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

Cousins catching up…

Emil Wilhelm HABEL and Maria Mathilda GROSSER on their wedding day.

Emil Wilhelm HABEL and Maria Mathilda GROSSER on their wedding day.

The machine picked up the rather tentative message…

“Catherine, it’s David Ha(r)bel here”

and, as quick as “Jack Flash”, I was out of my chair, sprinting across the room and fumbling for the “talk” button. Hooley dooley… how exciting. As soon as I heard that correct German pronunciation of our surname I knew David was “the real deal” and way back in my memory box was the name David Habel.

Turns out that my children share their paternal Great Grandparents, Emil Wilhelm Habel and Maria Mathilda Grosser, with David. That’s where I’d seen his name; “THE GROSSERS FROM GRUENBERG: 1841-1991” Family History Book!!!

David found my story about Habel’s Bend online and thought he should make contact. Best of all is that, whilst I’ve only received info on my children’s Habel Ancestry via some rather scanty “word of mouth stories” added to by on-line research, David is his family’s “keeper” of the their Ancestral documents, photos, family bible, etc.,  and was part of the Habel family that didn’t re-locate from Loxton to suburbia. Even better is that he’s also most pleased to have made contact is very keen to share and help me get the stories straight. Thankyou David!!!

Even better than that!!!… and could it get any better???… is that my children and other Habel fam are equally as delighted. So… not too far down the track lots of laughter, clicking of cameras, scanning of pics will be issuing forth from a beautiful botanical garden setting here in South Oz. Maybe we should be “pre-emptive”, as they say, and hand out free ear-plugs to folks seated nearby.

Just can’t wipe the “smile off m’ dial” … and wonder if my extensive, and difficult research, to finally sort out our Habel’s immigration to South Oz, and then those who later beavered off into Victoria, will be news to David?

Oh… the thrill of it all.


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

Ff – is for Fabulous Finds from afar…

Family History Through the Alphabet

It arrived… or to be more precise, “they” arrived, bringing memories from afar. There they were sitting snugly, or maybe even smugly, inside my letter box, safely wrapped in their own cocoons, just waiting to be dis-covered. Eureka!!! … all the more of a delight for having arrived so un-expectedly. Two battered and careworn Cookery Books, the topic for this week’s Family History Through the Alphabet post – I could hardly believe my eyes.



… after that moment of musical madness with our late, and great Ozzie, Heath Ledger… back to the story.

A few days after receiving some rather sad news I needed a dis-traction, so logged onto eBay and began trawling through a list of old recipe books. Up she popped, like a blessing from the deep – The Barossa COOKERY BOOK”. It was clearly quite old and sadly attracting very little attention from the “punters” so, with less than an hour to go, I whacked on a modest bid and went back to blogging. Hours passed before I remembered, so logged back on and was greeted with the words:  

“Congratulations! You have won…”              

Whooo Hooo!!!   Amazingly no-one had placed a bid after mine – it seemed that this little old book “had my name on it”, so to speak. 

About to click over to “Pay Pal” and up popped an advertisement, of the eBay kind, advising of another old Cookery Book which was a “Buy Now” offer. What could I do, eh? Another old dear quietly saying, “Looka me!!!”. I looked: it was a 1939 South Australian Education Department text book with the title, “MANUAL of DOMESTIC ART (COOKING)”. Within the blink of an eye I’d clicked on the “Buy Now” button and was immediately the anticipated owner of two old Cookery Books. Two old Cookery Books which woud describe the type of food our Ancestor’s ate, and the manner in which it was cooked, not to mention the addendum of “Household Tips” which was always included in Cookery Books of the past.

Well, it turned out that “The Barossa COOKERY BOOK” certainly was almost “…too good to be true”, in more ways than one. Along with the recipes of the first Barossa Valley settlers, my children’s Prussian Ancestor’s, comes a shameful story of intolerance, abuse and dis-crimination. A story which must be told and must be remembered.

Skjold – 1841

Fleeing religious persecution, these intrepid souls travelled aboard the “Skyjold” with Pastor Fritschke, arriving in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 27 Oct 1841. You can read how intitially they stayed with Pastor Kavel and his first wave of Lutheran immigrants at Klemzig, before heading north and settling in the historic Barossa Valley. An area which is now widely re-cognised as the home of fine wine and gourmet food. The settlers named their town Bethanien which,

… was the name of the Biblical village where Jesus was a guest of honour in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus” (1)

and set about working hard, re-paying their land debt to speculator, George Fife Angus, and prospered. South Australia’s “German” settlers soon became highly regarded and recognised as hard working, reliable and valuable citizens and many took out Australian Citizenship within a few years of arrival… then things changed. The cause?… the First World War. Australia was an ally of Great Britain and at war with Germany. Overnight these trusted and highly regarded citizens became “the enemy”.

