Imagining my ancestor’s last day in Dorfprozelten

This story was first published on my Family History Across the Seas blog, as Writing Family History – Overcoming Roadblocks.

The biggest roadblock in writing my Kunkel-O’Brien family history in 2003 was trying to give my readers a flavour of the ancestral home village in Bavaria. I struggled with this stumbling block for weeks, but during a day’s creative writing class at the NT Writers’ Centre a lateral approach came to me. Instead of being absolutely factual, I invented a story about George Kunkel’s final day at home in Dorfprozelten before emigrating, within an imaginary emotional context. I didn’t pretend the story of that day was anything but total creative licence, but it provided me with the vehicle to give my family an evocative impression of the village, and its social structure based on the information I had about the village. The accompanying photographs illustrated the specific places mentioned.  I was delighted when the village’s local historian complimented me on this part of my history.

I thought I might include this story here as quite a number of people are interested in Dorfprozelten. Some of the landmarks and features had been mentioned previously in the family history I was writing. You can also see some of these images on my previous post.

As background you also need to know that George Kunkel became a pork butcher in Australia, his brother was a master butcher, and the family had owned one of the inns in the village for centuries:

©Pauleen Cass 2003 “Walk with him on his last day at home in Dorfprozelten.

The early light of dawn is filtering through the shutters to the rhythm of the church bells, which mark the hours and are part of the fabric of the village. The crisp white sheets and the comfort of the eiderdown make it tempting to stay in bed a little longer. So much lies ahead today, it’s best to get up and about, and not think too long. Other family members are slowly stirring, dress quickly – lederhosen, heavy boots, and the walking stick for the hills. Quietly shutting the heavy inn door, and walking down the worn stone steps – how many ancestors and visitors have come the same way. The smell of the bakery is permeating the morning air. “I’ll miss waking up to that when I’m at sea.”

His walk this morning will be a pilgrimage to all the places he wants to keep in his heart for the long decades ahead. The Nepomuk is gazing quietly over the village from his place on the bridge. ‘How many times have I stood here with Karl and looked out at the floods or thrown stones into the water. Remember when the tree wound up in the window there.’

Eva Kaüflein waves to me as I’m walking up the Hauptstrasse. She’s already airing the linen, getting all their belongings in order. She and her husband Vincent will leave soon for Australia and perhaps we’ll all meet up when they get there. Frau Krebs is feeding the chickens in the yard of the Krone, getting ahead of the day’s work, before her guests are up and about. “Funny how some people always visit their inn and others stick to ours, still we all do good business.”

A quick visit to the old Marian chapel to pay my respects and pray for safety on the voyage and that of my mother and family left at home. It’s hard on the old people, Frau Nebauer still frets for her son and daughter-in law. She’s only had a few letters and worries that they might be finding it too difficult in that strange country. So much sadness when the young ones opt for adventure or the chance for a better life.

Around the corner, the smithy is stoking up the fire for the day’s work. “That smithy’s been there for centuries, I suppose it will still be here when I’m long gone too, just like our inn. Thank goodness it’s still too quiet for the old men to gather and chat, I don’t want to have them watching me, judging me.”

The river comes into view again and it’s time to take the path to the forest. A quick prayer at the shrine and it’s up the steep hills to the cover of the trees. The boars are snuffling in the distance but they won’t bother me today. Finally I reach my favourite spot where I can see the whole village spread out before me. The river is clear and smooth now but later the barges will track invisible paths through it, and one of them will carry me on the long journey far away. Flags flap in the breeze outside the bargemen’s houses telling all their friends they’re home and good for a chat, a smoke and a stein.

The vineyard looms over the village like a priest lecturing his flock from the pulpit, and the labourers move up and down the vines, pruning. There’s a rhythmic calm to their movement. It’s strange how it’s this experience that’s given the men a chance to try a new life in Australia, after all the news that they want to start a wine industry there. Dry wine for a dry country.

Down the quick path to the church, a well trodden path to get to Mass quickly when you’ve left it a little late from a morning walk. The children are running and jostling on their way to school. “It’s not all that long since Herr Kraus lectured us in our numbers, his cane swishing to our chanting”. “That’s one smell I don’t miss, the smell of the horses and cattle mixing with the fire in the classroom. The old barn is pretty with its Fachwerk but it certainly smells!”

Walk by the cemetery, to place a few wildflowers from the hill on Father’s grave. Mother was here last night and the lamp is still burning and her flowers are fresh. I need to say goodbye to my departed family too.  I’ll miss being able to come and say a quiet hello. So many generations, and my little sisters, all lying here, faithfully tended by those still living.

