Early German Settlers in Burra

The Burra Burra Mine

Captain Roach

Captain Roach

Foundation Stone for St John's Lutheran Church

Foundation Stone for St John's Lutheran Church

Work began at the Burra Burra Mine in September 1845 and quite by chance in the same month the "Patel" arrived from Germany with a group of German immigrants. Among them were a group of miners who were immediately offered jobs at the mine. In particular the mining company made agreements with several of the new arrivals with experience in mining and smelting in Germany. Mr Ey was appointed a Mining Captain as Superintendent of the operations at the site, while George Ludwig Dreyer and his son George were appointed smelters. Their task was to establish smelters at Burra. Dr Ferdinand Von Sommer was to act as Superintendent for three months while Ey learnt English. Things did not work out well. After twelve months Ey was dismissed for asking for a larger salary and paying the miners too well. His replacement by Captain Roach saw the mine change over to Cornish operational methods. Ey became Captain of the adjacent unsuccessful Bon Accord Mine in 1849.

At the smelters it was no better. The Dreyers managed to get smelters erected and ready for operation in April 1847, but by October that year the smelting operations had ceased and the Dreyers were dismissed. Of the other Germans, some were employed as miners and some from the failed smelters stayed on as miners. When the Patent Copper Co. re-established smelting operations in 1848 it was Welsh expertise that brought success, though a newly arrived German, H.C.W. Fuss, fired the first charge for the company and remained with them to run the charge yard till the close of operations.

It is reported that in April 1851 about 80 of the 427 underground workers were German. (About 19%.) This German community was large enough to begin the construction of a Lutheran Church. The foundation stone for St John's Lutheran Church Redruth was laid 27/3/1851.

In 1851 the discovery of gold in Victoria saw the German miners join with everyone else in a mad scramble to try their luck. The Burra Burra Mine closed and the partly completed church was abandoned when the wall about 1 metre high.


The Town

As with the rest of the community, some of the Germans returned after the gold rush and building resumed in 1859. The church was finally completed in 1861.

St Paul's Lutheran Church, Burra North 1904

St Paul's Lutheran Church, Burra North 1904. The church is the little building in the centre right on the edge of the picture

The church continued to be used for services until destroyed by fire in 1910, although the community was not large enough to have a resident pastor. As a hall it found a wide variety of uses, among which were: a private school, Wesleyan Sunday school, Oddfellow's Lodge Hall, polling place, concert hall and meeting place for public meetings.

As with the other nationalities, men that came as miners often moved on to other jobs. A few went onto the land west and north of Burra. The Gebhardt family being notably successful as pastoralists.

By the late 1870s and early 1880s a look at the business directories for Burra show that Germans were established as general storekeepers, bakers, shoemakers, carpenters, builders, cabinetmakers, undertakers, butchers, blacksmiths and cabbies.


Eastern Farmers

Between 1875 and 1879 new Hundreds were proclaimed to the east of Burra. These lay to the north of Hundreds stretching down to the Barossa Valley in which there were many German settlers. Although the new Hundreds of Mongolata, Baldina, Rees and King were beyond Goyder's Line there was a belief in the 1870s that 'rain follows the plough' and land was taken up enthusiastically.

SA Hundreds 1860 - 64

1860 - 64
click here for the full series of maps

SA Hundreds 1865 - 69

1865 - 69

SA Hundreds 1870 - 74

1870 - 74

SA Hundreds 1876

click here to see Goyder's original map

Few of the settlers got more than one good crop and except for those on the very western margins of the district they were in extreme trouble before the end of the 1870s. The initial reaction to drought was to renegotiate lease and purchase agreements with the Government.

Later, while continuing this approach, they also obtained arrangements for getting seed wheat because many were reaping less than they had sowed. Many had to walk off with nothing. The decline was a long slow process. Eventually, except for the western margins, the land reverted to pastoralism.

The majority of the farmers further east had retreated by 1890 and the few that lingered almost certainly did so only by deriving income from wool carting, shearing, wood cutting and carting, rabbiting and other pastoral related work.

