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

We didn’t own an Ipad…

memories. commodoreMemories of those years when our home was filled with childhood noises: the laughter, the tears, the loud music, clanging toys, Michael Jackson’s poster, pac man  and everything else came flooding back when I first came across this Video.

Precious memories, special times…


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

A Special Birthday Celebration…


Here is my first born baby celebrating his 46th Birthday in his own special way… grabbing life with both hands and enjoying every minute of it.

Phew!!! … Happy Birthday, Cullen Andrew XXX

Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout- Habel – Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family



Thinking… navel gazing… reflecting… call it what you like.  I love it!

From the time I was “knee high to a grasshopper” I’ve always wondered WHY? … asked endless questions and no doubt driven those around me nearly crazy and still it continues. As this blog is a legacy for my descendants, I’ve decided to start up “Thoughtful Thursday” posts to share some of the thoughts which have engaged me.


This week I’ve found the notion of SIWOTI to be particularly fascinating…

Cullen Habel. Last week after investigating the FaceBook post which claimed Microwaving damages the structure of food I concluded that all evidence pointed to it as being yet another of those FB scams. My eldest boy read the same FB post and through his blog introduced me to the notion of SIWOTI “Something Is Wrong On the Internet” which I really warmed to so am sharing today.

Cullen titled his blog post “Combating SIWOTI is a war within oneself“… please click HERE to read.

‘fess up to having been guilty of getting caught up many times in the SIWOTI spiral before finally coming to the conclusion that it is all a waste of time and energy and is most irritating to others. However I still find myself sometimes teetering on the edge of a relapse… and find SIWOTI to be a useful anagram acronym to help keep me “on the straight and narrow.”     😀

I wonder if SIWOTI is something which only teachers, and retired teachers, are tempted by or if the temptation is “across the board”?…

Just can’t help myself… 🙂


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

The Remembering of Jarren Vaughan Habel…

birthday-cakeToday, as I awoke, all that kept running through my head was “Tá Brón Orm” (the sadness is upon me) for today is my beautiful baby boy’s 43rd birthday.

I’ve written about Jarren Vaughan and his early death from measles both HERE and HERE so what was it that flung me into such deep sadness today which meant I only managed to crawl out of bed, swallow a bit of food and then retreat to the comfort of the “blankies” willing myself to sleep, to forget and to be at peace?… Total oblivion, if only for a few more hours.

No great mystery really… it was the unearthing, a few weeks ago, of the last loving message, sent 18 years ago, from my now deceased mum on the event of Jarren’s birthday. Mum and dad were living way down south in Goolwa, at that time, and it was a beautiful hand-crafted card which turned up in the post.

jarren. note from mum

Every year mum always remembered, always contacted me and we shared the loving memories which included the joy and sadness at the loss of that little scrap of humanity… Jarren Vaughan Habel.  My husband was in the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), we were living in Perth, Western Australia, and mum was the only family member who ever knew him, held him, fed him, comforted him and marvelled at the miracle he was… apart from myself, his dad and his big three year old brother, Cullen Andrew.

I wrote on the back: "Nana and Jarren (Aged 5 weeks the baby, that is) May 1970"

I wrote on the back: “Nana and Jarren (Aged 5

weeks the baby, that is) May 1970″

"Cullen, Nana and Jarren enjoying special cuddles" May 1970

“Cullen, Nana and Jarren enjoying special cuddles” May 1970

The sadness was because of the realisation that never again would I get a loving message of remembrance on my little boy’s birthday… and the tears fell.  Little did I know what was awaiting me when finally forcing myself to face the day. Logging onto Facebook was a beautiful message from “My Little Ray of Sunshine”, my precious daughter Kirrily Ann, born 2 years after Jarren…

Kirrily and mummy -  Sep 1972

Kirrily and mummy – Sep 1972

… and then came the acknowledgements and loving messages from others showing that my beautiful Jarren Vaughan will always be remembered and included as a member of our family and the ache in my heart eased.

