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STEPHAN, Johann and Agneta

Johann Stephan (1810-85), a Wend from Gross Saubernitz, 15 kilometres north-east of Bautzen, arrived in Australia aboard the Pribislaw with his wife Agneta (nee Kaiser). Johann and Agneta, who was born at Herwigsdorf near Lobau, had been married at Nostitz in 1837. It is not known whether they brought any children with them from Germany.

In 1851 , the Victoria Directory listed the Stephan’s address as 196 Stephen Street, Melbourne, along with fellow Pribislaw passengers Carl Traugott Hoehne and Ernst Ziesche. Naturalised as a Victorian citizen on 27 March 1852, Johann’s address was then given as Melbourne, age 40 and occupation tailor. Hoehne wrote that Johann and Agneta had moved to Adelaide by the time he left Australia in 1852 and this is confirmed in a letter written by Agneta to Upper Lusatia in 1857. In that letter, she says they lived in Melbourne until the discovery of gold in 1851, when they went gold digging. After three months, they had collected 30 ounces of gold, for which they received £ 83.

In May 1852, they travelled by sea to South Australia, possibly with Johann Pannach, and lived 30 miles from Adelaide for a year. They then travelled by sea to Portland, where they were living on 25 September 1853 when recorded as members of Pastor Schurmann’s newly formed St Michael’s Lutheran Congregation. The Stephans donated £ 4 14 shillings and eightpence towards the erection of a Lutheran church building at South Hamilton.

On 6 December 1853, Johann Stephan was a godparent to Andreas Albert Jr., the first child to be baptized at Hochkirch. The next baptism, on 4 January 1854, was that of Anna Christiane Stephan, Johann and Agneta’s daughter. Godparents were Andreas Albert Sr., Minna Schurmann and Anna Caroline Huf.

In January 1854, they settled on 20 acres of land at Gnadenthal (Parish of Boram Boram) near Penshurst. The land, on the corner of Day’s Lane and the Macarthur-Penshurst Road, was subsequently purchased from Johann Mitschin for £ 35. The 1863 Shire of Mount Rouse rate book noted that four acres of Johann’s farm was then under cultivation.

In her 1857 letter, Agneta Stephan expressed herself well pleased with Gnadenthal, stating she and Johann intended to remain there until the grave. Johann died there on 9 January 1885 aged 74 and Agneta at the Hamilton Hospital of bronchitis on 24 October 1891, aged 78. Agneta had been admitted to the Benevolent Asylum at Hamilton Hospital in February 1890. Both are buried at Gnadenthal. There were no surviving children, all nine being listed as dead at the time of Agneta’s death. As the names of no Stephan children other than Anna Christiane were officially registered in Victoria, it would appear most were born and died prior to arrival in Australia.

Source: From Hamburg to Hobsons Bay (1999)