1. German Origin




The Frauenstein Rheinbergers

 Being a Family History and Family Tree from about the 12th Century of those members of the Rheinberger Family who migrated to Australia in the 19th Century to become –


The Mudgee Rheinbergers


The Bega Rheinbergers



 Compiled by

John Lawrence Rheinberger

Guilford N.S.W.



Having been bequeathed, the rather wonderful diaries of my grandfather, Peter Joseph Rheinberger, of “Willow Vale” Eurunderee, via Mudgee. Through my Uncle, Peter Joseph Rheinberger, of Wellington, and the diaries of my father John Rheinberger, of  “Dewhurst”, Mudgee. It seemed to be my fateful duty, so far as it has been within my capacity, to record for the present and future generations of Rheinbergers, who had their origins in Frauenstein, Germany, the history and family tree of this, my family.

Of course, such an undertaking cannot be brought to fruition without numerous sources of information and the cooperation of many people.

I wish to tender my sincere thanks to the following for the assistance they have rendered to me:-

To Mr. Vincent Hughes, of Erudgere, Mudgee, the custodian of the diaries of John Muller, the half-brother of Peter Joseph Rheinberger.

To Mr. Dick Cox, and the Mudgee Historical Society for making available a copy of the translation of the first book of the Muller diaries, and the photostat copies of the balance of the diaries, so that I could arrange translation.

To Mrs. Hille Hess, of Bli Bli, Queensland, for doing some translation work. To Mrs. Rose-Mary Jansohn, of Blackheath, for undertaking the very onerous task of translating the very large balance from the Gothic German.

To Mr. Alan Tierney of Epping, for much documentary information from Frauenstein,  and from German migrants and the family.

To Mr. James Berriman, of Moruya, for information regarding the history of Frauenstein and the Von Rheinberg, Rheinberg and Rheinberger name.

To my son Robert and his wife Tricia and to my daughter-in-law Ilse for making special trips to Frauenstein to obtain information when on visits to Europe.

To the Mitchell Library, and the Australian Historical Society, for making documentary information available.

And last but not least, to my many relatives, both close and distant, who put so much time and energy into ascertaining and supplying me with considerable valuable information.

But harking back to where it all started, my special thanks go to John Muller, Peter Joseph Rheinberger for providing so much basic information without which I would not have been motivated to do what I have done. I regret there is so little information about the lives of the Bega Branch of the family but, alas, they appear to have lacked even one diarist.

I know, that there are sure to be some mistakes in this work, and that there are many omissions. Perhaps this will inspire for some one or more of my relatives, to take up where I have left off, to correct the errors, fill in the gaps and carry on with the work of gathering and recording information particularly in respect of the present and future generations.





When does the history of a particular locality commence? I know not, but I assure you that the history of the family Rheinberger is firmly tied into the unfolding story of the Rhine Valley and more particularly the village of Frauenstein and its environs.

No doubt the Church was central to the lives of the Rheinbergers for it is in the Frauenstein Church registers that the births, marriages and deaths of our forefathers were recorded. It is not certain when the first church was erected in Frauenstein, but a small chapel under the Protection of St. George apparently served the local Castle and its servants. As early as 1352 a Priest offered Mass there. The chapel was enlarged in 1505 and in 1544 a full time Priest was appointed. Since the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), St. Catherine has also been honoured in Frauenstein. The Church remained unchanged for 400 years until a new Church was built in 1953. The flat stones, dated 1613, from the high altar in Eberlach and the altar consecrated in the Convent of Tiefenthal came to the old church in 1803. The pulpit constructed in 1660 came from the Aegidean Church at Hadamar in 1956.

As early as the year 1256, Siegfried III, a Lord of Frauenstein, married Gertrude, a feudal stewardess of Rheinberg, of the highly regarded and powerful family, which held in fief the stewardship of the Archbishopric. It was the practice of the Lords of Frauenstein, during the period of their prime, to choose their wives from the noble born, prosperous families of the stewards of Rheinberg and the other like families. Their daughters in turn married Knights of, inter alia, the Rheinberg families or became nuns in the nearby Convent of Tiefenthal.

The Knights of Rheinberg were originally vassals of the eponymous (Rheinberg) castle on the river Wisper which belonged to the Stewards of Rheinberg. From this family came the Knight of Rheinberg who, in 1399, brought about the setting free of Count Ruprecht von Nassau, eldest son of King Adolph, who had been taken prisoner by King Albrecht at the Battle of Gulheim.

