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Jim Walford <jimwalford-at-westnet.com.au> 13.07.09
Heinrich Schuback was born 5th May 1809 in Erbach, Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis, Hessen, Germany. His parents were Heinrich Schuback (1782-1845) and Margaretha Nicolai (1781-1845) and his grandfather was Lorenz Schuback (1738). Heinrich married Barbara Recke on 6th July 1832. Barbara was born 15th April 1815 in Erbach, Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis, Hessen, Germany to parents Johann Joseph Recke (1776-1829) and Anna Maria Meyer (1776).
Heinrich and Barbara Schuback (Recke) and their seven children ranging in age from 17 years to 9 months arrived in Sydney aboard the ship ‘Beulah’ on 4th April 1849. The details of their family according to the shipping records were as follows: Heinrich Schuback (39 years) vinedresser, Barbara (34 years) wife, Heinrich (17 years) vinedresser, Johann (14 years) vinedresser, Agnes (10 years) daughter, Sebastian (6 years) son, Franz (4 years) son, Catherina (3 years) daughter, Christina (infant). From Sydney, they travelled to Eden and then into the Bega district, working at first, on the Walker’s property at Kameruka. Kameruka Homestead was built in 1845 by the Walker Brothers who had taken over the 200,000 acre property from the Imlay Brothers who had fallen on difficult times.
Heinrich’s first job was as a gardener at Kameruka Estate. From there, he went to Merimbula where he had obtained a 120 acre land grant. Then, in 1863, he moved to ‘Griffin’ – now called ‘Hillgrove’. That property was 600 acres made up of 5x120 acre land grants to Heinrich and four of his adult sons. The 600 acres remained in the family until 1982.
Heinrich Schuback died 3rd May 1887 in Bega, New South Wales. He is buried in the Bega Cemetery. Heinrich’s death certificate shows his son Henry as the informant and his children were listed as Henry (54 years), John (52 years), Agnes (50 years), Bastian (45 years), Frank (43 years), Catherina (40 years), Christina (39 years), Joseph (38 years), William (34 years), Ellen (32 years), Charles (30 years). One male and two female children were deceased. Barbara Schuback (Recke) died 9th February 1895 in Bega, New South Wales. She is also buried in the Bega Cemetery.
There were close familial relationships between the German immigrant families from Erbach. In total 10 families arrived in Australia between 1849 and 1855 who were direct descendants of Lorenz Schuback. On board the ‘Beulah’ with Heinrich and Barbara Schuback (Recke) were Heinrich’s first cousin Sebastian Schuback and his wife Maria Eva Schuback (Rau).
Following are letters written by Sebastian Schuback and his wife Maria Eva Schuback (Rau). While Heinrich and Barbara travelled from Sydney to Eden and then to Kameruka, Sebastian and Maria Eva Schuback travelled further from Sydney to Kiamba or Kyeamba (near Wagga), along with two other German families from the ‘Beulah’ (Frauenfelders and Raus). These letters tell the story of German immigrant families more broadly.
Extracts from ‘Letters from German Immigrants in New South Wales’ by George Nadel.
On April 4 1849, the three-master ‘Beulah’ of 578 tons burthen, four months out of London, anchored in Sydney Harbour…170 German immigrants were on board. The Germans who arrived in Sydney in 1849 constituted a special group. They came from the Rhine provinces; and were vintners.
The Regulation of April 7, 1847, permitted the immigration of workers for the cultivation of vine, olive and silk, and similar fields where British labourers were not available. A bounty of £36 for each married couple and £18 for each child over the age of 18 years of age would be paid by the Government…With the aid of Wilhelm Kirchner (Hamburg Consul in Sydney) the Germans were soon recruited…Their reputation for skill, industry and thrift made them welcome; labour was short, and, even where British labour was available, contrasts as to sobriety and application were frequently drawn in favour of the Germans.
Kirchner collected (translated and published) sixteen letters from German emigrants…twelve were written from the arrivals on the Beulah. The letters were all written from May to October 1849, that is, within a few months of their disembarkation. The letters of the German immigrants tell a special story and certain common factors can be discerned:
The absence of prying officials, gendarmes, tax collectors and oppressive landlords is to them a testimony of the rightness of their action in leaving the tyranny of their homeland.
As a consequence not one of them considered himself an exile or wished to return. That is not to say that they express no homesickness in their letters.
Sebastian Schuback’s letter is written on 24th June 1849 from William Walker’s property, Kiamba. It is addressed to Mayor Johannes Jung and his other friends in Erbach, on the Rhine.
If one wants to work here, one also knows why one works. He who has plenty of children is happy. This was told us by a gentleman who visited us the other day, and asked us how we were satisfied with our master and whether we had any troubles. This gentleman spoke German very well and told us we ought not hold back with anything. He was a representative of the government and travelled around the country to make things clear to people. You see, people here do not look down their noses at you because you are an emigrant, as they would if you planted yourself in a place in Germany.
….Thirty Englishmen travelled with us, those over 14 years paying £15 each, those under 14, £7, infants are carried free. Therefore, whoever can afford it should go to this expense. It is, however, soon made up, as there is plenty of money in this country, plenty to earn and one does not owe anything all the year round. The state is not as it is with us; here you cannot tell the master from the servant. Also, one does not need a contract when arriving in Sydney. The masters soon come aboard and ask for Germans since everyone wants to have workers…
I tell you here in this letter, be not afraid of this far journey, for God dwells everywhere and His providence rules from one end of the earth to the other. It is not dangerous to travel hither. In London it is an everyday occurrence to travel to Sydney, and in Sydney ships from all parts of the world arrive. It is not so far as Herr Pfeffer told me, when I was standing in front of my barn door on those last days before my departure: it were too far, he would rather travel to the moon than make this journey. We are here now and the moon is still as distant from us as it was in Germany.
… Dear brother Heinrich, do not forget to write to me again immediately you receive this letter. Tell me also what has happened to German liberty since I have been away and what fruits she has borne you.
Sebastian’s wife, Maria Eva Schuback, mother of four children, also wrote a letter from Kiamba on 24th June 1849, to her parents, brothers and sisters, tells more personal news.
The Good Lord has not yet left us. He has led us upon a good path and we thank God daily for it. Oh, I would like to be with you for only an hour to tell you everything, but I do not want to return to Germany (photograph of old city of Erbach). I wish you were all with me, you would be exempted from drudgery. It is indeed a far voyage, and a difficult one for people with small children; but for those who have no children yet, it is a pleasure trip. We live now in a country where there is still peace, where one can live without sorrow or care. One need not fret, when the end of the week approaches and there is no more money for buying food, how one will last out the week. That we need not do, dear father, we have no worries. Even if it rains for a whole week so that our men cannot do much work, our provisions and wages continue.
Our Nannchen and Kaetchen have been going to school for 6 weeks now and we pay 12 shillings and four pence for the two children. This is our biggest expense. But they must learn English and they are both learning it well.
Dear sister Katharina, and my sister Christina, my promise to make a code mark in my letter to indicate that we are well is quite laughable in Australia; that I am well I can write you as openly as I can that you are my sisters…
Do not forget to purchase the Little Englishman and study it diligently aboard ship. We learnt no English on the ship because there were too many Germans, and that was not good for us. We learnt more on our trip inland than we did in 4 months on the ship, and now we know quite a bit through our children, who are learning diligently at school.
(Information provided by Jenny Lock at email address jennylock09-at-gmail.com)