The Hennig or Henny family of Dorfprozelten and Dungog

Aschaffenburger Zeitung, 12 September 1854, p226

At the approach of autumn in 1854, the Hennig family’s intent to emigrate to Australia was published in the regional newspapers. They had applied under the New South Wales Vinedresser Scheme to come to Australia where, in theory, they would work in the new wine industry. Sadly, it wasn’t uncommon for the emigrants to enhance their experience as day labourers in the Bavarian wine industry, and similarly the employers in Australia were guilty of deceiving them of what their expected roles would be.

The emigrating Hennig family group comprised Johann Hennig, a day labourer, his wife Anna Maria nee Zőller, and son Anton[i]. Johann had been born illegitimately to Barbara Hennig[ii] on 2 May 1812[iii] We don’t know who his father was though Johann states his parents as Johann and Barbara Hennig on arrival in Australia. He may have been aware of his father’s name or it may have been a deception to the government agents. At the time young Johann was born, it was very common for children to be born out of wedlock because of the financial and legal difficulties of marrying.[iv] Certainly there are repeated instances among the births in Dorfprozelten of children born outside marriage. Johann married in Anna Maria Zőller[v] in Dorfprozelten on 26 June 1843. Their son Anton had been born on 27 March 1838. It may have been their son’s age, and the recent political upheavals in Germany that encouraged the family to leave before he was recruited to serve in the military.

Nothing is known of the family’s journey between Dorfprozelten and Hamburg where their ship was to depart. Frankfurt provided a travel hub for emigrants from the southern Germanic states and it is most likely that for the Dorfprozelten families, the first phase of their migration travel was by boat along the River Main to Frankfurt en route to Hamburg and thence on the long sea voyage.

Ship Peru SLQ

Ship Peru, State Library of Queensland. Can you imagine so many people on board this ship?

On 16 December 1854, the Hennigs were about to sail for Australia on the barque Peru. They must surely have been partly anxious and partly hopeful of their new lives as they left the freezing port behind. Already they had severed links with many family and friends from their home village although they would have taken comfort in the company of the 24 other immigrants from Dorfprozelten on board. I wonder how they celebrated Christmas and the New Year as they made the months-long journey south.

Ship Peru Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 1855, page 4

Unlike the immigrants brought to Australia by the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners, this voyage was commissioned by Kirchner and Co, whose agents had recruited the emigrants. Hence it seems they were disadvantaged in the standard of provisions and safety. Their journey was to be a challenge to health and well-being. When the Peru arrived in Sydney harbour on 24 May 1855, the Sydney Morning Herald described it as being “in a very dirty and disgraceful state.”[vi] At least some of the passengers on board were suffering from fever and scurvy[vii] the ship was placed in quarantine. After such a long journey the emigrants must have been so frustrated to be unable to leave the ship until released from quarantine on 4 June 1855.[viii]

Although the paper reports 36 deaths (3 adults and 33 children), the Board Lists document 32 deaths, 26 being children under four years of age. Two children and one adult belonged to the Dorfprozelten immigrants: Clara Kauflein aged 7, Thomas Neubeck aged 1, and Maria Anna Kuhn nee Heuster, aged 34.[ix]

State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood New South Wales, Australia; Persons on bounty ships to Sydney, Newcastle, and Moreton Bay (Board’s Immigrant Lists); Series: 5317; Reel: 2471

The Hennig family reported to the Immigration Board on arrival that they had no complaints (they probably couldn’t wait to get off the ship!).  All the family were literate, typical of the Dorfprozelten emigrants, and all were Catholics. Johann and Anton were listed as vinedressers.

Further major life changes occurred once the Dorfprozelten people disembarked in the colonies. After a lifetime spent in close proximity to, and familiarity with, their fellow immigrants and their families at home, the immigrants were dispersed to their employers in far-reaching corners of the colony of New South Wales, including the Moreton Bay region.

A map indicating where the Hennigs lived in New South Wales.

