Camden valley Hunter Valley Hume Corridor New England The Pilliga Clarence River Albert Grulke

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Camden valley

Hunter Valley

Hume Corridor

New England

The Pilliga

Clarence River

Albert Grulke

Other books written and p7ubl,ished by the aouthor:

A family Divided

Kinder des Vaterlandes

They came that we might have a life that they could only dream about

Where they came from

Why they came

How they lived before and after.

Camden Valley

Hunter Valley

Hume Corridor

New England

The Pilliga

Clarence River

This history of Europe the land of our forefathers has been compiled by Albert Grulke from memory and from materials gathered over many years. It would be impossible to identify the author or originator of any materials used.

"The German is like a willow.

No matter which way you bend him,

He will always take root again."

- Alexander Solzhenitsyn -


To the best of my knowledge this story is factual in all respects. Should any readers find error or dispute with the statements made, I invite them to please inform me without delay so that the error can be corrected.

No family details have been included that are not freely available on websites, in archives or through museums and historical societies.

Every effort has been made to present the material in a concise but caring tone so as not to cause offence to the memory of any individual or to any living descendant of the original German families. Should I have inadvertently written anything that could cause offence, or be in a defamatory tone, I apologise to the offended and assure them that it was totally unintended.
Copyright (C) 2005 Albert Grulke

All rights are reserved. The materials found in this publication may not be reproduced without the approval of the author.

Compiled by Albert Grulke

Warburton Victoria

Thursday, 27 January 2005


It is difficult to begin to acknowledge any particular person in writing Kinder des Vaterlandes. I began with nothing and after being guided toward a number of Roots Web lists I began to gather material. I must confess and maybe apologise to people on these lists but I saved anything that had a relationship to German migration but in almost every instance did not retain the name of the originator. I never thought that I would be writing this book and what I was saving was for my own benefit.

As the years rolled by and I decided one day to try and rationalise what I had on my computer, I was amazed to find out that I had enough to put together a book that might be of value to others.

I have a strong belief that we are the last generation who have any memory of our German ancestors and how they lived. We are the last generation who can remember life without a TV or radio. We are the last generation to remember how we lit a fire to boil water and keep warm. We are the last generation to harness a horse into sulky to go to town.

Therefore I believe that we owe it to our grandchildren to share what it was like.

I express a thank you to all those who contributed to this work in so many ways. Special thanks to the many subscribers to the rootsweb links of:

Aust German

SEQ Germans

Hunter valley

New England



And other lists

Thank you also to individuals who have supported encouraged and assisted me in this work. Without taking from any individual an appreciation of their support I especially mention Gillian Baker, who encouraged, informed and edited. Without Gillian, who I have yet to meet in person, being there as a support who seemed to find out the impossible at times I would not have ventured beyond the first draft. Thank you Gilliam for you support.

I must also remember Val Sandstrom who also edited the work.

And finally, I must thank my wife and family for their support.


Foreword 4

Acknowledgments 5

Part One

Children of the Fatherland – An Overview

Kinder des Vaterlandes -- Children of the Fatherland 7

German Migration to New South Wales in the 19th century 9

The need was here – Bring the Germans 14

The Contracts 15

Part Two

The Rhineland from Whence They Came

Their Homeland 17

The Rhine Land – Their Homeland 21

Life in the Rhineland 22

History of the Rhineland 24

Part Three

History of German Immigration

Before Phillip 26

After Phillip 28

The Camden Valley Migrants 31

The Hume Corridor 33

Albury and Riverina Districts 35

The South Australian Germans 37

Across The Western Plains 38

The German Lutherans 38

The Pillage Germans 38

The Western Plains Region 39

New England German Migrants 41

Tenterfield 41

Towards Inverell 42

Wellingrove/Glenn Innes 42

Deepwater 43

Kelly’s Plains/Armidale 43

Gostwyck/Uralla 43

The Hunter Valley Home of Australia’s Wine Industry 44

The Clarence River Germans 53

Lutherans in Grafton 56

The South Coast 58

Back To Sydney 59

Part Four

Life After Germany

How They Lived After Arriving 62

The Foods They Enjoyed 65

Their Folk Lore 66


Annex A Hunter Valley Settlers 67

Pictures and maps

Map of the German States in 1860

Map of Major New South Wales German Settlements

Map of The Rhine River flowing through Germany

Picture of Vineyards in the Rhine Valley

19th German House on the Rhine the Rhine

The living area with the open fire place

The family dog operating the family grinding mill

Hume & Hovel crossing the flooded Murrumbidgee with pontoon raft

Picture of Tahmoor House at Picton

Picture of A German wagon

Picture of The front entrance to a German slab hut

The children and families at the opening of the Lutheran School at Jindera

A Hunter Valley vineyard in the 1800s

A View of Eltville

A Panoramic view of the vineyards at Oberheimbach

Woolly sheep and Kelpie dog symbols of New England

A Naturalization Certificate issued to Otto Zink in 1898



















I have entitled this book “Kinder des Vaterlandes” meaning “Children of the Fatherland”. In it I have endeavoured to produce for my readers an overall picture of the migration of our German ancestors to the state of New South Wales.

