STORCK, JACOB PAUL
(October 21, 1836 — April 28, 1893)
Pioneer Planter, Botanist, Nurseryman.
By Leonard Storck.
Jacob Storck was born to a comparatively well-situated German family in Darmstadt in 1836. His father Karl Gottlieb Storck, was a highly respected gardener and overseer for the estate of the Counts Ludwig and Gustav zu Erbach- Schonberg. Like his father, Jacob Storck was trained in botany and acquired skill as a nurseryman.
After Storck’s migration to Australia, he worked briefly at the Sydney Botanic Gardens. In mid-1860 The British Government’s Commission of Inquiry to Fiji was about to commence. Storck was invited to join the botanical expedition led by fellow German, Dr Berthold Seemann. This four month expedition travelled to many parts of the Fiji Islands and resulted in the publication of Seemann’s work “Flora Vitensis”: a description of the Viti or Fiji Islands with an account of their history, uses and properties.
VIDEO: Compiled by Lynette Southwick and the Southwick Family.
On completion of the Expedition, Storck remained at Viti Levu as a pioneer planter on the Rewa River. Storck continued to send specimens to Seemann and was recognized for his contribution by having a number of plant specimens named after him, included a flowering leguminous tree “Storckiella vitiensis”.
His continuing botanical interests included the occasional collection and exchange of exotic flora and fauna for major overseas institutions and he had a steady correspondence with staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He experimented with cotton hybrids and assessed sugar cane and coffee varieties. He also investigated a variety of plant diseases, particularly the coffee leaf disease (Hemileia vastatrix).
His main crops were cotton, coffee and sugar cane and he trialed tobacco, vanilla, oranges, cinchona and bananas but all of these ultimately proved unsuccessful due to labour problems, plant diseases, lack of shipping, and completion from large scale commercial enterprises, and better placed overseas producers.
His relationship with the native Fijians was not always harmonious. In the late 1860s he was involved in reprisal raids with vigilante planter groups and in the establishment of planter’s law courts that dealt with native transgressions against planters.
Like other settlers at this time Jacob sent an offer of marriage to Alexandrina Sophia Hagg aged 25 years who travelled from Karlsruhe, Germany, to Fiji to join him. They were married on the 15th October 1968 and raised a family of 8 children; five sons and three daughters.
Jacob Storck died of pleuro pneumonia following an illness lasting 12 days on 28th April 1893 at aged 57. Alexandrina and her children moved to Suva after Jacob’s death where she took up midwifery to help support her children. Alexandrina died in Suva on 18th March 1913 aged 70 years.
In September 2010 Robin, Max Storck and other family organised a 150 year family Reunion in Fiji celebrating Jacob’s 150th anniversary of his arrival in Fiji in 1860. The You Tube video above was put together by Lynette Southwick and her brothers for the celebration.
Entry By: Leonard Storck, Torbay, Auckland, New Zealand.
Book: Mitchell, D 2009, A Planter’s Lament: Jacob Storck of the Fiji Islands, D.P. Mitchell, Sydney (242 pages).
Dianne Mitchell (nee Storck) spent 30 years researching the contents of the book.
Grahame Southwick, Managing Director of The Fiji Fish Marketing Group Ltd in Suva, is a descendant of Jacob Storck. He mentions this in an interview for the “Speak Your Mind” program conducted by Fiji radio Station GOLD FM.
2016 Storck Reunion
For more information, contact: Lynette Southwick
Links to Drone Footage of Reunion.
Link to drone footage https://vimeo.com/176694671
Use the password ‘storck’ for the following videos:
Opening Day: https://vimeo.com/181848368
Suva City Tour: https://vimeo.com/181864911
Returning to Nakini on the Rewa River – Storcks’ Village: https://vimeo.com/181891663
Family Fun: https://vimeo.com/185268834