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GRAFF, Johann and Johanna

Johann Graff (c. 1802-88), a Wend from Preske, six kilometres west of Bautzen, arrived in Melbourne from Hamburg aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850 with his wife Hanna (nee Hobrack) and five children.

In March 1850, Graff settled on 50 acres at Westgarthtown (Lots 1 and 2, Section 25, Parish of Keelbundora), the purchase of which he concluded on 2 May 1851 for £ 50. His land and improvements were financed with funds from a joint £ 250 loan taken out by himself and four other Westgarthtown settlers, which was subsequently repaid in full on 2 June 1853. Graff had been naturalized as a New South Wales citizen on 20 March 1851, enabling him to legally purchase his land.

In October 1850, Johann and his son Carl wrote a letter back to Germany, in which he stated:

I am very satisfied with my present situation and hope that with time it will become still better in many ways. I have now purchased five cows and two bullocks and also have already planted some acres with wheat, peas, lentils and potatoes. Although I have borrowed somewhat for the purchase of several things, which I needed urgently, I do know that I will be able to meet the debts in half the time as I would be able in Germany. I also no longer wish to be there, but now feel sorry for all those who felt sorry for me before my departure …

Graff later became a foundation committee member of the Westgarthtown Lutheran Church and School and also the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Victoria, established in 1856 by Pastor Goethe. He remained at Westgarthtown where he died on 9 June 1888, aged 86. Hanna Graff died on 19 August 1887, aged 83. Both are buried in the Westgarthtown Lutheran Cemetery.

Carl Graff was killed while goldmining on the Loddon River goldfields on 11 December 1852. He was unmarried. John, the remaining son, married and stayed on the family dairy farm until 1889, when he moved to nearby Doreen, leaving his eldest son Charles in charge at Westgarthtown.

Johann and Hanna Graff’s three daughters – Magdalene, Maria and Johanna = all married fellow Wendish immigrants – Johann Lehmann, Michael Zimmer and Johann Wuchatsch Jr. respectively – and lived in Cemetery Lane (now O’Herns Road) at Epping. Zimmer and Wuchatsch were also Pribislaw passengers.

Graff’s farmhouse and barn at Westgarthtown, constructed of basalt (bluestone) during the 1870s, still survive and are protected by inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Source: From Hamburg to Hobsons Bay (1999)