When the district of Frauenstein was overrun in 1301 many of the inhabitants perished but by 1319, people belonging to the castle settled in the valley. During this period, surnames as such were not common, most Germans only having a call name (equivalent to our Christian or given name), so that Siegfried von Rheinberg literally translated was in fact Siegfried of (or from) the Rhine hills (or mountains). The first Court records began in 1413, the name Rheinberg appearing for the first time in 1474, being a matter of legal adoption by Kette Rheinberg. The Schneider name also appeared about that time. After this time the noble name von Rheinberg began to disappear at Frauenstein to be replaced by the names Rheinberg and Rheinberger. There is no doubt they were people or enfeoffed vassals of the Knights of Rheinberg nor can we exclude the possibility that we have in the present family descendants of the later.

The Knight Emmerick von Rheinberg had as his wife in 1330, Elizabeth von Frauenstein, heiress of Siegfried V of the line of hereditary Court Stewards. Their son, also Emmerick, was administrator in the Rheingau (Rhine Province) from 1349 to 1367. In 1362 Siegfried von Rheinberg held property within the Burghbering in fief. In 1413 Junker (landlord) Hen von Rheinberg bought the estates of Marsilius von Scharfenstein and in 1497 a land baron von Rheinberg was an assessor in an act of renunciation performed before the law.

In 1503 portions of the Frauenstein Estate was transferred via Philip von Rheinberg to the related von Stockheim family and in 1513 Johann von Rheinberg exchanged his dues, pensions, and ground rents at Frauenstein with Freidnich von Stockheim in respect of the latter’s dues and pensions at Hestrich.

In the death register of the Franciscan Convent for noble Ladies, at Klarenthal near Wiesbaden, is recorded the names of the “spiritual virgins”, Liebmuth von Rheinberg, who died 14th September 1503 and Anna von Rheinberg who died 4th September 1514. Margarethe von Rheinberg ­renounced her title (no doubt in 1497 referred to above) and became prioress of the Convent. She died on 20th August 1554 and on her death Count Philipp von Nassau dissolved the Convent.

In the tax return for Frauenstein in 1662, of Barthol Rheinberger the following is recorded.


  Florins Albi Pfennigs
Owns house and immovable goods 237 24 3
Poll tax 80    
One horse 10    
Two cows 10    
Two pigs 1    
1400 litres of 1661 wine 30    
Total 368 24 3
To be deducted in dues on grain,

Wine and land 4 Fl 11 Albi 7 1/2 Pf.

Translated into capital values minus one third.

29 9 1
Remains of value 339 15 1(sic)

In 1698 Elisabeth Rheinberger, daughter of prosperous citizen Georg Rheinberger, married John Peter Rappenecher, the schoolteacher at Frauenstein. He later became town clerk, magistrate’s registrar and in 1727 he became mayor.

Johann Philipp Rheinberger was District Mayor from 1692 to 1705 and in 1699 he is recorded as possessing 6 ½ Morgen of vineyards, 16 Morgen of ploughland and 2 ½ Morgen of pastures. In addition he owned a house in the lower valley and also a house above the River Linne which he had recently built, and which yielded to the Church an annual due of two pounds of oil.

Johann Rheinberger was a Court Member in 1710 and Deputy Mayor from 1715 to 1752 whilst Adam Rheinberger was Clerk of the Court from 1740 to 1752 and in 1788 Court Member Philipp Rheinberger was Collector of Customs for the Elector (prince). As Local Councillor he acted as one of the godfathers to the male child abandoned in Frauenstein on 10th May 1781.

Servatius Rheinberger, the grandfather of Valentine who migrated to Australia in 1854 (who was in turn my great grand father) was a chorister at the funeral of Anton Joseph von Solhern on 25th July 1776.

In the insurance register for 1780 in respect of Frauenstein, there appears the following.


