A hero of the Eureka Stockade
Jan Vennik was born on 15 April 1823 in Koedijk, the Netherlands. He was the fourth of seven children of Jan Vennik and Geertje Foppes. Vennik’s father was a carpenter, and Jan Vennik (junior) besides later looking for gold was listed as working in the Netherlands as a barman.
He married Kaatje Dekker in Ballarat on 23 March 1866, a marriage later also acknowledged in the Netherlands on 17 March 1870 when they briefly returned to the Netherlands. There were no children from that marriage.
He traveled half way around to world in search of gold at Ballarat, where he arrived in 1852, during the gold rush era. He settled here and worked as a miner. Vennik was one of the many miners who were dissatisfied with the government’s policies towards gold mining, particularly the high license fees and lack of representation.
In 1854, Vennik became involved in the Eureka Stockade, a rebellion by miners against the government. He was one of the leaders of the Dutch group of miners who formed their own armed unit, known as the “Dutch Company”. Vennik was also one of the signatories of the famous “Eureka Oath”, which was taken by the rebels pledging loyalty to the Southern Cross flag, a symbol of their cause.
During the battle at the Eureka Stockade on December 3, 1854, Vennik was wounded and captured by the government forces. He and 12 others were charged of treason. He was later released. Perhaps with an alibi provided by he compatriot Cornelius Peters (see below). It looks like Vennik went on to become a successful businessman in Ballarat, operating a grocery store and serving as a councillor for the town.
Jan Vennik is remembered as a hero of the Eureka Stockade and is celebrated as one of the pioneers of democracy in Australia. There is a street named after him “Vennik Street” and it is located in Ballarat’s suburb of Mount Clear.
A book by Yvonne Davis, which tells the story of a this Dutchman.
Another Dutchman at the diggings in Ballarat
Cornelius Peters was sideways involved in the Eureka Stockade. He also arrived in Australia in 1852 and settled in Ballarat, Victoria, where he worked as a miner.
During the trial following rebellion at the Eureka Stockade on December 3, 1854, Peters provided evidence at the trial where he provided an alibi for Vennik.
After the Eureka Stockade, Peters continued to work as a miner in Ballarat and was active in the local community. He served as a member of the Ballarat Mining Board.
He was also involved in various sporting and social clubs in Ballarat, including the Ballarat Football Club and the Foresters Friendly Society.
Peters was a respected member of the Ballarat community and his involvement in the Eureka Stockade only added to his reputation as a pioneer of democracy in Australia. He passed away in 1872, at the age of 46, and is buried in the Ballarat Old Cemetery.
John Van Der Byl baker at Ballarat
John Van Der Byl was a baker in the Ballarat Bakery on Bakery Hill in partnership with H.A. Bann. After the burning of James Bentley’s Eureka Hotel John Balderston was arrested on 27 October 1854, but later the charge was dismissed. Seven others were arrested as well and their charges were dismissed. They were Manestra Flatow, Butler, Hurd, McIntosh, Stewart and John van Der Byl. It appears he left Australia soon after his case was dismissed.