A descendant’s guide to Dorfprozelten

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI prepared this tour guide for my daughter when she visited Dorfprozelten about 10 years ago. Given the intervening time there’s bound to be some changes…for example there is a local history museum which I haven’t seen. On the other hand it was then only a couple of years since I’d visited so things were fresh in my mind. So here it is, bearing in mind I had the Kunkel/Happ family in my mind as a focus.

Start the tour at the church which is the most prominent feature of the town. This is not the original one but there are many features inside it which go back centuries. In particular look for the christening font which is a pink-stone font dating back to the 1600s. It has a bronze cover.

baptismal fontThere are also some rather nice paintings in the church…I like the one of Mary and baby Jesus with a lute player and birds sitting under a tree with white flowers. The missal stand is also rather lovely. The pink stone is a feature of the town and is used in various things—it comes from the pink cliffs on the road out of town heading to Fechenbach and Miltenberg. It also caused the premature death of many stonemasons from the town. There is a lane up beside the church which leads up towards the hills and vineyards and which was the quick route to Mass!


picture churchOnce out of the church face the river with the church at your back. The old church and the school the Dorfprozelten emigrants would have attended were across the road to your left but immediately in front of you, pretty much, is an old barn that stood there long ago. The timber framing which you see around the place (like the bones of the building on show and quite like old Elizabethan buildings in England) is called Faschwerk.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you head to the left (this road to the left takes you to Stadtprozelten) along the main road this will take you to the cemetery –they “recyle” their graves so there are none specifically to see, but worth a short look to see how they tend them continuously and change the floral features for the season. There is their equivalent of a War Memorial in the rear of the cemetery and there is also one in Stadtprozelten –interesting for an alternative perspective. Near the cemetery you will see the Fröhlichkeit Guesthouse which was owned by one of George Kunkel’s relatives.

If you don’t feel like going as far as Stadtprozelten there is a turn off to the left near the Dorfprozelten town boundaries (I think) where there is a stone cross/crucifix which was erected in 1628 (in another location in earlier years/centuries) and renovated by my multiple great-grandfather (on the Happ side) in 1828.

This shrine was built in 1628 and renovated.

This shrine was built in 1628 and renovated in 1828.

Along the way there is a butcher’s shop and bakery on the left hand side. If you want to return via a different way you can walk back along the river bank which has a cycle path along it.

Situating yourself back at the church. Cross the road and see the old inn called Gasthof zum Anker which has been in the town since George Kunkel’s time. Face the right and look down the street. You will see a sign with “Bank” on it….this is the site of the Kunkel’s inn which was called “Das Goldenes Fass” or Golden Barrel. If you look down this street you will see many buildings which date back to the C19th and get a really good sense of how it was. In the distance you will see the pink stone cliffs (you will see these better from the river path).

Same view but the inn has been replaced by the bank.

Same view but the inn has been replaced by the bank.

rathaus2After crossing the road from the church and walking a short way to the right, you will come to a street on your left. Take this and you will walk past the Town Hall (Rathaus) on your right of the street. On the left, shaded by trees, is another large crucifix. There is a lane running beside it which is worth a short wander down because you can see the old buildings and some sort of grinding stone.

Returning to the street (not the lane) you will walk down it to get to the Gasthof zum Goldener Stern (Golden Star). The lintels above a lot of the doorways have very old dates and in some cases you will see where the various floods have risen to (in Stadtprozelten and Miltenberg these are specifically marked and go back centuries). This Gasthof is essentially the sailor’s “union” site and there is a special table reserved for them in the inside dining room. They have a nice outside beer garden and you can eat there at lunch and dinner, a simple wurst or sausage is always nice. Try some of the local white wine –it is very apple-y.

The old inn by the river.

The old inn by the river.

Also amusing on the right side of the road is the rather bizarre Ponderosa which seems to be a caravan park kind of thing though we’re rarely there when it’s in action (The Ponderosa was the name of the homestead in an old TV show called Bonanza so of course we usually hum the theme song!). Keep going down to the riverbank and you will almost certainly see one of the long barges anchored or going by. You can also look right & see the cliffs.

The cliffs rise up from the River Main at the outskirts of town.

The cliffs rise up from the River Main at the outskirts of town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is usually a funny wooden boat there which looks rather like something by da Vinci. There are often flags on a flag pole near a shrine just back from the river. This is part of the sailors’ affiliations. The sailors used to fly their flags to signify they were at home from the river. (I believe that in New England they used to put a half-pineapple on the door for the same purpose hence the significance of pineapples in the New England décor).

So that’s the little side-street. Go back up the hill to its intersection with the main street and head towards the cliffs (ie turn left if you’ve come up the hill). This takes you down the main street (Hauptstrasse) and you will soon pass the sacred site of our family’s inn now taken over by the bank. Their inn was one of the earliest recorded inns in the town.

A postcard of the Happ/Kunkel inn called Das Goldene Fass. Compare it to the photo above taken from near the same spot.

A postcard of the Happ/Kunkel inn called Das Goldene Fass. Compare it to the photo above taken from near the same spot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust past this you will go over a sort-of small bridge, mainly noticeable by the stone “railings”. Beside it there is a statue which you should note –it is called the holy Nepomuk (die heilige Nepomuk -1616) and has also survived for some 400 years being “recently” renovated in the 1800s. It has also migrated from one side of the bridge to the other over the centuries!! There should be a map of the town near this bridge, in fact my photos show it beside the Nepomuk.

Not too much farther on the right is another of the old inns, Das Goldene Krone (the Krebs inn). It has also been around since George Kunkel’s time. Many of these buildings are very old and pretty much as they were when the Dorfprozelten immigrants left in 1854-1862.

Before this there is a newsagent and small shop which is probably closed on Sundays – you might want to see if they have a copy of Georg Veh’s book Dorfprozelten Teil II.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou will reach an intersection of about four streets. On the right hand fork leading towards the hill you will see the old smithy. It is well signed and shouldn’t be hard to spot. Across from that on the opposite corner (RHS going out of town) is a place that is now a pizzeria where one of the Dorfprozelten immigrants came from this house (Juliana Löhr married Andreas Diflo from Fechenbach and her cousin, Eleanor Löhr married Peter Faust in Australia). I have posted a photo of this on my Flickr site for the Diflo descendants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you continue along the road out of town ie with the pizza place on your right, you will ultimately pass the small shrine which says “Gute Fahrt aus Dorfprozelten”, another very old memorial from 1629. On the right of the street, a little further along where the road veers, and somewhat recessed into the hill near the railway line is another Marian shrine which has an iron gate in front of it.  There is a track up into the hills from here which leads to a forest or alternatively track up past the church to where you get an overview of the village.

You can see the cliffs from here, and possibly the vineyards, as well as back along the river to the town. I think, though not 100% sure that there the street which leads up past the smithy goes up high enough to see over the village but all depends on time, weather & energy levels. If you get down along the bike path here you should get a good view of Dorfprozelten.


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.

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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/541563712595845/

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: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60175726

The Empire, Sydney, 9 March 1855, page 4. Trove article: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60175726

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. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60175726

German Immigration 1855: The Empire, Sydney, 9 March 1855. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60175726

[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] http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12969657 (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 1855)

Researching the Dorfprozelten emigrants

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.

One of the shrines around the village.

One of the shrines around the village.

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).

On the exit from Dorfprozelten towards Miltenberg.

On the exit from Dorfprozelten towards Miltenberg.

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.


Der heilige Nepomuk

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.