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52 ancestors in 52 weeks

The #52ancestors prompt for this week’s ancestor story is WORK.

I think the main industries my ancestors were involved in was mainly hard working, practical labouring jobs.  Unfortunately I haven’t found any royal or famous ancestors, but that’s ok!

 On my father’s side of the family, most of the ancestors were from Germany. Most of them were Farmers (Landwirte), or Agricultural Labourers (Landarbeiter), who after arriving in Australia settled on the Darling Downs of Queensland. Some arrived in South Australia first, where there was a large number of German Settlers, before making their way to Queensland.

Some of the men were Carpenters (Zimmerleute), General Labourers (Arbeiter) and Vineyard Farmers (Weinbauerin).  The women were usually only listed as being wives (die Frau, or die Ehefrau) and the single women who arrived on their own were mainly house servants (Hausdeiner).

One of the female ancestors I’m most intrigued by is Anna Margaretha “Margaret” Balzer, my 2nd Great Grandmother. She was married to Heinrich “Henry” Hess and gave birth to over ten children.  When her husband died, her youngest child was only 7 years old and Margaret became a full time midwife. She was often called out during the night, sometimes she even stayed away for days. Luckily the older children helped to care for the younger ones, cooking meals and preparing the younger children for school. My Great Grandmother Charlotte Grace recalled that her mother didn’t receive much money as the people she helped were often too poor, but she received items like meat, vegetables and clothing for the children.

Anna Margaretha Hess (Nee Balzer)

Most of the children, including my Great Grandmother needed to go out and find work. Some of the older boys moved away to work on farms or stations. Charlotte Grace was sent to work for a family with two children, becoming their maid and child minder. She was supposed to get every second Sunday off, however she said at times she only got to go home every few weeks, and sometimes once in seven weeks. Her mother Margaret would call at the house to collect Charlotte’s wages.  Eventually the community got together and collected enough money to buy Margaret a little cottage in Pittsworth, Queensland. Margaret passed away at the age of 87.

Granny/Nanna Hess outside her Cottage with a Grand daughter

On my mother’s side of the family the male ancestors (mainly British) are Farm Labourers, General Labourers, Miners, Publicans, Innkeepers, Grocers and Book Keepers. Some changed their profession multiple times. George Harris Westley Hooper, my 2nd Great Grandfather was supposedly a Drummer, a Soldier, an Actor, a Salesman and lastly a Hairdresser.   More about him here –

I’m proud to have a number of tradespeople in my close family. My maternal Grandfather was a Mechanic, so is my husband. My Father was a Plumber and so is my Son. Me, I’ve been many things and still searching for the perfect career. If you can do something that earns enough money to survive and hopefully enjoy it you’ve got it made I think. Reading stories about my ancestors inspires me to be a stronger person, knowing that they survived and thrived, regardless of things that life threw at them.

Which of your ancestors, near or distant interests you the most and has this occupation influenced you in any way?

Sources: Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950., Hamburg Passenger Lists , 1850-1832.

 “My Life”, by Grace Charlotte Saal (1900-1996).

Pittsworth Sentinel (Qld. : 1919 – 1954) 


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