I think it’s always worthwhile to look at other emigrants from your ancestor’s area: even if you find nothing about him/her specifically, the bigger picture will inform your story.
There were at least 62 emigrants from Dorfprozelten, men, women and children, who opted to make Australia their emigration destination of choice. Many were families because of the assisted migration conditions for the vinedressers. The size of their families certainly would have determined why many only made the voyage after the scheme was expanded to include assistance for families with children (see Jenny Paterson’s excellent articles). You can see who they were on my new page here.
When researching the Dorfprozelten emigrants I always have my copy of the local history Dorfprozelten am Main, Teil II by Georg Veh, readily to hand (not to mention my German dictionary!). It’s densely packed with information on the village’s families and baptisms, marriages and deaths. There are also sections on the known emigrants and, my pleasure, the owners of the guest houses.
In terms of the book’s data for the Australian emigrants, some of this was provided by me in the early days of my research into this group, not long before the book went to press, and as such was incomplete.
Over the intervening years, more research, greater knowledge, and correspondence with the author has generated further clarity on these emigrants to Australia. As always any publication represents knowledge at a particular point in time which is why it’s wise to check all possible sources and whether anything further has been published. (I’ve also made some great contacts through my blogs as well, so do check the comments if your family comes from Dorfprozelten and look at that link on my other family history blog).
One of the joys of the online newspaper articles is that they clarify some of the marriage information, or lack thereof, on these couples from the local history. Although they were recorded as married on arrival, the newspaper bulletins clearly indicate they were still single. Thus it’s likely some couples were married along the way, either in Hamburg, or a town or city en route. (Again see Jenny Paterson’s articles on the furore over the early vinedressers married on board ship).
Similarly the families were often blended families, with one or other spouse having been married and widowed previously. This becomes more apparent when a listed child shows parents with different names eg Genofeva Kirchgessner with Michael Krebs’ family or Anna Maria Seus with Franz Michael Zöller’s family.
Hidden examples of blended families can also occur. For example, it now seems clear that the eldest children travelling with Franz (Ignaz) Zöller and his wife Catherine Beutel, were actually the children of Ignaz’s brother, Franz Joseph Xaver (FJX) Zöller and his wife Catherine Günzer. Catherine Zöller nee Günzer had died before the family emigrated and I had suspected that FJX had also died hence why Ignaz had been able to bring the children with him. I have now had it confirmed that there is no record of FJX dying in Dorfprozelten so perhaps FJX made the voyage separately (he wasn’t eligible to the subsidy because he was widowed). It seems highly likely that Ignaz brought his brother’s children with him and received the subsidy for them, made simpler by the fact that the parents had the same names.
Another potential hazard is that the married women’s names were reported to the Board in the German way, not stating the father’s surname, only the mother’s. This led to some confusion over maiden names until an excavation of the local history book revealed the correct information. It doesn’t happen in every case but it did in some –enough to cause potential errors.
Next post: What insights did the newspapers reveal?
As always I am indebted to Georg Veh for his assistance with Dorfprozelten information.