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
Bramstedt in 1850 was a rural centre of some 3000 people. The town had been prominent in the region for centuries for two reasons: it was an important stopover on an old cattle route for traders driving their herds from the Jutland peninsula south to … Continue reading Bramstedt
Johann Holtorf was born in Bimöhlen, a tiny village in the Duchy of Holstein, on April 6, 1828. He left Holstein in 1856 when he was 28 years old. He was unmarried and travelled alone to Australia where he subsequently built a life for himself. … Continue reading Johann Holtorf – German or Danish?