1000 years of family
North Burnett man spent a decade writing the story of his ancestors
WHEN Peter Pownall’s children and grandchildren first started asking about their family history, Mr Pownall didn’t have any answers.
So he set himself a challenge to write a book about his ancestry.
The now-finished publication, titled The Pownall Family of the North Burnett: From the Cotton Mills of England to Queensland Cattle Stations, has taken Mr Pownall a decade to research and write.
It tells the family history from the year 1006 right through to 2006.
“I started off by signing up to ancestry.com and heavily used the help of Google and Wikipedia, and Trove to look at past newspapers,” he said.
“I’m a one-finger typist so used the Dragon Dictate app to help the writing part.
“With Dragon Dictate, you speak into it first and it learns your voice, and then it writes out what you say.
“If you make a mistake you can say scratch that, or to capitalise a letter, you say capitalise.”
The 1000-year family story starts in Normandy, France. Mr Pownall’s ancestors then went to England, tagging along with William the Conqueror.
“My great-grandfather and his brother were in the cotton famine when living in England, during the American Civil War,” Mr Pownall said.
“They were the ones that came to Australia, arriving in Brisbane in the 1800s.”
Soon after, the Pownall family came to be pioneers of the North Burnett, operating cattle stations.
Along his research journey, Mr Pownall stumbled across some rather interesting facts about past members of the family.
“In the Pownall family, there was an adopted daughter that nobody ever knew about,” he said.
Mr Pownall was 64 when he started working on the project, and now aged 74 he was excited to share it with other people.
“With something like this, it’s hard to know when to stop as you can keep on researching and writing, but I decided to take it up to 2006,” he said.
“It really feels wonderful to have finished it.”
Writing out history for the years since 2006 will be left to the younger generations of the Pownall family to do.
The book is available for purchase from Heilbronn’s Mensland in Monto.
“It was published by locals too, with big thanks to Markus and Judy Abderhalden,” Mr Pownall said.
PUBLISHED AUTHOR: Peter Pownall has spent the past 10 years researching his family's history and writing it into a book. It's now available from Heilbronn's Mensland in Monto.