Lapford today

Lapford today

There are several indications of the failure of this settlement phase. The Hundreds of Rees and King have no surveyed towns. Tracy and Douglas, in Mongolata and Baldina respectively, remained towns on paper only, though some allotments were sold. The World's End area at the southern end of Burra's area of influence, was a little more successful, but even there the town of Lapford had only the slightest and briefest flicker of life before reverting to an open field.

Out on the saltbush plains the Lutheran Church of St Paul was erected in 1879 and operated till 1913. There is a small cemetery at the site and a school operated there between 1879 and 1900, mostly as a church school, but for a short time in the early 1890s as a Government school.

The local newspaper also carries consistent reports of the struggling nature of farming in the Hundreds to the east of the town, virtually from the start of publication in 1876, when in August ploughing at Baldina was reported, but the crops were backward due to poor rainfall. In September 1877 it was reported crops would not be worth harvesting east of Baldina, while at Mongolata rabbits ate virtually all that survived the drought. This picture of crop failure and rabbit menace was repeatedly drawn with the exception of the western boundary hills for the Hundreds of Bright, Baldina and Mongolata, while Rees and King, further east, fared even worse. The difficulties resulted in a long series of applications to the Government to vary the lease and purchase agreements for the land. The Government was generally forced to give in to the inevitable, but kept hoping for a change in fortune. In some years seed wheat was advanced to farmers, but it had to be paid back and when successive years failed this was no real solution in lands far beyond Goyder's Line.

There are many statistics that indicate the failure of settlement here, but two may serve as sufficient indicators.

Burra Record

II, 80, 9 January 1880, Page 2

Crop Yields.

Despite the generally good year for crops the eastern part of the Hundred of Baldina has yielded nothing.


last year 700 acres for 17 bags; this year 800 acres at 3 bushels per acre

last year 250 acres for 28 bags; this year 300 acres at 1½ bushels per acre

last year 140 acres for 8 bags; this year 240 acres at 1 bushel per acre

Another farmer who sowed 20 bags reaped 15 and one who sowed 80 bags reaped 45.

Last year rabbits were to blame, but this year it was insufficient rain.

In the west of Baldina the yield averaged 10 bushels per acre.

[One bushel per acre was required for seed wheat.]

It is significant that when the Thistlebeds School opened in 189? There were 20 students, but only 3 were farmers' children.


Obituaries, Marriages and Other Newspaper Articles

Burra Record

The following are a collection of obituaries, marriages and other newspaper articles from the Burra Record, that we found relating to Germans in the area. They are shown in chronological order.

12 Oct 1886

Baldina Trip reported by the Roach Brothers

The Hundred of Baldina is divided into the inner and outer plains, which have been under cultivation for about 12 years. The inner plain sloped east, terminating in a low range called the Black Hills. This is excellent agricultural country with fair rainfall, though lower than in Burra. This inner plain has 3,000 to 4,000 acres under wheat. The outer plain is saltbush country and is good for wheat, only the rainfall is quite unrepable. In the 12 years of settlement it has had only one really good crop - in the first year. A large proportion of settlers here have either sold out or deserted their holdings. The remainder, principally Germans, have about 3,000 acres under wheat in this outer plain. As a rule wheat here is up by 1 May, but this year there was no rain till near the end of July and the wheat broke through by the 1 August. The crops look healthy and green, but at the same time rather lacking in strength and vigour. They average only 6' high and yet with as many as 6 joints in the straw. Yields are hard to estimate as the next few weeks will be vital, but 5-6 bushels per acres might eventuate.

14 Feb 1888

Baldina Plains School

Settlers there have petitioned for a school and the request has been granted. Mr F. Budrian has been appointed. The settlers are mostly Germans who are gladly avaipng themselves of the opportunity offered.

25 Oct 1893

Golden Wedding

Last Sunday the Golden Wedding of Heinrich Christian Wilhelm Fuss and Freideriche Christiana Fuss was celebrated. They were married at Neustatt, Harzburg, Germany, on 22 October 1843. They migrated to Austrapa four years later in the Hermann Von Beckeratt. On reaching Burra Mr Fuss became a miner, but was soon promoted to sole charge of the smelting works charge yard, where he mixed the first and the last charge for the furnace. He has 44 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. He is a most successful gardener and when Burra could boast annual floricultural shows Mr Fuss was the principal prize-taker. Even at the present time he takes great interest in gardening operations and his clean neat beds of flowers are admired by everyone. In addition to this he spends much time reading. He had six sons and two daughters, all of whom are married. Mr Fuss is 77 and his wife 76 and both are in excellent health. After the suspension of work at the smelting yards Mr Fuss did a pttle farming at Springbank for a few years, but he subsequently retired from that operation and has since led a retired pfe.

