Xx is for – Crossroads

Crossroads always jumps into my mind when sighting an X. Following that I’m flooded with wonderful memories of “foraging” through the “backblocks” of Corofin, County Clare, Ireland in 1995 and asking the locals if they have any family memories of my Great Great Grandmother, Susan Kelleher, who immigrated to South Australia in 1855.

In this post to the Gould “Family History Through the Alphabet” Challenge I’ll be sharing the delight of my first experience in receiving directions when it is landmarks, and not street names, one needs to follow. Added to that is my fascination with the history, and folkelore, of Crossroads which began with my love of historical fiction. Maybe you’d like to join me in this trip down “memory lane” and onwards…


Documentary evidence clearly shows that my GGGrandmother’s father is Patrick Kelleher, from the Parish of Ennistymon in County Clare, Ireland and so it was the countryside between Corofin and Ennistymon that Sean suggested I “forage”. As an aside, “fossick” is the word I’d use to describe this behaviour, which was an added fascination.

My Ancestral Homeland in County Clare. (c)C.A.Crout-Habel.2012.

So, I learned that you need to look out for Crossroads coming up, which often happens quite quickly, in those narrow country lanes.  Fortunately the warning is usually signposted.

Crossroad Ahead! (c)C.A.Crout-Habel.2012.

With the first Crossroad looming ahead, I’m trying to remember whether I turn right… or left? Don’t panic, Catherine.  Phew!!! the memory came back just in time.  Now I need to watch out for the BIG tree on the right and then turn right at the next Crossroad, after passing that tree.

Here ’tis… turn right! (c)C.A.Crout-Habel.2012.

OK… doing good. Just keep going, and when you can’t go any further turn right again and look out for the “Tall White House”. They might be able to tell you about your Kellehers.

The Tall White House, County Clare, Ireland. (c)C.A.Crout-Habel.2012.

As it turned out, was a bit of a “wild goose chase” but lots of fun anyway… so no worries. 


Can’t remember when I first discovered that “bad people” were buried at Crossroads. What I do remember is that when, many moons ago, a member of my birth family advised that our “Crout” name meant “Dweller at the Cross” I just about laughed my head off with the thought that my Ancestors gained their “moniker” by living where the reprobates of society were interred. Have to say that I’m a bit disappointed at not being able to find any evidence that this is where my family name originated.

Guess that shows my sense of humour and lack of concern about any “nasties” likely to turn up when researching Ancestry. More importantly it has encouraged me to investigate this matter of burials, hangings and superstitions in regard to Crossroads and have to say that I’m enthralled.

Crossroads by Martin Lieberman

Research has shown that the hanging of criminals happened in public places. Sometimes these hangings occurred in the middle of town, sometimes on the main road leading in and also at Crossroads. The bodies were left to rot and remained on public display to act as a deterrent.

Historically, burial at Crossroads was the way of disposing of executed criminals and those who suicided, as well as witches. Suicides were, at one time, considered to be “self murder”, a criminal act, and was punishable by witholding normal burial rites.

Crossroad Gibbet

Burying the undesirable elements of society at Crossroads to act as a deterrent is but one example. Others view this practice as simply being the next best burying-places to consecrated ground. Some suggest that, because the ancient Teutonic/ German groups often built their altars at Crossroads and since human sacrifices (especially of criminals) formed part of the ritual, these spots then became regarded as execution grounds.

It seems that superstition may also have played a part in choosing Crossroads for the burying of suicides. Folk belief often held that these people could rise, at some time, and return to wreak havoc on their living relations and associates. Burying them at Crossroads was believed to reduce the likelihood of this happening.

Added to this is the multitude of Folklore which describes a human meeting with a “faerie” at a Crossroad and needing to make a decision. A situation every single one of us face at various times in our lives… do we turn right, left, move on ahead???

Before finishing, I do need to share the folkelore surrounding the death of Kitty Jay, believed to have suicided in Dartmoor, Devon in the South West of England in the late 18C.

The Grave of Kitty Jay – Wikipedia

The site of Kitty’s Crossroad burial has become a well-known landmark and is best described in this beautiful Folk Song by Keith Munday.  Just click on the link below.


Enough from me … If you want to delve deeper into these issues just check out the info below.


Copyright © 2012. C.A.Crout-Habel.    

