Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The German families of Barraba

So, I've just returned from a family history driving trip around New South Wales - and, yes, there was a lot of time in cemeteries!

Of course, one of the places I visited was Barraba, the small town north-west of Tamworth where our grandmother, Selina Louisa (Louie) Brodbeck was born to Jacob Brodbeck and Elizabeth Stieger on 20 July 1892.

Barraba's fortunes in the past have been as a result of goldrushes, copper, sheep grazing and, more recently, asbestos mining. In particular, a number of German immigrants took up sheep grazing probably as a result of most of them having worked for the Australian Agricultural Company which had vast tracts of land on which it ran sheep.

Today, Barraba is a small quiet town of around 1,200. What strikes you though, either through a walk in the cemetery or a stroll down the main street, is how we are, in different ways, related to most of Barraba - either those resident in the cemetery or those still with us.

This is largely as a result of the inter-marriage of the German families who settled in the Barraba from the 1870s. It appears this was a tight knit community that worked together, lived near each other, socialised together and married each other!

What that means is that because we are related to, say, the Stiegers, we are also related to a larger or lesser extent to the families of: Brodbeck, Groth, Schmidt, Simshauser, Mell, Garske and Doring.

A good number of Brodbecks, Stiegers and Garskes around 1902

How many cousins?

It also means that we have a LOT of distant cousins. For example, our own grandmother, Louie had 90 first cousins - yes, 90!

I've been trying to think which family links a lot of the others together - which was the family that inter-married the most. It's hard to say but the Stieger family is a good example. Let me show you:

Charles Stieger (1838-1917) married Eliza Schmidt (1845-1903)

Eliza had four siblings, one of whom was Caroline who married William Edward Garske.

Charles and Eliza Stieger had:

1. Andrew (1862-1937). Never married.
2. Elizabeth (1864-1920) married Jacob Brodbeck.
3. John (1865-1888). Never married.
4. Johanna (1867-1952) married Christian Brodbeck.
5. Henry (1868-1940) married Emma Jenner.
6. Edward (1870-1944) married Mary Caroline Groth.
7. Charles (1872-1923). Never married.
8. Amelia (1874-1920) married Gottlieb Brodbeck.
9. Albert (1876-1958). Never married.
10. Emma (1877-1941) married Henry Groth.
11. William (1879-1903) married Annie Simshauser.
12. Angelina (1881-1948) married John Groth.
13. Matilda (1885-1936) married Arthur Groth.

So, three Stieger sisters married three Brodbeck brothers. Three Stieger sisters married three Groth brothers and one male Stieger, Edward married a sister to those Groth brothers.

You could thank your lucky stars four of the Stieger boys never married!

But wait, here's the free set of steak knives!

Annie Simshauser who married William Stieger had two sisters.

Mary Catherine Elizabeth Simshauser married Charles Edward Schmidt who was the brother of Eliza Schmidt.

Annie Simshauser's other sister, Louisa Keziah Simshauser married Johanes Brodbeck, a brother to Jacob, Christian and Gottlieb Brodbeck.

So what?

There are two morals to this story.....always be careful who you gossip about.....they may just be a relative and....all roads lead to Barraba!


  1. Martyn,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2015/03/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-march-20.html

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I am a decendent of Christian Brodbeck and Gottlieb. My dad was Trevor Brodbeck

    1. Hello there. Could you please send an email to me at mchk@bigpond.com so we can swap information?