It was especially lovely to hear that my youngest Grandson, Jay, had been talking with his mummy about Uncle Jarren and asking questions… such as why he was given that name?…  Kirrily passed on the story.

Thankyou everyone and much love to you all.


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

Lessons from my children… loving life

A skydiving "buddie" and Cullen -  friendship and trust

A skydiving “buddie” and Cullen – friendship and trust

It seemed like a Nanosecondblink blink blink … and is only now that I’m able to begin with the processing.

As I wrote, back on 16Jan2013, my eldest child has returned to the delight of throwing himself out of aeroplanes… shudder… but is something that parents just have to learn to live with. So, I smiled to read his early morning blog post today and loved seeing the beautiful sunrise, through his eyes, as he drove out to the Drop Zone to celebrate with old friends.

Early morning drive to the DropZone along the Southern Expressway, South Australia. 8Feb2013.

Early morning drive to the DropZone along the Southern Expressway, South Australia. 8Feb2013.

 Describing that special moment in time, Cullen wrote:

It’s what we make of them

One thing’s for sure. The sun will rise tomorrow. As my wife says, the only thing we can change is what it means to us.

Not every day – but at least sometimes – a sunrise should mean something other than another day on the hamster wheel. Something to look forward to, a chance to step above the grind.

Today a friend of mine celebrates 25 years in skydiving and I’m headed out to the dropzone to celebrate with him. That’s what today’s sunrise means.

I can celebrate catching up, again, with old friends I haven’t seen for ten years.”


I still had a smile on my face when suddenly the TV news reported that a skydiver had fallen to his death when his parachute failed to open… same drop zone, same age … everything fitted the description of my boy.

Breath deep Catherine… Breath deep Catherine… I kept playing my daughter’s wise words, of some months ago, through and through my head like a Mantra…

stay calm … breathe deeply … you’ll be told if anything is wrong…

Then the phone rang and my heart skipped a beat… so to hear the words:

“Mum, it’s Cullen… I have to keep this short… “

was like a gift from the Gods & Goddesses. He knew people would be worried, he’d lost his phone and was trusting me to be discreet in letting people know he was safe. Yes, he did know the fellow who had died, was keeping guard at the gate with other skydiving buddies to keep the media out and would be home later that night. I passed his message on with both gratitude yet sadness in my heart.

Cullen... drop zone. 8feb2013.

My prayer is that those whose dearly loved brother, father, husband, child, cousin, grandchild etc, who lost his life doing something he loved so passionately will be comforted in this knowledge.

Back skydiving and loving it... Jan 2013.

Back skydiving and loving it… Jan 2013.

It’s what helps me over-come the terrible fear that maybe the next skydiving death will be my boy. I know he has trained well, doesn’t take risks and could  lose his life crossing the road or driving a car… apart from that, who could deny some one they love so deeply the joy clearly shown on Cullen’s face on his recent return to the sport which gives them so much pleasure?   


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel



Please click HERE to view Channel 10 Adelaide, News Video

Skydiving Drop Zone - 8 Feb 2013

Skydiving Drop Zone – 8 Feb 2013


Please click HERE to read

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

Being mum…

Cullen Habel. blog photoTerrified of heights will I ever get used to my eldest chickadee’s delight in throwing himself out of aeroplanes? …

There’s been a hiatus of some 10 years whilst Cullen focussed on finalising his PhD, whilst maintaining “gainful employment”  and continuing to be a loving hubbie and wonderful dad to my three eldest grand chickadees – so no time for “skydiving”.  Phew!!!…

Now here he is “at it again”… and chucking himself out into the “wide blue yonder above our wide brown land, here in South Australia… 

All but scares the life out of me but… there you go…

Who could ever deny anyone they love so deeply one of their greatest pleasures in life.

It’s not always easy being mum… so I “keep mum”…



Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel  

Vv is for – Vaccinations

Childhood diseases kill, injure and maim. Family Trees are peppered with gaps – young lives chopped off before having time to grow and blossom. In this Gould “Family History Through the Alphabet” challenge, I share personal experiences of the effect these, once common diseases, can have upon a family and the wonder of Vaccinations to reduce, and even eliminate, this scourge.


