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HEMPEL, Johann Christoph and Anna

Johann Christoph Hempel (1794-1881), a Wend from Kohlwesa, 12 kilometres east of Bautzen, arrived in Melbourne aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850 with his wife Anna (nee Biebrach), at least three children and son-in-law, Michael Zschech.

The Hempel family settled at Brunswick, now an inner Melbourne suburb, soon after arrival. When naturalized as a New South Wales citizen on 16 December 1850, Johann Christoph gave his address as Brunswick, place of birth as Drehsa, Saxony and occupation as farmer. Although Hoehne wrote that Hempel, the son of the miller Gottlob Hempel, had been a miller himself in Saxony, he appears not to have carried on that trade in Australia. A son, Johann Traugott Hempel, did, however, work for the Melbourne miller Thomas Fulton & Co soon after arrival in February 1850, but had moved to South Australia by 1856.

Johann Christoph purchased his land at Brunswick on 1 March 1851 (part portion 99, Parish of Jika Jika). It was located on the north side of Glenlyon Road, about 700 metres east of Sydney Road. At least two of his married children lived nearby – Carl Ernst Hempel and Magdalena (Mrs Michael Zschech) – on land Johann Christoph sold to them. Carl Ernst later became a brickmaker and Michael a quarryman.

An “Old Lutheran”, Johann Christoph had visited Andreas Albert and other wends at Portland, Victoria at Christmas 1852 and expressed his intention to move there, as Melbourne then had no pastor. However, he remained in Melbourne for another 10 years and was a foundation member in 1856 of the synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Victoria. In September 1860, he was one of several representatives of the Church chosen to travel to South Australia to attend the Bethany convention of the South Australian synod. The purpose of the visit was to discuss union of the two synods. Hempel and Gottlieb Thiele, the other Melbourne delegate, favoured union whereas Pastor Goethe did not, stating the time was not yet ripe. When on their return to Melbourne Thiele was refused permission to address the Trinity congregation, he and Hempel severed their connection with Trinity and formed St John’s Lutheran Church, today located in City Road, South Melbourne.

Anna Hempel died at Brunswick on 31 December 1858, aged 60. On 6 December 1862, Johann Christoph purchased 90 acres at Gnadenthal (Lot 3, Section 2, Parish of Yatmerone) near Penshurst from Andreas and Christiana Urban for £ 250. Included with this purchase was 10 acres immediately leased back to the Urbans. Johann Christoph remained at Stoney View, as the property became known, until his death on 15 November 1881, aged 87. He was buried in the Gnadenthal Cemetery. From 1860 to 1869, he had progressively subdivided and sold his land at Brunswick, much of it for quarrying. In 1870, he sold his land at Gnadenthal to his son Carl August Hempel, a cabinet-maker who had emigrated from Germany with his wife and children in 1868.

It was Johann Christoph’s son Carl August Hempel who arranged for his daughter the frequently referred to Australian Wendish wedding at Gnadenthal in 1874. The ceremony and celebrations, attended by about 60 people, extended over three days, concluding with a visit to nearby Mt Rouse, the extinct volcano which overlooks Penshurst.

Carl August Hempel sold Stoney View to neighbour and fellow Wend Andreas Mirtschin on 8 June 1885 for £ 500 and moved to Murtoa.

Source: From Hamburg to Hobsons Bay (1999)