Barossa men from German backgrounds fought with the Australian Army – some died, yet still their communities were suspected of dis-loyalty and persecuted. Lyn Leader-Elliott writes;

“The ethnic base of the Barossa has a very strong German component, and the events of the two world wars had a bigger impact on these communities than any other in the twentieth century.” (2)

Throughout South Australia the names of these towns, settled by these Prussian / German pioneers, were anglicized. Bethanien was no ex-ception. It was renamed Bethany which still stands today.

Tanunda Soldiers’ Memorial Hall

So, what does all this have to do with my modest little Cookery Book? … Well, the “Tanunda Club”, just outside of Bethany, was a centre for community activity and in 1913 they proudly built their own hall, prior to the start of World War 1. However, it didn’t take long for the anti-German suspicions to have a profound effect and the military authorites forced its closure just two years after opening. At the end of the war, and five years after the closure of Tanunda’s German social Club, the hall was bought by the Tanunda Insitute committee and re-named “The Tanunda Soldiers’ Memorial Hall”. Clearly my modest little Cookery Book was one of the Insitute’s fundraising activities, for printed in the front is:

“Proceeds of the sale of this book devoted to
Obtainable from:

How I love reading the recipes and might even try a few 🙂  The donors clearly show their German/Prussian heritage with names like; Miss Esther Nietschke, Mrs U.R. Heinze, and Gladys Spaetz, however Anglo-Celtic names also feature. I especially like that the recipe for “Scotch Shortbread” was donated by “Mrs Frank Cowan, Edinburgh Scotland” and can’t help but wonder if Mrs Frank Cowan was a Scottish immigrant within this strongly German community, and was proudly announcing her heritage, or was the recipe sent from relatives in Scotland? 

What is a story about an old Cookery Book without a recipe?… I ask. There are many interesting dishes to share, eg, Mutton and Tomato Pie, Mock Tripe and Jugged Hare but it’s the following which “wins the guernsey”;


     Cover ox tongue with water, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, a little salt, 1/2 doz. Cloves, 2 bay leaves, 2 onion, a little carrot and parsnip. Simmer for 3 hours. Strain it and skin the tongue and cut into slices. Mix in saucepan 2 tablespoons butter with 3 tablespoons flour, stir until it browns and then add the stock the tongue has been boiled in. Add a little milk extract if liked. Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add enough stock to make it a nice thickness, then add about 2 tablespoons of sweet wine, then add tongue. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve with small squares of pastry or toast.

  – S. Seppelt, Seppeltsfield

This recipe was chosen mainly because of its donor, S. Seppelt from Seppeltsfield. Seppeltsfield is, of course, both  location and name of the famed “Seppeltsfield Winery” of South Australia. I’m guessing that this S. Seppelt was probably born about 1880-1890 and can’t help wondering where he/she fits into the Family History of the Seppelts of Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley, South Australia.   

A modest little old Cookery Book, picked up on E-bay “for a song”, and carrying so much history. I’m still smiling about this “Fabulous Find from afar”.  


(1)  THE GROSSERS FROM GRUENBERG 1841-1991, Roy Grosser, ed. Lutheran Publishing House, 205 Halifax Street, Adelaide SA 5000. (0977/91) ISBN 0 646 05329 9
(2)  This is an author produced postprint of:
Leader-EIliott, L 2002. Changing Heritage, Changing Values, Memories of Two World Wars in the Barossa Valley. In D.Jones (ed.), ’20th Century Heritage – Our recent Cultural Legacy’, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban design and Australia ICOMOS Secretariat: Adelaide, 109-115. Archived at Flinders University: 

Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Pioneer Women’s Trail – walk back in time

Our South Australian German/Prussian immigrants are a crucial part of the successful settlement of this State. The first wave arrived, as religious refugees, with Pastor August Ludwig Christian Kavel in Nov 1838.  They travelled on two ships, the “Prince George and the “Bengalee just two years after the first settlers arrived on these shores.

Kavel’s people rented 150 acres of land, for seven years at 5/- an acre three miles up river, from South Australian Company” director George Fife Angas, who had sponsored their assisted passage to the new colony. They named it “Klemzig” after their village in Germany.  It is said that the aboriginal people called it “Warkowodli Wodli”.

