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ROSEL, Johann and Johanna

Johann Rosel (c. 1803-97) was a Wend from Pielitz, six kilometres south-east of Bautzen, in Saxony. He arrived in Melbourne from Hamburg aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850, with his wife Johanna and four children. One infant child, Ann, died at the Immigrants Depot, shortly after arrival in Melbourne.

Rosel’s sister, Annie, also travelled to Australia on the Pribislaw with her husband Johann Zimmer and their children. The Rosels settled on ten acres at Westgarthtown (Lots 7 & 8, Section 25, Parish of Keelbundora) purchased on their behalf by Johann Zimmer, who also settled nearby with his family.

Magdalena, one of Johann and Johanna Rosel’s daughters, later told her granddaughter, Lena Pamett, about her life as a child in Saxony. In 1976 Lena wrote the following (edited) notes:

… The Rosels had a two storeyed house in Pielitz near Bautzen near Dresden. They used to grow their crops on the flat land using their cows to plough with. Several cows had a large room on the ground floor of their house and the bedrooms were above it and kept warm in Winter. The kitchen housed the birds and hens on the rafters in Winter. They used to spin cotton from flax that grew and the father would make wooden barrels on Winter evenings. A large apple tree grew up by the top windows and the children would reach out and pick a ripe apple in season.

Wheat was reaped by hand scythe and hand threshed. The father would take a bag on the wheel barrow over the hills to town and get it ground into flour and Magdalena his daughter a little girl would help pull up hill with a rope in front. They also took flax and spun thread to be woven into cloth. Magdalena could spin the finest cotton …

Johann Rosel was one of the Wends annoyed by fellow Pribislaw passenger Carl Hoehne’s constant complaints and his negative reports back to Germany about life in Australia. Hoehne himself wrote in 1851 that “Rosel has warned me that he will throw stones at me.” Andreas Albert, another Wend, wrote in 1852 that Rosel was “poorly clothed, but he would not change with his brother in Weissig [in Saxony].”

Rosel was naturalized as a Victorian citizen on 31 January 1853. On 16 February 1864, Johann Rosel Jun. paid Johann Zimmer £ 28, enabling him to take formal title to his family’s land at Westgarthtown. On 16 June 1866, the land was sold to a neighbour Johann Gottlob Siebel for £ 200 and Rosel and his wife moved to Wollert, where their son Johann Rosel Jun. had purchased a 79 acre property on the south-west corner of Epping and Craigieburn Roads. Their two daughters – Magdalena and Maria = had also settled at Wollert, following their marriages to Christian Bindt and Carl Ewert, who established dairy farms there.

In 1871, Johann Rosel Jun. sold his farm at Wollert and purchased another in Church Street, Doncaster, where Johanna Rosel died of peritonitis on 15 November 1874, aged 70. She is buried in the Waldau Cemetery.

In 1888, Johann Rosel moved to Flynn’s Creek in Gippsland where his son had bought a property and intended to go into fruitgrowing, as he had done at Doncaster. Johann Jun. married three times – to Ernestine Aumann, Julianna Keicher and Anne Willis = and raised a large family.

Johann Rosel died aged 94 at his son’s farm at Tyers in Gippsland on 25 November 1897 and is buried at Traralgon. At the time of his death, he was stated to have been “a smoker from youth and has been a very heavy drinker.” For some years prior to his death he had been cared for by his granddaughter Emma Rosel. Her father, Johann Rosel Jun., is believed to have drowned trying to cross the flooded LaTrobe River in 1901 while taking his butter to market.

Source: From Hamburg to Hobsons Bay (1999)