Sunday, May 27, 2007
We had the most amazing day yesterday visiting the area where our great grandparents and grandmother came from. We even visited the church where our great grandfather was baptised as well as the graves of, probably, our 42nd cousins one of whom only died 2 yrs ago. I don't know if I can adequately describe in an e-mail though the fantastic people we met along the way. We first met Andre, an hour later than we were supposed to as we got lost in the bus station and missed our bus. We are also not good at following directions of people along the way, mainly because of the language and the fact that when they say 5 kilometers its usually about 15. We've actually taken to riding in taxis more as they are so cheap and my legs are saved. It's been really hot everywhere we've been and they don't like that.
Getting back to the people we began with Andre who was a contact person we had. He is the director of the National Museum in Stourgard which wasn't too far from Tczew the town we wanted to visit where our family roots were. He was waiting for us and ushered us into his office to straightaway partake of lots of Polish goodies and a good long talk with him. Any people who speak a little English seem very eager to converse with you. He gave us also a bag of information and lovely postcards then showed us round the museum and the town and went with us to the bus to go to Tczew. He was such a nice man and it is the first time that I have ever had my hand kissed.
We had several other experiences of helpful nice people on the way and in the town where we visited the church just about the whole village was out, talking flat out in Polish and trying to help us. The taxi driver we had here was shouting out the window at various people and when I realised he was looking for August Plewa, our great-grandfather, I quickly put in his hands the information I had so say that he was actually dead. I then managed to get through that it was the church we wanted to go to. We duly went to the church and met a lady who seemed to know about the Plewa family and the next thing we found ourselves going to the graveyard where we saw the graves of Jahn and Francesca Plewa.
That whole experience cost a bit for the taxi but it was worth it and we duly arrived back in Gdansk tired and hungry but very happy with our day. We're off to Warsaw today but not until we've seen a bit more of Gdansk. Fortunately, we purchased our tickets for the train to Warsaw yesterday owing to another helpful Polish guy who was keen to try out his English on us. However, that's another story.
Must be off now. We join our next tour Mon evening. Hopefully there'll be some English speaking people.
Instead, some of the family went out to her grave and stood around and talked and arranged flowers – and froze: it’s been blowing a freezing gale all day. And we prayed and thanked God for her, because even though she was a quiet person, who didn’t like to be in the public eye, she was greatly beloved by our family.
There’s even been a bit of a joke about her ninetieth birthday. Last year, we’d talked with her about having a celebration for it, and she kept saying, “Well, I won’t be there.” She made sure of that!
Happy birthday, Mum. Hope you’re enjoying being in the presence of God and his endlessly delightful gardens, where no weeds grow, and nothing dies.
Friday, May 25, 2007
We were a little sad to leave Croatia. It was a lovely country, my favourite city being Dubrovonik. Split, the second largest city was also very nice. We also made friends with a couple from Brazil and will be able to show you a photograph on our return. I may have already said Reuben had a Croatian grandfather as well and he also spoke fairly good English. Tuesday night we spent at the Plievitce National Park hotel, very lovely waking up to the birds singing instead of lots of noisy cars, and spent 3 hrs the next morning touring the park by foot, by boat and by train. It was fantastic! We got back to Zagreb about 4.30 and thought we'd look for the History Museum but by the time we got there it was closed. We sat and had a drink in the square and soaked up the atmosphere for a while before we plodded - and plodded we did - back to the hotel for our last dinner together. Unfortunately, we were sitting with those that couldn't communicate with us very well so it was a fairly quiet affair, unlike the other table where stories in Spanish were being told and there was much hilarity. Hopefully there'll be some English speaking people on our Polish tour which begins on Mon evening. Meanwhile we have 3 days here in Gdansk to explore.
Monday, May 21, 2007
A while ago I wrote to the Dunedin Public Library and asked if they could help with any info on Thomas Milliman Joyce. There was a bit of confusion at some point, because the librarian, Cheryl, thought his name was just Thomas Milliman. So her first email response was as follows:
I have been searching for information on Thomas Milliman as discussed by email but have not been having very much luck.
As I indicated in my first email, I checked with 2 sources I thought may be able to help.
Firstly, my husband has been writing up the history of the Lee Stream Hindon area for the local committee. He is working from notes made and collected by various people in the area so although he has done a lot of work verifying information he did not collate the original material. I asked him to check for your Mr Milliman and he found one reference to him being in the area in 1895 but the name has been extracted from a list that came from the Chief Post Office. He believes that the list may have gone to the Hocken Library as a lot of material was deposited there.
I also checked with another patron who is doing work on hotels around Dunedin and Otago. He provided me with a list of hotels and licensees at Lee Stream for the years 1878-1895. There appear to have been 2 hotels - Lee Stream Hotel and the Carriers Arms - but there is no Thomas Milliman listed as licensee.
I checked Stone's directories from 1893-1905 but his name does not appear with a hotel or in the alphabetical sequence. I also checked electoral roll 1894 and 1897 for the Taieri electorate but he is not listed there either. I have checked the newspaper index and other genealogical resources with out luck.
I am sorry I cannot be of assistance at this stage, perhaps the Hocken Library will provide a few more clues. Of course , if I come across any information I will contact you and if find any leads I will be happy to do further checking.
After I'd informed her of her mistake, she wrote back:
Thanks, your email gave me a nasty moment!! I double-checked and I did find him, with variations, in some records but still nothing linking him to the Lee Stream Hotel. I did give the correct name to my other informants. The person who is working on hotels gave me a printed list of licensees of the hotels in the area and his name did not appear.
I have found Mr Joyce in the 1893 electoral roll. He is listed as "Milliman Thomas Joyce" bookbinder , living at Hindon. Hestor is listed as a housewife, also at Hindon and Arthur is listed twice, once as a labourer of Hindon and again as a farmer of Hindon.
I checked some of the Stone's directories (I didn't do very many because I am not sure how much checking you may have done already). In Stone's directory 1893 "Thomas Milman Joyce" is listed as a bookbinder, Union Street, Dunedin.
In 1894 Stone's directories, he does not appear at all - under any variation of the name!
In 1895 James Joyce appears as a farmer at Hindon.
In 1896 Stone's there are no Joyce's listed at Hindon.
In 1897 Stone's directories "Thomas Joyce" is listed as a bookbinder, Buchanan Street, M[ornington]
Both Mr Joyce and his wife appear on the cemeteries database. "Milliman Thomas Joyce" this time!
I will leave my searching at that point and wait until I hear from you. My apologies for getting muddled the first time round!
You can see how difficult tracing family history can be...and I haven't even done any of it here. It would appear that the story about him being licensee of the hotel
Sunday, May 20, 2007
What a relief! After using the e-mail at Singapore with no problems I couldn't get into it at Zagreb for some reason or another. Tonight we're in Split which is way down the coast in Croatia - into Dalmatian territory. Last night we were in Opajtia - a very quaint town on the coast and this morning after leaving there we traveled through Reijk which is where our grandfather lived. It was a very busy port and it was easy to see how our grandfather could have hopped on a boat to come to New Zealand. I would loved to have stopped there even for 5 minutes but didn't get the opportunity. We have actually been talking to a couple from Brazil over dinner tonight, Reuben and Beatrice - very nice people. His grandfather and grandmother also came from Croatia and the area we will go through tomorrow. John invited another Brazilian couple to our room for a glass of not very good wine before dinner. Sonia was a paediatrician and her husband an anaesthetist.