Friday, July 26, 2013

The Genealogist From Down Under

Scotland? New Zealand?  What does this have to do with Eastern Europe? One of my readers is a professional genealogist, and she is visiting me this week from New Zealand. Meet Bobbie Amyes of Auckland, New Zealand, the Genealogist from Down Under.

Bobbie, a retired New Zealand public school teacher, has been interested in her family history since the age of 8 when she  found a green  book in a chest of drawers in her grandmother's front parlor.  Titled The Howie Family Tree, 1854-1954, the book, compiled by Bobbie's cousin, Gilbert Pearce, commemorated 100 years of the Howie Family in New Zealand.  When she found herself on page 22 listed with all her first cousins, aunts and uncles, Bobbie was hooked on her family history.

While she was teaching school and raising her children, she worked on her family history in her spare time and during school holidays. She began to get serious about genealogy after her daughters were grown and she had stopped teaching. She works on genealogy projects every day for several hours.

One of her first tasks was to sort out the Howie family history she found in the green book.  She is grateful that Gilbert Pearce collected the information about the family and it gave her something to work from.  After much research, she found that some of the information was correct and that other information was not.  This seems to be something that  genealogists run into when they study old family histories.  All information should be checked for accuracy.  Accepting something as truth just because it is old, may lead you nowhere. 
Bobbie Amyes

Bobbie's next step was to locate the Howie family in Scotland.  She used the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in New Zealand.  Since this was before computers were widely used for genealogy research, she looked at the International Genealogical Index and found the names of her ancestors.  She ordered films "Census of Scottish  Parish Registers for the years 1841-1851" from the Family History Center. When she completed the Howie family tree,  she listed it on Roots Web World Connect and a lady from Canada found it and contacted her wondering if they were related.  They were, and this lead Bobbie to join her to do more research on their family in Canada.  Later, she found the last piece of her missing family history, another branch of the Howie family in New Zealand. 

What began as a search for missing ancestors led Bobbie to become a serious genealogist.  She hads transcribed two census records for parishes in Applecross, Scotland for FRECEN in Great Britain, a reference for genealogists.  She is researching the McLeay and Kennedy families, two Scottish families from the area of western Scotland.  She does research online for the Heritage Center in Applecross as a volunteer.  In New Zealand, she teaches a course for the New Zealand Society of Genealogy, "Introduction to Scottish Genealogy."  She also volunteers at the New Zealand Genealogy  Society library and the "go to person" for Scottish genealogy.  She published two articles in Scottish Mother, and two articles in Scottish Father, compiled by the Dunedin (New Zealand) Family History Group in 2012.  Another article will be published in Irish Parents, coming out in 2013.