My first experience with the devastating effects of childhood diseases was during the 1950’s Polio Epidemic when one of my older brothers was struck down. He was completely paralysed, placed in an Iron Lung and went through many years of pain and agony which all of the family were a part of and which effected each of us in different ways.

The details of these childhood experiences are indelibly imprinted upon my brain, however, I never “blog” about living people so enough is said already… except to say that when Jonas Salk came up with the first Polio vaccine I was the first to line up, didn’t feel the prick of the needle, and was so glad that I was now protected. Not surprising then that on the birth of my first beautiful child, Cullen Andrew Habel, I followed his Vaccination Schedule to the letter.

Jarren Vaughan Habel, aged 6 weeks, with his mummy. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

Then along came my adorable second son, Jarren Vaughan Habel, and before he was old enough to be vaccinated for anything… he was infected, at the tender age of 4weeks, with Measles. I was horrified. Rang my Doctor and he said,

 “Can’t be Measles… he’s too young… must be German Measles so don’t worry”. 

A few hours later I burst into his Surgery, with Jarren in my arms, for him to see the angry rash which covered every part of my babe’s tiny body, in his ears and in his mouth. He conceded it was indeed a serious case of Measles and prescribed Anti-biotics to prevent side effects.

Jarren Vaughan Habel, aged 6 weeks, with his big brother Cullen Andrew. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

All was right with the world again. Jarren was such a delightful little fellow, caused no trouble at all and his big brother, Cullen Andrew, absolutely adored him… often turning down an invite to go play with the children next- door to just hang over the side of his brother’s bassinette to “play”.

The only difference was that I had to keep taking Jarren to the doctor because of consistent colds/ refusal to drink etc. Advice was … “it’s just a teething cold” and more Anti-biotics would be prescribed.

Well, on the morning of 16 Sep 1970, Jarren was late to wake. Steve had gone to work and initially I was grateful for that tiny break where I could just feed Cullen and then attend to Jarren. However… time began to pass, no sound came from his bedroom, my anxiety began to build and before fear could overtake me I chucked a piece of yummy chocolate into my mouth and went to wake my beautiful babe for his morning feed … and he was dead!!!

People wonder why chocolate is not a favourite of mine.

What a shock and what terror!!! … what did he die from? … was Cullen at risk too? … was it a spider bite? … what was IT?  Added to that was the suspicion, from the authorities, that maybe I had murdered my own baby!!! Well, eventually the report came through which showed that Jarren had died from complications from the Measles, contracted when only 4 weeks old. Those “teething colds” were actually symptoms of the severe damage to his lungs which Jarren had battled along with for 4 months. Seems it was only the constant stream of anti-biotics which kept him alive… until, finally they stopped being effective.

Jarren’s Grave – Midland Cemetery, Western Australia. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel.

Burying a beloved child is not something to be easily overcome. When you know the death was so easily preventable it seems, to me, to be even worse. You see, Jarren was infected by an 18 month old child who was old enough to have been immunised. He wasn’t … and my beautiful baby boy died as a result.

Anti-vaccination movements have always been with us.

Opposing Vaccinations is not a trendy new thing as some suppose. It’s been going on from the moment the first Vaccine, against Smallpox, was developed. To read about the History of Anti Vaccination Movements, just click HERE.

Smallpox has been wiped out, because vaccination was made compulsory. The prevalence of other diseases has been reduced because of Vaccinations. Here, in Australia, parents have the right to choose to not Vaccinate their children. That’s OK. I have NO prob with that. However, along with RIGHTS come RESPONSIBILITIES.

So, I reckon that if a parent chooses to not vaccinate their child and then a child, too young to be vaccinated, dies as a result then they need to face Court and defend themselves against a charge of Manslaughter. Simple as that!!!

42 years later I am still angry … and I make no apologies.


 ©  Copyright. 2012. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel. 

