Written by Henrietta Christiane Holtkamp
nee Kranz in April 1916. Translated by her daughter Clara Henrietta Koschmann in 1972.
Permission to publish kindly given by Fred Koschmann.
"I was born on
November 30 1850 in Konigsreich, Preusen, in the province Schlesien in Kreis Bolkenheim,
Dorf Weidergirters. [ South of Legnica in Poland ] In May 1853, my parents decided to go
to Australia and arrived on the 22nd August at Port Melbourne. Some of the passengers went
into Melbourne while the boat [ Wilhelmsburg ] was in the bay and bought a loaf of bread
for a shilling, thought what a terrible price and wondered how they would feed their
Several other families went with us to Warrnambool; Peuckers, Uebergangs & Kichners
and we lived there for five years. Uebergangs already had relations at Warrnambool by the
name of Adler. Adlers had land twenty kilometres from Warrnambool, so gave my father work
putting up fences and so forth. W. Peucher also worked there, later he lived at Green
Lake. Through much hard work and saving what they could by living sparingly, our parents
did all this for the sake of us children.
We first lived in a bark house of three small rooms, but then father started to build a
better house of slabs which we got from Peucker's paddock. When harvest came, both mother
and father worked and cut the wheat with a sickle. One day when the parents were at work
and we four girls were alone with Ernestine the oldest in charge, we went to where the new
house was being built and while away our small house was burnt down. Mother always put out
the fire before she left for work, so we never knew how the fire started and the little
that we had was all burnt. I remember my little sister Maria crying when we sat under the
tree on the Sunday.
When Adlers and Uebergangs heard of our loss they brought lots of things for us, but
mother had to carry them to our camp and had a heavy load which she could hardly carry.
But she would rest a while and go on again. The farmer, for whom father and mother were
working, kindly told our parents we could live in his house and he went to sleep in the
hut with the other workmen. He also lent us blankets etc and gave my father £1 [$2] to
buy a thick blanket. His name was H. Good. Mr Good and his brother owned the Station.
Ernestine looked after the younger children, but when she was twelve, she went to
Warrnambool to work, which my parents later regretted.
On August 22nd 1854, mother gave birth to a boy, Karl Wilhelm, but he died. My parents
took his little body twenty kilometres in a pram to the cemetery for burial. Father made
all the few pieces of furniture we had, out of wood from the bush. When W. Peucker heard
of our sad trials he came to see us and stayed a while. G. Voight also came to see us as
he was working nearby at Adlers. Mr Good gave us blankets when we moved into our new home.
Mr Adler also soon built a house not far from us and we had a track made from one house to
the other as we played much together.
My father then worked for Mr Adler for weekly wages. I remember quite well when my
parents bought the first cow. We once went to the Hopkins river where some of the other
Germans lived - Uebergangs, Peukers, Fritschs, Pressers and Mutter Adler. Our parents were
quite anxious that we should get some schooling, they gave us lessons and tried to teach
us if they had the time.
On Sundays, as we had no Church nearby, our father would read a sermon and we would
sing some hymns. We children were fond of singing, as was our mother and so they taught us
to read and write. Also on Sundays we often went with father into the bush to get wild
cherries and blackberries or to sit and swing on the limbs of big trees.
Through Pastor Schurmann, my father made up his mind to shift to Hamilton, We, H.
Voight and C. Menzel travelled by wagon to Hamilton. My sister Christine and little Maria,
three years old, travelled on the Menzel wagon. Mother, baby Loise and I went on H
Voight's wagon. Sister Caroline had previously been taken by Voights as they had no
children and wanted one. Voights, at mother's request promised to send Caroline to school
but they did not keep their word. On our move to Hamilton we spent the last night at the
Burgers near Mt Rouse. It was all so interesting to us children. Mrs Burger was a dear
woman and a good mother, she was fat but Mr Burger was small and thin. They had two sons
and one daughter who was married. We knew them a bit as they came to Adlers once to get
potatoes and stayed the night. We slept in the barn on the straw, but had good feather
beds to cover us.
After feeding his cows, Mr Burger fed our two cows, two calves and a heifer which my
father had droved on foot from Warrnambool. Next day we arrived at Tarrington near
Hamilton and stayed at Samuel Schultz's. My father bought 11 hectares [ 28 acres ] from G.
Rudolf, then when my brother got married he lived there till he died. Later my father
bought another piece of land from Koschs. Father worked at Burgers for some time. W. Noske
lived near us on Schneider's land and we saw a lot of each other. These Noskes later went
to Murtoa, Mrs Noske did nursing and later her daughter was a nurse at Murtoa hospital.
