Caroline Fischer, who married my grandfather’s grandfather, John Holdorf, at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney in 1868, was the daughter of a German immigrant by the name of Gottfried and his wife Viktoria. Caroline was born in Germany, or more correctly, as far as I … Continue reading Who was Gottfried Fischer (1821-1898)?
I have to confess to a weakness for old maps. There is something vaguely adventurous and exciting about the yellowed paper, the colours, the text. I found this image recently on a free app for iPad. It brings to mind a Europe that to us today … Continue reading Old maps
We were nearing Cuxhaven, a signal flag was hoisted and a boat neared the ship to take off the Captain's relatives... The boat vanished quickly, as did the flat coastline and eventually also the lighthouses of Wangeroog and Neuwerk, and we were on the open … Continue reading Cuxhaven and the North Sea
Hamburg is a city on a river, the Elbe. But it is also a large seaport and in the 1850s was becoming, with Bremen, one of Germany's major emigration points. To reach the sea ships had to navigate the wide reaches of this mighty river … Continue reading Ice on the Elbe
Johann Holtorf was my grandfather’s grandfather. He was born in 1828 in the village of Bimöhlen, in the Duchy of Holstein, then under the Danish monarch. Bimöhlen is still there, a quiet little village nestled among the trees and woods of northern Germany, in the … Continue reading A village childhood: young Johann Holtorf