Thursday, 18 October 2012

X is ..... An Unknown Quantity

and genealogy has so many unknown quantities.  

The main one that I have faced over the years is the Unknown quantity of what information I will get from Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates.

I'm sure every researcher has sat  pondering over an index entry saying to themselves  "is this him/her/them?"  "will I take the gamble?"

It happens to me all the time and  because I don't have spare cash to spend on too many certificates I have to weigh up heavily how much I really need this or that one, how much information it may give me or even if it is who I am looking for in the first place.  

In the excitement of the hunt it is not hard to get carried away but I'm a bit lucky in that I have only purchased one or two over the years that have not been "the one".

My Dad asked me about 6 years ago if, in the course of my research, I had ever come across his maternal Uncle.  
All he knew was that his name was Jack Adams and he was ten years older than my grandmother.  She had little memory of him as he had left home before she was  old enough to get to know him.

One day, sometime in the 1980s, Dad said his mother received a phone call saying her brother, who was in his 90s,  was in a Melbourne nursing home and not expected to live much longer.  Dad asked her if she wanted to go and see him.  She declined as she was told he had dementia so he wouldn't even know who she was and she didn't really know him anyway.  
Nana was in her 80s so it would have been a big trip to Melbourne for her.

So when Dad asked the question I decided to search the indexes for a John "Jack" Adams who would fit.  No search using his parents names showed any results.  The only John Adams who would fit died in 1983 at Tullamarine but had "parents unknown"  .............................. "will I  or won't I, will I or won't I?"

I put it on the back burner and procrastinated for 5 years before curiosity finally got the better of me!  I purchased the certificate and knew it was him even though parents were unknown.  Listed on the certificate was a son named Morgan Adams - obviously named after his own younger brother who had died in 1923 after returning ill from WW1.

That had me on a roll then.  The certificate gave me his wife's name (she had died earlier) so I then purchased their marriage certificate and his parents fitted!

The certificates also said he was born in Sydney.  Another unknown quantity!  Looking for a John Adams born in NSW to a John and Mary Adams I thought was a bit of a tall order.  But there was one!
Again I procrastinated until I found Marilyn Rowan's NSW transcription service   Marilyn has specials from time to time and a transcription was going to cost me less than half of the actual certificate so I went for it and again it was the correct one!  

I was able to piece together more of Jack's life once armed with names and dates.  I was thrilled.

So now I am searching for any living descendants of his children Grace Francesca, Morgan John and Leonard Adams.  Grace married a Geoffrey Taylor who died in WW2 then later a Jack Albert Delbridge in Sydney.

This post is my contribution to the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge issued by Alona of Gould's.

 My family history through the alphabet list


  1. Aaah, dont you just love the chase ? It's so rewarding

  2. Sure do Claire, that's what keeps me going back for more :)

  3. How wonderful that you found your Great Uncle, Jack Adams, Kerryn. It was exciting to read and I know exactly what it feels like when you're "on a roll" :-)... Did your dad live to hear about your discovery? Good luck with your search for his living rellies...Thanks for sharing, Catherine.

    1. Hi Catherine, hopefully one day I'll find them. Yes Dad is still alive and fit and well. He only knew one Aunt who was close in age to his mother.

  4. How fantastic that you've unravelled the mystery of the elusive Uncle Jack. Fingers crossed your post proves to be good "cousin bait".

    1. Thanks Pauleen, yes my fingers are constantly crossed

  5. That is one of the best parts about finding people, how it snowballs into more and more finds. Also hope your cousins read this and get in touch.

  6. Little piece by little piece ... well done Kerryn.

  7. Oh I love stories like this! What an interesting trail and a great result, Kerryn :)

  8. I can totally relate to the challenge of the chase and the thrill of success.

    An interesting twist to "X"