Ww is for – What does that mean?…


Always a curious child, my lovely mum would shake her finger at me with the warning…Remember, Catherine… Curiosity Killed the Cat.” Well here I am… and still asking questions. 

Guess one of the reasons  researching Family History is such a pleasure is because as soon as you answer one question, there are always many more popping up begging to be investigated. In this Gould Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge I share just a few.



What fun those UK Census records are… I love pouring over them to get to the “nitty gritty” of my Ancestor’s lives – not only where they lived, moved to, married etc., but especially their Occupations. The tricky part of this can be that the enumerator has VERY bad writing but often it’s simply a job I’ve never heard of… e.g. my Scottish Great Grandfather, James Ogilvie, was a “Currier”. What??? … although, at times there’s an occupation I kind of know, but am not entirely sure about. Here are some examples:

ACATER – A present day caterer. A person who supplies food provisions to various outlets.

AUGER MAKER – Someone who made the carpenters augurs; a type of hand drill which was operated via a crosswise fitted handle.

ANVIL SMITH – A person who made Anvils and Hammers for Blacksmiths.

Blacksmith working with Hammer and Anvil – Wikimedia Commons Licence

BESOM MAKER – Made brooms, usually from twigs with a central pole.

CARMAN – Driver of a vehicle used to transport goods.

CARTER – Carries, or conveys, goods in a cart.

CHARWOMAN – Cleaning woman (domestic servant) who usually worked for hourly wages, often on a part time basis. They usually had several employers and, unlike Maids, did not “live in”.

CURRIER – A man who dresses and colours leather after it is tanned.

DAY MAN – Caual worker, usually employed for the day.

FLAX DRESSER – Prepares Flax prior to it being spun.

Flax Dresser – heckling. (Wikimedia Commons Licence)

HURDLE MAKER – Maker of Hurdles/Woven Fences, often made out of Hazel or Willow.  This was a surprise, to me. I thought “hurdles” are those fence like constructions made for horses to jump… {chuckle}

JOURNEYMAN/JORMAN – A Master Craftsman who has served his Apprenticeship, mastered his craft and no longer bound to serve for years but is hired day by day – often self employed.

LIGHTERMAN – Someone who operates a flat bottomed boat used in loading and unloading ships.

19C Lighterman (Wikimedia Commons Licence) Artist:James Abbott McNeil Whistler

VITNER – Wine Merchant.

VICTUALLER – A seller of food and drink. Usually refers to an Innkeeper.


Growing up with a constant stream of proverbs like: “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, etc. I’m always fascinated, and curious, to discover their origins. Some are self-explanatory but others not so.  Here are some which were very common expressions throughout my childhood and am SO happy to have tracked down their origins.

*  In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes and when you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making it firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase “GOOD NIGHT SLEEP TIGHT”.

*  In English pubs ale is order by pints and quarts… So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell… “Mind your Pints and Quarts and settle down!!!.” It’s where the phrase “MIND YOUR P’s &  Q’s” comes from.

*  The saying “THERE’S NOT ENOUGH ROOM TO SWING A CAT” comes from the days when sailors were punished with “a cat o’nine tails” (whip with nine leather straps). However, because there wasn’t enough room below deck to lash the whip, the punishment was given on deck where there was enough room “to swing the cat.”

*  In the 1400’s a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick thicker than his thumb. Hence we the “RULE OF THUMB.”

*  Many years ago, in England, pub frequenters had a whistled bake into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a drink, they would whistle to get served. ‘WET YOUR WHISTLE” is the phrase inspired by this practice.

*  The saying “THE CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG” (i.e. a secret revealed) originates in medieval England when piglets were sold in open market places. The seller usually kept the pig in a bag, making it easier for a buyer to take home, but some dishonourable sellers would put a large cat inside the bag in an attempt to deceive. However, if a shrewd buyer looked into the bag then the cat was literally out of the bag. The following advice was first recorded in London around 1530:  

“When ye proffer the pigge open the poke.”

The bag was called a poke which is where the saying “BUYING A PIG IN A POKE” comes from, and means, buying something unseen and probably unwanted.


In closing, I have to say that when mum warned that “CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT”, I knew that I was being told to STOP asking endless questions … but what was this “bizzo” about “killing the cat?”.  Now I finally know the origins of this proverb.

Originally it was “CARE KILLED THE CAT“. The term “care”, at that time, meant “worry and sorrow”, not looking after/protecting, as is our more contemporary meaning.

