Sunday, January 23, 2005


A ship called the 'Susanne Godeffroy' sailed from Hamburg in September of 1863 and arrived a few months later in Queensland, Australia, becoming the nucleus of the first German colony in Queensland, a settlement that its numerous descendants now refer to as the Bethania Colony. Two years later another ship, the 'Wandrahm' arrived there, significantly expanding the original settlement.

One of the founders of that colony was Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ebert, who arrived on the 'Susanne Godeffroy' along with his wife, Johanne, and their two daughters, Bertha and Auguste. They were from the village of Stegelitz in the Uckermark. According to the history of the colony, Carl Ebert was one of the five men who purchased the land that became the colony. August Wilhelm Flesser from Warnitz, and his wife, Marie Christine (Lubach) from Schmiedeberg, arrived two years later on the 'Wandrahm' with their eight children. The ship arrived bearing a typhoid fever epidemic that killed twenty-two passengers and kept the ship in quarantine for a full year before the three or four hundred surviving passengers could disembark and join the colony. Eventually, one of their sons, Wilhelm Friedrich Flesser, married Auguste Wilhelmine Ebert. One of their daughters, Wilhelmine Friedericke Justine Flesser, eventually married Jurgen August Haack, a young man who had worked as a deckhand on the 'Wandrahm' and was apparently quarantined along with the passengers. Descendants of Jurgen and Justine Haack have assembled a Haack Family genealogy which is available online.

Close scrutiny of the surname list for the Bethania Colony reveals that sometime around 1880 another ship arrived in Queensland carrying the family of Johann Christian Friedrich Lubach and his wife, Marie (Flatow), from the village of Grunberg in the Uckermark. They were married in Marie's home village of Schmoelln which is only a handful of miles from Schmiedeberg. Their sons and daughters naturally intermarried with other German settler families in the colony, among them descendants of August and Marie (Lubach) Flesser.

Cousins marrying cousins is less of a tip-off to me, that these Australian pioneers might be distant relatives, than the names of some of the other settlers. The founder of the Bethania Colony was Christian Berndt. My grandmother's maiden name was Bernd and family lore has it that the 't' at the end was dropped. My grandfather's sister in upstate Wisconsin, married a Kurth. Again, a close look at the Bethania surname list shows a significant number of Kurths in Queensland.

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