On the first harvest on our land at Tarrington, my mother, sister Caroline and me cut
the wheat off and then thrashed it with a wooden 'flagellum', so my father kept working
Christiana then went to school, Ernestine was working and Caroline was still at
Voights. After that New Year, I also went to school. At Christmas, Christiana was
confirmed and went to work at Pipkorns. A new teacher, Mr Muller, came from Germany. One
day I went with father to see Caroline and she showed me where she slept, I cried on the
way home and told mother. Soon after that my parents took Caroline away from Voights
because they would not send her to school enough. There were arguments at Pastor Lossels
Church, so my parents went to a new church which was originally known as Deutschers
Church. They first held services at C. Petschels home.
The Deutscher group decided to call a Pastor from Germany, Pastor Hiller came and a
church was built in 1865 by M. Deutscher, G. & W. Petschel and others. I was confirmed
on Palm Sunday 6 April with five others - T. Deutscher, F. Schultz, P. Milich, A. Liebe,
H. Hausler and the church was crowded.
I then went to work first at H. Voights and then for L. Mibus where I stayed for two
years. I would have stayed longer but my father on a trip from Hamilton to Ararat broke
his collar bone. As he could not take the harvest off, I had to go home. Mother,
Christiana and I had to cut the hay and cart it to make a stack. Father would stand there
and tell us what to do and how to put the sheaves. L. Mibus came again later and wanted me
to work there again but mother thought I should go and work in Hamilton to learn more
about people and housework and it did me good. I was there one year and then mother
Deutscher begged my mother for me to go there as the sons were away on the thrashing
machine. I was there for seven months and perhaps if I stayed longer it might have been
I was at Borgelts for a few weeks and there I got to know H. Holtkamp and a few weeks
after I left there I had a letter from him. We corresponded and the family gave their
approval and so it came to pass that I married the said man. We married on October 24th
1873 and as he had land at Millicent in South Australia I had to go to an unknown land and
people. I knew a few at Mt Gambier, the Reinkes, Ruwes and Borgelts. At first I was very
homesick, but as I we got to know the neighbours, I felt better.
Our first child Herman was born on August 12th 1874, we had to take him to Mt Gambier
to be christened. When he was three years old he almost drowned in a waterhole, I managed
with God's help to get him out in time. Carl was born on May 30th 1876 and was christened
Charles by an English minister as there was no Lutheran pastor available at the time. It
took place in the Bible Christian Church in Millicent. My sister Luise was with us for
several months when he was a baby as he was not a healthy child and had rheumatic fever
when two years of age.
We had bought another piece of land 10 kilometers away and as the Germans were getting
more established we got together and had services in German in Millicent in 1877. My
husband was elected as a Lay Reader with two others but it fell mostly to him. Pastor [ ?
] was the first pastor to be at Millicent, coming from Adelaide and followed by Pastor
Matchoss. The first year or two we walked to church every fortnight, but later we bought a
spring cart from Mr Reinecke of Mt Gambier. My husband made a low seat for Herman and Carl
to sit on in front of us and we were all happy that way.
Minna was born on September 9th 1878 and I had milk fever when she was ten days old. As
I was confined to bed, Pastor Rechmer from Millicent christened her at our home. Prior to
this we only had two rooms, but after the birth of Mina my husband built two small
bedrooms and a room for milk etc and we were so pleased to have all that.
Fred (Fritz) was born on October 7th 1880 and when he was six weeks old we went to live
on the other piece of land and Papa built two more rooms out of stone. Caroline was born
on the 21st of August 1882, my dear Mrs Brooks attended me at all the births. I had a lot
of work to do and sometimes it seemed too much.
On December 2nd 1882 we had the first opening of our first church and a sale of gifts.
We had my cousin Ernst Kranz and his two sisters Marie and Ernestine with us. It was the
first time we had ever met and after a few days they went to Hamilton to visit my parents.
When harvest time came, Herman went to help Papa. Carl and I had to milk six cows as well
as feed the calves and pigs. I wonder how we did it all as on January 24th 1884, the twins
were born. My sister Luise was with us and a neighbour Mrs Ey, sent for the doctor when
the second boy arrived. When Papa came home that night he was quite astonished as they
were a bit premature. George was bigger than Bernhard but when they were five months old,
George became ill with fever. We had Mrs Pohlner with us at the time and on one Saturday,
I sat up with George all night. Papa and Herman went to church next day and many
neighbours who heard that George was ill came to visit us Sunday afternoon. Mrs Fenton and
Mrs Ey stayed to see what the doctor would say. The doctor said there was no hope and
George died at 5 pm, only 7 months and 13 days old. As the pastor had stayed at Millicent
he was buried by him. All the neighbours were very kind and 15 vehicles were at the
funeral. The first time I went to church again, little Ben cried when he saw all the
people and the church. He had hardly been away from home as at first he was rather
delicate and I could seldom go out with the twins.