Just enough time for a quiet walk along the river. I’ll see the length of this great river in the days ahead, but there’ll be no time for reflection then. It’s so peaceful along here in the shade of the trees. There’s some hustle and bustle on the barges now so I’d best hurry. Herr Brand is in the yard of the Goldener Stern, watching the action, and missing the lure of the sea.

Only time for a passing prayer at the crucifix shrine, hurrying to get home as the Angelus rings out. My brother Jacob is busy with the lunch guests and we only have time for a quick goodbye. He’s taught me everything he knows about meat and cooking, so I’ll have useful skills in my new life. Mother hands me a parcel of lebkuchen, rye bread, cheese and sausage for the voyage, hugs me quickly, and turns away with tears in her eyes.

I have to leave quickly or it will be too hard. Dashing down the path I cast a glance back. Mother is watching silently from the upstairs windows framed by flowerboxes.

Gute Fahrt aus Dorfprozelten, Georg.

Safe travelling from Dorfprozelten.

Good voyage, George.


Note: Photos of Dorfprozelten can be found on my Flickr page under the category “Dorfprozelten am Main”

A mudmap of Dorfprozelten

First of all let me show you the location of Dorfprozelten, an ancient village situated on the River Main and formerly part of the Kingdom of Bavaria.


Georg Veh’s book Dorfprozelten Teil II is my “bible” for Dorfprozelten research with its rich detail of the families who lived in the village with a focus on 1844. My German wasn’t up to fully understanding quite what happened in 1844 but it seemed to me that perhaps it was a census. As it happens I wasn’t quite right, but it serves much the same purpose.I asked my German-speaking friend to clarify the origins of the map and the residence of the people in 1844, the focus of the book.

My heavily-lagged copy of the book.

My heavily-lagged copy of the book.

This is how Dr Wegner explained it:

In 1844 the first land register was conducted. It included the houses, land parcels, house numbers, names of owners or tenants as well as the businesses.

They started up numbering the properties from the village entrance from the left side, along the Hauptstrasse. (this is the top of my mudmap…the road from Fechenbach)

On page 10 of the book there is a copy of the map on which this survey is based. It is quite “dense” with lots of markings and I wanted to simplify it and get some idea of whether people were clustered based on occupation as well as how close together the emigrants lived. Even though Dorfprozelten is a small village, it seemed useful to have some understanding of this. On this mudmap I’ve given each occupation a different colour as per the code on the bottom right. Houses from which the emigrants came are outlined with an ochre-coloured box.

By the way, it is worth noting that the current church is not the one which existed when our ancestors lived there, however the beautiful stone christening font dates back to 1625.

I hope you find it useful to understand the lie of the land, so to speak.

Dorf map sketch2 crop

Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002 (this is my “bible” for historical research on Dorfprozelten around the time the emigrants came to Australia).

Also see: Dorfprozelten am Main: Ein Dorf im Wandel seiner 1000Jährigen Geschichte. Veh, G, Benedict Press 1995.

Andreas Diflo and his Juliana Löhr and family

I submitted to the Queensland Family History Society’s Q150 Founding Families project. Diflo family members may have additional/different information and I would welcome hearing from them.

Andreas (later Andrew) and Juliana Diflo arrived in Sydney on the Commodore Perry (see image here) on 26 April 1855, via Liverpool and Launceston, as part of the second phase of Dorfprozelten emigration to Australia. Their baby daughter Maria Diflo, only one and a half years old, had died on the voyage.

Andreas Diflo was 45 years old on arrival. He had been born in Fechenbach, Bavaria only a few kilometres from Dorfprozelten. The Board Lists record that his parents were Laurence and Anna Diflo, both dead before 1855.[1] Juliana Diflo was 28 and her parents were stated as John and Katherine Kirchgessner, also both dead. However this entry highlights an anomaly in the records: it seems that the German women advised their parents’ names in a different way from the traditional British way, specifying their mother’s maiden name as well. Hence Kirchgessner was actually her mother’s maiden name, not Juliana’s, which was later found to be Löhr.

The baptismal font would have been the one in which Juliana was baptised.

The baptismal font would have been the one in which Juliana was baptised.

While some of the entries for German women are correct on the Board Lists, at least a few have been found to be incorrect, and possibly there are more, but our lack of knowledge about their families at home disguises this mistake. An indicator of possible error in this regard is when subsequent birth indexes reveal an unexpected maiden name for the mother. The Dorfprozelten local history reveals that Juliana Löhr was born in Dorfprozelten on 20 March 1826 to Johann Joseph Löhr (day labourer) and Catharina Barbara Kirchgessner.[2]

By my estimate, the house on the corner of this street in Dorfprozelten, was the home of Juliana Löhr and her sister.

