Florence helps build a family tree
RESEARCHING a family tree has become simpler since the internet, but one Lismore woman has reunited descendants of one of Lismore's oldest families using the old-fashioned phone book method.
Every Friday morning for years Florence Latimer would board the bus into town for her weekly shopping trip, with the first stop being the Lismore City Library where she painstakingly looked up the Latimer name in phone books and wrote by hand to people across Australia who were descendants of Joseph and Helen Latimer, who emigrated to Australia from Northern Ireland in 1838.
"This was back before computers and I wanted to research the family history for my three children," Mrs Latimer said.
"I had no idea when I started that it would lead to this," she said.
Her research has resulted in reuniting hundreds of Latimer descendants and the production of a book (produced by another relative, Paul Latimer of Melbourne) charting the Australian history of eight generations of the family.
Last month 110 of Joseph and Helen's descendants met in Lismore to reacquaint themselves with long-lost family members, with another family gathering planned for Central Tilba next year.
"It was overwhelming to finally meet so many of the people I had written to," Mrs Latimer said.
After arriving in Australia in 1838 the family lived in Sydney, then Tilba and the South Coast and seven of the nine Latimer children moved to the North Coast in 1910, settling in Lismore.
The Latimer family is now enmeshed in the history of Lismore in businesses such as the Copper Grill and Latimer's Laundry.
Singer Nita Harding (nee Latimer) was made a life member of the Lismore Musical Festival Society.