet Rebeckah Digby married Federick Henry Hays who had George Edward Hays, father of Maisie Florence Hays who married William Henry Barnard (my grandparents). Anyway, keep up the great work 😀

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Charles!

      Thanks for reading and for commenting. It’s wonderful to hear that my obsession is rubbing off on others. 🙂 I hope your research has been going well too.

      My family tree is also on Ancestry and I’m the descendant of Ephraim’s daughter, Frances Elizabeth Digby. She ended up moving to WA and married my Great x 3 Grandfather, James Enoch Barratt.

      Anyway, thank you once again. I appreciate it very much.

    2. Ronald Stout says:

      Hello Jessica,
      We are related, my grand mother was Elizabeth Maud Holt and I am very interested in any old Photo.
      I have a few of the Flynns
      Ron Stout

  2. Christine Cheesewright says:

    Anne Hurst

    Anne was born in 1861 in Collie, Western Australia. Since finding her birth registration, I have never had any luck with the details on the rest of her life. I have not found a marriage registration nor a death registration and so far, Anne’s story has completely eluded me.

    Update: 17 December 2010

    This is another case where my curiosity fuelled some extra digging around. As above, Anne was born in 1861 in Collie, Western Australia. She married John Kirby in 1895 but unfortunately did not live long after her marriage. She passed away at the age of 36 in 1897.

    Hi Jess, please email me reagarding the above – my family is connected in Anne Hurst – although it took me years to find it – or should I say I was stuck for years and then recently I found someone who varified my thoughts.


    1. Jess says:

      Thanks for your comment, Christine. As requested, I’ve sent you an email.

  3. Interesting observation, Dinah (1818-1885) the daughter of Richard Edwards, the master bricklayer who built the original Henley Brook church, married John Foss Tonkin (1811-1896) who must be an ancestor of the John Foss Tonkin you also mention on your site. I was searching for this name when I came across this location.

    Thank you very much for an informative and inspiring blog.

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Alan,

      That’s a very interesting observation! What a coincidence! Thank you for pointing it out. 🙂

      And thank you for reading and for your kind words. I greatly appreciate it.

  4. Hi Jess,

    I really enjoyed your account of Matilda (Hurst) Crampton’s life. You’ve written about a person who otherwise would have been completely overlooked by history. There were unfortunately many others like Matilda – women who went through incredible hardships – suffered the loss of family members – and were were then expected to “push on” with life – with no particular assistance for them in the grief – their husbands – even if they knew how to suuport their wives were too busy making a living.

    I really enjoy your posts.


    Russell Smith

    P.S. I’m decended from a first cousin of Matilda’s father, Hannah Hurst, who came out to Australia after her mother’s death to join her Hurst kin at Boyanup..- so I’m a distant cousin.

    1. Jess says:

      Thank you Russell. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Matilda as well as my other posts. 🙂

      Yes, there probably were many other people who suffered like Matilda did. Mental health really was something that wasn’t understood back then. As I said, no one can be blamed but it’s still incredibly sad to see someone forgotten.

      It’s very nice to hear from a distant cousin! I have heard of Hannah Hurst but haven’t yet fitted her onto my tree. It’s on my to-do list which, by the way, seems neverending! 🙂

    1. Jess says:

      Thank you very much Merron! I’m truly touched by your kindness. 🙂

  5. Michael says:

    Hi Jess,
    I just came across your story that you wrote about your Great Grandfather, Charles Victor Barratt.
    I run a Facebook page called Memories of Busselton, I loved the photos of your Great Grandfather at Busselton.
    Would you like to write share any of the photos on our page and any stories?
    Thanks Michael

    1. Jess says:

      Sure Michael! I’ve contacted you through the Facebook message you’ve left. I’ll try uploading a few tonight. 🙂

  6. Pat Warren says:

    I am researching the Gardiner from Portsea, William born 1812. I came across your story. Please can you tell me your connection. Thank you

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Pat,
      I’m afraid I don’t have a connection to Gardiners from Portsea. My Gardiners came from Gloucestershire. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  7. Abbi says:

    Hi Jess, i just read your post that includes Herbert Liverton. we is my great great grandmothers brother. during my trip to France last year i visited his grave. it was truly wonderful. it was great to read about his wife in your blog as i knew nothing other than a photo i have of him and where he died.
    thank you

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Abbi,

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Herbert Liverton and his in-laws’ family, the Theakstons. This family is fascinating to me as my Great Grandmother was quite secretive about her past. If you ever come across any information about them, please let me know. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

  8. Janet Hutchison (Rockingham WA) says:

    Hi Jess, Have just come across your site and enjoyed reading your famly stories. My husband and I belong to WAGS and are volunteers at the State Library where we help many people pursue their family history research, which gives us enjoyment when we find some of their early ancestors here in WA. We have helped find connections to our early pioneers, convicts, pensioners and at the moment are focusing a lot on the ANZACs. See WAGS site regarding 11th Battalion.
    Thank you

    1. Jess says:

      Thanks Janet! I’m glad you enjoyed reading my family stories on Finding Family. I’m a member of WAGS too but I don’t always get there as often as I’d like. I did however attend the 11th battalion commemoration with my family – it was a wonderful day. 🙂

  9. Robyn (Ontario, Canada) says:

    Hi Jess,
    Seems like we share Joseph Theakston in common–I came across some of your info on Ancestry and added it to my tree.. Very interesting information about Christopher Edwin in your post here! I’m just getting started with what has quickly turned into an obsession lol. My family comes from Charles Delattre, who is listed as a sculptor throughout the censuses. He’d be my great grand-mother’s great great-grandfather, give or take a great 🙂 Nice to have found kin with a kindred spirit!