The story of our German ancestors to New South Wales seems to have been all too quickly lost in time. Hence it is difficult and at times impossible to produce the facts to back up the claims. For this reason the story contains as much fact as I can produce, mixed with personal feelings, opinions and knowledge of our German heritage.

While the migration to Queensland and South Australia is well known, the migration of Germans to New South Wales is mostly unknown. Likewise the migration to Victoria has been given recognition although it is mostly tied to South Australia which is yet another misnomer.

When I began this project in the mid-1990s I was unaware of any German migrants coming to New South Wales. I wanted to learn if there had been any Germans migrating in mass to this state.

My search began in the Hunter Valley where I was to quickly learn how this district of Australia had led the way in both German migration and in wine production. Germans had been brought out from the Rhineland to develop the grape growing and wine production industry.

Imagine my surprise to learn that John Macarthur’s sons had played a major role in bringing sheep from Germany to their farm at Camden south of Sydney. With sheep came the shepherds from Northern Germany.

As the contracts of these shepherds, vine dressers and wine makers ended we saw them move out of the valleys. They moved south to Holbrook and Albury. They moved north and west to Glenn Innes and Inverell.

In Albury they might have been joined by the German Lutherans coming across from Tanunda in South Australia. This was not to be. The Germans moving down the future Hume Highway to Albury were Catholic. The Germans coming across from South Australia were Lutheran and the South Australians were determined that the two would not mix.

As a result we saw the Lutherans stop their trek at Jindera, twelve miles from Albury. From there, they gradually moved north along the Newell Highway to settle in such places as Temora, Gilgandra and later in Moree.

Thus the story of German migration to New South Wales is an exciting and interesting story of people coming from two different German states, arriving in two different ports and gradually moving their way throughout the state, yet never quite uniting until several generations down the track.
Part One


Kinder des Vaterlandes

Children of the Fatherland

Kinder des Vaterlandes ------- Children of the Fatherland

Like so many of my ilk, I grew up knowing little of my ancestry. We were told that we were German and should be proud of it, but beyond that there was silence. Answers to questions about my German heritage were answered with “You are Australian; it is past, so get on with today.”

I came to learn of the South Australian Lutherans and how they treasured their history, but of my Queensland Germans there seemed little. They seemed to have arrived here and immediately set about making themselves Australians. They retained some of their customs and basic food recipes but beyond that there was nothing.

Throughout the Lutheran Church emanating from South Australia, one would hear exciting stories of how their ancestors had came and created a life in this new nation. If you met one of their descendants you would immediately experience them tracing your ancestry to see where you fit into the family.

German migration to Queensland was obvious. Everywhere there were Lutheran churches and every district and town had its assortment of German surnames. In almost every town one could buy locally made German met wurst and other culinary delights. Indications of German culture were everywhere.

I resolved that one day I would pursue my Queensland German ancestry.

When I finally began my search I realised that there was a larger story that needs to be told.

I was surprised to discover that there had been a huge migration of Germans into New South Wales. A word here and a word there kept revealing a story well hidden from daily sight.

I developed a suspicion that the German migration into New South Wales in the 19th century was as big, if not bigger than that to South Australia. I had strong suspicions but no proof. In time my theory has been proven correct as statistic show that German settlement into New South Wales is far higher than the figures for South Australia.

By joining to a number of Roots web lists, saving the content of any email with even a hint about German migration to New South Wales and searching innumerable websites, I managed to get the evidence to support my suspicion.

In putting this book together I have tried to combine genealogy with history to express the personal side of the migration programme.

German migration into New South Wales seems to fall into four or five categories:

Where they came from in Germany

Why they came

When they came

Where they settled

How they settled and lived after arriving

I am positive that there is yet much to be learned about this period of our history and that I have little more than skimmed the surface.

They are our ancestors, of whom we can be justly proud. They gave all that we might have the life they could only dream about.

We have a responsibility to the coming generations that they will understand the sacrifices made for them and us. We are the last generation that can tell it from a personal perspective.

