Ferns Origin and Family Tree
In 1919 my mother, Tui Ferns, was born the seventh of thirteen girls and boys raised by Hubert Ferns and Isabella McQuilkan in Invercargill, the southern-most town in New Zealand. Hubert was raised in Australia in an Irish Catholic family and Isabella was born in Southland and had a Scottish Protestant upbringing. The question of what religion their children should follow was resolved by letting them choose their spiritual following for themselves.
I eventually became interested in genealogy through recording my own family tree, and soon expanded this into keeping track of the large Ferns family as well. Sharing family tree information had always been a chore, but with the development of web-based database systems it was great to be able to use these tools for both sharing the family records, and to have a much improved research capability. My current tool of choice for recording the family tree is MyHeritage.
But what about the yarns?
An issue that concerned me was a large collection of family material written either as poetry or stories which I had inherited. These records provided great insights about the family and its various personalities which were not recorded in the family tree database. As an alternative to writing a book to share this material I have chosen to record the family stories and research into the NZ Ferns family origins on this website.
Ferns Roots is born
So, Ferns Roots is not a family tree, it is a family history which records Hubert's and Isabella's ancestry from Ireland and Scotland, including family branches in Australia and New Zealand down to the level of my cousins, the children of the original thirteen NZ Ferns girls and boys. The writings of various family members are included to give greater insight into Ferns family personalities. Also given are guides about further family genealogical material, such as an on-line family tree and family videos.
Your thoughts are welcome
Family research is an interesting, and seemingly never-ending hobby. So while there will be much here that is new to the family, I am very likely to have left out other items which my cousins may think are relevant. I am happy to consider any suggestions or content to support Ferns Roots as a usefull family record. I hope it may act as a base for other folk to build their own family research on.
09 November 2022
The Structure of Ferns Roots
Like any book it is possible to just start reading Ferns Roots at the first page and proceed chapter by chapter to the end, or to dip into it at any point and browse.
To make browsing more meaningful it will be helpful to have a general idea of the Ferns/McQuilkan family tree and how the different sections of this site are organised. Put simply, the tree origins have determined that early ancestors originated in the United Kingdom (Ireland and Scotland), some branches had Australian connections, then other family branches evolved in New Zealand.
Ferns Roots stories are therefore recorded in mainly geographic blocks which have the following content:
- Home page
- About (the Author's Introduction)
- Structure: Ferns Roots Structure (this page)
- Finding Aids
United Kingdom Family History
- Hubert's father William's parents Bernard Ferns and Catherine Winter in Birr, Kings County (Cty. Ofally), Ireland
- Children: Ellen, Eliza, Catherine, John, Mary Anne and William Hubert Ferns,
- Hubert's mother Johanna's parents Denis Leary and Mary Brien near Birr, County Tipperary, Ireland
- Isabella's father Donald McQuilkan in Ayrshire, Scotland
- Isabella's mother Catherine Robertson and her Robertson/Wallace families of Pitlochory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
- Hubert's brother John Ferns wife Helen McCann's family of Northern Ireland
Australian Family History
- Hubert's father's family, Bernard and Catherine Ferns and children
- Hubert's mother Johanna's family, Denis and Mary Leary and children
- Huberts family origin; parents William and Johanna Ferns and children in Melbourne, Victoria
- Children: Bernard, Albert, Hubert, Kit, John, Harry and May Ferns
- John and Helen Ferns Family in Melbourne
- Children: Ivy, Bill and Frances Ferns
New Zealand Family History
- Isabella's parents Donald and Catherine McQuilkan and family in Southland
- Their children: Catherine, James, Florence, John, Isabella and Elizabeth McQuilkan
- Catherine's Robertson and Wallace families in Southland
- Her father James and siblings Malcolm, Alec, John, Colin and Donald Robertson
- Her children William, Janet, and Grace Wallace
- Hubert and Isabella in Invercargill
- Hubert's brother John and Helen Ferns and family in Invercargill
- Their children: Ivy, Bill and Frances Ferns
- Helen's McCann family in Southland
- Hubert and Johanna's children and their families
- Their children: Mary, Johanna, Dorothy, Catherine, Edna, William, Tui, Patricia, John, Harry, Sylvia, Donald and Michael Ferns
For each geographic block an additional 'articles' area will show. These pages may include general information, historic background, or family stories giving insights into the character of family members. The document are classed as giving 'support information' as they do not directly record family history.
Use the Search field in the left column to find a term of interest. For instance, start typing in the word 'johanna' and watch as a list of known references appear. Click one of the list items to see details of that occurence used in Ferns Roots. The details show in the main text body. Click the article link and all occurrences of your search word will show highlighgted in that article. Press your browser 'back-arrow' to return to the page you were on.
In the right column will show different lists of category entries that update depending on your current choice. For instance, clicking on United Kingdom will show a different list of choices than will clicking on Australia or New Zealand. The Ferns Roots category will always show below the current category you are browsing, so is always available.
The 'Your Tracks ...' aid provides a 'breadcrubs' trail to show where you are in Ferns Roots. Clicking on any track link will take you back along your trail to that point. Use your browser forward and back arrows to move back and forth between pages as required.
Your browser allows you to open more than one page at a time so you can flip back and forth between pages, perhaps keeping one page showing a list of names while using a second page for detailed study. Browsers all have this feature, but may work slighly differently depending on your model of browser, or whether you are using a desktop, tablet or smartphone.
For example, using Firefox browser on a desktop PC I find a page link I want to have open as well as my current page. I move my mouse over the link and right-click on the link to show a dropdown list of options. I choose 'Open in new tab' and the page opens. I flip back and forth between the two pages by selecting the browser tab I want. This is a browser feature it is well worth while becoming familiar with.
Another example is using my smartphone, where I 'long press' on a link to see options, where I select 'Open link in new tab in group'. I might then browse to a cemetery site to see a memorial inscription on a headstone, using the tab bar at the bottom of my smartphonescreen to flip back and forth between the cemetery record and the Ferns Roots page.
The Ferns Roots site uses a modern software capability that makes it 'responsive' to the size of device that it is viewed on. So a desktop PC having a wide screen can easily display the page header, plus left and right columns. To fit all that information onto a small smartphone screen, the site removes unused space in the header width, and shifts the left and right column content below the main page. This means it is always possible to read good sized text on a small screen.
You can see responsiveness in action by rotating a smartphone or tablet onto its side and seeing the header change size, or by making a desktop window resizable, then dragging the right sidebar to the left and watching the content rearrange itself.