By my estimate, the house on the corner of this street in Dorfprozelten, was the home of Juliana Löhr and her sister.

Although the couple’s response to the Board was that they had no relatives in the colony, in subsequent years Juliana’s cousin Eleanor Löhr would emigrate to Queensland and Charles Diflo (also from Fechenbach) who arrived on the Boomerang in 1855 may well have been a cousin of Andreas’s.

The Diflos and the other Dorfprozelten assisted immigrants arrived under the German Vinedresser Bounty Scheme which subsidised German families with knowledge of viticulture, and their employers, in order to establish and promote the colony’s wine industry. In reality the immigrants were more usually used in other capacities, especially shepherding on the vast stations of Moreton Bay’s Darling Downs. Andreas Diflo’s immigration record states that the family had been allocated to work for Frederick Castilla of Sussex St and Botany in Sydney. However Castilla did not take up at least some of his allocated employees and they were re-allocated to other employers. The Diflo family were among those who were sent to different employers and it is reasonably clear that Andreas and Juliana were probably recruited to Westbrook station near Toowoomba within a few months of arriving in Sydney. The life of a shepherd was an isolated and confronting one and it differed enormously from the close communal life they were used to in their home village. The Diflos were fortunate to be less remote than many of the other German immigrants posted to distant properties as far west as Roma.

Juliana Diflo gave birth to their first colonial-born child on 26 May 1856, thirteen months to the day from their arrival in Australia. Joseph Diflo was baptised by Father McGinty of Ipswich Catholic parish on 16 December 1857 with Donald McLennan as witness. Joseph was baptised during one of Father McGinty’s extended bush tours to minister to his far-flung congregation. The lack of a church and the immediate opportunity to baptise their children must surely have been one of the major frustrations and difficulties for the Dorfprozelten Catholics. At home it was usual for the child to be baptised on the day of its birth if born in the morning or on the next morning if an afternoon or night birth. To have to wait for many months, and sometimes years, must have been very difficult and it seems likely they’d have compromised by baptising the child themselves as an interim measure.

Andreas’s and Juliana’s second child, Mary Diflo, fared better as she was born on 6 April 1858 and baptised just a month later on 8 May 1858. On both occasions Fr McGinty recorded the parents as Andrew Diflo and Juliana Lohr (sic) of Westbrook. The witness to Mary’s baptism was John McQueeney.

Andrew and Juliana Diflo had six children:[3]

  1. Joseph Diflo married Sophia Charlotte Schulz on 18 June 1878. Joseph was a farmer at Charlton. He died on 6 March 1925. The family has a large plot with a gravestone in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery.[4] The death certificate states his age as 68 years 9 months and 8 days. Joseph and Sophia Diflo had eight children, of whom a son had predeceased them. Joseph left an estate of £485/12/4 to his wife Sophia.[5]
  2. Mary Diflo married Peter Erbacher in the Toowoomba Catholic Presbytery in September 1880. Peter was born at Helidon in 1880 to Frederic Erbacher and Margaret Edingau. He was a bachelor living in Perth Street, Toowoomba. Mary lived at Gowrie Road. The witnesses were John George Muss, Annie Diflo and Lizzie Adams.[6] Peter and Mary had nine children. Mary Erbacher died 11 March 1939, aged 80, and is buried in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery.[7] Peter Erbacher died on 27 August 1932, aged 75.
  3.  Michael Anton Diflo born 1860 married Ernestine Wilhelmine Gierke and and they lived at Cawdor. Michael died 30 May 1929 and was buried in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery. His wife died 20 October 1942, aged 82, and was buried with him.[8]
  4. Anne Diflo born 1863 married Peter Ott on 14 February 1883. They lived at Middle Ridge, Toowoomba. They had twelve children. Annie Ott died on 13 February 1959, aged 95 and was buried in the Toowoomba cemetery.
  5. Rosa Diflo (born 1866) was usually known as Rosey Diflo. She married Leonhard Mühling, a bricklayer, in the Toowoomba Catholic Church on 8 January 1885. She was only 18 years old. The records incorrectly state her father’s name as John Diflo. Leonard’s father was also Leonard Mühling, a farmer. His mother’s name is not stated but is known to be Franciska Mundenan from other records. The witnesses were John Mühling and Beatrice Appelo (Appel?). Rosey and Leonard had twelve children. Leonard Mühling donated £1 to the Toowoomba Catholic Church building fund in December 1882 but given their ages, this is likely to have been the father, not the son.[9]
  6. John Andrew Diflo (born 1869).

