The Big Kneipp Family Reunion in Australia

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When we were in Australia 3 years ago, I took Jean Michel 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 and 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. Jean Michel will be given a taste of the “real Australia” and has promised to be more fluent in English by then!

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

  4. 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. 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. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. Rosemary, I came across your article just now (2 May 2018).

    I am Dom Kneipp’s grandson.

    I spent quite some time at Dom’s property outside Ashford in my youth and have many fond memories of my time there.

    Keep well Cousin!

    Best regards Dennis Connors.

  10. Hi

    I am a granddaughter of Dominic Kneipp.

    I enjoyed your article and will join the Facebook Page.

    Like Dennis Connors , I spent may happy times at his property near Ashford.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Catherine, thank you. I’m on holidays at the moment so haven’t had much time to answer. Dad used to speak fondly of his “Uncle Dom”. All the best, Rosemary

  11. Hi,

    my grand-grandmother was Florentine Elisabeth Kneipp. One of my ancestors was Franz Kneipp, brother of Johann Baptist Kneipp. All of my ancestors were born in Winkel, I live near this little village. I ‘ m so glad that I found your homepage!
    Hope to find some more relatives and to get in contact with you ?
    Best regards from Germany,

    1. Hi Steffi, thank you for posting your message. Tell me, where exactly is Winkel. When we were there we didn’t manage to find it and I’d love to go there some day. We have done a lot of travelling and cycling in Germany. Did you see there is a FB page for the Kneipp family? All the best Rosemary

  12. Hi Rosemary, yes I found the FB page and I liked it.
    Winkel is part of Oestrich-Winkel, you can find the village in the near of Wiesbaden.
    It sounds great that you have already been in Germany for travelling and cycling. Too sad that we didn ‘t know each other,but if you will come back to Germany one day,you are welcome. And I will show you the small villages Winkel, and also Hallgarten.
    Do you know someone who might have some more pictures of the ancestors? All the best for you,too! Thank you!

  13. Hello, I am trying to contact any member of Judge Kneipp ‘s family to pass on a photo of the Judge and his children taken by my father Dr Bob Douglas in the late 1950s. The photo was taken at Alma Bay on Magnetic Island. Please let me know if there is a family member I could post the photo to. Regards Selina Hale nee Douglas.

  14. My mother, Joan Satterthwaite, grew up in Ashford where her father was Shire Engineer. His name was Favel but was known as Charlie. The family were very good friends with Matey’s children and Mum kept up with several of the grandchildren over the next 80 years. After they left Ashford in 1942, she and her brother, John (later Bishop of Lismore), would catch the train from Sydney during school holidays to stay at Beaumont.
    Matey’s daughter, Mary, was godmother to my brother Greg in 1964.
    My parents lived in Kuala Lumpur in the 80s and Mum renewed her friendship with Judith (Kneipp) Ong. She also stayed in contact with the mother of Jane Connors (sister of Dennis?) Oh dear, I’ve forgotten her name.
    Mum remained friends with Margaret Cheyne-McPherson for decades and I had dinner with her family in Gladesville in 1992 and would have met Catherine then.
    She often spoke of Mrs Dom as being extremely charming and gracious. She quoted a young lad as saying if there was a vote for Queen of Australia, his vote would go to Mrs Dom. By an outrageous co-incidence, Mum came to visit me in Kiama a few years ago and met a complete stranger who was visiting from Canberra. She politely asked where in Canberra the other lady lived and when told said the only people she knew in that suburb were Mr and Mrs Dom Kneipp. The other lady looked astonished and said they were her next-door neighbours when she first moved there.
    My mother died last year and I am still in touch with Judith Ong.
    The Kneipp family have been part of my family legend all my life.

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