week 6 of Intro to Family History

Presenting your family history, covering literary and creative ways to do this.
It includes some good links to information on how to create a family history including :
There is a great presentation from  Suzanne Wyatt about how she began blogging, and some great tips from what she has learned along the way.  Her blog is called O'er the seas we go

This week also includes important advice about completing and submitting the assignment.
Particularly about writing a reflective statement.  Reflecting on your research is important because reflection is an important part of learning.

Consider the following in a Reflective Statement:
  • What challenged you? How did you meet the challenge?
  • What did you learn that surprised you?
  • What would you do differently if you had the opportunity to do this Assessment Task again?
  • What have you discovered about yourself as a learner? How did this learning relate to your goals (personal, academic or professional)?
The discussions this week are aimed at refining your assignment with the help of the others in the group.  As I am in the "advanced" group, most of what I have looked at is of a high standard and does not need much input.

I've done the last quiz and submitted the assignment - here's hoping I have demonstrated what I learned.  For anyone interested, here it is:


I want to research my Great Great Grandfather, Gottlieb Johan Theophill Stettler (#20 Pedigree chart 1).  He migrated to Australia from Switzerland in the 1850’s, married Hanora McGrath (#21 Pedigree chart 1) aprox 5 months later, and settled in Parramatta to have 7 children.

 Main Research Question

What was the situation he found in Australia leading to him going to gaol?

  • What type of work did he do in Australia?
  • Where did he live in Australia?
  • What criminal convictions did he have and what were the circumstances surrounding them?
  • What were the prevailing economic & social conditions in Australia at the time of his criminal convictions?

Records and Resources I Have Used To Date

  • The Hamburg Passenger Lists[1] show he departed Hamburg on 1/5/1855, aged 30years, on the ship ‘Charles Ross’.  These records also show his occupation as a Schafer (German for Shepherd) and his residence as Burgistein, Schweiz. His year of birth is inferred from these documents to be about 1825 his place of birth is not listed.
  • His arrival is shown in a List of Crew and Passengers[2]  for the same ship, arriving in Sydney on 30th August 1855.  Only his name is shown.
  • Parramatta Gaol Admission Books[3]  show him in gaol in 1865, 1870, 1872 and 1873.  None of these entries show details other than dates of incarceration, the offence and sentence. The exception is the entry for 19th April 1865 (3)  which includes details of when and where born (1825, Switzerland) and arrival (Charles Ross, 1856) which is consistent with other records.  It is from this record we can determine it was not his son John who was in gaol at these times.  Later records in the Admission Books reference this entry for these details.   
  • The NSW Marriage Certificate 1856 [4], lists his age as 30, his parent’s names as Johan Stettler (# 2 pedigree chart 2) and Catherine Nessair (#3 pedigree chart 2), and birthplace as Berne Switzerland.  His age supports his birth year as Abt 1825.  Although a little difficult to see, his signature appears to be Gotlieb Johan Stritler, investigation into the names Stettler and Stritler have not shown any information except Stettler is a common name in Switzerland. 
  • The NSW Death Certificate 1882[5]  lists his parents as unknown.  His age is listed as 60, which does not fit with a birth year of Abt 1825, but as this information was given by 3rd parties it is less reliable than other records.  It does list Gottlieb as buried at St Johns Cemetery, Parramatta, but not exactly where in the cemetery.
  • I know from the documents [6] after his arrival in Australia he frequently used the name John instead of Gottlieb.  This has led to some confusion, as he had a son named John Stettler (#8 Pedigree Chart 1), careful examination is needed to determine which John it is on a record.
  • I have photos of several tenders to Auburn Council[7]  in the name of John Stettler, and these need to be examined more closely for further clues to determine if they are Gottlieb or his son John.

Repositories and Records that I Plan to Use

  • TROVE (trove.nla.gov.au) searches
    • Newspaper search  for information regarding court cases
    • Browse Parramatta and major Sydney newspapers for indications of economic conditions from 1865 to 1873.
  • Ancestry (ancestry.com.au) searches
    • NSW Police Gazettes for mention of prisoner movements or aprehensions for John Stettler
    • Australian Electoral Rolls for Stettler family addresses
    • Sands Directories for the name John Stettler
    • 1891 & 1901 NSW Census for mention of John Stettler
  • NSW State Archives (www.records.nsw.gov.au),  read
  • Search NSW State Archives (www.records.nsw.gov.au) - depending upon the results a visit to the archives may be necessary.
    • Record search for gaol records for John Stettler
    • Photo search for gaol photo of John Stettler.
  • Visit St Johns Church of England Cemetary, Parramatta, to view Gottlieb’s grave if it can be located.  Note: the church records are not available for viewing.
  • Re-examination of the digitial copies of hand written tenders to Auburn Council to determine if these are for Gottlieb or his son John.  (Compare signatures to other documents)  These may indicate an address or date which will help verify other information.
  • NSW State Library (sl.nsw.gov.au) catalogue for scholarly texts on the social history of the time:
    • Local histories of Parramatta for information on Stettler family
    • Economic history of Australia for information about the period 1865 – 1873.
  • Visit the Local Studies and Family History Library of Parramatta (346A Church Street, Parramatta) once I know more about where he lived and worked to determine if they have any further informtion.