Andreas Diflo was naturalised on 17 April 1860.[10] He stated he was living at Westbrook, where he was employed as a shepherd. He was fifty-one years old and a native of Germany. He was said to have arrived on the Bergu in 1855.[11] His nominators, William Beit and Thomas Muir, had known him since his arrival on 18 September 1855. What is interesting is the length of time after their arrival that it took for the Diflos to arrive at Westbrook. Whether this was due to the change of employer or whether they had a brief period elsewhere is not known.

In August 1869 Andrew Diflo was a signatory to a petition sent to the Catholic Bishop regarding the lack of pastoral care for the German community in Toowoomba. Several other Dorfprozelten Catholics were among the frustrated church members who felt their engagement with church sacraments was affected by Father Dunne’s lack of German language skills and his bias towards an Irish model of Catholicism.[12] Despite this it appears that Andrew continued with his Catholic faith as the family’s church involvement is shown in baptisms and marriages. In 1872 Andrew Diflo was a witness at the marriage of another Dorprozelten immigrant, Hildagardis Hock widow of George Günzer, to Franz Bodmann. George Günzer had also worked at Westbrook after his arrival from Dorfprozelten in 1856 so the two families would have known each other well, both in Moreton Bay and in Bavaria.

Andrew Diflo died on 3 October 1880, aged 71, and is buried in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery.[13] In his will of 10 September 1880, Andrew divides his property between his wife Julia Diflo and their son, Michael Anton Diflo of Toowoomba. Julia was to receive “all that piece or parcel of land situated near Toowoomba on the south side of Gowrie Road being portion 457, County of Aubigny, parish of Drayton” comprising 6 acres. His son Michael Anton Diflo was to receive the land on the north side of Gowrie Road, being portion 456 and comprising 29¼ acres.  His wife and John Karl were the executors.[14] Julia died on 12 April 1883, aged 58, and was buried in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery on 13 April 1883.[15] Julia’s will provided for the house, land and outbuildings on portion 457 to be sold and the monies to be divided between her daughters Mary Annie and Rose. Her personal effects and household furniture were given to Rose and the farming equipment was bequeathed to Michael Anton.[16]

I would welcome contact from any descendants as I am researching all the emigrants from Dorfprozelten.[17]

[1] State Records of NSW, Persons on Bounty ships to Sydney, Newcastle, Moreton Bay 1848-1866. CGS 5317, microfilm 2469, reference 4/4946.

[2] Veh, G. Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II, Benedikt Press, 2002, page 29.

[3] Juliana’s maiden name is recorded variously as Lohe, Luar, Luir and Leur.

[4] RC 2, Block: 12, Allotment: 34, grave M540.

[5] Queensland death certificate 8847 of 1925 referenced in the indexes as 1925/C1009.

[6] Toowoomba Diocesan Archives, Toowoomba parish marriage records.

[7] Section RC1, Block 14 Allotment 12, grave Q572 (Mary) and grave N714 (Peter).

[8] Section: LUTH 2, Block: 3, Allotment: 36; Grave 540 as Michael Austin Diflo.

[9] The Australian (Catholic newspaper), 16 December 1882.

[10] Queensland State Archives Item ID846733, Correspondence – inwards #60/652

[11] This is possibly a coastal steamer but could equally be a mis-spelling of the Peru, which arrived in Sydney in May 1855. It does seem strange that Andrew would have forgotten his voyage out so quickly. Perhaps the mistake lay with his sponsors who probably completed the form for him, especially if they took other passengers from the Peru. The Vanquish brought 50 German immigrants to Brisbane on 20 May 1855 and may have included some of the Commodore Perry immigrants.

[12] Byrne, N J. Robert Dunne: Archbishop of Brisbane, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1991, pages 82 and 272. The Dorfprozelten people Joseph Zoller (Zöller); Tazilia Dining (Cecilia Dümig aka Dimmick), Andreas Difflo (husband of a Dorfprozelten woman) and Charles Werner (Wörner).

[13] RC OLD 2, Block: R3, Allotment: 4; Burial B25.

[14] Queensland State Archives Item ID741867, Ecclesiastical file, # 2243 . Formerly 211/1925.

[15] RC OLD 2, Block: R3, Allotment: 3; Burial B442.

[16] Queensland State Archives Item ID741883, Ecclesiastical file #2831.

[17] Cass, P. They weren’t all Lutherans – a case study of a small group of German Catholics who emigrated to Australia from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria in 11th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry, Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory, Darwin 2006.

Links to other Dorfprozelten posts Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Dorfprozelten posts from my Family History Across The Seas blog. Among these posts are some more general ones from my Beyond the Internet series which refer to the Dorfprozelten emigrants.

