Jakob LENZ 1811-1892

Jakob Lenz was one of eight men in a group of 23 villagers travelling to Melbourne aboard “Luise” who was over 40 years of age; six others were in their 30s. No other group from Nieder-Weisel ever had such an age distribution, and it is apparent that this group of mature and married men was the scouting party for the hundreds of younger people destined to follow. Not surprisingly, many of the passengers later went back to their families.

Jakob left two sons, 16 and 9, and a daughter 11 with his wife, Maria Margaretha nee Hildebrand in 1854 when he caught a steam train at the Butzbach station on the newly commissioned line to Hamburg on the first step of his round-the-world journey. “Luise” sailed on 11th October 1854 with 131 passengers crammed into its 25 metre length; landfall in the port of Melbourne was 136 rolling, pitching days away.

The Nieder-Weisel party went on to Ballarat where they met up with other villagers whose ships had made better time than theirs; in small groups the “diggers” went on to other workings at Sandhurst, Smythes Creek, Pleasant Creek and wherever there was a chance of finding the nugget that would recompense them for their time, effort and outlay. Less than twelve months after Jakob stepped on to Australian soil for the first time, his wife died in distant Nieder-Weisel. It took many months for this news to reach whatever patch of ground Jakob was working, and many more months for him to find the means of returning to his village. There, he married a second time and subsequently moved to America, where he joined his younger son Johann George. He died in New York state in 1892.

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