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Most families begin their Australian family history by tracing their ancestors back to the first male who arrived in Australia. This Noack family is different. Although Johann NOACK (1815-1890) came to Australia in 1850 on the ship San Francisco with his wife Anna, formerly NOWSCH, nee HONDOW (1809-1877), their three children were named Martin Hondow, Maria NOWSCH and Friedrich NOACK. These three children all claimed Anna as their mother, whereas only Friedrich could claim to be the son of Johann NOACK. Hence, these children and their descendants all need to be traced back to Anna and as a result, this ancestral history mainly tells the story of Anna nee Hondow, formerly Nowsch and finally Noack, including both the tragedies and the triumphs which she experienced in her life.

While thousands of descendants submitted their personal details for the family history book, the family researchers sought to solve the puzzle of the children’s three surnames. Church records in Australia and in Germany provided useful clues. The original church records at Tauer were consulted by the family’s researcher in Germany. Duplicate copies of church records were also made and deposited in the Archives at Potsdam. Fortunately, these Tauer records have been photographed as films 1334690 and 1334691 and made available here in Australia by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What has emerged are some of the answers to the family puzzles. Also discovered have been the intense tragedies and triumphs experienced by shared biological ancestor, Anna HONDOW

Anna HONDOW was born on 18 August 1809 at Tauer in Lusatia, Brandenburg (now Germany) and was baptised on 20 August 1809. Her father, Hans HONDOW (1770-1839) was a Haeusler or small landholder and her mother was Anna nee RADMANN (1770-1841). She had four sisters and one brother.

The church records indicate that Anna HONDOW was the mother of five children. Martin was the eldest, born in February 1834. The Tauer records tell us that he had a parent but the name of the father is not given. At his baptism, his sponsors were George JACOB, Mertin LISCHKE, Gottlieb MISCH, Catrina SCHIEMENS and Maria MELORAS.

Three years later, Anna HONDOW, then 28, married Hans NOUSCH or NOWSCH, a small landholder from Drehnow, born in 1809 at Turnow, the only son of Hans NOUSCH, a Tailor.

Hans NOUSCH was called Hans HONDOW in the Tauer Birth and Baptism register of 1837, when their daughter Maria was born. It appears that when he married Anna HONDOW, he took over her inherited land and then used his wife’s surname. Thus he was Hans HONDOW, alias NOUSCH.

This may provide a clue to the identity of Martin HONDOW’S father. Was he Hans HONDOW alias NOUSCH, who perhaps was living with Anna HONDOW in 1834? This identity may have been kept secret at first, but later the surnames were identical.

Hans and Anna’s daughter Maria was baptised in 1837 and her sponsors are listed as Martin CHOINA from Drehnow, George JAKOB from Schoenhoehe, Maria HUSCHGIN, Maria KOSHOWAR and Maria NOWSCHIN from Drehnow. The surname NOWSCHIN is the Wendish feminine form of NOWSCH.

A still-born daughter with no record of baptism or sponsors was born in 1840 and was buried in Tauer. Another still-born daughter was born in 1841 and was also buried in Tauer.

Further tragedy struck this family when Anna’s husband Hans developed a severe nerve fever and died in December 1841 aged only 32 years. It is recorded that he left behind a young widow and a daughter aged 4. No actual claim is made for him being the father of Martin HONDOW.

The birth of Friedrich in May 1842 provided a further dimension to this tragedy. This no doubt eagerly anticipated child was born five months after the death of his father.

In 1842, Anna was a 33-year old widow. She had to care for her three surviving children under the age of ten, while living with the memory of the deaths of her two deceased baby daughters in 1840 and 1841. Sadly, the Tauer church records indicate that Friedrich died aged 18 months on 9 November 1843 from dysentery.

However, it appears that also in 1842, Anna’s life began to include Johann or Hans NOACK and a very important event was planned. They were married in 1843 at Tauer in Lusatia, Brandenburg.

Johann NOACK was born in 1815 at Schoenhoehe, a small forest village in Lower Lusatia in the church parish of Jaenschwalde. His father was Martin NOACK, an hereditary land holder who, through his marriage to Maria BIESS, shared in the inheritance of the Biess property and assumed the surname BIESS. This is why the birth entry of Martin’s son Johann at Jaenschwalde describes Martin’s surname as “NOACK alias BIESS”. Martin’s children including Johann, later reverted to the surname NOACK. Johann’s mother was Maria nee BIESS and he had a sister Lisa and four brothers Martin (1812-1812), Gottlieb (1818-1896), Christian (1822-1822) and Gottfried (1823-1854).