Alex was born on November 22nd 1887 at which time my mother was with us. In the year
1880 we got a telegram to say that my dear father died. Papa, Herman and Carl were working
on the other land we had, the range paddock, so our good neighbours rode out on horseback
to tell Papa the news. They came home at once and I had to catch the train to Victoria for
the funeral. It was a Saturday and raining and I took Ben with me. Father had been ill
only a week with Caroline looking after him.
The next year in April, Papa and Herman went to Victoria to Emma and Gottlieb Schache's
wedding. My sister Caroline then came over with her daughter Louise who did not have the
best of health and they all persuaded us to go to Victoria. Uncle Henry Schulz and Fred
Schulz took father about to several farms that were for sale. So we moved to Victoria and
that has been our home since. Five children and I came over by train with a lot of
luggage. Papa and Carl came with the wagon, horses and implements. Herman had come a few
weeks before with horses and was getting things in order. With God's help we all arrived
safely and could settle in, though it was a very hard time. Uncle Fred Schulz was very
kind, as soon as he and his boys, Fred and Jack, had finished sowing they came over and
helped us, as did uncle Henry Schulz and W. Petering. We had the seed sown and could only
hope that with God's help we would have a harvest.
We had 800 bags that first harvest and thought it wonderful, as we never had nearly
that much at Millicent. Six years later we could venture out to buy M. Staricks land next
to A. Peucker. In 1902 was the big drought and we lost many sheep and hardly got any
harvest. Herman and uncle Henry Schulz's men were looking after sheep and some cattle in
the bush and had some of their chaff stolen. We then had some good years and could pay off
the loan on Staricks land. A few years later on our neighbour Guthrie wanted to sell and
go to Gippsland. Uncle Henry thought we should buy it, we bought it for 5 pound an acre,
[$24.70 per hectare] in 1902.
Also in 1902 my cousin August Hanke, a missionary, came from New Guinea to visit us. He
had been in New Guinea for five years and had lost his first wife with their first child.
He was on his way home to Germany on furlough. He had been corresponding with a Miss
Johanna Heider and in 1907 he married her. When they had two boys they went back to
Germany, August was very ill and they had to carry him onto the boat. In Germany for two
years they had another son and after returning to New Guinea they had two girls Heidi and
Gertrude. August died in New Guinea, so Johanna had to go back to Germany as she left the
three boys there with her mother. The missionaries all had to do that as New Guinea was
still so infected with malaria. Johanna and the two girls got to Sydney by boat and then
by train to Melbourne and on to stay with us for several months. Heidi was then six years
old and started school at Coromby. This was in 1920 and after some months they went back
In 1902 Wooroonook Station was being cut up at Rupanyup South. Ben had been working at
Nowotnas for 12 months, often Fred somewhere else. Herman thought we should buy more land
and after inspecting the land decided to buy three blocks for Herman and two blocks for
Ben They went to live out there and came home on Sundays till Herman got married to Selma
Petschel. We had sold Staricks to F Nowotna some years before.
We had many years of hard work and saving to pay off the land we had. In 1907 H Schultz
wanted to sell and go to Hamilton, we were offered the land, both H & F Schulz advised
us to buy, it was bought and put in Carl's name. After we had paid off all our debts on
Guthries we were happy.
1914 was a real drought and we only got little more than our seed back. Herman and Ben
got 15 bags and a little hay. Most of the horses were sent to Millicent where it was a
good season. Fred and Alex took them over, having lived there we knew people who took the
horses into paddocks. When things improved we went and got them back again. Herman had bad
luck, three young horses died. It was a terrible year, we had so many dust storms, some
lasting ywo days and at times so thick, one could not see the next paddock. Even if
everything was closed up, the dust was so thick in the house you could sweep it up in
shovel fulls. The garden had things covered in sand and it was piled against the fences
and sheds. In 1915 we had a good harvest and much hay was cut, even on the roads. We ha a
3735 bags of wheat, Herman and Ben had 6000 bags and Charlie about 1400.
Herman was married on October 14th 1914. Their first child Edwin was born 3
months prematurely, was so tiny Nurse Pumpa in Murtoa had him wrapped in wadding. He was
not expected to live, was not a strong child but a very dear one. Selma shed many tears
and prayed for him to live. When Selma was able to take him home I went with them and was
there for three weeks. When Edwin was not quite 12 months old, Ella was born to them.
Edwin did not walk till he was 15 months old. When he was three years of age he came in
coughing as if he had swallowed something. He often could not eat, would cough and bring
it up again. The doctor gave all the medicine for the cough but he got weaker. He was
taken to Melbourne for an X-Ray and it was found that he had a nail in his lung. So that
is what he must have swallowed when he came inside coughing. He did not live long after