Latest Research News

  

1. Contemporary accounts of Humboldt immigrants uncovered
2. New link with Freudenfier?
3. Tantalising Berlin marriage record
4. Thaler misses boat for Qld immigrants
5. Lost Meier Homestead located at Rosevale

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1. Contemporary accounts of Humboldt immigrants uncovered

(The following transcripts appeared in the "Queensland Times", a broadsheet newspaper printed in Ipswich. Copies of the "Queensland Times" are part of the large collection of microfilmed newspapers available for public viewing at the Queensland State Reference Library in Brisbane, Australia.)

[Thursday 10 November 1870, Local and General News section]

A number of German immigrants ex "Humboldt", numbering about 120 arrived in Ipswich yesterday afternoon per steamer "Kate". They consisted of 21 married couples — having 45 children — 11 single women, and 28 single men and lads. From the imperfect list forwarded it was impossible to ascertain the various trades; but we understand that the great majority of the new-comers are farm-labourers, and as such they will no doubt meet with ready arrangements provided they are not too exorbitant in their demands.

In the telegram forwarded to the Police Magistrate from Brisbane, respecting the departure of "Kate", the hour named was 2 o'clock, so that when the new-comers reached Ipswich about that hour, nothing had been prepared for their reception. Mr G. Weise will attend at the depot today in order to act as interpreter between the immigrants and those desirous of employing them, the former being, for the most part, but slightly conversant with the English language.

[Thursday 10 November 1870, bottom left-hand of Page 3]

The "Kate", steamer, went down on Monday morning with the Health Officer and Immigration Agent to the German immigrant ship "Humboldt", which they reached shortly after 9 o'clock. The passengers were examined, and the vessel immediately admitted to pratique [?], and the disembarkation of the new arrivals was completed by half-past 12. The steamer then cast off, and arrived at the Government wharf at 3.

The "Humboldt" originally started with 306 souls, 304 of whom were landed, the difference being between the births and deaths of children during the voyage. Five died from natural causes and three were born. On arrival at the wharf, the scene was very inspiriting, the passengers cheering loudly in response to the spectators, and of course a song was struck up, in memory of [the] Fatherland.

Our new colonists all seem to be hard working industrious people, and are very orderly in their behaviour. They generally speak well of their treatment on board the ship, and we are informed that no formal complaints were made against either caption or surgeon-superintendent. Considering that they have been some 111 days on the water, this is more than could have been expected.

On landing they for the first time heard of the war, and as they flocked into Queen Street, they gathered in excited groups round some of their countrymen, who regailed to them amidst many demonstrations of astonishment and delight [at] the victories of Prussia. The eagerness with which they heard the news was only surpassed by the warmth of their mutual congratulations and rejoicings, occasionally finding vent amongst the more excited in a stave of some German ballad. They left the day war was declared, and were therefore in ignorance of all the extraordinary events that have since transpired until they landed in Brisbane. — "Express"

Ideas for additional research: The Queensland Times appears to have taken a special interest in the plight of the "Humboldt" immigrants.

I have also found another QT report suggesting 'all except one' of the adult German immigrants from the "Humboldt" had found employment within 12 months of arriving. Searching these microfilms is difficult at times (incorrect lenses, poor illumination, awkwardly placed controls and buttons etc.), but a few hours toil can produce wonderful results. I'm confident more information could await the next researcher!

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2. New Link with Freudenfier?

Despite much effort searching original sources from Europe, no conclusive documentary evidence has emerged of the family's connection to Deutsch Krone. Formerly part of Prussia, Deutsch Krone is today called Walcz, and is now part of Poland.

However, there have been some interesting developments. Perhaps, most significantly, is the discovery of records that may link the name Hohenhaus with a Prussian farmer who, in 1772, lived on a property about ten kilometres north of Deutsch Krone.

The 'West Prussian Land Register 1772/73' attributes Friedrich 'Hogenhaus' to a property near the village of Freundenfier. If the letter 'g' had been incorrectly transcribed when the original register was copied in the 1930s [?], this could easily be 'Hohenhaus'. Without sighting the original register, this hypothesis remains difficult to prove (even if it's an accurate transcription, the similarity to 'Hohenhaus' is so close that it will forever remain suspect).

There's another other facet of this information that deserves mention. According to material supplied by a researcher who has a copy of the duplicated register, there is other data alongside the entry for Hogenhaus. There appears to be some suggestion that the 'Hogenhaus' in question was associated with growing hops used in beer production. This seems to fit with the, albeit tenuous, family legend that the name Hohenhaus was formerly associated with beer making!

According to another source, the Freudenfier area was famous for its hops, hosting as many as 30 farms in the 1500s, which was reduced to about 20 farmers by the late 1700s. In 1631, it's said that the Swedish army moved through the region, plundering and pillaging as it went.

Straddling the banks of the river Pilow, the village had three churches: a catholic church built in 1800, a 'Fachwerkkirche' built in 1877, and an evangelical church built in 1926 that belonged to the evangelical community from Deutsch Krone.

Today, the village is called Szwecja in Polish.

