I was born and raised on the North Coast of NSW, and have had an interest in Family & Australian History since childhood when my grandmother told me stories of bushrangers, gold mines, and colourful family characters.

After graduating from Armidale Teachers’ College, I taught for many years in the Grafton District. During that time I became passionately involved with family and local history research, and now have over forty years of experience in these fields.

I have undertaken extensive studies and have a Diploma in Family Historical Studies, (SAG) and an Associate Diploma in Local & Applied History (ACAE), and was awarded a college medal for excellence in my course. The only one to have been awarded.

Although I no longer undertake professional research and writing projects in local and family history for clients, I am is still very involved in the Family and Local History scene.

‘Who Do You Think You Are? (Australian) and Australian Story, have been two T V series I have been a guest researcher on.

At long last, I have returned to researching and writing not only about our own ancestors, but local history too, and will share the journey with relatives and friends through my blogs.


84 thoughts on “About

  1. What an amazing find Nola. I am researching my own link to the Stapleton boys of World War 1. I am a grandson of Dan Stapleton (1896 – 1946) and here I find all your great research. Look forward to hearing more from you and hope I can help you in return.

  2. Hi Nola,

    Many years ago I used to receive the Bell Family Newsletter from you. My grandmother was a Marshall married to an Omant (both Tasmanian). My mother is Dulcie Langdon (now 89).
    As I have a bit more time on my hands these days (semi retired) I have been doing a small amount of family research and thought I would say hello.
    Ann Fardell

  3. Thanks Nola just read your Blog on the trip to the French battlefields, very moving. Thank you so much for posting it. I hope you don’t mind I downloaded a copy of James Stapleton gravestone photo with you and the Aussie flag in the background. Like I said, very moving.

    • Hi Daniel, Great that you enjoyed the blog about J J Stapleton. It was very moving for us too. The whole tour was actually, and I’m finding i still haven’t found the right words to blog on some of it, such as the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, Iepers, but I will get there eventually.

  4. Hi Nola
    I was looking at your post: https://nolamackey.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/unlockthepast-5th-genealogy-cruise-british-isles-2014-day-1-tilbury/
    A Major George Mackey was governor of Tilbury Fort around 1800. Do you know if he may be a relation of yours?
    I am running a Project on WikiTree.com to catalog Australian cemeteries. Part of the project is to try and trace back where everyone buried there came to Australia. Annie Bridle, buried in Canowindra cemetery is a descendant: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Osborne-3301
    I would be interested if you have any connection.

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for the contact but sorry to say Major George Mackey of Tilbury is no connection. We have five generations of only sons in Australia and then go back to Tipperary in Ireland for several more generations.Best wishes for your project.

  5. Hi Nola,
    I do believe we may be related through the Baxter family tree. I have just begun my research into the family tree (which started when my daughter had a school assignment about our ancestors!). James Baxter and Margaret Jane Kennedy are my great, great, grandparents. Do you have more information about earlier ancestors?

    • Hi Jenny, Yes I do believe we are related.Lovely to be in touch. I have been able to research our Baxter family back to the 16th Century and am preparing a book on their story. I finished my grandparents story and shared it with my first cousins at a family gathering a few weeks ago. A really wonderful day was had by all who attended, and we booked the same venue for next year.
      I have also met a few times with some of Eddie and Velina Baxter’s grandchildren this year sorting out their branch of the family story. Would love some help on the Eagle side of the family. Please keep in touch. Nola

  6. Hi Nola,
    I’m doing some research for the Murwillumbah Historical Society on Frederick Cecil Vidler, can i get you email me back.

  7. Hi Nola
    I’m tracing my family tree – Stapleton on my fathers side. I’ve just sent a message to Danny Stapleton also. My grandfather is Matthew John Stapleton son of Michael & Rose. My Father is John Eric Stapleton eldest son of Matthew. However my grandmother isn’t Phyllis Madden. My grandmother is Muriel Roberts who I believe was after Phyllis. Matthew & Muriel had 3 children John, June & Barry. Very keen to speak with you.