Might all of us hold our heads high because we are the children of the Fatherland – Kinder des Vaterlandes?

The German States in 1860

Major German Settlements in New South Wales

German Migration to New South Wales in the 19th Century

When we begin our journey with the German migrants of the 19th century we begin a journey bound in all the emotion of man, all the ingenuity of man and all the frustrations of life.

The journey begins in Hessen, one of the German states of the 19th century. It begins in the little villages along the Rhine River dividing Germany from France amidst the grape trellises that grow on the hillsides and the homes of the men and women who tend these fruits of wine, to satisfy the palate of the rich.

The German states were never free of war for very long. The wars of Napoleon finished in 1815 and the people of Europe finally thought they had peace. The politicians of Europe even drew up planned division of the states and territories under the Congress of Vienna. They had peace.

Did they?

Germany was strategically placed using the Rhineland in such a manner as would prevent France from getting to Holland without going to war.

Further down the Rhine were the emerging Prussian industrial towns and cities that in another century would be the dreaded Ruhr Valley.

Everywhere in the German states land was becoming scarce. The peasants were being released from centuries of Fiefdom to have their own small plot of land or to work for some rich landowner. Probably he was the master of an earlier generation.

Finally there had been a population explosion in Europe. For hundreds of years there had been a stable population balance based on the village and the surrounding farm. Then for reasons not fully understood even to this day, the population of Germany began to increase - slowly at first, and then to the point where it could be described as a population explosion. Infant mortality dropped, families were larger and more people were living into old age. Perhaps it had something to do with better education or better health care1.

By the end of the 1830s, revolt and rumours of revolt were everywhere. By 1848 Europe was in turmoil with workers versus politicians in bloody conflict. To aid the confusion the extremists on both sides were using the situation to promote their own power base. Karl Marx and others had begun their politicization of the workers and Germany was a political time bomb.

Prussia was slowly but surely gaining control of the German states. One by one, it drew each state under its wing. This might have been good for Prussia but the German peasants did not trust the Prussian and the German ‘bullies’.

If all this was not bad enough, disease had destroyed the potato crop and damaged other crops. Food shortages drove up the price of food staples and caused further unrest.

One can only try to imagine the feelings of frustration among the workers in the vineyards around Eltville and neighbouring villages in the 1830s and 40s.

Then into their midst came the Englishman John Macarthur in 1817. He wanted men to go to this strange south land to care for his vineyards.

Can we not hear the villagers talk?

“Where is this great south land that he talks about?

“Few of us have ever travelled as far as Frankfurt let alone across the oceans. Some have heard of New South Wales. It is on the east coast of New Holland. The Netherlanders went there once years ago. They said it was sand and more sand that would not grow anything. Now we have this Macarthur fellow trying to tell us that it is a land where we can grow good wine.

“He talks about shepherds for his flocks. He talks about thousands of sheep in one flock and thousands of cattle in one herd.

“How can a man have that many animals?

“How can a shepherd gather that many animals up each day and walk them out to the pasture?

“The man must be mad.”

Twenty years later another man, this time a German, arrives in the village with a paper to read.

“He tells the same story as that madman Macarthur told us years ago.

“Macarthur only wanted a few workers and some young adventurous types did go. He came back some seventeen years later and persuaded some other foolish men to go.

“Now we have this Wilhelm Kirschner trying to persuade us. He is different.

“He brings us a paper telling us the good things of this land. He brings us letters written by those who went with that madman Macarthur and they praise the land. He brings us offers of work.

“He offers us a fare to the new land, a good wage and a house. This offer is too good to throw away.”

Can we, in the 21st century, hope to understand the heart wrenching time spent making this decision?

With the political situation deteriorating, the population explosion and the rising food prices, many would consider the offer now whereas twenty years earlier they would have thought it a joke.

Mothers would be silently fretting and hoping that their sons and daughters reject the offer. Fathers would be wanting their sons to prosper yet not wanting them to leave home. It was not like now where we can fly to London in a day and visit our daughter in her London flat. Once these 19th century Germans left for the new land they were gone forever. They would never again see their sons and daughters, and worse still their grandchildren. Maybe they might not even hear from them again.

What if the ship were to sink on the way?

What if the wild animals were to come and eat them?

What if savage natives attacked them one night and killed them all?

Can we not hear the wise men of the village trying to persuade the young men not to migrate with this trickster Kirschner?

The man was being employed. He was offered a contract that was very tempting.

What did his wife think of the idea?

How many wives were ordered to migrate because they were the property of their husbands and must do as he decided?

Was it a joint husband and wife decision?

