Henrich (Johann Georg) VOLK 1836-1916

On 12th August 1914, eight days after the start of the 1914-18 war, John George Volk of Ballarat applied for letters of naturalisation. He claimed that he was born in Nieder-Weisel on 29th January 1834; that he had arrived in Victoria aboard “Gaboar” in 1855.

There was a John Volk, 20, on “Zoboah” when she got to Melbourne on 26th September 1856; he was with ‘N. Volk, 30’. The N. Volk was doubtless Nikolaus born 1827, but no Johann Georg Volk was ever born in Nieder-Weisel. This Nikolaus had a brother John (who was baptised Johannes), but he was born in 1829. When John married in 1866, ‘George Volk’ was a witness, as he was when the other brother Jakob married in 1864. This makes it certain that John George must have been the brother who was born on 25th March 1836 and baptised on 4th April, getting the name Henrich from his sponsor, Henrich Studt. He still carried the name Henrich when he was confirmed in 1850. A possible explanation for this change of name lies in the fact that Henrich was required to commence his military service in the year he emigrated. By pretending to be two years older than he was, and by using his older brother’s given name, he could have avoided suspicion at the border checks.

It is likely that the brothers kept in touch with each other during the early years in Victoria. It was usual for the newcomers to spend some time in Ballarat and then go to the outlying goldfields, such as Smythes Creek or Rocky Lead. Nikolaus was in the latter area shortly before he went back to Germany late in 1865.

Henrich married much later than his brothers had; it was not till 29th April 1874, when he was almost 38, that he and Anne Russell exchanged vows in St Peters Church in Ballarat. Anne was a daughter of the boot maker George Russell and Anne McDonald of Glasgow; her brother John and Jakob Volk were the official witnesses to the marriage contract.

By this time Henrich had given up prospecting; he earned a living working as a gardener. The couple settled in Ballarat, where Anne had four children during the next decade: John George, 1875; Clara, 1877; Annie Louisa, 1879 and Jane Elizabeth 1885. Anne was 37 years of age when Jane was born.

Anne and Henrich successfully raised all of their children. John inherited the pioneering spirit of his parents and went to South Africa at about the time of the Boer War; later on, he worked for the government railways, as an engineer. Annie Louise and Clara married, and Henrich and Anne were able to welcome some of their grand-children, although Clara’s husband took his family to Rainbow in the far west of Victoria in about 1905. Jane did not marry; she died in Horsham in 1939.

Henrich died in his Ballarat home on 3rd July 1916; he was buried in the New Cemetery two days later. Anne lived in widowhood for 17 years; she died in the Melbourne suburb of Surrey Hills in 1933.

View Henrich's Family Chart

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