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Charles Henry Zwar (E8)

  • Born: 11th June 1868 Broadford, Victoria, Australia
  • Parents:
    Michael and Agnes Zwar nee Zimmer
    • Married:
    • Eliza Mary Richards
  • Lived:
    Victoria, Australia
  • Died: 1921 aged 52 years
  • Buried:

Detailed biography

The eighth child and fifth son of Michael and Agnes Zwar.


Charles Henry Zwar was born in the original slab hut (house) at ‘Glendale’, as the home property was then known, on June 11th 1868. He would spend all of his life on the home property.


Exactly three months later on 11th September he was baptized in the Lutheran Church at Dry Creek (now Thomastown) where his mother’s Zimmer family worshipped. He was officially baptized as ‘Carl Heinrich’ Zwar, and his godparents were Johann, Michael and Maria Zimmer. The Thomastown Church was dedicated in 1856 and is the oldest Lutheran Church still in use in Victoria. It has not altered a lot since 1856, still has the original iron roof and no electricity connected.

[For more information on the The Thomastown Church (originally Dry Creek) please read ‘Westgarthtown’ the German settlement at Thomastown, by Robert Wuchatsch. The book also contains information on the Zwar and Zimmer families.]

At the time Charles was born the Lutheran Church at Dry Creek was the nearest to Broadford and today there is still no Lutheran Church near Broadford. It is difficult to know how many of the children were baptized at Dry Creek. For example, there are no records for the years 1864 – 67. ‘Heinrich Peter’ (Henry) Zwar was baptized there in 1874. Anna (later Bidstrup) had been baptized there too in 1855. Anna was born near Dry Creek. I guess Adolphus would have been baptized there too as he was born there or nearby. However there is no record of Adolphus being baptized at Thomastown although the records of the time are good ( – Rob Wuchatsch). Agnes Elisabeth Zwar was baptized there and her godparents were Michael, Anna and Maria Zimmer – from a statement made by Hermann Herlitz, 6.2.1869. The church records show that Anna Zwar was godmother to Anna Maria Kaiser who was baptized there on 19th July 1874.

The Zwar family often visited the Zimmers and attended the Lutheran church at Dry Creek (later known as Westgarthtown’ and today as “Thomastown”).

The Church of England records for Broadford show that John William Walter Zwar (30.9.59 Mr. Singleton), Emily Zwar (4.10.57 Mr. Singleton) and Ada Welhalmina Zwar (6.2.78 Andrew Toomath) were baptized there on the dates shown.

At least one of the descendants told me that the Zimmers used to tell them that the Church at Thomastown was the one Michael and Agnes Zwar were married in. This is not correct. It is clearly documented that Michael and Agnes were married in 1853 in Mr. Morrison’s chapel in Collins Street in Melbourne, which was the Independent or Congregational Chapel in those days and is now owned by the Uniting Church – (but the original chapel is long since gone). Another reason Michael and Agnes Zwar could not have been married in the Thomastown Church is that they were married 3 years before it was built!

A common link is that they were married by Pastor Goethe, who was the minister in Melbourne’s central Trinity Lutheran Church, and also the minister who dedicated the Church at Dry Creek and served the Lutherans at Dry Creek until 1867 when he left for North America for health reasons.

School Years

I assume that Charles attended State School no. 1125 at Broadford. His older sister Agnes and the three younger children, Mary, Henry and Ada went there. It opened in July 1873, about the time Charles would have been ready to start school. The following year his oldest sister Anna married. As the other children married and left home Charles stayed on. He and Mary Ann, who was two years younger, were particularly close.

In a letter Mary Anne wrote in 1888 she mentions that John and Charlie have started attending Mutual Improvement Society classes:

“Charlie has to take a part in a dialogue as Laurey Swelter. He is learning the piece now and I can say it just as well as him as he is continually drumming at it till I am perfectly sick. I was reading last night in bed and heard Charlie talking in his sleep and I made him believe he was repeating the piece.”

She also mentions in the letter that she and Charlie have 30 cows to milk.

Zwar Bros

Adolphus, John and Charles worked together in partnership as ‘Zwar Bros’ for some years. They grew a lot of oats and cut it into chaff. During the Boer War they exported a lot of it to South Africa.

John Zwar (Canberra) remembers Charles as the kindliest and nicest of the Zwar brothers.

“He was a small man with sandy coloured hair, not so dark haired as the others. He would go and help his sister Emily with the harvest.”

Rachel Roberts said that Charles was good and kind.

“As children we liked him”, and, “he had a liking for dogs on the farm.”

Marriage and a Family

When Charles was 21 the sister he was particularly close to, Mary Ann, died the day after Christmas. It was a traumatic time for the whole family. Then his mother died when Charles was 23 years old. His youngest sister Ada was then only 13 years old and she went to live with her sister Emily and Thomas Marchbank. His father Michael went to live in a building on John’s place at Mt. Piper Park. [I am not sure just when Michael moved to John’s place – it may have been after Charles married. ..K.Z.]

Charles’ sister Agnes kept house for him until Charles married, and then Agnes moved to Melbourne to train as a nurse.

Charles & Eliza Zwar


Charles married Eliza Mary Richards and they lived in “The Ranch”. Charles and Eliza complemented each other’s personality. Several descendants have described Eliza as eccentric. She was an artist and wore unusual clothing. She was keen on both art and music. The house was full of musical instruments of all types. She entertained people from the Stage and Art world from Melbourne. This was her main interest in life. The house was full of paintings by Eliza. Young Charles was her favourite. She often took young Charlie to Melbourne for productions. Charles became owner of the home block on 1st September 1917.

They had 3 boys:

Richard, who lived on the home property until it was sold in about 1970;

Adolphus, or Dolph as he came to be known, who lived across the road on part of the original property and developed Victoria’s largest Turkey farm and an export trade to England; and

Charles, who became a famous composer and spent the last half of his life in London.

Final Years

Charles died in 1921. His final illness began with an ear infection, and meningitis was probably the final cause of death. He was only 52 years old.

In later years Eliza lived in a converted verandah in the old homestead where Dolph cared for her in her last years. Dick and Mabel lived in another part of the house.

Eliza died on 10th December 1948 after a terrible battle with breast cancer during which she had one arm amputated.

She was 72 years old and had been a widow for 27 years.