Are your ancestors also German/Prussian immigrants?…

Researching family history fills me with delight and can have many unexpected consequences. Some discoveries, however, are not particularly pleasant. One extremely valuable outcome is to be alerted to health problems which have been passed on through the generations. What a surprise it was to come across info about the “FH Morocco Gene”  and immediately recognising that my husband, and our children and grandchildren, could well be carrying the life threatening “Barossa Heart Gene”.

Barossa. cholesterol-study. prof Ian Hamilton-CraigProfessor Ian Hamilton-Craig, from the Griffith University School of Medicine, has been working with local doctors in the Barossa region of South Australia with the aim of identifying carriers of the familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) gene in a bid to provide them with treatment and reduce their risk of premature heart disease.

He noticed, when working in his cardiology practice in North Adelaide, that many of his patients from the Barossa area who were of German Lutheran background and a significant number from the Silesian area were at risk of early death because of a special gene mutation and causes very high cholesterol levels which can lead to death by heart attack at a very young age.

“People with FH, whose cholesterol is untreated, usually show very early coronary heart disease and can even die prematurely,” Professor Hamilton-Craig says. “FH is one of the most common metabolic diseases of genetic origin. We think it may be even more common than type 1 diabetes and it’s all due to a single gene mutation affecting cholesterol. We would like to hear from anyone in Australia who thinks he or she may be descended from these early Lutheran settlers, and who may have a high cholesterol or family history of premature coronary heart disease’, he said. It can exist in thin people who have a good, low fat diet.

Prof Hamilton-Craig stresses there is no need for people to be unduly concerned.

“Those who think they could carry the gene can have a cholesterol test with their local family doctor, which may be followed up with a DNA test, and if this is shown to be FH, suitable medication can be prescribed’, he said. “It is very important to test close family members as well, so that treatment can begin as early in life as possible.”

It happens that both of my children’s paternal great grandparents, Maria Mathilde Grosser and Emil Wilhelm Habel, are of Silesian descent.

Habel, Grosser marriage pic

Karl Albert Hermann Grosser, and his wife Anna Rosina Wogisch Grosser, were bfhs. grosser plaqueamongst the second wave of Lutheran immigrants to South Australia who were fleeing religious persecution. Accompanied by Pastor Fritschke. They travelled aboard the “Skyjold” arriving in Port Adelaide on 27 Oct 1842 with their six children. Their third child, Hermann Eduard Louis Grosser was 10 years old when arriving in South Australia and is the father of Maria Mathilde Grosser.

Interestingly Karl Albert Hermann Grosser, died at the early age of 50 and his son, Hermann Eduard Louis Grosser, my children’s 2x Great Grandfather, died aged 49.  Premature death is one of the “markers” we’re encouraged to look for in our family records.

bfhs. johann caeserOn the Habel side of the equation, Maria Mathilde Grosser married Emil Wilhelm Habel who is also of Silesian descent. My research shows that the Habels were slightly later immigrants. They came as a family group… i.e. mother, father and adult children (some with spouses) aboard the “Johann Caeser” arriving in Port Adelaide, South Australia, along with approximately 268 other German and Prussian migrants, on 1 Jan 1855.

Emil Wilhelm Habel, my children’s Great Grandfather was a first generation South Australian, born in Lyndoch on the 12 Jun 1856. The first child of Johann Friedrich August Habel and Johanne Henriette (Siefert) Habel who arrived on the “Johann Caeser” along with his parents, brothers and their spouses. Johann  and Johanne took up residence in Dutton, South Australia where Johann became highly regarded with his sheep breeding and involvement in civic matters, particularly as Chairman of the Truro District Council… but that’s another story for another day.

So there you have it.  Thanks to my family history research we now know about this “Barossa Heart Gene” and what the next step needs to be. You gotta love the Internet, eh?

Anyone who thinks they might be descended from early German/ Prussian/Silesian Lutherans can visit the website for more information or contact the Barossa Family Heart Study coordinator Sheila Storrs by emailing


Resources and further information:

Copyright © 2014. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

16 thoughts on “Are your ancestors also German/Prussian immigrants?…

  1. For all that many people say they find the internet intrusive, it’s proved time and again that the information it offers can save lives. I’m so glad you were able to find this and will be able to get the children and other family members tested.Great family history too.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Indeed David… and my eldest boy is 47years old this year. When I rang and asked him if he had high cholesterol he said, “Do I ever!!!” 😯 May turn out to be perfectly timely advice.
      Thanks David… glad you enjoyed the family history too. I spend so much time researching and never seem to find the time to write it up… Hugs flying up to you too, there in beautiful Wales… xxx

    • Thanks Deborah… The video shows blocks of people in the USA where there is also a preponderance of this “Barossa Heart Gene”. I believe the studies are extended to there also. It’s good to be able to pass such important info on, isn’t it?

  2. Very interesting reading Catherine. I also have German/Prussian ancestors but as they all lived till a good age I doubt they carried that gene thankfully. I agree wholeheartedly with what David said above about the internet and information saving lives.

    • I was amazed Kerryn… The advice is that if you have very high cholesterol, and especially if you have Ancestors from Silesia, it’s important to get your DNA tested. A lot of Silesian families, like our Habels and Grossers, moved backwards and forward between the Barossa Valley and Eastern Victoria and intermarried within the community.
      The good news is that this defective gene can be treated with the appropriate medication and folks can go on to have long life… 🙂

  3. Hi folks… just to let you know I’ve added a short (4min) vid of the search for this Barossa Heart Gene which gives a good overall picture, without taking up too much time… Cheerio for now.

  4. My great grandfather would have been from the barossa valley, my maiden name was Kittel, i have a son who had a bad heart attack at the age of 24years and he and i both have high cholesterol. We have a lot of unatural illnesses in idence our family. Both me and my daughter have a rare brain tumour and it called familial colloid cyst,we are one of 15 families world wide that has it,My other daughter has Chaire One Malformation and syigromyelia another brain condition, 2 of my other daughters have graeves disease and another daughter with Wolf parkinson White Syndrone all in one family. Could be a coincidence but also could be conected to all of this.

    • Oh my goodness… I think you’re absolutely correct Audrey in that it’s very likely there is a connection. Certainly the high cholesterol of you and your son and his early heart attack are clear indicators. Maybe there is a link with the other health conditions in your family too. I’m so glad you got to read this post and reckon it’d be good for for you to follow up via the links provided.
      Thanks for commenting Audrey and wishing you, and yours, all the very best for now and for the future.

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