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Olive Riley's Lost Cousins

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

As a great-great-grandmother, my friend Olive Riley (108), the world's oldest blogger, often wonders how many living relatives she has. Since she was the youngest of a family of 12 children, there must he hundreds of their descendants she has never heard of, scattered around the world.

A few weeks ago, she was discussing this with me. "You might try joining a group of genealogists in England called LostCousins" I suggested. "I know Peter Calver, who runs it."

I sent an email to Peter, who was thrilled to enrol Olive as the oldest of his thousands of members. He went to work to locate Ollie's numerous descendants and relatives, and appealed to his many "buddies" to join the search.

The result was simply amazing.

"Born Olive Evelyn Dangerfield in New South Wales in 1899, she was the youngest child of Henry Dangerfield and Lillian Sarah Evans," Peter wrote in his November newsletter.

"One of 12 children, she had a special relationship with her older sister Emma, but sadly Emma died when Olive was just 6.

"Tragedy was to strike the Dangerfield clan again: in 1915, Olive's cousin Albert was killed at Gallipoli; then in 1943 her nephew John was lost in action over north-west Europe.

"But research by LostCousins 'buddies' has shown that there were scores of other cousins who survived the wars, and today there must be thousands of Olive's living relatives in Australia, and in Britain where the Dangerfield line originated.

"Most of Olive's brothers, sisters, and cousins were born not in New South Wales, but in South Australia. Henry Dangerfield, Olive's father, was born in Adelaide in 1851, the eldest child of Joseph Dangerfield (born c1823) and Sarah Elliott (born c1833).

"That's as far back as we've been able to go so far - but perhaps you can tell us more? Are you related to Olive through the Dangerfield, Evans, or Elliott line? If so, please email LostCousins and we'll put the two of you in touch."

The search is still in progress. Peter's latest discovery is that one of Olive's numerous cousins, Albert James Victor Dangerfield, while serving as a private soldier in the Australian Imperial Force in the first world war, was court-martialled for "using insubordinate language to his superior officer" while in Egypt.

Bert, a son of Olive's Uncle Charlie, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year's gaol with hard labour for speaking his mind, as many Australians (including Ollie) are apt to do from time to time.


Story first posted December 2007

Copyright 2007

Eric Shackle

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