The Wendish Research Exchange

Serbske Nowiny: 1857

mersiowsky - 8-3-2016 at 03:10 PM


May 2, p. 140: S. Australije

From Australia.

Introductory note: Last year a letter arived in Bautzen from Australia, which said that the Wendish colony, which is in Ebenezer and was founded by Jan Swora from Drehsa and other organizations, demands Jewish circumcision from its members. Furthermore, it was written in the letter that on account of this custom J. Swora and Ponich had been interrogated and had consequently been severely sentenced. Jan Albert, the Rachlow judge, enquired about this matter from the Hanover Consul there (Meyer) and has received from him the following letter from Adelaide:

I received your letter some time ago, in which you ask for a report on whether the story is true or not which was in the Bautzen newspapers of 28 May 1856 concerning the emigrants led by Jan Swora. Being myself acquainted with several members of the Ebenezer colony, founded about 50 English miles from here, I had already, before your letter arrived, read of the story in question in various German newspapers, and was angered by it. This story that members of the Ebenezer colony had come before a court is:

1. A total lie, and so there is no truth in the claim that somebody from there has been sentenced.

2. It is known that the Ebenezer colonists, who are called the Wendish Brothers, are among the best of the colonists, they enjoy everywhere the highest reputation and live quietly and peacefully.

According to my enquiries and to my best conviction the story in question arose from impure intentions and came from people who already for a long time have been no longer in that colony.

I shall soon send you the certificate you require, but, because the colonists there are at present urgently busy with the harvest, I did not want to delay my reply any further etc., etc.

May 9, p. 146-148: Australiski list

An Australian letter.

From Marja Khjeżor of Drehsa, German Town, 5 January 1857. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you! Amen. – Dear, beloved father! Your letter, which is very dear to me, I received on 23 November 1856 and I shed tears of joy. I am, thank God, in good health and spirits, and if you, dear father, have worries about me, put them aside, for I am getting along very well. I have no longing for the German land, because here I have a better life than at home. I am still working for Mr Zimmer from Weißig, near Bautzen, and I earn 128 thalers a year; for that much at home I might work all the days of my life!

Dear father! I am very sorry that my sister Hana does not feel like emigrating, because I had hoped that she would come here this year and now my brother Jurij writes to me that she does not want to come. God grant that the inclination to do so may yet return to her. The journey to Australia is not as dangerous as people make out. I did not have to undergo any dangers on my journey and the Lord brought us all safely here; no one died except a little child, which was already very ill when it came on board.

Jurij Dejka and Falant from Weicha, on the same day that we arrived in Australia, went to Hempel, who lives one hour from Melbourne and has 20 acres of land. When they came back, they told me that my brother could not come to fetch me, because he was 70 miles away from Melbourne in the gold mines. So I stayed alone in Melbourne, because Kschiżank had gone to Portlandbay and has 40 acres of land, Schlamaŕ likewise and he has the same, Falant, Albinus, and Dejka went to Adelaide and bought themselves property there.

On 27 November 1856 I disembarked and came in the evening of the same day to the Hempels, because Mr Hempel had come to Melbourne to fetch me. I stayed there three days, then I moved to the Zimmers to work for them, which is where I am still now.

You wish to know what agriculture is like here. On that I cannot say much and I can say that at the present time we have the harvest and everything is turning out well. I have the same kind of work as I had at home, namely, farming work. We have 8 cows, 6 calves, and 2 pigs. I milk the cows twice a day and that is in the morning and evening, at other times they are in the pasture and find their food for themselves.

Our fruit in the orchard is ripe too and we have so much that we use it to feed the pigs too. We have apricots, peaches, cherries, plums, pears, melons, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, figs, grapes, gooseberries, and strawberries. Saffron grows in our orchard too.

We do not have excessive heat here; it is roughly the same as you have, sometimes warm, sometimes cool. When the hot wind from the north blows, it is pretty hot, but that does not last long. When the wind from the south blows, it is soon cooler again. Winter begins in April and lasts three months, but we do not have snow at all, only much rain. That is our winter.