What about those families with teenage sons and daughters. We have all seen the performance of a daughter if she is moving from one suburb to another. We have all heard how she will lose all her friends and never find another friend. Then there was the love of her life. “He is the only one for me.” “You are destining me for a life of spinsterhood.”

Then we have the love sick son.

We also have the adventurous son wanting to go and we have the hesitant parent.

I doubt if we could ever imagine the trauma associated with making the decision to accept Kirschner’s offer and migrate.

I wonder did he just make a blanket offer or did he actually seek out the families he wanted.

Imagine the tears as families gathered to say farewell. Imagine the mothers unable to restrain themselves any longer begging their sons and daughters not to leave. Imagine the small children distraught at leaving Grandmother yet excited at the adventure ahead.

We are told of villages holding a funeral and wake for the migrating family members.

Like good Germans they stood strong and made their move.

The Germans have always been a migrating race yet always they have established themselves in the new community as one of it. The resilience of the German is an example to the world.

Not one of the families who came to New South Wales in the period 1817 to 1860 is found among my ancestors. However, I am just as proud of them and their place in our nation as I am of my own ancestors. Every child of this day who can look back and find in history an ancestor who, on whatever fateful day in the 19th century left the Rhineland can, no, should hold their head up in pride and say:

"Wir sind Kinder des Vaterlandes. Sie gaben alles und kamen (hierher), damit wir genießen können, wovon sie nur geträumt haben."

“We are children of the fatherland. They gave all and came that we might enjoy what they had only dreamt about.”

And so the journey began. For four days they sailed down the Rhine to Antwerp. Then by steamer across the wild North Sea to London, where in some instances they were delayed for as many as ten days. Sure they were accommodated in first class hotels. These were probably better than they had ever seen at home.

What a contrast. A fortnight ago she had to sweep the floors, cook the meals and wash the napkins.

Suddenly there are maids to do this for her. She and her family could wander down to the dinning hall three times a day for a meal.

There was time to relax. There was time to think.

“Have we made the right decision?”

“Is it too late to turn back?”

“How far is it to the new land?

“How will I wash the napkins on the ship?”

The questions were many. The answers were few. I wonder did any family decide not to continue and returned to the Rhineland.

We are told of one whole group who almost returned but at the last minute were persuaded to continue the journey.

There were visits to doctors for medical examinations, paper work to complete, inventories had to be checked and bags were to be re-packed, monotony, boredom and annoyance to be borne as the migration officers made ready for the journey soon to begin. When would it ever cease?

Bored children, infatuated with the sights of London had nowhere to play. Father and Mother absorbed in the preparations, shopping and sightseeing. Children were tagging along.

Yet they overcame it all and began the journey.

As the ship sailed down the Thames and into the English Channel there must have been excitement mixed with trepidation:

What did lie ahead?

How would they adapt to this new language, this new life where as Germans they would be the minority?

Almost every report talks about storms and seasickness in the English Channel as the ship worked its way over to the Spanish coast. Those days of sea sickness must have been like hell on earth. I wonder how many women lay on their nauseous beds cursing, not just the husband who had led them into this nightmare, but her own foolishness in marrying him.

From there they sailed past Gibraltar and down the African coast to St Antoni. Here the ship stayed a few days to replenish stores. The men were allowed to go ashore and sample the local hospitality but the women and children were made to stay on board the ship. What a disappointment this must have been to the mothers who had to cope with the fast changing climate as well as their small children and babes in arms.

One cannot help but think of the three months on board that ship. There was little or no privacy for the family. The children seemed to be catered for part of the time in school lessons, while the women were occupied in cleaning their little bit of cabin space. That did not take all day so what was done to fill in the day?

Was it taken up in painting glorious pictures of the future or in lamenting the decision to migrate?

Washing was restricted to once a week, but how about the young mothers with suckling babes. Surely they did not have to wait until the allotted day to wash the stained baby clothes.

Very often the migrants left Germany in the middle of the northern winter. A month after leaving London they crossed the equator and sailed into the southern summer. They left home in winter clothing and now less than a month later they had to change into summer clothing. Clothing packed away in the hold of the ship. Not only was it summer but the temperature was higher than they had ever experienced and would remain as such forever more.

Another month later they rounded the Cape of Good Hope. Only a few ships stopped there. The rest waved it a greeting as they passed.

Pushed along by the roaring forties they sailed along the southern coast of Australia through Bass Strait and up the coast to Sydney.

At last they were in Sydney harbour, but were forced to wait three days on board before being allowed to disembark. This must have been a nightmare worse than any part of the voyage. So close yet so far.

