After 20 years of searching and four trips to England, family historian Helen Murphy finally has answers.
The passionate genealogist from Rockingham had been baffled by the absence of information about her great-great-grandfather James Morris Watts.
“My father’s ancestry stopped at my great-grandad’s father, and I couldn’t work out why,” she said.
“There were records of my great-great-grandfather marrying my
great-great-grandmother in 1855, but a year later when my great-grandfather was born, the father’s name was absent from the birth certificate and my great-great-grandmother’s maiden name was used on the baptism records.
“I couldn’t find a death certificate or any record of James Morris Watts, he just disappeared.”
That was until late last year, when a hired researcher in England uncovered the truth in a newspaper clipping.
As with all good mysteries, Ms Murphy is keeping readers in suspense until May 4 when she will present her findings at the monthly Family History Society of Rockingham meeting.
A third-generation Australian, Ms Murphy said she knew nothing about her ancestry growing up.
“I didn’t even know the names of my grandparents, they were just granny and grandfather,” she said.
Ms Murphy said she was inspired to look into her family history in her early 20s and there was no turning back. “They say genealogy is like a disease, and I would definitely say that,” she said. “There’s always something to learn — once you’ve started, you can’t stop.”
Ms Murphy said genealogy encompassed all of her interests. “Genealogy is history, geography, English, computers, photography, and communication with like-minded people from all over the world,” she said.
The Family History Society of Rockingham and Districts Inc annual general meeting will be held on Saturday, May 4, at Lotteries House, Rockingham. For more information, phone Marjorie Burton on 9527 1960.