My employer this year has 50 Schock* of wheat, 8 Schock of oats, and 3 Schock of barley; oats are also reaped while they are green and make good food for horses.

This year there has been a lack of rain and the grass is dry. Almost every day there is a fire, because the dry grass, which is as thick as straw, is very easily set on fire, and then often a big area of land is burned up.

My constant wish is to have my sister and brother here soon, expecially to be visited by my sister Hana. For that reason I am sending her an exchange note for 120 thalers or rather only for 108 thalers, because I had to pay the agent Neuhaus a fee of 12 thalers and this money I have sent so that she can pay for her passage to Australia with it. Dear father, you will have to get this money paid out in Berlin and it will be best if Mr Magnus tells you how you have to do it. When you have got the money, write back to me straight away, because I shall be anxious until I get your answer. But if my sister does not want to come here, then, dear father, give her 50 thalers of the money and to my brother also 50, and what is left over is for you, so you will keep 8 thalers. I want to help you as far as possible, and I shall never forget you so long as I shall live.

If anyone comes here, let them bring for Mr Zimmer a Wendish book of the creeds and Arndt’s four books of the true Christianity, and he is ready to pay three times over for these books. For me, however, let them bring a history of the church and books of the heart.

Give my love to my dear mother; the Lord will repay her in the other life for the kindness she has shown to my grandmother.

Give my love too to my dear sister Madlena and my brother-in-law Handrij, my brother Jurij, my sister Hana and little Christelka; love to Marja Stosch and her parents, to Hana Wićaz and her sisters, to the schoolmaster in Wurschen and his family, also to godmother Langa. When I hold her kind gift in my hands, I always remember her.

Finally, to you, dear father, I send my best wishes! I remain in love and respect,

Your daughter
Marja Khježor

[*Translator’s note: Schock (the German equivalent of Sorbian ‘kopa’) can mean 1: the numeral 60, 2: a locally variable unit of volume, 3: a large quantity. I do not know how much it was in Saxony in 1857.]

October 3, p. 317: S. Australije

From Australia

Jan Albert, the judge in Rachlau, who on account of the Wends in Australia had sent an enquiry in a letter to the Hanover Consul in Adelaide, has received a reply that it is not true that the Wends of the Ebenezer parish have adopted certain Jewish practices, as someone wrote to Serbske Nowiny. The letter of the aforementioned consul is as follows:


In March 1856 a letter from South Australia was published in Serbske Nowiny and the Bautzen German newspapers, and repeated in various other newspapers. Its contents were as follows:

“The Wendish inhabitants of Eben-Ezer have fallen away from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church and have adopted the Jewish faith. A member of the congregation named Kowaŕ from Cortnitz near Weißenberg resisted circumcision and was therefore condemned by the chief judge to death by stoning. This Kowar, however, succeeded in escaping and he appealed to the court in Adelaide, which sentenced the high priest Jan Swora to a fine of £1,500 sterling or 20 years hard labour and the chief judge Handrij Ponich to a fine of £2,000 or 25 years hard labour.”

The Wendish inhabitants of Eben-Ezer have asked me to refute this horrible and false story and I therefore declare:

“The entire contents of the aforementioned letter are false. The Wends in Eben-Ezer still belong to the Lutheran parish of Rev. Meyer in Bethania. Jan Swora and Handrij Ponich do not in any way hold the offices of priest or judge, but are farmers, and everything relating to the behaviour of Kowaŕ mentioned above is pure invention.”

I have signed this declaration with my name and sealed it with my official seal.

Adelaide (South Australia) 10 June 1857 (L. S.)* C. L. Meyer, Consul of the Kingdom of Hanover.

[*Translator’s note: ‘(L.S.)’ means the original document had an official seal on it.]

October 10, p. 323-324: Australiski list