Thursday, May 21, 2015

Telling an Immigrant Ancestor's Story

An Immigrant Ancestor's Story - Finding the Facts 

Advertisement regarding my ancestor's farm, Darling Downs Gazette 1861

Telling real life stories of immigrant ancestors can be so much more rewarding than just collecting dates, places of origin and arrival, and names of ships. If you make time to research and to place your ancestors within the historical context of world events, you will uncover fascinating and real stories. Family history is, after all, the personal stories of individual people and events which make our collective history. History embraces a more profound meaning when you understand the way that historical events impacted on your own ancestors' lives. Since immmigration has played a crucial role in shaping the economic, political, social and cultural essence of many of the nations in which we live today, our own immigrant ancestors' stories are a relevant and integral part of each nation's history. 

With diligent investigation you can uncover compelling chapters in your ancestors' personal immigration stories. Understanding the reasons why ancestors left their homes and why they chose the countries they relocated to, can have a powerful impact on your sense of who you are. Understanding our identity is a significant part of why we want to know where we come from. Our immigrant ancestors arrived in countries often very foreign to them, leaving behind an old way of life, but undoubtedly bringing with them a strong sense of cultural identity, ideals, values and customs. Finding ships' names, names on passenger lists and countries of origins is only the beginning of your journey towards understanding your immigrant ancestors and a fraction of the story that deserves to be told. Identifying with the challenges that immigrant ancestors faced, appreciating what their lives were like when they first arrived in a new homeland, and discovering how they lived and adapted to their adopted home is a vital part of the journey to discovering a significant part of your own identity.  Many of our our ideas, attitudes, perceptions and understanding of the world around us has been passed down to us, sometime unkowingly, from immigrant ancestors.

When I was growing up, I was not told that I had German ancestry. It was only after I began researching my family history that I became aware of my German heritage. A great deal of research, and some years later, the legacy passed on to me from my German background is that of a greatly enriched sense of who I am and an appreciation of my German origins. This connection has only been possible through research since no tangible information was passed on to me by my ancestors. After the first and second world wars, many people did not want to admit Germanic heritage. My own ancestors in Australia, anglicised their German surname and buried their Germanic background. We all inately carry within us, genes, traits, traditions and even mannerisms passed down from our parents and grandparents who inherited the same from their ancestors. By understanding our immigrant ancestors we take a step an important towards understanding how we came to be who we are.

In this blog I hope to show the way in which the threads of an immigrant ancestor's story can be woven together.  I am using, as an example,  my Prussian immigrant ancestor, Gottlieb Nerger. Although my research for this blog, is focussed on German and Prussian immigration to Australia,  a similar method of research can be applied to most immigrant research.   I hope to show how by treating each piece of information you find as a clue to more indepth research, you can peice together a 'meat on the bones' account of an immigrant ancestor's story. The resources I have cited, relate  to German immigration to Australia, however, similar resources are available for immigrants who came from and travelled to other places.

My G G grandfather, John Gottlieb Nerger  (1864- 1913) , son  Australian born son of Gotttlieb Nerger  and Christiana Siegler, Prussian and German Immigrants

The first step in telling an ancestor's immigration story is to establish how, when and why they left their place of origin. This will require some research into the place of their origins and its history. 


My ancestor, Gottlieb Nerger, was a native of Prussia (Preußen), although his records mostly referrred to him as German. To understand the relevance of Prusian and German origins, one needs to know something of the history of the Germanic Kingdom. The following is a brief summary of Prussian history from wikipedia, which for the purpose of this post, provides an adequate overview. I have not intended to provide an indepth history of Prussia here, and I would not recommend relying upon wikipedia alone for information. I would recommend alway searching for far more in depth histories of places my ancestors came from, online and in books. 

"Prussia (German Preußen was a german kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and centred on the region of Prussia. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Berlin after 1451, shaped the history of Germany. In 1871, German states united in creating the German Empire under the Prussian leadership. In November 1918, the monarchies were abolished and the nobility lost its political power. Prussia was effectively abolished in 1947."

It is important to have some knowledge of the history of the places your ancestors came from, since boarders and boundaries may have altered over time. Prior to its dissolution, Prussia consisted of West Prussia, East Prussia, Brandenburg, Saxony, Pomerania, Rhineland, Silesia, Lusatia, Hesse-Nassau, and the small Hohernzollen, which was the ancestral homeland of the Prussian ruling family. 
When the German Empire united the German states in 1871, for the most part, the population of Prussia, and in particular the West Prussian region, was comprised of German speaking people. There were parts of Prussia, however, which were principally Polish ( East Prussia - the Province of Posen and Upper Silesia). Brandenburg, the place of my ancestor's origins was a German speaking part of Prussia. Other minority ethnic groups which made up Prussia's population before 1871, were, Jews, Danes, Frisians, Kashubians, Masurians, Lithuaniana, Walloons, Czechs, Kursenieki and Sorbs. 

The significance of boundary changes, becomes obvious when you are looking for records. If your ancestors came from East Prussia, for example, you will need to search in Poland for records. 

Prussia 1871 -1918 Image Wikipedia  Creative Commons Licence

Germany today. Image Google Maps.


Information in passenger manifests often provides details about ancestors that you might not find anywhere else. Indexes and passenger lists for immigrants can be found in Archives, Immigration Museums, Local, State and National Libraries and Family History Societies. Many ships' passenger lists can be found on sites such as or  and on numerous free to use websites found using google searches.

My great great grandmother, Christiana Siegler arrived in Australia in 1863 on board La Rochelle

When looking foe the arival of an immigrant, It is  important to look further afield than the nearest port to where an ancestor lived after his or her arrival. Not every immigrant settled near the port at which they arrived. In my ancestor's case, Gottlieb Nerger settled in Drayton, Toowoomba on the Darling Downs in Queensland, Australia, but I was unable to find him arriving on any ship at the nearest port of Moreton Bay or any other Queensland ports. Since Queensland, prior to separation from New South Wales, in 1859, was a physically remote part of  the British administered colony of New South Wales, I widened my search, and I found Gottlieb Nerger on the passenger list for the immigrant ship, Caesar Godeffroy, arriving in Sydney, New  South Wales in 1852.

The discovery that Gottlieb Nerger had left the ship Caesar Godeffroy in Sydney, NSW, raised a number of questions about how and why he then travelled the long distance from the city of Sydney to the remote pastoral area of The Darling Downs in Queensland.  As I researched further, Gottlieb Nerger's story unfolded...


Godeffroy ships, Caesar and Helene Image Wikipedia Creative Commons

After you have determined when and how your ancestor emigrated, the next chapter of your immigrant's story is to learn about the voyage which transported him or her to a new life.

