Do you really know who you are?

Do you really know who you are?

Latest in Lifestyle
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE: Dawn Cantwell's relative's Henry Augustus Rayner and a document detailing why her Irish ancestor Anne Ryan was deported.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE: Dawn Cantwell's relative's Henry Augustus Rayner and a document detailing why her Irish ancestor Anne Ryan was deported.

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Now is the time to delve into the family tree.

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WE'VE all been told stories about our long lost ancestors and the fame (or in some cases shame) they brought to our family name.

But have you ever wanted to know what they were really like?

According to Ancestry.com family history expert Brad Argent, learning about our family's past is a great way to bring the family together, particularly during a time of social isolation.

"When you first start researching, it's all about the stories," he said.

Brad told The Senior that the best way to start delving into the branches of your family tree is to write down your name, then your siblings, parents, and their parents.

"At some point, you run out of what you know. That's when you pick up the phone and call the oldest person in your family and start asking questions about their parents and grandparents and get as much information as you can."

The best way to get information? Be an interviewer and ask lots of questions.

"To get more information, the best way is to be quiet," Brad said. "Sit back and listen and let people tell you stories."

Once you've spoken to your family members, it's time to jump online to look for records.

"Look for the hatch, match and dispatch records to fill out your tree. There is usually some sort of record of births, deaths and marriages are these are the big events in peoples' lives."

Brad said from here, people often start to discover interesting little facts about their ancestors that connect them, for instance, a great relative may also be an artist.

"You make a connection with history with that person. It's a gateway to experience history for yourself.

"You don't know what you'll find until you start looking."

Just down the road

When Dawn Cantwell from Victoria's Don Valley started looking, she discovered an amazing family link between her and her husband.

The couple both had relatives who lived on Norfolk Island in convict times - one farm away from one another.

"Amazingly we never had a connection though. A DNA test showed that," Dawn said.

Dawn's relative was a First Fleeter named James Brian Cullen, who she says was the first jockey in Australia.

She also had another relative with a convict past, Anne Ryan who was sent to Tasmania from Ireland with her three daughters.

"Eight days after she arrived, two daughters were sent to live in an orphanage. I couldn't find out what happened to them," Dawn said.

"Things were tough in Ireland at the time during the famine. If she had three daughters, she was probably stealing to survive. "

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