    Regards Sharon

    • Hi Sharon,
      Great to be in touch. I guessed that Matthew may have married for the second time as my husband remembers Matt and his family visiting in the late 1950’s. Tt is wonderful another branch are interested in the family history. It would be great it we could meet up and share information.

      • Good to have another Stapleton family linking in. I am sending more info to Sharon by email. I will also include cousin Mary in Mullumbimby in the conversation.
        Good to catch up again Nola even if its juts an email 🙂
        Danny in Canberra

      • Nola, I just tried to include you in an email to Sharon and Mary and a few other Stapleton cousins by your Heritagepath.com.au email but it bounced. Could you email me your new one if it isn’t to much of a problem.
        danny in canberra

  8. Hi Nola. Thanks for following ZimmerBitch. I haven’t posted much to my family history blog lately so ZimmerB has become my main forum. I’m so hoping to have more time for genealogy research soon, and am always inspired by your research.

    • Thank you for leaving a lovely comment. i’m always surprized and inspired by so many people out there in the blogging World.when I’m having a very bad day with health issues, it’s so up lifting to read a few genie blogs. There are so many clever people out there getting so much done.

      • Thank you Nola. I feel the same way when work gets really busy and I haven’t time for my research and I can enjoy the success of other researchers and be part of their process. Take care. Su.

  9. Nola

    I was put onto your website by a subscriber to Ancestry.co.uk who had uploaded some details about the Bell brothers quoting your book ‘The Bells’ as a source. I would very much like to obtain a copy if I could. My grandmother was the granddaughter of Allen Bell – James and George’s brother. I am not on Facebook but would be delighted with email contact.

    Thank you

  10. I am relative of the George and Sarah Bell. My sister has a copy that you printed 1996. I was wondering if you still have a copy I could buy from you as well the new information that I just read this morning.

    • Hi Denise,
      Nice to make contact with you. Sorry I don’t have you in my Bell database so not sure who your sister is. Can you enlighten me where you fit into the picture please. The 1996 book is now out of print, but as there are so many people in it that are still ‘living’ I cannot reprint it because of new privacy laws. The book I did this year “The Life and Times of George and Sarah Bell (nee Sargent)” is only available to descendants of this couple. The cost is $30 plus packing & post, which depends on where it needs to be posted to.

  11. Hi Nola. Its Milton Blanchard here. I took over from Uncle Charlie Blanchard and have expanded our side of the family tree extensively with “Family Tree Maker”. If you would would like a copy I can send in a PDF format. Some of my Bell facts may not be correct. I have individual photographs of Joseph and Alice and family shots if you are interested. Best Regards, Milt.

  12. Hi Nola, I’ve been following your blogs and articles with interest as I am currently researching the Stapleton family – my grandfather was Andrew Stapleton, second son of Michael and Rose. My father was also Andrew (he was a twin and his twin brother Michael died in infancy). I have a copy of Michael and Rose’s marriage certificate, which lists his father as Michael as well – it makes it very difficult to go back much further (there are numerous Michael Stapletons in the Irish records!) but I am persisting. Look forward to reading more of your blogs. Tricia Stapleton

    • Hi Tricia,
      Thank you for getting in touch. It is great that more of the Stapleton family are interested in their ancestry.
      Irish research can be very difficult,but I have now found their roots and working on two generations back in Ireland.As always an interesting puzzle, and I’m busy writing it up and hope to share it with you all before the end of the year.

      • Thanks – I look forward to hearing about your discoveries and will continue with my research in the meantime.