1 May 1895, Obituary

Mr H. C. W. Fuss

It is our painful duty in this issue to record the death of Mr H.C.W. Fuss, which took place at his residence, Redruth, on Thursday morning last after a few weeks illness at the age of 79 years. The deceased gentleman was a very old and respected resident of Burra, having arrived in S.A. on 1847 in the good ship Herman Von Beckeratt. Hearing so much at that time of the famous Burra Burra Mine, Mr Fuss visited the town, and fortunately found employment as a miner, but he only filled the position for a short time, when he was promoted to one higher, having sole charge of the smelting works charge-yard, and he mixed the first and last charge for the furnace. After the smelters ceased operations Mr Fuss followed the occupation of farmer at Springbank for a few years, and then retired to a private and comfortable life. The deceased gentleman never took any active part in pubpc matters, but has always been known as an intelligent and industrious gardener, and in years gone by he was very successful at flower shows, and his generosity in imparting valuable knowledge concerning the growth and cultivation of all kinds of plants won him the respect and admiration of everyone who had transactions with him. On Sunday, October 22 1893, the golden wedding of Mr and Mrs Fuss was celebrated at Redruth. They were married at Neustatt, Harzburg, Germany on October 22, 1843. Six sons and two daughters is the result of the marriage, all of whom are married, and in addition to these 46 grandchildren and two great grandchildren have been born. One brother of the deceased gentleman is still pving in Germany. Up to the time of his late illness Mr Fuss had enjoyed exceptionally good health. Much sympathy is expressed for the bereaved family, especially for Mrs Fuss who has reached the age of 79 years, but still enjoys fairly good health. The funeral took place on Saturday afternoon and was largely attended, the burial service being conducted by the Rev. A.G. King.

15 Feb 1899

The Eastern Country

There is a report on the country east of Burra, but it is not very specific just where, though probably the inner east on the way to Robertstown. It reports signs of hard work and difficult times and praises the Germans for their hard work, tenacity, kindness and attention to their animals and care to keep their implements under cover. It mentions an early rabbit-proof fence of mallee stakes 2'6' long placed close together against a three wire fence.

21 Mar 1900, Obituary

G.A. Gebhardt died on Friday [16 March]. He was born at Duderstadt, Hanover, Germany in 1833 and arrived in SA in the Ohio in 1858. He proceeded to Burra and took up butchering before turning to pastorapsm. He bought Mt Cone from the Crown and leased Pualka [check Pualca?] soon after - sold and now known as part of the Paratoo Run [check the sense of this] He then purchased Markaranko Station, a lease on the Murray, which he held for 19 years. He worked very hard improving his properties and fighting vermin and other odds, pke bad seasons. He added to Mt Cone by purchasing land from Mr Lewis in 1871 (Wildotta), where he built his residence of Mackerode. On retiring he went to pve in Glenelg. At one time he had the best flock of Lincolns in the colony, but the run was later restocked with Merinos. He recently acquired both Pareora and Corryton Park. In 1875 he and his family took a twelve month trip to Germany. He leaves a widow and seven children: Messrs Charles E., L.W., & A. Gebhardt of Mackerode and A.G. of Pareora (Pt Wakefield). He also leaves two brothers and sisters. He was, in retirement, a member of the Lutheran Church in Fpnders St, Adelaide.

18 Apr 1900, Obituary

Mrs Henrietta Eichler, mother-in-law of the Town Clerk, Mr A. Bartholomæus has died aged 88 years 7 months. She fractured her hip 11 weeks ago and never recovered. She left Clausthal, Germany, in late 1851 and arrived in SA in January 1852 and proceeded to Burra where her husband gained work in the mine. When the Victorian gold rush was on Mr Eichler went there for three years and on returning worked at the mine as a timberman until the mine closed. Mr Eichler died 11 years ago. She is survived by four sons and two daughters as well as 34 grandchildren and about 50 great-grandchildren. Rev. W.H. Rofe officiated at the funeral.