Rr is for – Rhizome

It’s a great pleasure to introduce my first guest blogger, Dr Chad Sean Habel, who also happens to be my youngest child 🙂  Chad willingly offered to share his view, on the Gould “Family History Through the Alphabet” challenge, of the rhizome as a most helpful way of describing our family connections.  Over to you Chad…


We all know the metaphor of the “family tree”, “digging for your roots”, and so on, and it’s a very alluring way to think about our ancestry. But what if your family tree doesn’t grow straight? What if it has holes, or gaps, or roots that pop up in unexpected places and don’t fit the “normal” model of a nuclear family or European dynasty? Well, thinking of your family tree as more of a rhizome might help.

The idea of the rhizome is taken from French theorists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and it is usually used to describe language, knowledge and society, but it seems also to apply to ancestry. One of the things my PhD thesis explored was the way that ancestry can motivate such different thoughts and feelings. For example, it is often (perhaps usually) the case that ancestry is a positive reclamation of our family’s past, and that it puts us in touch with those we have been cut off from. It’s about redemption, discovery, a wonderful inclusion of that which has been forgotten, sometimes wilfully. This model of ancestry is inclusive, flexible, and dynamic.

However it must also be acknowledged that ancestral identification can lead to exclusion, racism, and worse (as we have seen in the Holocaust and so on). This is a conception of identity which is binary: us and them, either you’re in or you’re out. Incidentally, this aligns with many forms of national identity too. How is it that essentially the same thing (ancestry) can lead to such different outcomes? I started looking for a model to help explain it and stumbled across the notion of the rhizome. Put simply, a rhizome is a form of plant that grows like bamboo or grass, across the surface of the ground (unlike a tree).


It’s perhaps easier to explain by beginning with the opposite of the rhizome: aborescence. Plants that have an aborescent structure have roots (there’s a familiar metaphor!) that go deep into the ground, then a strong trunk capped off by a canopy of trees. This type of ancestry is linear, hierarchical, binary, and characterised by deep internal structures. Aborescent ancestry is about authenticity, purity, a sense of belonging that is denied to those who fail to qualify. It struck me that if we see our ancestry like this, we are more inclined to look back for a sense of “pure” origins that may exclude those who don’t fit that model of purity. Tragically this is what so often happens: those who are not legitimised in the culture of the time (through no fault of their own) are excluded from the family or national story – or sometimes they exclude themselves! The Australian tradition of “Hiding the Stain” by rejecting or excising convict ancestors from memory is a good example of this kind of aborescence.

On the other hand, if we see ancestry as a rhizome, we see that it can follow any pathway (Deleuze and Guattari would call this desire). We realise real families don’t fit “normal” structures: they include multiple marriages, children born out of wedlock, international connections, interracial marriages, same-sex relationships: basically much more than the so-called “nuclear family”. To me this is just a better way of understanding our personal origins: families are dynamic, interesting, messy, complex, non-linear and bridge all kinds of gaps in a good way. In its most radical form, a rhizomatic conception of identity might allow us to include people who don’t even have the same biological connection that we usually require: in this way, my second cousin Rani (who is lucky to have two loving dads) is just as much a part of anyone with that pure “blood” connection.

The Luciani-Crout family – Jan 2011 (c)Allan Luciani-Crout

By loving rhizomes I am saying I want to live in a world where we do respect family connections and they are preserved and seen as important, but that those connections don’t have to be defined in an exclusivist way. Love the rhizome: revel in its messiness, its complications, the way it resists categorisation and submission to the authority of logic. Because families come in all shapes and sizes.


Author bio:

Chad Habel had the good fortune to be brought up by the best Mum in the world. (Chad’s words, not mine 😀 )  He studied at the Flinders University, South Australia, completed a PhD on ancestry in literature and now works in the School of Education at the University of Adelaide. In his spare time he nurtures a healthy preoccupation with video games and their potential to support learning.


Further References:

We are family
, by Kate Legge. The Australian 12 Jan 2011. 

AUSTRALIA’S BIRTHSTAIN  the startling legacy of the convict era by Babette Smith. 2008. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978 1 74114 604 2 (hbk)


Copyright © 2012. Dr Chad Sean Habel