Is this your family’s wedding photo?

I do love things that turn up out of the blue!  There I was quietly sitting at the keyboard this afternoon when an email arrived with this photo attached.

The email said:

I found the attached photo in the back of another picture in an old frame.  I bought it in Rozelle in Sydney, so I was a little surprised when the photographer was so close to my family home in Geelong.

I saw that J M ARNEST is in your list of Geelong and District photographers in Colac and thought you may like one of his photos, of what is most likely a local family from there.  It’s such a large group for a wedding photo, probably the entire extended family.  Unfortunately I have no way of knowing who they are!  There is nothing at all on the back of the photo.

With Val’s permission I’m putting in on my blog in the hope that someone can identify the family featured in the photograph.

John Mond ARNEST died on 23rd April 1920 and was buried in the Colac Cemetery.  He was born in St Louis, Missouri, USA.  In the 1880 Census for San Fransisco he was listed as widowed, aged 37.  His occupation stated “works in photograph gallery”.

In July 1881 he was living in Queensberry Street, Hotham East [now North Melbourne], when he married 17 year old Nellie Maud ST JEAN.  Births of children were registered in 1884 and 1886.

In August 1898 Nelly Henriette ARNEST of Carlton:

sought a dissolution of her marriage with John Mond ARNEST, photographer, of Colac, on the grounds of desertion for three years and upwards. [ … ] The marriage took place at the office of the Registrar, Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, on 19th July, 1881.  The parties lived together in elbourne and Adelaide until April, 1882, when the petitioner alleged, respondent deserted her.  Communications passed between them until 1890, when ARNEST disappeared, and was believed to be dead, until it was accidentally discovered that he was living at Colac.  [ … ]  After questioning petition as to the reason of her delay in bringing the present proceedings, his Honor intimated that he was not satisfied, but would allow an adjournment until Monday.

Nelly was asked if she sought the dissolution because she wanted to remarry.

The decree nisi was granted, however her marriage the same year [1898] and the births in 1884 and 1886 don’t support her claims!

Whatever the truth of the relationship, ARNEST ended up in Colac operating his photographic business from 1896 until his death in 1920.  Therefore the photograph would have been taken between those years.

John left all his assets to his sister, Belle ANDREWS, who was living in San Francisco.

Research this weekend!

A great opportunity for locals and out-of-towners to research at the Geelong Heritage Centre this weekend.

As part of the Word for Word Festival the Heritage Centre will be open Saturday AND Sunday this weekend.

SATURDAY: 10am – 5pm

SUNDAY: 10am – 4pm

Who was G. G. M., photographer?

GGM was definitely in our region at some time (probably early 1900s) as images at Portarlington and Clifton Springs are included in his collection on the SLV web site.

It appears that the family may have holidayed at Portarlington as there are a number of images of the family on the beach at Portarlington.

There are 121 images attributed to G. G. M., photographer – the challenge is to identify GGM – there are many more details on my other blog – we need to share this as far as possible – perhaps we will find family members who can positively identify GGM and his siblings.

The extra information you might need to help solve this puzzle can be found on my other blog on GGM.


Will I catch up with you this afternoon? I hope so!

I’m so looking forward to this afternoon – the first talk I will be giving since losing (and regaining) my mobility.  It’s not too late to book – there are two sessions:

  • Researching your female ancestors via midwives and nurse
  • Researching intercoastal Shipping and Passengers along the east coast of Victoria

Hope to see you there!

Bellarine Historical Society on FaceBook

It’s great to see the Bellarine Historical Society with their own FaceBook page.

Social Media is a great opportunity to help promote societies on the web.

The Society is open every Sunday in January and the first Sunday of the month for the rest of the year (except September).  The hours are 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm.

Plan to make the most of your visit – prepare details and documents for the names you’re researching and bring them with you so you have your own information at your fingertips.


Hurry – before price rise!

Don’t get caught out – from 1 July 2017 Victorian BDM certificates  cost more!

You have LESS THAN 3 DAYS to purchase your Victorian Historical Certificates before the price goes up.

Currently you can search (for free) and then purchase a Historical Certificate:

  • Certified Historical Certificate – $31.80
  • Uncertified Historical Certificate – $24.60

After midnight this Friday the price goes up.  I cannot find the new price apart from the statement that the new price will appear in the price list FROM 1 July 2017.

The government web pages state that the ‘Fee Unit’ from 1 July 2017 for the Justice Department (inc. BDMs) will be $14.22 – I’m not sure how that converts to an actual price!  Bottom line, it confirms an increase from 1 July 2017.