In the mid-nineteenth century, at the time when my Prussian and German forebears made their journeys from Hamburg to Australia, voyages from one side of the world to another, took many months. Ship's records, passenger lists, Surgeon's notes and other records pertaining to ships' voyages hold fascinating information that can help you to understand the momentous journey undertaken by ancestors. Some voyages were made harder by the outbreak of disease on board ships, some made arduous by bad weather conditions. Many passengers wrote diaries whilst on board the ships they travelled on. If a diary exists regarding the ship on which your ancestor journeyed, even if  not written by your own ancestor, the details of the ship's journey in these accounts will be valuable information for you. Exploring the day to day hardships that ancestors faced in the process of immigration, can assist you in shaping their story, if not at the very least, earn them your respect for their courage and determination.

From the passenger list for the Caesar Godeffroy, I learned that Gottlieb Nerger had departed Hamburg on August 9, 1852, as one of 230 emigrants bound for Sydney, Australia. I originanlly discovered the name of the immigrant ship Gottlieb on which arrived, in  a card index and subsequently on microfilm, in the Queensland State Archives, although many such records are now available online. The image of the passenger list can be found on sites such as and [Emigrants from Hamburg,1850-1879 ]

Gottlieb Nerger arrived in Sydney on December 11, 1852, after an almost three month voyage. 
The Maitland Mercury report of the arrival of the Caesar Godeffroy on 15 December 1852
There is a great deal of information to be discovered about the voyages of  immigrant ships, online, in archives, libraries, immigration museums and in books. A particularly good source of  information about immigration and the arrival of immigrant ships are newspapers of the day.  From an article in the Maitland Mercury, dated December 15, 1852, I learned that there were three deaths and one birth on board the voyage  which took Gottlieb Nerger from Hamburg to Sydney, Australia. It is comforting to know that his lengthy voyage from Hamburg was not made more onerous by an outbreak of  the deadly typhus fever and other sicknesses which resulted in tragedy for some of the voyages to Australia in the early 1850's. 

December 15, Maitland Mercury, 
I know, also, from a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald, December 14, 1852, addressed to Captain Bohn of the Caesar Godeffroy, that the conditions of the voyage were appreciated by the English passengers.  I can only hope that for my Great great great grandfather, the voyage was similarly tolerable. The letter read thus:

 On board the Caesar Godeffroy
Wed 8 Dec 1852
We the undersigned Englishmen, passengers on board the above named barque from Hamburgh to Sydney, do assure you of our entire satisfaction & approval, both as regards the quality & the quantity of all provisions & water with which the ship has been supplied: & we beg further to state that we cannot close these remarks without adding that we have witnessed with pleasure your untiring seal for the comfort of all on board, your readiness to hear patiently & without partiality any complaint that might arise, & more particularly your humane kindness in all cases of sickness. To you sir, in particular, as well as the officers & crew, are we solely indebted for the prosperous, safe & happy voyage in your vessel: & in taking our farewell, we sincerely wish you, one & all, health, happiness & prosperity, & may success attend your efforts, & good luck to your gallant vessel.

From the ship's manifest I discovered that Gottlieb Nerger  was from Petersdorf in Prussia and that his occupation was a Schäfer. Translated from German, this is a shepherd. This is the only record where I have found Gottlieb Nerger's place of origin and occupation recorded. I also noted on the passenger list for the Caesar Goddefroy voyage of 1852, that  many of the other male German passengers were also shepherds, although they originated from different places in Germany and Prussia. This was a significant clue towards discovering why my ancestor emigrated and the significance of the location where he settled in Australia.

Departure Date:9 Aug 1852
Birth Place:Petersdorf, Preußen (Germany)
Ship Name:Cesar Godeffroy
Captain:Behn, Heinr.
Shipping line:Biancone & Co.
Shipping Clerk:Joh. Ces. Godeffroy & Sohn
Ship Type:Segelschiff
Accommodation:ohne Angabe
Ship Flag:Deutschland
Port of Departure:Hamburg
Port of Arrival:Sydney


Finding facts about ancestors, knowing details such as what their occupations were prior to emigrating can help to explain the reasons why they left their homelands. Often one clue leads to other vital information about why and where they settled in a new land.

There is a vast amount of information to be found online, in newspapers, libraries and in archives that will help you understand the religious, economic, political or social reasons why people migrated from one place to another.


As I  researched early German immigration to Australia, I discovered that the first German settlers arrived at Kangaroo Island, with the South Australia Company in 1837.  In  April, 1838, a group of six German families arrived in Australia on the  ship Kinnear which left from from London. This was a group of vinedressers who together with their families had been especially recruited from the Rheingau villages of Mittelheim, Hattenheim and Erbach in the then independent Duchy of Nassau ( now known as  Rheinland-Palatine and Hesse )  by Edward Macarthur to work on his property in Camden, New South Wales. 

The next two groups of German immigrants  arrived in South Australia in November and December of 1838. These 'Old Lutheran' German citizens were fleeing the religious persecution of Frederick William III whose revised form of Lutheran worship and revised prayer book was unacceptable to them. The skills that these German immigrants brought with them comprised a wide range of occupational crafts. They included farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters , bakers and butchers. The South Australian German settlers established village communities such as Hahndorf and Klemzig, while others settled and farmed in the Barossa Valley, the Adelaide Hills and along the Murray River. Others set up businesses in Adelaide. From 1839 onwards South Australia became home to a steady stream of immigrants from Germany, many of whom remained there, although some migrated to New South Wales and Queensland. 

German immigration began in Queensland in 1838, motivated by a desire to establish an Aboriginal mission. In Queensland, a group of 11 German missionaries from the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Missionary in Berlin and one Basel Mission graduate arrived in Brisbane on board the Isabella in 1838. These immigrants first settled in Moreton Bay at Zion Hill (now Redcliffe), but were quickly resettled to a safer location ( due to attacks on them by aboriginal people) on a 650 acre NSW Government grant of land, which is now a suburb of Brisbane known as Nundah. The missionary became known as the German Station. These early Queensland German immigrants were part of Presbyterian minister, John Dunmore Lang's proposal to improve the immoral character of a convict colony through immigration schemes aimed at attracting Lang's ideal upstanding and moral protestant immigrants. 

Sketch of the German Mission at Zion Hill : Image Wikimedia Creative Commons

(Karl Ludwig) Wilhelm Kirchner, a German Immigrant himself, who arrived in Sydney in 1839, became the German Immigration Officer for the NSW Government. Kirchner secured German Immigrants to come to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales with their families, to work in the vineyards as vinedressers. Much of the success of the wine industry in the Hunter Valley region can be attricuted to the German immigrants who arrived in 1848 and 1849.


Gottlieb Nerger arrived in Australia in 1852, as part of the first wave of German immigration to the Darling Downs area which occurred between 1852 and 1855. (His future wife arrived in the second wave of German immigration in 1862). Gottlieb was among a group of mainly male immigrants who possessed very specific occupational skills. These German farm workers left their native land for entirely different  reasons to the earlier German settlers in South Australia.