Writing Family History – Roadblock in Dorfprozelten

How I solved a writing roadblock to convey the essence of life in Dorfprozelten and how an ancestor may have left his home town by using an imaginary tour.

The Kunkel family leaves Ipswich

The discovery of one reason why the Kunkels left Ipswich.

German Migration News: from Dorfprozelten to Australia

Stories in the Q150 book from Queensland Family History Society.

Coincidental Congress Discoveries

How I came to learn of the Dorfprozelten emigrants under the Vinedresser scheme.

Adding Translation Options (to a blog)

A collage of genie journeys

Travels back to my roots.

The joys of local histories

The usefulness of local histories and in particular the Dorfprozelten local history.

Nations Online – One World – a searchable gazetteer

Christmas traditions of Bavaria in Queensland

German (and other) search tips

Beyond the Internet – Long Voyage of Immigration

Week 40 of my Beyond the Internet series focused on immigration for our ancestors.

Beyond the Internet – Migration Records

Week 41 of my series, focusing on migration records for family research.

Beyond the Internet – Naturalisation

Week 42 of my Beyond the Internet series focused on the ramifications of naturalisation.

Beyond the Internet – Week 24 – Court Documents

Equity cases and their contribution to Kunkel, Diflo & Dorfprozelten research

Beyond the Internet – Hospital Records

This post gives examples which mention Dorfprozelten people.

Links to earlier Dorfprozelten posts

This poor blog has been languishing in the shadows of my primary blog, Family History Across The Seas. Because I focused this blog on the Dorfprozelten emigrants to Australia, I’ve ended up putting other Dorfprozelten posts on the main blog so I thought I’d best add some links here. Click on the title to go to the relevant post.

Serendipity down the Rabbit Hole

The joys, successes and frustrations of researching German family history.

Searching German Newspapers/Books

How to (try to) find family mentions in online German newspapers under Google Books.

My Greatest Genie Achievement

Publishing the family history of George and Mary Kunkel.

The Happs – Innkeepers in Dorfprozelten

Summarising the inn-keeping genealogy of the Happ family in Dorfprozelten. The approximate time frame of direct descendancy is c1740-1940s.

Dorfprozelten Emigrant Families

News of the new “From Dorfprozelten to Australia” blog.

Honouring the Australian-born Anzacs with German heritage

The story of the Dorfprozelten descendants who fought in WWI.

Finding the Fass in Dorfprozelten

Discovering more of the fortunes of the Fass Guesthouse from German newspapers online.

C19th Emigrants from Dorfprozelten in “America” Part 1

The Ulrichs, Kunkels and Happs, and trying to trace Philip Joseph Kunkel in “America”.

C19th Emigrants from Dorfprozelten in “America” Part 2

The story of Peter and Josephine Büttner nee Ulrich , Bertha Ulrich and William Kuhn, John Jacob Ulrich and Ida Rippenberger, and George Jacob Ulrich (all of Syracuse, New York) and Lothar Ulrich of Niagara Falls.

The Happ Family Emigrants – Part 1

The Happ family of inn-keepers in Dorfprozelten and the migration of some to the USA.

The Emigrating Happs – Raimund/Raymond Happ

The story of Raimund Happ in Bavaria, New York and San Francisco.

Last but not least – Julius Happ

The story of Julius Happ in Germany and later in the United States.

Lunch with Catherina Kunkel in Das Goldene Fass in Dorfprozelten

An imaginary conversation with my 3x great grandmother from Bavaria.

Zzzs through Zöller and Zurich

Includes some reference to the Zöller immigrants from Dorfprozelten.

The importance of church records and archives

How church records revealed that George Kunkel came from Dorfprozelten

Come back tomorrow to see the rest of the links.

Happy Christmas to Dorfprozelten Diaspora in Australia

Randy at Genea-Musings has a weekly challenge: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week he was inspired by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here blog and her Wordless Wednesday Surname Tree.

I thought it might be fun to do a Christmas tree with all the surnames of the Dorfprozelten emigrants to Australia. I’ve included the spouses’ names where they married a Dorfprozelten person who also emigrated. I didn’t include any spouses who were married in Australia but came from elsewhere. Where the surname is repeated in more than one family I’ve added a number. This doesn’t include all the children unless they travelled separately from parents, or were children of an earlier marriage. Hmm, I should have added another couple of Zöllers but I won’t go and redo it now.

I used Tagxedo’s automatic shape options, and font selection. It makes for a quick image but you have no control over where the names occur or the size of the font for any particular name (at least as far as I’ve figured out). I’ve added the decorations using Photoshop and they do look a little dodgy but fun to try out.