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Robyn,
      Apart from my own family, I’d say you’d be one of the first people I’ve heard from who shares a connection with Joseph Theakston. Very exciting! 😀 I have come across the name Charles Delattre before but don’t know a lot about his family. Yep, Christopher was a bit naughty. Must’ve been terribly embarrassing for the family, especially considering the status of Joseph. Curiously, I still haven’t found his death. He just vanishes! Lovely to hear from you. Feel free to contact me on: if you have any questions. 🙂

  10. Richard Stretch says:

    I am trying to find information about Horace Stretch who i believe came to WA after the Boer War to work with WAGR as an electrical engineer.Have found a small item at the State Library but i haven’t been able to find any more.I believe he must have been involved about the time the Midland Workshop was opened.

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Richard,

      I have recently started taking on research requests from other people. I had a quick look and came across a record for Horace. A deeper search could be conducted and if this is something you would be interested in, please contact me on:

      Kind regards,

  11. Pam Casellas says:

    Hi Jess,

    I too am a descendant of Abraham and Anne Hurst, also through Basil. His daughter Alice married James Ecclestone and their daughter Gwen married Basil Duce and are my grandparents. I’m compiling an outline family history combining the Hurst, Ecclestone and Duce connections and I’m curious to know who the people are in the photograph on your website. Cheers

  12. Don Cocking says:

    Hi Jess I have only recently discovered your blog whilst researching my Great Uncle Daniel Cocking. We visited his grave at Rue Papillion in Fleurbaix France last November and I must commend the war graves and French people for the great job they do maintaining the cemeteries in France. I was keen to see if I could find Daniel in the Pyramid photo and was trying to use his mate Ernest to try and see if he was nearby, the photos aren’t that big. We are going again to France in 2018 and again will visit Daniel, we took him some Australian dirt and Anzac biscuit my wife makes and an Australian flag. I was hopeful of trying to locate where he fought and where he was killed in action. Unfortunately all relatives on my Fathers side are no longer with us so research is pretty difficult. So thanks you for the bits I have gleaned from you blog and congratulate you on the fine job you have done. If you have anymore details about these two mates I would really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks again Don

  13. Ron Glasson says:

    Hi Jess,
    I am immediately struck by the banner photograph on your blog page. Can you tell me if this is a generic one or one of personal interest to your family line? The reason it strikes me is the tall gentleman standing second on the left – could very well be a relative of mine.

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Ron,

      The photo is one that relates to my family. It’s my Great Grandparents’ wedding day. They’re in the middle. Surrounding them (apart from two of the ladies) are the relatives of my Great Grandmother – the Hurst family. The gentleman you’re referring to (standing on the left) is Abraham Hurst.

      Hope this helps! 😊

  14. Sue Lee says:

    Hi Jess, the property that the Crampton child disappeared from is in Allanson, near Collie. Sue Lee

  15. Jancis Elphick says:

    Hi Jess…I have been researching the Crampton Family starting with William and Anne coming over from Cranbrook UK in 1841…we are renovating the house “Viewbank” in Brunswick Junction that their son John Crampton inherited (I think) from Hannah (Johns sister) after her husband Benjamin Elmes died around 1866. Thomas Crampton was Johns brother, what a terribly sad story about his poor little son Thomas Lisle. It made me cry. John Cramptons son Luke, married a lady called Ann Hurst and they had a daughter Nora Kathleen born 1882…do you know if Ann is related to Matilda? is so interesting finding out about the history of our home and I have also just found out that a friend is related to the Cramptons through Alfred Crampton (Williams son) and Lucy Gardiners family tree!..
    I also wonder whether you have any photos of Thomas and any of his brothers & sisters and families? Would be wonderful to see faces to names!!
    Anyway I am going to read Tillys story now,thank you for your blog.Look forward to hearing from you.
    Jancis Elphick

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Jancis,

      It’s wonderful to hear that an old Crampton family home is still standing and is being cared for.

      Luke Crampton never married Anne Hurst. They were actually first cousins through the Gardiner line and they had a daughter out of wedlock who was named Norah Kathleen Crampton but went by Norah Kathleen Hurst. Anne actually took Luke to Court under the Bastardy Act. Norah grew up with the Hurst family (her Grandparents) who lived at Collie Bridge near Australind. She sadly died at age 16 from typhoid fever in Coolgardie.

      Anne is definitely related to Matilda – they’re sisters – with Anne being older. There is a photo of Thomas with Matilda and it should be in the blog post about Matilda’s story. There are no photos of Thomas Lisle that I know of.

      I hope the above helps. I know the Hurst and Crampton families very well through my research. Please feel free to email me ( if you have any questions.

  16. David says:

    Hi Jess, I’ve just found your postings today and the stories you have on Jesse Wallace, Esther Mather and George Mather are very interesting, your research is thorough and well presented. My interest is on the history of George Mather, who is my 3x Great grandfather, the connection down the tree is via his son William. I too found the article on the oldest publican, and it would great to know about him and Mary Forrestall if you have learnt more since your post. Regards David

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