House Name House Wine Press Barn Stables Assessment/Fl
37 Adam Rheinberger N/A 300
59 Servatius Rheinberger 300
66 Andreas Rheinberger Bakery N/A N/A 400
91 Jacob Rheinberger N/A 150
97 Philipp Rheinberger 600

In the history of Frauenstein it is claimed that in 1852 vigneron families Feld, Fuchs, Gunkel, Rheinberger, Schneider, Thuen and Weichand migrated to Australia to establish a winegrowing community in the region of New-Sydney (sic) and thereby propagate the winegrowing industry of Frauenstein in the new world. I know of no such Rheinberger arriving in Australia at that time but perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that Elisabeth Rheinberger married Ludwig Feld three days before they sailed.

But the actual story of the Rheinberger family is traced specifically from Barthol Rheinberger who would have been born in Frauenstein about 1610 ‑ the man referred to above as being the owner of property in 1662 to the value of some 330 florins. He was succeeded in line by Johann Philipp, Jacob, Servatius, Johann Heinrich and then Valentin Rheinberger, the husband and father of one of the families to sail for Australia in November 1854. Johann Rheinberger the other father and husband to sail for Australia at the same time was the son of Johann who in turn was the son of Adam. Adam would have been of the same generation as Servatius.


Frauenstein is a village some 6 kilometres west of Wiesbaden in the State of Hessen, in the old Duchy of Nassau Germany.

When Jean Tierney visited Frauenstein in 1959, she described it as being a mile or so inland (north) from the Rhine River. Lying in a hollow between the hills ‑ a long village, quite large, forming almost a semi‑circle round one of the hills while another street branches off to the north up another valley. The houses cluster together and appear quite untouched by modern times; many are half timbered and are beautifully decorated.

In the centre stands an old burg or fortress, very decrepit but picturesque. Nearby the church had recently been extended and is now L shaped. The old part, four hundred years old, keeps its exterior and has a lovely grey wood shingle roof and steeple and thick whitewashed walls. The new part is modern and inside it has all been modernised but is most attractive and contains some carved wood figures.

On the hill to the east is the Goethestein, where apparently Goethe used to sit and survey the view of the Rhine. A cairn of stone now marks the seat. In the east can be seen the factory chimneys of Mainz and Wiesbaden. The hill itself is almost all vineyards and orchards, and opposite, along the hill to the west of the village, is a large farm with wheat fields.

Robert and Tricia Rheinberger visited Frauenstein in 1977. The then population of the village was about 3,000 and growing. However the township, nestling as it does along the valley, is restricted by the small but steep hillsides. The sunny sides of the hill were still clad with grapevines.

From inquiries there seemed to be only one Rheinberger then residing in Frauenstein, an elderly widow whose only child, a girl, had died some years before. A search was made of the graveyard but it only dated back to 1940 and the Rheinberger name sound not be located.

According to the history of Frauenstein, the male Rheinberger who came to Australia were described as “Landwirt” (landed proprietor or farmer) and “taglohner” (day worker) whilst in the Australian List of Immigrants they were described as “vinedressers” (vine workers). Robert and Tricia state that the name “vinedresser” was not known locally when they were there but that most of the early residents were known as “Taglohner” or people who resided within the village and went out daily to pick grapes in the neighbouring vineyards, being paid daily. To day only about one in five of the residents of Frauenstein work in the vineyards, most people travel to Wiesbaden or Mainz to work.

However the calling of “vinedresser” is indeed one dating back to Biblical times, for in the gospel of St. John, Chapter 15 Verse 1, Jesus said to his Disciples: “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit, he cuts away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more…….”

From what has now been ascertained, I have a mental picture of the Rheinbergers. Their neighbours in Frauenstein, owning a house in the village and a block of land with perhaps a horse, a couple of cows and perhaps two or three pigs, with a stable and a barn and some grape vines from which they made a certain quantity of wine. They would have gone out from their homes each day to work their land and tend their vines and animals and, when available, offered their services as workers on a daily basis to their neighbours and or larger landowners. I have been told that Valentine grew up to be a Baker ‑ whether in addition to being a farmer is not known. However the adult male members of both branches of the Rheinberger family were listed as “vinedresser” and this information they, or their future employers, no doubt would have conveyed to the Immigration Authorities.




Philip and Barbara Schneider, of Frauenstein, had a son Anton and two daughters Catherine and Elizabeth. In 1844, Valentine Rheinberger married Catherine Muller, nee Schneider. Catherine had previously been married to Joseph Muller who had died leaving her with two sons John and Joseph. It would appear that Joseph had died at an early age.

John Rheinberger a relative of Valentine married Catherine’s sister Elizabeth Schneider.

