Zöller/Zeller reunion 16 November 2013

Anyone with Zöller/Zeller ancestry from Toowoomba or Chinchilla might be interested in this reunion. You can read more detail on my other blog, From Dorfprozelten to Australia.

http://dorfprozeltenaus.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/zollerzeller-family-reunion-16-november-2013/

Z zzzzs through Zöller and Zurich

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which). This is the final post in the series.

is for zzzzzz

After a solid month of posting from A to Z, I reckon it might be time for a short nap. I’m pleased to have achieved my goal of documenting some of the important places in our distant family history, as well as more recent ones. Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this journey. I’ve appreciated your support and comments throughout.

Z is for Zöller, Zoller, Zeller, Ziller

This Bavarian family name has so many mis-recordings and spelling variations that they’re known in my household as the Ziller, Zeller, Zollers. Throw in Tiller, Seller, Sellar, Sellars and you can see the research dilemma. Thank heavens for wildcards!

I have an interest in this name because three of the Dorfprozelten families I research were named Zöller. They were:

Joseph Zöller and his wife Anna Rosina (nee Neubeck) and children Oswald 12 and Carl 8 arrived in Melbourne on the Boomerang on 11 May 1855, and from there were transshipped to Moreton Bay. The family settled in Toowoomba.

Franz Ignaz Zöller and his wife Catherine (nee Beutel) arrived in Sydney on the Peru on 23 May 1855, with “their” children Joseph 10, Caroline 7, Michael 4, and Maria 1. They too were transshiped to Moreton Bay to take up their employment there. Further research and collaboration with family historians, and assistance from the Dorfprozelten local historian, has now established that Joseph and Caroline were in fact the Ignaz’s nephew and niece, children of his deceased brother. Ignaz and his family first lived south of Brisbane near Beaudesert and later on the Darling Downs.

Franz Michael Zöller arrived in Sydney on the Commodore Perry on 26 April 1855. Franz Michael’s wife, Maria (nee Krebs) had died on the voyage so he had the care of their children Oswald 11 and Maria 3. Eldest son John, 19, appears to have been contracted out independently in Newcastle soon after arrival. Michael and the other children remained in Sydney.

In addition a single woman who arrived independently was Maria Rosalia Günzer aka Mary Rosalie Zöller, the illegitimate daughter of Franz Ignaz’s brother and sister to Joseph and Caroline mentioned above.

I’ve written about the ones who came to Queensland in Queensland Family History Society’s Q150 publication and presented a paper on the Dorfprozelten immigrants at the 2006 Australasian Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry in Darwin. The paper is published in the proceedings for those with an interest in these families.

Z is for Zurich and the end of winter (Switzerland)

When we first travelled to Europe all those years ago, one of the most exciting events we happened upon was the end of winter festival in Zurich. Pure beginners’ luck! I don’t know if it still occurs but it involved the members of the ancient guilds parading through the streets, women throwing flowers to them or racing out to give them a kiss, and culminated in the burning of a snowman’s effigy to symbolise the end of winter. Somehow we found some new mates who shared their beer steins and toasted the end of winter with us.

Turns out this festival still exists (logically why would it not-it’s been going for nearly 200 years) and is called the Sechseläuten festival, (normally held on the third Sunday and Monday in April) and and the snowman is called the Böögg. Isn’t the internet a wonderful place!

Today I thought I’d share some of those images with you in this slideshow.

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F is for the Fifteen Mile, Fromelles and Fleurbaix

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which).

F is for the Fifteen Mile (Queensland)

The Fifteen Mile in Queensland would be unknown to most people except locals. Part way up the road between Murphys Creek and the Crows Nest road, it is mostly scrubby bush with little apparent activity. You can get a sense of its geography by clicking here. You can see that in amongst the trees and scrub, there is a cleared semi-valley and a smattering of buildings. This inconspicuous spot is where my 2xgreat grandparents Kunkel selected their land in 1874, paying it off over five years until the total £19/5/- was reached[i]. They had very nearly lost out on the land in a bureaucratic glitch when George Kunkel filed his claim in the Ipswich Lands office while Mr Pechey filed his in Toowoomba. By the time their land purchase was finalised in 1879, they had ringbarked 154 acres, cleared two acres and cultivated it with maize, stocked the land with cattle branded GK9, and a four room house had been built and was occupied by the “selector’s wife and family” while George himself was earning cash on the railways.