Image created using Tagxedo and Photoshop.

Image created using Tagxedo and Photoshop.

Happy Christmas to all the fellow members of the Dorfprozelten Diaspora, wherever you live. Don’t forget if you have Dorfprozelten ancestors you can join us in the Facebook Dorfprozelten Diaspora group (just ask to join).

I’m also curious whether any of the other Dorfprozelten descendants have Bavarian Christmas traditions which they’ve inherited down the generations. If you have, why not tell us all about them by commenting on this post.

Dorfprozelten Facebook page

Last week I started a Facebook Group for all the descendants of the Dorfprozelten Diaspora -all those emigrants who left Dorfprozelten to head to new lands.

The key focus will likely be on the descendants of those who came to Australia but other emigrants’ descendants are also welcome to join as are current Dorfprozelten residents.

It’s a closed group but just ask to join and you will be welcome. When you sign up why not add which family you’re connected with so others know. Which reminds me I need to do the same and also invite all the Kunkel descendants.

We’ve already got some photos and documents shared with the group. Great to see!

This is the link

Zöller/Zeller Reunion Update

I have some sad news to report, based on information from The Courier Mail, Paul who had done so much work on this family and organising the reunion died in October 2013. So if, like me, you were emailing or phoning to no avail this is the explanation.

In respect for his commitment to the family’s history, there has been a decision to go ahead with the reunion. We will all meet, as planned, on Saturday the 16th November 2013 from about 10:30am to approx 2:30pm at Williams Park, Cecil Crescent, Highfields (near Toowoomba). There are several entrances to the park but we will convene near the Cecil Crescent entrance. There will be blue & white balloons and a small Bavarian flag to mark our location.

This is a self-catered event so please bring whatever you require to eat and drink on the day. There are BBQs if people are feeling they would like that option, and a playground for the kids.

I will bring various maps and photos of Dorfprozelten for descendants to inspect so you can see where the distant rellies originated.

Can you please bring: 

  • your family’s food and drink
  • camera if you want to take photos
  • old family photos
  • your family’s stories

We look forward to meeting you there.

Pauleen (non-family member, but long-term Dorfprozelten researcher)

John (family member)

Sean (family member)

Zöller/Zeller Family Reunion – 16 November 2013

Image from Microsoft Office Clip Art.

Image from Microsoft Office Clip Art.

I’ve been asked by Paul Davis aka TravelingMan to publicise a reunion of the Zöller/Zeller family descended from Franz Ignaz Zöller and Catherine Beutel. Also descendants of Franz Joseph Xaver Zöller, brother of Ignaz, whose children Joseph, Caroline and Mary Rosalie, all came to Queensland, living in Chinchilla and Toowoomba/Drayton respectively.

Paul is the contact for the reunion so please contact him directly on the email or mobile below. Alternatively you can leave a comment on this post.

We are proposing a get together for all the Zeller descendant of Franz Ignaz & Catherine Zeller and also Franz Johann Xavier Zeller in Australia to be held on Saturday the 16th of November from about 10:30am to approx 2:30pm at Williams Park Cecil Crescent Highfields (near Toowoomba)
We are endeavoring to get access to a nearby Scout Hall in case of rain but the park has some tables wood bbq’s, shade and toilet facilities but would suggest you bringing fold up chairs and a picnic lunch as standard.
I am endeavoring to set a computer and scanner and would be good if you could bring any photographs you may have with you.
Feel free to pass this on to any Zeller descendants
An idea of those who are interested would help also, we will probably ask people to attend with name tags showing who they are descendant from and who they are of course
Paul Davis0402450565
travelingman [at] bigpond [dot] com

Image from Shutterstock collection.

Image from Shutterstock collection.

What news of the Dorfprozelten emigrants?

My goal from searching the online German newspapers was, optimistically, to find more about my George Kunkel, but also to try to clarify the emigration of Franz Ignaz Zöller and his family, and potentially also his brother, Franz Joseph Xaver Zöller.

In the way of things these are the very questions which remain unanswered after all the trawling through papers.

However what I found most interesting of all was how much before the start of the voyage, the families left Dorfprozelten. Most of the late 1854/early 1855 emigrants travelled on two ships, the Peru and the Commodore Perry, with a few side-shunted onto the Boomerang.

I don’t intend to go into those voyages here but you can learn more either from Jenny Paterson’s excellent articles[i] or my presentation to the 2003 Congress[ii] which focused on those who settled in Moreton Bay. In terms of specific Dorfprozelten families in Australia, you can refer to the articles I submitted to the QFHS Q150 project about those who arrived in Queensland pre-Separation in 1859 (available as a book or on CD)[iii].

