The Herbig Family Tree

The Herbig Family

This hollow tree trunk provided a 'home' for Friedrich and Caroline Herbig
and two of their 16 children until 1860 at Springton.

Johann Friedrich Herbig (27) arrived in South Australia on the Wilhelmine from Bremen on 3 October 1855. While looking for employment he went to the Adelaide Hills where he worked for George Fife Angas. He later leased a block of land of eighty acres from Angas at Black Springs, later called Springton (Map). This was on a time payment and enabled him to start out on his own and pay off the land over a number of years. Being still rather poor Friedrich lived in the base of a very large gum tree which was located on his own land, thus saving rent or the cost of having to build a hut or house.

He soon got to know Anna Caroline Rattey, who had arrived on the Vesta from Hamburg on 1 December 1856, and lived now at Hoffnungsthal in the Barossa Valley. Friedrich and Caroline married in 1858 and Caroline moved into the tree house in which Friedrich had been living for nearly three years. A year later the first of their sixteen children, Johann August, was born in the tree. After the birth of their second son in 1860 the tree house became too small and a hut was built to accomodate the growing family.

During the 1860s Friedrich became more and more involved with the affairs of the local community and the Lutherans and when their church was finished Friedrich became elder, lay-reader and president of the congregation. In 1867 Friedrich made his last payment for his land which he had worked for so long and now could call his own. He and Caroline now had a new house, six children and since starting as a chaff merchant the Herbig family had grown even bigger, in size and assets.

Friedrich taught himself English with the help of a German-English dictionary. He bought more land, eventually owning more than one thousand acres, planted more crops including vines and had more children. By the time the Herbigs celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary they had fourteen children and expecting number fifteen. However the older children were now able to work the land or even for themselves. The last child, Clara Amanda, number sixteen was born on 3 July 1885.

About a year after this happy occasion Friedrich had an accident while crossing a creek and died on 18 October 1886 aged fifty-eight. He was buried at the Friedensberg cemetery. It was now left to Caroline, who could not read or write, nor speak English, to oversee and take care of the large family on her own. This she did remarkably well for a further forty years. She brought up her several young children, looked after the many grandchildren and buried seven of her own children. Caroline died on 19 March 1927, aged eighty-seven.

She was survived by nine children, the last one to die was Johann Carl, the eight child born in 1870. The Herbig Family Tree still stands today and has been occupied on several occasions by others. During the 1920s it was used to serve lunches on sales days at the nearby stockyards. Even today the tree reminds us of the tenacity and hardiness, not only of Friedrich and Caroline, but also of all the other early pioneers, and the contribution they made to the development of South Australia.

All 16 Herbig children and 25 of their grandchildren attended the Friedensberg school. Many of them have found their final resting place at Friedensberg cemetery.

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