Map showing the location of the Darling Downs Image Wikipedia  ©©

Although many of the Queensland German immigrants, including Gottlieb Nerger, were Lutheran, some were Evangelische, and it was not religious persecution which brought these immigrants to Australia. Economic hardship, agricultural failure and famine, along with political upheaval and revolutions of 1848 in Western Europe forced German farmers and farm workers to look for a better life beyond Germany and Prussia or risk facing starvation. Australia offered contract work in rural farming areas to German immigrants with specific farming skills, in particular shepherds and boundary riders. 

Serious shortages of farm labour in rural Australia was precipitated by workers abandoning the land to try their luck on the Gold Fields during the Gold Rushes, the first of which was in 1851, when Edward Hargraves announced he had discovered gold at Ophir near Bathurst in New South Wales. The landowning aristocracy on the Darling Downs in Queensland, looked to German Immigration Agents in Sydney, and later Brisbane, to supply them with much needed shepherds from Germany. From the ship's manifest I had discovered that Gottlieb Nerger was from Petersdorf in Prussia and that his occupation was a Schäfer. Translated from German, this is a shepherd. The pastoral community of the Darling Downs was destined to become Gottlieb Nerger's destination after his arrival in Australia because his experience as a shepherd was much needed there.

Departure Date:9 Aug 1852
Birth Place:Petersdorf, Preußen (Germany)
Ship Name:Cesar Godeffroy
Captain:Behn, Heinr.
Shipping line:Biancone & Co.
Shipping Clerk:Joh. Ces. Godeffroy & Sohn
Ship Type:Segelschiff
Accommodation:ohne Angabe
Ship Flag:Deutschland
Port of Departure:Hamburg
Port of Arrival:Sydney

The German immigrants on board the Caesar Godeffroy were mostly men and for the most part were shepherds along with some vinecutters. Although the Godeffroy ships, which transported  German and other European immigrants to Queensland in the 1850's mostly travelled directly to Moreton Bay, several of the voyages, including the one transporting Gottlieb Nerger,  saw the German workers disembarking in Sydney and then being transferred to Brisbane. Although the German workers were consigned to employees before arrival, some immigrants on disembarking, were lured by the exctiing city life in Sydney, and others enticed to the Australian Gold fileds. They deserted the ships on arrival and the immigrarion scheme was in danger of failing to provide the much needed farm hands. To avoid losing  German immigrant farm workers, German immigrant ships later travelled directly to Moreton Bay to offload immigrants in Brisbane, closer to the Darling Downs so avoiding the loss of contracted wfarm workers.

Living arrangements for these German immigrants were in sharp contrast to those of the earlier South Australian German settlers who settled in communities and founded flourishing townships. Theirs was a much lonelier life on arrival. Shepherds were required to live on isolated parts of large landholdings to protect sheep from dingoes, aboriginal attacks and bushrangers. German workers quickly earned a reputation as reliable, sober and hardworking men and were much in demand for work on the Darling Downs pastoral leasholds. They frugally saved the money that they earned and many purchased small acreages of farming land for themselves at the first opportunity. I know from the 1861 advertisement in the Darling Downs Gazette that Gottlieb Nerger purchased a small farm of around 4 and a half acres. 

I visited Toowoomba and found Gottlieb Nerger's land, some of which is now a park. Image SharnWhite ©©


The Moreton Bay Courier, 16 October, 1852 Page1

The above advertisement placed in the Moreton Bay Courier, on October, 16, 1852, refers to one of the ships in the Godeffoy family owned shipping line which was contracted to bring German migrant farm workers to Queensland, Australia. What is particularly interesting about the advertisement and the many other similar ones in Queensland Newspapers at this time, is that it provides evidence that farmers on the Darling Downs were actively seeking German farm workers and had placed orders for such with  immigration agents such as Messrs Kirchner & Co for Shepherds. 

Advertisement in a German Newspaper for Immigration to Australia Image Creative Commons ©©

Wilhem Kirchener was a German Immigration Officer employed by the New South Wales and later the Queensland Government to recruit immigrants to relocate to Australia. He published a book in 1848, entitled, Australien und seine Vortheile für Auswanderer. [H. L Brönner, Frankfurt], to promote the benefits of emigration for German people. This translates as 'Australia and it's Advantages for Emigrants'. Advertisements were placed regularly in German newspapers recruiting people to emigrate to Australia and were designed to entice particulary German rural workers towards a new and better life. 

Letter to the editor of the Moreton Bay Courier 24 May, 185 regarding German workers to be introduced to the Darling Downs

A search of newspaper articles about German immigration to Australia brought to my attention the German Immigration Scheme of Mr Neuhauss [ Geelong Courier Tuesday, 12 August, 1851], in which the article reported, that Mr Neuhauss proposes to introduce "skilled agricultural labourers, shepherds, and female servants" on being paid by their employers 7 pounds for each emigrant. The wages payable to males 20 pounds per annum and to females 12 pounds per annum. 

The article announcs Mr Neuhauss as saying, the colonists are in want of labour.I will supply you on reasonable terms. The class of emigrants which it is intended to introduce is of the right kind.The Germans are of the right kind. The Germans are a laborious, honest, and frugal race. They will easily amalgamate with their blood relations, the Anglo-Saxons. 

This article very much reinforces the notion that Australia was looking for immigrants of a sober protestant background to improve what was seen to be an immoral, criminally 'stained' and largely Irish Catholic population.

On May 3, 1851, the Moreton Bay Courier carried an account entitled German Immigration, which announced the intended visit to the Moreton Bay area by Mr Neuhauss himself, who is consequent upon an application made by the gentlemen in this district, having a considerable knowledge of Germany, and formerly connected with an extensive business in Brisbane, and who desired to know from Messrs Godeffroy and Son the rate at which German labourers would be introduced into Moreton Bay direct. 

Between the 1820's and 1880's hundreds of thousands of German and Prussian emigrants left their homeland to escape religious persecution or economic ruin. With an economic downturn and the major failure of crops in the mid 19th century in Germany and Prussia, a campaign of advertising directly aimed at attracting reliable German farm workers to migrate to Australia, was extremely successful and it is not difficult to imagine my ancestor being tempted by the promise of great benefits if he emigrated.

The above sources of information about German immigration to Queensland, have afforded me some understanding of the way in which Gottlieb Nerger would have been lured into emigrating to a new nation which offered him the opportunity for a bettter life, for employment, and especially, as a single man, for adventure. From research and also from a personal knowledge of the Darling Downs landscape, I have been able to construct a picture of the isolated life my great great great grandfather would have lived, employed as a shepherd on a large pastoral sheep station, fending for himself on the lonely plains of the Darling Downs. Through my research, my ancestor's life has become more tangible to me. I wonder about the fear he may have felt facing perils so unfamiliar to him as dingoes, aboriginals brandishing spears or even brazen bushrangers. I imagine that he worried about his livelihood being threatened if he lost his employer's sheep? I have discovered what wage he would have earned for his lonely existence and I respect the way in which my Prussian shepherd ancestor must have worked hard to save his earnings. Piece by piece, my immigrant ancestor's journey is evolving into an appreciable story which helps me to understand a three times great grandfather who left his homeland and toiled in the past to provide for his family. I appreciate that he was one of my ancestors who set the scene for the fortunate life I have today, three geberations on.