Don’t go crazy purchasing certificates just for the sake of it, but if you’ve been contemplating purchasing one or more, it’s now time to have a more serious think about it.

Geelong and District Database – nearly there!

Nearly ThereI’m absolutely awe-struck with the support from friends and strangers alike – it has been amazing and humbling.  There are less than FIVE days left for the Pozible crowd funding project to help recover the Geelong and District web site and database and we are SO close.

Although technically there’s still a LONG way to go, we’ve recovered most of the web site – the really hard work is getting the database back up and bomb proofed – not just for the short-term but for the long haul!

We’re 71% of the way there – so close – but until we reach the target amount and deadline the effort could all be wasted.  The project ends and all pledges are lost if we don’t make that target.

I have my fingers and toes crossed and I’m really hoping that some people have left it until close to the end to pledge funds to this project.

Please help us achieve the target!

I even have more records to add to the database – once we can get it back up and running.

Now I really need your help!

Really really sadRemember when I said the Geelong and District web site and database really needed your help?

In early January, 25 years of work was wiped off the web by ‘Company F’ – the web site and database at was removed.

You were just wonderful with your responses.

So now it’s time to move from really really sad to getting close to happy.

If the number of people who responded last time offering assistance come to the party again, we’ll be making real progress.  I can’t do it without financial help so I’ve set up a crowd-funding project where you can contribute.

With the input from a wonderful ‘knight in shining armour’, he has PROVEN that we can get the web site and database back up and running.  So this isn’t ‘Pie in the sky’ or fantasy time – this is REAL.

BUT, it really needs some funding to make it happen – obviously the sooner the better!

From 7.30 am Wednesday 8th February, the funding project will be open … visit and pledge your support.

luvyouHelp turn that really really sad face into a smiling one – please help?

I really want other local and family history researchers to again have free access to more than 1.7 million entries in my database!

It’s not just me that you will be helping – over the years many other volunteers have contributed to the database – they deserve your support as well.

Any funds raised in excess of the target will kickstart Stage 2 of the overall project.

Geelong and District database – you’re wonderful!

Source:’m blown away with the number of offers of help, suggestions and encouragement – you are all truly wonderful.  I may need some other help and definitely some financial assistance but things are heading in the right direction.  There were so many great offers but at this stage I’ve chosen a local ‘Knight in shining armour‘ who already has some of my files and is working on recovering my web site and my database.

And no, I haven’t got my USB back from Company F yet – waiting!

I feel like I can breathe again and my respect for my fellow researchers is way up there.

Thank you all – I’ll keep you posted.

Geelong and District web site – need your help!

Really really sadThis is how I feel at the moment with 25 years of work wiped off the Internet through no fault of my own.

It could be worse – I have the complete database – more than 1.7 million records – on my desktop and backed up off site.  And I have a reasonably recent backup of the Joomla web site – I say reasonably because that’s when the problem started – back in March 2016.  The company that had been hosting my web site was bought out in 2015 by another company.  The current one I call Company F for the time being.  Since I started my database back in 1992 there has been a progression of companies – the first went bust, the second (B) bought out by (C) and so on until the current – Company F.

My current urgent requirement:

  • Recommendation of web hosting company for a Joomla web site (older version).
  • Transfer my Domain Name to the new web host.
  • Set up my Joomla web site complete with SQL database on the new web host.

My secondary requirement

  • Convert the old Joomla web site to the latest version.

I’m not expecting this for nothing but I will need to set up some crowd funding to pay for it.  And I can’t do that until I can get a realistic quote to do it!

I’ve sent out emails to some contacts who might know someone who might know someone who can help.

I’m waiting for Company F to return the USB to me – with a complete copy of my web site and database etc.

Why am I not still using Company F?  NO CHOICE!

  • After agreeing to become a Company F Customer – for supposedly less than I was being charged by Company E which they have now owned for almost 2 years – I had a Company F Customer Number.
  • After pulling the plug on the server I was on, they promised to have it all up and running in the middle of January.  DIDN’T HAPPEN.
  • After promising to send me an email confirming they had done this – DIDN’T HAPPEN.
  • Then Company F had the nerve to tell me I needed to find another web hosting company because this wasn’t their core business and they weren’t going to get my site up and running.
  • Then they had the nerve to send me an invoice – to be taken directly out of my account – for a LARGE amount of money – for hosting my site!

multicrysadThis is how I feel now and I really do need your help – find me the right person who can help!

And never trust companies, who buy out others, to tell the truth and honour any existing agreements!