10 Jul 1901, Obituary

Mr Carl Oppermann

Mr Carl Oppermann of Llwchyr died on Thursday aged 74. He arrived in Burra in 1854 by the ship Johann Caesar. He was born at Claustal in the Hartz Mountains, Hanover on 21 June 1827. He worked for some time at the Burra Mine and also for the Main Roads Board and most recently with the Burra District Council. He was much respected for his straightforwardness and integrity. He was a keen floriculturapst, winning many prizes at the local flower shows. He also grew many kinds of fruit. He was known to all as Charpe Oppermann. Married in St Mary's on 21 May 1855 by Rev. J.H. Ibbetson and had ten children. Survived by 3 daughters and 4 sons: Mrs G. Dow (Burra), Mrs Topperwein (Parkside). Of the sons only Mr W. Oppermann is married and pves in Burra. Mr M. Oppermann of Wolloway is a brother of the deceased. He joined the Burra Burra Lodge 43 years ago.

XV, 501, 12 Feb. 1902, page 2-3


On Thursday at World's End Miss Johanna Louisa Martha Rooke married Frederick WilliamDuldig. These are the children of some of the most enthusiastic toilers of the soil in the eastern country and their farms are models of ingenuity and hard work. Machinery, horses, cows, pigs and fowls are all cared for meticulously. The marriage was carried out in true German style. A large number of traps assembled at Mr Rooke's at about 12 o'clock where the festive part of the ceremony took place. A start was then made for the Baldina Church. Horses, traps and whips were decorated with yards of ribbon, with green the favourite colour. An hour and ten minutes drive got the party to church. The church was handsomely decorated reflecting to the credit of Miss C. Kickebusche. The ceremony was performed by Rev. T. W. Leidig. The eight mile return trip, as is the general rule, saw drivers attempt to pass each other and the journey took only half an hour before the traps passed under a large arch made at the gate. The pedestrian entrance to the celebration was also arched and in true German style no one was admitted by five pttle girls dressed in white with blue sashes, until they had placed something in the hat. The seventy to eighty guests then partook of a sumptuous spread in a tent some 50-60 feet long. Singing and music followed with games and then tea, after which there was an evening of singing, recitation, music and choruses, all nicely rendered. Mr Duldig amused the gathering with his comic recitation of The Baker and Mr R. Pfitzner also entertained with his German and Engpsh recitations. The bride was dressed in a beautiful black lustre nicely trimmed while on the crown of her head was an orange blossom wreath and a long fall almost touched the ground. At 11.30 p.m. a large spread that would have done credit to any banquet in the state was provided - the tables laden with every kind of eatable. The interior of the tent had the appearance of a magic cave. Custom places the couple under the care of their respective parents until the bride exchanges her orange blossom for a hat and the groom puts on a cap. The rest of the night passed pleasantly with refreshments constantly served, and on Friday morning visitors began to return to their homes, though some remained to complete the third day's ceremony.

9 Dec 1903

The Old Bakehouse on the eastern side of Henderson's Bridge has become historical. The baker before Mr Ullmann was so disturbed he made a quick and pvely disappearance. Mr Ullmann was frightened by the capers of some young men [who assaulted him] that he returned to Germany. Mr Charpe Morgan took over and has become somewhat afraid to stop in the building alone any longer, so has taken a trip to the 'United States'. [i.e. married]

Burra Record, 7 Aug 1907

Golden Wedding of Mr & Mrs Bruse

Mr Bruse came to SA from Rostach (Germany) in 1846 and soon went to the diggings. In 1849 he came to Burra for the first time, but in a short time went to Bendigo, returning to Adelaide in 1852, where he worked as a cabinetmaker. He went to the diggings for a third time (and each was fairly successful). He married M. Daw in 1857, who came from Penzance in Cornwall. He has now been a resident of Burra for 53 years. Mrs Bruse is 71 and he is almost 81. They have five sons and four daughters.