Jondaryan Woolshed Darling Downs Queensland Image Wikimedia ©©


Resources for piecing together events in our ancestors' lives are many and varied. Some will be found online, however, for others it may be necessary to visit  libraries and archives or historical societies in the localities where your ancestors lived and worked. Putting in the effort to search beyond the internet is more than often well rewarded.

A search of the Toowoomba & Darling Downs Family History Society's  research centre's Biographical Register [QLD 435.160] and records from the Jondaryan Woolshed 1840-1946 [QLD 4403.001 Toowoomba & Darling Downs FHS] shows that Gottlieb Nerger was employed as a shepherd after he arrived  on the Darling Downs, on the large sheep station known as Jondaryan . Jondaryan is famous even today for its huge woolshed, the construction of which began in 1859. The first shearing  held in this shed was in 1861, so it is more than likely that Gottlieb Nerger was present at this event. As a member of the Toowoomba and Darling Downs community, he would have most certainly been impressed by the large woolshed which could hold over 3000 sheep at any one time.  

Sheep ready for shearing at Jondaryan c 1890 Image Wikimedia ©©


                                                            Farm to Let

To Let, at Toowoomba, a SMALL FARM of three acres with a two roomed Slab Cottage. The farm is paling fenced and partly under cultivation.
The land is elegibly situated near the Saw Mills, and will be let on reasonable terms for two years. For further particulars apply to
                                          GOTLIEB NERGER

I discovered the above newspaper advertisement on microfilm in the Toowoomba Library Local Research Centre in Ruthven Street, Toowoomba. It was placed in the Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser by Gottlieb Nerger on January, 21, 1861. Although the Darling Downs Gazette has now been digitised and made available on TROVE, I have not found this advertisement on the website despite a number searches. This is an excellent reminder that it is important to always search local records and original records as well as those available online. Not everything online is indexed in a way that easily enables you to easily find every record you are looking for.

Toowoomba History Library Image SharnWhite © ©

The advertisement in the Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser, is just one of the many scraps of evidence which I have gathered in my quest to tell my German immigrant ancestor's story. Each piece of information was a piece of the puzzle that was his life story before I began to assemble it. Gradually, the threads of Gottlieb Nerger's story, weave together to become a colourful tapestry of a real life rather than faded words on old documents.

Although the above advertisement appears insignificant at first glance, the small notice provided me with invaluable details about my ancestor's property in Toowoomba on the Darling Downs in Queensland, in 1861. It also confirms for me that in 1861, nine years after Gottlieb Nerger's arrival in Australia from Prussia, he owned his own small farm. For me, the most thrilling information in the advertisement is the description of his home and his farm.  It enables my mind to paint a picture in of an image of a modest timber slab cottage consisting only of two rooms. I find myself imagining my ancestor labouring beneath the fiercely hot Queensland sun, with a handsaw, to fell the native gum trees and then sawing them into slabs of timber suitable for building material. I know that my ancestor planted crops and protected his precious food source by constructing a  paling fence around his land. I know that he undoubtedly laboured hard to own his modest farm and I feel pride that he made a home for himself in his new land.


One significant result of finding the above advertisement, was that it gave me a reference point for a search for the location for the farm itself, which is described as being near the saw mills. This mention of a location was a valuable point of reference for further investigation.

The same tiny advertisement also provokes the question as to why Gottlieb Nerger was leasing his land out in 1861. It is clues like this which not only offers an excellent foundation for further research, but significantly, they provide a realistic timeline of events in an ancestor's life from which a story can evolve.

A search of the 1861 rate notices held on microfilm by the Toowoomba Family History Society, of which I am a member, provided me with a map reference and an acreage of land for my ancestor's property - Lot 23, Portion 29, 40 acres. By comparing old and new maps of Toowoomba, I was able to establish beyond doubt the location of my ancestor's farm.  I feel extremely fortunate  to have located, visited and even walked on the land that he owned.

In the 1863 Toowoomba Rate Notices, Gottlieb Nerger owned, in the parish of Aubigny, Drayton, Toowoomba, part of portion 23, containing 3 acres, Annual Value being 30 Pounds. The Rate notice informed me that on this land stood a substantial house. In 1861, his house had been dscribed as a modest two room timber slab house. By 1863, after his marriage to Christiana Siegler in September of 1863, a month after her arrival from Beutelsbach in Weurttemberg, Germany on the ship La Rochelle, Gottlieb had built a larger  substantial home for himself and his wife. As a married man with a baby son in 1864, he was providing well for his new family. 

* I have not yet found evidence as to whether the 40 acres should have read as 4 acres or whether Gottlieb disposed of some of his land as he earlier stated that he intended to do, in a letter he wrote in 1859. [State Library of Queensland Series A2, Reel A2.42 , p.502]


Prior to the Naturalisation Legislation being passed in New South Wales in 1849, it was difficult for immigrants born outside of the British Empire to become naturalised Australian citizens. Following the Naturalisation Act 1849, [Act 11. Vic.No.39], a German born immigrant such as my ancestor, who wanted the right to vote or to own land, was required to become naturalised and to swear an oath of allegiance. Naturalisation Certificates are a valuable source of personal information about an immigrant ancestor.

A search of  the Queensland State Archives  website in  Naturalizations 1851-1904,  found what I thought to be Gottlieb Nerger's name, although it was spelled as Nereger.  A visit to the archives located Gottlieb Nereger's Certificate of Naturalisation in the Register of Aliens to Whom Oaths of Allegiance were Administered, 1858-1904 [Series 5741, Item 882252, pp 1-829, on page 379. The cerificate is dated August 7, 1858. Although I felt that this my three times great grandfather I needed evidence that Gottlieb Nereger and Gottlieb Nerger were one and the same person.

On a trip to Brisbane, I visited the State Library of Queensland to search A2 Series on microfilm, Reel A2.42  of Letters Received 1859 and Papers Filed With Them [NSW -Colonial Secretary Letters Relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland 1822-1860]. Slowly scrolling through the microfilm reel, I found letters and forms written and filled out by Gottlieb Nerger, between April 13, 1858 and March 30, 1859.

On microfilm [A2 Series], reel A2.42 pages 420-424,  I found documents addressed to the then Governor General, Sir William Thomas Denison, in 1858, from Gottlieb Nerger who was applying for a Certificate of Naturalisation.  In his application for naturalisation, in 1858, Gottlieb gave his age as 31 years and  his occupation as a general labourer.  His naturalisation certificate wasdated August,7  1858 and  witnesses to his good character were R Bownlee and John Broadbent who both testified that they had known Gottlieb Nerger for 3 years.

Below is an excerpt from Gottlieb Nerger's  Certificate of Naturalisation.

