Gloucester District U3A's Family History Discussion Group

U3A members share their family discoveries and research road blocks in the back room at the Gloucester Senior Citizens Centre on Hume Street.
U3A members share their family discoveries and research road blocks in the back room at the Gloucester Senior Citizens Centre on Hume Street.

Tucked away in a back room of the Gloucester Senior Citizens Centre, secrets of the past are being uncovered.

Stories are told about a murder in Ireland long ago, the Lord Lieutenant’s call for a reward to help solve the case, and mysterious circumstances to a family’s relocation to Australia.  

It’s tales you’d expect to hear in an Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle novel; but for these members of Gloucester District University of the Third Age (U3A) it’s just a chat about their family history.

Now in its third term, the Family History Discussion Group meet for a couple of hours twice a term to talk about the trials and tribulations of tracing their family histories.

Run by Lyn Stewart the group works in a fairly laid back fashion, each telling the tales of what they have uncovered or what issues they have encountered.

Lyn’s journey into her family history, the Murphy’s from Ireland, has resulted in a very interesting tale of a distant relative who was murdered.

“Two days after the murder, a reward was posted,” she explained.

As she held in her hand a copy of the reward call upon by the Lord Lieutenant or Ireland, she retold the story of the murder, which to this day remains unsolved. 

She’s been so inspired by her family history, she plans to write a book about it.

As each member shares a little bit of what they’ve uncovered about their family history’s and the many obstacles and road blocks they’ve encountered, it’s clear how passionate they all are about the journey. It’s takes a lot of detective work to piece together a family tree; chasing clues and following leads.

Methods that have helped are Government records, like Births, Death and Marriages or Immigration records. Road blocks seem to be around names; complete name changes, spelling and common names, like Joe Smith.

U3A has run genealogy programs before that covered how to find your family history, but Lyn thought a discussion group would be more useful for people to share ideas about how to find the answers and also to listen to the fascinating stories they have uncovered. 

The Family History Discussion Group, like all the U3A activities, are open to anyone, retired or semi-retired  50 years or over, who are interested in getting involved. For more information about how to get involved email secretary@gloucester.u3anet.org.au or visit: http://gloucester.u3anet.org.au/