19 Aug 1908, Marriage

Mr Herman Schwarz of Eudunda married Miss Bertha Ottipe Duldig, 3rd daughter of F. Duldig of World's End, in the Bright Lutheran Church. Rev. Hansen officiated. Light refreshments preceded the dash to the home of the bride's father. A dozen vehicles tried to pass the bride and groom, but their leading trap had too much pace and the happy couple arrived first. Dinner was immediately served in a galvanized iron room built specially for the occasion. There were four highly decorated tables. In less than a quarter of an hour 70-80 people were served with poultry, vegetables, etc. A collection was made for the home Mission. After dinner, with its attendant speeches, games of cricket and football were played as well as games pke twos and threes and scores of others. Refreshments were served at intervals with a sumptuous tea at 6 p.m., after which there were songs and recitations in both Engpsh and German, character sketches and other amusements in the house's front room and a short farce: The Black Doctor, was well received. Supper was served just before 12 o'clock and at midnight the wreath was taken from the bride's head and the buttonhole from the groom, marking the release of both from their parents' care. Parlour games continued through the night with refreshments. Breakfast was served at dawn. Many then went home, but others stayed to continue the amusements and feasting.

20 Mar 1912, Obituary

The late Mrs J.W. C. Lowe aged 79 and a resident in Burra for c. 62 years, migrated from Germany with her parents in 1849 and married Mr Lowe in old St Mary's c. 60 years ago. Her husband died about 53 years ago. She leaves two sons: Cr C.H. Lowe of Redruth and A.W. Lowe of Broken Hill.

Burra Record, 11 Sep 1912, Obituary

Frederick John Bernhardt died in Burra on 31 August aged 72. He was born in Germany in 1840 and arrived in SA 29 April 1857 in the Nugget. He leaves a wife, 8 daughters and 4 sons: Carrie (Broken Hill), Amepa (Baldina), Louie (Adelaide), Annie, Bertha, Sepna, Myrtle & Violet (Burra), Fred, Francis, Robert (Burra) & Charles (Broken Hill). There are 3 sons-in-law, 2 daughters-in-law and 12 grandchildren.

2 Apr 1913, Obituary

Miss Christina Behla, an early resident of Burra, but recently of Kiata, Victoria, died last week aged 81. She came to Adelaide in 1855 from Werben in Germany with her husband who died 15 years ago. They pved at Burra in the early days of the mine and she was well known south of Burra where her husband later farmed. She is survived by a son and three daughters.


The Names of German Settlers

The following lists are by no means complete and merely offer a glimpse of some of the families present in the early days of the various districts.


Ackermann Deckert Frahm Hämmerling
Heimish Heinrich Keller Kiekebusche
Klaebe Linke Rooke Schmidt

World's End

Degenhardt Duell Duldig
Heinrich Hempel Kuchenmeister
Launer Schmidt Schumacher

Burra Residents with German names mentioned in the local paper of the 1870s

Bartholomäus Bruse Eiechler Franck Fuss Gebhardt
Goodhardt Gratz Linke Lowe Muller Ohlmeyer
Oppermann Pfitzner Schmidt Schutz Topperwein Ullmann

German Names from "Burra 1845-1851 A Directory of Early Folk"

Burra 1845-1851 A Directory of Early Folk was written by Jennifer Carter.

Of the 1,780 major entries to be found in the book, 139 are German names; the other entries are mostly from Great Britain.

The list below is mainly the male population. More Burra German names may be gleaned from a study of the former names of married women. The occupation in brackets is as stated in the book otherwise it is not known. Only a very small number of those listed lived in Burra for a great many years. Most stayed for a short time, many going to the gold diggings in Victoria in the 1860s never to return. The same story can be told of the other folk from Great Britain.

* denotes signatory of a petition (GRG 46/6. A [1851] 840) to the Lieutenant Governor (17.3.1851). In March 1851 the German community wished to swear allegiance to Queen Victoria and become British subjects, but at the same time wished to avoid the long journey to Adelaide required (and the loss of income thus involved). This petition was an earnest plea for the installation at Kooringa of an official empowered to administer this particular oath.


Adrins, Wilhelm*

Albrecht, C

Balhausen, Caroline

Balhausen, Johanna Henrietta

Balhausen, Louis (miner)

Balhausen, Sophia

Bauermann, Carl (cabinetmaker)

Behrens, Jacob (shopman)

Behrens, L*


Bielefeler Carl*

Blafins, J.C.*

Bock, Carl (miner)

Bock, H

Bock, William(carter)

Bohm, August*

Boehm, Ernst, August (miner)

Boikowsky, Franz*

Breesch, Wilpam

Bremer, Charles (oredraper)

Bremer, Philip (miner)

Bruggeman, H.C.

