Trove Tuesday: Piltz Re-Union at Walla Walla

This has got to be one of the best articles I have ever found on Trove! And I am unfortunately only distantly related (my father's aunt, Elsie Joyce Houston, married a Piltz).

1933 'PIONEER FAMILY HONORED.', Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1896 - 1938), 27 October, p. 6, viewed 12 February, 2015,



A RE-UNION of the Piltz family took place at the home of Mr. A. Hoffman, "Wattle Vale," Walla, on 15th inst., when about 400 descendants and a few very intimate friends attended. The descendants of the family took the opportunity cf entertaining the family of the late Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Joseph Piltz at a complimentary banquet on the same day. The difficulties experienced in catering for the large assemblage were easily overcome by the enthusiasm and energy of each descendant as a helper.

The occasion of the reunion synchronised with the birthday of the eldest girl of the Piltz family, Mrs. H. Hoffman, widow of the late J. S. G. Hoffman, of "Mountain View," Walla Walla. 

The spacious new barn was very tastefully decorated with streamers of white, blue and pink, which blended with the decorations of the tables. Facing the large assemblage and over the head of the guest's hung an enlarged photo of their father and mother. The chair was occupied by Mr. R. O. Eulenstein, who had on his right the guests of honor. On his left sat Pastor Stolz and the wives and close relatives of the guests.

The chairman, after welcoming the assemblage, asked Pastor Stolz to say grace. When justice had been done to the good things provided, the chairman outlined the proceedings that were to follow, and announced the apologies — making special reference to apologies sent by Mrs. Semler and Mr. Frank Piltz, both of whom had been medically advised to refrain from making the long journey. 

The toast list opened with that of the King. The toast of "Our Parents, Uncles and Aunts, the Guests of Honor," was proposed by Mr. R. O. Eulenstein, who pointed out that the early Governments of Australia saw the wisdom of populating the country with the right class of immigrant — people with stamina, endurance and the quality of self-denial. One such class of immigrant selected was Adolph Joseph Piltz, who came to Australia in a sailing ship in 1842. With limited means he started working at Tweedvale and Bloomberg (S.A.), receiving 7/6 per week. After some years he acquired a small property with the money he had accumulated and worked it with the aid of an oxen team. In 1846 he married into the very worthy Hanckel family (Miss Hilda Hanckel). During their stay in S.A., Adolph Piltz occupied the position of councillor and almost every position of honor and obligation. Feeling that opportunities in S.A. both for themselves and their children were cramped, they decided to come to New South Wales. After seven weeks' travel they arrived at Albury in 1868. They were welcomed by the few settlers who preceded them, and they took up residence at Jindera. About 1869 Adolph Piltz acquired a property about half a mile from where the Walla township now stands. Many interesting episodes were encountered. There were no means of livelihood immediately available. Farming pursuits were indulged in, and for the purpose of putting up a building a track had to be cut through the green timber. Eventually a gunyah was built and the family housed. 

No educational facilities were available, Mr. Eulenstein continued, so each child received a parental schooling. As the years went by the boy members of the family migrated to different parts of the State and took up land. Some were still on their original holdings. As their earnings were lean, they were obliged to do shearing on stations. The father was an expert wool-classer, and he taught his profession in schools in Belgium and Antwerp. It was interesting to note that the success as a shearer of the father, who won all the big prizes in S.A., repeated itself in the boys, some of whom repeatedly won the "Pinking" prizes at sheds in N.S.W. — particularly, at Bobbie Rand's; also for fast shearing at McCaughey's shed. The boys also won many prizes with horses at leading shows, whilst they were also good judges of sheep and cattle. In districts where any of the descendants lived they were amongst the foremost farmers and most respected citizens. 

The girl members all married and worked with their husbands in making their home life happy, accumulating sufficient to keep them for the rest of their days. "Now we, you descendants," said the chairman, "take pleasure in expressing our admiration of you, not only as our relatives, but also as citizens. We express special appreciation of your willingness to at all times help and advise us on all things, and cause each one of us to think and act fairly and honorably with unselfish motives, and a big sense of forgiveness for any human error that may occur. In conclusion, on behalf of your descendants and relatives, I congratulate you upon your longevity, which we attribute to your stamina, endurance and self-denial, and by your indulgence in wholesome habits and practices, which have enabled you to live to the very creditable aggregate age of 850 years. We hope that you will be long spared to enjoy good health." 