Gottlieb Nereger is a native of Germany, is 32 years of age, and that having arrived  by the ship Goddeffroy, in the year 1852, now residing in Toowoomba, Drayton, having purchased land in the said colony with the intention of settling thereon.

Three words which leapt out at me from the page were, "having purchased land'. This small piece of information from Gottlieb Nerger's Certificate of Naturalization, helped to clarify the dates for his land purchase and the construction of his house. The document told me that by 1858, he had purchased land in Drayton, Toowoomba, with the intention of settling there.  From this, I had an more accurate date for the purchase of my ancestor's farm and significantly, I was able to date the construction of his slab house to between 1858 and 1861, when the lease advertisement, describing the timber slab house, appeared in the Darling Downs Gazetter.

A google search for "Gottlieb Nerger Toowoomba" revealed that the the State Library of Queensland also held records which related to Gottlieb Nerger's Naturalisation from the years 1858 and 1859. Reading through the notes in the index, I felt as though I had struck gold as I read the following words - Gottlieb Nerger [also spelled Nereger]. There in front of me was the proof I required.

The records relating to Gottlieb Nerger's 1858 Naturalisation generated somewhat of a complication in his story however as it appeared that in the records there was a second application for Naturalisation in 1859.  At first I assumed that the 1859 letters and forms would turn out to be official business related to his naturalisation, but in fact, curiously, he had, in fact, applied a second time in 1859 to be naturalised.  Since I had a copy of his Naturalisation Certificate, dated August 7, 1858, this raised a number of questions.

[* Note of interest - Gottlieb Nerger's 1858 Naturalisation Cerificate was signed by Charles Cowper, the same man who my husband's great great grandfather, Matthew MacDonald was assigned to in 1837 when he arrived as a free immigrant from Scotland. How all our paths cross in strange ways.]


A search of the New South Wales State Records only further served to add to the mystery when I discovered that Gottlieb Nerger had indeed been issued with a second Certificate of Naturalisation on September 15, 1859 [Item 4/1202, Reel 130, P.9].

Curious information about ancestors add some degree of melodrama to their story and undoubtedly make it a more interesting tale. I wasn't sure what my ancestor's melodrama would turn out to be but I was certainly intrigued.

Had Gottlieb Nerger not been aware that his certificate had been issued?
Had it been granted then refused?
Was there a problem because his surname was mispelled?
Was this a mistake in the naturalisation records?

In the 1859 Naturalisation application, Gottlieb had provided similar information about himself as he had done in 1858, on a form directed to the Governor General. His age was now stated to be 32 years, where it had been 31 the previous year so there was no doubt that this was a second and separate application. His occupation still a labourer. In the 1859 application, different witnesses testified to his character. They were Edward Lord, Martin Boulton, William H Groom and William Smith who  all stated that they had known Gottlieb Nerger for 2 years. [A2 Series, Reel A2.42, p.502]

I uncovered a clue for why there was an unusual second naturalisation application, on another trip to Brisbane and the State Library of Queensland, when I re-examined the microfilm at in the A2 Series, Reel A2.42, pp 498-499. I discovered that I had missed an entry on the same reel of microfilm, on my previous visit to the State Library when looking for Gottlieb Nerger's Certificate of Naturalisation. The information I had overlooked, was located between the 1858 entry [pp 422-424] and the 1859 entry [p.502] and dated August 27, 1858, 20 days after the date on Gottlieb Nerger's first Naturalisation Certificate. Here, I found a fascinating characterisation of Gottlieb Nerger in a letter  to the Principal Under Secretary. The memorial or testimony had originated at the Drayton Police Office and was signed by John Watts JP, and Francis Watts JP.

Gottlieb Nereger, also spelled absconding from Jondaryan: less than ordinary amount of intelligence, an inoffensive man, has little knowledge of English and conduct may be attributed to this [No 59/4]

As a descendant, I could not help but indignantly wonder how the brainpower of my three time great grandfather was established if he spoke little English. Moreover, I now had yet another mystery to solve. Since German immigrants were usually contracted to work for two years after arrival, why was 'absconding' from  employment viewed so seriously when my ancestor was a free assisted settler, outside the bonds of his contract and had been in Australia for 5 years. I concluded that there must have been a delay in administering my three times great grandfather's Certificate of Naturalisation in 1858, because he had, for some reason, fled his employer on Jondaryan Station.


To understand the significance of absconding from hired employment on Jondaryan Station, I set about researching the history of the large landholdingS on the Darling Downs and particularly Jondaryan Station itself. Jondaryan was established in 1840, and was one of the earliest and largest of the pastoral leases settled by squatters on the Darling Downs. These squatters, many of whom were younger sons of wealthy families in the UK, had immigrated to Australia to make their own living. By the 1850's they had accumulated enough fortune to purchase the leases on their pastoral holdings. The prosperity of this new land owning aristoracy, referred to at the time, by social commentators, as 'The Shepherd Kings', built their fortunes on the back of the wool industry and a predominately immigrant labour work force.

Jondaryan passed through a number of hands. In 1858, William Kent and Edward Wienhold took over a sub-lease on the property, retaining the current  Station manager, James Charles White. 
Reading Janette A. Walker's 1984 PhD Thesis, Jondaryan Station: the relationship between pastoral capital and pastoral labour, 1840-1890, Qld University,  I found the following useful information.

Jondaryan Station was a highly-structured and unequal society and exhibited many of the characteristics of a close-knit, ordered and hierarchical rural English village. At the apex of its structure were the lessees, Messrs. Kent and Wienholt, absentee land-lords who paid Jondaryan the occasional supervisory visit. The manager was bound to them by marriage, loyalty and an identity of interest. Below the Management were two further divisions in the Jondaryan community, men and 'others'. In the latter category were women, blacks, exiles, Indian coolies, Chinese and later Polynesians, generally held to be lower in status than the lowest 'men'. From the overseer, the manager's executive, to the lowest blacks, there was a scale of descending status - lower status and remuneration being afforded to lesser occupations within the community. The population could be further broken down into resident, itinerant and contract groups and, within each of these, the skilled and the unskilled.[Abstract]

Absconding from hired service was probably the most common charge brought by Downs Squatters against their employees. Notices  that were inserted by run-holders who had 'lost' their labourers were frequently to be seen in the Moreton Bay Courier.... such actions met with penalties under the Masters and Servants Act J.M. Andrews of Jondaryan in fact offered a reward of £2 for the capture of John McMurray in 1847. ...

The Master & Servants Act, 1828 (England) allowed employers to prosecute any employee who absconded or refused to work. A search of the Digitalised Newspapers on the Trove website, showed me a number of articles about appearances  of people in the  Toowoomba Police Court who were charged with breach of  the Masters & Servants Act.

