Thursday, June 30, 2011

Relatives are where you find them

My Great Grandmother Georgina Ross had a brother George who ran away from his home in Rosscarbury, County Cork, Ireland at the age of 15 and was never heard from again by his family.  Rumour had it he was in South Africa.

My brother Stan is the current family genealogist and a couple of years back managed to track this distant branch of our family.  George Ross had changed his name to Arthur Ross which was enough to hide behind pre-internet days. His grandson, Brian Ross, 83, now lives in Western Australia and has filled in much we did not know about George Walter Arthur Ross and all our missing relatives.

Brian's interest is the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 about which he has researched and written a number of books.  His interest in the Anglo-Boer War has a personal link.  His Grandfather  fought in the war as a Commandant of a Boer Commando unit, defending his adopted country Orange Free State against the British.  You can read more details on The Australian Boer War memorial website here.

George and Ethylwyn Ross
I learned today that Brian has recently written two historical novels which are/will be available as e-books.  An Irish Nurse in Africa and The Irish Boer.  The first book is the story of Francis O'Driscoll with the British Royal Army Medical Corp in Natal, the second is the story of her brother who is fighting on the side of the Boers against the British.  The latter is in process of becoming an e-book. Now I have a real reason to see if I can fire up an old Sony e-reader I happen to have and find some instructions how to run it.


  1. I was privileged to receive a paper copy of The Irish Nurse (autographed even!) and am starting to read it for the second time. The story is particularly interesting to me because the two protagonists Frances and Arthur are based on my great grandmother's sister and brother.
    Brian had already decided to change the focus of the book which he was writing to the nursing sister when he learned from my research that Arthur actually did have a sister who nursed in S.A.
    Interestingly Brian was the first Australian to register in the Boer War Memorial descendant database whose ancestor fought on the Boer side. He wasn't sure they would accept him but the rules didn't specify which side of the war the ancestor fought on, so he applied anyway.

  2. It's not quite true that the family never heard from George after he left the farm. Our grandmother had a photo of George with his wife Ethelwyn and 4 young children in her possession. It was Ethelwyn's unusual first name, written on the back of this photograph, that helped me find the family records in South Africa.

  3. I found the Facebook page for the book with pictures of Brian Ross and his daughters at the book signing. From the description I wondered if the book was based on Frances Ross which I see Stan has confirmed in his comment.

  4. Thanks, Stan. I figured The Irish Boer was based around Brian's Grandfather. Interesting about his sister in South Africa too. More family to track.

  5. Isn't it amazing what some well-researched family history can turn up? I have done some on my family, but hit a couple of walls I haven't been able to scale. But then, a whole lot of other things have gotten in the way of the kind of attention it requires. Maybe some day.

  6. Wow! This stuff is amazing! Also, I love the name Ethylwyn.


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