Surely tempers were frayed. Surely frustrations were at a high. Impatient children must have caused even further aggravation.

Imagine how we feel when a plane lands and we are forced to wait. We have only been in the air for a few hours.

These families, these mothers, had been in this environment for nearly four months and at last they see a destination. They see it but they can’t have it.

Wir sind kinder des Vaterlandes. Sie gaben alle und kamen, daß wir genießen konnten, was sie nur über geträumt hatten.”

“We are children of the fatherland. They gave all and came that we might enjoy what they had only dreamt about.”

They wait. They wait and they wait.

Finally they begin to disembark. Not mothers and children first; they are only allowed to enter the new land when their new master is there to accept them.

There could have been no time of greater joy and thanksgiving than when the mothers could finally step onto dry land with their children.

The journey at last is over.

But no, it is not.

After a short rest and a meal the next stage and the most arduous in some cases, begins.

They all have at least a day’s travel ahead. For some as much as twenty eight days of travel lie ahead.

They have time to sightsee in Sydney and do some shopping, if they have any money left.

The master takes them home for lunch. Now this is something new. The master actually takes his servant family home to eat with his family. Can we imagine the awe when their master takes them up Dulwich Hill to see his house? For us of the lower class, when invited to the home of a higher class, expect and accept as natural to be invited into the lounge and dining hall. We accept without gratitude whatever we are offered. We go to dinner and BBQs with the boss.

Never have these peasant class people been allowed to enter the house of the master, yet here we find the master giving them lunch as though they were gentry. For us, one hundred and seventy years later, these German migrants ‘are’ gentry

A classless society yet a society full of class. How does one handle it?

Can we really understand the dilemma for the wives as they stood on that wharf? The manager was there organising the trip, the men loading the wagons.

Can we really understand the confusion that each man was experiencing? In Germany the master spoke and people acted. Suddenly the master speaks and the people discuss. The men call their master Mr Walker or Boss or just plain old Bill.

Never in their lives have they seen men not bow to their master. Never in their lives have they seen men not immediately respond to the word of their master. Never before have they seen such friendship, albeit a little strained, between a man and his master.

The shock of this intimacy must have been beyond belief for both husband and wife.

In time the wagons were loaded and all was ready to move.

Finally the wagons are loaded and all in readiness for the journey to the new home.

“The women will ride in the wagons with the children.”

Hey! hold on a minute:

“I am a woman. I am the worker. You are the master. I am the lower class and must surely walk as I did in Germany. I am a woman.

No. The lady – he called me a lady – will ride while the man walks or rides a horse.

The man will ride a horse! In Germany only the master rode a horse.”

There were still more problems. The Germans could not speak English and the guide could not speak German. The interpreter had gone home and they were on their own. In minutes, not days or weeks, a new language had to be learned and understood. There was no language school. There was no second language choice. It was learn English and learn it NOW.

On the ship they experienced a change of diet, but now their diet was to change altogether.

They could now eat meat three times a day with vegetables. There was no black bread but they could eat white bread, as much as they could eat.

Finally they arrived at their new home. Finally the mother could put her babe into a comfortable and safe crib. Finally she could launder the stained baby clothes. Finally she could begin to make a home for her family.

Wir sind kinder des Vaterlandes. Sie gaben alle und kamen, daß wir genießen konnten, was sie nur über geträumt hatten.”

“We are children of the fatherland. They gave all and came that we might enjoy what they had only dreamt about.”

The English founded New South Wales but the Germans made a huge contribution to its prosperity.

The English selected the land and provided the money but the Germans took the land and made it productive.

The English planted the vines but the Germans made them produce the quality grapes that produced the fine wines to export.

The English discovered the plains but the Germans with their patience and determination discovered how to make the plains produce the wheat and other cereal crops to export and make our nation prosperous.

The English founded the towns and cities but it was the Germans who established many of the industries on which the towns prospered.

These early German migrants to New South Wales gave their all, including their names, that we might have a life they only dreamed about.

Each and every one of us can look back with pride and say aloud:

Wir sind kinder des Vaterlandes. Sie gaben alle und kamen, daß wir genießen konnten, was sie nur über geträumt hatten.”

“We are children of the fatherland. They gave all and came that we might enjoy what they had only dreamt about.”

The Need was Here – Bring the Germans

Australia was first settled by Europeans in 1788. It was an interesting arrangement, having been established as a goal for British and Irish convicts. To provide a guard for these unfortunate people the British sent a military guard plus a number of free people to provide the support such a penal settlement would need. The military officers sent out were not the cream of British service officers and most of the civilian support were the unwanted of British society.

