Why these emigrants and what do we know of them?

This page is a repeat on one posted on my Family History across the Seas blog two years ago. If you have an interest in any of these emigrants might I suggest you visit that page and look at the comments – there’s been a lot of linking over there and I’d hate you to miss out on a family connection.  You need to look at the comments at the bottom of the page.

One of my broader research interests is learning more about the emigrants from Dorfprozelten in Bavaria to Australia. This interest originated with my own family history research as I tried to learn about my great-great-grandfather, Georg Mathias Kunkel, who emigrated in the mid-1850s. I have been unable to find him in any shipping records to Austalia: assisted; unassisted/unsponsored; crew lists which is why I tried to learn more about his fellow emigrants.

Family anecdotes consistently say the my George came to Australia in the goldrush era and jumped ship. Given that many of Dorfprozelten’s men worked on the River Main which runs through Dorfprozelten this is not an implausible story.  However unlike many of his fellow emigrants he was unlikely to have left home because of economic necessity: his family ran one of the large inns in the Village “das Goldenes Fass” which was a lucrative business. Perhaps he had wanderlust or perhaps like other young Bavarian men he left to avoid the military draft (another common family tale).  Unfortunately he doesn’t appear in the Australian records in any of the eastern states/colonies until he marries his young Irish wife, Mary O’Brien in Ipswich Queensland in 1857. At the time he was working as a servant though he later had many occupations: boarding house keeper, pork butcher (in Ipswich and in the northern NSW gold fields at Tooloom); railway worker and farmer. It is probable that he arrived somewhere in Australia two or three years before though after 20+ years of research this remains a mystery.

The migration story of his fellow emigrants is much clearer.  Most of these migrants came as family groups under the colony of New South Wales’s (NSW’s) vinedresser bounty scheme.

In the cold winter days between December 1854 and January 1855, over 50 people left their home village of Dorfprozelten in Bavaria to migrate to Australia. They farewelled not only friends and family, but the traditions and environment familiar to them throughout their own lives, as well as to generations of their ancestors. Their departure represented the loss of 5% of the town’s population – an impact which would have rippled through their network of neighbours and family.[i] Although there were occasional single departures, this was the largest mass movement from Dorfprozelten to Australia.

The first known couple to come to Australia were Eugen Nebauer and his wife  Caroline Nebauer who arrived in Sydney on 5 August 1852 on the Reiherstieg [ii] . It can only be assumed that their reports back to family and friends in Bavaria were positive and when the bounty conditions became more favourable for families the exodus to Australia commenced.

The first group of four families and two couples was scheduled to sail on the Commodore Perry, a brand new, state of the art clipper ship built for Baines’ Black Ball Line in Liverpool.[iii] This group arrived in Sydney on 26 April 1855.

Closer inspection of the Lists reveals an anomaly however. An annotation indicates that 14 of these German vinedresser families actually arrived on the Boomerang, another Black Ball Line clipper, via Melbourne.[iv] Only one Dorfprozelten family, the Josef Zöller family, travelled on the Boomerang though there were close links with another family from nearby Fechenbach, the family of Carl Diflo. The experiences of the German passengers on these two ships appears to have been quite different. The Commodore Perry passengers included a large number of Scottish emigrants travelling to Tasmania and the Bavarians’ comments on arrival reflect the first frustrations of living in a different culture.  TheBoomerang’s passengers however experienced the challenges of icebergs and severe storms before arriving safely in Melbourne where they were trans-shipped on the Yarra Yarra to Sydney, arriving there on 21 May 1855.

Meanwhile the third batch of Dorfprozelten families was also on the seas though their voyage was to be quite different again as they sailed on a German ship, the Peru, which left Hamburg on 17 January 1855. Among the 375 emigrants on board were seven Dorfprozelten families or couples (26 individuals). These emigrants had a shocking voyage under poor conditions. They arrived in Sydney on 23 May 1855 and were immediately placed in quarantine due to the presence of scurvy and fever on board. TheSydney Morning Herald of 24 May 1855 described it as being “in a very dirty and disgraceful state.” The sailing conditions on German ships were less stringent than on British emigrant ships of the time and the mortality rates reflected this. Among the 32 deaths reported in the Board Lists (36 per the newspaper) were three Dorfprozelten people, two children and one adult: Maria Kuhn, wife of Dominicus Kuhn, who left behind three young children;  Clara Kaüflein aged 7 (daughter of  Joseph and Anna Kaüflein) and Thomas Neubeck, the one-year-old son of Alois and Clara Neubeck.

Because the vinedresser scheme only applied to families, single people who wished to emigrate had to take private contracts. Among these men were Georg Günzer andFranz Dümig (later Dimmock/Dimmick). The young men were mostly recruited as shepherds to the properties in Moreton Bay district. Despite the intention that the families were sponsored to help develop a wine industry in the colony of NSW with their recruitment being based on prior experience of working in viticulture (sometimes a rather tenuous claim), many if not most of the Dorfprozelten immigrants were employed as shepherds or labourers, often in remote locations. The families probably had little idea of just how far away they’d be from each other but with about half the families being sent to the Moreton Bay district, they were remote not just from each other, but often from any other community. A huge and soul-searing experience for a group of people who had grown up in a familiar, tight-knit village where their families had lived for generations.