The old road down to the Kunkel property at the Fifteen Mile c1988 © P Cass 2010

Early land maps[ii] of the area from the Queensland State Archives, revealed the settlers who lived in the area. I was struck by the correlation of the names with some of those I knew had emigrated from Dorfprozelten. Further research proved this to be a small settlement of former Dorfprozelten people and their descendants. I doubt it was a deliberate ploy to settle together, rather that the land became available when they were eligible and they had saved some money. It was also not a well known area, but more likely to be known to those who had worked on the railway line through Murphys Creek.

George Kunkel had been clever in his selection of land because the creek ran below his property (you can see it if you enlarge the map – a snake like curve marks his boundary) but stepped down from his buildings. This gave him natural irrigation for his fruit orchards and grape vines. In recent decades the creek had dried up in the drought and bush fires were a very real hazard. However the drastic January 2011 floods affected the Fifteen Mile in a way I hadn’t fully understood until we drove through in July last year. I couldn’t believe my eyes to see trees up in trees and debris scattered high up the creek banks.

The old Horrocks property at the Fifteen Mile is now semi-derelict. Photo taken 1988 © P Cass

This small community gathered with those close by to play tennis and hold dances in the Horrocks’s barn, and shared their excess produce[iii]. Few people live in the area now and the names of old are gone: Horrocks, McLean, Stack, Jerrard, Zoller, Bodmann, Ganzer, Kunkel.

F is for Fromelles and Fleurbaix (France)

Rue Petillon cemetery, Fleurbaix.

Last year on the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles I wrote about my grandfather’s cousin, James Augustus Gavin. James was also the grandson of Denis and Ellen Gavin who you’ve met in the “D is for…” post ( I think they’re following me at present). Fromelles is also a pivotal battle for my husband’s great uncle. Despite participating in Gallipoli, it was the Battle of Fromelles which destabilised him with the shock of the huge losses of his men. I won’t go into more detail here but if you have time, please read a little more about this fierce battle in which 5533 Australian soldiers lost their lives or were wounded or missing.

The muddy fields of Flanders 1992. © P Cass

In recent years DNA sampling has been used to identify Australian Diggers (soldiers) buried in mass graves after the Battle of Fromelles…an amazing and sobering use of modern technology to bring closure to families, and allow these soldiers to be laid to rest under a named gravestone, no longer missing.

Our James Gavin was fortunate in a sense (if you can say that) in as much as he died early in the battle, perhaps even before it officially commenced. Consequently he was laid to rest in a known grave in the Rue Petillon cemetery at Fleurbaix (about 5kms from Amentieres). In November 1992, my husband and I made a pilgrimage to see his grave, and that of another of my grandfather’s cousins (James Paterson) at Villers Brettoneux.

Rue Petillon Cemetery, Fleurbaix, amidst the farm lands of Flanders. © P Cass 1992.

The cemetery at Fleurbaix is so peaceful, set amidst French farm land. As we parked the car, a local farmer gave us a nod of acknowledgement…they take their debt of loyalty quite seriously, it seems to me.  All was tranquil with birds singing and the distant sound of farm machinery. Farm buildings lie across the road and beside the cemetery. If you must die at war, then surely this is a place where you can truly lie at peace.

Across the road, the agricultural fields gave a clue of just how difficult it would have been to fight in those conditions at any time, let alone as winter approached. The deep plough furrows showed just how clay-y and sludgey the soil was as it took on water. I couldn’t begin to truly imagine what it would be like to try to advance the German front line in those conditions.

We were pleased to be able to pay our respects to a distant family member, and indirectly to my husband’s relative, Lt Col WEH Cass. Since 1992 I’ve learned a lot about Fromelles, a battle that had long been overshadowed by Gallipoli. If I was to do a battle field tour, it would be to the Western Front, I think, rather than Gallipoli, and definitely not on Armistice Day or Anzac Day so I can have time and peace to reflect on all that happened.


[i] Queensland State Archives PRV9882-1-740 (LAN/AG739) Deed of grant.

[ii] QSA Map Parish of Murphy, County of Cavendish, A3/18 1932.

[iii] Oral history from Anne Kunkel, granddaughter of George and Mary Kunkel.