Stehbens Park, Kepnock, Bundaberg Q

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"Stehbens Park" was officially named, in honour of Claus Johann (John) Stehbens who first settled and successfully farmed an area (being 80 acres on the southern side of Kepnock Road) in July 1871". Bundaberg City Council, 24th February, 2005.

Claus Johann Stehbens and his father, Detlef Staeben, first selected this area in 1871 to develop it into a farm and own it as freehold land. This was a dense vine forest landscape then, but they cleared and developed it into a successful farm.

One of the keys to their success was that they recognized that a deep well would access groundwater. They dug it and bricklined it, Detlef being the brickmaker and bricklayer. In order to make the bricks, Detlef selected another 80 acre block, 1km away, with access to surface water, clay and timber. After 7 months, sufficient bricks made, Detlef relinquished that selection as it was not suitable for agriculture, and it had served his purpose. (That site is now at the head of Baldwin Swamp which has been reserved as an environmental park.)

The Stehbens were the first Germanic farming family to arrive in Bundaberg and to successfully develop their farm. Many others, especially from Schleswig-Holstein, followed, and there is a large population of Danish/German descendants in Bundaberg today. Lutheran and Apostolic Churches still have substantial congregations, 140 years on.

Claus Johann was known as John Stehbens and his father as David Stehbens. John called this farm "Forest View" and when he sold it, he bought a much larger farm on the Burnett River, where he became Bundaberg's successful pioneer tobacco grower whilst also raising cattle and horses.

A subsequent owner of his "Forest View" property, Thomas Young, renamed the farm "Kepnock" which has become the name for the modern suburb and a high school.

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Comments (7)

bdeh on May 6, 2012

That must make you a proud man Ian. Greetings Berend

Geerten on May 7, 2012

wow! any connections?

Ian Stehbens on May 18, 2012

Yes, Berend, I am, for I have undertaken the research to reconstruct this family history.

My research has taken me to Poppenhusen and Wöhrden in the Dithmarschen, NW of Hamburg, and to rural lands along the Elbe River in West Mecklenburg between Berlin and Hamburg, as well as to Bundaberg, archives in Brisbane and Staat Archiv in Hamburg, and to Netherlands!

I located Detlef's birthplace on one hand and this well-site on the other, and unravelled the mystery of why he selected a piece of land knowing that it was perfectly useless for agriculture, then relinquish it 5 months later, receiving his deposit back. [See Notes above]

We held a large family reunion near here in 2005, and the City Councillors were surprised by the number and significance in the city and district of Detlef's descendants.

Ian

Ian Stehbens on May 18, 2012

Hello Geerten,

I wish I could write an 1871 Overture to tell the story of this family, and then I'd ask you to conduct the orchestra in playing it. Blücher and Napolean had something to do with the beginning of our story, for the events of changing Europe created major shifts in the population, wars and rumours of wars, and poverty - and my ancestors were grit in all those machinations. The end result was that this family left serfdom and eventually Old Europe and became freehold landowners and entrepreneurs in Queensland, where they called no one their master, and relished an eternal summer...so their story goes.

And this was the first land they owned, after serving others for almost 6 years - a valuable time of learning the climate, the landscape, the possibilities and the language.

Any connections? Claus Johann Stehbens was my Great Grandfather.

Greetings, Ian

bdeh on May 18, 2012

Thanks for the explanations Ian. Greetings Berend

Geerten on May 18, 2012

I've read the whole story and am willing to conduct the music ;) thank you. I already thought your name was German...

Ian Stehbens on May 25, 2012

Dear Berend and Geerten,

And how I would thrill to listening to it and enjoy your conducting, Geerten. We certainly learn a lot about each other through Panoramio and our travels. Thank you both for your sharing.

Ian

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on May 6, 2012
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    by Ian Stehbens

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