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WUCHATSCH, Johann and Magdalene

Johann Wuchatsch (c. 1802-84), a Wend from Sarka, 14 kilometres east of Bautzen, arrived in Melbourne from Hamburg aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850 with his second wife Magdalene (nee Bartsch) and five children. His first wife, Hanna Proft of Maltitz, died in 1844.

Johann’s passport documents, issued in 1849, described him as “the owner of a nursery” and an “Ortsrichter” or village council chairman in Sarka. Johann Traugott Hoehne wrote that Johann emigrated to “make a better future for his children and to provide each of them with considerable property.” On 21 April 1849, Johann’s eldest son had been granted exemption from military service by the Saxon War Ministry. On 25 April applications by his other two sons = Johann Jr. and Andreas – were approved. Interestingly, Johann brought several cannonballs to Australia with him, possibly as a reminder of unrest he hoped to leave behind in Germany. The cannonballs are believed to have been found on the family farm at Sarka.

In March 1850, Johann and his family settled on 78 acres at Westgarthtown (Lots 15 and 16, Section 25, Parish of Keelbundora),which he subsequently purchased for £ 78 on 2 May 1851. On 31 March 1851, Wuchatsch and four other Westgarthtown settlers jointly borrowed £ 250 from Charles Payne of Saltwater River, which was repaid in full on 2 June 1853.

Johann Wuchatsch was first naturalized as a New South Wales citizen on 16 December 1850. Later, after Separation from New South Wales, he was naturalized again as a Victorian citizen, on 26 February 1861.

A devout Lutheran, Johann brought numerous religious books with him from Germany, both in the Wendish and German languages. He both donated to, and collected funds for, the erection of a Lutheran church and school building at Westgarthtown in 1855-56 and was one of the original trustees appointed to manage the affairs of the Westgarthtown Lutheran congregation. He was also a foundation member of the synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Victoria, established by Pastor Goethe in 1856, and served continuously for more than 20 years.

A further five children were born in Australia. In 1878, aged 76, Johann sold his dairy farm to his youngest son Charles for £ 500. Charles later enlarged the farm to 92 acres. Johann Wuchatsch died on 29 September 1884, aged 82. Magdalene died on 27 September 1903, aged 78. Both are buried in the Westgarthtown Lutheran Cemetery.

Magdalene Wuchatsch’s older brother Adam Bartsch and youngest sister Agnes Noack also emigrated to Australia. Adam, who arrived in South Australia aboard the Victoria in 1848, first settled at Ebenezer but later moved to Jindera in New South Wales, where he died in 1887 aged 79. Agnes, who married Johann Noack, arrived in Australia aboard the Godeffroy in 1849 and settled in South Australia at Hallett’s Valley, then St Kitts, where she died in 1898, aged 70.

Johann and Magdalene Wuchatsch’s farmhouse, stables, milking shed and dairy still survive and remain in the Wuchatsch family. They are protected by inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Source: From Hamburg to Hobsons Bay (1999)