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Unexpected family reunion

A reflective Melissa Jackson views part of the Biirrinba Connections exhibition at the Grafton Regional Gallery, during her first visit to Grafton, last week. Pic: Lynne Mowbray
A reflective Melissa Jackson views part of the Biirrinba Connections exhibition at the Grafton Regional Gallery, during her first visit to Grafton, last week. Pic: Lynne Mowbray

Lynne Mowbray

Melissa Jackson from the NSW State Library was in Grafton last week to speak at an Aboriginal family history workshop, which was held at Sir Earle Page Library in Grafton.
Ms Jackson said that an invitation was sent from Grafton Library several months ago regarding a workshop at the Grafton Library, as part of Family History Month and International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
“I’ve never been to Grafton – although my grandfather was born and bred in Baryulgil,” said Ms Jackson.
“I’ve worked in research since 1991, at the NSW State Library within the Indigenous Service Branch, where we assist people research their family histories.”
An amazing thing occurred however, during her presentation on Thursday, when she told the 40 strong participants at the workshop that her family’s name was Jackson and that she was related to Charlotte Jackson.
“An aunty called out – ‘that’s my grandmother’, she said.
In her own private research, Ms Jackson said that she had only just discovered her connection to Charlotte Jackson, last week.
“Last week I found Charlotte and this week I found her granddaughter,” she said.
“A whole bunch of people brought their family history in and we found that we were all connected. “Charlotte Jackson married a Randall and she ended up moving to Ullagundi Island (near Harwood on the Lower Clarence River).”
There were many aunties and uncles present at the workshop and Ms Jackson was so glad that she had come to Grafton.
“I was mesmerised by the stories being told and to hear stories about my grandfather.
“Hearing other people speak first-hand about my grandfather, who used to call people ‘Sun Boy’ – which was his affectionate name for people whose name he could not remember,” she laughed.
“It was a hugely emotional thing to do – to come home, so to speak”.
“It was wonderful to know who your mob are – and to find out who I am.”
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