Reflective Statement (Approximately 500 words)

I used the principle of starting with myself and working backward, verifying each step to trace back to my Great, Great Grandfather and his family, fortunately I had two important primary sources (his death[8]  and marriage[9] certificates) which yielded significant information.

 Remembering the principle that age can vary and after critical evaluation of the death certificate, the information on this document supporting his DOB was discarded.  The death certificate[10] is a source created at a distance in this case, not by someone who was at his birth and so, whilst a primary record it has secondary information, even though it is direct evidence.  It could possibly have been written by the funeral director from information from a person in the family.

Using the principle of proving each step along the way, I know Gottlieb Johan Theophill Stettler and Hanora McGrath are my great great grandparents from the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Index[11] entry for John Stettler (# 8 pedigree chart 1), my great grandfather, where they are listed as parents, supported with family personal knowledge.

Most members of the family will be unaware of Gottlieb’s criminal convictions, and this may be a sensitive subject, this is one reason it is important to understand the reasons that may have led to the convictions.  Once the research is complete, I can then discuss with my family how much information is communicated outside the family.

Newspapers of the day should provide more details of the circumstances surrounding the crimes, and social history of Parramatta in particular.  Accounts of court cases will need to be evaluated for distance as sometimes the author was in court and quotes the proceedings directly, other times they are quoting a 3rd party. 

Re-examining in detail the photos of tenders submitted to Auburn Council may give further evidence of where the family lived and what they were relying on for income at the time.  Through understanding the broader social history and circumstances of the family, I may find out why my Great Great Grandfather Stettler ended up in gaol.


1.      Hamburg State Archives, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg passenger Lists, 1850 – 1934 [online images]. Ancestry.com.au (accessed 3 April 2014), Staatsarchiv Hamburg Volume: 373-7 I, Vlll A 1 Band 008; Seite: 151. Cit.

2.      State Records Office of New South Wales, Australia; Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 [online images]. Ancestry.com.au (accessed 21 March, 2013), List of Crew and Passengers arrived in the ship Charles Ross, 30th August 1865.

3.      State Records Authority of New South Wales; New South Wales Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 [online images].  Ancestry.com.au (accessed 22 Feb. 2016); Roll: 176, April 1869 p 69, May 1 p160, 1865, Sept 1870 p204-205, Dec 1872 p250, Jan 1873 p248-9,

4.      NSW Marriage Certificate 1856/223373, marriage of Theophill John Stettler and Hanora McGrath.

5.      NSW, Australia Death Certificate 1882/0001703, death of John Stettler

6.      Photos of handwritten letters of tender to Auburn Council, held by B Kernos, originals in possession of Auburn Council Archives, Auburn, NSW, AUS.

7.      NSW BDM index, http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/ (accessed 26 Feb 2012), registration number 10836/1861, birth entry for John Stettler.


A.      Pedigree chart 1 and 2

B.      Family group chart

[1] Hamburg State Archives, Staatsarchiv Hamburg Volume: 373-7 I, Vlll A 1 Band 008; Seite: 151. Ci, Hamburg Passenger List.

[2] State Records Office NSW, List of Crew and Passengers arrived in the ship Charles Ross,

[3] State Records Authority of New South Wales, Roll: 176, April 1869 p 69, May 1 p160, 1865, Sept 1870 p204-205, Dec 1872 p250, Jan 1873 p248-9, Gaol Description and Entrance Books

[4] NSW Marriage Certificate 1856/223373, of Theophill John Stettler and Hanora McGrath.

[5] NSW Death Certificate 1882/0001703, death of John Stettler

[6] State Records Authority of New South Wales, Roll: 176, April 1869 p 69, May 1 p160, 1865, Sept 1870 p204-205, Dec 1872 p250, Jan 1873 p248-9, Gaol Description and Entrance Books

[7] Photos of handwritten letters of tender to Auburn Council, held by B Kernos

[8] NSW Death Certificate 1882/0001703, John Stettler

[9] NSW Marriage Certificate 1856/223373, Theophill John Stettler and Hanora McGrath

[10] NSW, Australia Death Certificate, 1882/0001703, death of John Stettler

[11] NSW BDM index, 10836/1861, birth entry for John Stettler.


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