 Janette Walker says in her thesis,

Of Jondaryan it was said, "if anything can show the need of a shearers' associaton, it is the treatment of men at this Station . . . They are not regarded as men at all, but as machines and are threatened with the terrors of the Masters and Servants Act if they dare show the inherent spirit of a true born man to resist tyranny in whatever form it come p.148

After researching working conditions for rural workers on Jondaryan Station in the 1850's, I can now more easily comprehend the hardships my immigrant ancestor encountered in this new country. Far from being the adventurous new life he had been promised in enticing immigration advertisements, his grievances  must have grown so unbearable that he 'absconded' from his place of employment. As a non English speaking immigrant working on Jondaryan Station, Gottlieb Nerger  would undoubtedly have been placed low on the scale of gradation between the land owning Squatter aristocracy at the top, and the Chinese and Aboriginal workers at the bottom. Permanent workers who lived on Jondaryan Station received far better consideration and liberties than itinerant or contract workers and especially immigrants such as my three times great grandfather. For the latter, no real ties were formed to bind them to Jondaryan and much discontent grew amongst the contract immigrant labourers. This, I am led to believe, was the sad situation in which  Gottlieb Nerger found himself, five years after leaving his home in Petersdorf, Prussia.


I find it useful to investigate the people who knew my ancestors - neighbours, friends, and others who lived and worked in the same community. Through the people associated with an ancestor I have often discovered facts relevant to my own family history research.

If your ancestor was a member of a church, social or sporting group, chances are that you will find information in local newspapers. For example, I know that my great great grandfather, John Nerger, son of Gottlieb, showed prize winning canaries, because it was reported many times in the newspaper in Maryborough, Queensland. When people in  rural or smaller communities, went on holidays, their destination was often announced in the local newspaper. The Darling Downs Gazette and General Advisor, reported on October, 31, 1861, a heartfelt thankyou from the Trustees of the German Lutheran Evangelical Church of Toowoomba to the building recently created on the grounds belonging to the above church in Stuart Street, Towoomba. Gottlieb Nerger's Name was on the list of contributees, having contributed 1 pound. A significant amount of money in 1861 and more than most on the list of contributors gave towards the construction of St Paul's Lutheran Church, which was opened in 1863.


On that same list of contributors to the Toowoomba Lutheran Evangelical Church, where I found Gottlieb Nerger, was the name of Martin Klein. I always try to find out as much as I can about the people my ancestors came into contact with. Friends, neighbours, witnesses and in this case people who attended the same church. These folk were often involved in more ways than you might imagine with your ancestor. Martin Klein was a name that I later encountered when I discovered that Gottlieb had sold his farm in 1868, and taken his family to Gympie to try to make his fortune in the goldfields. Martin Klein owned the farm adjoining that of Gottlieb Nerger and it was he who purchased the Nerger farm. The park which I visited which had been a part of my great great great grandfather's farm is now known as the Martin Klein Park. Martin Klein's life was tragically cut short in 1870, when he was murdered by a fellow German named F.A. Herrlich in a dispute regarding the cutting down of cedar trees. I winder, had my great great great grandfather remained on his farm, might that have been his death splashed across the pages of Darling Downs newspapers?

The list of contributers to the Toowoomba Lutheran Church contained another significant name, which was that of Johan Bauer. Johan had arrived in Australia on the same voyage as Gottlieb Nerger in 1852. He was from the village of Beutelsbach, Werttemberg, the very same place that Christiana Siegler left two years later in the year she married Gottlieb Nerger. Since Beutelsbach is a very small village, it seems reasonable to infer that Johan Bauer was instrumental in arranging for Christiana to journey to Australia to marry Gottlieb Nerger. This appears to be a highly likely assumption given that the marriage took place a mere one month after her arrival in Australia. 


The discovery of gold in the Queensland town of Gympie in 1867, sparked a rush to the new goldfield by November of that year. In early 1868, Gottlieb Nerger, perhaps smitten by gold fever, perhaps finding life as a famer to be precarious, leased his farm in Toowoomba and with his wife, Christiana and two young sons, John and George, travelled the long journey down the steep mountain range from the Darling Downs and journeyed north to the Gympie goldfields. In early 1869, the family was joined by a new baby named Hermann, born in the midst of the gold rush in Gympie.

Gympie gold miners c 1870 next to a bark slab hut. Image ©©


To understand life was like on the Gympie goldfields for Gottlieb Nerger and his family, I directed my attention to the newspapers of the day. On the 26th of September, 1868, the year that my ancestor arrived in Gympie, The Queenslander carried a story entitled, Life at Gympie. This article is a window into the past world of Gympie, describing intricately, so colourful a picture of the hotels and other buildings that it creates the impression one is back in the past, walking through the town in person, in 1868. The following is a short extract of the wonderfully descriptive sketch of life in the goldmining town of Gympie, a town which boasts that Queensland was built on the back of its wealth from gold. If you have ancestors who mined for gold at the Gympie goldfields, this article is well worth reading along with other news articles from the gold rush days. I will in part reproduce it here:

Numberless stores and buildings are going up- indeed, if more sawn timber were available, much greater progress would be made. Shingles and rough slabs have to be used in many instances where better prepared material would be brought into requisition if it were available.

As on all extensive gold-fields, Saturday in town is the most remarkable day in the week. At night the central part of Gympie presents a scene somewhat similar to the close of a fair or carnival. The main street is densely crowded, all the shops are lighted up extensively and hotels and places of amusement are well patronised. In order to make the public aware of the peculiar merits of the particular places of entertainment, the lessees employ bellmen, through the influence of whose clamor and oratory, hundreds who have not been away from their claims during the preceding five days of the week, may be induced to favor the pretensions of the performers. Shorlty after sunset, the rival street-criers begin to inform the populace of what is provided for their evening's amusement, attracting attention with the aid of a bell.....
and first to Walker, the original crier, of Brisbane notoriety

"Oyez! oyez! oyez!- Ashton's Royal Anglo-Saxon Circus, for one night only, prior to departure for New South Wales....Come and see the daring feats of horsemanship of Tier and Combo Combo, and negro eccentricities never yet exelled! - the greatest combination of talent-....."

Simultaneously, from a few paces off, old Quigley, the great bellman from Victoria, Lambing Flat, and the Lachlan, with clear, articulate and stentorian voice, not however, coupled with equal volubility to Walker's harangue, addresses the crowd as follows:- 
"Let me draw your special attention to the Varieties Theatre, the greatest combination of talent ever assembled in one theatre for the public amusement . . Wilson and Mr J. R. Taylor . . the only real theatre on Gympie! Royalty might sit and be amused at the entertainment given by the Leopolds, for the festering tongue of scandal is never moved even to raise a laugh at the humblest in the land; therefore the entertainmeny given by the Leopolds is the only entertainment worthy of your notice on the diggings." and away rings the bells....
The circus was full, and the Leopolds had 800 in Scowen's Theatre on the night in question. At One Mile Messrs  Barlow and Thatcher have a run of full houses....

