28 November 2010

Genealogy Name Search Challenge

I recently had an email from a genealogist in the USA who is investigating an alleged association between a SHREWSBURY and her FRISTROM ancestor during his brief visit to Australia. She was stunned when a rather optimistic Google search for 'FRISTROM +SHREWSBURY' (together on the same page) led her to a 'name + alias' entry on my Web site.

This started me thinking about uncommon surnames. Just for fun, using Twitter, I offered a prize to the first genealogist to search my Web site and find an unusual name from their family tree. Within minutes, Kerry Farmer (a researcher, instructor and blogger who makes a huge contribution to family history in Australia) announced that she had found entries for her FAZACKERLEY and ETHERINGTON.

The Twitter experiment was so much fun that I decided to take it one step further. To set the scene, I should explain that my Web site lists over fifty thousand names from my indexes to archival records (and a few certificates, photographs and headstones). Although most of the sources are in Australia, many of those 50,000 people were born and/or lived in other countries. I am therefore issuing this challenge to genealogists worldwide:
  1. Think of an unusual name (surname or given name) in your family tree. If none of your names are unusual, choose someone who is a 'brick wall' in your research.
  2. Search for the name using the Google box (top right corner) on my Web site.
  3. If you find the name on my Web site, write a comment on this blog, mentioning the name that you found and the index in which it appears.
  4. You also have the option of ordering (via me) a copy of the original source. Just follow the instructions on the Web page where you find the name.
At the end of each month, in a random draw, I will select one person who has left a comment here and placed an order with me. That person will receive $10 credit towards the cost of any photocopy, book or genealogical research that he/she orders from me.

This offer will remain open until further notice, and you can participate every month if you wish. Happy searching!


  1. Hi Judy,
    What a great challenge. I had a search with some on the more uncommon names on my tree (or possibly on my tree) and came up with some results!

    FOLLIARD - I am investigating the possibility that my Fullerton family were actually Fullard/Folliard/Follard in County Kildare Ireland. I found FOLLIARD John on your Mental Asylum records index (http://www.judywebster.gil.com.au/insan_ef.html).I have come across his name before a lot during searches of the police gazettes available on findmypast.com.au. I don't know if he is any connection.

    PICKIS - none.

    MARROWS - none.

    TANGNEY - TANGNEY John Brisbane Hospital (http://www.judywebster.gil.com.au/brishos3.html) and TANGNEY Eileen Mary - Nurses and Masseurs (http://www.judywebster.gil.com.au/nurses.html) Don't know how or if they are connected but I imagine either they or their ancestors came from County Kerry Ireland.

    Thanks Judy for your great site!

  2. I searched EASON, which is my mother's maiden name. It's uncommon but not really rare. I came up with someone whose middle name is Eason, but no cigar for me I'm afraid!

  3. Picked up my John Finn - knew he was in Woogaroo but haven't been able to get access. Hadn't thought to try the Public Curator Insanity files.Thanks

  4. The maiden name of my wife's mother was Window. Searching your site brought up lots of references to window, like "open in a new window". Thought that was hilarious! Can tell you the family were often the brunt of cruel jokes so much so several branches changed their name. On the topic of unusual names, my wife's father first married a lady with family name Glass before marrying a lady named Window. Just to top it off, Window married a Streek and the maiden name of Ms Glass' mother was Batten.

  5. Thanks for all the comments. Warren, I loved the story about the combinations of names in your family. Sorry about the 'open in a new window' results, but I hope you did find the 'WINDOW William' entry from hospital admission registers?

  6. Hi there Judy,

    tried Kassulke/Kasulke/Kasulka. Found an entry for Pension Application for a Kassulke - but he was from another sept of my family (the Moreton Bay Kassulkes as opposed to the Maryborough Kasulkes.)

    Tried Cousens and Tanks - no results. You can imagine that in standard searches the number of "cousins" I was directed to, and how many ads for water tanks frustrated me. Those cousins from Longreach were a thirsty lot!

    McWha - I could never find the marriage of one of my Meyer great-aunts until an elderly aunty suggested that she had married someone named "macwah". She thought that it might be chinese ;-) However with some research I did indeed find the right Meyer-McWha marriage. Your records also have a George McWha, probably from Charleville, and I have already contacted you about that. Probably the husband or father-in-law. The surname seems to be Irish.

    I probably have a few more odd-bod surnames to check out.

  7. The winner of the prize for Dec 2010 was 'Mighty Ogbo'. As yet there are no entries for a January prize draw, as no-one else has found a name on my Web site, posted a comment here *and* ordered a copy of the original document.

  8. This offer is still open. If you find a name on my Web site, post a comment here *and* use my Copying Service to order a copy of the original document, you will go into the prize draw for that month.


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