I owe my love of Genealogy to my maternal Grandmother, Marie Lachmund (nee Latham) (1934-2012).
Nana was born on 30 July 1934, although her birth certificate says 30 April 1934 but we always celebrated her birthday in July and she said her certificate was actually a mistake. I think that’s because she had always prided herself on being a proud Leo and was more mortified that she had been celebrating her birthday on the wrong day.
She was one of 13 children born to William Ernest Latham (1900-1962) and Myra Mildred Dixon (1902-1947). Her father was a veteran of both the World Wars and suffered what today would have been classed as post-traumatic stress. Newspaper reports have him in court defending himself charged with many a brawl with locals, his landlord and sadly his wife.
Nana idolised her mother who died when she was 13 and so when I was around that age, she asked me if I would help her research her family. We travelled into the city of Sydney to the beautiful State Library where we could access microfiche indexes and I dutifully wrote down everything in pencil I could find in a little exercise book.
She never cared much to find out about her Father’s story. I think a violent childhood and the fact that she blamed her Father for her Mother’s early demise meant she didn’t want to know about him and his story. I must admit since I’ve researched his story, I have a lot more compassion for him than she ever did, but that’s a tale for another day.
I spent a lot of time with Nana and Poppa, Donald Charles Lachmund (1935-2007), as a child and one of my fondest memories is the many road trips I went on with them both. While we travelled the long distances between Sydney and South West Rocks, which is nearly at the halfway point to Brisbane and where a number of my relatives live, I would make both Nana and Poppa tell me stories of their childhood. Nana loved to tell me her memories of being a young girl during the Second World War whereas Poppa’s stories were mainly about his life as a young man, working on farms around regional New South Wales.
Nana would take me on weekends to historical houses and events, and I would pretend that I was living in the era, dressing in the fashion of the time and pretending that I could exist without electricity or running water… Sometimes we would wander around derelict cemeteries trying to read the inscriptions on the tombstones and wondering about the souls that lay beneath them.
I guess it was little wonder that Genealogy was in my bones.
As I got older and I shared with other people my passion for my ancestors, instead of being bored, I found they would also share in my excitement and ask for help in finding their family and their stories. Then a few years ago, I gained my first paying client. Wow! To actually be paid for doing something I loved was such a thrill.
It really doesn’t matter if I’m researching my own family or researching for a client. Every find is exciting, every person uncovered has a story and I’ve found so many interesting tales along the way. I’ve found many a skeleton in the closet, been able to help someone find their biological father, discovered patterns of behaviour through generations and assisted people with uncovering mental illness history in their families. No two clients are ever the same and I welcome the challenge and puzzles that each new research problem presents.