According to the Board Immigrant Lists, the Hennigs were allocated to Alexander Park but there is no information on them in those early years though their residence at Myall Creek near Dungog suggests that, unlike some other emigrants, they may have been sent to the employer who’d contracted them initially. Assuming the passengers were indeed distributed as per the Immigration Lists, the Hennigs will have been fortunate to have another Dorfprozelten family, that of Joseph Kauflein,  working with them at the same place.

Naturalisation Anthony Henny

State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia; Series: Certificates of Naturalization, 1849-1874; Series Number: NRS 1039; Roll: 2694

Like many of the German immigrants, the Hennig family name became Anglicised to Henny. It’s not so much that they changed it themselves, as that the pronunciation was converted to English spelling. We first find mention of Anthony Henny when he and his father are naturalised in 1863[x].

A couple of years later Anton/Anthony married Sarah Jane Courts in 1863 in the district of Dungog[xi].

CONDITIONAL PURCHASES LAPSED. (1865, August 22). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), p. 1843. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from

Anthony Henny’s land selection seems to have lapsed in 1865 and further investigation in the New South Wales State Archives might explain why[xii]. Meanwhile Anthony and Sarah were producing their own family: John (b 1866), Mary Louisa (b 1867), Charles Edward (b 1869), Sarah Mildred (b 1870), Florence Mathilda (b 1872) and William James (b 1874), Albert Ernest (b 1879), Clarence Herbert Harrington (b 1881), May Evelyn (b 1883), and Stella C (b 1888).

Probate documents John Henny. 17/1885 #3720 NSW State Archives

John Henny (aka Johann Hennig) died on 6 January 1876 in the Dungog area[xiii]. For whatever reason Anthony takes over John’s estate after his father dies, and his mother cedes the administration to him. Mary Ann Henn(e)y died in 1885 but apparently Anthony didn’t know his maternal grandparents’ names as they are registered as “unknown Zoller).[xiv]

Henny graves Dungog cemetery. P Cass 2006

John and Mary Ann’s deaths seem to have been unremarked in the local newspapers which is sad. Trove has turned up some later stories of the Henny family at Myall Creek. Anthony was involved with the Oddfellows Lodge as well as the Agricultural and Horticultural Society at Dungog. The family also had some worrying moments with Anthony having a severely broken leg and the family home having to be defended from bushfire which raged through the area.

Henny Dungog bushfires

Bush Fires. (1904, February 16). Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from

It seems the family may also have been quite social judging by this delightful story about a party at the Henny home.

Henny Anthony Myall Creek

Local and General. (1905, October 3). Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from

Obituaries can tell us quite a lot about family members as do these for Anthony and his wife Sarah, who lived to 94. While they had married in the Anglican church of which Sarah was obviously an active member, it seems Anthony had retained his Catholic faith given he was buried by the priest. Other obituaries for their children reveal the married names of daughters and the places of residence. Sarah Jane Henny’s obituary in 1939 lists the family: Albert (deceased), Jack (Sydney), Louisa (Mrs JI Middlebrook), Charles Edward (Myall Creek), Sarah (Mrs Geo Stephenson, Laurieton), Florence (Mrs Geo Paff, Southport Qld), William (Sydney), May (Mrs Pike, Melbourne), Stella (Mrs O R Lethbridge, Dungog).

The Henny family are buried in the Dungog cemetery where I was able to visit around 2006.

Family members would likely be able to learn more through visits to the New South Wales State Archives as well as pursuing further stories in Trove. The stories I’ve found have been tagged by name and can also be found in the Dorfprozelten list.

Personal. (1937, July 2). The Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer (NSW : 1898 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from

[i] Indexed in the Kopittke indexes of Hamburg emigration as Henning.

[ii] Barbara was the eldest child of Johann Hoenig or Hennig, cattle herder, and Catharina Seus. Father is possibly John Neubeck.

[iii] Veh, G. Dorfprozelten Teil II, page 179.