It had been my understanding that Valentine and John were first cousins but an examination of the family trees shows ­that this could not have been so. However they could have been second cousins if Servatius and Adam were brothers. Whilst accepting that Valentine and John were related particularly because of the size of Frauenstein, it has been established the relationship could not have been c1oser than second cousins and it is regretted the exact relationship cannot be established.

The children of John and Elizabeth were John, Peter, Joseph, Philip, Valentine, Catherine and Charles Augustus, all born in Frauenstein. The children of Valentine and Catherine, born in Germany, were Peter Joseph, Jacob, Annie Mary, Elizabeth and Catherine.

For those of you, the successors of one or other of the above-named, let the following be your guide if you wish to determine your relationship to another of the descendants:­- ‘The children of brothers and sisters are to one another,  first cousins; the children of first cousins are second cousins; while the children of second cousins are third cousins to each other, and so on. But, the child of your first cousin is properly your first cousin once removed.’ That seems to make the whole matter quite simple!


The two Rheinberger‑families, including John Muller, I sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Australia in the ship “Caesar” on 2nd November 1854, and called first at Twofold Bay on 19th March l855 where John and family disembarked and proceeded to Candelo near Bega. The ship then sailed on to Port Jackson where Valentine, Catherine and family disembarked. According to John Muller and Peter Joseph Rheinberger, in their diaries, the date of arrival in Sydney was 21st March 1855, whilst the ship’s crew; list gives the date as 27th March 1855. But accord­ing to the passenger list the date was 29th March 1855. After consideration of the facts, I have adopted the last mentioned date as being the correct one.

The records at the Mitchell Library show that the “Caesar” was a ship of 438 tons ‘burthen’, had a total crew of thirteen, the eldest, apart from. The captain being 29years of age, but most of the crew being in their teens or early twenties. There were 196 passengers comprised of 71 males, 50 females 36 boys and 39 girls. I leave it to the imagination of the reader to consider the rather intolerable conditions, which must have existed when a total of 209 people were crammed into a ship 438 tons for 147 days.

It is important to record that when the families sailed from Hamburg on end November 1854, Elizabeth, the daughter of Valentine and Catherine, was merely two weeks old yet she survived the voyage, which was to prove so tragic. The family said that cholera broke out on board ship and in the List of Immigrants in respect of John Rheinberger the following is recorded: – “His wife Elizabeth and Catherine his daughter died of cholera and Carl August, his son, an infant, died for want of proper sustenance”. This information was added to by the letters received by Anton Schneider in Frauenstein (a brother Catherine and Elisabeth) on 2nd January 1856, from his sister Catherine and on 3rd December 1856, from nephew John. They disclosed that his sister Elisabeth had died in the arms of her daughter Catherine on 14th November 1854, a shroud being her coffin and the ocean her grave. Young Catherine died on 28th November 1854, from cholera, a contributing factor being her overriding concern for her young brother Charles August. Now being deprived of care and attention Charles August died shortly afterwards.

On that dreadful voyage out from Germany, the Captain is said to have brought with him, two ever-hungry pigs, which it was his intention to have killed at suitable intervals on the journey, to provide him with fresh meat. By order of the Captain, the pigs were allowed to roam freely about the ship and the crew and passengers were forbidden to interfere with their meanderings. Now, stored on the ship was a large quantity of rice laced with prunes, amounts of which were to be cooked up periodically for the passengers. It was not long before the marauding pigs located this store of food and proceeded systematically to pick out and devour the prunes. This angered the passengers to the extent that desperate action was decided upon, and it fell to the lot of two of the older of the Rheinberger sons to do something about it. So, at night when all was quiet the two pigs were herded to the stern of the ship, the stern rail was opened and over they went never to be sighted again. The loss of the pigs was not discovered by the then furious Captain until later the next morning but despite rigorous questioning, the identity of the culprits who delivered the pair of porkers to their watery grave, was never ascertained by the Captain.

The family information handed down was to the effect that the family of Valentine and Catherine was the only one not to lose a member by death on the trip. The Frauenstein story reveals of the 38 people from that village on board the Caesar, nine died on the voyage.