Friedrich NOACK, Johann’s only child and Anna’s sixth, was born and baptised in 1847 at Tauer. His father Johann was recorded as a small landholder at Tauer and his sponsors were listed as Gottfried and Gottlieb NOACK, Martin PUMPA, Kustawina, a Maid or Jungfrau and Anna RIEMER. The first two sponsors were his uncles. Friedrich was given the same name as his deceased brother, in line with local Wendish custom.

>b>Emigration to Australia emerged as a crucial turning point in Anna NOACK’s life in the mid-19th century, when the emigration of Wends from Lusatia to Australia began in earnest. The Wends included the NOWSCH, HONDOW and NOACK families and were of a slavic race which occupied all of north-central Europe during the Early Middle Ages. Unfortunately for them, their land was gradually occupied by germanic invaders from 1,000 CE onwards as these Germans moved eastward. Some Wends still remain in Lusatia in the area south-east of Berlin, around Cottbus and the Spreewald in the north and Bautzen in the south.

Anna, with husband Johann and her children Martin HONDOW, Maria NOWSCH and Friedrich NOACK applied in 1848 to emigrate from Brandenburg. This family arrived in Australia on 14 October 1850 on the ship San Francisco, together with Johann’s brothers Gottlieb and Gottfried and with Gottlieb’s future wife Anna and step-daughter Anna. This Anna’s father appears to be a GOMMALLA.

Williamstown, south of the Barossa Valley was the early home of Anna and Johann, and where Johann enjoyed using his axe on the fine gum trees. The family joined the Hoffnungsthal Lutheran Church in 1852 with H.A.E. MEYER as Pastor. No doubt they observed the flooding of the Hoffnungthal valley or crater in 1853, when heavy storms and continuous rain flooded the settlement and the water had no way of draining away.

Peter’s Hill east of Riverton in 1856 was the next destination of Anna, her husband Johann and children Martin, Maria and Friedrich. They occupied and farmed section No 1591 in the District of Gilbert, which was under the supervision of the Riverton District Council. Family tradition informs us that Anna’s first home was a large hole dug in the side of a nearby hill. However, Johann soon built a stone house with a straw roof.

Martin HONDOW, the eldest son of Anna, became a farmer at Peters Hill on nearby land. He was elected as a church elder and held that position for over 50 years. He was able to speak Wendish, German and English proficiently so his linguistic services were much sought after by the Wendish speaking people. Martin married Anna formerly KOLLOSCHE and MIATKE at Hope Valley on 25 November 1855.

Andreas SCHMIDT who, with Martin JARICK, farmed the property number 1590 just to the south of the Noacks, now enters the Anna Noack story when Andreas married Anna’s only surviving daughter Maria NOWSCH in 1856 at Peter’s Hill when she was 19 years old. She was thus able to live near her mother.

Friedrich NOACK, Anna and Johann’s youngest son, married Christiane DOMASCHENZ in 1873 and while at Peters Hill, they had their first four children, Anna in 1875, who died as a baby, Johann Friedrich in 1876, Martin Samuel in 1878 and Louise Christiane (Annie) in 1884. A very strongly-built stone house was erected for Friedrich and it now forms the back two rooms of the homestead on the property.

As the families grew and reasonably priced land was made available elsewhere, the decision was made in 1885 to move to McKenzie Creek south of Horsham in Victoria and later in 1892 to Hopevale east of Rainbow in Victoria. Anna’s grandson Martin, established the LINKE-NOACK farm machinery business in this district.

Anna’s triumph clearly included the satisfaction of seeing her surviving children grow up, marry, produce grandchildren, engage in productive occupations and became valued citizens of Australia.

At the reunion in 2001, family members were able to acknowledge their gratitude and offer tributes to Anna HONDOW/NOWSCH/NOACK. They visited Hoffnungsthal and Peters Hill in South Australia where Anna once lived and unveiled a memorial plaque on her tomb at Peters Hill. A thanksgiving church service and book launch were also held.

In 1877, when Anna was experiencing her final year of life and before she died from cancer, she was not to know that she would have 5,302 direct descendants in 2001 or that 77,755 names would fill the NOACK-HONDOW-SCHMIDT Family History: Commemorating 151 years in Australia, 1850-2001.

by John F. Noack