Pastor Stolz said he had known the Piltz family ever since he had come to the district. He knew them as staunch God-fearing and very desirable citizens. He had had many talks with members of the family, who told many interesting reminiscences of the trip to Australia. Once a man was pulling water and fell overboard. When the crew acquainted the captain of the incident and asked him to hold the boat, the reply came: "What is over- board stays overboard"! On another occasion a man was heard coo-eeing in the bush. Father Piltz was ill in bed, but sent the boy to offer aid. When the man was found he was taken home. Owing to the father's illness and the floods there was no bread or flour in the house, but the family told the stranger that he could share with them what other food there was. The stranger himself had a little flour, and the stranger and family shared their humble meal. The Lord again showed that he who trusts in Him and fears Him will be blessed, and thus two men came together and remained fast friends through life. He congratulated the guests upon attaining the very creditable aggregate of years, and hoped they would long continue to be blessed with health and strength. He then bestowed his blessing upon the guests and audience. 

The toast was supported by Mr. H.A. Brown, who said he had known the family for about 15 years, and had become a relative by marrying into the family. He had found the family to be of sterling quality, great lovers of animals and perfectly straight and honorable citizens. Illustrating the energy of the Piltz family, he said that one of the girl members (the widow of the late J.S.G. Hoffman) had helped to put together the very fine and well kept property on which they were now jubilating. 

Mr. T.L. Selk supported the toast. He knew all the guests, and they always honored to the full any undertaking of obligation which was theirs. Their was never any equivocating. Their word was as good as their bond. He noted with pleasure the artificial mushrooms on the table. The German name for mushroom was "Pilz." Looking around the gathering of Piltz relatives, they seemed to be living up to the habits of the mushrooms. 

The eldest of the guests, Mr. Wm. Piltz, feelingly responded to the toast. It was, he said, an honor for the family to be entertained in such a fine manner. He was nearly 86 years of age, and he was pleased to have the opportunity of being able to return thanks on behalf of his brothers and sisters. 

"It is our greatest joy to see all our relatives loyal and self-supporting." said Mr. Piltz, "In our young days there were no public schools as there are now. We used to drive four bullocks in a single furrow plough without a wheel. When I look back and see the great progress that has been made since then, I am pleased that you people think we have done our duty to you and in the development of this country." 

Mr. Robert Piltz supported his brother. Their descendants, he said, had indeed excelled themselves by entertaining them in that way. The greatness of the function was far beyond his anticipations. When they approached the place they saw two white flags on the gate posts. One flag meant 'Peace;' two, "Peace for all time." What a splendid greeting! He knew of no finer gesture than that which conveyed a true sense of brotherhood and goodwill and their descendants had surely exemplified that in entertaining them that day. The warm welcome they always had from their descendants was a compliment, but that day had made greater inroads into their endearment than ever before. He joined with his brothers and sisters in expressing their gratitude for all the kindness that had been shown. 

"In our early days," Mr. Piltz continued, "which some people choose to call the "good old days," things were so formidable that progress was slow and it did indeed require a stout heart at times to withstand the trials. It was always a case of putting the surplus by "for the rainy day" - for the uncertainty of return in the next year. Thus it made us very careful. I do hope," he concluded, "that you will always share a full measure of the good of life. Remember, there is a Power which decrees each one's fate, so trust in God and thank Him for His Goodness in helping you. I hope you will always continue to live harmoniously together."

Mrs. Hoffman, as the eldest girl of the family, asked Mr. H. A. Paech, her nephew, to respond for her. 

Mr. Paech paid a compliment to the stout hearts of the people of the pioneering days, who through grim determination had won through. He remembered well the bewildering act of the large landholders in turning all the sheep on to the areas taken up by small farmers, in order to make the country look the more barren; for, with the amount of green timber, there was not much grass at best. In that way the small settlers were deprived of even that scanty amount, and it necessitated day and night vigilance to keep the feed for their own stock. He congratulated the committee and all the descendants on the success of the function and thanked them for the honor they had done Mrs. Hoffman and her brothers and sisters. 

Mr. Edgar Eulenstein proposed the toast of Mis. Hoffman's birthday. It was fitting to have the birthday to coincide with the occasion of the banquet. 

The toast was supported by Mr. Plum Paech, who congratulated Mrs. Hoffman on arriving at the venerable ago of 84. He wished her many happy returns. Nothing in the nature of a kindness was ever a trouble to her. He hoped she would spend many more happy birthdays. 

The toast was drunk enthusiastically and the response was made by the chairman. 

Mr. Robert Piltz thanked the chairman, Mr. A. Hoffman and the committee for so successfully carrying through the function. The chairman and Mr. Hoffman acknowledged thanks on be- half of the descendants. 

After cutting the cake and singing Hymn 450 the assemblage, with happy thoughts and light hearts, dispersed.

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