Only two of the immigrants had relatives already living in the colony: Eugen Nebauer, the founding Dorfprozelten emigrant to Australia was the cousin of brothers Josef and Vincenz Kaüflein. Two of the female immigrants were sisters: Clara Neubeck and Louisa Wörner. Two of the immigrants were brothers though they had different surnames: Georg Günzer and Dominicus KuhnClara (aka Rosina) Hock was a cousin to these two men.

My presentation to the 2006 Genealogical Congress in Darwin expands on this research with particular reference to the Moreton Bay (Queensland) families. The paper’s title was They weren’t all Lutherans – A case study of a small group of German Catholics who emigrated to Australia from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria.

I am interested in hearing from anyone who is descended from these Dorfprozelten families. Surnames of their descendants include: Bilz, Coe, Morse; Diflo, Muhling, Ott, Erbacher; Diflo, Nevison; Gunzer, Ganzer, Volp, Hock, Gollogly, Bodman, O’Sullivan;Hennig, Henny, Courts, Robson, Paf, Middlebrook; Kaüflein, Kaufline, Afflick, Agnew, Engelmann, Foran, Goodwin, Lawless, Murrell, O’Keefe, Worland; Krebs, Wistof, Ambrosoli, Miller; Kuhn, Brigden, Rose, Miller; Kunkel, O’Brien, Paterson, Connors, Lee;Zöller, Schulmeier, Brannigan/Branniger, McQuillan, O’Brien.

For another description of Dorfprozelten have a look at this blog post from the Man from Mosel River.


[i] The population of Dorfprozelten in 1850 was 1084 people, of whom all except one were Roman Catholic. In the twenty years 1840 to 1860, the village’s population increased by only 92 people (births net of deaths). Veh, G. Dorfprozelten am Main,Benedict Press, 1995, pp50-51.

[ii]  State Records New South Wales (SRNSW), Persons on Bounty ships to Sydney, Newcastle Moreton Bay, 1848-66, NSW Archives Kit, CGS 5317, microfilm 2463, 4/4927.

[iii] The Commodore Perry was launched in the American fall of 1854 in the Boston shipyards and is believed to have sailed to Liverpool in December.http://www.eraoftheclipperships.com/page56.html. The Sydney Morning Herald of 27 April 1855, page 4, also describes it as “one of the largest and finest vessels that has entered this harbour.” The ship’s cargo included 300 tons of coal and 2250 sacks of salt and was captained by Captain G Mundle who also had his family on board. By the time it arrived in Sydney it had 312 passengers in the steerage, ninety-five more than are listed on the Board’s List for the ship.

[iv] Public Records Office Victoria. For online access to unassisted immigration lists at the Public Records Office of Victoria, including the Boomerang’s passenger list, refer to:http://proarchives.imagineering.com.au/index_search.asp?searchid=23

7 thoughts on “Why these emigrants and what do we know of them?

  1. Hey this is a real find!I am looking foreward to closer study of your blog. My Husband is a descendent of Alois and clara Neubeck who came out on the Peru from Dorfprozelten. His great grandmotherr Louisa married Washington O’sullivan. We have just finished a tour of where the Neubeck settled.

    • hi Janette, sorry I missed your comment earlier while travelling. I will be in touch via email. Always great to meet more of the Dorfprozelten descendants! Pauleen

      • I am the granddaughter of WDR (Dinny) OSullivan from Hartley

  2. I am descendant of John and Barbara Volpp ( now known as Folpp). They ended up at Sandy Hollow in the Hunter Valley. They were on board the Commador Perry with their two children. I love reading about their lives and want to know more. Thanks for you blog.
    Cheers

    Deanna

    • hi Deanna I recommend you read Jennifer Paterson’s article on the Commodore Perry for background on their voyage….well worth the read. One of the Dorfprozelten people, Anna Günzer, married a man named Volpp but on the Darling Downs. Glad you enjoyed the posts. Pauleen

  3. Hi Deanna, My great grandfather was born at sea on board the Commodore Perry in 1855 before reaching Launceston, Tasmania. His birth parents were Thomas and Margaret McKenzie. Unfortunately, Margaret died, probably in childbirth. Another couple on board, Joseph and Margaret Buchanan, who were childless, decided to adopt him. They had a service on board and his nick name was “Ocean Boy”‘. They named him Joseph Mundle (after the captain) Chisman (after the 2nd officer) McKenzie Buchanan. Joseph Buchanan (father) died in the Lunatic Assylum in Melbourne, Australia when Joseph was 10 years of age. However, Joseph McKenzie Buchanan married in Melbourne and had 9 children. One of them was my grandmother – Jessie Margaret Buchanan.
    Hope you find this an interesting read.
    Margaret Speer.

    • Thanks for sharing the story Margaret…what a mouthful that name was. It’s good to know that despite his sad start in life he set up a large family of descendants. I wonder what happened to his birth father Thomas McKenzie and whether his life in Australia turned around. How sad to lose both his son and his wife.

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