The pioneering Rutzou family will host a family reunion at the Howlong Golf Resort this Saturday, 160 years after their ancestors Ferdinand and Eliza built the historic Punt Hotel.
Today their achievements are recognised by the plaque Rutzous Bridge on River Road, Howlong.
As well as building and operating the Punt Hotel, Ferdinand was also responsible for a punt across the Murray River as there was no other river crossing in the area at that time.
He was also the official Victorian Customs Agent as the two states were then at odds over goods coming across the river and charged duty on many items.
One family mystery that will be raised at the reunion is whether the Kelly Gang used the Howlong Punt to cross the river after their raid on the Jerilderie Bank.
Rutzou family folklore says that they came across on the punt and paid their fee in new gold coins.
The mystery has become topical as a result of the popular new book ‘Mrs Kelly’ by Grantlee Kiesa.
In the book the author states that they crossed the river at Mulwala on their way to Jerilderie but no one knows their return route.
The Howlong crossing would be logical as they knew the district well and had used the area to change brands on stolen cattle and horses.
Ferdinand Rutzou, who was born in Kolding, Denmark in 1827, arrived in Melbourne on the ‘Albinus’ in 1853 and married Edinburgh born Eliza McVicar Kemp in 1863.
Eliza died in 1888 and is buried in Albury while Ferdinand passed away in 1889 and although he was buried in Howlong Cemetery, his grave was unmarked until the Rutzou Family erected a headstone in 2014.
They had six sons, many of whom also operated hotels in the district including the second youngest son Ludolph who was the proprietor of The Star in Albury for many years and Perce who was the licensee of a Corowa hotel and the old Walbundrie Hotel.
Nicola Rutzou, who is a great-great granddaughter of Ferdinand and Eliza, and is an organiser of the reunion said they were expecting up to 60 to attend the reunion, but she was making a last-minute plea for any long-lost Rutzou relatives to get in touch and make an effort to attend.
“We expect up to 60 attendees and although we have had small family get-togethers in Howlong in the past, this reunion is the largest that has been staged in recent years and as a result is unlikely to be repeated for some time,” Nicola said.