Search locally or by the nearest train station

Searching the newspapers for Stadtprozelten (the larger village just a couple of kilometres up the road) as well as Dorfprozelten was helpful as their departure notices often referred to that village. The train also left from there and if I’ve deciphered the abbreviations correctly the notices also say exactly when the emigrants were leaving from the Stadtprozelten station. The trains also carried emigrants from other nearby villages like Oberaltenbuch, some of whose families were tied in with the Dorfprozelten people by marriage or friendship. You can imagine the pall of sadness which would have filled the atmosphere with so many leaving at once.

26 Oct 1854 Hock Ganzer Kauflein 2_crop WA

Würzburger Abendblatt 26 October 1854; Vincenz Käuflein and wife, Clara Günzer from Dorfprozelten and Joh Hock from Breitenbrunn leave on 28 October. They would travel on the Commodore Perry, leaving in January 1855.

In many cases I’ve been able to find the notices published in the Aschaffenburger Zeitung (AZ) which notified the creditors that someone was about to leave. For some reason these seem to have been concentrated in that paper while the date and time of departure were advertised in the Würzburger Abendblatt.


The single most noticeable factor about the newspaper articles is the early departure of the emigrants from their home town. I had imagined they would leave much closer to the sailing date of their ship but in fact most left months earlier than that.

1 Oct 54 Schreck Krebs Seus Diflo_AZ crop

Aschaffenburger Zeitung 1 October 1854. They were leaving on 2 October and would not sail until January 1855.

For example, the Peru was scheduled to sail from Hamburg around 16th December[iv] though it apparently left on 17 January[v]. The newspaper notices indicate that the Dorfprozelten people who travelled on this ship actually left by train between 6 September and 10 October 1854. They didn’t arrive in Sydney until 23 May 1855 so they had been on the move for at least eight months! Small wonder they were in poor condition when they arrived in Australia.

The Commodore Perry and Boomerang travellers didn’t fare much better. They left home by train between 2 October and 28 October and their ship left Liverpool on 11 January, and with a stop in Launceston, they arrived in Sydney on 26 April 1855. An overall journey of six months minimum. The Boomerang passengers (including Carl Diflo and family, and Joseph Zöller and family) were in much the same position.

Each time I read of the German emigrants I am struck by the difference in how the Irish and British migrants were treated by comparison. Irrespective of the rules and regulations, it is evident they were not protected as well or treated as well in their overall journey.

Achaffenburger Zeitung 1 September 1854: Aloys Joseph Neubeck.

Achaffenburger Zeitung 1 September 1854: Aloys Joseph Neubeck.

Saying “I Do”

It’s apparent from the advertisements that some of the emigrants who were married by the time of arrival in Australia, were still single on departure. As they needed to be married in order to gain government assistance, it’s likely they married en route, either in their port of departure or in one of the cities along the way.

7 Oct 1854 Bilz Zoller Diflo crop WA_edited-1

Würzburger Abendblatt 7 October 1854 lists Käuflein, Löhr, Bilz, Kuhn, Krebs, Zöller and Seus. Andreas Diflo and Juliana Löhr are shown as married by the time they reach Australia. As are Ludovica Seus and Carl Wörner.

Couples who fall into this category are: Eugen Nebauer and Caroline Umscheid; Clara Rosina Günzer and Johann Hock; Andrew Diflo and Juliana Löhr; Carl Wörner and Ludovica Seus. Others who married fellow emigrants soon after arrival were Georg Günzer and Hildagard Hock; and Franz Joseph Dümig and Cecilia Füller.

Australia or Elsewhere

In some cases the newspaper advertisement mentions the person was emigrating to Australia, in other cases nothing is mentioned. For a small group who left in 1861 including Eleanore Löhr, Anna Maria Umscheid, Franz Joseph Dümig (later Dimmock) and Cäcelie Füller (Cecilia later married Dümig), their notified destination was Brazil. What happened that they changed their minds and ended up in Australia? I found this change of destination particularly poignant in the case of Dümig and Füller because of their tragic story in Australia.

Dorf 40 Lohr Dumig Brazil crop KBKA

The Brazilian Exodus, yet Dümig and Löhr came to Australia. Königlich-bayerisches Kreis-Amtsblatt

Did those who were also listed in the same advertisement still go on to Brazil? Did Johann Philip Brand, his wife Sabina and children Alexander and Rosalia settle in Brazil or did they also re-route their emigration, perhaps to the USA.  Was this the same man whose notice was in the paper in 1854? Did he change his mind but follow up later on when the children were older?