  13. Joseph Barwick (1783-1863), the grandfather of Priscilla Barwick who married Jethro Lethis Bell, was my 3rd great grandfather. I have not been able to trace my Barwick ancestry any further back than that. I wonder if you have been able to get the Barwick line further back. My mother was a Barwick.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  14. Hello Nola. My name is Cheryl White (nee Mackey). I used to receive your informative emails. I apologise I had not updated you with my new email. I always enjoy looking at the family history. My sister has uncovered a great deal. Did you have a “David Mackey” in any of your family history. If you do have any information regarding this name that would be greatly appreciated. Thanking you. from Cheryl

  15. Hi Nola, Love your blog which I came across while researching my husband’s Mercy Cox/James Cheeseman/Robin Bell line. I have sent you a message to your Facebook page. Regards Wendy Lindsay

  16. Hi Nola. My name is Sandra Tyrrell and I am a descendant of Robin & Mercy Bell. I have only recently started receiving your Blog and I find it very Interesting. I have heard that you used to send out newsletters of the Bell family, and I was wondering if it is possible for you to send me copies of the newsletters.
    Thanks, Sandra

    • Hi Sandra, Thank you for contacting me. Yes I published a Bell Family Newsletter from 1985 to 2005 (50 issues). It was very popular in the family and I’m still getting requests for copies. I have decided not to reprint, because of the amount of personal information on living persons in the newsletters. All branches of the family were very good about keeping me abreast of the births,marriages and deaths. However, I am taking content and updating the material and sharing in my blogs.

  17. Hi Nola, My family Tree is Gray. Herbet Eggins married a Caroline Unicomb. Their daughter Mary Jane Eggins married a George Abner Gray born on The Isle of Wight. I know the Eggins from Morpeth and how they got to Grafton. Hoping I can contact you.
    I am writing a book on George Abner Gray (1816-1941) but putting his real life together compared to his version.
    Regards Neil Wallace

      • Hi Nola, thank you for replying to my enquiry.
        I have shown you my family line so I hope that you can follow that ibfo. I have been to Grafton for weeks getting info and was always told the Eggins in your book were not related to my family tree. Now I know that the Egginns went up to Grafton from the Morpeth Area.
        Could you please tell me if you agree that the Eggins from Morpeth are the same family in your book.

        Do you have any Grays in your book?

        Please tell me how you got so much info on the Eggins

  18. Hi Neil, Yes they are the same family. If you had been able to see a copy of my book, all your questions would have been answered. Please give me an email address and I will be able to answer your questions more fully. Best wishes, Nola

    • Hi Nola, thanks again for replying to me.
      Nola I got back from a week doing history research and just received a copy of your book I have had a look at what you have produced and am very impressed with your Book.

      I would like to be able to talk further if I could.Regards neil Wallace

  19. Hello Nola,
    I am researching my mother’s German ancestors a number of whom lived and worked in the Grafton area in the mid to late 1800s.
    I saw an index of names in your (joint) publication “History of the German Community of the Clarence River” which contained some of my ancestors names including my G G Grandfather Johann Schmidt.
    Is it still possible to obtain a copy of this publication?
    Stephen Lockrey

  20. Hi Nola. Long time no contact. I am part of the Bell/Barwick/Ashford family. I used to get your Bell family newsletter for many years. I have been thinking of you lately and wondering what you were up to as I’m producing a book on John Ashford and Rebecca Cheeseman-Bell. But what I would really love to know is it still possible to get a copy of the book you produced on the Bell Family many years ago.
    Lea Harris (Newcastle)

  21. Thank you for your kind comments regarding the war service of my grandfather, Sidney Vincent Vidler. I have just started researching my family history. Regards,Pam Latham nee Vidler.

    • Hi Pam, Thank you for your comment and for getting in touch. I have been researching our family history for over fifty years, and still very obsessed with it all. Please contact me if I can help you in any way. Regards, Nola

  22. Hello Nola, I am interested in your book “History of the German Community of the Clarence River”. Are there any copies still available and if so, how can I buy one? Thank you.

