Jacob VOLK 1832-1917

Jakob was one of the four sons of Christoph Volk, all of whom emigrated to Victoria; Jakob was born on 27th September 1832. His father was a tailor, the skilled profession which his grandfather, also Christoph, brought into the village in the early 17OOs. This was no longer a guarantee of an assured income as the strict apprenticeship rules had been relaxed – any man (or woman) could now set up in any profession or craft with no training at all.

The four boys heard the news of gold finds in the Golden Triangle of Victoria and agreed to join in the gold-rush which was rapidly gaining momentum. Jakob was the first to go, using the rail link to Hamburg to take passage on “Luise”, a tiny barque which weighed anchor in the Elbe on Wednesday, 11th October 1854, with Jakob and 13O other adventurers. A cramped and uncomfortable journey ended almost 2O weeks later on 23rd February 1855 at Melbourne.

Jakob prospected around the various diggings with the 2O other villagers who had travelled out with him; perhaps he was reasonably successful, as two of his brothers, Henrich and Nicolaus, joined him in October 1856 and the fourth brother, Johannes, followed the next year. Nicolaus was married and he returned to the village, but Jakob and his two other brothers settled permanently in Victoria.

Jakob was the first of the brothers to marry; his bride was Klara Heinz from Griedel, about half an hour’s walk north-east of Nieder-Weisel. She and her brother Heinrich Konrad, children of Johannes Heinz and Anna Margaretha Wetz, were in the Rocky Lead area near Creswick, where many villagers had congregated. Heinrich had married Katharina Haub in 1863 and Jakob married Klara on 2Oth August 1864 in the same Lutheran Church in Ballarat, with Pastor Johann Peter Niquet as celebrant; Henrich Volk was a witness. Klara gave her age as 21 – she may have been younger.

Jakob and Klara settled in Rocky Lead. There, in 1866, Klara produced their first child, George. A second son, Henry, was born in Creswick two years later. A daughter arrived in 187O; they named her Clara May. Other goldfields were being opened up further north and Jakob took part in some of the rushes. They were in Talbot when Klara gave birth to Johannes Jacob in 1872, and in Amherst in 1875 when Frederick Carl arrived. Klara was envious of her sisters-in-law Katharina Heinz/Haub and Maria Volk, wife of Johannes, who were able to bring up their children in settled homes in Mount Pleasant whilst she had to cope with frequent moves. Jakob received his naturalisation papers on 24th February 1874 (as did his best man, George Krick) but the event was soured by the loss of their son Johannes soon afterwards. They suffered a second blow when the youngest son died in 1876. Klara had another baby in Timor near Maryborough, in 188O; she was named Catherine Margaret. By now George was helping the family financially.

Klara raised the remaining children successfully; in the course of time they all married, but Klara lived only to see George do so. She died on 5th February 19O4 in Fitzroy South at the age of 6O. Jakob was to live for 13 years more; he died on 14th September 1917 in his 86th year and was interred in the Lutheran section of the Booroondara Cemetery.

View Jakob's Family Chart

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