The Big Kneipp Family Reunion in Australia

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When we were in Australia 3 years ago, I took Relationnel on a pilgrimage to the sheep country where my father was born – Bonshaw, near Glen Innes and Tenterfield in northwestern New South Wales. The Kneipp family originally comes from a little village called Winkel along a small section of the Rhine River in Germany where vineyards and wineries still flourish.

Glenmore, the sheep property where my father grew up

The first ancestor that can be traced was called Johann, probably born in the early 1640s. He and his wife Katarina had five children, born between 1667 and 1675. Their third child, also called Johann, was born in 1672. He married Margerthe and they had ten children. The oldest boy was Christan,  born in 1694. He and his wife Maria Eva only had two children, Wendelin and Susanne. Wendelin, our ancestor, was born in 1723 and died in 1790. He married Ursula and they also had two children, Franz and another Wendelin. Franz married Clara and they had just one son, Wendel, born in 1779.

Johann Kneipp (photo:

Now Wendel (this is sixth generation here) married Mary Ann and they had five children, including another Johann, born in 1831. He was my great great grandfather and came out to Australia as a young man, in 1856, bringing 5 rams with him.  In Australia, Johann married a fellow German, Caroline Utz, born in 1842 in Stuttgart. He died in 1914 in Glen Innes while Caroline lived for another ten years.  They had 11 children, the first of whom was born in 1862.

The dashing and debonnaire Matey Kneipp, my great grandfather

George, eighth in line, was born in 1873. Known to everyone as Matey, he married Helena Lennon, of Irish extraction, from Armidale and they had five children: Anthony George, Dom, Mary, Joseph and Frank. Their property, just outside Ashford, was called Beaumont.

My father, George Kneipp, the oldest, with his mother and father, 3 brothers and 5 sisters

Anthony George, known as George, born in 1901, married Kathleen McHugh and they lived on a sheep property called Glenmore. He died young, at the age of 49 so I never met him. Kathleen, my grandmother, died in Inverell in 1972 at the age of 72, having brought up 9 children, four sons and five daughters. Their home was declared a primary school and the teacher lived with them all year round. When they reached high school age, they went off to boarding school.

Mixture of generations in Armidale Mall

My father, also known as George, was the oldest. One brother and three sisters are still alive. My own parents died in 1993 and 2000. In my generation, there are 40 first cousins, of whom only 14 are women (three deceased) and we have had 44 children between us, but this time half are women. So far, there are six members of the next generation.


My cousins are spread across Australia and last time, we covered many miles to catch up with them which is why I came up with the idea of a family reunion this time. Unfortunately, many live far away (Perth, Melbourne, Mackay, Darwin, etc.) but there were still nearly 50 of us at the family dinner.

A bush picnic

All my immediate family was present – my two brothers and their four children and my son and daughter. My uncle, two of my aunts and an aunt by marriage were also there as well as many cousins.  Both before and after the main get-together, we met up at our home exchange, in the mall in Armidale, where we took over one of the main cafés for breakfast, at Dangar Falls where we picnicked and at the homes of friends and family.

Catching up a last time

It was heart-rending for me to say goodbye to the different members of the family as they left one by one during the long weekend, particularly the “oldies” as we won’t be back for another three years. But it was a wonderful experience and the next date has already been set – January 2015 – for an 80th birthday on a sheep property. Relationnel will be given a taste of the “real Australia” and has promised to be more fluent in English by then!

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17 Responses to The Big Kneipp Family Reunion in Australia

  1. That’s quite an extensive family! Glad you were able to catch up with the “oldies” and meet the new generation all at the same time. I don’t think that either side of my family has organized a reunion in years. I could pass my first cousins on the street and not recognize them. It’s sad…and so different from my husband’s family.

    When are you returning to Paris? It feels as if you’ve been away for ages!

  2. Fraussie says:

    Well, this was the first reunion in very many years and at one point, I thought I might have to cancel through lack of interest, but everyone rallied. It really was wonderful

    We’ll be back in Paris on 15th October (5 weeks’ holiday in all) and I’ll sadly be saying goodbye to the last of my family this Saturday and Sunday.

  3. Françoise Courtet says:

    Es tu sur que tu vas faire des progrès en Anglais, Jean Michel ?
    On va surveiller cela !!!
    Bonne fin de séjour !

  4. Carina says:

    I’m so happy you made it, but feeling so homesick seeing the names of these places; Glen Innes where I grew up and where my father still lives, Tenterfield where I spent wonderful summers in the company of my beautiful grandmother, Armidale where I went on many shopping excursions……we might have to coordinate our visits to meet away from France next time, with a New England destination in mind.

  5. Maple Leaf says:

    Wow! What an achievement gathering so many people together. You have such a big family! Interesting as well that you were able to trace back your roots so far. Continue to enjoy your time there.

  6. Fraussie says:

    Thanks Maple Leaf! The hard thing is saying goodbye to so many wonderful people.

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  8. John Heffernan says:

    My family lived in Tenterfield and I attended Tenterfield Primary School in the early 50’s. I still remember the prettiest girl I had ever seen,her name was Lin or Lyn Kneipp and her father ran the saddlery in Rouse St. I still recall her white/blonde hair,green eyes and olive skin after 60 years. I often wondered what happened to her and hoped she is still enjoying a happy life. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who knew her or is still in contact with her

  9. I am descended from Fred Kneipp’s family and know who the gentleman refers to. I have just sent a copy of the post to her brother, Terry Kneipp, who I find is on Facebook.

  10. I haven’t heard back from Terry. I don’t know if Lyn is still living or where; I just left it to Terry to pass on the request if he thought it advisable. I do not think it would serve any purpose for me to be in touch with John Heffernan.
    By the way, I enjoy your posts.

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  12. Andrew Bruyn says:

    Gday Gorgeous girl,
    How are you guys?
    A little heads up. I’m flying to Ireland for a friend’s daughter’s wedding late July. From there I’ll head to Madrid, Barcelona and then drive the Med coast across to northern Italy and down to Roma before flying back to London for a week before heading home.
    Sort of a long distance pub crawl – utterly appropriate. If I get a chance or change plans to “turn left” I’ll let you know and buy you dinner.
    Mum says you’re well and enjoying life. Glad to hear it.
    Love to Jean Michelle and Lisa.
    Andrew Bruyn

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