Thursday, August 20, 2009

Remembering Jack Patten

Whilst I would consider that my mother's genealogy began as the great unknown, my dad's has been quite the opposite. My paternal heritage is known, only that I want to fill in the gaps and unearth the dormant stories, sharing them with anyone who will listen!

When I had begun my research I knew a good few things about my paternal grandfather, Jack PATTEN (1905-1957). I knew that he had written and published the first Aboriginal newspaper, the "Abo Call", had led the Cummeragunja walk-off in 1939, had been arrested and labelled variously a NAZI and communist in the Sydney press, and that his father had been a tracker with the police force in West Wyalong for 30 years. There was plenty more that my Dad had shared with me, along with my Nan, but those listed above were the key points to granddad's life and they would provide the platform for my further research.

Since beginning my research into Jack's history I've found mention of the man in more than 50 books, and have been lucky enough to dig up a treasure trove of stories in sources ranging from oral accounts and newspapers, to scholarly papers and military records.

Some of the key elements to Jack's life that I've collated is shared with the public here, on a dedicated website: Remembering Jack Patten.

I take great pride and inspiration in being descended from Jack. His life has made a great difference to the plight of Indigenous Australians, and he served to inspire the actions of his contemporaries and those that came afterwards as well.

Whilst I continue to scour bookstores and dusty archives for further tales of my grandfather's exploits, I'm satisfied that I've done a reasonable job in putting the jigsaw back together, and in documenting the man that Jack was.

Now my attention has turned primarily to my great grandfather, a much more elusive fellow, Jack PATTEN Snr. His story is an equally interesting one, but there are a number of gaps to fill and they are probably going to take a few more years to satisfy my curiosity enough that I might better construct the book(s) I'm writing.

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