[iv] Paterson, J. “Planned Illegitimacy in German Immigrants” in Ances-Tree Vol 20 No 2, July 2007, Burwood and District Family History Group, Sydney.

[v] Born 8 February 1809 to parents Franz Michael and Regina Zőller

[vi] Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 1855, page 4 columns 1 and 2. It carried a cargo of slate, battens and bricks as well as furniture and commercial products.

[vii] Scurvy suggests that the German shipping companies did not have the same level of awareness of the necessary provisions that British shipping had developed through convict transportation.

[viii] SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1855, June 5). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 2, 2020, from

[ix] The Dorfprozelten children who died on the voyage were Clara Kauflein (7), daughter of Joseph and Anna Kauflein and Thomas Neubeck (1), son of Alois and Clara Neubeck.

[x] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia; Series: Certificates of Naturalization, 1849-1874; Series Number: NRS 1039; Roll: 2694

[xi] NSW reference 2037/1865

[xii] CONDITIONAL PURCHASES LAPSED. (1865, August 22). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), p. 1843. Retrieved November 2, 2020, from

[xiii] Registered as John Henney, NSW death reference 5987/1876 son of Jacob and Eva B.

[xiv] NSW death registration 9492/1885

Religion on two German-Immigrant Ships

CFH-Widget-Germans-P-Cass-6-8-20209-NFHMThis week I gave a presentation for National Family History Month hosted by Caloundra Family History Society Inc.

The title was “They weren’t all Lutheran: the story of some Bavarian emigrants to Australia“.

You might wonder why I chose this title and the reason is quite simple. When I first started researching back in 1986 I was assuredly told by the German genealogy guru of the day that no Bavarians and no Catholics had immigrated to the Australian colonies in the 1850s and 1860s….until I provided a certificate verifying my own family’s religious history.

Robert Dunne bookSomehow, over the years, “German” had become synonymous with “Lutheran”. Perhaps because the German Catholics were incorporated into what was essentially an Irish church, marrying spouses from other nationalities in favour of their religion. Even though they sometimes had difficulty in the early days being able to participate fully because of language difficulties, they mostly maintained their Catholic religion. In 1868, a petition was sent to Bishop Quinn of Brisbane by some German Catholics on the Darling Downs who objected to not being able to be understood by their priest, Fr Dunne. I can only assume this mainly focused on confession and general advice as the Mass would have been said in Latin as it was in Bavaria. Among the names I’ve identified four people with Dorfprozelten origins or connections: Cecilia Dümig, Andreas Diflo (from Fechenbach but with a Dorfp wife), Josef Zöller, and Carl Wörner. (Endnote 95, page 272)

Belatedly, I looked at the religious breakdown shown on the NSW Board Lists for the assisted German immigrants on the Commodore Perry and the Peru. While the Board classified them as Church of England (CE), Protestant or Roman Catholic, this is probably more representative of a local view than the official religion for the CE and Protestant.

The breakdown is enlightening and confirms my hypothesis that they certainly weren’t all Lutheran, and many were in fact Catholic. The assisted Germans on the Commodore Perry were 40% Roman Catholic while on the Peru they represented 47%. It must be remembered that this data is for the assisted immigrants only, the single people were recruited directly and only appear on the Hamburg Shipping Lists not the Board Lists.

Commodore Perry Religion

Peru religion

Whether this religious trend is typical of all the vinedresser immigrants would require a complete analysis of the Board Lists for all these voyages. Suffice to say, that on these indications we can be confident in saying “They weren’t all Lutheran“.

Some tips on German research are included on my other blog



SRNSW: Persons on Bounty ships to Sydney, Newcastle Moreton Bay, 1848-66, NSW Archives Kit, CGS 5317, Microfilms 2463, 2469, 2471

Commodore Perry arrived Sydney 26 April 1855

Peru arrived Sydney 23 May 1855

Robert Dunne 1830-1917 Archbishop of Brisbane. Byrne, Neil J, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane 1991.







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 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.

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