Bruse, Fritz WilliamPeter (carpenter)

Bruse, Henry (carpenter, cabinetmaker)

Bruse, T

Burse, William (storekeeper, cabinetmaker, undertaker)

Buhle, Adolf*

Carlessen, J.F.*

Degenhardt, Gustav, Jupus Wilhelm (miner)

Degenhardt, J (assayist, miner, publican)

Degenhardt, J. Carl Ludwig (miner, joiner)

Degenhardt, Lovis (miner)

Degenhardt, William(miner)

Dittmer, H *

Dobberwien, Henry Philip (carpenter)

Domen, Martin*

Dreyer, George Ludwig (smelter)

Dreyer, George William(labourer)

Dreyer, T*

Dunemann, Friedrich*

Dunemann, Wilhelm* (miner)

Eckert, Johanna Anna

Ellig, Wilhelm*

Ey, A. M

Ey, Ferdinand (1st mine superintendent)

Ey, Herman (miner)

Falkenhagen, E*

Fiedler, F*

Fiedler, Henry* (miner)

Friedlander, Anton Friedrich*(labourer)

Frieh, Heinrich*

Frueptz, F P*

Fuss, Heinrich Wilhelm (miner, smelter)

Gander, Christian*

Grimm, Christian*

Grimm, John (miner)

Grimm, L

Hahn, Friedrich*

Hansen, Johan Friedrich

Heinrich, Carl August*

Heinrichs, H*


Hubert, Heirnrich*

Keirnall/Kearnall, Carl Gottpeb (the killer of the "Murdered" by a German tombstone)

Keirnall/Kearnall, Louisa

Kirschner, Epse

Kirschner, T*

Klester, August F (miner)

Kugler, A*

Kunst, John (miner)

Lienert, Conrad August* (miner)

Lienert, Jupus*

Lobeck,Louis Robert*

Loewe, Wilhelm*

Lutz, A*


Lutz, Henry Charles, (miner)

Lutze, Heinrich, August Freidrich (labourer)

Mehlmann, A*

Mehlmann, Caropne

Mehlmann, W*

Meissen, August*

Mengler, August*

Mengler, Christian*

Mengler, Ernst

Meyer, Augusta Caroline


Meyer, Heinrich W (miner)

Meyer, Lina Louisa Rica

Mugge, Jupus Lewis Edward

Muller, Heinrich*

Nagel, George (miner)

Niewand, Friedrich (miner)

Niewand, Friedrich (miner)

Nippe Johannn Gottfried*


Pfennig, H C J

Pihl,Peter (labourer)

Preis, Frederick (miner)

Preis, Johanna Dorothea

Preuss, F* (same as F. Fries?)

Reinhardt, Frederick William(ostler)

Richter, George Henry Fredrick William(miner, labourer)

Gogener, Henry (carpenter)

Rogener, J*

Rosenhain, G W*

Schlatter, C H* (chemist)

Schlattter, W* (druggist)

Schlosser, Carl (miner)

Schmidt, August* (miner)

Schmidt, Georg Ernst Augustus (miner)

Schmiedig/Schiemdig, Carl Joachim Christian (shoemaker)

Schmeider, A*

Schneider, Lisa

Schneider, Louisa Henrietta

Schneidler, L*

Schroder, Friedrich*


Schultx, Friedrich Christian* (miner)

Schwanke, Maria Louisa

Sonneman, Matilda

Steckel, Ablert (miner)

Stoltze, Henry*

Thureau, F*

Thureau, G*

Vanselow, Franz* (labourer)

Voigt, A*

Voigt, F*

Vollmer, F*

Von Sommer Dr Ferdinand (geologist, temporary Mine Superintendent)

Waldhuter, Friedrich Carl Heinrich (miner)

Wedekind, A*

Werfel,Louisa Johann

Wieland, Carl F I (miner)

Wissel, Maria Sophia

Wollner, Carl (smelter, labourer)

Wollner, John (miner)

Wortmann, C*


Zoller, August*