I should apologise up front - I love family history! I love oohing and aahing over old photos, trying to imagine what was going on behind those stern faces in the sepia wash pictures. What hopes and happiness, what dreams and disappointments?

I love listening to the stories that are handed down from generation to generation. How have they changed, been sanitised, been exaggerated? I love the discrepancies in a story from one person to another and wondering where the truth might be.

I love hearing other people's family stories, too, which is why I volunteered for many years at a family history library. I especially enjoyed helping people to start their journey of discovery to find the people who had come before them.

I don't do much with the family history these days because it tends to take over all my available brain space and interfere with my writing!

But those fascinating stories are still in my head and the other day... one of them fell out!

The legend is that my husband's great-great grandfather won the Stawell Gift. This is a big foot race run in country Victoria at Easter. It's a handicap race and very prestigious. We were excited when we heard the story and raced off to investigate further. Alas, to no avail. No sign of Henry in the records at all. We wondered if he'd run in the heats or perhaps one of the smaller races held on the day.

So that was where the story rested and many, many years passed...


We went to the Maryborough Highland Gathering on New Year's Day. A fabulous fun family day with all sorts of great activities - including the Maryborough Gift. In the back of the program was a listing of the winners since 1891.

And there, at the very top, was H. Thompson.

I know it's too soon to assume that it's our Henry Thompson. But it might be!

Needless to say the possibilities are tantalising and I'll be off to check out microfilm records of the old Maryborough newspapers in the not too distant future!

This is Sherlock Archer, signing off!

Published on eHarlequin Medical Authors Group Blog, 20 January 2010