The Sabbeth is now marked by an entire cessation of mining operations, and the churches are attended by large congregations.The Bethel of Primitive Methodists is the first chapel erected; it is neatly and substantially built and stands on a nice site near Coraker's Northumberland Hotel. The Roman Catholic Church is a larger ediface, erected on Caledonian Hill, and at the One Mile is a house of worship similar to the Bethel belonging to the Independents.Spoken of as on the eve of erection are buildings for the Church of England on Paletine Hill, for the Church of Scotland on Surface Hill, for the Independents on Paletine Hill, and for the Weslyan Methodists at the One Mile. A Hebrew Synagogue will also shortly be built.

Main Street Gympie 1868. Image  Wikipeda Qld State Archives Creative Commons Licence ©©

The article continues to list the amount of gold discovered at each reef, the manner in which shafts were sunk  and provides a colourful depiction of daily life on the Gympie goldfields. Significantly,the journalist names  of every reef on the Gympie Goldfields as of September 2, 1868. With names such as Old England, Britannia, Belfast, Canadian, Cornish, Columbia, Count Bismark, Duke of Edinburgh, Dublin, Dalby, European, German, Hamburg, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, New Zealand, Napier, Prussian, Scandinavian, San Paoli, and Koh-in-oor, one is offered a glimpse of the conjugation of cultures on the Gympie goldfields.

In addition to names which refelcted the multi-cultural make-up of the mining town of Gympie, there were creative reef names that demonstrate the tenacity, the hopes and the dreams of the many, like my own ancestor who left their land and employment to follow a dream of striking it rich digging for gold. These include, Perseverance, Band of Hope, Fortitude, Golden Dream, Hope, and Lucknow.  A few miners displayed a jolly sense of humour when naming their gold reefs, Never Mind, Hit and Miss and Nil Desperandum. 

Australian Gold Diggins c 1855 Edward Roper Creative Commons ©©

Despite the delights to be found in the town of Gympie on a Saturday night, and before I had the opportunity to imagine my ancestor strolling down the main street with his family on their way to enjoy a night at the circus, I discovered other considerably bleaker views of life on the goldfields which possibly paint a more realistic picture of what my ancestor's life was like as a gold miner.

The following account appeared in the Brisbane Courier, on November 14, 1867, entitled "Gympie Creek Goldfields"

J. A. Lewis, Inspector of Police arrived on the Gympie Goldfield on 3 November 1867 and wrote on 11 November 1867:
"On reaching the diggings I found a population numbering about five hundred, the majority of whom were doing little or nothing in the way of digging for the precious metal. Claims, however, were marked out in all directions, and the ground leading from the gullies where the richest finds have been got was taken up for a considerable distance. I have very little hesitation in stating that two-thirds of the people congregated there had never been on a diggings before, and seemed to be quite at a loss what to do. Very few of them had tents to live in or tools to work with; and I am afraid that the majority of those had not sufficient money to keep them in food for one week...From all that I could glean from miners and others, with whom I had an opportunity of speaking, respecting the diggings, I think it very probable that a permanent gold-field will be established at, or in the vicinity of, Gympie Creek; and if reports-which were in circulation when I left the diggings-to the effect that several prospecting parties had found gold at different points, varying from one to five miles from the township, be correct, there is little doubt but it will be an extensive gold-field, and will absorb a large population within a very short period

The following letter from Mr O. Harvey  to his brother in law, was was published The Ballarat Star, Wednesday, 12th August, 1868.

Gympie Creek, Nashville, 28th July, 1868

" Dear Will, - here I am, writing under difficulties, the ground my seat, and a tin-dish my table....I am sorry it is not in my power to give you any encouraging news as I believe this is, without exception, the poorest rush I have ever seen..... what little alluvial diggings there was has been preety well worked, with the exception of some deep ground and close to the river.....There is a new rush today to a place of about 28 miles distant. Large numbers have gone, and are still going....I can say but little about it, as  but little is known, although, as usual, there are good reports; but people are dubious. Everthing here is very dull, very little employment to be obtained and scores of idle men knocking about. Provisions are very cheap. If one boards himself, ten shillings a week is sufficient, though the hotel keepers have the impudence to charge ten shillings per day, with no accomodation worth naming. Hundreds of people are still arriving and as many are leaving.....The 'powers to be' and the business people in this colony are not worthy of the name Anglo-Saxons. They have neither energy nor tact. I don't know that I can say any more, only to tell you strongly advise any friends not to think of coming over here. How are things on Ballarat? It will be no use staying here unless something turns up shortly... Yor affectionate brother" 

Gold Mining Queensland 1870. Image John Oxley Library Qld, Wikipedia ©©


My story of Gottlieb Nerger, my German three times great grandfather, who immigrated to Australia in 1852, came to an abrupt and premature end in 1869, when at the Gympie Gold Fields, less than two years after departing Toowoomba on the Darling Downs. Gottlieb Nerger died.  he passed away on October 28, 1869, aged 47 years, of heart disease which he had suffered for 8 months. In passing, he left his young  28 year old German born wife and three young sons alone among the diggings of the Gympie goldfields. I know that Christiana Nerger remained in Gympie, with her three sons, because the death of the youngest, baby Hermann, aged 1 year and 10 months was recorded there in October of 1870. he died from to convulsions. I can't help but wonder  how the Nerger family's life may have differed if  Gottlieb Nerger had not made the decision to leave his life as a farmer on the Darling Downs to take his young family to the gold diggings of Gympie.

Gottlieb Nerger was buried in the newly opened Tozer Cemetery in Gympie on October 29th. The land on which this cemetery was located  has since been resumed for a new use and is now known as the Andrew Fisher Memorial Park, in honour of Australia's 5th Prime Minister. There is a plaque at the site memorialising Gympie's first cemetery.  63 historic headstones were relocated to a newer cemetery and remain a poignant reminder of Gympie's gold rush days.

Headstones relovated from Tozer Park Cemetery Image Wikipedia  ©©


During my research into the life of my German immigrant ancestor, Gottlieb Nerger, discovering the name of Wilhelm Kirchner, led me to find the reason for my maternal Swiss branch of my family immigrating to Australia. In 1870, Ludwig Kirchner  was appointed as the Immigration Agent for Queensland in Germany, around the time that the Franco-Prussian War began. Kirchner discovered several problems with the recruitment of German migrants. Queensland by law, was unable to procure repayment from the German emigrants and Germany decreed no German males between the ages of  six and forty were permitted to leave Germany.  Kirchner began looking towards other European countries, to recruit immigrants, enticing them just as he had done the German immigrants, with the promise of employment and a better life in Queensland. Large numbers of Scandinavian immigrants arrived in Australia from Hamburg under Kirchner's Immigration Scheme. My other maternal great great great grandparents, Jacob and Anna Häberling immigrated in 1871 from Zurich , Switzerland along with mostly Norwegian, Swedish and Danish immigrants bound for Maryborough and other Queensland ports. When John Nerger married Barbara Lena Häberling in 1884, the immigrant stories of these two families merged.    