Ideas for additional research: It might be worthwhile searching Polish archives or LDS microfilm records for the village of Freudenfier (Szwecja).

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3.Tantalising Berlin marriage record

Another tantalising piece of evidence speaks to us from a Berlin marriage register. The entry, dated 20 October 1864, in the records of the Jerusalem Church, documents the marriage of August Hermann HOHENHAUS and Maria Luise SOLZ.

By itself, this record is of little obvious relevance to our quest for Hohenhaus family history in Australia — but August's father is listed as Ludwig HOHENHAUS from Deutsch Krone (the birthplace of Friedrich Ferdinand Hohenhaus 1825-1902). The church document can be viewed on LDS film number 0070284 (Berlin Stadt, Brandenburg, Prussia, Evan. Kirche, Jerusalem, Heiraten, 1862-1871).

The Berlin marriage record tells us that the bride's name was Maria Luise SOLZ, daughter of Johann Frederick SOLZ, a blacksmith from Juterbog. When August and Maria married at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday 20 October, Johan was 27 years old and Maria was 30 years old.

Ideas for additional research: It's unclear how significant this accidental discovery will prove to be in the long term. The likelihood of some family connection seems good — but additional evidence will be needed before speculation could be made about the relationship between August and Ludwig and Friedrich Hohenhaus. Thoroughly check all Births, Deaths and Marriages from the Jerusalem Church for a period approximately 30 years before and after 1864.

(My thanks to Les Moreland for professionally translating this and many other register entries during the last decade.)

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4. Thaler misses boat for Qld immigrants

For several years, I have pondered how emigrants such as my own family brought their savings with them on the long journey from Europe to Australia (or America) in 1800s.

This seemingly simple question is, to an extent, answered in a letter from the "German and Scandinavian committee" to the Queensland Government that was published in the "Queensland Times" on 25 September 1873.

The committee was formed in response to outrage over the Alardus affair, a tragic event in which a large number of people, mainly young children, died en-route from of Europe under conditions that must truly have been appalling. The committee was uncharacteristically succinct when it described the Alardus episode as " the wholesale sacrifice of human life to criminal neglect and rapacious disregard of decency and sanitary necessities".

In the letter's preamble, the committee suggested that a "large and spontaneous immigration from Germany could be induced were steps taken to promulgate amongst the better classes fair and unvarnished accounts of the colony, and above all, were Government guarantees offered that miseries like those on board the Alardus shall in the future be guarded against by every precaution possible."

In a rambling style that many contemporary bureaucrats would no doubt recognise, the committee suggested eight major refinements to the manner in which the Queensland Government might attract a portion of the "vast living flood now going over to North America". Moreover, they argued that the "better classes of German colonists" had little admiration for "American rowdyism" — a reference I find perplexing.

The committee did not approve of the poorly worded advertisements the Government had recently published in Europe. And who could blame them? They were particularly scathing about the contradictory sounding advertisement which read: "Male and female servants can obtain free passage to Queensland, Australia by paying 10 thalers."

Such advertisements, they argued, were likely to attract: "People with a little means, and who have some nicety as to the company in which they will have to face the discomforts of a long sea voyage."

Among several points concerning shipboard welfare, the committee suggested ways of promoting Queensland as a destination to potential emigrants. For example, in the absence of any internationally recognised German institution on Australian soil, the committee suggested creating a panel of respected emigrant colonists to draft and sanction information pamphlets in original languages (German, Swedish, Danish) for distribution to potential emigrants.

The vexed question of how to safely transport savings on board an immigrant vessel to a foreign port was one of the matters that concerned the immigration committee. "We have come across several hard cases, where immigrants, having been informed in Hamburg that German coin [was] readily circulated here [Brisbane, Australia], had taken considerable sums in German specie, and here suffered severe loss in exchange. We would suggest that the Government make some arrangement with a local bank for the purchase of such coin from immigrants at the lowest possible rate. Placards in large type should be hung up in the immigration office, indicating where exchange can be effected. As a preventative measure, similar placards in the shipping office in Hamburg should inform emigrants that British coin only is current here."

The 'thaler', was equivalent to about three British shillings. The above extract suggests that while English currency was available through money changers in Hamburg, emigrants who risked taking substantial amounts of thaler out of the country could eventually find themselves exposed to unscrupulous money changers.

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5. Lost Meier Homestead located at Rosevale

In early September 2003, an informal survey began of the former Rosevale property of Albert Hohenhaus. Although this was only a preliminary investigation, much was learnt about the original size and capacity of the dairy farm that operated at the site from about 1890 until the end of the 1930s.

In a related discovery, the site of the original Meier homestead has also been located nearby. Karl Meier (D:1 June 1901) , Albert Hohenhaus's father-in-law, is buried in the Rosevale Cemetery. Albert appears to have inherited the land through marriage to Louise Meier, daughter of Karl.

If you are interested in this ongoing project, please contact Ron Hohenhaus [ronhoh@optusnet.com.au].

More findings will be announced here later in the year.

Ron Hohenhaus — July 2003

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