Most of the English settler were builders, engineers and land speculators not farmers, and relied on their food being brought by ship from New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).  This became increasingly unbearable when,

“Even their bread tasted of seawater and pitch from
the barrels in which the flour was shipped.” [1]

The new arrivals set to work building and farming and within a month were selling radishes, the first freshly grown food in South Australia, at a shilling a bunch.  They were well rewarded for their hard work – a cucumber was also worth a shilling, and 7 equalled a worker’s daily wage.  These hard working peple certainly needed the money as Angas had to be repaid for their ship passage and also for the lease of the land.  A young man often acquired the “ship debt” of his new bride upon marriage.

Captain Dirk Meinhertz Hahn

The ship, the “Zebra”, arrived the following month with another 187 Lutheran migrants on board.  It was captained by Dirk Meinhertz Hahn and, after a brief stay in Klemzig, 38 families left and settled on 150 acres in the Adelaide Hills, purchased from William Dutton & partners for $14 per acre.  They named their township Hahndorf” and they too had a huge debt to repay.  The Hahndorf Pioneers soon set about clearing the land, planting crops, breaking in the cattle and milking the cows. They built their first houses with any avaliable materials to quickly provide protection from the very different climatic conditions in their new country.

“Their first winter in the Adelaide Hills was far from what they had expected. Food was often lacking and many went without at times.
Some even died of hunger. Eventually the new migrants managed
to produce a surplus of farm products which were sold in Adelaide
by their women. They walked all the way through the hills to town
in the hope of selling them to pay pay off their husbands’ or
fathers’ loans or to buy more land.” [2]

These pioneering women followed the 36km “Paramuk Aboriginal trail” [3] in the dark, arriving at Beaumont at dawn, where they’d freshen up in the creek before walking the final 5 kms into the Adelaide markets.  Often they carried bricks back 36 kms to Hahndorf for the building of more substantial homes.

The “South Australian Road Runners and Walkers Club”, along with the “Burnside” and the “Hahndorf” branches of the South Australian National Trust” have organised a run/walk for Sunday, 13 May 2012, aong this “Pioneer Women’s Trail” as part of the About Time: South Australian History Festival”. [4]

Commencing at the Hahndorf Institute” in Main Street, Hahndorf, the route follows the main road out of Hahndorf, crossing the Onkaparinga River before joining the official trail at Verdun.  This historic trail winds its way through the back streets of Bridgewater and Stirling, traverses the beautiful bush trails of Mr George Conservation Park and Cleland Conservation Park before finally opening out onto stunning city views and the descent to Burnside.  Following the run, a BBQ will be open to the public all day at historic “Beaumont House” to bring the event to a celebratory conclusion. Participants requiring further information, just click here.

Historic Hahndorf

Johann Caeser

Our German/Prussian immigrants are not only an important part of South Australian History but aso my own Family History. Wilhelm Emil Habel, my husband’s Grandfather of “Habel’s Bend”, is the eldest child of Johann Friedrich August and Johanne Henriette Siefert. They travelled from Brandenburg, Prussia aboard the “Johann Caeser” with family and some 260 other German/Prussian immigrants, arriving at Port Adelaide on a hot summer’s day, 1 Jan 1855 and settling in Dutton, South Australia where Wilhelm was born.


Wilhelm Emil Habel married his second wife, Maria Mathilde Grosser, on 19 Jul 1890 at Dutton.  Her father, Hermann Eduard Louis Grosser, arrived with his parents and 5 siblings aboard the “Skyjold” on 3 Jul 1841.  They were amongst the congregation of Pastor Gotthard Daniel Fritzschke whom Pastor Kavel had encouraged to emigrate.  Whilst his congregation was committed to making a new life in a new land, their Pastor was initially undecided.  Fritzschke’s people settled at Bethany, in the Barossa Valley, and experienced many of the same difficulties as the Hahndorf settlers.  They too owed a “ship debt” and land lease payments to their sponsor, George Fife Angas.

Maria, Wilhelm’s second wife, bore him 9 children bringing the total number of children he fathered to 16.  Eight of their children survived childhood and little Elisabeth Clara, is buried near the “Habel Homestead” at Loxton, South Australia. You can read about Elisabeth by clicking here

Wilhelm, like many descendants of the German/Prussian Pioneers prospered and he displayed the fruits of his labour in a lavish celebration for the Wedding of Lina Martha Habel, his third daughter with first wife Marie (Martha) Emilie Fielke. Click here to read about this extravagance.

We, the descendants of these courageous pioneers, owe our Ancestors a huge debt of gratitude which is described movingly in the poem posted here on the first day of this blog, Australia Day 2012.


[1] “God’s Lost Acre” by William Reschke, Sunday Mail, 9 Mar 1975, p. 11.
[2] Flinders Ranges Research – Hahndorf
[3] “On the trail of settler history” by Sam Kelton, The Advertiser, 10 May 2012, p 15.
[4] South Australian Road Runners and Walkers Club 

Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family