Hamburg or elsewhere

It may seem self-evident to note that if the ships on which the emigrants travelled did not leave from Hamburg, their names won’t appear on the Hamburg shipping lists (also available via LDS microfilms). Thus some of the Dorfprozelten people are listed on the Kopittke indexes while others aren’t. The latter group are mainly those who left Liverpool on the Boomerang or the Commodore Perry. Those who were assisted by government subsidy will appear on the immigration records at the Australian end, but the single, unassisted, emigrants who sailed from another port won’t appear at either end of the migration experience. Perhaps this is why I can’t find my Georg Kunkel? And perhaps also Franz Joseph Xaver Zöller and daughter Mary Rosalie?

This is where the newspapers are invaluable as they provide lists of names of single people who may have come to Australia (examples include Salome Seus and Gabriel Seus). These single emigrants may be related to others in the assisted emigrant category.

18 March 1861Dorf 15 Umscheid Fuller KBKA_crop-1

Cecilia Füller and Anna Rosina Umscheid came to Australia rather than Brazil. Füller married Dümig soon after arriving in Australia. This advertisement provides age, occupation, parents’ names, and place of origin. Königlich-bayerisches Kreis-Amtsblatt 18 March 1861.

The additional benefit from the newspaper notices is that with the 1860s emigrants, the papers also state the emigrant’s age, sometimes their occupation, and also their parents’ names, especially invaluable if you have no other way of determining it, or linking them to the person you’ve found in Australia.

Home town

In most cases the news notices indicate the person’s “place” however this can be deceptive as it sometimes appears to be where the person was then living and working. For example Michael Joseph Diflo is from Dorfprozelten, yet that is not a “name of the area” and with two other Diflos (Andrew and Carl Diflo) emigrating from Fechenbach that would be where I’d be looking for his birth. Michael Joseph Diflo appears in the papers and on the Kopittke indexes yet I have not found him on the unassisted passengers to Victoria or New South Wales, or in the death indexes. What happened to him I wonder?

1 Oct 54 Schreck Krebs Seus Diflo_AZ crop


In some case the emigrant’s occupation is listed and that differs from what they state on their arrival to Australia. Hardly surprising since they had been recruited for their experience with the wine industry. In fact many had probably had some experience of this working as day labourers in Bavaria.  The single people fared less well I think, because they were more often recruited to work as shepherds on the vast and distant areas of Queensland. It must have been tremendously confronting after life in a village and it certainly took its toll on some of the men and their families, the Dümig family being the most noticeable.

The Empire, Sydney, 9 March 1855, page 4. Trove article:

The Empire, Sydney, 9 March 1855, page 4. Trove article:

Other News Items

And then there were those who appeared to be in the news generally and this is where I found Ignaz Zöller. Unfortunately with my German skills on life-support this will take some time to translate.

Würzburger Abendblatt 12 Nov 1852: Ignaz Zöller.

Würzburger Abendblatt 12 Nov 1852: Ignaz Zöller.

Or my discovery of my Kunkel ancestor’s liquidation issues for the Fass Guesthouse, which I wrote about last year.


Using the digitised newspapers in time-consuming and often tedious. More importantly it’s also unpredictable. Lateral searching is critical and enthusiastic researchers may benefit from reading the paper, page by page, as with a microfilm. Given the print is in Fraktur type you might also find this webpage a helpful guide. Ultimately you’ll recognise the format of your ancestor’s name, making it easier to find that needle in the haystack.

While the Australian colonies were generally happy to have the hard-working Germans as immigrants (at least until World War I), it can’t always be said that the migration experience was a happy one for the immigrants themselves, as their stories attest. Although they have left a strong legacy in Australia, I often wonder whether the first generation wished they’d stayed at home.

German Immigration 1855: The Empire, Sydney, 9 March 1855.

German Immigration 1855: The Empire, Sydney, 9 March 1855.

[i] Burwood and District Family History Group‘s magazine, Ances-Tree includes invaluable articles by Jenny Paterson on the background of the Vinedresser Immigration Scheme to the colony of NSW, which then also included Moreton Bay (Queensland). I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in the vinedresser immigrants seek out these publications at their nearest reference or family history library. (click on the link to see all their articles.)

[ii] They weren’t all Lutherans – A case study of a small group of German Catholics who emigrated to Australia from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria. Cass, P. Published in the Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry, Darwin, 2006.

[iii] Queensland Founding Families, Queensland Family History Society CD. This is available in both CD and book. It includes a large number of stories submitted by P Cass on the Dorfprozelten Germans in Queensland pre-Separation in 1859.

[v] (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 1855)