Barbara Lena Nerger and  five of her six children to John Nerger. Florrie Barbara, Lillie Herminne (my Great grandmother, Elsie Emilie, Maude Helena and Percy John. 






Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Jondaryan Woolshed

Toowoomba Regional Council History Library



  1. What thorough research! You demonstrate your point well, that family historians can go beyond collecting a series of dates marking the life events of their forebears.

    Another search tool that family historians can use is Freedom of Information Acts or their equivalent in various countries. The United Kingdom's Freedom of Information Act worked well for me as it enabled me to apply for my grandmother's student record at an English university. The information that I received included a letter to the university from my grandmother's school headmistress which had the name of my grandmother's best friend. I googled the friend's name and found that letters she had written while at school with my grandmother had been transcribed and were available on the internet. This gave me some stories of what school was like for my grandmother and details of a hilarious hockey match on a Welsh beach.

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  3. Truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
    toowoomba property managers

  4. Hi there! I came across your excellent blog while researching my German ancestors - Anna Hinkler and Ludwig Volk - who also arrived on the La Rochelle, albeit in 1865. I'm really pleased to see such thorough research, asking the pertinent questions of why immigrants left their country of origin and what life was like in their new homeland. All too often, "researchers" are intent on simply gathering names on an Ancestry tree, many of which are incorrect. Yours makes a really interesting read. Well done!
    Nikki Stern.

  5. P.S. I gather you haven't found any German records and so I'll tell you how I got my family back to the 1600's as it may help you and others: basically, I had amazing success by placing an ad on a forum. There aren't a lot of Prussian records online (compared to English, Scottish, etc) so a German friend placed an ad on a forum specific to the area (Grand Duchy of Hessen, in my case). Within a few days, we got a reply with both trees going back to the start of records. As you can imagine, the Germans kept truly amazing records, for instance, ages given in years, months and days, umpteen witnesses specifying their full names and relationships, and other curiosities, such as whether a child was legitimate or not. In fact, I was sent over 900 pages of one tree and 500 pages of the other, jam packed with data - all this for a tiny village called Hornsheim that's barely on the map! Although this kind of takes the fun out of it a little bit, my German is very primitive and in any case, I didn't have access to the Kirchenbucher (Church Books) which is where all the information comes from. So, I strongly recommend that anyone wanting to trace their family in Germany takes this approach, because I searched long and hard on Ancestry, Find my Past and Family search for years without a single scrap of information before my posting. Good luck. You'll be amazed at how much information is out there!

  6. Thankyou Nikki, I have visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City where they have many German records. I also wrote to various archives in Germany (my German is rusty but suffices) and was fortunate to receive helpful responses. I have traced my family back to the 1400's and confirmed much of it through DNA testing but I haven't used a forum for German ancestry. It is a good suggestion.

  7. Gottlieb Nerger applied to be naturalized on 2nd August 1858 at Drayton and a certificate was made out in his name on the 7th August 1858, but there was a ten month delay in its issue because of a complaint made by James White the manager of Jondaryan station, accusing him of absconding from his employment on the station in 1857, leaving his employment without giving notice. His Certificate of Naturalization was finally issued on 27th June 1859.

    His naturalization papers show that he actually owned his farm at Drayton at the time he applied for naturalization in 1858. This fact and that a number of important men in Drayton and Toowoomba intercede on his behalf finally decided the matter of his naturalization in his favour.

    A letter from the Magistrate at Drayton reporting on Gottlieb Nerger, stated that he wasn’t considered to be a very intelligent man and that he had a poor understanding of the English language and that probably led to a misunderstanding on his part with regard to his responsibilities in leaving his employment on Jondaryan.

    Gottlieb Nerger’s actions while employed on Rosalie Plains station show that he had at least normal intelligence and was a conscious worker and careful with his money. His lack of formal education and his poor understanding of the English language probable made him seem a bit simple to the Magistrate.

    The fact that he had already purchased 40 acres of land at Drayton when he applied to be naturalised in 1858, shows that he had already managed to save a considerable amount of money to do that.

    When Gottlieb Nerger arrived in Sydney in 1852, as an assisted passenger he would have been assigned to an employer who would have paid his passage money and he would have been required to work for that person for two years. After that he would have been free to go where he liked. It is quite possible that he went to the goldfields after he had served his indenture, which could explain how he got the money so quickly to pay for the 40 acres of land at Drayton.

    His naturalization papers show that he intended to live on his farm at Drayton, but after trying to farm it he found that he needed to improve it if he was to make it pay. He went to work on Rosalie Plains station for a couple of years to earn the money he needed. The improvements he made on his farm turned it into a profitable operation.

  8. Further to the above:
    Employed at Rosalie Plains 10-03-1861 to 12-04-1862
    Salary: Shepherd £40/-/- per year Lamber, £1/-/- per week, Burr Cutter 15/- per week.
    Bonus Paid: £5/10/- for a job well done. This equates to $2200 in today’s money and indicates that he was a highly valued employee when he worked for William Kent on Rosalie Plains station.

    He was a man of initiative and did things out of the ordinary to earn extra money. While he was working as a shepherd on Rosalie Plains station he took on every job he could do while working as a shepherd, but on top of that he managed to grow a crop of onions for seed and supplied the station homestead with 1 lb of onion seed, for which he was paid 12/-.
    He made a success of running his small farm at Drayton.
    He gained the necessary timber splitting and carpentry skills to enable him to build a substantial home on his farm for his family.

    1. Hi Bob, many thanks for your comments. It is always wonderful when a blog post reaches a relative who has missing pieces of an ancestor's story. I had not know about Gottlieb working on Rosalie Plains. Living in Sydney I don't get to the Qld Archives enough! regards, Sharn

  9. What a wonderful amount of research you both, Sharn & Bob, have done on our family. I am a direct descendent of Gottlieb Nerger and his second son George Nerger (Hogan). I have only just started looking at our family history and so unfortunately I don't have any new information to add.
    I would appreciate permission to copy some of this information as we are having a Hogan reunion next month and my family will be extremely interested in know about their GGGrandfather Gottlieb Nerger.
    With thanks,
    Amanda Haddon

    1. Hi Amanda, lovely of you to comment and you definitely have my permission to share my information with the family. Regards, Sharn

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  12. This is amazing, I'm acutally reading up in my history my german (3rd) greatgrandfather came out to sydney on that vessel in 1852. But the name was changed and the middle names are their first names. So its confusing haha

  13. Hey, it was amazing reading this blog.
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  14. Thank you so much for this blog - it was fascinating and gave me lots of tips for continuing my research into my great-great-grandparents, the Pflugradts, who came to Queensland on the Wandrahm in 1866.

  15. My research is leading me to the conclusion that, until the 20th century at least, history is the history of men. It's so easy for women to become anonymous. I am struggling to find any trace of my great-great-grandmother, Luise/Marie Louise Pflugradt after the birth of her second child in Australia in 1869.

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