  23. Hi there … I’m a descendent of Robin and Mercy Bell, and I was wondering if we could make contact. I’ve left you a message on Facebook, and (of course) my email address is associated with this comment. I’d love to hear from you if/when you can. Best regards … Colin Wright.

  24. Hi NOLA

    I am the grand daughter of Charles Eggins junior, daughter of Russell Eggins. I think it is time to organise and extend what I know of my forebears. Is it possible to buy from you a copy of your book, the Eggins family history. I would dearly like to have a hard copy of the research you have done.

  25. Hello Nola,
    I am a direct descendant both of the Alumny Creek Gray’s & Freeburn’s & Schaumann’s of Yamba. I was wondering if I could please purchase your book on German Settlers on the Clarence? I have been researching the family history & photographs for my Mum & dad.
    Kind regards, Lyn

      • Hi Nola, I am Neil Wallace who made contact with you about 2 years ago. My family is George Abner Gray who you know.
        I had told you I am writing a book about G A Gray`s book.
        I am desperate to get a photo of Herbert Egginns who was a close friend of George.
        Herbert was the brother of Mary Jane Egginns who married George Abner.
        I still use your great book for research as it contains so much great info.
        Kind regards Neil

      • Dear Nola, thank you for replying to me and as I said before your research and effort to produce such a amazing book is and will be an incredible resource for many generations who do family genealogy.
        Kind regards Neil Wallace

  26. Hello Nola, you name has come up as I try to find the ancestors on my Paternal Grandfather’s side. His name : Harold Leon Widman. lived most of his later life at Crows Nest Sydney NSW. Born about 1894 Died about 1956. I know he had a brother living somewhere in Sydney. Family told me Harold’s father had a brother who migrated to USA while Harold’s father chose to come to Australia. Can you add anything to this? It is all I have about my Granddad.

  27. Hi Nola,
    My husband and I recently drove out to Picton, unrelated to finding the Bells but whilst there it sparked a memory of the family tree and seeing family born/ buried there, we both were so surprised when we found upper picton cemetery and the bells family. George and Sarah Bell were my 4th great grandparents through they son John Bell and wife Alice, I have a beautiful photo of Alice and four of their daughters not including my great great grandmother Ida Mildred Regner (Bell) also born in Picton. I also came across Bellevue in picton in The Stonequarry Journal under local houses, built around 1859 for George Bell and a good little article about him. It has been wonderful to read our website and the history of George Bell, thank you

    • Thank You Laura. It is so nice when someone takes the interest and time to say thank you. You have really made my day. I’m not always sure these days whether it is worth my time and effort to share family history through my blog. However, when distant cousins reach out and make contact it makes a big difference and renews my enthusiasm to share more.

  28. Hi Nola
    It is a long long time since we have been in contact – very remiss of me as you have continued to provide amazing information about our family history. I have been looking through some of my father’s (Oscar Bell) things and discovered his mother’s (Louisa Mabel Grace) birth certificate. I assume you probably already have a copy of this. Her mother was Henrietta Day (formerly Day) as I was wondering if John and Henrietta were related.
    Many thanks again for all your hard work.

    • Hi – I am wondering why I received this email – I do research family history, but….. Robyn

      Sent from Outlook


  29. Nola,
    i am in UK – researching my Sudds line and together with a new found cousin also links to Bell/Billinghurst and Burr/Luck of Mereworth / Wateringbury are of interest. The article about Bell alias was of interest as Thomas has come up on our paper trail of ancestors. With all your previous research and books – i realise out of print and wondered if you might be able to help us further join up disparate parts of the family line ?
    best wishes

    • Good morning Sarah,
      Thank you for contacting me about the Bell/Billinghurst family of Mereworth. I will contact you privately. Looking forward to working with you. Best wishes, Nola

  30. Hi Nola,
    I am wondering if you still have any copies of your book History of the German Community in the Clarence River District. My ancestors “ Schafer’s “ settled there in 1855 and dad was born and bred there. I would love learn more about their history.
    Thanking you

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