Early in 1847, after representations from persons including Mr. Wilhelm Kirschnerj who among other functions, was the consul for the Kingdom of Prussia in the Colony of New South Wales, conditional permission was given to import speci1ized foreign workers for the cultivation of wine, oil, silk and in other fields. Where British labourers were not available, a bounty of £36 for each married couple and £18 for each child over 18 years of age, would be paid to the Government but none foreign immigrants who were not specifically employed in the occupation for which permission had been given. The more opulent settlers whose properties were situated in suitable areas soon filed their requests to be permitted to import vinedressers and wine coopers.

The year 1848 was one of uprising in Europe. For Germany it heralded the loss of independence for the smaller states and the widening of the Prussian influence ‑ this to finally bring about a unified nation. The Catholic states of southern Germany resisted this trend and from 1848 through the early fifties many thousands of Germans, particularly from Rhineland provinces, left their homeland to start life anew elsewhere. Many went to America and some to Australia where their skills were welcome.

In May 1852, Wilhelm Kirschner advertised in Australian newspapers that he would ‘procure, engage and have conveyed hither ‑ free of all expense to the employer’ vinedressers from Germany. The foregoing would appear to explain why the Rheinberger families came here, nominated as vinedressers and why Valentine and family proceeded immediately to the employ of James Walker as station hands.

I have been informed that the Rheinbergers left their native land because of the difficult conditions being experienced in their homeland at that time, and that they dreamed of returning there at some time in the future. But that this dream faded, with the advent of Otto von Bismarck with his police state of ‘blood and iron’. John Muller records the receipt and dispatch of but few letters between his family here and the relatives and friends in Germany. Peter Joseph Rheinberger, a rather thorough diarist in the recording of events, if not his private thoughts, commenced his diary on 12th March 1870, and barely made a reference to any such correspondence. Any suggestion that they may have left Germany because of religious persecution, is not borne out when note is made of the preponderance of Lutherans and persons not claiming any religious persuasion, who were passengers on their ship.

It is most likely that James Walker sponsored Valentine and Family in the manner referred to above, for, in 1855, John Muller wrote in his diary: “Father and I had a contract for two years”. Again in 1857 he wrote, “I our two years were now over”. Indeed, the family stayed on to work for James Walker and his successors to a total of fourteen years.

The German reputation for industry, skill and thrift made them welcome. Labour was short but even when British labour was available, contrasts as to sobriety and application were frequently drawn in favour of the Germans.

In turn the Germans felt that the absence of prying officials, gendarme, tax collectors and oppressive landlords was to them a testimony of the rightness of their action in leaving the tyranny of their homeland. There was no censorship no lordly demeanour, the migrant was not compelled to work hard, the produce of his own garden was his the women did little work beyond their housework and did not work in the field. There were no wars, no tributes, and no exactions. Australia to them was a land of peace and plenty.

The migrant view then was that in Germany the worker was not a man but must be considered as an ox. There, there was upheaval, religious hatred, partisan fury, revolution among all nations, state despotism, oppression of faith and thought, oriental tyranny, castes and classes, war and a mania for destruction. As against this, they felt that, in Australia, there was peace, the plough, science and the founding of new cities. They were free in faith and opinion, as rich as their diligence and as great as their worth made them.

List of surnames of families, which came to Australia on the ‘Caesar’ with the Rheinbergers, as shown on the official List of Immigrants.


The only names, which are common, with those of the people referred to by the Mudgee Rheinbergers, are Roth and Schneider. Philip Roth is shown as going to work for J. V. Macarthur, whilst Phillip and Clara Schneider are shown as coming from Frauenstein, Phillip having brothers, Johan and Christian already in the colony.

On the list hereunder, those from Stoehr on are grouped in the List of Immigrants with John Rheinberger and family who disembarked at Twofold Bay so perhaps they also disembarked there.

Adrian Arnold Badior Beckman Berleiter Becking Bruckhauser Daubern Dietz Fischer Fuhrmann Gattenhof Gotz Hennerich Heir Hofner Holzberger Janz Kalbrunner Kilian Klohn Kowald Monk Muck Nagler Neumayer Nuss Perabo Rappenecker Ravaillon Reinehr Reuter Riehl Roth Sattler Schafer Schneider Schwed Seitz Spahn Stephan Stoehr Weidermann Zietsch

Stoehr Ternes Umbach Udersbach Wagner Warzelhaut Webber Schafer Roseler Fauer Splindler Boller Kollner Hoglhauser Michael Uberhein Bauer