Arthur Phillip is believed to have been a semi-retired English naval officer who had fallen out with the hierarchy. Among the civilian people was William Wentworth who had thrice been guilty of highway robbery. Being a surgeon and the son of a noble family he was enticed to migrate as a surgeon for the penal colony. Wentworth was later to play a valued role in the migration and settlement of Germans in New South Wales. Another officer of the guard was John Macarthur, a cunning character of questionable scruples who is credited with founding the wool industry in Australia. He also was paramount in establishing the wine industry and as we will see later, was the initiator of German migration to New South Wales.

By 1800 the settlement had expanded to include free settlers. Some of these settlers were ex-soldiers while many were former officers of the original guard. There was also a sprinkling of ex-convicts who for various reasons had been given a type of parole.

The former officers and others who had came out had been granted land selections in all parts of the colony. They had large holdings of land with no manpower to enable proper use of the land.

Initially they relied on convicts assigned to them. However with the cessation of convict transportation in 1841 there was an acute manpower shortage. The ex-convicts would not stay on the isolated properties of their masters for one day longer than was necessary.

The explorer Ludwig Leichhardt was living in Sydney at this time. He had travelled the colony extensively in his search for botanical items. He noted not only the manpower problems of the squatters but also the fertility of the soil. He became alarmed at the many fertile properties lying unproductive because the owner could not pay the wages demanded when he could get workers..

Wilhelm Kirschner was a German business man in Sydney in the 1830s and 40s. He was also a friend of Ludwig Leichhardt and an entrepreneurial type of man. As he listened to Leichhardt he could see the potential as well as the needs of the pastoralists. As a result, he canvassed strongly to have German migrants allowed to come in and fill this void.

There was an interesting development in 1834 in regard to German migrants. The Chief of Police in Hamburg wrote to London proposing that the problem of Hamburg's overcrowded prisons could be solved by transporting convicts to New South Wales. Subsequently an agreement was worked out between the Hamburg Senate and the Australian Agricultural Commission, which was a London based company with the rights to a million acres in New South Wales. This company was desperately seeking farm labourers. In 1836 forty convicts were made ready for transportation. Under protest from the New South Wales Administration, the plan was vetoed by Lord Glenelg, the Secretary of State. It appears that colonial authorities in New South Wales had made it clear to London that they did not wish to become an international dumping ground for criminals. One can only ponder what might have been.

Another interesting development in the same year was that an ultra conservative religious group in Silesia known as the “Old Lutherans” made application to migrate to New South Wales. The New South Wales administration rejected their application on the grounds that it considered them trouble makers and it had enough problems with its convict population. These “Old Lutherans” migrated to South Australia in 1839 and became the backbone of the South Australian German community.

In 1849 Kirschner arranged the migration of some 600 migrants. Most of these came from the Rhineland and were associated with the wine industry. However, 104 were shepherds from Silesia.

The majority of the people from the Rhineland went to the Hunter Valley and later moved north and west into New England, Western Plains and Pillage regions.

It appears that some if not all the 104 from Silesia travelled down the Hume Corridor as far as Albury.

Another group arrived in 1860 to settle in the Illawarra districts around Shoalhaven Bay. In time the majority of these Germans settled around Albury and along the Murray River.

The British Government was not happy to have migrants other than British come to the colony. It was still brooding over having been outwitted in regard to the German convicts and the colony had not had a happy relationship with the Irish migrants who had come out.

In fact there had been a number of societies established in England to entice English people of poor social standing to migrate to uphold the glory of England and find themselves a new life with new opportunity.

The New South Wales administration influenced by men like Macarthur, Kirschner and Leichhardt saw a greater opportunity for the success of the colony by looking toward the European continent

Finally Britain relented, but in doing so it set some very strict conditions regarding free immigrant workers into the Australian colonies from foreign countries:

  • There could be no migration from any European country of persons with similar skills to those held by Englishmen.

  • Prior to migration they were required to ensure they had no debt in Germany and that they had no criminal records or other reason that might be negative in their desire to migrate. This was done with a notice published in the local press and on village notice boards.

  • All migrants must be married couples. No single men and definitely NO single women could be brought in.2

By now the wealthy landholders in New South Wales had developed a liking for a dry wine with their meals. To satisfy their taste buds they had planted grape vines and tried to make their own wine. In an attempt to improve the quality and to produce it in profitable quantities, they set out to obtain the services of the best of vineyard workers. The best wine makers and wine yard workers in the world were believed to be the vinedressers, wine makers and coopers of the Rhineland Wine was not produced in England and therefore it had no people with skills in vine dressing, wine making or vineyard maintenance.

So began the mass migration of the kinder des Vaterlandes to whom we can look with pride as not only our ancestors but the men and women who made a huge contribution to making this fair land what it is today.

The Contracts

Before we begin to talk about the migration stories we ought to stop and look at the contracts. Every German migrant brought out by an agent had a contract either with the employer or with the government.

There were Germans who arrived unexpectedly as ship’s crew and “forgot” to leave with their ship. Others arrived in other states and filtered into New South Wales. Yet others paid their own way out and took their chances at achieving their life’s dream, whatever it may have been. However, the vast majority came out under contract between the 1820s and 1860s.

The contract was to work for the employer for a period of two, three or five years. The length of the contract varied with employer and the type of work involved. Macarthur employed his people under a five year contract. Kirschner offered those going into the vine industries a two year contract while some who went into general farming employ were placed on a three year contract.

Not all those brought out went into the employment of others. William Wentworth sponsored a number of employees to whom he sublet areas of his land.

Young people were brought out to work as shepherds on a one year contract.

There were two classes of migrant:

Assisted: where the fares were met by the employer.

Unassisted: where the migrant met his own fares.

In some instances the fares were met by the employer and repaid over the period of the contract. This latter arrangement was common in Queensland but seems to have been the exception in New South Wales. In rare instances the New South Wales government paid the fares.

This fare paying arrangement was not as simple as it might appear. The employer paid the fare from the port of embarkation, being either Hamburg or London to Sydney. The intending migrant paid his own fare from his home village to the port of embarkation. If he did not have the money to meet the fare, the agent paid it and was repaid from the migrant’s wages over the period of the contract.

The fares paid were for the man, his wife and children under the age of fourteen years. In some cases the migrant had to pay the fare for all children. However the agent often paid this fare and it was repaid over the time of the contract.

Children over fourteen years of age were considered as employable and were engaged either on separate contract or as part of the contract for the parents.

Those under contract were paid a wage of between fifteen and twenty pounds a year based on skills.

In almost every instance the wife gained work of a domestic nature and was paid a wage of between ten and fifteen pounds per year. This employment was not included in the contract for the husband and was only initiated after the family had arrived and settled into their new home.

A number of German migrants came out to take up land selection. This was generally done through the agent and the land was leased from a selector who was already well established. For example William Wentworth brought a number of migrants out and leased parts of his land to them. The norm seems to have been to lease it in twenty acre lots.

Where this happened the tenant paid, not a regular rental, but a portion of the yearly returns. It appears to have been a complex lease arrangement. In the first two years he paid 0.1% of the profit from his total yield. The third and fourth year he paid 0.125% of the total yield and on the fifth year he paid 0.167%.

After that he could buy the land at a pre-determined price per acre. To achieve this, the tenant had to pay one quarter in cash and the remainder over five years at 6% interest.

The German migrant was in all instances provided with a house rent free for the duration of the contract. In addition he was provided with a cow, poultry, pig and in most cases a horse. Firewood was free and he was free to grow in a garden reserve whatsoever vegetables and flowers he choose. The family was also supplied with a weekly stock of flour, sugar, tea and coffee plus beef and mutton and some other grocery items.

Where it was necessary to build a house the materials were supplied free of charge.

Where the migrant was employed under hire, his hours were from six am to six pm six days a week with time off for breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.

It is interesting to note that the contracts stipulated that the family would attend Christian worship on Sunday. In a number of cases the sponsor included a clause that he would provide for a preacher where a large number of Germans were being employed or given land leases. Although many from the Rhineland were Catholic, a reasonable percentage was Protestant and these we can assume were Lutheran. Therefore it is not unreasonable to suspect that there may have been a number of small Lutheran congregations founded in the areas we are looking at. We do know that a Lutheran Church was built at Camden in 1850.

Schools were also provided where possible for the children under fourteen.

Overall, the contracts offered were appealing and promised families a better future. When they were accepted as migrants they sacrificed a family life at home that they might create for us a life that they could only dream about.

Part Two

Europe in the 19th Century

Their Homeland

To come to understand why our ancestors left their homeland to come to New South Wales we need to look at the land they left.

Europe entered the 19th century at war. The French dictator, Napoleon, had plans to conquer the whole of Europe for France. As a result War, Famine, Pestilence and Death constantly travelled across the continent.

The Napoleonic wars had ceased in 1815, but Bismarck was aggressively expanding Prussia and territorial tensions were high. Young men across Europe were being prepared for war through conscription and the nations were continually on a war footing.

To add to this they had extreme famine. The potato blight that starved millions to death in Ireland was not confined to Ireland. The staple diet of the Irish poor was potatoes and that is why so many died but the blight also caused massive amounts of hunger in Europe as well.

Pestilence is not confined to humans, and in this period there was a disease of cattle which killed many cows through Europe. When the primary source of protein in the diet is cow’s milk the death of a family’s cow can be catastrophic.

Death was constant. The life expectancy of the average European when the factors of war famine and pestilence where included was significantly higher in Europe than in Australia at the same time.

Australia was a harsh new country, but in many ways it was safer than what they where leaving.

We can begin to understand this as we look more closely at the geography and history of this part of Germany, Poland and Prussia during the 19th century

Although the majority coming to New South Wales came from the Rhineland and to a lesser extent Silesia, they were classified as Germans by the English settlers. It was a simple means of identifying everyone of Northern European origin, if that was necessary. Perhaps it was necessary because they came in groups and settled in communities, thereby in part isolating themselves from the rest of the colonists.

The Rhine River flowing through Germany
n South Australia they held to their customs, language and religion for more than a century after arrival. Thus in the Adelaide Hills we found men and women who had been born in Australia of Australian born parents who fluently spoke a Germanic language as late as the 1970s.

In the first half of the 19th century Germany was not a nation at all but a cluster of some four hundred states each with its own sovereign leader and government. They had a common bond in language only. They had different dialects. In some instances they spoke an entirely different native language. However, almost everyone spoke German in some form.

The first recorded group of German Migrants came to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales to work in the developing wine industry. They came from the Rhine Valley.

The Rhine Valley is the heart of the German wine industry. Most of Germany's vineyards owe their existence to the Rhine.

It flows through a wide fertile valley past the Baden3 vineyards where the east facing slopes of the Haardt Mountains represent the most southerly of the Rhine wine regions. As it flows along from the mountains to the sea with its vineyards on either bank it is joined by a number of smaller rivers such as the Mosel also famous for its vineyards. It flows through some mountain districts such as the Taurus Mountains. This entire geography works together to make the Rhine Valley and Germany a great wine producing state.

On the east side of the river is the Alsace region of France. At various times in history this has been a German territory so it has a close affinity to Germany.

Here, there are vast vineyards especially in the Vosges Mountain regions.

Along the stretch of the river that forms a border with Switzerland we also find a number of vineyards.

It is not surprising then that the wine growers of the Hunter Valley would look to this area to find its vine dressers, wine makers and others associated with the industry.

Why then would they leave this beautiful Rhine Valley to migrate thousands of miles across the sea to a land they had only heard about, a land that was known to all as a ‘prison in the south seas’.

The Rhine Land – Their Homeland

The Rhine River was to the early tribal Celts a raging flow that began in the Rheinwaldhorn Glacier in the Swiss Alps. It flowed in a northerly direction for about 1,320 km until it emptied into the North Sea.

Vineyards in the Rhine Valley
he Rhine begins as a turbulent Alpine stream churning through deep gorges and fed by rivers and tributaries rising from the mountain until it becomes the Rhine at Reichenau. From there is continues its rapid journey until it reaches the Lake of Constance. Here it slows a little but is still a torrent as it journeys westward through mountains and over spectacular waterfalls to Basel4.

At Basel it turns north and enters a flat-floored valley lying between the Vosges Mountains on the west and the Black Forest on the east. It joins the Main River at Mainz where it finds a climate that is less severe compared to its alpine sources. It then enters into a set of scenic valleys as its crosses the deep, steep sided Rhine Gorge through the Rhineland Plateau and the Rhenish Slate Mountains. This picturesque gorge, with terraced vineyards and castle-lined cliffs, has often been called the "heroic Rhine," renowned in history and romantic literature. It is complete with fairy tale castles and vineyards snuggled in the overhanging rock face.

After Bonn, it becomes the Lower Rhine and flows into the North German Plain and then into the Netherlands before it empties into the North Sea. As it enters the Netherlands it crosses a wide, marshy plain and a delta region forming into separate channels. Much of this area is at or below sea level, but dyking has contributed to its becoming one of the most densely populated and important economic regions on the continent.

The river is navigable for small craft for some 800 kilometres from the North Sea to Basel in Switzerland. Ocean going vessels can travel as far as Cologne.

The river is connected by a series of canals to other European Rivers thereby creating a link between the North Sea and the Black Sea.

Later we will look at the enticements provided by the wine growers of New South Wales but first we need to see if there were any factors at home that might have inspired these vine dressers and wine makers to travel so far afield. There surely had to be some factors other than the opportunities offered in the new land.

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