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

Habel’s Bend

The River Murray, Australia

The River Murray is 2995 kilometres in length and Australia’s longest river.  Rising in the Alps, it creates the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria.  Meandering lazily northwest the river turns south, soon after crossing the Victorian border, and travels the last 500 kilometres through South Australia to Lake Alexandrina and into the Southern Ocean.

Some 40 kilometres south of this bend the “Mighty Murray” flows past the town of Loxton.  Originally named “Loxton’s Hut”, after a primitive pine and pug hut built on the edge of the river by a boundary rider, it had a name change as Pioneer Settlers began taking up land.  One of these original settlers was Emil Wilhelm Habel.  Known as Wilhelm, or Will, he built his homestead on a bend of the river, about a kilometre downstream from the town, which soon became know as “Habel’s Bend” or “Habel’s Landing”, a name it retains today.

Emil Wilhelm Habel is the Grandfather of my former husband, Stephen

Habel's Bend

Louis Andrew Habel, and our children’s Great Grandfather.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s we loved to drive to Loxton, take a houseboat from “Habel’s Landing” and explore the river.  We enjoyed long, lazy days of relaxing, fishing, swimming, reading, playing games and taking turns at driving the houseboat, as well as navigating and watching out for the “snags”.  “Snags” of wood etc. in the river, not the ones you eat 🙂  Every evening it was a campfire on the banks of the “Mighty Murray” … but I digress.

The family story is that the original homestead was regularly flooded, as the river went through its natural seasons of drought followed by torretial downpours, and as soon as possible Grandfather built a sturdier home on higher ground.  A home which still stands proudly as a testament to it’s founding family – the boyhood home of my children’s Great Grandfather, Waldemar Louis Habel, 15th child of Emil Wilhelm Habel and 8th child of Maria Mathilde Grosser.

"Johann Caeser"

Emil Wilhelm Habel was born in Dutton, South Australia, on 12 Jun 1856 the first child to Johann Friedrich August Habel and Johanne Henriette Siefert who had married in Prussia and immigrated the previous year aboard the “Johann Caeser”.  Johann and Johanne left Hamburg on 5 Oct 1854 travelling with his parents, his brother and sister-in-law as well as his widowed sister, her fiance and son.  They followed other family members and arrived in Port Adelaide on New Years Day, 1855.  Their story is one to be told at a later date … so back to Emil. 

Emil W Habel & Maria E Fielke

Emil Wilhelm Habel, born in Dutton 1856, married Marie Emilie Fielke on 7Jun 1878 at Dutton.  Marie Emilie, the daughter of Johann Gottlieb Fielke and Ernestine Wilhelmina Schichholz was born in Mt Torrens on 14 Jan 1859, died tragically young and was buried at Dutton, South Australia on 8 Jan 1890 with Emil Wilhelm left to raise their 7 children alone; Martha Lydia, Alwine Minna, Lina Martin, Adolph Reinhard, Emilie Laura, Emil Alfred and MaryChristina Frieda.

Emil W Habel & Maria M Grosser

Within six months, 10 Jul 1890, Emil Wilhelm Habel met and married Maria Mathilde Grosser in Dutton.  Maria was born in Tabor,Victoria on 12 Jul 1864.  It’s no surprise that they met and decided to marry, despite the distance, because a number of Habel relations were living in Tabor, Hamilton, Murtoa and adjacent Victorian towns and there was considerable movement and re-settlement between the two communities.  The same was true of the Grossers.  In fact, Maria’s Grandparents, the original Grosser immigrants from Silesia, Prussia, settled and were buried in the nearby Barossa Valley township of Bethany, just outside of Tanunda, South Australia.

Elisabeth Clara Habel

Emil Wilhelm and Maria Mathilda continued living and farming in Dutton where they had  4 children; Edward Otto Bernhard, Oscar Emil, Amelia Olga, Elisabeth Clara and Carl Edwin. It seems Emil Wilhelm moved to Loxton without the family in 1895 with Maria Mathilde and the children following later. I estimate this to be in the second half of 1897 because  their 4th child, Carl Edwin, was born in Dutton on 21 Jun 1897 and sadly their 2nd little girl, Elisabeth Clara (aged 2), died and was buried at “Loxton Habel Private Cemetery” on 24 Jan 1898. Maybe some of Emil Wilhelm and his first wife’s younger children went with them to Loxton?

The Habels of “Habel’s Bend” had another four children; Friedrich Arthur, Victor Paul, Waldemar Louis (our relative) and lastly Armin Berthold.  Emil Wilhelm Habel fathered 16 children whilst farming and growing wheat at Dutton and Loxton, South Australia. In 1907 he handed his farm on to two sons, one from each marriage, and purchased a property at Gilles Plains.  That was later sold and the family moved to Knoxville in Adelaide.

Wilhelm died in Loxton, 12 Jun 1926, as a result of catching pneumonia after jumping out of his truck which rolled down a bank and hit a barge in the River Murray.  He is buried in the Loxton Cemetery.  Maria lived another 21 years, died on 23 Aug 1947, and is also buried at Loxton.

Initially farming and grazing country this is now a thriving irrigation area and claimed, by many, to be “the food bowl of the nation”. The land around Loxton is a significant citrus and summer fruit growing area.  Loxton is a service town for the surrounding districts and the main town for the northern part of the Murray Mallee, which is a dry farm and grain cropping area.

The Habel family continued farming at Loxton for many a long year and the site of the original homestead still bears the name, “Habel’s Bend”, in honour of these courageous pioneers. 

Emil Wilhelm & Maria Mathilde Habel and Family - 1915



SOURCES:  The Grossers From Gruenberg. 1841 – 1991. Published by the Grosser Family Reunion Committee.  ISBN 0 646 05329 9

(c) Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan~Meeting Marie~Finding Family