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Letters from Herrman Koeppen
Title : Letters from Herrman Koeppen Letters from Herrman Koeppen
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Creator : Koeppen, Herrman
Source : D 8001 (L)
Date of creation : 1851-1865
Format : Letter
Contributor : State Library catalogue
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Description :

Letters written by Hermann Koeppen to Johanna Maria Caroline Ohlmeyer (whom he later married) from the Victorian goldfields.

After a good journey lasting 4 days, dear Hannchen, we arrived safely in Melbourne. Our journey was good, Amalie has proved to be a good dancer. A thousand thoughts of you dearest Hannchen occupied me during the journey, and a dark premonition of misfortune exercised my mind during the whole journey. I boarded the ship with little hope and I am going to the diggings with little hope, as we have not yet been able to find a cart. There is great excitement in Melbourne, everyone is afflicted by gold fever. Several Germans whom I have met have given us great hopes and in most stores lie large plates full of gold on show, and not only small pieces but great lumps, 17 December 1851.

German migrant Hermann Koeppen arrived in Adelaide in 1851. In this collection of letters written by Koeppen, we read of a young man who sees a young woman in the street. He is attracted to her immediately and thus starts a friendship which eventually leads to marriage. At first, Koeppen has little money, as he continues to send money to his mother in Germany. He also feels that it is essential that he must be able to provide evidence that he has sufficient means to be able to support a wife and family, before proposing marriage to the young woman. Koeppen therefore sets out for the Victorian gold fields in search of his fortune. These letters give a detailed account of his experience.

In 1851 gold was discovered near Bathurst in New South Wales - the beginning of the Australian gold rushes. Within six months, gold had been found in Victoria at Ballarat, and then at Bendigo Creek. Thousands of diggers rushed to each new area as a gold find was announced. At first the diggers came from the colonies, including South Australia, but soon immigrants arrived from Britain, Europe, America and China, intent on making their fortunes. In 1852 an estimated 370,000 migrants arrived in Australia, and the economy boomed.

See attached transcripts of the letters, including an explanation of the content, written by translator, Rosemary Radden (2006).

Image: Gold fields of Australia [game] SLSA Children's Literature Research Collection.

Coverage year : 1851-1865
Period : 1836-1851
Further reading :

Hocking, Geoff Gold: a pictorial history of the Australian gold rush Rowville, Vic: Five Mile Press, 2006, c2000

Stone, Derrick I and Sue MacKinnon Life on the Australian goldfields Carlton, Vic.; Sydney : Methuen of Australia, 1976

Tolmer, Alexander Reminiscences of an adventurous and chequered career at home and at the antipodes Adelaide, S. Aust.: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1972

Parker, Heather All in the line of duty: danger and drudgery on the gold escort route Adelaide - Mount Alexander, 1852-53 Bordertown, S.A. : District Council of Tatiara, 1971 (Bordertown: Border Chronicle)

Colwell, M and Alan Naylor. Adelaide: an illustrated history, [Joslin, S. Aust.]: McP, 1981

Internet links :

Image is from the State Library of South Australia, Childrens Literature Reserch Collection, Gold fields of Australia [game]

SA Memory, A rich tapestry : South Australian communities Effect of Victorian gold rush on South Australia

SA Memory, Timeline Gold fields of Australia

SA Memory, Timeline Race to the gold diggings of Australia

The Australian gold rush: stories from Australia's culture and recreation portal



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