BEYOND THE TREE | Mark's great-great-great-great-grandfather from Prussia came to a new life in an unknown land

After waiting for the boys to do their three years in the army, the Gerlach family set sail from Hamburg for a new life in the new land. Even the trip was harrowing, Margaret explains. The Champion is running a series of family stories tying in with Beyond the Tree exhibition at Liverpool Regional Museum which includes a growing community tree to which you can add your own family story. Bring in photos of your family moments to be scanned, printed and mounted. The exhibition is in conjunction with Liverpool Genealogy Society. Volunteers help with research and family enquiries Tuesdays to Saturdays.

SAMUEL and Charlotte Gerlach (nee Haupt) were my husband Mark's great-great-great-great-grandparents. When Samuel, a master cloth-maker, and his family wanted to migrate from Prussia they had to get government permits. And their boys of military age had to do three years in the army before that would happen. Samuel got his permit to migrate in 1841 but wasn't able to do so until 1849.

On August 5, Samuel and other German migrants set sail on the Emmy, the fourth German migrant ship to arrive at Port Phillip and, at 554 tons, the largest. The journey from Hamburg took 99 days with six cabin passengers and 369 German migrants in steerage. There was a high death rate, with 28 dying -- seven women, five men and 16 young children. Two babies were born on the trip.

The ship docked at Port Phillip on December 22 and on Christmas Day the migrants disembarked once the Immigration Board did its inspection. Earlier that year, Dr Alexander Thomas, of Geelong, had arranged for 20 Germans migrantsand their children to migrate from Hamburg to work as vine-dressers under colonial government regulations and 37 of the migrants from the Emmy went to Germantown.

Early in December, a committee had been formed at a public meeting to help with the coming migrants. The committee hired a secretary from among the German settlers who could speak German and English to help with finding work for the migrants, most only spoke German.

A village was established near Geelong, called Germantown until renamed Grovedale in 1915. The land was split into acre blocks which the migrants worked. Samuel lived and worked there until 1851 when he became a naturalised British subject allowing him to buy land near Merri Creek to start his own farm.

In 1856 he sold the farm and took up a property near Hamilton in Victoria. In 1864, while working on this property a tree fell on him, fracturing his skull and killing him instantly. He was buried at South Hamilton cemetery.