1859 Mildstedt, Husum, Schleswig Holstein, Germany - 1938 Ipswich, Qld. Australia

Theodore Johannes (or Johannes Theodore) Geertz was the first child of six born to Hans Christian Geertz and Brodina Friederica nee Christiansen. He came into the world far from Australia - born on 29 October 1859 at Nordhusum (Mildstedt), Nordfriesland, Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark. (see area on map below)

This part of what was then Denmark, is flat and grassy, the low-lying fields dotted with cows. Many houses have reed-thatched roofs. The North Sea is not far away and in Husum there is a very picturesque boat harbour. The pavements of the town are cobbled and many houses in the narrow streets have standard or climbing roses by their front entrance.

Five more children were born to Hans and Brodina, one son and four daughters. All the children were born in North Husum, Schleswig Holstein which was then a part of Denmark. Now it is Germany.

Sadly the first two daughters named Helena died, as did Bernhard, leaving only Theo, Johannah and Malina.

When the Germans annexed Schleswig Holstein in 1864, they burned the Danish schoolbooks, and young men were forced to join the Prussian Army.

So in 1878, when Theo was 19, his parents Hans and Brodina decided to send him to Australia. He travelled aboard the "HERSCHEL" which sailed from Hamburg, Germany on 21 May 1878. He arrived in Maryborough, Qld., on 10 September 1878, a voyage which lasted four months.

It was originally thought that the "HERSCHEL" was a Danish vessel, however upon investigation it appears to have been built in England. The British ship "EDITH BYRNE" (Official No. 16216) was built by the Canada Works, Birkenhead, in 1856 (first registered, Liverpool 9 June 1857). 729.44 tons register; 165.4 x 30.2 x 19.7 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); 2 decks.

In March 1865, the "EDITH BYRNE" was purchased from Byrne, of Liverpool, for 8,250 by the Hamburg shipowner, Robert Miles Sloman, who renamed her "HERSCHEL", after an earlier vessel that he had sold in Indonesia in 1859. (See name "Johannes Gertz" on Passenger List below).

There is a "Herschel Street" in Brisbane - presumed to be named after the ship; but so far no evidence has been found to support that suggestion.

Theo became apprenticed to a tailor from Bundaberg and lived there for some time. He moved to Brisbane where Mr Joshua Bailey, a well-known city tailor, employed him.

Maybe it was here that he met his future bride?

If only we could know the circumstances....

Click here for what we know of the early years of Emma Gallagher.


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