Emilie Sengstock (nee Ziebel) - Pioneer of the District of Maryborough, Queensland

Emilie Ziebel emigrated to Australia from Germany at the age of 19, arriving in Maryborough, Queensland, on the notorious "fever" ship "Alardus" in 1873. On the ship she met her future husband Carl Sengstock. They raised 10 children, the youngest of whom became my grandfather. Here is my tribute to this inspirational lady ...

(c) Shelley Hansen 2012

She sailed on the "Alardus", at the age of just nineteen -
a young girl orphaned by the plague, unsure what it would mean
to travel to a foreign land, to start a new life there -
her prayers and hopes were resting on a thirty shilling fare.
She thought that she was going to America to find
her relatives who'd emigrated, left their homes behind.
She tried to make arrangements, but she couldn't read or write
and had no one to call on, to assist her in her plight.

A passage to Australia was paid for by mistake -
the final immigration voyage that this ship would make.
Converted from a cargo vessel, steerage class was poor
and overcrowded - fit for few, but housing many more.
Beset by gales and then becalmed, they journeyed to Brazil,
but sailing east again, so many passengers fell ill.
Their rations were inadequate, their water foul and stale;
soon typhoid fever added death to their distressing tale.

Traversing seas for seven months, they came at last to shore,
at Fort Nepean quarantined, till fever was no more.
The captain drowned, the first mate died - survivors soon set forth
in charge of second mate, to Fraser Island in the north.
Young Emilie survived the horrors of this nightmare trip
and finally her voyage ended on the "Fever Ship".
In Maryborough, Queensland, she prepared to disembark -
a town on which her German legacy would leave its mark.

While on the ship she'd met the man whose bride she soon would be -
they settled down to farm the land and raise a family.
Her youngest son's career was forged through timber cutting skill -
to build the homes that stand today, and likely always will.
She lived through two world wars and saw the sorrows that they wrought,
when natural disaster came, she felt the pain it brought.
One house was simply swept away as floods raged, deep and fast;
another home was lost to fire before ten years had passed.

She worked hard with her hands and heart, in house and on the farms,
walked seven hours to doctor with a sick child in her arms.
One son's wife died in childbirth, so she raised his little girl
with earthy, homespun wisdom - twice as rich as any pearl.
She proved herself a loyal wife for over sixty years -
when widowhood bereaved her, she endured despite the tears.
She died at ninety-five, surrounded by her progeny -
four generations of descendants she had lived to see.

She was a member of that breed who shaped this nation's face,
who, leaving homelands far away to find a better place,
enriched us with their heritage, their ethics and their pride
as, facing all adversity, they laboured side by side.
Her timber-cutter son was my grandfather ... Mother's dad,
who nearly died at birth, and was a sickly little lad.
But he was tough and won the fight, and grew up tall and strong
and like his parents, lived a life that was fulfilled and long.

It makes me think about the odds that make us all survive -
if she'd gone to America, I wouldn't be alive!
She would have sailed another ship, become another wife,
had other sons and daughters, and lived out another life.
But she was the progenitor of my ancestral tree,
and in my bones I carry her genetic legacy.
So may I stand with pride as a descendant of her line,
and strive to live so she'd be proud to be a part of mine!

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