Hello 2015 and a visit to the State Records Office

Yes, yes, I am aware that it is now 16 days into 2015 but the truth is between finishing my Masters, getting the results – I passed of course – Christmas, New Year and the beginning of this week; I kind of just collapsed. In a heap. And did a whole lot of nothing. Well, if nothing is defined as eating too much, drinking too much and reading a whole lot of novels.

But thanks to Janelle, over at Janelle’s Family Tree Addiction, I was back into the swing of things by the 13th. You see Janelle was lovely enough to organise a day trip and tour of the State Records Office at Kingswood. So spurred into productivity I preordered 4 probate packs but didn’t think about what further I might want to look at. One can only be so organised when one is still off in the land of novels and general laziness.

The tour of the archives lasted about an hour and was a brilliant look at the masses of buildings, shelvings and infrastructure needed to house the State Archives and the Government Document Repository. We got a peek also at some of the things the Conservators are working on at the moment and I have to say, theirs is quite a task. Stuck together parchment, crumbling paper, water damage, general age. I was good. I didn’t make a single joke about Librarian’s Lung or Anthrax.

Then a quick lunch and onto the reading room where my Probate Packets were waiting for me. It is interesting to see all the goods and chattels listed for valuation. Death duties may be an unfair tax but gee it made for excellent family history resources. In ggreat grandmother Julia‘s there were a couple of letters hinting perhaps at a little family dispute. Julia, you see left everything to be divided equally amongst her four surviving daughters, three from the first marriage and one from her second. One son at least appears to have not been a happy chappy about this. Looking at my grandfather‘s was just heartbreaking and I think perhaps in hindsight something I should have left alone for another twenty years. It has been filed away with the newspaper reports.

The Probate Packets of great grandfather James Muffett and the convict Robert Bird, progenitor of the Bird line; while interesting; held no surprises. I was left with at least three more hours of prime research time. The choices, the choices!

I eventually decided to order up the Deceased Estate file for Robert Muffett and the Administration file for Rosevale School. Now the Deceased Estate file was a nice look into farm life in the late 19th Century. But the School file. THE SCHOOL FILE.

An absolute treasure trove. I only had time for a cursory look through the hundreds of pages of correspondence, memos, lease agreements and reports but it is a glorious thing. And this, see this:

That would be a copy of Robert Muffett’s Will from the School File. THE SCHOOL FILE. Ahem yes. I need to spend some quality time with that file to see what other gems it does possess.

Overall I would call my first visit to the State Records Office a success and I am now keeping a spreadsheet of all the files I want a look at for future visits. (It is a work in progress of course)

This may be the impetus I need to get my driver’s license and finally join the ranks of actual grown ups. Or I might just decide that 6 hours on public transport makes for excellent reading time.


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