Friedrich Ferdinand Hohenhaus

Friedrich Ferdinand HOHENHAUS 1825-1902

THE PATRIARCH of the Hohenhaus family in Australia, Friedrich Ferdinand HOHENHAUS, arrived in the new British colony in 1870 aged 45 with his second wife (although there is some question about this) and five children. He offers the family historian a considerable challenge as much of his life remains a mystery.

It's said Friedrich's first wife, Wilhelmine (nee JACOB), died in Germany circa 1860. Four years later, he later married his housekeeper Caroline (nee ARNDT) in Berlin.

Of his life in Germany, we know very little. If we assume he was born in Deutsch Krone (several Australian documents link the family's origins to the town) and worked as a bootmaker, there are numerous gaps in his life that have yet to be accounted for.

For example, it's not known if, or where, he did military service. Where did he marry his first wife? What was he doing in Berlin in 1864? Where was he educated? One family legend tells of him possessing a fine collection of German books; there is some evidence that he was articulate enough (in his second language) to write letters of complaint to the local council in Australia. What whirlwind of experience and tragedy blew this bootmaker and his family to the antipodes? Who was Friedrich Ferdinand HOHENHAUS?

The first evidence of Friedrich's new life in Australia (or Fritz, as he was commonly referred to) is a rate payment to the Ipswich Municipal Council in 1874 for a bootmaker's shop at Brisbane Street, Little Ipswich. He appears to have been associated with the bookmaker trade for most of his latter years. Recent examination of the Ipswich Municipal Council records (held at the Qld State Archive -- an excellent source of genealogical data) indicate Friedrich was associated with the shop until shortly before death in 1902. Evidence has now been found to suggest that Friedrich's bootmaker shop might still exist.

There's also evidence to suggest that he was associated with another property across the street from as early as 1879 -- which was later assumed by his son Albert in about 1884 and appears to have been a grocery store. Both these properties seem to have been 'timber cottages'.

View of Ipswich in the late 1800s

This black and white photograph (above) of Brisbane Street, Ipswich in about 1890 is available from the John Oxley Library in Brisbane (Negative No.2209). Note the numerous small shops lined along both sides of the wide, gravel road. All of the buildings in the foreground are built from timber and most have unusually steep-pitched shingle roofs and sides made of wide weatherboards (note: I believe this is the eastern end of Brisbane Street. Friedrich and Albert had stores on the western side of town, near what was once called 'Little Ipswich').

Friedrich's death certificate (dated 25 Feb, 1902 -- Number 17618 in the district of Oxley, Qld) lists his profession as 'shoemaker' and estimates his age at death to be 'about 75 years'. According to the certificate, he died from 'Chronic Brights Disease' at the Hospital for the Insane, at Goodna -- outside Ipswich. He was buried the next day at the Asylum Cemetery by the undertaker William Bailey.

The certificate lists the surviving children as: Albert (aged 47), Paul (aged 44), Mary (aged 40), Ada (aged 35), Mark (aged 33), Emma (aged 28) and Agnes (aged 25). It states that he was a widower who had married his wife Caroline ARNDT in "Deusch Crone (sic) Germany" (also see shipping notes on Humboldt Meyer). This contradicts other family information that he married Caroline in Berlin, but information on death certificates is notoriously unreliable. A copy of the Friedrich's death certificate can be found among the papers of an intestate filed by Albert with the Queensland Supreme Court on 24 December 1902.

The document contains several references to his surviving children and states that he left 'personal estate in Queensland but no real-estate', which seems to indicate that the above buildings were leased, but puzzles me because why would a lessee pay rates? The Intestate also lists where each of the adult children lived at the time of Friedrich's death.

Unfortunately, no image or personal effects of Friedrich have been passed down. Should you have any additional information, please contact me at my e-mail address.

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