Now it all makes sense and the young child, which still resides within me, can settle down… Yep, born pedantic 🙂

Here’s a vid you might enjoy:






Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel.  

Vv is for – Vaccinations

Childhood diseases kill, injure and maim. Family Trees are peppered with gaps – young lives chopped off before having time to grow and blossom. In this Gould “Family History Through the Alphabet” challenge, I share personal experiences of the effect these, once common diseases, can have upon a family and the wonder of Vaccinations to reduce, and even eliminate, this scourge.


My first experience with the devastating effects of childhood diseases was during the 1950’s Polio Epidemic when one of my older brothers was struck down. He was completely paralysed, placed in an Iron Lung and went through many years of pain and agony which all of the family were a part of and which effected each of us in different ways.

The details of these childhood experiences are indelibly imprinted upon my brain, however, I never “blog” about living people so enough is said already… except to say that when Jonas Salk came up with the first Polio vaccine I was the first to line up, didn’t feel the prick of the needle, and was so glad that I was now protected. Not surprising then that on the birth of my first beautiful child, Cullen Andrew Habel, I followed his Vaccination Schedule to the letter.

Jarren Vaughan Habel, aged 6 weeks, with his mummy. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

Then along came my adorable second son, Jarren Vaughan Habel, and before he was old enough to be vaccinated for anything… he was infected, at the tender age of 4weeks, with Measles. I was horrified. Rang my Doctor and he said,

 “Can’t be Measles… he’s too young… must be German Measles so don’t worry”. 

A few hours later I burst into his Surgery, with Jarren in my arms, for him to see the angry rash which covered every part of my babe’s tiny body, in his ears and in his mouth. He conceded it was indeed a serious case of Measles and prescribed Anti-biotics to prevent side effects.

Jarren Vaughan Habel, aged 6 weeks, with his big brother Cullen Andrew. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

All was right with the world again. Jarren was such a delightful little fellow, caused no trouble at all and his big brother, Cullen Andrew, absolutely adored him… often turning down an invite to go play with the children next- door to just hang over the side of his brother’s bassinette to “play”.

The only difference was that I had to keep taking Jarren to the doctor because of consistent colds/ refusal to drink etc. Advice was … “it’s just a teething cold” and more Anti-biotics would be prescribed.

Well, on the morning of 16 Sep 1970, Jarren was late to wake. Steve had gone to work and initially I was grateful for that tiny break where I could just feed Cullen and then attend to Jarren. However… time began to pass, no sound came from his bedroom, my anxiety began to build and before fear could overtake me I chucked a piece of yummy chocolate into my mouth and went to wake my beautiful babe for his morning feed … and he was dead!!!

People wonder why chocolate is not a favourite of mine.

What a shock and what terror!!! … what did he die from? … was Cullen at risk too? … was it a spider bite? … what was IT?  Added to that was the suspicion, from the authorities, that maybe I had murdered my own baby!!! Well, eventually the report came through which showed that Jarren had died from complications from the Measles, contracted when only 4 weeks old. Those “teething colds” were actually symptoms of the severe damage to his lungs which Jarren had battled along with for 4 months. Seems it was only the constant stream of anti-biotics which kept him alive… until, finally they stopped being effective.

Jarren’s Grave – Midland Cemetery, Western Australia. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel.

Burying a beloved child is not something to be easily overcome. When you know the death was so easily preventable it seems, to me, to be even worse. You see, Jarren was infected by an 18 month old child who was old enough to have been immunised. He wasn’t … and my beautiful baby boy died as a result.

Anti-vaccination movements have always been with us.

Opposing Vaccinations is not a trendy new thing as some suppose. It’s been going on from the moment the first Vaccine, against Smallpox, was developed. To read about the History of Anti Vaccination Movements, just click HERE.

Smallpox has been wiped out, because vaccination was made compulsory. The prevalence of other diseases has been reduced because of Vaccinations. Here, in Australia, parents have the right to choose to not Vaccinate their children. That’s OK. I have NO prob with that. However, along with RIGHTS come RESPONSIBILITIES.

So, I reckon that if a parent chooses to not vaccinate their child and then a child, too young to be vaccinated, dies as a result then they need to face Court and defend themselves against a charge of Manslaughter. Simple as that!!!

42 years later I am still angry … and I make no apologies.


 ©  Copyright. 2012. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel.