(Paul) Ernst Zwahr (F3)

Detailed biography

by Hildegaard Zwahr, wife of Ernst

Ernst Zwahr, Grandson of Karl Zwahr (F)

The Course of Ernst’s Life

Born 28.03.1924 in Steindörfel. Attended school in Hochkirch from 1930-1938. His father died in 1934 when Ernst was ten years old.


In April 1938 he started an apprenticeship as a shoemaker until completion in 1941. Worked as a journeyman in Bautzen-Holzmart until the end of 1942.

Conscripted to Army

Following this he was conscripted and sent to Italy. After one year of training he went into action in Russia. At the front he fell into captivity. Because of his knowledge of Wendish, he learnt Russian very quickly there, and had to interpret from time to time. In Moscow and vicinity he participated in the laying of water pipes.

Home in 1950


Del Zwar and Ernst Zwahr standing in front of the old Zwahr family home in Steindörfel, where Ernst grew up.

In November he was discharged from Russian captivity and arrived home on 30.11.1950. From January 1951 he once again found work as a shoemaker-journeyman in Gerberstrasse in Bautzen. This is also where we got to know each other.

In June 1952 he began work as a tracklayer for the Deutsche Reichsbahn [German Railway]. Appointed by the track-laying works in Magdeburg, he was engaged in the construction and also in part, the rejuvenation, of the tracks of what was then the DDR. Because of this work he was often away and seldom at home.

Marriage and Family

We married on 27.09.1952 in Göda. Our daughter Anita was born on 16.06.1953, and our daughter Petra was born on 21.06.1957.


In 1968 Ernst had to undergo a stomach operation and as a result of this he was transferred to the Internal Service in Hohenbocka in 1972. There he was engaged as a stoker, but also helped in mechanical works.

In 1978 he was operated for kidney stones and after that always suffered. 3 May 1986, while working as a stoker, he had a stroke and was admitted to hospital in Senftenberg. He was paralysed on the left side, but after about a quarter of a year, this settled again. From this time, after the conclusion of all medical examinations, he was an invalid pensioner.

During the years 1986 to 1990 he was always sickly and from time to time in hospital in Bautzen and Berlin. On 14.10.1990 he had severe pain in the limbs and we had to consult the doctor. The doctor diagnosed a heart infection and a new stroke, and straight away admitted him to the hospital in Bautzen. During the night of the 22–23.10.90, a blood clot became loose (on account of his thromobosis). In the morning hours of 23.10.1990 he died in the hospital in Bautzen.

Translation to English by Chris Greenthaner

Karl Zwahr (F)

Detailed biography

The youngest of eleven

Karl arrived on 2nd September 1836, the last of eleven children born in Drehsa, Saxony to Johann and Anna Zwahr nee Hennersdorf. He would live in Saxony all his life and there are descendants still living in Saxony today (2002).

Karl’s father died when Karl was only four years old. He would have attended school in the neighbouring village of Wurschen.

When he was 13 years old his brother Michael left for Australia. Two years later his brother Johann emigrated to Australia with his wife. Karl considered going too. Even his mother gave serious thought to moving to Australia. Three years later Peter and his bride left for Australia. However Karl and his mother remained in Saxony along with Andreas and Maria.


Karl Zwahr – Master Butcher

Karl became a Master Butcher at Grosspostwitz.

First marriage

On January 22nd 1861 Karl married Maria Mlink, the only daughter of Andreas Mlink of Grosspostwitz. Maria had been born at Grosspostwitz 1841/42. She died from complications with childbirth at Grosspostwitz 15.1.1862. She was buried together with her infant son on 19.1.1862.

Their only son had lived for 15 days: Johann Ernst Zwahr, born 2.1.1862, baptized in Grosspostwitz three days later and died from convulsions on 17.1.1862, was buried together with his mother in Grosspostwitz.

It must have been a devastating experience for Karl.

Second marriage

Karl married his second wife Johanne Christiane Anna Pursche at Hochkirch on 15.11.1863. Anna was the daughter of gardener Christoph Pursche of Döhlen. She was born on 6.11.1843, probably in Döhlen, and died in Hainitz 17.7.1909 and was probably buried in Grosspostwitz. — [from Ernst Zwahr, a grandson.]

Karl had two sons from the second marriage, Karl August Zwahr and Johann Friedrich Zwahr. Karl and his wife Anna took in Maria and Ernst Zwar, children of Karl’s older brother Andreas after their parents died. According to Maria, Karl treated her as his own daughter and she missed him greatly after he died.

Karl died of lung cancer in Grosspostwitz 25.7.1892 and was buried on 28th, survived by his second wife and their two sons.

In Australia, Arthur Zwar recalled:

“When I was a schoolboy, I remember seeing at my grandparent Zwar’s place 
[at Ebenezer] a picture of Mr and Mrs Karl Zwar and their two children, Johannes and August.”

© Kevin Zwar

Ada Wilhelmina Zwar (E11)

Detailed biography

The eleventh child and fifth daughter of Michael and Agnes Zwar.

The Youngest

Ada was the youngest and the only child to be born in the new house built on the Zwar farm at Broadford. The house later became called “The Ranch”.

Ada Wilhelmina Zwar arrived on 9th November 1877, the fifth daughter and the last of eleven children born to Michael and Agnes. Agnes was then 42 years old. Ada was born an auntie. Her sister Anna was married to George Bidstrup and they had two children before Ada was born. Ada was 23 years younger than her eldest brother Adolphus.

Ada was baptized by Rev. Andrew Toomath in the Broadford Church of England on 6th February 1878. Rev. Toomath became a great friend of the family and was remembered with affection long after he left the District. The same year Ada was baptized, her father Michael made his long hoped for visit back home to Saxony in Europe.


In 1884 Ada started school at Broadford State School No. 1125. Two years earlier her sister Emily had left home to marry Thomas Marchbank. Much of Ada’s later life would be spent with her sister Emily.
In 1885 Ada won a book called “The History of the Robins” as a prize for the second class.
 By the time she finished school, another sister Mary-Anne had died, and her brothers John, William and Adolphus were married. Henry had gone to the Beechworth tannery to work with Albert, so there were only Charles and Agnes at home with Ada and their parents.
 Ada was only 13 years old when her mother died. She went to live with her sister Emily and Thomas Marchbank at Wattle Grove, a dairy farm about three kilometres east of Broadford.

The Dressmaker

Ada trained as a dressmaker in Melbourne. She rode her bike to the railway station in Broadford and caught the train to Melbourne for her lessons. She led quite an active social life. At one stage Dr. Bernard Zwar courted her, and they went to South Australia to visit his family. However his father would not allow them to marry as they were first cousins, and the two remained good friends over the years.

Ada went to Tasmania with her friend Fanny Bidstrup for a holiday. On board ship Ada met Sam Crowl, from California Gully near Bendigo, and they became engaged before he left for America where he worked as a miner.


In 1904 Ada kept a diary for 3 months. She was 26 years old. The diary gives us a good insight into her life at this time.

Ada was usually occupied with her dressmaking. She often spent the whole day sewing. The diary mentions,

‘pants for Thomas Marchbank’, uniforms for her nursing sister Agnes, a blouse for Emily; making aprons, cutting out a dress for Grace, sewing a black satin apron, a green petticoat, and a lot of sewing for the Church of England Bazaars.


Ada was a strong and practicing Christian. She sang in the church choir, which usually practiced on Thursday nights, and played the organ for services when the regular organist could not attend. Unless it was too wet Ada attended services on Sunday morning and again in the evening. Her diary mentions when the sermons were good or boring! The church was often packed out at night. As well as sewing for the bazaars, Ada ran a stall selling flowers. In 1900 she received a book from the Sunday School, presumably for her work as a teacher.


On the farm Ada helped with the milking, the washing, ironing and cleaning, and sometimes went fishing with Emily and Thomas. When Thomas had his team of workmen home – up to twelve men who worked the threshing machine – Ada would become exhausted helping Emily cook and feed them all.

A Social Life

Every day, almost without exception, there were callers or visitors. Either one of the Zimmer boys from Epping (her cousins Charles, Nick and Abb) would come for a night, or local friends or relatives would call in. Otherwise she was out visiting herself. Sometimes they went for a drive, climbed the Sugarloaf Mountain, played cards, or sat and talked. Some evenings they saw slides on the magic lantern, sang songs round the piano, played music on the piano or violin, or gave recitations.


Trips to Melbourne were a highlight for Ada. She enjoyed shopping sprees, but not a visit to the dentist where she “made a dreadful noise, cried and laughed together” as the dentist drew two teeth without anaesthetic. On her next visit the dentist gave her an anaesthetic!
 In Melbourne she stayed with her brother Bill (and his wife Lucy) at Preston, visited friends, and was taken out to dinner by her cousin Dr. Bernard Zwar. She also enjoyed speaking ‘through the phone’ to Bernard and her other friends.


At home Ada regularly called at the Post Office. She corresponded with a number of friends but her greatest thrill came with letters and postcards from Samuel Crowl in America. Letters came every week. When she received two letters and a postcard on the same day she notes in her diary,

“(raised to seventh heaven in consequence)”.

On another day,

“Had three letters from America and four P. cards, feeling happy in consequence.”

A fortnight later the diary ends.

Marriage in South Africa

Meanwhile Sam Crowl left America to work in the gold mines at Johannesburg in South Africa. Ada travelled over to South Africa toward the end of 1905 and they were married in January 1906. Ada was 28 years old.

Return to Australia

Their first son, Lyall Zwar Crowl, was born at Germiston, a suburb of Johannesburg, in October. It is one of the rare cases of the name ‘Zwar’ being used as a Christian name. Soon work became scarce and Sam considered returning to America. Ada wrote home that she dreaded the thought of moving to America, so her sister Emily Marchbank quickly wrote back and invited them to come and run the dairy farm at Broadford as her husband Thomas was suffering from diabetes. In 1907 the Crowls returned to Australia together with John Crowl, a son of Sam from a prior marriage, and they lived with the Marchbanks at Wattle Grove.

Life in Broadford with her Sisters

Thomas Marchbank died the following year. Sam Crowl found it difficult to suddenly become a farmer at nearly 40 years of age. He had been a miner all his life. He had a chest condition akin to silicosis and also suffered severely in the hot weather. He held office in the local Labor party. His political views did not endear him to his National Country Party relatives.

Silver Leaf Tree

A second son, Gavan Michael Crowl was born in 1910 but it wasn’t long before Ada was a widow. Samuel Crowl died in 1912 (?).

A silver leaf (Leucodendron) tree grew on the right hand front of the house in front of Ada’s window. It was particularly cherished as it was a South African native tree.

Dairy Farm

Ada worked hard at dressmaking to provide for her sons, and helped her sister Emily Marchbank run the dairy farm. Their nursing sister Agnes would come and stay from time to time. When her nursing career ended Agnes moved in permanently with her two widowed sisters, and the three ladies worked to keep the farm going and to bring up Ada’s two boys Lyall and Gavan.

The Train

The railway line ran near their house. The three sisters knew which train their brother Albert would be travelling on from Beechworth to Melbourne where he used to sit as a member of Parliament. His sisters would stand outside their home and wave as the train passed, and Albert’s portly figure could be seen in the train doorway with his handkerchief fluttering a greeting. This regular event made their day.


Ada was called on to play the organ again in the Church of England. Even in her later years she still helped out, though reluctantly. She was “out of practice” and would suffer from ‘stage fright’. For a number of years the three sisters ran the flower stall at the church bazaars.

Home Life

At home Emily looked after the cows and the vegetable garden.
 Agnes tended the flower garden and the poultry. Ada was responsible for the housework.

As well as her sewing she prepared the meals and did the washing. In the late 1930’s Paul (Garry) Zwar called on them and sold them a “Zwar” washing machine. It proved to be very effective. (Garry Zwar was a second cousin from South Australia. Garry was the son of Bertha Zwar nee Becker and more closely related to me through the Beckers than the Zwars (K P Z). Garry later settled in Queensland and retired in Brisbane).

William Zwar Visits

Their brother Billy would visit them at unexpected and infrequent intervals from King Island. He would bring a kangaroo hide, beautifully tanned and skilfully cut into bootlaces. He would do some work round the farm such as burning off the back paddocks. Emily was always very sympathetic and considerate with Billy’s visits, though Ada became less so if the stay was a long one. She had to cook for him and do his washing.

A Good Shot

Ada would sometimes go with her sisters on a fishing excursion, but mainly for the outing. She was not as keen as the other two on fishing. Ada preferred the rabbiting expeditions. She was a particularly good shot with the rifle.

When they bought a car Ada did the driving, as Emily and Agnes did not learn to drive. Her two boys were growing up. Lyall left home to study in Melbourne in 1922, and four years later Gavan followed him.


Lyall returned home early in the thirties and developed a poultry farm at Wattle Grove. In 1936 he married and built a home about 250 metres south of the old house. The original home was removed to make way for the large freeway, which passes near Broadford today.

Her Final Years

Agnes died in 1948. When Emily died in 1951 she left the farm to Lyall and Gavan Crowl. Ada did not want to leave Wattle Grove. A Dutch couple who worked for Lyall lived in the house with her for a time to keep her company and to help with the housework.

Ada broke her hip in a fall in a shop in Broadford in 1946 when she was 69 years old. 
When Ada was 79 years old she moved in with her son Gavan and Betty at Moorabbin where they had an extra room built on for her. The following year she entered a rest home near Brighton, but suddenly the supervisor’s husband died and the inmates were moved to another rest home in Caulfield. Ada’s health continued to fail and she soon moved into a nursing home at Moorabbin where she passed away on 30th October 1958 aged 81 years. She had been a widow for 46 years after a marriage of only 6 years.

Ada possessed a strong personality. She was meticulous in her work. She didn’t let anyone influence her opinions.

Wattle Grove

The Wattle Grove property remains with Zwar descendants. On Lyall Crowl‘s death in 1966 his brother Gavan bought out his half of the property. In 1968 Gavan and Betty built a new home on the farm. The old house was bulldozed to make way for the freeway. As one passes by Broadford on the southbound lanes of the large freeway one would need to look straight up a few metres to see the spot where the old Marchbank home used to stand.

© Kevin P Zwar

Henry Peter Zwar OBE MLA (E10)

Detailed biography

The tenth child and sixth son of Michael and Agnes Zwar.


Henry Peter Zwar was born on the farm at Broadford on 2nd December 1873, the tenth child and the youngest of the six sons born to Michael and Agnes Zwar. Five months later Anna, his oldest sister, made some room for Henry in the Zwar home when she married George Bidstrup; and Henry was hardly walking when he became an uncle for the first time! (to Charles Bidstrup, who was 15 months younger than his uncle Henry). In 1878, before Henry was quite 5 years old, his father went on a trip to Europe to visit his birthplace. About 70 years later Henry would recall his early days:

“At six years of age I commenced school walking about one and a half miles. At 7 years I milked six cows before and after school and on Saturdays and Sundays. When 12 years of age, I entered a district school competition. I won the prize, two large volumes of ‘Livingstone’s Travels’ which are still in my home. Encouraged, I entered for the first Government Scholarships – valued at £40 available for boys and girls who could not afford college charges. I was then about 13 years old – my sister was married and had a farm about 6 -miles from Broadford. The school there had an attendance of 30 or 40 students. The teacher boarded with my sister. The teacher took an interest in me and tutored me day and night with the result that I won the scholarship. In 1887 – 14 years of age – I went to Melbourne Grammar School. It was strange for a country boy. I outstripped the other boys, especially in Geography and Arithmetic, but I had certain difficulties with the languages. German was an important language for business but our parents, who did not teach us, hated the Prussians. I was getting on well when I broke my arm. This set me back. After 6 months, I had to leave for home and take charge of the farm. I was just a nipper in short pants and with the help of a lad from the Industrial School milked 30 cows. He was a good lad and received £1 per week and tucker. I got only my tucker. I was pleased to be the “Boss” however and did not bother about the money. We did all the farm work – feeding stock, killing pigs and calves for the Melbourne market. Scalding the pigs was a big job – I tested the hot water with blood from the pig and if it curdled it was too hot. We did a good job and between milking cut enough wood to keep a hand made brick kiln going. When fifteen, a brother came home and took charge as I left to learn the Tanning Trade.”


Henry learnt the tanning trade under his brothers William and Albert at Beechworth. They had just bought the Ovens Tannery at Beechworth and Henry joined them in September 1888 only a few months after they started operations. Even though Henry’s brothers ran the tannery, they did not make life easy for their 15 year old young brother. (He was younger by 12 and 10 years.) About 60 years later Henry recalled the early days at Beechworth:

“I worked 54 hours a week, received 15 shillings in wages and paid 15 shillings for board. I painted the factory after hours and on Sunday mornings. Attended Church on Sunday evenings. I earned enough to buy clothes and to go to a night school to improve my education. My teacher was the Rev. Canon Potter, and later Mr. Poynton B.A., brother of Mr. Poynton, Labor M.H.R. I was in turn Apprentice, Improver, Journeyman, Foreman and Manager. Award wages then were 42 shillings per week for 54 hours. As Foreman, I received 48 shillings per week and then I married.”


Henry married Jane Freier Cunningham on 28th March 1899 at Beechworth. He was 25 years old, and she was 7 months older. They rented a house of 5 rooms for 7shillings a week. Henry had been at Beechworth for 10 years.

Parkside Tannery Preston

The following year his brother William bought the Parkside Tannery at Preston, near Melbourne. William offered Henry his third share in the Beechworth Tannery, but Henry could not manage it at the time:

“I was offered a third share in the business, but could borrow only enough to buy a ninth of third share.” H.P.Z. 1949

Family Life

Their first child, Beryl Carrick Zwar, was born on 8th March 1901. Two years later to the day Enid Jean Zwar arrived and two and a half years later Herman Richard Zwar completed their family. They lived at Newtown about a mile out of Beechworth. The children were driven to school in a phaeton by their mother or a spring cart by one of the tannery men. […Beryl] Later they lived in a house at the tannery about five kilometres out of town.


After Henry’s brother William had been operating a tannery in Preston, a suburb of Melbourne, for about ten years he decided to leave and take up a property on King Island.

“On January 1st 1911 Albert and Henry Peter entered into partnership in the Preston Tannery which had been operating under the name of William Zwar and Co.” J.J. Macaulay.

Henry became the tannery manager at £5.10.0 per week. William then retired from the tanning industry although he retained a financial interest for some years. Henry and Jane Zwar moved to Preston with their three children in 1911. The parents were 37 years old.

“For two years they lived in Roseberry Avenue, and in 1913 they bought the large home called ‘Rothesay’ at 38 Gower Street, now 260 Gower Street. There was room for a croquet lawn and a tennis court beside the house. Later Henry bought the block the other side of the house and extended the dining room sideways and then added a billiard room towards the street. His and Jane’s idea was for the family to bring their friends home and many happy times resulted with tennis, billiards and songs round the piano, which Jane played.” Beryl Hughes

About 40 years later Henry recalled the early years at Preston:

“I had the usual ups and downs. War broke out in 1914. I gave four years honorary service. Tanners kept the troops supplied with all leather requirements – it was a big job, as there were no motors or tractors and an enormous quantity of leather was needed. I did not ask, nor did I receive a penny for out of pocket expenses…. After the war I put thousands of diggers through the Repatriation. I met Colonel McPhee, head of the Repatriation a couple of years later, when running a sports meeting for mentally sick diggers at Mont Park. On being introduced to the Colonel, he said, “Zwar, you are the best known man in Australia to me, but I have never met you. You sent thousands of diggers to me, for the first hundreds I put on two officers to check up on your statements and found that you were doing a better job than my men, so put them to other jobs and gave pensions on your recommendations – thousands of them”. It cost me all the cash I had to help diggers.”

Medal of Merit

Henry had a great love for his country and a real concern for those who served her in wartime. He investigated thousands of cases for the Repatriation Department.

“Henry Peter Zwar was the only Victorian civil civilian presented with the R.S.L’s Medal of Merit following World War I.” (Newspaper cutting 13.1.59)

In his autobiography Henry alludes mysteriously to secret service work he carried out for Prime Minister Billy Hughes, but there are no details.

Tannery Sole Owner

The year following the end of the War Henry became sole owner of the Tannery at Preston, and his brother Albert Michael the sole owner of the Beechworth Tannery.

“The long partnership between Albert Michael and Henry Peter was finally dissolved by Deed on July Ist 1919 leaving Albert Michael the sole owner of Zwar Bros. and Co. and Henry Peter retiring to William Zwar & Co. Pty Ltd. where he continued to operate under the name of Henry P. Zwar Pty. Ltd. Albert Michael relinquished all his interest in the Preston Tannery and from then onwards both companies were independent with no association in any way.” J.J. Macaulay

The Zwar tannery at Preston, now renamed the ‘Henry P. Zwar Pty Ltd’, was soon employing more than 100 hands. In 1939 ‘The News’ of May 30th devoted a half page to Henry and his tannery, and included the following:

“Some idea of the quality of the leathers produced by this firm can be gathered from the fact that it supplied the whole of the original leather coverings for the first and second class carriages of the Adelaide express, and today those same coverings are giving excellent service. “Prestonite” Leathers were specially chosen for upholstering the Victorian Railways’ “Spirit of Progress”. The quality of this leather has been greatly regarded. It is highly recommended because of its beauty of colourings, finish, and softness of texture. The firm also supplied the leather used in the upholstering of the special railway car used during the visit of the Duke of Gloucester. The leather for the upholstering of the furniture at Australia House in London, and the C.T.A., Melbourne, was also supplied by Henry P. Zwar Pty. Ltd. Special leathers have been supplied to the Metropolitan Tramways Board for their trams and new buses.”

The newspaper article also includes an aerial photograph of the tannery. Although running the tannery must have taken up much of his time Henry was also involved in a prodigious number of organisations and bodies. It would be impossible for anyone to list them all! Carole Woods summed Henry up as

“A tall dignified man with a brush moustache, H. P. Zwar was gregarious and had a strong philanthropic trait.” Australian Dictionary of Biography manuscript.


At Beechworth Henry was a cricketer, rifleman and Australian Rules footballer (who rucked the four quarters without a change). His interest in sport grew with the years to the extent that “The Bulletin’‘ (May 24 1944) records:

“Henry Peter Zwar M.L.A., president of Victorian Football Association in place of the late J.J. Liston, is a member of over 100 sports organisations and President of 40. The list includes every known Australian sport except two-up.”

At Preston

“He was President of the following local clubs: 
Football, Cricket, Rowing, Soccer, Lacrosse, Rifle, Jika
Cricket Association and the Amateur Athletic Club. In addition,
he was connected with amateur and professional cycling clubs,
swimming, tennis and bowling club…” P. 63 Brief Biographies of Prominent Preston People

Football Association for Youths

Towards the end of World War II when Henry was about 70 years old, he was

“called to Preston Police Station as a J.P. to bail out some boys who were in trouble. He formed the impression that they were more in need of help than of punishment.
This led to a meeting of 40 boys and parents, which resulted in the formation of the magnificently successful Preston District Junior Football Association. It started with seven clubs covering 150 boys and has since grown to many clubs which have provided recreation for thousands of boys.” The Post 1.14.1959

Henry was President of the Preston Bowling Club for over 35 years; Jika Cricket Association for 27 years; Preston Football Club 26 years; Preston Cricket Club 26 years – and President of a number of other clubs for shorter terms.

“H. P. Zwar Reserve”

Henry’s interest in sport is commemorated in the “H. P. Zwar Reserve” at Preston. It contains a number of playing fields adjoining the Preston Technical College. (One can find it in the Melbourne Street Directory).


Henry was made a Life Member of the Victorian Football Association of which he was President from 1944–47. He was also a trustee of the Mecca of Australian sport – the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Preston Council Mayor

Henry entered the Preston Council in 1929 and served until 1935. He was Mayor of Preston in 1933-34. It was during the Depression years that Henry gave a tremendous amount of aid to unemployed people:

“It was not an uncommon sight to see up to twenty people waiting to see him at his office – and no one went away empty handed.” p. 63 Unnamed Source

Henry organized a committee of working people and clergymen to collect for and feed the families of the unemployed. Preston could later boast that it did not need to run a government soup kitchen to feed the poor in these difficult years. Henry also organized the delivery of wood to the unemployed, often at considerable personal expense. (He later estimated this cost him £2000 ).

“With tanneries in the District, distribution of leather for boot-mending could be made. Parties of unemployed were transported to Whittlesea and Wallan to cut wood to distribute to the unemployed homes. Some men were assisted to travel to work over the gold-fields … even the permanently employed had to submit to wage and salary cuts…
A distressing feature of the depression years was the eviction of families for inability to pay rent …. Much of the opposition to evictions was organized by the Unemployed Worker’s Movement, a militant off-shoot of the moderate Central Unemployed Committee of the Melbourne Trades-Hall…. As the depression dragged on, militancy increased, accompanied by scuffles and riots.” p. 100 History of Preston

These were trying years for the men on the Preston Council. The militants and communists were prepared to fight in the streets. In October 1932 they held a protest outside the Town Hall where they sang the ‘Red Flag’.

“A most resolute opponent of labor militancy was H. P. Zwar, yet he and his supporters, gave assistance to the less militant unemployed.‘’ p.101 History of Preston

About 1949 Henry would write.

“I paid up my overdraft only before Christmas last year after all these years and selling up my small properties to feed and clothe these families.”


Henry was always interested in politics;

“From a lad, I always took part in elections. The day I was 21, I took 3 of my fellow workers 3 miles over a bush track to buy a vote – one bought a vote for one shilling. When the election came on, we had a vote and the others had none and were sore.”


Vote for H.P. Zwar


Although Henry was a most generous man to anyone in need, he was not a weak man. He was prepared to stand by his principles, and even to stand up to any militant or communist person, as can be seen from an event in 1917

“In 1917, we had a loyalist meeting and the Union Jack on the table. A certain crowd disloyal to the Empire came to break up the meeting and eventually the meeting got out of hand. I told the lady to play ‘God Save the King’ or there would be a riot. This calmed them down. I saw one put his fingers to his nose at a war widow in black. I did not wait to go down the steps I jumped down and thrashed three, my partner thrashed another and we won the fight and cleaned them up and they never forgot it.”

There would be similar meetings during the Depression years! In March 1927, when Henry was 56 years old, he stood for the National Australia Party for the Heidelberg electorate (which included Preston), but was beaten by 1700 votes by the Labor candidate. He won the seat however as an Independent in 1932 and held it until 1945.

‘He was no political theorist, and most of his mass contacts were of an apparently non-political character.“ p. 95 History of Preston

Community Supporter

He won support through his wide and varied contact with people – his help to the returned soldiers and to the poor and unemployed – as well as his leading role in many local organisations. The sporting bodies have been mentioned. He was a liberal supporter of hospitals, and a Life Governor of six, which included the Melbourne Children’s Hospital and the Melbourne Women’s Hospital. He was chairman of the Preston Relief Committee (1929-32); Preston Recreation Committee; School Committee (27 years); Preston Girl’s School Council (21 years); Preston Technical School; Preston Ladies Club (??); Prestonite Club (27 years); Horticulture Society 14 years; Musical Society 10 years. He supported every community body, including the Scouts and Girl Guides and the “Anti-Sweating League”. Henry was also a Justice of the Peace, and a special Magistrate of the Children’s Court.
Henry was the only United Australia Party candidate in the 1940 election to substantially increase his majority of votes from the previous election. Carole Woods wrote:

“In parliament Zwar voted independently, claiming ‘conscience as the final court of appeal’. His overwhelming concerns were the unemployed and the plight of many widows and deserted wives. As president of the Preston Unemployment Relief Committee from 1929-32, Zwar had helped numerous people and he drew on his experience to advocate more humane government policies. He was critical of the Country Party, stressed the value of secondary industries, and heaped contempt on the Labor Party’s alliance with the Dunstan Country Party government of 1935-43, arguing that this caused Labor members to betray their welfare policies.” 
Australian Dictionary of Biography manuscript

Henry’s life of community and public service was recognized in the 1950 Honors List. He received the Order of the British Empire from King George VI.

Wife Jane and Family

His wife Jane was also a leader in the community and supported many charitable organizations and auxiliaries. Their daughter Beryl recalled that her father was always sympathetic to the needs of people in the community, but he never forgot or neglected his own family. She remembers her mother Jane as a great help to Henry socially, and Jane also made a valuable contribution in her own right through her work for charities. Jane was President of the Central Council for the Eye and Ear Hospital for 12 years; a foundation member of the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital (PANCH) in July 1944 and a member until her death in 1952. She also helped form an association to assist the Mayoresses of Preston, and served as a member of the Preston Red Cross. For her services to charity Jane was awarded a medal by the order of His Majesty the King to be worn in commemoration of their Majesties Silver Jubilee on 6th May 1935, and another medal for their Coronation on 12th May 1937.

Last years

Henry had a sense of Family History long before many other people took an interest in recording the lives of their forefathers. In 1950 he sent a cheque for £250 to the Lord Mayor’s Hospital Appeal Fund and enclosed a note:

“It will be 100 years tomorrow since my parents arrived in Victoria so I’m sending this donation to the Fund”.

Two years later Jane died on 29th April 1952. Henry lived for another seven years. He died on Monday 12th January 1959, aged 85 years. He was the last of Michael and Agnes Zwar’s eleven children to pass on – 109 years after Michael landed in Australia. One of Preston’s largest funerals ever seen left the Zwar Home for the cemetery and scores of people lined the streets with heads bowed. Henry Peter Zwar had concluded his autobiography about ten years earlier with the following lines.

“I owe all my success in life to my mother who guided me along the right path. A big-hearted woman who fed every ‘Sundowner’ who came along she gave them tea, breakfast and a parcel of food to carry them to the next town. After the Old Age Pension came in, these disappeared – they were a fine body of men. We were always taught to honour the British flag. I must now pay a tribute to my wife. Throughout 50 years of married life, she has helped me in every way possible with sympathy, love and care. She gave me every help and encouragement during my 14 years in Parliament. Her charity work stands alone. Quietly efficient, doing what she thought was right and is still carrying on after 30 years Red Cross and 12 years President, Eye & Ear Hospital Auxiliary. My two daughters, son, son-in-law and daughter-in-law have all helped lighten our work, especially my son who took charge of the factory when I was in Parliament and since. 
I and my family have endeavoured throughout our lives to live up to the message in the following lines: “I shall pass through this world but once, Any kindness I can show to any human being, Let me do it now, not neglect or defer it, For I shall not pass this way again”. “

© Kevin P Zwar

Mary Ann Zwar (E9)

Detailed biography

The ninth child and fourth daughter born to Agnes and Michael Zwar.


Mary Ann Zwar was born in the original slab hut on the farm at Broadford on 24th September 1870. Her mother was 35 years old. It was 20 years since her father had arrived in Victoria. I do not know where she was baptized.

I assume she attended the State School 1125 Broadford. We know that her older sister Agnes and a younger brother Henry attended this school from inscriptions in school books handed down in the family and kept by Gavan and Betty Crowl (1993).

They also have a book called “Lessons in the Life of our Lord’ and inscribed:

“Mary A Zwar
 St. Matthews Sunday School 
Nov. 23rd 1885”

Her little sister Ada probably used the book for teaching Sunday School because she added her name to it in 1900.

The Popular One

“Mary Anne was the popular one. She was close to Charles.”
…John Zwar (Canberra 25.8.82)

Mary Anne wrote letters to a close friend Emma Coombs, a sister to John Zwar’s wife. Emma lived at Mangalore and then at Seymour. A few of these letters have survived and they give us a little insight into the outgoing nature of the popular teenager who was known affectionately to everyone as ‘Polly’. The letters also give us a good picture of life for the young folk over a hundred years ago. It is interesting to note that she addresses at the top of her letters are written from ‘Vineyard Hill’, the name the Zwar property must have been known by in those days. A rate notice of the time records two and a half acres of vines on the property.

The First Letter

The first letter is undated as the first page is missing and it does not say to whom it is addressed but I am sure it is to Emma. It shows a young lady with a very responsible attitude to the Scottish minister’s wife. It is written in the stylish upright and large script of a teenager:

“We are going to have another Temperance lecture in about three weeks and have to start practising again. It will keep us pretty busy, as they intend having one every month. Mr. Reid the Scottish minister is a teetotaller & I think he started the meetings. Mrs. Reid held a social thursday evening at her place & only four young ladies were there. I think it was such a shame that they did not all turn up. Some of them have got a great set on Mrs. Reid but they might have wrote an apology after she had gone to so much trouble.
I like her very well.

Do not keep me waiting another six months for an answer or else I do not know what I shall do. You must not show this scribble to anybody. Marie Craig promised to go up to Sunday Creek on the thursday with us but Jack Howden was to be M.C. at a ball at Strath Creek on Friday evening so she backed out of the Sunday Creek programme. Mr. Fothergill wanted her to play the glees and songs for them & she said if she had known she would have come but Mr. F said “it was all my-eye”, Winnie had to play the accom’s for all of us. I think it is time to bring this to a close or else your eyes will get sore.

With love to your mother, dad, George and Yourself

Yours sincerely,


Second Letter

The next letter is undated. It gives a glimpse into the life of Father and some of the uncertainty he brings into the lives of the family.

“Vineyard Hill

Dear Emma, received your note safely. Father is on the spree just at present so we are not quite sure about coming up at all events Maria Craig is coming. I do not think her mother and sister will he able to also George Whyte and Ernest McLiesh. Winnie did not think he would be able to get away but I suppose he will at the last. They are all coming by the five train. Alice wants me to go up with her in the morning so if all is well you can expect us.
 Alice is going to send a boy down to help to milk so I suppose we will be able to go. I am sure I will die if I do not get up.

Mother went to town Tuesday & dad went to the township that morning & that is the last we saw of him as he has not been home since. We heard that he bought a scrap of a horse for 14 pounds from a Jew. The man tried to cash dad’s cheque at McLeish‘s but Mrs. McLeish would not cash it that is how we found out that dad bought a horse.

Charlie is working out at the other farm & so Liz Dick and I are left alone. I got your other glove back from Annie Kenny & will take it up if I do not forget. I got a letter from Bert Whitehead yesterday & Dick wanted me to let him have the letter but Bert said I was not to let anyone see it but he did not say anything about reading it out. I read it to Dick but he declared I left some parts out. He is not going to let me see the next one he gets.

Dick said you asked him up but he does not know if he will go or not he only says it to tease us. Well I must bring this nonsense to a close, as I am sure you will not have time to read it. George need not think he was going to skiff (?) us about Ed Shelton. Leave some of the work for Alice and I Thursday because Alice wanted me to go with her to help, With love to all,

Your ever loving friend


“Vineyard Hill 
Oct 1st 1888

Dear Emma,
I received your much welcome letter and was very glad to hear that you were having such heaps of fun at your surprise parties and so forth, but take care that you will not get surprised. It is very dull down here at present, They have started Mutual Improvement Society classes. John and Charlie are members. I have not been but Alice and I are going next Tuesday week night. There are to be recitation & songs & so Charlie has to take a part as Lawrey Swelter. He is learning the piece now & I can say it just as well as him as he is continually drumming at it till I am perfectly sick. I was reading in bed last night & heard Charlie talking in his sleep & I made him believe he was repeating the piece.
Mother and Ada went to town last Friday so our family is considerably diminished.

They will come home with Henry next Thursday. Lucy’s brother was here yesterday to inform us we have another niece. It was born last Wednesday. Lucy is up at her mother’s. Alice and I are going to Emily’s tomorrow to finish the dresses. They will look very pretty. Bella McRae went to town last week for the first time in about four years. Her young man has been coming up for over two years & she never went to see her intended relations till last week. She said she will have enough of town when she has to live there. I think she will be married in the beginning of December so that is a long way off yet. Gracie is getting a bigger cure (?) every day. I was eighteen last Monday. Lizzie sent me a beautiful card & Annie sent me in a needle case with all sorts in but I have not seen it yet. Mother gave Alice a red pair of vases on her birthday. There were two young Germans here yesterday and you would just burst to hear the way they talk half German and half English. One of them was talking about snakes & he said he saw one in India ten yards long and he meant ten feet. They all laughed at him. He told me that he was getting mussels and there was a red and black snake just near him & he dashed over the sharp coral and cut his foots. I think I must bring this rubbish to an end.

Miss Ross was deeply disappointed when she found out that she had left the station a few minute’s before the half past eight came in on a certain Saturday night. George will know. Write a long letter next time & excuse my scribble as I have two very sore fingers. I can scarcely milk and there are about 30 cows for Charlie and I to milk. Give my love to all and tell your dad he was too frightened to say anything to my dad about drying the cows off.

Your esp(?) friend


”Vineyard Hill 
Nov 9th ‘89

My dear Emma,

You must he thinking that I am never going to write to you but I am sure you will forgive me as we have been very busy since we were up at your place. We were so glad that the concert was postponed. You little tricker (?). I think you must have bewitched somebody when he could not pass without seeing you. I suppose you will pretend that you know nothing about it. There must be something in it or he would not be trying to work his way so well at all events. I am very sorry for the other one. Charlie, Miss Barnard, Lizzie, Winnie, Ernest and I went up to a concert & ball at Sunday Creek. There was also a picnic but we did not go to it.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely. I wish George had been there as it was much nicer than the one in the school. We stayed till nearly four and got home about six. There was a splendid floor and also plenty of good dancers there, quite a crowd.

There will be a few more houses blown over tonight as the wind is tearing about like mad. I suppose it is blowing for rain. Jack McRae has just come in so of course do not be surprised if the rest of this is a little peculiar. You remember the day he was here when you went away. I have not worn those gloves yet.

By the bye I must not forget to tell you that Ernest sends his love also wishes you not to forget him & all the rest of it. I was down to the five train tonight. Lizzie Bock was going through to Avenel. Mrs. Kuhn (?) is her grandmother. She wanted me to go to the Avenel sports but I fancy we have had enough fun to last us for a while to come. I slept about five hours on Friday & Miss Barnard the young lady staying at Auntie’s slept all day long. She is a little thing, very pretty also. She has never ridden till she came up here. I was surprised at her riding to Sunday Creek as it is about ten miles. Charlie thought it would take them hours to get up so they started an hour before us but they got there quite early.”

Lucy my sister in law came down last Thursday she is not here just now but is coming next week. Will is also coming down & Lizzie Bock will come next Thursday.

(The letter concludes at the top of the first page, as shown above, as she had run out of room at the end of the last page).

Sudden Death

About six weeks after writing this letter Maryanne (as she signed one of her letters) was dead. It was a terrible shock to everyone. Maryanne suffered an attack of appendicitis, and apparently her appendix ruptured and she died the day after Christmas, 1889.

Members of her family were devastated. She was the most popular member of the family of eleven children, and only 19 years old. Her oldest sister Anna Bidstrup had already completed her family of seven children, and her youngest sister Ada was still only 12 years old.

The following notices appeared in the local paper:


On the 26th December, at her parent’s residence, Broadford. Mary Ann, the fourth beloved daughter of Michael and Agnes Zwar, aged 19 years.”

“ZWAR. In loving remembrance of our dear sister, Mary Ann,

who departed this life 26th December, 1889.
Calm on the bosom of thy God,
Fair spirit, rest thee now.
Even while with us thy footsteps trod
 His seal was on thy brow.
Dust to its narrow house beneath,
Soul to its place on high:
They that have seen thy look in death
No more may fear to die.

Inserted by her loving brothers and sisters.”

“ZWAR. In loving remembrance off my beloved daughter, Mary Ann, who departed this life 26th December, 1889.

Mother, cease your weeping, angels round me smile.
We are only parted for a little while:
In this land of summer, never varied with gloom,
Dewdrops shall be gathered, lilies shall rebloom.
Mother I am happy, though ‘twere hard to part,
Still my spirit lingers near thy aching heart:
Round thy pathways ever, like the light and dew,
Gems of truth I scatter, flowers of love I strew.

Inserted by her loving mother.”


The poignant line of her mother’s verse, “We are only parted for a little while” has prophetic meaning. Within 18 months her mother followed Mary Ann to the grave.

© Kevin P Zwar

Charles Joseph Zwar (E8.3)

Detailed biography by his daughter Mary-Jane

Charles Joseph Zwar

Songwriter, Composer, Lyricist, Pianist and Music Director

Father and Mother

Charles talked a lot about his mother ( Eliza Mary nee Richards ) but very little about his father ( Charles Henry Zwar ). His father died in 1921, when C J was ten. He said that his father was in the Australian Army and was “shot up at Gallipoli”. He remembers his mother being the driving force behind the running of the farm, “The Ranch” at Broadford.
His mother Eliza Mary was born in Cornwall, England. She was very musical and led other members of the family in a small band, providing music for local weddings and parties. This continued throughout her life as his brothers Dick and Dolph were both musical.
Although basically Church of England, she happily donated organs and other musical instruments to many local churches of many denominations.
She was a great collector of gadgets and The Ranch used to have a great collection of early washing machines, radios, refrigerators, gramophones etc. . .

The Youngest

Charles was born on 10th April 1911, the youngest of three brothers. Their mother had very much hoped to have a daughter and early photos show CJ in very frilly clothes, with long locks. which he says he hated. He seems to have been her favourite, perhaps influenced by a near fatal attack of typhoid fever which he had when aged about three or four. It left him deaf in one ear. He remembers that his mother got a Broadford brass band to play outside “The Ranch” as a treat for him and to celebrate his convalescence.
Eliza Mary always had time for the weak, including an almost constant succession of injured or orphaned young animals – wild and farm – which were nursed in a basket beside the kitchen range. A cockatoo became a family pet for many years. CJ remembers that it used to imitate his eldest brother and call the dog to fetch the cows in for milking at the correct time.


Eliza Mary encouraged CJ’s musical ability. He was taught the violin from an early age and she hoped he would become a virtuoso player. He was taught by G Walther, a leading teacher of the day in Melbourne and, indeed, performed with Kreisler when he toured Australia. A fall from a horse that broke his arm in his early teens put an end to these hopes. I think he was about ten or twelve at the time.

School and Law

He first attended a local government school in Broadford, but later went to Williamstown School. He followed his elder brother Dolph (Adolphus Gordon, known as AG) to Trinity College, Melbourne University at the age of 15, in 1926, to read Law. He wished to study music and composition but his mother pushed him into Law. After completing his Law degree he then studied music.

Student Reviews

During his time at Trinity he contributed to several student revues and some of these songs are mentioned in Graham Mclnnes’ book “Humping my Bluey”. Some people have attributed his nickname AG to his AGonised expressions while playing the
piano, but it was simply an inheritance from Dolph’s name. Several scores from these revues are in my possession.
He was a regular performer and composer for Australian radio.

Blue Mountain Melody

Blue Mountain Melody

His success in these revues (Hot Swots; Swot Next: Stude Prunes….) led to him being asked to write the musical comedy Blue Mountain Melody. The book for the musical was written by Jimmy Bancks, of Ginger Megs fame, and Charles wrote both the lyrics and the entire score (including, I think, most of the orchestration). Blue Mountain Melody was one of the most ambitious productions of its day. It was performed at the Theatre Royal, Sydney by J C Williamson Ltd and its producer was Frederick Blackman. Unlike most musicals which were imported from Britain or the States, Blue Mountain Melody was “an all Australian musical” with an extremely talented Australian cast led by Cyril Ritchard and his wife Madge Elliott. Its premiere was on the 15th September 1934. After a successful run in Sydney, the show was transferred to Melbourne. The title song and another song called I can see a Picture were recorded by Jim Davidson and his Orchestra and parts of the score were published by Aliens.

Great Britain and Marriage

Charles was encouraged by this success and by Cyril Ritchards and Madge Elliott to leave Australia for Great Britain. He was accompanied by Isobel Ann Shead and the two were later married at Shere in Surrey on 28/04/1938. Professor Bernard Heinze was best man at their wedding. Coincidentally Professor Heinze’s grandson is a good friend of Charles nephew Richard.
Isobel Ann, usually known as Ann, was a writer and broadcaster. She worked for Australian radio and subsequently for the B.B.C. She was the author of many books for children including Sandy (1935), Mike. Off the chain. Clancy. To see the Queen and several others. In Australia her books were published by Hutchinson and in England by Faber and Faber.
On the ship to England, he listened to the abdication speech.

The Gate Theatre 

Charles began work in London at The Gate Theatre, a small theatre club owned and managed by Norman Marshall in Villiers Street. Because of its status as a club, Norman Marshall was able to put on many avant-garde productions which would not have been permitted by the Lord Chamberlain in ordinary theatres. Norman Marshall’s cast also put on several intimate revues, some (such as The Gate Revue and Swinging the Gate) transferred to other West End theatres. Charles was pianist at the Gate and composed many scores for these revues. The cast for these revues included many young actors such as Peter Ustinov and Hermione Gingold.

War Service

At the outbreak of war Charles enrolled in the army (Royal Engineers) and was sent to train at Bulford on the Salisbury Plain. His poor chest precluded active service so he was used administratively. He was transferred to the Australian Army fairly early on. He was soon back in London with Ann and was thus able to combine war service with theatrical work. He tells of fire-watching on the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Zwar Charles Joseph a0001 Charles Joseph Zwar 

“Which witch?”

In 1942 he collaborated with Alan Melville to write a song for Hermione Gingold for the revue Sky High: “Which witch?” has been recorded several times and has most recently been performed in a revue by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1994.

He also contributed numbers to the revues:

Sweet & Low and Sweeter & Lower. He and Alan Melville wrote the entire revue Sweetest & Lowest, which was at the Ambassadors Theatre. The Sweet & Low etc series ran for over 7 years.

Music for Films

During this time he also composed the music for two films: The Australian Army at War and Hello Fame (a film revue starring many of the actors from the Gate Theatre, which was sadly bombed).

Duchess Mews

Charles and Ann were living in a small flat in Duchess Mews near the BBC at this time, but they also rented a small cottage called Hoghurst, near Fittleworth in West Sussex to relax in. Ann, as always, had at least one spaniel.

A la Carte

After the war, Charles continued to collaborate with Alan Melville and together they wrote the whole of the revue A la Carte in 1948 which ran at the Savoy Theatre.

Charles also contributed to many other revues in the late ’40s and ’50s; mostly collaborating with Alan Melville, but also composing for others such as Gerard Bryant, Paul Dehn and Michael Flanders.


Charles and Ann separated and were subsequently divorced in about 1951/52. They had no children. Ann died in England – in 1985, I think.

Lyric Review

In 1951/52 he contributed numbers to the Lyric Revue, staged at the Lyric Theatre, Hannersmith under the management of “Binkie” Beaumont. Working as Tennants’ agent at the theatre was Diana Plunkett who would become Charles’ second wife in 1955. These sketches include some of his favourites: Bar at the Folies Bergeres and Home Again. At the same time he contributed twelve numbers to the musical Bet Your Life which starred Arthur Askey.


Charles wrote the music for a second musical in 1958. Alan Melville adapted the play Marigold by Allen Harker and FR Pryor which had had great success before the war. With its Scottish setting, it had a popular run in Edinburgh but was less successful in London. At this time the nature of revue and stage comedy was changing greatly because of an influx of brilliant young talent from Oxford and the Cambridge Footlights: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller whose first hit was Beyond the Fringe.


In 1955, Charles married Diana Plunkett. He was then living in a flat in Lansdowne Terrace in Bloomsbury near the British Museum.


After the birth of their only daughter, Mary-Jane, in 1957 they moved to a flat in Chelsea.

By this time, Diana had left the Lyric Hammersmith but she continued to work as director of the company Stagesound Ltd which she had co-founded in 1948 with William Walton, theatre electrician at the Lyric Hammersmith. Stagesound had a recording studio in Covent Garden and provided sound systems for many of the London theatres. She remained with Stagesound until after its take-over by Theatre Projects Ltd in the mid ’70s.


During the ’50s, television was becoming more important as a vehicle for comedy and revue. Charles and Alan Melville had several radio and TV series (Melvillainy and A to Z).

In the early ’60s two further revues were written: All Square and Six of One which starred Beryl Reid, Naunton Wayne, Dora Bryan and many others.

House bound

Charles’ health had never been very good: he suffered from asthma and frequent severe migraines. He worked less frequently as the ’60s progressed and was effectively housebound for the last fifteen years of his life. In 1985, he and Diana moved to Headington in Oxford when Diana retired. He was frequently hospitalized and died of leukemia on the 2nd December 1989.

Diana died on the 2nd September 1992.

Mary-Jane had married Gordon Jeanes in 1980. They have three children: Emily, Catherine  and   Christopher .

Mary-Jane has much of Charles’ music and his piano which the children are learning to play.


There have been several revivals of Charles’s music: Meet me at the Gate in 1985 and Now and Then in 1994 at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington, London; Which witch? from the 1942 revue Sky High was performed by Abigail McKern in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Shakespeare Revue in 1994/95.


©  Mary-Jane

Charles Henry Zwar (E8)

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.

Agnes Elisabeth Zwar (E7)

Detailed biography

The seventh child and third daughter of Michael and Agnes Zwar.


Agnes Elisabeth Zwar was born at ‘Glendale’, the Zwar farm, on 16th August
1865, the seventh child born to Michael and Agnes Zwar in eleven years. By the time she started school there was yet another brother and sister.

Agnes was baptized by Pastor Goethe, and her godparents were Michael Zimmer, Anna Zimmer and Maria Zimmer. [… from a statement made by Pastor Hermann Herlitz 6.2.1869]


Agnes began her studies in school No. 48, a Church of England School run in Broadford under the National School Board. The school closed in July 1873 and re-opened as the new Broadford State School “No. 1125 Broadford”. The Head Teacher of the former school, John Wright, became the Head of the new school. There was a staff of three teachers and up to 70 students, in a brick building measuring 36’ x 18’.

This building is still in use, though the interior has been altered, and the tiered seating system long since been removed. In the early days there was a folding partition through the centre, and the building also included a porch on the southern and the northern ends.
 Gavan Crowl had a book “Olive Leaves” inscribed:

“Awarded to Agnes Zwar

State School 1125

Housekeeper and Nurse

After completing her schooling it would be 20 years before Agnes resumed her studies. She was needed at home. When Agnes was 17 years old she was the oldest of the girls still at home and helped her mother look after the four younger children, including her beautiful young sister Mary-Anne, who suddenly died seven years later.

Agnes then nursed her mother, who had developed cancer, and also cared for her sister Ada who was still at school. Her mother died in 1991 when Agnes was 26 years old. Agnes then kept house for her father, her brother Charles and sister Ada, until Charles married in 1898 (?).

Agnes, then in her thirties, decided to go to Melbourne and train as a nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The Crowls have an exercise book in which she took lecture notes. It is inscribed:

“Nurse Agnes Zwar
 Melbourne Hospital

While Agnes was training at the Royal Melbourne her cousin Bernard Zwar (from South Australia) was the Senior Resident Medical Officer for the two years 1900 and 1901.

The Melbourne Argus reported on August 6th 1903 that Agnes Zwar qualified in the Victorian Nurses Examination. She was 38 years old.

Private Nurse

The following year Agnes was back at Broadford staying at ‘Wattle Grove’ with Thomas and Emily Marchbank and her young sister Ada while she waited for engagements as a private nurse. Ada notes in her diary on April 5th,

“Agnes got wire to take up duties again, went by train this morning.”

Then on 13th April she notes,

“Had a letter from Agnes this morning. First case died.”

Between her private nursing engagements Agnes would return to Broadford and stay at Wattle Grove. A postcard from Dec. 1901 shows her on a three week assignment at Prahran. She complains about her sleeping quarters.

South Africa

In July 1906 Agnes is off to South Africa to be present at the birth of her nephew Lyall Crowl in October. She returned to Australia with Ada Crowl and Lyall in May 1907 on board the S.S. Salamis.

Several years later Agnes was working for the Kaiser family at Glenferrie. (The Kaisers also came from Drehsa, the same village in Saxony as the Zwars. Her uncle Johann Zwar, in South Australia, had married one of the Kaiser girls from Melbourne).

In 1910 Agnes returned to nursing.

In 1913 Agnes made another trip to South Africa, this time to be with her niece Frances McNab when a daughter Frances Enid McNab (later to become Mrs. Williams) was born.

Wattle Grove

Agnes was now 58 years old, and soon after returning to Australia she settled permanently at ‘Wattle Grove’ near Broadford with her widowed sisters Emily Marchbank and Ada Crowl.


On the farm Agnes cared for the flower garden and looked after the poultry, which included Indian Runner ducks. She loved fishing and was a most patient angler. Jean Crowl remembers being taken on a fishing trip at Christmas time in 1931. She recalls that her aunties and mother-in-law took it so seriously that no one was allowed to talk. They would fish in the large waterholes in the Sunday Creek as far as 15 kilometres from home. Later, when they had a car they would go even further.


On other occasions they would go rabbiting in the Dabyminga area, about 10 kilometres east of Broadford. The rabbit skins were sold, and the meat they could not eat was fed to the dogs and fowls. The meat for the fowls was chopped up fine. The fowls were so keen for this special meal that it was difficult to chop up a rabbit without hitting the eager heads of the fowls. The best winter rabbit skins would realize up to 9 shillings per pound.


Her nephew “Noldie” Zwar ran some of his sheep on Wattle Grove. Agnes would go round the ewes every morning in the lambing season to check the lambs. Agnes loved being outdoors. Agnes never married. She was engaged at one time, and the engagement ring was found in her belongings after she died. (It is said that a doctor advised her never to marry; also that her fiancée was a Roman Catholic and she was not allowed to marry him).


At times Agnes suffered severe bilious or migraine attacks. She would retire to her bed for several days with the blinds drawn and could eat nothing for three or four days.

In 1948 she entered hospital and died about a fortnight later on 28th August, 10 days after her 83rd birthday.

Quiet Natured

Agnes was a quiet woman by nature. She was ladylike and generous, but there were no extra frills in her manner. She could be described as blunt, but also kind hearted, and was the most practical and down to earth of the three sisters who spent the last 40 years of their lives together at Wattle Grove.

© Kevin P Zwar

Desmond Laurence Gaudin Zwar (E 6.3.1)

Detailed biography

For a deep insight into the Life of Desmond Zwar I think one can do no better than to read his book “The Queen, RUPERT & me”.


If you would like to purchase the book, write to:
PO Box 558
Victoria, 3747
(cost $15 including postage – within Australia only).

Rudolf Hess

Desmond Zwar was the only journalist ever to interview Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Führer to Hitler until 1941 when he flew to Scotland in an alleged attempt to negotiate peace with the Allies.

The image below shows some of the questions put forward by Desmond Zwar to Hess, and include Hess’ handwritten answers.

hesspic1(Questions by Desmond and handwritten answers by Rudolf Hess


Desmond Zwar began a newspaper cadetship on the Albury Border Morning Mail, and then moved to The Herald, Melbourne, to be employed by the late Sir Keith Murdoch. He was to write Sir Keith’s Life 30 years later.

He went to Fleet Street, London, and joined the London Daily Mail, where he worked as reporter, foreign correspondent, feature writer and latterly acting as Features Editor, remaining with the paper for 11 Years.

He had his own features service in London and concentrated on newspaper and magazine non-fiction series for Sunday newspapers and women’s magazines. He was Australian columnist for the UK Mail for four years. He worked in Public Relations with a leading Melbourne PR company and latterly had his own weekly newspaper.


Desmond has written 16 non-fiction books, most of them published internationally:

The Infamous of Nuremberg, written for Col. Burton C Andrus, Published in 1969 by Coward-Mccann, Usa, Leslie Frewin, Uk; and in several European countries.

This Wonderful World of Golf, with Peter Thomson, Published in 1969 by Pelham Books, UK.

The Loneliest Man in the World – The Story of Rudolf Hess’s Imprisonment, written for Col. Eugene Bird, Published by Viking Usa, Secker & Warburg, Uk, and in 10 other countries.1974.

Vet in the Clouds, with vet Don Lavers, published by Granada UK. 1978.

In Search of Keith Murdoch, published by Macmillan, Aust and Uk. 1980.

The Soul of a School, published by Macmillan, Aust. 1982.

New Frontiers of Medical Research, published by Stein & Day, Usa, and in Japan.

The Magic Mussel – The Story of a Natural Arthritis Treatment, published by Ideas Unlimited, Aust., 1983.

The Dame, published by Macmillan, Aust., 1984.

The Ma Evans Baldness Cure, Woodland Books, Usa, 1984.

Golf – The Dictionary, Published by Sun Books, Aust., David & Charles, Uk, Tomas Books, Germany, 1984.

Doctor Ahead of His Time – The Life of Dr. Ainslie Meares, Psychiatrist, published by Greenhouse Publications, 1985.

The Mad, Mad World of Unisex Golf, published by Ideas Unlimited, Aust. 1990.

Disgrace! The Saga Of The Downfall Of Medical Hero, Dr.William Mcbride.

The Queen, Rupert & Me – a Reporter’s Extraordinary Life, Sid Harta Publishing.

Talking to Rudolf Hess, The History Press.


Contact us if you would like to contact Desmond Zwar.

Albert Michael Zwar (E6)

Detailed biography

The Hut

Albert Michael Zwar was born in ‘The Hut’ – the old house on the farm – at Broadford on July 17th 1863.

In a letter written on 28th July a Janet Gibson wrote about her coach journey and mentions the following German woman who is obviously Mrs Zimmer, going to visit her daughter and the new grandson Albert:

“From Melbourne to Kilmore the coach was full. We took in at Brunswick an old German woman who was going to Broadford to see ‘dater’ who had one little ‘shilde’ on Friday and was ‘very bad.’ She had been in this country for a long time, evidently she had sojourned amongst her own people more than others as her English was very imperfect. … All the passengers except the German & Swiss digger left at Kilmore and the German stopped at Broadford.”
…Ancestor Vol. 25 No. 8

Bourke Street and Yarrawonga

The Business man
 Albert started work as a clerk in Bourke Street in Melbourne, in the hardware section of Eliza Tinsley Pty Ltd. The contacts he made working here would later help him develop the tannery at Beechworth.

Albert moved north to Yarrawonga, a small town or the banks of the Murray River. Here he conducted a small business.

In 1888 William Zwar, Albert’s older brother by two years, became interested in buying the Ovens Tannery at Beechworth. The tannery had been established in 1858 by Matthew Dodd and was run by the Dodd family until 1887 when it was advertised for sale. The tannery consisted of four small buildings and employed fifteen men.

William Zwar consulted his younger brother Albert to get some business advice before purchasing the Ovens Tannery, including the freehold title, in 1888. William had learnt the skills of the tanning trade as an apprentice, but lacked the administrative skills and business experience necessary to run a business. He sent for his younger brother Albert who was a trained clerk with some business expertise.


In 1888 Albert left Yarrawonga and joined his brother William in Beechworth.

Zwar Bros & Co

The two brothers needed finance. Albert contacted Leonard Lloyd, the proprietor of Eliza Tinsley Pty Ltd. where he had once been employed. Lloyd became the third partner in their new business venture, each partner sharing a third interest. They registered their partnership as “Zwar Bros & Co”, renamed the tannery “The Beechworth Tannery”, and began operations in September 1888.

Albert Michael Zwar was 25 years old when he moved to Beechworth to join his brother William in the new enterprise. William provided the tanning know-how. Albert provided the business acumen, and Lloyd the finance.

The vendors who handled the sale of the tannery were sure the enterprise would collapse!

The “King of Beechworth”

In time William Zwar was to move on to buy another tannery, Lloyd was paid out and Albert Michael Zwar became the uncrowned “King of Beechworth”. His tannery revived the town from the slump following the flush days of the goldfields. His tannery employed up to 200 people and was one of the largest in Australia. On 9th July 1930 the Melbourne Herald would devote a whole page to Beechworth under the headings:


Established Town’s Main Industry


The journalistic style of the ‘Special Correspondent’ sounds rather quaint to our modern ears. The article begins:

“Forty years ago a young man named A M Zwar decided to go into the leather business. He began in a small shed with half a dozen hides; he stuck to it, married, begat him sons in whose nostrils the smell of leather was a myrrh and frankincense, brought three of them into the business and the four tackled the job of making it one of the biggest tanneries in Australia.

Today A M Zwar is in the Legislative Council; he is, besides, uncrowned King of Beechworth, and so manifold are his activities that Beechworth divides its existence into post and pre-Zwar days.

Zwar is a driving force, there is no doubt of it. He is an excellent businessman, but excellent businessmen do not make industries like this one on business brains alone. There is an idealism that is welded to capacity, a sense of what is due to the community in the way of service, so that when a man takes, he but takes that which he has already given in part. Such a man makes enemies, and Beechworth has its Capulets and Montagues.

There are anti-Zwars who see in the big man a stumbling block to their own ambitions. Also I have no doubt that in a small community a big man sometimes is inclined to “bullock through” objections and govern the town he has helped so largely to make. This makes for enmity. Nevertheless, one cannot be long in Beechworth without realizing that Beechworth is A M Zwar. His chief business is the tannery, which employs normally about 300 men (200 at present) and therefore maintains almost that number of families in the town.

There are few town pies, however, in which the Zwar influence is not visible.”

The article goes on to describe the tannery, a cordial factory in which Albert was one of the chief shareholders, and includes the following interesting item:

“The factory makes stout which is said to be the nearest approach to Guinness stout obtainable in Australia. Unfortunately it has been found impossible to keep up a year-round supply, and the appetite for Beechworth stout cannot be met continuously.”

The journalist also mentions Albert’s controlling interest in the local newspaper, “The Ovens and Murray Advertiser”.


In 1893 Albert married a local Beechworth girl, Harriet Augusta Lawrence. May 27 1893
 the Newspaper announced:

Zwar / Lawrence

“On the 10th May at the residence of bride’s mother by the Rev W Cooper A M Zwar fourth son of M Zwar Broadford to H A (Hatta) Lawrence only daughter of the late J D Lawrence, Beechworth.
Copy of newspaper cutting. Pam Crosthwaite 1981

Harriet was a devoted wife and mother. She made no social pretensions. Her family and her home were her main interests. She was fond of her husband and family and her grandchildren affectionately called her ‘Gogga’.


Albert was a reserved man by nature. A big man physically, he was known as “The Big Fella”. To outsiders he seemed to be a stern and sometimes severe man. He was not easily approachable, and it could be difficult to converse with him, as he tended to be a man of few words. He had no patience with fools. He was a good judge of character. He would strike a commanding figure as, every morning he would walk down the street with a faithful little terrier at his heels – each providing a striking contrast in their sizes – as he called in at the barbers and on the accountant and solicitor.

Behind his stern exterior there lay a deep concern for the town and its people. Albert privately helped many a family through difficulties (particularly in the hard days of the Depression) without many people being aware of it. This was part of his reserved nature.

To those who knew him closely, including his family, they found he had quite a ready sense of humour and they knew he was not as hard a man as his reputation would sometimes suggest. To them he was a ‘Man’s Man’ – a big man with a big nature.

Family Life in Beechworth

Albert and Harriet had six children. A daughter Doris, and then the three sons, Keith, Raymond and Bernard.
And then two more daughters. On Tuesday 18th March 1902 their seven-month-old daughter Una Agnes died.

A Painful Bereavement
“On Monday night last Una Agnes, the infant daughter of Mr. A M Zwar was taken suddenly ill. Dr Hearne prescribed for the little sufferer, but pneumonia supervened and on Tuesday night she passed away in her father’s arms.
… ”
The Ovens Register

Another daughter Leila arrived in 1905.


Albert and Harriet lived in a large house in Church Street called ‘Wyuna’. (It is opposite the R.C. Church and is now converted into flats). In their big home Albert would make his way into the study after the evening dinner. In the study he would not be disturbed. It was his domain, just as the dining room and kitchen were the domain of Harriet and he would not intrude there. On Sunday evenings their married children would come for dinner. Harriet would then attend church, while Albert loved to repair to the billiards room with the boys.

Albert loved the outdoor life – a bit of farming, fishing and hunting. He was a fanatic cod fisherman, and loved to spend several days at Dora Dora on the River Murray trying to hook a whopper.


Each year Albert and Harriet gave a party for the opening of the Bowls season. Hundreds were invited. It was one of the social occasions of the year, and Harriet would send down the first bowl. [Pam C. 1981]

Letter of Thanks

When bushfires passed through Leerim South in 1926 a small boy named Murray Kane lost his bicycle. Albert obtained the consent of the Bush Fire Relief Committee and sent the boy a new Raleigh bicycle. One day he was delighted to receive the following letter:


Dear Sir,

I have this day received the lovely bike you so kindly sent me.
 I may never have the pleasure of meeting you but all my life I will thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Murray Kane.

Surprisingly, Albert never took out a licence to drive a car. In his earlier days he drove a buggy and horses. In the later years his three sons would drive him by car wherever he wanted to go.

A Respected Man

The town of Beechworth depended on Albert as their ‘King’, and he in turn helped in many ways to develop the shire. J. J. Macaulay, who knew Albert well and has compiled a thorough and well-documented history of the tannery, writes:

“certain of Mr. Zwar’s contributions to the Beechworth community should be mentioned. During the depression years he was largely responsible for the establishment of the Stanley pine forest of 5000 acres by the use of unemployment grants from the Government.

The gorge road is another example of his influence in obtaining relief moneys which enabled Cameron & Stone to complete the southern end of the road making it a continuous circuit. Noxious weeds and other grants were obtained as a direct result of his Parliamentary influence.

He bought the Federal Hall from the Estate of the Late Dr. Skinner in 1920 and assisted a young returned soldier in building up a motion picture business prior to selling the premises to him in 1926.

When the Beechworth Mart – Upper Ford St. – was closed in 1927 he purchased the property from Walter J. Edwards and assisted another young man to establish himself in a garage. The site was later sold in easy terms to Robert Pyle. These are only two of the many instances of his generous help to young businessmen and home purchasers.

A keen supporter of the Church of England he was responsible for the installation of electric lighting to the Church premises. He served on the Board of management of the Ovens District Hospital for 20 years being President many times. The Bowling Club and the Beechworth Club received generous treatment over a long period. He had many other company interests and was recognized as a very able administrator. “

The Tannery

Albert’s main interest was naturally in the tannery. Space in this biography does not allow us more than a glimpse of the growth and development of the tannery. The tannery buildings grew to cover six acres and it produced an amazing number of products.
In 1900 a large overseas export trade was being developed. eg. In 1919 315 tons were shipped to the U. K. alone.

In the early years numerous properties adjoining the tannery were purchased. Sheep and cattle were raised on these properties, potatoes were grown, and “even a season or two of tobacco” (J. J. Macaulay). In 1905 Zwar Bros bought eight acres adjoining the tannery from the M. Dodd estate for six pounds per acre.

Sherrin Footballs

The tannery began producing large quantities of football leather early this century, supplying particularly T.W. Sherrin – still a household name appearing on Australian Rules footballs. “In 1914 production was converted to meet the military requirements of the Australian, British, Indian and South African Governments’‘.
J.J. Macaulay

Fire Destroys Tannery

In September 1915 a disastrous fire burnt the Tannery to the ground.
 Albert considered moving to Melbourne and rebuilding the tannery there, mainly to save the huge freight costs, but the town of Beechworth rallied with support and the Government reduced the freight costs. Soon afterwards the tannery was completely rebuilt and rapid expansion followed.

Albert becomes Sole Owner

By 1918 four of Albert’s children had joined the staff. His youngest brother, Henry Peter Zwar, had also acquired an interest in the Tannery over the years. This ended in 1911 when Henry left to join another brother William in the tannery at Preston. Albert was now the sole owner of the Beechworth Tannery.

In 1920 the Zwar Bros. Co. was incorporated with Albert as Chairman and Managing Director; his two sons Keith and Raymond as Directors; and the remaining children and in-laws included as shareholders.

White Leather

The most famous product of the Tannery at this time was ‘Trubuk’, a pure white leather first produced in 1919, and the first true white leather produced in Australia.

Family Losses

In October 1923 Harriet and Albert lost a second daughter.

“Miss Leila Zwar

Beechworth people have been recently shocked and alarmed by the sudden deaths of several apparently healthy young girls. A week ago there was none brighter nor happier than Leila, the youngest daughter of the Hon A M Zwar MLC and Mrs. Zwar and there seemed nothing to interfere with her bright prospects. After attending the social functions and entertainments of the weekend Miss Zwar complained of indisposition in the early hours of Monday 22nd, and as her health did not improve medical advice was sought and her recovery was never in doubt.

The best medical and nursing care was provided but by Sunday her condition became so critical that in the Anglican Church prayers were offered on her behalf. From Melbourne a serum was dispatched by motorcar on Sunday as a last desperate resource and her father’s powerful car met it on the way and brought it on to Beechworth. She lingered until Monday afternoon.

Public sympathy was aroused to an extraordinary extent by the death of this young girl and the funeral one of the longest seen in Beechworth. Messrs John Zwar, Dr Lawrence, Messrs H H Fuya, W. J. Barnes were coffin bearers.
Out of sympathy all social functions for this week have either been cancelled or postponed.

Buried with Grandparents Lawrence and Uncle Beechworth Lawrence.”

In 1926 they were saddened again when they lost a son in law, John McConville, who had married their daughter Doris. He was only 32 years old and left two little daughters.

Business grows

In the 1920’s the growing car market demanded large supplies of upholstery leather. This became a major production line until cloth and plastics took their place in the 50’s. The first Holden cars were upholstered with leather from three different tanneries, including a Zwar tannery.


Large quantities of water are as basic to a tannery as water is for gold sluicing. In 1920 a gold sluicing company had ceased operations at Beechworth. At the liquidation sale in 1921 the Zwar Bros Co. bought a Water Right

“together with a one mile long tunnel 8 feet high x 3 feet wide which had been cut through solid rock under the town for drainage purposes”…

“This was sealed at the lower end and by means of a dual valve control syphoned the water over the hill in a long 6 inch pipe line to the tannery reservoir. This additional supply was adequate for all purposes for the life of the tannery.”
(J. J. Macaulay)


In 1926 two large diesel engines were introduced to provide added power and electricity. So much excess power was available that on June 8th 1927 the Company began supplying electricity to the Town and Shire (and this continued until 1946).


Up to 400 tons of wattle bark was used in the Tannery in a year. Effluent disposal was washed into a stream running through the factory, caught in miniature weirs where it decomposed, and was then sold as fertilizer.

Sporting Goods

In 1930 the Company bought out Goldings Pty Ltd of Canterbury, a sports shoe and rubber company famous for its tennis and golf shoes; and also bought out Robert S. Don Pty Ltd of Brunswick – a sporting goods business. Both companies were large users of Zwar leather. Depots were established in all the capital cities of Australia. An amazing variety of products left the Beechworth tannery, made from a surprising variety of sources.

Even in 1889 a reporter for The Ovens and Murray Advertiser was shown

”some myrabolums, valonea and extract of oak which are used in the tan pits, the two former being species of nuts from the East Indian trees and imported from Smyrna and India”.

In a comprehensive tour he also saw

“an improved steam roller by means of which the leather is rolled, having to undergo a pressure of 4 tons,… The more than foolish practice of using large brands on cattle was illustrated on looking at one hide which bore a brand fully two feet in length and about a foot wide, the marketable value of the leather being thus of course greatly depreciated.” (20.4.1889)

Wide Varieties of Leathers

J. J. Macaulay records that 
>“Dealings took place in Calf skins, Sheep, Goat, Horse, Kangaroo, Wallaby, Possum and Rabbit skins, many of the first six being tanned and dressed … Wool, Tallow, Horns & Bones were also handled and even Black Sand… ”

In 1919

“A glue factory was established… A large concrete store was erected conveniently sited and serviced by a tram line, to accommodate 30,000 hides and skins. These hides had originated from all States, City and country centres, New Zealand, Spain, Denmark, South America and it was essential that no deterioration took place.”

“1925. Having had one very costly experience with fire in 1915 a completely automatic sprinkler installation was made covering the whole of the premises in 1925 and this equipment was the means of controlling numbers of small outbreaks which occurred in subsequent years.”

“In later years bark was replaced by West Australian
(Myrtan) and South African (Mimosa) extract in solid form… …other tanning materials such as – Lime, Sodium Sulphide, 
Chrome Xtals & liquors, Sulphonated oils, Linseed oils., Tallow,
Lacquers, Dyes, Pigments, Waxes etc were used in large quantities
and requiring a large store.”

“many sundry lines were manufactured to meet the ever changing fashion demands. Some of these, which appeared from time to time, were – suede garment leathers from Persian goat, reptiles and crocodile skins such as carpet snakes and Indian lizards, pigskins, fancy calf & yearling in all colours and patterns, iridescent & Spanish raisin patent leathers. Even Buffalo hides and a few ostrich skins were tanned and dressed.”

“Kid skins in the hair were imported in large quantities from
Java & India…. ”

All the above quotes are from J. J. Macaulay’s extensive history of the Tannery.

The Great Depression

As would be expected, considerable setbacks came with the Depression years. J. J. Macaulay puts the situation and its implications clearly in a few lines:

“From a staff of 180 employees restricted output progressively reduced this to well under 100, many of whom were employed part time – one week in two or three and all single men off. It was a desperate period with much suffering and one that can only be realized by those who lived through it. Considerable losses were made and later written off reserves.”

On the Lighter Side!



Pencil sketch of Albert Michael Zwar from The Sun News-Pictorial, Saturday, March 10, 1928

Albert Zwar was such a big man he had to have specially made boots and shoes to fit him. One night he arrived home with wet boots, put them in the oven and forgot about them. The following morning they were discovered – now about 3 inches long


On another occasion he got his trousers wet on the way to work. He took them off and hung them by a boiler – but too close – and burnt the seat out of his trousers.

His favourite fishing spot was Dora Dora. On one fishing trip he had stomach troubles. Going into the little pub he took a large dose of salts (He tended to do things in a big way!). Later in the day, fishing with his sons from a boat out in the river he suddenly ordered the boys to row for the shore and quickly. But before they had reached the shoreline time had run out, so he leapt over the side into waist deep water and called out, “Too late – and don’t you tell Mum”.

But they did.

One day the boys took their mother to the races – a new experience for their home-loving Mum. The bookies were shouting their odds, concluding each call as usual with “bar one”. The boys were embarrassed when their mother went to the bookies and wanted to put her money on “Barwun”.

Beechworth Mourns Albert

The Company was beginning to make a good recovery when Albert Michael Zwar died on 23rd February 1935. He had taken ill less than a fortnight earlier. The ‘Advertiser’ [now owned by two of Albert’s sons] edition of Sat Feb 16th reported that Albert had been ill for the past few days and had been admitted to the Ovens District Hospital, with the possibility of an operation.

On Wed 20th the Advertiser reported that Albert’s cousin, the brilliant surgeon Dr. Bernard Zwar had operated early on Saturday morning and there had been a slight improvement. On Sat 23rd the newspaper was pleased to report much progress in the recovery of the Hon A M Zwar M L C, but he passed away the same afternoon.

Beechworth had lost its Giant. Albert had lived there for 47 years and now he was mourned not only by the people of Beechworth but also by those who walked in the corridors of power and Government in Victoria.


In 1922 Albert had been elected unopposed to the Legislative Council of Victoria for the United Country Party, representing the North Eastern Province. He was always elected unopposed and still held this responsible position of Government at the time of his death.
At the sittings of the Legislative Council in March his fellow members of Parliament paid numerous tributes to him. The Council placed on record the valuable services rendered by Albert Michael Zwar “to the Parliament and the people of Victoria.‘’

Testaments to Albert Zwar

Extracts of the speeches will give a better understanding of the size and character of this great man of the Zwar Family in Australia:

”Mr. Zwar brought to bear on problems which confronted this House a great stock 
of common sense. He was an earnest man who held strongly to his opinion, and 
the House could always rely on his sound judgment and weighty consideration of 
the problems which confronted it from time to time.“
The Hon. J. P. Jones

“in Beechworth, …when the fortunes of that town were at a low ebb, he established and built up by his business ability an industry which restored a large measure of prosperity to Beechworth.
… A W Zwar’s funeral was attended by a number of honourable members, and as the procession wended its way to his last resting place one realized what a great tribute it was to his memory. The business places of Beechworth were closed, and many residents lined the streets.”
The Hon. W. H. Edgar

“Zwar endeared himself to all of us by his genial personality, but behind his geniality and good fellowship there was a keen commercial mind, and we had the benefit of his wide business experience …”
The Hon. G. L. Goudie

“Mr. Zwar had a great personality, and displayed a kindly feeling towards every one. He was one of the most popular members of this House because of his genial disposition. Further, he had the courage of his opinions, and never failed to express them when the occasion arose.”
The Hon. G. J. Tuckett

“With regard to Mr. Zwar, I notice that each member who has referred to him has alluded to his genial personality. I quarrel with the adjective – it was lovable personality…. He was a man who had a great deal more influence than was generally understood, because we all appreciated his great knowledge of affairs and his manly and generous attitude towards all mankind.”
The Hon. H. I. Cohen

“Mr. Zwar’s wholehearted interest in the progress of Beechworth and district was demonstrated by his active participation on the committees of many district organisations, where his fine public spirit helped in the advancement of welfare movements. As in social welfare, so did he help the progress of the district in other ways. Nearly 50 years ago, when he had just crossed the threshold of manhood, he founded an industry in Beechworth, which today is one of the mainstays of that town’s business life, employing many persons. The Governments tribute of respect was paid to the memory of Mr. Zwar by the presence at the funeral of the Hon. G. I. Goudie.“
Sir Stanley Argyle. (Premier and Treasurer) in the Legislative Assembly 20.3.35

From the time that Mr. Zwar first entered Parliament he was beloved by all members, for he had a wonderful personality which attracted men towards him. … He was one of those who when you were in trouble seemed intuitively to sympathize with you and help you… I am sure that he will be missed not only by members of Parliament but by the people of the State as a whole.”
The SPEAKER (The Hon. W. H. Everard)


The Ovens and Murray Advertiser printed two full-length columns under the headings:

Hon. A. M, Zwar. M. L. C.
Life of Public Service
Beechworth’s Benefactor Passes

A few extracts from this article:

“The late Mr. Zwar was a staunch adherent of the Church of England, and liberal contributor to its funds. He installed the electric light in the church and the congregation have reason to be grateful to him for many other acts of generosity. Although he did not aspire to civic honours, he took an active interest in practically every movement in the town after the firm became established. He was president of the Ovens District Hospital on several occasions, finally resigning from the committee of which he had been a member for over 20 years, in August 1926, owing to the increase of his parliamentary and business duties. He was also president of the Technical School Board, a liberal supporter of all charities, the Town Band and all sporting bodies and at the time of his death was President of the Bowling Club (a position he had occupied for 26 years, of the Rifle Club and of the Beechworth Club. His hobbies in sport were fishing and shooting.

…An outstanding trait in Mr. Zwar’s character was his liberality. Not only did he contribute largely to the various institutions and public subscriptions of various kinds, but did many acts of charity by stealth and in addition was always ready to help a struggling person in business and many people who are now in comfortable circumstances can thank the late Mr. Zwar for setting them on their feet.

…Preachers at all the local churches of every creed and denomination at last Sundays services made special references to the many kindly services Mr. Zwar had rendered them and the loss the community would sustain by his death.

…A striking tribute was paid to the deceased by the present employees of the tannery, upwards of 150 of whom marched in front of the funeral cortege.”

Many other groups and organisations either marched with the cortege or were represented at the graveside. The service of the Anglican Church was conducted by the Rev. W. S. Dau on Monday 25th February.

Albert Michael Zwar was nearly 72 years old when he died. His two youngest children, Una and Leila had predeceased him. He left behind to mourn his passing his other four children – Doris, Keith, Raymond and Bernard and their families as well as his devoted wife.


Harriet Augusta Zwar outlived her husband by 13 years.
 Her life came to its end on 24th March 1948.

The Advertiser of 27th March carried the following report:

“Mrs. Harriet A. Zwar passed away at her Church Street home on Wednesday 24th March, aged 83 years. Only daughter of J D and Mrs. Lawrence, only brother Beechworth also deceased. Most active in town life: during 1914 – 18 War notable worker for Red Cross and more recently 1939 – 45 War was awarded the Long Service medal. The Ovens District Hospital of which she was a life governor was one of her favourite charities. One time Queen of Commerce in a queen carnival. Other interests were the Anglican Church Guild and local Association of Guides. Leaves 3 sons and a daughter, Mrs. McConville. Two daughters deceased.”

William Zwar (E5)

Detailed biography

The fifth child and third son of Michael and Agnes Zwar 1.5.1861– 9.5.1933


William Zwar was born in ‘The Hut’ – the old house on the Broadford farm – on 1st day of May 1861.

When William was 16 years old he began an apprenticeship with the Broadford Tannery (on Dry Creek) on 13th June 1877. He began work at 6am in the morning and knocked off at 6pm in the evening. The Indenture paper for his apprenticeship reveals that for the first two years he would work without receiving any pay. In his third year he would receive 5/– (50 cents) per week, and this would double to 10/– per week for his fourth year. In his 5th and final year his salary would double again to 20/– ($2.00) per week and he would also receive board and lodgings.

William completed his apprenticeship on 30th June 1882 and continued to work at the tannery. He proved to be most capable at his trade, and within two years he was made foreman.

Marriage and Children

William married Lucy Eleanor Smedley on 3rd March 1884 when he was almost 23 years old. Their first child Sylvia Margaret Agnes Zwar was born on 1st July 1885 at Broadford, but died on 23rd October before she reached four months of age.

Albert James Zwar was born the following year at Broadford on 15th October 1886, and died the following year on 9th June, aged seven and a half months.

What could one say to the grief stricken parents? The local newspaper announcing the death carried the following verses:

Oh, why did cruel death come in
To our peaceful home
And lay his cold and icy hand
On him, our only one.

No note of warning did we have.
Oh, Death, you silent came,
And took away our little one,
And left a sorrow pain.

The following year their third and last child, Emily Mabel Zwar was born, in 1888, and Emily grew up to outlive her parents.

Beechworth Tannery

In 1887 the Ovens Tannery at Beechworth was advertised for sale. It had been established in 1858 by Matthew Dodd and was run by the Dodd family. The tannery consisted of four small buildings and employed 15 men.

William Zwar was by now a very competent tanner & currier. He had been foreman at the Broadford Tannery for the past five years. He contemplated branching out with his own tannery. He consulted his younger brother Albert for some financial advice. Albert Zwar was an experienced clerk now in business in Yarrawonga. William took leave from the Broadford Tannery and hurried to Beechworth where he bought the Tannery, freehold and all, (Early records suggest that the price was £500 …. J. J. Macaulay).

Zwar Bros and Co

Although an expert tanner and currier, William lacked the administrative skills which would be necessary to run the business. He sent for his younger brother (by two years) Albert who left Yarrawonga and joined in the new enterprise at Beechworth. The two brothers needed finance, so Leonard Lloyd, proprietor of Eliza Tinsley Pty Ltd. joined them as a third and equal partner. It says much for the two Zwar brothers that Leonard Lloyd was prepared to back them financially. Albert Zwar had worked for him in Melbourne, and Lloyd had an interest in the Broadford tannery where William had worked.

They registered their partnership as “Zwar Bros & Co.”, re-named the tannery “The Beechworth Tannery”, and began operations in September 1888. William provided the tanning know-how, Albert the business skills, and Leonard Lloyd the finance. The vendors who handled the sale believed that their enterprise would fail.

William Zwar was now 27 years old and had been married four years. His young 15-year-old brother Henry Peter Zwar also joined his brothers at Beechworth to learn the tanning trade.

On 20.4 1889 The Ovens & Murray Advertiser carried a lengthy description of the tannery six months after the Zwar Bros took it over:


During the present week we paid a visit of inspection to the Beechworth Tannery, the property of Zwar Bros. & Co. situated a couple of miles from the town on the Malakoff Road. On arrival we were courteously met by Mr. William Zwar a member of the firm (The other partners being his brother Mr. Albert Michael Zwar and Mr. Leonard Lloyd of Messrs. Lloyd Bros. & Maginnis who own an extensive tannery & fellmongery at Broadford employing 27 men and putting through 200 hides per week).

The first portion of the establishment inspected was the bark shed, an extensive building 90 x 22 feet roofed with corrugated iron where 130 tons of wattle bark is stored. Ascending to an upper story we were shown the bark mill and the process of cutting, grinding and disintegrating the bark by means of a Bunoles machine driven by a four horse power engine, practically explained and the information given that whereas at present 2 and a half tons are crushed the firm purpose obtaining more powerful machinery capable of putting through 6 tons. We were also shown some myabolams, valonea and extract of oak which are used in the tan pits, the two former being species of nuts from the East Indies trees and imported from Smyrna and India, the selling price of each being 16 pounds per ton Melbourne, the extract of oak – a dark liquid resembling treacle in consistency – being brought from England and its value as explained by Mr. Zwar pointing to a dozen medium sized casks the content of which were said to have cost 50 pounds. We mention these facts to show the expense the tanner has to incur in raw materials in preparing his goods for the market, apart from the cost of skilled labor and machinery and numerous other items.

In answer to a question as to the supply of hides we were told that it is found equal to the present demand – viz. 50 a week – independent of calf and small skins; but in addition to those obtained locally the firm import South American hides bought in London and brought originally from Buenos Aires and shipped in casks costing when landed in Beechworth 2 pounds per hide. Mr. Zwar stated that such a course was found necessary as colonial hides didn’t come up to the imported article in thickness – proof of which was afforded on our being shown one of each by way of comparison.

But to proceed with our account of the visit. We were then taken over the pits (30 in number) which are substantially built in brick and cement in excavations in the ground under shelter contiguous to each other. The first being the soak pit where the raw hides are soaked and then come two lime pits and after liming and unhairing the hides are fleshed when they are ready for the tan pits.

There are four pits technically known as “spenders” in which the bark when ground is placed and soaked with water and when it has been nearly spent steam is introduced into the pits and their contents boiled up thus ensuring complete extraction of the active properties of the bark. The liquid thus obtained is pumped into the tanning pits by means of a Tangye steam pump. In these latter pits the hides, as they come from the hands of the flesher are placed side by side (40 together) on frames attached to a wooden rocker, an ingenious contrivance worked by steam from the boiler and to show the value of this arrangement it may be stated that but one third of the time originally taken in tanning is occupied, the rocker causing the hides to be thoroughly soused and impregnated beside keeping the liquor in the pit in a constant state of agitation.

After being colored the hides are stored away in pits for from two to three months, sole leather being placed in bark as well as in liquor. All dressed leather after being colored in the pits is handled every second day and the liquor renewed when required. Sole leather occupies three months in tanning, harness two months and bag, bridle and such like lighter leathers six weeks. The process of tanning having been fully explained we proceeded to the currying rooms where men were engaged in putting on the finishing touches.

The hides before drying are treated with a composition of oil and tallow applied to the flesh side which is afterwards scraped off, the object being to render it more pliable and impervious to moisture. They are trimmed and those that require colouring are subjected to the process. In the drying rooms, there were at the time of our visit 80 sides awaiting treatment, this building being a spacious one, 60 x 22 feet, the currying room being about the same dimensions.

In the former is an improved steamroller by means of which the leather is rolled, having to undergo a pressure of 4 tons, the cost of that machine being one hundred and fifty pounds. The more than foolish practice of using large brands on cattle was illustrated on looking at one hide which bore a brand fully two feet in length and about a foot wide, the marketable value of the leather being thus of course greatly depreciated.

A 16 h.p. boiler has been set in granite and connected with it is a large and handsome chimneystack 40 feet high, in the building of which 11,000 bricks were used. The boiler is fed by an injector on the automatic principle and is fired by waste tan, little wood being used though a supply of 70 cords is stacked close by.

Since taking over the tannery from Messrs. M & T Dodd on the 1st of September last Messrs. Zwar Bros. & Co. have expended three thousand pounds in improvements and express themselves as being well satisfied with their undertaking, their leather being readily placed on the Melbourne market where it sells at the highest ruling rates and a quantity is being prepared for shipment to London. Nine men are at present engaged (Note: there is no reference to juniors) and as the business expands that number will be increased.

We may mention here that Mr. William Zwar who has the management of the tannery was for twelve years in the employ of the Broadford firm before mentioned and for five years as their foreman. The water supply is excellent, being conveyed in pipes from a large dam on the property fed by a constantly running stream. Altogether the visit under notice was a most interesting one and we have much pleasure in presenting our readers with these few discursive remarks concerning it and at the same time complimenting the new firm upon their enterprise and hoping it will be a highly successful one as it deserves to be, a first class article being turned out in all departments of the trade.

Production in the first years at Beechworth concentrated on saddlery and sole (shoe!) leathers. “Many hides and skins were purchased locally, and the products sold in Melbourne and country Districts.”…
J. Macaulay.

Output Grows

The Tannery output grew with each year. The first year 1,523 hides were treated and sold. Ten years later 11,487 hides went through the tannery in one year. A small export trade was beginning to develop in these years. Profits went back into the expansion of plant and the purchase of land adjoining the tannery.

William Buys in Melbourne.

In 1900 William Zwar sold out his third share in the tannery (to his brother Albert, Mr. Lloyd and a smaller part to his youngest brother Henry Peter) so that he could buy another tannery in Melbourne. William had been at Beechworth for 12 years.


William Zwar’s second tannery was a small one in Cramer St. Preston, which employed 15 hands. It was registered now as “William Zwar & Co.”

William & Lucy and their daughter Emily lived nearby at 8 Bruce Street, Preston.

On December 15, 1903 The Australian Leather Journal carried an article headed


Messrs. W. Zwar and Co. Launching out – New additions and Machinery.

We shall probably have occasion to give an extended notice in a future issue of the great improvements that are being made in the Parkside Tannery, Preston, Melbourne, conducted by Messrs. William Zwar and C. N. Bidstrup, under the name and style of William Zwar and Company, but we take the opportunity of this special issue of the A.L.J. to make both gentlemen known in a more personal manner to our readers. ..

…Mr. William Zwar, whose photograph will be found on this page, is very well known to most of our Victorian readers, and a good many of our interstate friends as well. Between two and three years ago he arrived in Melbourne from Beechworth, (Vic.), where he had been actively engaged in the tanning industry, and leased the Parkside Tannery, adjoining the Preston Park. His venture was attended with the best of success.

His leathers, including the famous W. Z. & Co. over P. brand of sole, harness, bridle, skirt, and bag leathers, tan hide and glaze hide, soon became exceedingly popular, with the result that Mr. C. N. Bidstrup was taken into partnership, and, with new blood in the concern, its importance was further emphasized, and the work which formerly fell on Mr. Zwar’s shoulders alone was equally divided between the two partners.

Not content with the eminent success already attained, the firm decided to still further launch out, and a handsome new brick building was erected adjacent to the old premises for the manufacture of japanned and enameled leathers, Mr. Howe, an expert of considerable experience, being engaged as superintendent at a good deal of expense. …

They are at present employing close on twenty hands, and new machinery to the value of seven hundred and fifty pounds is being erected, as we write, at the tannery. This includes a whole hide band knife splitting machine, whole hide measuring machine, fluffing machine, setting out machine (Pullan and Co.) and a Vaughn shaving machine, supplied by Fred. Alderson and Co.

Messrs. William Zwar and Co. are at present supplying many of the principal saddlers and bag makers of Sydney, Launceston, Adelaide, and Perth with all saddlers’ and bag makers’ leathers. From a photograph we give of the tannery, it will be seen that it is a very roomy and commodious building, with a tall chimneystack, which is quite a landmark for some miles around.

Mr. Zwar, like Mr. Bidstrup, is not a man likely to have much to do with failure. He is a shrewd, clever, commercial man of the best Melbourne type, and as he knows he has got a good thing in his hands, he will hold on like grim death until he has made his best of it. He is comparatively a young man, and therefore may be congratulated on the enterprise that made him enter on a speculation of such large extent and possibilities.

Australian Leather Journal

The Australian Leather Journal of July 15, 1905 carried the same photo of William and another article describing the latest leather specialties in bags and trunks being produced at the Parkside Tannery, Preston. It also records:

The Messrs. Zwar and Co. are fortunate in possessing what is claimed to be the largest splitting machine in Victoria, enabling them to turn out bag and strap leather sides of 65 square feet measurement. In variety of prints and colours a good range of samples is shown, while for well and evenly selected hides, careful manipulation, slow tannage, and good finish, these leathers have a very enviable reputation, which bids fair to increase the fine reputation the firm already possesses.

So far as the other lines, including sole, harness, bridle, skirt, and enameled leathers are concerned, no further testimony to the excellence of these goods is needed than mention of the fact that Messrs. Zwar and Co. are increasing their output all round, and the demand from Sydney, Adelaide, and Tasmania, in addition to local business, continues to be very satisfactory.

Exhibition Building

In the February 15 edition of 1909 a large photo of the display by ‘William Zwar and Co’ heads the report on the leather exhibition held at the grand Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The ‘Notes on the Various Exhibits’ begins with:


Messrs William Zwar and Co., Parkside Tannery, Preston, are right up to the front again at the A. N. A. Exhibition this year with a splendid assortment of leathers, embracing motor and carriage trimming hides of beautiful luster and finish, equal to any of the imported goods that have reached this market. There are also winker middlings, patent belt leathers, collar hides, patent calf, and hard and soft dash of a very high class.

They have a great display of stained work in ladies’ belt leathers, strap, and bag, in every variety of print and finish, from crocodile to sea lion, and seal and curly straight grain, all finished by the Moenus embossing machine. We have no hesitation in saying that the class of goods on show reflect the highest credit upon this enterprising and progressive firm.

William Zwar Retires to the Land

After 10 years William left the running of the tannery to his younger brothers. On 1 January 1911 both Albert and Henry Zwar entered into partnership with William. Henry Peter Zwar became the manager ($11.00 per week) at Preston and William retired from the tannery business, although he still held financial interests for some years.

Although he was nearly 50 years old William had a yearning to go back to the Land. He had bought two tanneries and left each to be taken over by a younger brother, Albert at Beechworth and now Henry at Preston.

King Island

William Zwar bought a property on King Island, situated between Victoria and Tasmania. King Island lies in the western end of Bass Strait and belongs to Tasmania. The island is about 60 km long and 25 km wide. There were 700 people living on the island in 2002.

Beef and Scheelite

When William bought the property it was virgin land covered in bush and gum trees and consisted of approx. 750 acres. He cleared the land and developed it as a beef property where he raised cattle and also took an interest in a scheelite mine.

At first he lived at a point which became known as “Zwar link” but later moved to the Surprise Bay Area, where he erected two huge whalebones to form an archway in front of their home. [This arch was still standing in 1983.]

“The scheelite deposits are worked at Grassy on the south east coast, and they represent the principal source of tungsten ores in Australia and are one of the largest in the world”. … Australian Encyclopaedia.

Uncle Billy

William was known to his family as Billy. Uncle Billy to his nephews and nieces. His nephew Gavan Crowl recalled how Uncle Billy would come over to Broadford from King Island at unexpected and infrequent intervals and stay with his three sisters at Wattle Grove.

“My recollections of him always started with clouds of smoke seen when we were coming home from school and coming from the ‘back paddock’. Uncle Billy would be out there burning off. Another sign of his advent was a kangaroo hide, beautifully tanned and beautifully cut into boot laces.”

Emily was always very sympathetic and considerate about Bill’s visits, though Ada became a little less so if the stay was a long one, as she was the cook and did all the housework.


William died suddenly at the age of 72 years on King Island 9th May 1933 and was interred there on his property.

© Kevin P Zwar

John William Walter Zwar (E4)

Detailed biography

The fourth child and second son of Michael and Agnes Zwar.


John William Walter Zwar was born on 2nd June 1859 and was the second of eight of the Zwar children to be born in the slab hut on the farm at Broadford. (The first two children were born near Melbourne, and the last one, Ada, in the new house they called ‘Glendale’ and later ‘The Ranch’.) John was baptized by the Church of England minister, the Rev. W. M. Singleton in Broadford on 30th September 1859. I do not know where the baptism took place. The first Church of England in Broadford was built three years later.

(‘BROADFORD’ history book p. 108. On the following page the history lists the ministers who served in Broadford and gives Rev. W. M. Singleton as the first one, and his time there as 1862-1875 – starting 3 years after John’s baptism!! Perhaps he was visiting there and came as a permanent minister later, or the History Book has made an error. K. Z.)

The District Historian

John Zwar grew up to be the historian in the Family, particularly writing about the early days in the Broadford District, and including some information about life for his family in the early days of settlement. I have before me three articles he wrote:

  1. The Tales Of A Grandfather written at Broadford, June 1934 when 
he was 75 years old. (3 typed foolscap pages).
  2. Broadford Seventy Years Ago
 The reminiscences of an old resident. February 14th 1935.
 Much of this manuscript of 13 typed foolscap pages was printed in
  3. Short History Of Great Grandfather 
(One page written on 15th April 1944 when he was nearly 85 years old.)

Despite the amount of literature John wrote it includes very little personal information about members of the Zwar family. I shall quote some of the information he wrote down that is particularly relevant to the Family History, at the same time bearing in mind that most of his work has been published elsewhere and is available for the public to read, particularly 13 pages in “BROADFORD” A REGIONAL HISTORY.


His articles remind us that John and his parents started at Broadford in the raw pioneering days of bushrangers and gold rushes, when local aborigines were still in the locality and the native animals including kangaroos and koalas were plentiful, there were no fences when they bought land and no proper roads had been built.


At the end of each quotation I have given the year the document was written to distinguish between the three sources of material John wrote. In the 1934 article John mentions the gold rushes and ‘unlocking the land’ at Broadford. The Gold Rush started in Victoria 18 months after his father Michael Zwar had arrived in Australia.


“On account of Gold being found so plentifully in Australia thousands of people from all countries flocked out here and they approached the Government to “unlock the lands’‘, which meant that the government eventually surveyed blocks of land on Stations throughout Victoria and sold to people by auction.”

Land Surveys

“In 1856 the Government had most of the Broadford district surveyed into blocks and sold by auction at Kilmore. At the sale my father bought the farm that is now called ‘’The Ranch” and David McKenzie bought the farm that is now called “Glenview” and my father’s brother-in-law bought “Sunnyside” where Mr. W. Whyte lives …. There were no fences in the district with the exception of a few cattle yards at Taatooke so everybody had to start and fence their farms. The Misses Gavan fenced in their properties with four rails for sheep, and the farmers with three rails for cattle …” 
[p.1 1934]

“My father and mother now came to live here and father split slabs and built a house which is still standing at the “Ranch”.“ [p.1 1934]


John begins the 1935 article describing his school days:

“I started to go to school at six years of age. The school was run by a Mr. Hammersley. The schoolroom was attached to his house, where his daughter, Miss Hammersley, lives today. Mr. Hammersley was a highly-educated man and a fine teacher, but, unfortunately, died before reaching thirty years of age. …
… our next teacher was a Mr. Deaking, a young man and a fair teacher. We had to pay our school fees every Monday morning; for one child from a family the charge was I/– per week, for two, 9d, and for three or more, 6d each. There were at times fifty scholars and the little school was very crowded. At that time the Sydney Road was being made … the stone was carted by two horse tip-drays from quarries across the Dry and Sunday Creeks, where temporary bridges were built …. “
[p.1 1935]

Police Escorts and Bushrangers

“One day as we came out of school at dinner hour, we saw the Police Escort coming along the road opposite to where the Strawboard Mills now stand, and, as there were a greater number of police than usual, we came to the conclusion that they had Power, the bushranger, on board, as he was then robbing in this district, so some of us bigger boys ran as fast as we could to get to the hotel to get a glimpse of him. The escort passed us before we got to the bridge, but we were there before the horses were unyoked. There were two prisoners in the coach handcuffed together, but not Power. There were four extra mounted police, and the reason was that the coach contained nearly half a ton of gold from the Ovens and Beechworth gold diggings and they were taking no risks.” [p.4 1935]

Ned Kelly

“Some time later, I have no recollection how long it was, Power arrived at Seymour riding Gillighan’s horse and Young Ned Kelly riding the other. They dressed alike and gave out that they were shearers… Arrangements were that they ride around to the Bank, Kelly to hold Power’s horse while he went in and robbed the Bank, but when it came to the time Kelly funked and point blank refused to have anything to do with it, as he felt sure that they would be captured and hung – that was his fate twelve years later – .” [ p.5 1935]


“Then there were the mail coaches run by Cobb & Co, six horses in most. ‘The Mail Coach from Melbourne arrived about 5 o’clock, having left Melbourne at noon. Another went through to Melbourne sometime during the night, and a three-horse coach at midday. There were also five horse coaches that carried only passengers to the gold diggings, and did not run at so great a pace as the Mail Coaches. …Then there were the police escort coaches, drawn by six horses and escorted by ten police, eight mounted and two in the coach. … the railway was built to Seymour in 1870 [from Melbourne, and went through Broadford.”


After 1870 it was easy for the Zwars to go to Melbourne by train, and it seems they did go ‘to Town’ quite often, and they often had visitors from Town, particularly the Zimmers from Thomastown. – K.Z.]

Broadford was a busy place:

“There were 39 horse teams carting wood into the railway station.“ [p.10 1935]

Puckapunyal Tribe

‘’In those days there used to be blacks making periodical visits to Broadford. They lived in Gunyahs made of bushes about midway between where our State School now stands and the cemetery. They were the remnant of the Puckapunyal tribe, and there were about twenty in number. … I knew four of them fairly well, one of whom was called Billy Hamilton (and claimed to be the son of the Chief of the Puckapunyal tribe) his lubra, Mary, Gelibrand and Lankey.“ [ p’s 1,2 1935]


“Some time later “Billy’‘ was bitten by a snake near Tyaak and a man put him into a dray to take him to Broadford to a doctor but at the foot of the Oak Hills he died. They buried him in a patch of ferns in a gully about three hundred yards from the gate leading into R. Zwar’s paddock. The patch of ferns is still there to-day. A few days after ’‘Billy’s” death his wife Sarah came to our place and stayed a week. She built a little gunyah for herself in McKenzie’s paddock and used to come to our place for food. She seemed to me to be fairly old and very stout.”

“When the blacks were becoming a nuisance to the white people, the Government removed them to reserves for blacks in Gippsland.” [ p.2 1934]


When John Zwar was about 10 years old he went to a political meeting with his father:

“My father also put his ‘spoke’ in. He said, ‘’Duffy, politically, I look upon you as no good, and Webster, after advising these men to go out on strike, I consider you are a ‘damned site worse”. I asked my Dad the next day how could a man be worse than ‘no good’ but he refused to enlighten me.“ [p.7 1935]


“One day I had to cross the Sunday Creek on horseback, and when I got there the bridge and approaches were covered with men, to me it was an awesome sight. I had never seen so many men together in my life. With a number of others I was waiting for a chance to get through, when a kindly man came over to me; he was evidently a Londoner with a cockney accent. He asked me where I lived and when I told him he said “Sonny, don’t try to get through – something has happened and the men are very angry and if you try they might pitch you off your horse – so take my advice and go back home,‘’ and I did. The next day we heard what was the trouble. Rumour had got abroad that there were detectives amongst them and they were trying to find them …. and rumour proved to be correct.” [p.8 1935].

Farmer at Dookie and Mt. Piper

About 1880, when he was a young man, John Zwar had a farm at Dookie and grew wheat. He sold the farm after about two years, as he and his brothers believed they could make more money at Broadford working in partnership with each other. John was able to buy the Mt. Piper property near Broadford.

“I was the first farmer to introduce the double furrow plough to the district,” 
[ p.3 1934]


John married Alice Coombs at Avenel on 10th March 1886. They went to live at Mt. Piper Park in a house that stood at the back of the present house, built about 1902. This house has not changed much since the day it was built. (John Zwar 1982)

Mt. Piper Park was part of the original sheep station, originally called Mt. Piper Park, the original Crown Grant. According to John’s writings the original grant was made to an archdeacon Brown from Tasmania in 1839. John reports that after a few years the archdeacon grew tired of station life and “sold it to the Misses Gavan.”


The Gavan sisters made interesting neighbours for the Zwars. John recalled that

“When I was a little boy about your age I used to see the Misses’ Gavan riding on horseback. They wore large brimmed straw hats with two ribbons about two feet flying behind and two or three kangaroo dogs following them, because at that time there were great numbers of kangaroos about, and they loved to run after them. In after years they gave up riding and sent to Ireland for two carriages. One was for one horse and the other was for two horses. They sat in the back and the coachman or driver in the front with a man generally beside the coachman to open the gates.‘’ [ p.3 1934]

‘’They had blue blood in their veins, being grand-daughters of a British King, their father being a natural son of George III.“ [p.10 1935]

‘’One day a blackfellow came to the Station and asked for food and given some he told the Misses Gavan that he was the son of the Chief of the Puckapunyal Tribe and that the name of their district was not Mt. Piper but “Taatooke” which meant in the native language “Pleasant Places’‘ or “Nice Surroundings” so they decided to call the Homestead where they were living ’‘Taatooke’‘. “[p.1 1934]

“Miss Emily Gavan … advised me to call my place Mt. Piper as I owned the greater part of the original Mt. Piper Crown Grant.‘’ [p.3 1934]

John had bought the property about 4 years before he married.


Their first child Grace was born on Christmas Day in 1886.

Three years later they had a son Walter but he died in 1890 aged 21 months. There is a printed card:

“In Loving Remembrance. Walter Coombs Zwar. 
Died May 22 1890. Aged 21 months.”

with appropriate verses.

The following year (1891) Arnold was born and he would spend all his married life on Mount Piper Park, just as his father did before him.

Their fourth child Myra was born in 1897.

Life on the Farm

On the farm they did a lot of cropping, mainly of oats, and they had lots of haystacks. John worked in partnership with Adolphus and Charles as ‘Zwar Bros’. They worked their land together, although most of Mt. Piper Park land was never part of the partnership. They also milked a lot of cows and sold the milk to the Butter Factory in Broadford.

Interests and Characteristics

John was a great conversationalist. It was natural that he would be the one to write stories about the early days at Broadford. He had enjoyed exchanging stories all his life.

Several descendants remember that John had quite a temper. His grandson John also recalls that his grandfather had developed an extensive profane vocabulary, and at the appropriate moment he would string it off, and then he’d say, ‘’God forgive me.“ To some people he seemed overbearing. His son Arnold was a complete contrast in size and nature.

John loved to read and study literature, particularly history.

“He would rather sit and read ‘’The Historians History of the World” of 25 volumes which he bought in 1908 than go out in the paddock to do the farm work.“ 
(John Zwar Canberra 1982)

John served on the Broadford Shire Council from 1893 until 1917, and was an original member of the Water Trust.

Broadford Butter Factory

The Broadford Butter Factory played an important role in the Broadford District. John Zwar was a key figure on the Board for about 40 years, and in the early years Zwar Bros were the largest milk suppliers:

“John was one of the founders of the Broadford Dairying Company and was appointed a director in 1892 and became Chairman of Directors in 1897. He retired in 1933 when J. M. Neill became chairman and Arnold Zwar was appointed to the Board to ‘Fill the vacancy.”
(p. 184 BROADFORD History).

Wife Alice

“His wife Alice was a hard worker. I was only 6 years old when Grandma died. I came home from school, and couldn’t understand why Dad wasn’t smiling. His mother had died. The doctor had been to see her and said she’d have to come to hospital. My mother went in to ask her mother-in-law what clothes she wanted her to pack for hospital. Mother wondered why she kept smiling – and then realized she was dead. They said it was a clot on the heart.” 
(Grandson John Zwar, Canberra 1982)

Alice died on 10th October 1933 in her 70th year. She had been a great supporter of the Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Women’s Mission Union. There is a memorial to her in the Broadford Presbyterian Church:

“To the Glory of God
 And in loving Memory of 
 and of her devoted service
 for many years to
 this Church and the PWM Union
. Called to be with Christ
 10 October 1933.”


Grandson John Zwar recalls:

“After Grandma died, the house on Mt Piper Park, which had been built for them when Dad and Mum married in 1923, was dismantled and taken to Broadford where it still is. It was decided that Grandpa would have the late spring and summer at Broadford, would then go to Grace in Sydney for a few weeks and then to Myra in Brisbane for the winter. On the return journey he again stayed with Grace for the time. This arrangement continued until the end of 1942 when wartime restrictions on interstate train travel made it impossible to continue.” [Feb 17th 1993]

There is a photograph and a brief description of John Zwar in the book, “Early Pioneer Families of Victoria and Riverina” by Henderson (1933?),

“He has been engaged in pastoral pursuits all his life, and his splendid property of 800 acres is situated within two miles of the township. He was a well-known breeder and judge of blood and draught horses in his younger days. … His wife was Miss Coombs, a daughter of a pioneer, of Mangalore, and was the first white girl born there.‘’

John’s later Years

John W. W. Zwar was a huge man physically, although not quite as big as his brother Albert. He was over 6 feet tall and a heavily built man. He had a goatee beard and a moustache. His large size meant that he found it more difficult to get about as he grew older.

In his last years he had thrombosis of the legs as well as leg ulcers and he had difficulty walking. He lived in the hospital from about 1941 – at first he wasn’t sick, but he just needed care. Finally he became bedridden and died in the hospital at Broadford at the grand old age of 93 years. A lot of new history was created in Broadford in his lifetime and he was proud to be part of it.

© Kevin P Zwar

Emily Marchbank nee Zwar (E3)

Detailed biography

First Child born at Broadford

Emily Zwar was the first of Michael and Agnes Zwar’s children to be born at Broadford. She was the third child and arrived on 4th July 1857. [Emily didn’t have a second name – Gavan Crowl]. [Any Baptism record?]

By the time Emily began school there were three more children in the family. When she finished school there were nine children in the family and Emily and her older sister Anna were kept busy helping their mother with the housework. [Any record of her schooling?]

Sister Anna and Babies

When Emily was 17 years old her elder sister Anna married George Bidstrup. This left Emily to help her mother with her six brothers and two little sisters, and three years later their last sister Ada arrived.

Meanwhile Anna and George Bidstrup were producing babies, and each time it was Emily who went and cared for her sister and family before and after the happy event. The only one not so appreciative of these happy occasions was Thomas Marchbank. Thomas had been courting Emily for some time and after she had been away the fourth time to help Anna bring a little Bidstrup into the world – and they put off their own marriage twice -Thomas complained to Emily’s father Michael. Thomas threatened to go and look for a wife elsewhere unless Emily stopped postponing the marriage to go and help her sister bring another Bidstrup into the world.


Later the same year Emily Zwar and Thomas Marchbank were married, on 8th November 1882 in St. Matthews, Broadford, by Rev Andrew Toomath. Thomas was 36 years old, and Emily 25. Thomas worked together with his brother James and their father John William Marchbank

“as Saw Mill owners, Agricultural Implement proprietors, and Farmers and cattle Dealers at Broadford and elsewhere…”

Two years after Thomas married Emily, the Marchbank business partnership was dissolved on 17th June 1884, on Thomas paying to James Marchbank:

“the sum of Fifty pounds in money and also hand over and deliver to him a certain Engine by Ronsome and Sims number 1163 a Saw-Bench and gear six circular saws Tip Dray and Bay Mare branded B on the near shoulder and harness and also transfer to him the said James Marchbank crown allotment 16 section 22 Town and Parish of Broadford.”
From the ‘Deed of Dissolution’

Wattle Grove and Threshing Machine



Steam Traction Engine, originally Marchbank, and then Zimmer


Threshing the wheat

Their father dropped out of the partnership, James received the town block of land and the saw mill, and Thomas took over the threshing machine and Steam Engine, and received the dairy farm called “Wattle Grove” about three kilometers east of Broadford.


At Wattle Grove Emily looked after the cows. Thomas was not so keen on dairying and traveled the District with his Threshing Machine to thresh wheat for the farmers. The threshing machine was driven by a huge and (by our modern standards) cumbersome steam traction engine.

The threshing operation employed about a dozen men, who included some of the Zimmer lads from Thomastown, Emily’s cousins (on her mother’s side). Many years later the Zimmers bought the threshing machine and steam engine and became well-known in the farming areas northeast of Melbourne as they travelled from farm to farm threshing the wheat.

When the farmers had stripped the heads from their ripened wheat crops Thomas Marchbank would travel from farm to farm for the threshing. The heads of wheat were threshed by the machine so that the grains would fall out one side to be bagged, and the chaff and straw from another outlet. The straw was compressed as hay feed for cattle and sheep.


Scarcely a day passed at Wattle Grove without visitors calling and staying for a meal. Sometimes they stayed for the night. One or two of the five Zimmer lads would often turn up from Thomastown and stay for a night or two.

Sister Ada

When Emily’s mother died in 1891 Emily’s youngest sister Ada was only 14 years old, so she came and lived with Emily and Thomas at Wattle Grove. A workman was employed to help on the farm, and for a time ‘young Tom’, a nephew of Thomas, worked and lived there.

Sister Agnes

When Emily’s brother Charles married and took over the Zwar property, their sister Agnes went to Melbourne to study for a nursing career. When Agnes was not in Melbourne she would also stay at Wattle Grove with the Marchbanks and her sister Ada.

Social Visits

Thomas and Emily had no children. Emily would go to Melbourne for a few days, or she would go to Beechworth for a fortnight to visit her brothers who were in the tannery trade there. When she returned she would have news for the Broadford families and this would take up a number of social visits for a further number of days. One of these visits would be to the Bidstrups to visit her sister Anna, and she would usually bring home a turkey.

Life at Home

At home Emily did the cooking, and Ada the sewing. Sometimes it would be Ada who would be away all day visiting. On one such occasion when she arrived home late at night, as is noted in her diary:

“Em and Tom waiting for me at the gates, anxious as per usual”.

Some evenings were spent with friends or relatives playing cards or making music.


Thomas and Emily loved to go down to the creek fishing. Sometimes they caught two or three dozen fish. Ada records in her diary the day Tom caught a one and a third pound cod and she

“thought he landed a whale great was the noise thereof”.

Thomas and Emily attended services in the Anglican Church on Sundays, either in the morning or evening, and sometimes both times.

Help for Thomas

Thomas suffered from diabetes and with increasing age he had difficulty working. In 1906 Ada went to South Africa and married Samual Crowl, a miner. Emily wrote to the the Crowl’s and invited them to come and live at Wattle Grove where they could help with the farm. They arrived the following year.


In 1908 Thomas Marchbank died. He was 64 years old. He and Emily had been married 26 years.

Two years later Samual Crowl died, leaving Ada a widow with two small boys.

Sister Agnes

Within a few years Agnes Zwar had to give up her nursing career. She suffered from severe bilious or migraine attacks and she went to live at Wattle Grove too. Now three Zwar sisters, Emily Marchbank, Agnes Zwar and Ada Crowl lived on the farm and cared for Ada’s two sons Lyall and Gavan.

Defined Roles at Wattle Grove

Gavan recalled that the three women each had a clearly defined role. His mother Ada did the housework and cooking. Agnes cared for the flower garden and the fowls. Emily attended to the milking and the vegetable garden.

A typical day for Emily meant that she was up by 6 a.m. for a cup of tea for herself and some tidbits for Darkie the dog. Then the two would set out to bring the cows in from the home paddock. Chaff and bran would go into the bails and Emily would settle down to milk the cows. After milking the fowls would be let out, the milk separated and the cows taken across the railway line to a paddock leased from Kenny’s. Emily would then separate the milk, feed the calves with milk and the pigs with skimmed milk. The cream was cooled ready for making butter or to take to the butter factory in Broadford. Breakfast about 8.30, and then some work in the vegetable garden.

Two days a week Emily would catch and harness the pony to the jinker or buggy and take eggs, butter and cream in to Broadford, and she would likely drop off some vegetables from her garden to her married brothers.

Afternoon Rest and Milking

After the midday meal there was the afternoon rest and afternoon tea about 4 p.m. Darkie would get his share and then go for the cows down the road and across the railway line to ‘Kenny’s’. After the milking, separating the milk from the cream, feeding milk to the calves and the pigs, and then the cows would be put in the home paddock for the night, and in winter would be fed some sheaves of hay.

More Fishing

If there was still enough light after the evening meal there would be an evening’s fishing.

On a special day everyone would set off after breakfast for a fishing trip. The horse would be put in the buggy, the three sisters climbed up on the seat and the two boys sat at the rear end with their feet dangling out the back. They would go half way to Tallarook for a day’s fishing in the Sunday Creek. There was never any problem getting worms. Each milking session ended with cleaning and washing the brick walls of the bails. Cow manure went into a half tank in a shaded corner. A little soil was added and this became home for a seething mass of worms. Fishing was Emily’s delight. One day Emily and two companions caught over 300 blackfish.


On other occasions they would add rifles and mattocks to the buggy and head toward the ranges hunting rabbits. They would usually catch about 20 before heading home in time for the evening milking.


Emily was always patient and understanding by nature. More so than her sisters! She was also quick witted and particularly good at repartee. Their brother William would occasionally turn up from King Island for an unexpected stay. Emily was always quite patient and understanding even when Billy’s stay was longer than normal.

Struggles in the Depression Years

As the tree sisters grew older they faced quite a struggle, particularly when the Depression years came and made life difficult for everyone in the District. In his unobtrusive manner their brother Albert saw to it that they were not financially embarrassed. Arnold, their nephew, arranged to lease Wattle Grove to run some sheep. In their earlier years a succession of farm laborers was employed at £1 per week plus board and keep. Two of the best were Bill Smith and Jim Gordon.


The three sisters continued to be involved in their church’s life as long as they were active.

Agnes died in 1948. Emily Marchbank died in the Broadford Bush nursing hospital on 26th September 1951 aged 94 years. She had been a widow for 43 years. She left Wattle Grove to her nephews Lyall and Gavan Crowl. Later Gavan lived on the property with his wife Betty.

The Freeway

The Wattle Grove farm was made up of three sections, numbers 51, 52 and 53, approximately 90 acres each, and originally a total of about 266 acres. Over the years it has been reduced with land taken for the railway, the highway, and finally the Freeway that bypasses Broadford. Today the traffic speeds by at over 100 kilometers an hour along the Freeway and the days of the horse and jinker have been left behind. If one could put the Marchbank home back it would sit metres above the cars speeding along the Freeway from Melbourne to Sydney.

© Kevin Zwar

Anna Maria Magdalene Bidstrup nee Zwar (E2)

Detailed biography


Anna was born at Dry Creek (Thomastown near Melbourne) on 6th April 1855. Her mother Agnes was staying with her parents, the Zimmers at Dry Creek near Melbourne. Her father Michael Zwar was up at Broadford clearing the property he had recently bought.

(In later life Anna hated the length of her name as it would not fit on any document she had to sign. Her father Michael had two sisters named Maria and two named Magdalena in Germany. Three of them died as children, but one sister Maria grew to adulthood.)


Anna was baptized by Pastor Goethe at Dry Creek [now Thomastown] on 6.5.1855, exactly a month after she was born. Pastor Goethe, the first permanent Lutheran pastor in Melbourne, had married Anna’s parents several years earlier shortly after he began his ministry in Melbourne.

A few weeks later Anna, along with her brother Adolphus and their mother, moved up to Broadford.

The Sugarloaf is a small mountain near Broadford and presents people with the challenge to climb it. Anna was apparently carried up the Sugarloaf when she was only six months old.


Like the rest of her family, Anna walked to school in Broadford. Anna attended the Church of England school, which had opened in 1857 with Julius Armstrong as teacher. (from Broadford History p. 95). Michael Zwar applied to the Government with several others for finance to start a German school in Broadford, but it was refused as there were not enough students. (George Carlos)

Busy Home Life

Anna was kept busy helping her mother and the young brothers and sisters who continued to arrive. When Anna was ten years old she had four brothers and two sisters to care for. As the oldest girl most of her time was taken up with housework. When her youngest brother Henry was born there were 10 children and Anna was 18 years old. At this time a Danish carpenter’s son, George Bidstrup, began courting her.

Courtship and Marriage

There is a story passed down about the courtship. One night Anna went to a dance in Broadford. Afterwards she was to walk home alone about 2 kilometres up Zwar’s hill. Her father found her in the company of young George at the Dry Creek Bridge as her father was returning from an evening at the hotel. This led to a scene in which father suggested that the two might as well be married. Anna was delighted with the idea, not only out of her love for George but also the opportunity to escape from the endless housework at home.

On 27th April 1874, Anna and George were the first couple to be married in the new Broadford Church of England. The new brick Church had only been dedicated the day before. It replaced an old timber one. Reverend A. Toomath married them.

George Bidstrup

George Bidstrup was 24 years old. He had been born in Adelaide on 19th July 1849 while his father was refitting the barque Calcutta.

His father had arrived in Adelaide as a carpenter in 1845. On the voyage out, when some of his shipboard companions suffered from frostbite, Bidstrup had the unenviable task of removing limbs with his saw.

In Adelaide, George married Esther Hounson, a cook from Sussex, and they lived in Hindley Street. In 1851 they moved to Collingwood, Melbourne, five years later to Kilmore and finally to Broadford in 1861. In 1866 when young George was 18 years old, his father died, leaving a widow with nine children, the youngest only five years old.

Broadford Butcher

After their marriage George and Anna lived in the main street in Broadford where George was a butcher. Their first four children, Charles, Frances, George and Walter were born there.

Hawthorn Farm

In July, 1880, Anna’s father, Michael Zwar attended the auction of Mr. J. Stafford’s farm on the Sugarloaf Creek. It was the custom of the auctioneer to put on a free keg of beer while people looked over the property before the auction began. Michael enjoyed this generous act of hospitality to the full. The next morning when he could think clearly again he learned that he had successfully outbid everyone else at the auction and was now the owner of a 110 acre property called ‘Hawthorn Farm’. This was quite a problem for Michael because he did not really want the property himself, so he persuaded his son-in-law, George Bidstrup, to take it over, confidently assuring George that he could eventually also buy out the surrounding farms of Gilbert, Wade, Jones, McCulla, Seymour and both J. and P. Farrell. George agreed.

In 1880 George and Anna and their 3 children moved to ‘Hawthorn Farm’ where they and their descendants would farm the property for over 100 years. Over the years they also acquired every farm Michael Zwar had confidently predicted they would buy except P. Farrell’s.

In 1980 over 70 of the descendants came together at Broadford to celebrate a centenary of Bidstrup history on the property, which had now grown to 3500 acres. The celebrations began with a service of thanksgiving in St. Matthews Church of England, where George and Anna were the first couple to be married. A time capsule was buried on the Bidstrup property.

Melbourne–Sydney Road

The road running along the front of the property had been the first ‘road’ from Melbourne to Sydney. The carriages had a lot of trouble ascending and descending the steep and rocky far side of the Sugarloaf creek.

One can still see where some of the rocky outcrops had been partially cleared, but it was still a dangerous and difficult steep bank to negotiate.
One of the first country hotels in Victoria stood on the edge of Bidstrup’s property. It was no longer in use as the main road from Melbourne to Sydney had moved to avoid the dangerous steep bank of the Sugarloaf Creek.

Life on ‘Annadale’ Farm

When George and Anna Bidstrup moved onto ‘Hawthorn Farm’ in 1880 they renamed it ‘Annadale’, the name by which it is still known today. On the farm they had poultry, dairy cows, pigs and sheep. It was mainly a dairy farm. They milked about 25 cows and took the milk a mile down the road to a creamery. They milked 75 cows at the peak. A diary records they milked 71 cows in 1905. Their sheep were shorn on a tarpaulin in the paddock – probably about 150 sheep.

Anna loved fishing. Sometimes she would get through the milking early so she cou1d spend the evening fishing down in the creek. She loved growing vegetables. She also did beautiful crochet work and made a supper cloth for each of her granddaughters.

The last 3 children were all born on the farm. Alfred (1882), Helena (1885) and Ernest (1886).

Anna’s younger sister Emily used to help out whenever a new Bidstrup baby arrived. Thomas Marchbank had been courting Emily for a number of years and he put the hard word on her father Michael that if Emily didn’t stop going off to look after Bidstrup babies he’d go and look for a wife somewhere else!

When they first moved to ‘Annadale’ there was an old house there of two or three rooms – later it became the workshop. (from an interview with Ernie Bidstrup.)

A new house was built with an imposing and large curved verandah at the front. 
It is said that the bushranger Dan Morgan slept a night in an old slab hut behind the Annadale homestead.

The Story of A Family – Annandale Broadford, by Mrs Frances Williams.

Annadale had a long passage dividing two bedrooms in the front, followed by two more bedrooms, then the living room, with Uncle Ernie’s roll—top desk, and on the other side the large drawing room, opening on to the verandah, which then encircled the house on the other three sides. A passage crossed the back with a door leading into the large kitchen, with its big range and bread oven in the wall. Always there was a cast iron kettle or urn boiling on the stove. With an entrance only from outside one came to a sort of underground room, (this is the only way I can explain it): and then beyond that two rooms that were out of bounds to me. I think that any man helper slept there; though maybe when all the seven children were at home they were used by the family themselves.

Many a bath Auntie Helene gave me in the wooden trough in the outside wash—house, and I can still remember how cold it was after leaving the shallow warm water. Maybe it was just as well that I think this tribulation only happened once or twice a week! Probably it was when Auntie Betty came to Annadale as a Bride, that the end of the kitchen was cut off to make a bathroom, and a new kitchen and storage added, – and the old kitchen became a living room.

Outside, even in Wendy’s toddling days was the underground well with this pump, always an interesting thing to the children. I guess this well might even have been the cause of Uncle Ernie getting into trouble at school, when on being told that people couldn’t do two things at once, he answered, “Please Sir, I can, I can hold the billy and turn the tap!”

The stables, the cowshed, the dairy with its separator, the chooks and sheds nearby where things were mended etc. the two big fruit trees in the front and the large mulberry tree in the back, the shed where in 1910, Mum and Dad had their wedding reception, the cottage, the shearing shed with its pens and wool press, and the sheep yards nearby, all find a memory tucked away in my mind.

The old original home is still there, but now there is a lovely new gracious Annadale, just further along the road, past where the old ruined house of the nearest neighbours, the McCullas, used to live. I can remember playing there as a child, but now there isn’t a sign of it left.”

Ernest recalled going to 2 different schools. At first he went to Kur-Kurrac.

“Sister and I rode on a pony through the back paddocks to near the school. It was walking distance. Over a mile. Another school was brought from Lowry, and I finished up in it.”
[Note: The Kur Kurrac Rural School was moved in to Broadford to provide more accommodation for the infant department. … p. 95 Broadford A Regional History*.]

“Lowry was a mile this side of the house, and the other a mile the other side. I went to school for about 9 years. When I left school I worked on the farm. Mostly dairying. Some sheep. Pigs. My brothers George and Walter went to Beechworth to the (Zwar) Tannery. Walter came home. Alf, Walter and I did the work on the farm. Then George and Charlie went to Preston to work at the Tannery.

After I married, my mother lived in turn with Mrs. McNab and Mrs. Figgins at Kilmore. (My father was dead).”.

“My mother was a fine woman. She did a lot of crochet work in later years. She worked outdoors a lot in her younger days. She loved to get the cows milked early in the evening, and then get down to the creek to catch fish for breakfast. She liked to visit her neighbours.”

The outside work included stooking hay. She was of a wiry build. She had a fall in her 80’s and broke her hip and had to have one shoe built up. Ernie used to stay at the Zimmers for holidays sometimes.

“We often went to Epping to visit Annie, Lizzie, Mick, Charlie, Billie and Albert (Zimmer).”

Ernie could also recall visiting the Kaiser family near Melbourne when he was young.

“Every Sunday Anna wrote in copper-plate hand-writing to each of her three sons in Queensland. She also wrote to her sister Ada Crowl, and her own daughter, Fanny McNab, whilst they were in South Africa. It was a family ritual for everyone to gather round whilst she read aloud the replies.” Alan & Esme Bidstrup

Other Information

“My own father Charles Neils Bidstrup had been to the Boer War and Mr. Rogale(?) in Melbourne has been in contact with me for any information as he is writing a History. Fortunately I’d kept books and papers my mother had treasured and Mr. Rogale says one book ‘Fantastic’ and not available anywhere in Melbourne.”
Thelma Lockwood, Letter of 16.10.76

George Bidstrup’s three sons settled at Warra, on the Darling Downs” (in Queensland). [Norm Z. Bowden. Letter of 4.2.1970]

George Bidstrup died in 1920. Anna survived him by another 22 years.

“She left ‘Annadale’ in 1922 after the marriage of her youngest son Ernest. For the next 20 years she lived between her children. When she broke her hip a trained nurse, Sister Hayes, was engaged to accompany her to each home, caring for her personally, even to cooking separate meals for her.”
 Alan & Esme Bidstrup 2001.

Anna passed away on 17th September 1942 aged 87 years, and was buried in the Broadford cemetery.

The Kilmore Free Press recorded her passing 17th Sept 1942

Mrs Anna Bidstrup

“One of the very early residents of Broadford, Mrs Anna M. M. Bidstrup passed away at the residence of her daughter (Mrs J. F. McNab) Ascot Vale, on the 17th inst.

The late Mrs Bidstrup was born at Thomas Town, near Epping, in 1855, and when only six months old came to Broadford with her parents who had purchased a farming property near the town. Her earliest recollections were of a few aborigines that remained in the district and the opening of the Nort Eastern railway line.

In 1874 she married George Bidstrup and in 1881 they settled at “Annadale”, Sugarloaf Creek.

The deceased lady was very highly esteemed by a large circle of friends.

She is survived by six members of a family of seven, her husband and one son having predeceased her. The remains were interred privately in the Briadford Cemetery on the 18th inst. Rev. Wiedemann conducting the service at the grave. Mr. G. Diggle had charge of the funeral arrangements.”

© Kevin P Zwar

(Gustavus) Adolphus Zwar (E1)

Detailed biography


Gustavus Adolphus Zwar was born near Melbourne on 2nd Feb 1854, the first child of Michael and Agnes Zwar. We are not sure exactly where, but I assume that his mother stayed with her parents, the Zimmers at Dry Creek, (Thomastown) for his birth, as she did for the birth of her second child, Anna.

Rachel Roberts (his daughter) thought he may have been born at Brunswick. Michael Zwar had worked there for Hoffmann’s at the brickworks, and it is said he carted bricks for the building of the Sarah Sands hotel, which opened in 1854. Michael had also bought land in Brunswick in 1851 but had sold it the following year.


In 1855 his father, Michael, bought land at Broadford. His mother, Agnes, stayed with the Zimmers until sometime after Anna, the second child was born, then she, Adolphus and Anna went to Broadford to rejoin Michael.


(I am not sure where Adolphus went to school. I guess he would have started school about 1860. There were then no Government schools in those days as we know them today. There was a National Schools Board, which registered the different schools, mainly run by the churches as well as some individuals interested in education. Michael Zwar applied with several others to the Government for finance towards a German school in Broadford but the application was refused, as there were not enough students.)
George Carlos

The Broadford history records:

“The Rev. William Singleton asked that their school be brought under the National School Board and in July 1857, No. 48, a Church of England school with Julius Armstrong as Head Teacher, was opened. Next year there were 27 children attending and the school received 115 pounds a year from the Government, the money being mainly for the teacher’s salary.”
Broadford, A Regional History, Page 95

However in the same Broadford history book the younger brother of Adolphus, John Zwar writes (page 26):

“I started to go to school at 6 years of age. The school was run by a Mr. W. E. Hammersley. The school room was attached to his house where his daughter, Miss Hammersley lives today.”

This was one of the first schools in Broadford. The Broadford history records that,

“One of the earliest schools was that of Mr. Hammersley – in High Street, to the north of Sunday Creek bridge, and although he died at an early age the school continued to function.”

One could assume from the above that Michael Zwar’s oldest children also attended Mr. Hammersley’s school.

[The Crowl’s have some schoolbooks which belonged originally to the younger children of Michael and Agnes Zwar, such as Agnes, Mary, Henry and Ada. These books are all inscribed “State School no. 1125 Broadford”. This school opened in 1873, years after Adolphus would have finished school.]

The Broadford history records that the Church of England school:

“closed in July 1873 and John Wright the Head Teacher applied for and was appointed to the new school, No. 1125 Broadford. This was a brick building thirty—six feet by eighteen feet and had accommodation for about seventy children, with a staff of three.”
Page 95

I recall one of the Broadford descendants saying that their ancestor went to a private school, and one day the name changed to the State school but nothing else changed! The school continued with the same head teacher and students. [Someone else may be able to confirm this – KZ].

It is apparent from the above that the oldest Zwar children went to Mr. Hammersley’s school and the youngest children went to the Broadford State School No. 1125.

Farm and country life

As the oldest of 11 children Adolphus learned to carry responsibility. He worked hard to help keep the farm going.

Adolphus is famous in the family for the courage and initiative he showed in an incident with his father. Father was suffering late one night from enjoying too much of the fruit of the vines they had growing on the property. Father cursed the vines and expressed the strong view that they would all be better off if they were ripped out. He cursed the wine in the casks and the suffering it brought. Adolphus did not wait for a second opinion. Late though it was in the night he went out and yoked up the draft horse and pulled out all the vines. Then he holed all the wine casks. There was an awful commotion the next morning when father woke up and saw how well his wishes had been carried out during the night while he slept!

The Ranch

John Zwar was 5 years younger than Adolphus but he records incidents in their early days:

“My father and mother now came to live here and father split slabs and built a house which is still standing at the “Ranch”. …. When I was four or five years old I can remember the black fellows coming begging for food. They were a nuisance to the people because they got too lazy to catch their own food. One black with his wife used to come very often and ask for a Goulburn “cut” of bread which meant a big thick one. A Melbourne “cut” meaning a thin one. … there were great numbers of kangaroos about.

When I was a boy the Round Hill now owned by Mr. Holden was covered with honeysuckle trees. They were about 30 feet high with a round top about 20 feet across with the exception for a few light lightwood trees there were no other kind growing. It was a lovely sight when they were in bloom. Opossums would very often come from long distances to feed on the leaves and we used to go on moon—light nights and catch them and make rugs with their skins. Also native cats, a small animal not quite the size of a rabbit. They were brown with white spots over the back about the size of a shilling. There were a few quite black with those white spots. They were beautiful little creatures but very rare. They lived on birds, crickets and grasshoppers. There were also native bears all over the place but an epidemic broke out amongst them and the native cats and they all died. There were hundreds of these nice trees about but when the seed fell and the young ones came up the cattle ate them and the old trees dying there is now nothing but a bare hill.”

The Tales of a Grandfather John William Walter Zwar (1934)

Marriage and “Kimberley”

Adolphus bought land just up the road from the Zwar family home before he was married. He married Annie Gilbert in January 1888 and the same year they built the house they named “Kimberley”. It was mainly a dairy farm but they also ran some sheep. Adolphus ran sheep on the ‘Sheoaks’ property, a grazing piece of land on the Melbourne side of Broadford.

John Zwar (Canberra, 1982) recalls that the three brothers Adolphus, John and Charles worked together in a partnership for some time as “Zwar Bros”. They grew oats and cut it into chaff and exported it to South Africa during the Boer War. They grew a lot of oats.

Rachel Roberts described her father as,

“A quiet and reserved man. He didn’t seek the limelight. A big man. Honest and hard working. Kind. Well liked. Generous with wood and eggs.”
from an interview

Rachel also described her mother Annie as

“a marvelous woman and a great help to Adolphus. Clever. Good at Fancy Work and Handcrafts.”

They had four daughters, Agnes, Ivy, Olive and Rachel, the last one born in the first month of the year 1900.

Retirement in Melbourne

About 1920 Annie and Adolphus sold out and retired to Moonee Ponds in Melbourne. His daughter Rachel recalled that Adolphus enjoyed life in retirement, going to see others at the cattle markets and playing drafts with a friend.

His cousin, Mrs. Ziebell (nee Zimmer) lived at Thomastown and was quite impressed with Dolph’s lifestyle in retirement.

”He was flash… had servants, big home. He brought a bag of lollies when he came from Moonee Ponds.”
interviewed with KZ, 8.9.1977


John Zwar (Canberra) remembers hearing them say that “Adolphus died holding Annie’s hand”. It was 6th July 1934 and he was 80 years old. They had been married 46 years.

A newspaper of the day recorded:

“The death has occurred suddenly of Mr. A. Zwar at his home, Learmonth Street, Moonee Ponds. Born at Brunswick in 1854 (then known as Philiptown) Mr. Zwar’s parents selected land at Broadford when he was aged two years. Later he bought land adjoining the old home property, and worked it for many years. Fifteen years ago he sold this large grazing property and retired to Moonee Ponds to live. Mr. Zwar was a brother of Mr. A. M. Zwar, M.L.C., and of Mr. H. P. Zwar, M.L.A. He leaves a widow and four daughters (Mrs. 0. Brown, Mrs. A. H. Lowe, Mrs. L. A. Johnstone and Mrs. E. J. Roberts). The funeral took place in the Broadford Cemetery.”

Annie survived him by eight and a half years and she died on the 29th January 1943.

© Kevin P Zwar

Michael Zwar (E)

Detailed biography

The first of the Zwar family to go to Australia.


Michael Zwar was born on 24th March 1829 in Drehsa, a small town a few kilometres from Bautzen in the Kingdom of Saxony. He was the eighth child and fifth son born to Johann and Anna Zwar, who finally had eleven children – five daughters and six sons – exactly the same number as Michael would later father himself!

Michael’s father had been born a month before the French Revolution in 1879. His mother was four years younger, and they had married in 1812. Michael’s father was a 40 year old market gardener when Michael was born, and his mother was 36.


Michael’s oldest brother and two older sisters had already died at least 12 years before Michael was born. The other children still living were Andreas, now 11 years old; Johann (7), Peter (5) and Maria (2 years old).

A younger sister, Magdalena, was born when Michael was 3 years old, but 2 years later she died. About the time Michael would be starting school, when he was almost 6 years old a younger brother was born, but was stillborn. A year later his brother Karl was the last to join the family making it 2 parents and 6 living children.


Michael apparently got along quite well at school – also with his teacher. In his first letter home from Australia he wrote: “Best wishes to schoolmaster Forster and all my old schoolmates.” Four days before Michael’s 11th birthday his father died, 20.3.1840. An older brother, Peter, had just taken on his first job at Huhndorf (near Dresden). I do not know if 19 year old Johann was still at home. The oldest of the boys, Andreas, was apparently to stay on the home property. Also helping their widowed mother at home were Maria, now 13 years old, Michael (11) and Karl (3 and a half).

To Australia

On 24th August 1849, when Michael was 20 years old, he sailed for Australia from Hamburg on the 345 ton ship Prubislav. There were nearly two hundred other passengers on board with Michael.

Why did Michael leave home for Australia?

Overall it must be borne in mind that this was the time of a great emigration from Europe to the ‘New Countries’. From 1850 to 1870 about 5 million emigrants left Europe and went to the U.S.A., largely from Germany, Scandinavia and Ireland. Only a relative trickle went to Australia. I am fairly certain the final impetus that caused Michael to leave was that he turned 20 and was called up for the 2 years military service all the 20 year olds had to go through in Saxony. The story has always been passed down by his family in Australia that Michael hid under a load of vegetables to make his escape. In the call-up he could be sent to fight anywhere and his folk had experienced the worst of wars.

The Battle of Wurschen

The local school Michael walked to as a schoolboy at Wurschen is the name for an enormous battle the English call the Battle of Bautzen. The French call it the Battle of Wurschen and the name ‘Wurschen’ appears on the Ach de Triomphe in the centre of Paris as one of Napoleon’s great victories. The battle took place in 1813, the year after Michael’s parents married. The French general Ney led his troops past both sides of the Zwar village of Drehsa to attack the allied troops on the otherside of Drehsa. Altogether there were 300,000 troops involved in the battles in and round Bautzen. There were about 50,000 casualties. No wonder young men like Michael were not keen to join the army for two years service! The Saxons fought with the French against the Russians and Prussians.


One had to get a passport for permission to leave Saxony. In 1848 there were revolutions in Europe, including one that was put down at Dresden, about 50 kilometres from Michael. His older brother Peter was called up again for military service at this time too, but was declared to be medically unfit for the second time. Peter had intended going to Australia at this time too, but for some reason changed his mind.

Another reason Michael could go was that he wasn’t needed at home. He had three older brothers, of whom only Johann had married (In 1847) at this stage. In later years Johann and Peter would also leave for Australia, and his youngest brother Karl would become a butcher at Grosspostwitz. This still left the oldest son Andreas at home to care for their mother and their sister Maria.

Newspaper Reports

People left Europe for many reasons at this time, but mainly because they thought there would be better opportunities for a future in the new countries overseas. The newspapers were carrying letters and reports from those who had left. Already in 1842 the Wendish newspaper Already in 1842 the Wend newspaper ‘Tydsenske Nowiny’ carried the following article:

23rd July 1842
“News from those who migrated from Brandenburg to Australia has so far been favourable. They have established two villages, Klemzig and Hahndorf not far from Adelaide, developed them and grown good crops of wheat and barley. A shepherd out there receives 270 Taler annually, (£90 sterling ?) in addition to a free dwelling and free food. Landowners or settlers who are obliged to pay that amount must accordingly have the resources to do so.”

This newspaper was published at Bautzen only a few kilometres from the Zwar home. Ten years later Johann Zwar wrote a report of his trip for this newspaper as he knew the editor.

Travel Agents

There were people who made their living convincing people to go to the new countries. The shipping companies paid travel agents a commission for every person who boarded their ships. The agents painted wonderful and alluring pictures of life in Australia. Some even pretended they were going too!

An advertisement appeared In the Tydsenske Nowiny 21st April 1849:

“An association of migrants numbering 60 has been established. Further interested persons are urged to apply for membership so that they can help with the planning. Among the important questions still to be resolved are the following: the securing of a pastor and teacher, also the most necessary tradesmen and servants.”

The securing of a pastor would encourage the religious people of Lusatia to apply. The deeply religious would not consider migrating if their religion was to suffer. The Church was the centre of their village life. If a schoolteacher would come as well there would be a better chance to get the families with young children to go along too.

On 7th July the paper reported that Pastor Andreas Pench of Bautzen and Johann Zimmer of Weissig had been signed up, and that the voyage would begin at the end of the month. The fare was 76 Thaler (25 pounds) (children under 8 years 40 Thaler, and infants free). There were some delays.

The newspaper of August 14th reports that Pastor Pench addressed his words of farewell, being about to commence his term of service as spiritual leader of the migrants to Melbourne in that richly blessed land of Australia.

The stage was set for a journey to a great future. If anyone had doubts they were reassured by the large number of others someone knew who had already migrated or were about to go. As Hoehne said:

“This one is migrating, that one is migrating, and so I’ll migrate too.”

They said their farewells to family and friends and traveled across Germany to Hamburg, full of anticipation.

Hamburg and the agent Hartig

In Hamburg a series of incidents soon changed their mood and they were soon wishing that they had never thought of the idea. The first shock waiting for them was the news that Pastor Andreas Pench had died in Berlin on his way through to Hamburg. Even his possessions were at Hamburg already as others had brought them along for him.

Secondly, there was no ship in Hamburg to take them on their voyage! This meant that they had to find and pay for accommodation. They booked into the guest house ‘’Zum Wilden Mann’‘.

Added to this, Hartig now demanded more money than he had actually mentioned previously. There were other discoveries about Hartig which soon had them cursing the day he was born. The passengers intending to sail came from different parts of Germany. The majority were Germans. Several Germans had no money, but Hartig had persuaded them to come anyway because “the Wends had money and were good people and they would pay for them etc.‘’ When the Wends arrived and were informed of Hartig’s generous plan the Wends would have nothing to do with the Germans who were to be their shipmates. At Hamburg the intending passengers learnt for the first time that Mr. Hartig and his wife were not actually coming on the trip themselves. He had given the impression that he and his wife would be with them all the way!

The feelings against Hartig and his wife grew stronger by the hour. Several migrants broke down and wept and would have gone home if they could have. Some of them claimed that Hartig’s wife had bewitched them, so to speak. The Wends decided that as Hartig was so crooked they would definitely not go to the place recommended by him (ie. Melbourne) when they arrived in Australia. It would probably be as corrupt as he was!

Pastor Pench’s brother turned up from Ebendorfel to collect his dead brother’s belongings. Hartig would not let him have them unless he paid out 70 Thaler (almost the fare to Australia!). Hartig said that he had had to attend to this and that for the deceased Mr Pench and he would not hand over the possessions until he had been paid. Pench went to the police who directed him to the council. At the council he learnt that they all knew Mr. Hartig. He had brought migrants to Hamburg before and had always fallen out with them. The council advised Pench to pay 20 Thaler, although he could stay and fight the case with Hartig, which could possibly cost him more. Pench paid Hartig 20 Thaler and received his brother’s belongings.

Church and Abraham

The Wends had time on their hands. They attended church every day. A child of the Wend Wuchatsch was baptised. At a communion service an elderly pastor preached on Abraham, his call from God to leave his country, and the promise of God to go with hi. The pastor told the intending travellers that they had received no call from God to leave their land and no promise that he would be with them to bless them. What a cheerful encouragement from the pulpit!


A ship was being prepared for their journey. They could go aboard and watch the carpenters installing various fittings and 250 bunks. The double bunks were placed alongside each other in double rows. There was 3 metres of space from floor to ceiling.

War Rumours

A rumour suddenly swept Hamburg that the Prussian army was returning home from Schleswig-Holstein via Hamburg and that this would cause riots etc. The Wends were terrified. They could remember how the Prussian troops had put down the uprising at Dresden only 3 months earlier. But nothing came of it.

The Sea Journey

The Prübislaw finally left Hamburg with 168 adults and 61 children on August 23rd 1849 under Captain Wilhelm Niemann. Even this was not achieved without an accident! As they were sailing out of the harbour they rammed a smaller coal ship which sank with all on board.

There is not a lot to report on the actual journey. There was naturally a lot of seasickness. Michael Zwar became seriously ill. He could not even walk. Fortunately he had a real mate in Andreas Kaiser. As Michael later wrote home:

“I regard him as a true blood brother, for in my illness he looked after me better than I asked. I could not walk so he led me about and stayed by my side on many a night to care for me without getting any sleep. God reward him for this! I will never forget what he did for me. There is nothing worse in all the world than to take sick on board ship, for there one is completely forsaken. I had a very high temperature during my illness but because of the scarcity of water I had to endure a terrible thirst. Besides that, the water stank so badly that I had to hold my nose when I wanted to drink. How uncomfortable it is for anyone sick on board a ship. The din made by one’s fellow passengers is almost unbearable.”

Hoehne later wrote home:

“On the whole journey 14 people died. In addition to other difficulties we had to suffer a good deal from fleas, lice and bedbugs.”

Rio de Janiero

We possibly imagine the ship coming down the coast of Africa, rounding the Cape of Good Hope and then heading for Australia. However the popular route for the German sailing ships was to sail through the English channel and then catch any winds they could to carry them over the equator and over to South America where they would put on fresh provisions at Rio de Janiero in Brazil.

Then they would make towards the South Pole – going so far south that it might snow (as it did later when Johann came out). Way down below Africa the Westerlies would catch them and blow them on a fast course to the southern shores of Australia.

The Prubislav arrived in Rio de Janiero on October 27th to take on fresh meat and water. Here they had some troubles. The passengers published a bitter letter of complaint directed against Knorr and Jannsen, the Hamburg forwarding agents. Their complaints were about the Captain, the overloading of the ship, and about the spoilt condition of their food supplies. As a result they spent more than a month in Rio and only left on December 2nd.

Two storms and two months later they saw the Australian coast on Feb. 2nd 1850.

The 1850’s and Melbourne

The Melbourne Argus reported their arrival:

“The Probislav barque from Hamburg 24th Aug. arrived on 2nd Feb. She brings out 198 German emigrants, the greater portion of whom intend to settle here, and the 
remainder are going on to Adelaide …. Four births occurred during the passage, but not any deaths or sickness, the passengers, of whom only a few can speak English, expressed themselves highly pleased with the appearance of the country.”

About seven Wend families landed at Melbourne, including Johann Wuchatsch, Karl Hoehne, Andreas Kaiser, Michael Zimmer, Johann Stephan and Michael Zwar.

Melbourne’s population at this time was approximately 25,000. The Wend families who disembarked would have visited, or been visited by the Wends already in and round Melbourne. Each would have been glad to see the other. The new arrivals would have the latest news from home.


Several years later Johann Ponich was digging for gold in the Alexander Hills, eighty miles from Melbourne, when he heard of the arrival of the ‘Helena’ at Adelaide. Ponich left the diggings immediately and went about 600 kilometres to Adelaide to spend some weeks with the new arrivals.


Initial Shocks

“One at first expects everything in Australia to be easier than it really is.”

This great understatement was made by Michael Zwar when he finally got to writing a letter home. The truth was that things were so bad that he did not write home for another 15 months. This was a fairly common experience. Johann Mirtschin did not write home for over 3 years for the same reason. Before they left home there were always those who said in dismay, “Why do you want to leave our Country?” and “Why do you want to leave here?”

The same questions are asked today when someone leaves Australia for overseas. When the immigrants arrived in Australia they had something to prove, as did those who came out to Australia 100 years later in the big migration of the late 1940’s and the 50’s. They wanted to show the people at home they hadn’t made a mistake, and were better off in the new Country.

When the Wends came to Australia they were in for some shocks.

Foreign Language

They did not anticipate the degree to which they would be handicapped by not knowing the English language. Michael Zwar later wrote home:

“On the voyage out I didn’t worry about learning English, though I had books and time enough. I learnt nothing so that when I stepped ashore I didn’t understand even ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Dear brothers! Don’t think that coming to a new country is a simple matter. Imagine landing among a foreign people where one understands not a word. It often happened that I said ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no’, and when they called me for meals, I had no idea what they meant. Added to that I had a senseless boss so that it seemed I had exchanged my homeland for hell. Had I at that time written home, my compatriots would surely have been afraid to come to Australia.”

Michael also wrote:

“I had been working for an Englishman who wanted to cheat me out of 10 pounds sterling…. He had written a receipt and although I did not understand what it was, yet I signed the statement saying that I had already been paid. With God’s help I did receive 7 pounds but I was cheated out of 3. Out here one has to watch carefully that one is not deceived. Until a man knows English he has to pay education fees, (ie. he has to let others take unfair advantage of him).”

His shipmate Hoehne experienced similar problems:

“It is seldom that you meet someone who knows German and English. If ever you need such a person to tell you the right street, you have to pay 25 new silver groschen. Thus a person who comes from Germany has the last groschen drawn from his pockets. Finally he can be given no other advice than that he he take a stick in his hands and a mantle over his shoulders in order to go 200 to 260 English miles into the unsettled heathland. There he finds some sort of old shed made from the bark of trees and that is his house. The bed on which he lies is also of bark. If he takes more things with him, they are bound to be stolen. As for food, – flour, tea, sugar and meat will be sent to him. The flour is then pressed into the bark, a loaf is made out of it, and it is somehow baked in the fire. Now you have bread, meat and tea one day; the next day you have tea, meat and bread; and for variety you again have bread, meat and tea etc.”

Michael’s First Letter Home

Michael Zwar was careful about advising his brother Johann to come and join him in Australia. In his first letter home he wrote:

“Should the Fatherland be visited by troubled times, then come out to me. If on the other hand times are peaceful and you can live on what you earn, then stay at home. That would be better and you would have a less troubled life. I leave it to you, I will neither encourage nor discourage anyone.”

Michael was not to know that Johann and the letter would pass each other on the high seas. Johann had left Saxony for Australia before the letter reached home.

When Michael writes the first letter home he is over the ‘miserable’ stage. He intended to return home after several years for a visit, but not to stay. He did make the visit, but it was nearly 30 years later.

Employment and Land

Michael was happily employed (1851):

“I am presently 60 miles from Melbourne out in the bush, where there is nothing to see except the blue sky and endless gum trees. I am busy plowing and must cultivate 300 acres. My boss is very good.”

He does not say where he is working, but his letter is sent from Point Henry, near Geelong, and about 90 kilometres miles from Melbourne. There was a German settlement there which became known as Germantown – and renamed to Grovedale in the War years.

Brunswick Land

Michael casually mentions that he has bought an acre of land near Melbourne and that he hopes to go into the brick making business in the following year (1852). He was probably working to pay off the loan he had taken out to buy the land. The land was in Brunswick, quite near the city, and just off the main Sydney road. It cost him 20 pounds. The half acre is shown in the plan below as it is today, now part of the Jewell Railway Station and partly used for streets. The land in this street was selling for $11 per square foot in 1980.


In order to buy land one had to be a naturalized citizen. Michael applied for naturalization in a letter on September 30th 1852 and states that he is 23 years old, living in Melbourne and a farmer, and is desirous of purchasing land and of establishing himself for life in this Colony. The referees who backed his application were George Muller, Edmund Ashley, Lonsdale Street, and N Heales, Lonsdale Street. The Certificate to Naturalize was issued to Michael Zwar in Melbourne on the first day of October 1852.

A Letter Home

Michael had received several letters from home. He owned land. He was working for a good boss. His future seemed assured. So now he writes his first letter home to tell them about the new Country. It was almost 2 years since he had left home.

The year Michael wrote his first letter home (1851) became the turning point in the history of Victoria. It began with a drought and ended in a gold rush.

Drought and the Black Thursday Bushfires

The drought came along with searing temperatures. No one had experienced such heat before. It is still the hottest year on record (?). Thursday 6th Feb 1851 became known as ‘Black Thursday’ when fire devastated Victoria. The people of Melbourne tried to find shade from the temperature (over 110 degrees) and shelter from the roaring hot winds which blew sand, dust and gravel up the streets and through the buildings.

Fires burnt from Gippsland to Portland – 300 miles, and inland more than 60 miles (including what later became Broadford). A number of people lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands of sheep were either burnt or had to be destroyed afterwards. The wildlife suffered too:

“The roasted bodies of kangaroos and emus had to be pushed aside from the roads; birds had dropped from the trees killed by the heat rather than fire; the track by the Barrabool Hills to Melbourne was carpeted with dead magpies and parrots…”
Kiddle ‘Men of Yesterday’ p. 182

The drought continued until September.

A New Colony

On July 1st 1851 Victoria officially became a colony separate from New South Wales. The new colony had a total population of 77,000. (23,000 in Melbourne, another 17,000 nearby, 8,000 in Geelong, and 29,000 scattered throughout the rest of Victoria.)

It was a pastoral colony. The sheep numbered six million!


Michael mentioned the discovery of gold in New South Wales in his letter home. People were already leaving for the diggings from Victoria, so a ‘Gold Discoveries Committee’ offered a reward of ₤200 for the discovery of gold in Victoria. Two claims were made immediately in June. In August gold was discovered at Buninyong (near Ballarat), only a day’s journey from where Michael had written his letter.

The Melbourne Argus reported:

“One tenth of the population of Geelong are already mad to get off to the

“the whole town of Geelong in hysterics. Gentlemen foaming 
at the mouth, ladies fainting, children throwing summersaults.”

A Wend, Johann Ponich, earned ₤250 (equal to about five years wages) by the end of the year when incredibly rich fields were in full production at Ballarat, Bendigo, Mount Alexander (Castlemaine) and Mclvor.


In the last days of December the first shipload of diggers arrived from overseas. (They were on their way to NSW, but all left the ship when it called at Melbourne). 94,644 new arrivals came in 1852 and more than doubled the population.

Victoria would never be the same. Workers simply walked off their jobs and rushed to the diggings. On 1st January 1852 only 2 out of 140 police remained on duty in Melbourne. Wages doubled in the year to try and keep people at their jobs. The pastoralists could not get shearers to shear the 6 million sheep.

Up to 50 ships were stranded in the harbour with no sailors on board to sail them. Some seekers struck it rich at the diggings. Others made quite a tidy profit carting supplies to the goldfields. Michael Zwar was one of the latter. At first he dug for the precious yellow metal. Then he turned to carting supplies to the goldfields.

Carting Supplies to the Goldfields

We do not know when he began, but in 1853 Michael was carting flour to the Beechworth fields at ₤40 per ton. Carriers were demanding up to ₤150 per ton to take supplies to some of the fields. Prices skyrocketed for all goods. For those who came from Europe by ship, it now cost more to get their goods from the harbour to Melbourne than it had cost to bring them from Europe. Parts of Melbourne grew into tent camps holding thousands; and if you did not have a tent you could bed down in a horse stall with 2 others at 5/– a night (each!).

There were no ‘roads’ to the diggings. The drays and wagons, usually overloaded, had to make their way through scrub, forest, swamps and creeks along rough bush tracks. In wet weather there was often no way through at all. Drays would disappear completely in deep bog holes. Wagon teams became bogged for weeks at a time. During 1853 it was costing one Ballarat Publican ₤1,500 each month to get his supplies through from Geelong.

Reports of the Goldrush in Wendish Newspapers in Saxony

The Wendish Newspaper carried reports in Saxony!

“A man digging for gold in Australia… reports: The cost of living is terribly dear out here …It is almost like a lottery. If you strike it lucky, you may become rich. Ships arrive daily with migrants from many different countries. Everyone is waiting anxiously for the arrival of more police from England as cheating, robbery and murder occur here in broad daylight and no one ventures out unless well armed.”
Tydsenske Nowiny 29.1.1853

“Australia. An English paper reports that up until now much gold is still being found here, but also says that everything is so very dear, so that despite the large quantities of gold being found there, people are not much better off.”
Tydsenske Nowiny 29.1.1853

“Because there is a great shortage of women in Australia, an Englishman by the name of Lindsay this year plans to bring out about 900 on his ship, hoping that in a short time each one there will have found her man.”
Tydsenske Nowiny 29.1.53

“A fortnight ago four ships between them brought 354,648 oz. of gold from Australia to London. Such a large quantity of gold had never previously been transported and even larger amounts are still expected.”
Tydsenske Nowiny 2.4.53

“London newspapers write that there is a great lack of women in Australia. All unmarried women who are brought there secure a man on the spot. A clergyman in one week solemnised the marriages of 200 couples.”
Tydsenske Nowiny 6.8.53

“An English language newspaper writes from Australia: Melbourne today presents a unique appearance. The city itself is surrounded on every side by suburbs consisting of wooden buildings or tents. Very few houses have of late been built of stone or brick. There are now 70,000 people in Melbourne and adjacent areas, with houses sufficient for only half the population. No wonder that sickness is rife. In addition, Melbourne is one of the dirtiest and muddiest of cities, so that as can be imagined, it can not be classed as one of the more pleasant resorts. Mail services are very poorly organised. Long-term residents may sometimes receive their letters, but new arrivals rarely do so unless their mail is addressed to well-known business houses.”
Tydsenske Nowiny

In the three years since 1851 the population of Victoria increased fourfold and a number of the newcomers were from the Continent. There were many people now who could not speak English, but this was not a great handicap when digging for gold.

Brother Johann

By the time Michael’s first letter home reached its destination, his brother Johann was on his way to Australia. Johann Zwar’s ship called in at Adelaide on Christmas Eve 1851, on its way to Melbourne where he was to join Michael.

There were 98 Wends on the ship (out of 128), and when the South Australian Wends heard of their arrival they went to Port Adelaide to greet them. They needed help with their harvest, so they convinced the Wends to unload in Adelaide and help them, ‘’And then you can go on to Victoria later if you are not satisfied with South Australia’‘.

Some of the Wends did go overland to Portland several years later and finally settled near Penshurst, but Johann stayed in South Australia.

Johann and Michael did visit each other in later years, but apart from Johann’s visit in 1863 records or details of their visits are scarce.


On 16th October Michael sold the half acre of land at Brunswick to John Myers for ₤40. He repaid 18 pounds still outstanding on the loan of ₤20 he had taken from James McEroy to buy the land, and made a profit of ₤20. The Brunswick clay was particularly suited for brickmaking and a number of brickworks opened there. Michael had intended starting a brickworks of his own but worked instead for Hoffmann’s. (Hoffmann’s became the largest of them all and made bricks there for over 120 years). We do not know exactly when Michael began working for Hoffmann’s, but it is said that he carted bricks for the building of the Sarah Sands Hotel. This was opened in 1854.

Agnes Zimmer

Of more importance to Michael at this time was a young 17 year old Wend lass called Agnes Zimmer. Agnes had come out on the same ship as Michael with her brother. Her brother Michael had worked as a shepherd at the Red Bluff for 9 months, followed by a variety of jobs. He also carted supplies to the Bendigo (and later) Beechworth goldfields.


Just when Michael Zwar and Agnes Zimmer were thinking about getting married, Melbourne suddenly had a Lutheran Pastor. Michael had been attending services with other Lutherans (Wends & mainly Germans) in the chapel of Mr. Morrison in Collins Street in Melbourne. (Mr. Morrison was an Independent Minister).

The Lutheran services were led by laymen and held on Sunday afternoons. The Lutherans had been trying unsuccessfully for several years to get a Lutheran Pastor to Melbourne. The only Wend-speaking Lutheran pastor in Australia (and the only one who ever came to Australia) was Pastor Kappler who had landed in Adelaide in 1848. In 1852 he visited Melbourne, but many of the Lutherans had left Melbourne and joined the gold rushes and there were not enough left to support him, so he returned to Adelaide.

Pastor Matthias Goethe

The first permanent Lutheran pastor in Melbourne was an unusual man who became their pastor in unusual circumstances. Matthias Goethe was born in Germany, began studies for the Roman Catholic priesthood, became a Protestant and went to England where he married an English girl. He was brought out to Sydney by Dr. Lang and taught at Lang’s ‘Australian College’ in Sydney. The college included a curriculum which Presbyterian students for the ministry had to pass through. In Sydney Goethe was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry, but also preached for a small German Protestant congregation which met in the same hall where Goethe taught mathematics and modern languages. When the College was failing, Dr. Lang advised Goethe to go to the Germans in Melbourne as he knew they were desperately looking for a minister.

In an unusual service on Good Friday in 1853 Matthias Goethe was installed as the Lutheran Pastor in Melbourne by Rev. James Clow, assisted by seven other non-Lutheran clergymen.

Marriage and Family

Eighteen days later Pastor Goethe married Michael Zwar and Agnes Zimmer.
The marriage certificate reads:

Michael Zwar of Pendrige near Melbourne and
 Agnes Zimmer of Dry Creek v12 April 1853 at Mr Morison’s Chapel 
in the presence of Carl Ernst Hempel and Fredericke Ziebel
 of Brunswick and Dry Creek by Matthias Goethe of Melbourne
 minister of the Evang. Lutheran Church.

Michael was living at ‘Pendrige’ (later ‘Pentridge’). The area was later named Coburg and adjoins Brunswick. Michael and Agnes lived in this area for about two years. Michael earnt money carting flour to the Beechworth goldfields, possibly with his brother-in-law Michael Zimmer.

On February 2nd 1854 their first child, Gustavus Adolphus was born [at Brunswick ?].

Purchase of Broadford Land

On 12th July the first lands were proclaimed for sale in the Countie of Dalhousie, a district Michael had passed through when carting supplies to the goldfields. On 29th August 1854 Michael bought 88.2.0 acres of land, Countie of Dalhousie, Parish of Broadford.

The official ‘Land Purchase’ shows that the sale was finalised on 3rd January 1855. Michael Zwar of Kilmore’ paid ₤340.14.6

“Yielding and paying yearly unto us, Our Heirs and Successors, the Quit Rent of one Peppercorn forever, if demanded”.

It was signed by Chas Hotham, the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria. The purchase was recorded in the Register of Lands on 16th January 1855. Michael had apparently started clearing the land and/or building a slab hut in l854, leaving Agnes and their son in Brunswick.

In November 1854 Michael’s older brother Peter and his bride landed at Port Adelaide and went to live with Johann and his wife in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.

More Children

On 6th April 1855 the first daughter was born to Michael and Agnes. They named her Anna Maria Magdalena. (Michael’s 2 oldest sisters had been named Maria and Magdalena, but both died as infants. His two younger sisters had then been named Maria and Magdalena. Maria lived on, but Magdalena only lived two years.).

Anna Maria Magdalena Zwar was born at Epping and she came with her brother and mother to Broadford when she was a few weeks old. Presumably they moved into ‘the hut’ which Michael had been building out of slab timber, in May or June 1855.

Every second year for ten years another child would arrive!
Emily, 14.7.1857
John 2.6.1859
William 1.5.1861
Albert 16.7.1863
Agnes 16.8.1865.


The Zwar’s lived about a mile west of Broadford on what became known as ‘Zwars Hill’.

“Zwar’s hill to the West is a steep climb but it is well worth an early morning effort. The view is magnificent and below is Broadford slumbering beneath the morning mists.”
Broadford. A Regional history. p.186

Broadford was on the main road to Sydney from Melbourne. There were still Aboriginal tribes in the area who used to wander from station to station. There were grey kangaroos, possums, and numerous koalas in the forest-land which Michael had bought, and platypuses in the creek. Also bandicoots, native cats and tiger cats [?]..

There were a number of small goldfields near Broadford.

The 1860’s

Michael developed a mixed farm fairly typical of farms at the time – dairy, pigs, fowls, sheep, horses etc – with the unusual addition of a home made brick kiln. Timber was sold as the land was cleared, and the timber not suitable for sale was used to fire the brick kiln.

Michael carted ore from the Reedy Creek goldfields to Bendigo for crushing. (The dray wheel – wagon wheel? – ruts are still in the paddock across the road from the Broadford farmhouse.)

Two Weddings

In 1863 Michael went to Melbourne to help his brother Johann get married a second time. Johann’s first wife had died in 1859. Johann then went to Melbourne in 1863 to marry Anna Kaiser, who was also from the same village of Drehsa in Saxony. She had been a guest at his first marriage. Her brother was Michael’s mate who looked after him on the boat trip out when he was terribly seasick.

On 13th July 1869 Michael was in Melbourne again for another wedding. This time it was his brother Johann’s eldest daughter Maria (from the first marriage). Maria’s father and step-mother did not attend the wedding, and Michael signed the certificate as her guardian, giving her permission to marry August Petschel, also a Wend, who had emigrated in 1848. August and Maria Petschel lived at Hamilton for a few years before moving to the Dimboola District.

The 1870’s

A New House

As the Zwar children had continued to arrive on the farm at Broadford the slab hut began to get crowded. The arrival of Charles, 11.6.1868, and Mary Ann 24.9.70 brought the number of children to nine.

Michael had a new home built with bricks made in the brick kiln on the property. The new house was completed in 1871 (?) and was named ‘Glendale’. In later years it became known as ‘The Ranch’. Henry Peter was the first child to be born in Glendale, 2.12.1873.

There was no Lutheran church in the area, so some of the children were baptized and grew up in the Church of England and some were baptized in the distant Lutheran Church at Thomastown, later to become a Melbourne suburb. At home they all became staunch members of the Church of England.

Councillor Zwar

In 1869 the Broadford District Road Board was proclaimed and 7 local men were elected. Michael Zwar served for 2 years from 1872. It was a responsible position. The members of the Board were personally liable to the Bank for any overdrafts the Board arranged!

The Board became the Shire Council when Broadford was proclaimed a Shire in l874. Michael served a on the Council. He was quite a shrewd man and known as a bit of a ‘bush lawyer’.

It is amazing to find Michaell topping the poll one year in the voting in the English community. English was his third language, after Wendish and German.

Quality Farm

Michael was also a knowledgeable farmer. The following article in ‘The Australasian’ shows Michael was using rotational cropping methods way ahead of his time:

Farming in the Broadford District
The Australasian
 Sept 16, 1876 page 377
“North of and adjoining MacKenzie’s farm is another belonging to Mr. Michael Zwar, who has occupied it for 22 years. It contains 360 acres, a great portion of the land being very good, and cultivation is carried on upon a more extensive scale than in the case of most farms in the district.

About 90 acres are usually under crop every season with wheat, oats, peas, and potatoes, and though the land has been in cultivation for a great number of years, yet, by careful management, good returns are generally obtained. The crop of last season was 40 acres, which yielded an average of 23 bushels to the acre, the straw being slightly touched with the rust, but no damage was done by it.

Oats turned out a very good crop, and 17 acres of peas gave a return of 37 bushels per acre. Potatoes generally remarkably well on this farm, but the last crop was only a poor one, owing to the dryness of the season.

Mr. Zwar has made it a practice for a number of years to have a regular rotation of crops, and he considers that, to a great extent, this accounts for his success in farming. His system of cropping is as follows: – Wheat, oats next, then two crops of peas, after which wheat is sown again, and then the land is laid down with English grasses for four or five years before it is broken up again. The remainder of the land is under grass, and in addition to this farm Mr. Zwar also owns another in the neighbourhood, containing 400 acres, the whole of which is used for grazing purposes.

There are about 120 head of cattle, and dairying is carried on upon a rather large scale, from 20 to 30 cows being in milk throughout the year, whose produce is all turned into butter. Among the home stock there is a fine heavy draught mare by Clyde, a sire imported by Mr. J. C. Cochrane, and another by Blackleg.

About two acres have been planted as an orchard and vineyard, close to the homestead, and both trees and vines appear to be well attended to. There is about an acre of vines, which include both wine and table varieties, and generally a large quantity of grapes is obtained, but last season the yield was a poor one. The most prolific variety is one known as Espartè, which nearly always bears an immense crop: the hermitage is also found to generally give a good return.”

Oldest Daughter Marries and Youngest Child is Born!

In 1874 their oldest daughter Anna married George Bidstrup and the following year Michael and Agnes became grandparents for the first time. But Michael and Agnes had not quite completed their own family. Three years later their 11th and last child, Ada Wihelmina was born, 9.11.77. She was the fifth daughter.

Visit to Family in Saxony

The following year, 1878, Michael fulfilled his ambition to return to his homeland alone for a visit.

In Saxony his younger sister Maria was still alive, and his younger brother Karl was married, with two children and was a butcher at Grosspostwitz, quite close to Drehsa.

Michael’s older brother Andreas had died in 1869 leaving 2 children, Ernst and Maria. Their mother had also died, so their uncle Karl had taken them into his family. Michael tried to get Ernst and Maria to return to Australia with him.

Nephew, Ernst Zwar

Ernst came out to South Australia in 1880 and lived with his uncle Johann in the Barossa Valley before marrying and settling down in the Burra District in South Australia.

Maria did not come. She married Bernhard Hartmann and had 6 children. In the infamous German inflation of the early 1920’s her family suffered terribly, and Maria wrote to Australia (to uncle Johann) bitterly regretting that she had not come out to Australia with her uncle Michael.

It is said that Michael had to leave Germany hurriedly because he spoke too loudly about his preference for British government to German. I wonder if it might have had something to do with leaving Saxony without a permit before he did his military service. This was a criminal offence. I understand that people who did this lost their Saxon citizenship.

After Michael returned home, The Kilmore Advertiser 11.7.1878, included the following item of news:

“We understand that Mr M Zwar Broadford has become the proprietor of the well known and popular draught stallion ‘Royal Hope’.”

The 1880’s

The 1880’s saw the exodus of nearly all the children from home. (In some letters Mary Ann wrote at this time she called the home ‘’Vineyard Hill’‘).

Emily married Thomas Marchbank in 1882.
William married Lucy Smedley in 1884 and soon moved to Melbourne.
John married Alice Coombs in 1886.
Adophus married Annie Gilbert in 1888,
Albert left for Beechworth in 1888,
followed by Henry in 1890.
Agnes had gone nursing.


Suddenly their beautiful 19 year old daughter Maryanne, whom they affectionately called ‘Polly’, died from an appendicitis attack during a heatwave the day after Christmas 1889. The family was devastated.

On 2nd January 1890 the Kilmore Free Press reported:

Boxing Day (Thursday last) was about the hottest day of the year just expired, although at Kilmore the heat as usual was not so severe as at Melbourne and other places. Friday set in cool with a southerly wind, and on Saturday afternoon it blew almost a gale from the south, making the dust somewhat unpleasant for a time. The weather since has been mild and pleasant – genial sun and cool winds.

During the holidays Mr Michael Zwar’s family at Broadford suffered a sad bereavement, the fourth daughter of the gentleman named, Miss Mary Anne, being called to her long home on the 26th ult. Deceased young lady was only 19 years of age, and was a general favourite with all who knew her.

This left the youngest child Ada, now 12 years old, at home with Charles who had married but worked the home farm and lived there with his wife Eliza and his parents.

The 1890’s

The Death of Agnes

On June 6th 1891 Agnes Zwar died. She was not quite 56 years old. She had been a great mother to her children. Agnes had been the strong influence in moulding the characters of the children who were all to grow into people of integrity, and several became members of parliament.

Sadly her husband had not always been a great help. He had developed a tendency to go on a spree when he went into town. Sometimes he did not return home for days. The grapes he grew on the farm tended to lead to the wrong influence too. When the children were still at home he arrived home one night cursing the grapes, and advised his sons they’d be better off if the vines were ripped out. His oldest son saw the opportunity and yoked up a draft horse the same night and pulled the vines out with a strong chain. He also holed the wine casks.

The next morning, in the cold light of a new day his father was quite upset, to put it mildly. His older brother Johann was a devoutly religious man and would hear about Michael’s habit and write him a letter admonishing him, and Michael would reply, ‘’I can’t help it, the Devil gets into me.”

Agnes must have been a magnificent woman to bring up the children so well. Sixty years later their son Henry would conclude his biography with the words:

“I owe all my success in life to my mother who guided me along the right path. A big-hearted woman who fed every ‘Sundowner’ who came along – she gave them tea, breakfast and a parcel of food to carry them to the next town.”

It is a fine tribute to his mother, as Henry left home when he was about 14 years old.

The Broadford Courier reported on 20th June:

Death of Mrs Zwar
“The King of Terrors has again visited our quiet township and after a long and painful struggle has at length claimed another victory in the person of Mrs Zwar. For at least seven months the deceased lady has been battling with a fell disease, whose very name is a terror and though medical science has been ransacked, and all that skill and love could suggest have been done to stay its ravage, the insidious malady but strengthened its Python grip, till after three weary months of agonising confinement to her room the struggle has been given up.

The end came not unexpectedly. Dr. O’Hara, the famous Melbourne Physician, had visited Mrs Zwar a fortnight ago and pronounced the case utterly hopeless, and so prepared the family for the parting day, and on Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock, with all her family around her with but one exception, the sufferer passed peacefully and painlessly away.

The mortuary arrangements were committed to Mr. Bossence of Kilmore, and the funeral fixed for Wednesday. Long before the time appointed, a large number of carriages, and horsemen assembled at Glen Dale and exactly at a quarter to three, the black, lace-trimmed coffin, was borne from the house, a long procession slowly following, bareheaded to the hearse, which had reached a distance fully a quarter of a mile from the house ere the last member of the numerous cavalcade has started on the way. High Street being at length gained, the remains were carried into the Episcopalian Church, where the expressive service of the English Church was impressively read by the Rev. A. Toomath of Kilmore, who was afterward assisted by the Rev. E. G. Higgin.

At the close of the first part of the service and prior to leaving for the cemetery, where the concluding part was read, the congregation filling the edifice, tried to give expression to their pent up feeling in the hymn which commences with the words “A few more years shall roll” – a hymn deriving peculiar power from the fact that it had been the favourite one of the deceased, who had frequently asked to have it sung and played to her between her paroxysms of anguish.

Probably a hundred people gathered round the grave, and the scene was an affecting one. Among those assembled we noticed the whole of the family of the deceased, also Dr Skinner, the late lady’s medical attendant, and who, throughout the illness, has shown the most unremitting concern and attention. Many present had come long distances to pay a mark of respect to one who had for 40 years been their neighbor.

The grave was bricked at the foundation, and the coffin bore the simple inscription — ”Agnes Zwar, born 1836, died 1891, aged 55 years.”

On it were placed a number of floral wreaths, tender memorials of an unfailing regard; and as we looked at them one wondered which was the more impressive—the grand musical cadences of the liturgy; or these. The flowers so fragile and beautiful seemed voices from another world, speaking mutely as they did of an infinite Thought, and an infinitely tender care. And involuntarily our fancy sped to Him who is “too wise to err, too good to be unkind,” – and to that “better land” – that land so far away, and yet so near—to which after all, death is but the portal, and all life’s sorrow but a preparation: for –
“We see but dimly through the mists and vapours; 
Amis these earthly damps,
 What seem to us but sad, funerial tapers, 
May be heaven’s distant lamps.”

The Final Years

Michael lived for another nine years. Some of the time he lived alone in a little old brick home on the ‘Sheoaks’ property. His grandson Ernie Bidstrup could dimly remember calling there as a lad and remembers that his grandfather had peanuts growing near the house.
 In his last years Michael lived in a large room which his boys had built – separate from the house – on his son John’s farm near Broadford.

In 1900, two days after Christmas, John sent his son Arnold into town to get the doctor for Michael, but by the time the doctor arrived it was too late.

Michael died at the age of 71 years, almost 51 years after arriving in Australia.

On 28th December 1900 the Broadford Courier reported:

Death of Mr Michael Zwar

“Another of our pioneers has gone the way of all flesh. Mr. Michael Zwar who, with the exception of the past few years, has played a very important part in the affairs of the district, passed away yesterday morning at the residence of his son, Cr. J. Zwar, at the ripe old age of 72 years. Deceased has been ailing for some time, but latterly has been more particularly under medical care, the diagnosis being that the heart was in a very weak state as well as other complications being present, and near relations were advised to be prepared for the worst at any time. Some time prior to his demise Mr. Zwar appeared more hearty than usual, even partaking of light food with apparent relish, and those attending on him were hopeful that this was a sign of approaching recovery, but as indicated by the doctor the end came suddenly through heart failure.

Not only was the late Mr. Zwar a pioneer in this district but was one of those venturesome men of the early days who came to Australia’s shores to make a home in this wide free land. Soon after arrival in 1849—51 years ago—the great gold rushes broke out in various parts of the colony, and our late citizen in company with others braved the privations and uncertainty of a gold field life in order to mine for the wealth deposited so richly throughout this colony. His labours met with varying success and in 1856 Mr. Zwar came and settled in Broadford selecting land which he has ever since held, its splendid purity (?) being an evidence of his judgment in selection.

For about 12 or 15 years Mr. Zwar held a seat first on the Road Board then in the Shire Council, and took an active interest in many of the public works carried out by the government and through government grants.

The late Mr. Zwar leaves a large grown up family of ten children, most of whom are married. The late Mr. Zwar was a native of Germany and was an exceptionally well read man, with considerable theoretical and practical knowledge on many subjects, his geological bent being exceptionally marked. We are sure that the large and highly respected family who are left to mourn their loss have the deep sympathy of the whole of the district folk.

The funeral will start from the residence of Mr. John Zwar at 2 pm tomorrow.”

© Kevin P Zwar

Maria Zwahr (D)

Detailed biography

We know little of Maria

Maria Zwahr grew up to adulthood. She wrote a letter to her brother Michael who had gone to Australia and she hoped it would get there by his birthday. Michael mentions in a letter home that he had received her letter on the day of his birthday – quite an achievement as Maria would have posted it months earlier.

In an extensive list of deaths in Drehsa from 1771 to 2002 there is the following record for Christmas Day in 1852 that is likely to pertain to Maria.

“25.12.1852 Carl August, der Maria Zwar ae. Sohn, 11 M., 5 T.”
[ae. is the abbreviation for ausserehelich.]

Translated to English as: “Carl August, the son of unmarried Maria Zwar, 11 months, 5 days”.

We would welcome a photo and any further news of Maria.

© Kevin Zwar

Carl “Charlie” Hermann Zwar (C10)

Detailed biography

Click here to view the Charlie Zwar Photo Album

The Last of ten children

After eight children Peter and Wilhelmine Zwar completed their family with twin boys, Hermann and Carl Hermann Zwar. The twins were born on the St Kitts farm on 7th March 1876. When they were nearly 16 months old Hermann died from measles. The remaining nine children would each live to be over 80 years old.

Moving Out

When he was three years old Carl’s oldest brother Ernst married. The same year his oldest sister Maria married Johann Joppich and the couple moved to Wirrabara in the mid north of South Australia.

The Move North

Carl’s father was planning to move North where land was being opened up for farming. It seems likely that Carl’s next oldest brother Johann [John] had also moved north to Booleroo Centre about this time as his father Peter Zwar Snr had bought land [section 99] near Booleroo Centre in 1877. Several years later Peter bought section 209 near Wirrabara.

Age five move north

A week after Carl turned five the remaining family moved north in 1880. Three months later Peter bought sections 110 and 131 near Appila and the Zwar family lived on this farm for the next 25 years in a house that Peter built. Carl would live here for the remainder of his childhood and all his teenage years until he married in 1905, aged 30. The young couple settled in the Wirrabara District. Carl was the last of the family to marry, and his parents sold their Appila farm the same year and moved to Wirrabara to retire on the land Peter had bought in 1879 [section 209].

Life on the Farm

In 1890 Carl’s father Peter wrote a letter to Germany and described the good life they were enjoying on the farm. There was a plentiful supply of meat. They killed two or three steers each year and about six or seven pigs. They had everything they needed. They could eat cake every day of the week (and not just on Sundays). He wrote that four of the boys were still at home. The youngest [Carl] was 15. One son worked with 8 horses to plough and pull the wagon, and another worked with 6 horses.

“We now have two 3 furrow ploughs, one even throws the stones out… We also have three 2 furrow ploughs and three single, twenty four [sets of ?] harrows, three wagons, 2 German ones, 2 implements, one for sowing, then the jinker with 2 wheels in case Lena or somebody else wants to go somewhere quickly with only one horse, then we have a special buggy which holds 6 – 7 people; we use it to go to church. We also have 15 working horses and two for riding…..We also have our own forge. Our fourth son [Peter] is the blacksmith who does all the smithy work for us…We have 60 to 70 poultry.”

A year later Peter writes,

“There are 21 horses in the paddock. We have about 80 head of cattle so that each year we butcher 2 or 3 steers as well as 6 or 7 pigs. We lack nothing. Our last harvest was very good. We had more than 1100 bags of wheat. One bag weighs about 260 to 280 pounds.”


Charlie Zwar


Gunpowder Accident

The Lutheran congregation was the centre of their social lives. One Sunday Peter and Magdalena had gone to church at Appila (Pine Creek) in their buggy and pair. Their son Carl and one of the other lads had stayed home and were experimenting with gunpowder. Carl put a tin over the gunpowder as it exploded and it blew his thumb off. They wrapped his thumb/hand in a sheet, made their way to the church, walked down the aisle in church during the service and showed his parents! They quickly took him to the doctor in Booleroo in the buggy and pair! It was said that whenever Carl had his photo taken he made sure his left hand was held so that no one noticed the missing thumb.


Martha and Charlie Zwar



Carl married Martha Franziska Dettmar on 6th June 1905 in the Appila Pine Creek Lutheran Church. Martha’s parents lived in Solomontown where they ran a store. Martha was a talented photographer and would take many ‘glass plate’ photographs of people and sites in the Wirrabara and neighbouring Districts.


Melva, Martha, Charlie nursing Otto, and Carl Zwar



Carl and Martha had three children. Carl, Melva and Otto. Otto was named after his father’s twin brother who had died as a two year old. Tragically their own Otto died when he was three years old.


Carl and Martha developed a large orchard on their property.

Timber Mill

Carl became the owner of a timber mill in Wirrabara.

[To be continued]

Hermann Traugott Zwar (C9)

Detailed biography

Hermann Zwar was the only one of ten children of Lena and Peter Zwar to die under the age of 80 years.


Hermann Zwar was buried in the cemetery of St Peter’s Lutheran Church at St. Kitts.

Charles Jacob Zwar (C8)

Detailed biography

Charles Jacob ZWAR was born on 26th August 1873 at St. Kitts, near Dutton, South Australia. The 8th child and 5th son of Peter and Magdalena Zwar, he was always known as ‘Jack’.


He always thought that his names were Jacob Carl Zwar (probably why he was known as “Jack” – A Z ), and those are the names on his marriage certificate of 24th February 1897, and also on the birth certificate of his son Harrold in 1908. However, in 1911 when purchasing some land he was required to produce a copy of his birth certificate and found his names were ‘Charles Jacob’.


When he was about 5 years old his parents shifted to a farm near Appila. Jack attended the Appila Pine Creek Lutheran School, the same building the family worshipped in on Sundays.


On February 24th 1897 he married Johanne Pauline Marie WILL (known as “Marie”) in the Pine Creel Lutheran Church near Appila. The witnesses were Carl Heinrich Zwar and Luise Emma Keller. The marriage was blessed with five children, three boys and 2 girls. Herbert, (born 26/03/1898; Oscar, (born 07/03/1900; Lucia, (”Lucy”) born 26/09/1902; Crispina, (“Crissy”) born 26/07/1904; and Harrold, born 16/11/1908. The eldest, Herbert, died aged 14 months.


Jack and Marie Zwar, Oscar, Lucy and Crispina


Port Pirie

They left Appila on 28th July 1898 and settled on a 20 acre block on the other side of the Flinders Ranges, four miles from Port Pirie. Then in February 1911 they moved to a larger holding two miles further south.


However, after only 5 weeks there, Marie became ill with appendicitis and passed away 5 days later on 16th March, leaving Jack a widower with 4 children aged from 11 years down to 2 years and 4 months. Jack’s cousin Matilda Altmann came over and helped to care for the children [Matilda Dowling nee Altmann to Kevin Zwar 18 May 1978].

The Port Pirie Register of the Lutheran Church show that Marie had attended Holy Communion from 1905 until her death. The records also show that her husband attended Holy Communion when the records started in 1905 till the register ends in 1922.


The children all received their education at the Pirie Blocks State School. (My dad, Harrold, told me once that his father had worked on the wharves at Pt. Pirie during hard financial times. – A.Z). Harrold Zwar lived with his uncle Peter Zwar for some months to attend confirmation lessons at Pine Creek under Pastor Ortenburger [K.Z].




Jack and Emma wedding

Six years later Jack married Emma Marie Louisa STAEHR in the home of Mrs Auguste Christine Anna Dettmer, in Solomon Town, Port Pirie. The witnesses were M. H.   F. Noll, who lived in Port Pirie, and O. S, G. Noll who lived in Crystal Brook. This marriage was blessed with 2 boys, Frederich, born 16/03/1918; Rex, born 03/05/1921; and a girl, Rita, born 02/09/1923. However, the eldest, “Freddy” died at 18 months and his brother died at 14 years of age after only two days illness.


Eyre Peninsula

In February 1928 they sold the Port Pirie property and the family moved to the other side of Spencer Gulf to the Mangalo district, north of Cleve, on Eyre Peninsula. Here Jack and Harrold share farmed for 15 years for his brother in law F T Will (Marie’s brother). Oscar eventually owned his own farm nearby.
Zwar_JackEmma Silver Wedding

Silver Wedding photo


At age 70 years, Jack and Emma moved to a small property on the outskirts of Cleve where he did saddlery and boot and shoe repairs. Alan remembers how he and his older sister were each allocated a day of the school week, in Alan’s case it was Friday – to walk up the hill during the lunch hour, to visit their Grandparents.

“When we left school our two younger sisters took on the role of visiting. We always appreciated the baked sago pudding treat that was waiting for us – Alan Z.)”


When they became too aged to care for themselves Emma and Jack moved to Yeelanna and lived with their youngest child, Rita, and her family on their farm. Jack died in 1965, aged 92 years, and Emma the following year, aged 85 years. Both are buried at Cummins.

(The above information was supplied by grandson Alan R Zwar, from notes found amongst his father Harrold’s papers and personal recollections of conversations with his father).

© Alan Zwar


Detailed biography

“My tribute to Grandmother’s memory”

by Mavis Jericho (nee Koch), May 2003


Johanna Elisabeth Zwar was born at Ebenezer [12th July 1869], then about a year on the farm at St Kitts before the family moved to Appila where she grew up. She married Christian Johannes Koch on her 20th birthday.


Elisabeth and John Koch

Johannes later said for him it was love at first sight, and he’d vowed to claim her as his wife. Elisabeth’s father Peter obviously approved and the day of their wedding was only the third time that the young couple had personally met.



Elisabeth’s father Peter was able to arrange finance for them to purchase an 80 acre block of land from Samuel Krause with a modest home on it at Duckponds, Moculta, in the Barossa Valley. As opportunities arose they were able to purchase more land, and in 1906 they substantially renovated and enlarged their home to cater for their growing family.


They were blessed with four sons and five daughters. One daughter died when only three years of age.

The children were all born in the family home attended by Elisabeth’s mother as the mid-wife. (Her mother was a noted mid-wife and she would go from Appila to the Barossa for the birth of each of Elisabeth’s children).


Homeopathic was the only medication she ever used. She retained her own teeth. She was never hospitalized and died in the family home where she had been nursed by her daughters.


Elisabeth was gifted in woodwork as well as needlework and sewing. She was also skilled in soldering and metalwork.

She did the family mending, especially the men’s work trousers right up to shortly before her death. She would do all the family shopping and bought most of her goods from hawkers and the local store at Moculta which would call for the orders and then deliver. Her family recalls that on one occasion a young man working for the local store called wearing khaki shorts. She indignantly told him that if he wished to retain her as a customer he would need to present himself in a more respectable attire! She herself was never known to wear any other than ankle length skirts gathered at the waist and nothing shorter than elbow length sleeves. Her hair was always worn swept up in a bun at the back and another bun on top of her head. She enjoyed eating raw vegetables, including potatoes as she prepared them for meals.

Feather Picking

Grandmother Elisabeth spent many hours seated in the small room known as the porch with her feet resting on a little footstool picking feathers. She sold these by the bagful. She had made a snug-fitting lid of cardboard for a square kerosene tin with a slit in the top. Through this she poked the quills and the remains of the feather were gathered in a large apron tied around her waist and spread on her lap. These were then carefully transferred into bags made of closely woven cloth.


Grandmother chopped most of the firewood and carried it by big armfuls to the kitchen. She would also be in charge of the smokehouse when metwurst, hams and bacon were smoked, and would mend the mens’ work boots and the family shoes. Nothing was ever discarded if it could be mended.

Wooden clothes-pegs when broken were mended neatly with wire wraps, and cups with missing handles were fitted with twisted wire handles, as many of these items were hard to procure during the world wars and the depression years. I never recall grandmother milking cows as she had three daughters and was almost 70 when I was born.


My father rarely dwelt on the past but when prompted he would tell with much amusement the situation that arose during one of the visits of Grandfather Peter Zwar. Peter apparently had taken offense at something Elisabeth had asked of him and swung into one of his bad moods and announced he was leaving so packed his bags and declared he would walk to the Angaston Railway Station. Johannes was out at work and Elisabeth pleaded he wait ‘til she was able to harness a horse, but he refused.

Martha and Sophie, the two oldest children, aware of the situation, delayed him by hiding amongst the bags of grain and chaff in the barn as he insisted on saying goodbye to them before he left. By the time they appeared the horse was harnessed to the sulky and Elisabeth was saved the embarrassment of having him seen walking to Angaston. He then announced that he would wait ‘til the next day so that Johannes could take him.


Elisabeth was able to converse in Wendish with her father and taught her children to count in Wendish. Her German was tinged with a slight accent possibly due to her Wendish background. Grandmother was not noted for openly showing her affection and her grandchildren were expected to be on their best behaviour in her presence, but she always thought of them and gave them gifts for their birthdays and at Christmas, but cuddles were just not her forte. I cannot recall ever sitting on her lap.


Christmas and big family gatherings remain foremost of my memories of Grandmother Koch. With three unmarried daughters at home she no longer needed to do much of the hard physical work. Sundays she put aside all chores and I can remember her telling me not to pursue my love of knitting and needle-work on a Sunday, as that was considered work.

After the Christmas Eve church service we always went around to Grandmother’s and after some kuchen [German cake], homemade beer and raspberry cordial, Grandmother would lead the way into the lounge where a Christmas tree stood with burning candles. A round table in the centre of the room was covered by a heavy maroon cloth with tassles around the edge draped over a great pile of gifts and parcels of brown paper.

We would then sing ‘O Tannenbaum’ (Oh Christmas Tree). When we were all orderly seated and asked if we’d been good she would fold back the cloth and proceed to give everyone their parcels.

Surprise Christmas Canaries

I particularly remember one Christmas when our family gave her some canaries. We as children were so excited about keeping this secret and she, not knowing what was in the shoebox, opened it rather quickly, allowing the birds to escape in fright, landing on whatever perch they could find – picture frames, ornaments and the Christmas tree with its burning candles. For a moment it was chaos! She simply sat and laughed while everyone else joined in retrieving the exhausted birds. She fondly cared for the birds and after her death they suddenly multiplied, prompting her family to assume she had collected the eggs to limit their numbers.

After-school Treats

When we were attending primary school we were expected to ride home via the Duck Ponds (adding another extra three miles to our four mile journey to school) to take her the daily paper and mail. Grandmother would keenly read the Advertiser with the aid of a magnifying glass. For our efforts we’d be given a cup of cocoa and some biscuits or cake, some lollies (mostly licorice allsorts and jellybeans) and one penny for our money box).

On one occasion I remember Grandmother being home on her own. She proceeded to make me a cup of cocoa as usual in an enamel mug. I have vivid memories of her with her laboured walk going to the kitchen cupboard with its wire gauze sides to get a jug of milk. The milk had been scalded so had a skin on it which slipped into the cocoa. The dismay must have shown on my face but I didn’t dare object for fear of being told not to be fussy. She must have read my unease and to my utter amazement went to the drawer at the end of the big table, pulled out a tea strainer and removed the offending scalded cream. I thanked her and she actually smiled and confided to me that she never cared for having scalded milk skin in her cocoa drink. That shared moment has remained with me to this day. It also showed me that despite her often hard exterior she could also be warm inside.

Death Aged 80

I was only 10 ½ years old when she died at the age of 80 years, so my recollections of her are of her latter years.

After Grandfather’s death in 1945, Grandmother often spoke of her wish to be reunited with him in eternity. She was only bedridden for a relatively short period prior to her death. Dr Dreuer from Angaston was called and this was the first time that she ever consented to having a doctor attend her. I can remember as a family visiting her in bed and with some apprehension clasping her feverish hand as we left.

Our last visit, I recall, was a gathering of all the family with Pastor Theo Hebart giving her communion and we all joining in the Lord’s Prayer.

The undertaker came to the home and placed her in the coffin which then rested in the lounge room until the funeral. It was there that the relatives, members of the congregation and district people were invited to a viewing prior to the commencement of the funeral service. After a short service at the home a cortege made its way to the cemetery for the commital, followed by a memorial service in the adjoining Gnadenberg Church.

Afternoon Tea and Relatives

Friends and relatives then returned to the Family home and quite a lavish afternoon tea was served. My mother, knowing I enjoyed baking, encouraged me to make some macaroons as my tribute to Grandmother.

I also remember wearing a black hair ribbon and meeting Great Uncles and Aunts and cousins of my parents from York Peninsula and Appila and Wirrabara and various other places. I also recall feeling somewhat bewildered at how my aunts who had appeared so grief-stricken during the three services could now so freely laugh and share jokes with the Zwar uncles and cousins, in that large dining room, passage and kitchen.


Suddenly the home that had been so sombre for days was crowded with people lustily socializing. As a young 10½ year old I figured Grandmother was safely in heaven so it was OK to laugh again and get on with living.

© Mavis Jericho (nee Koch)

Edgar Heinrich ZWAR (C 6.6)

Detailed biography

Click here to go to the Edgar Zwar Photo Gallery

Edgar Heinrich ZWAR, the sixth and youngest child of Peter and Minna Zwar.

Youngest Child

Edgar was born on 8th October 1903 on his parent’s farm between Caltowie and Stone Hut in South Australia with the help of his grandmother Lena Zwar as the midwife. He was the youngest of six children born to Peter and Wilhelmina Zwar nee Wandke. He was baptized in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila a month later on 8th November by Pastor Ortenburger. His godparents were Luise Keller, Gustav Sägenschnitter and Carl Jaeschke. [Carl Jaeschke was an uncle by marriage as Carl had married a Wandke, the sister of Edgar’s mother.]

Three years earlier Edgar’s grandmother Lena Zwar had been present on the farm waiting to help with the arrival of a son when the oldest child, Herman, nearly five years old, died in a tragic accident on the farm. The terrible shock brought on the premature birth of their son Oscar who only lived for 13 days. The following year a daughter Marie arrived. Two years later Edgar arrived. Peter and Minna Zwar now had four surviving children, Agnes, Alfred, Marie and Edgar. Edgar would spend most of his life on the farm he was born on.

Zwar Home early 1900’s


The Home

The family lived in the second house built on the farm. The first was a stone hut that consisted of two rooms with a flat iron roof. [One can see this hut featured if one clicks on the Zwar ‘Family Tree’ page of this website – the hut is seen behind the many implements.]

Albert Nayda

A single workman, Albert Nayda lived in this hut. The children loved playing games with him and he helped them with their homework. “He looked after the horses so well he nearly slept with them.” Ed Zwar. Ed remembered he also loved to play cards. He played the accordion and also taught Alf to play too. Peter added a room on the western end of the hut that became a boy’s room. He also added the blacksmith and a buggy shed out of corrugated iron along the northern side of the old hut.

The Zwar Home

Peter’s family lived in the second house. It had two main rooms with a ceiling and a sloping roof (later to be a dining room, and the other – in my time 50 years later – the girl’s bedroom). Along the Eastern side an iron closed in veranda ran along the whole length and included a kitchen. There was a flat iron roofed veranda on the western side too. There was a cellar, but only covered with dirt/soil. Later the builder Maywald made the cellar deeper and built a low stone storeroom room over the top. Later two more main rooms were added on the Western side – later to become the parlour and the main bedroom. The Western veranda was now covered with a curved corrugated iron roof. Just before Ed married, Shepherd, a builder from Laura put a new gable roof on the house and plastered the outer walls.

From Crown Lease to Freehold

The property had only become freehold on the 13th March 1903, the same year Edgar was born. Prior to that it had been leased from the Crown, in the recent years by Charles Kentish who had then bought it on 13th March 1903 for 2 pounds per acre. The Lands department in Adelaide has no records of crown leases, only of freehold purchases, so there are no Land records of the property before 1903. We have records that Peter Zwar leased the farm from Charles Kentish on 1st March 1904. We have the original copies of this five year lease. Peter Zwar bought the property five years later, on 14th September 1908. So there is no written evidence of Peter Zwar leasing the farm for the five years before 1903 because it wasn’t freehold at the time and only a crown lease, for which the government kept no records. Nor have we found any records of the building of the first hut – maybe in the 1880’s – and of the first house that Peter lived in. The Lands department has no records of leased Crown lands.


The children attended the Pine Creek Lutheran school. They headed out east on a solid flat cart pulled by Nellie, an old horse over 20 years old. They first cut across Daly’s [later Kennedy’s and then Ted Lange’s] paddock to a back road to Appila as far as Almond Tree corner, picking up several Lange and Wurst children on the way, and then headed in a western direction where they arrived at the school just after crossing through the Pine Creek. With the old horse the journey to school took about two hours. Pastor Ortenburger and the elders attended the day of their final exams, but not at any other time.

Old Memories from Edgar and his two sisters, Agnes and Marie.

(shared with Kevin Zwar: [24th August 1983] and included the following:)


“In our school exams we had to read and do sums in front of the congregation.


For Christmas we had a big Christmas tree and gifts. We didn’t put on a Christmas Eve nativity service for the congregation. The congregation didn’t have Sunday School because of the Day School we attended.


Our mother was always kind and good to us. She tried to help us with our school and confirmation lessons.


Father worked from morning until it was dark. He was the blacksmith for the farming district. He went to clearing sales and he and Dick Becker would buy up the scrap iron to use in their workshops. Father preferred blacksmith work to the farm work. He had a certificate as a qualified wheelwright and blacksmith. Once he had 20 or more strippers lined up for him to repair the wheels. He made a set of harrows for Langes. He could weld the iron. We girls had to work the bellows.

Wandke family

We hardly ever went to the Adelaide Hills to visit the Wandkes [their mother’s family]. Ed could recall going there once.

Zwar Grandparents

Grandfather Peter Zwar lifted us off the buggy by the head when we were little children. Father could understand grandfather when he spoke in Wendish but he would reply in German. He didn’t speak in Wendish himself. Father always spoke German at home. Grandmother Zwar always baked us a birthday cake and brought the birthday cake to Church on a Sunday.


The Appila Lutheran Day School was way behind. When the government closed the school during the first World War we went to the Stone Hut [public] school and we couldn’t speak English and we failed the spelling tests. It was the only place we learnt anything. We didn’t learn anything in the Appila [Pine Creek] school.

Marie: “The 1914 drought affected the horse we went to school with – Ed got a prickle bush and hit it under the tummy and made it go.”

Edgar said he went to the Stone Hut school for 9 months. Smith was the teacher. “He pulled our hair. We had our hair cut short [crewcut style K Z.] so he couldn’t grip it. Others felt sorry for me as I knew little English, and they helped me a lot. I learnt more in the 9 months there than ever before. Saegenschnitters went there too. When I came home from school my pet kangaroo used to wait at the creek and then he’d race me home [about a kilometre – K Z.]. I was riding a pony.”


Pet Kangaroo



After our schooling was finished we had confirmation lessons for half a day each week. Tuesdays and Fridays generally – it depended on when it suited Pastor Ortenburger. Edgar mentioned to his father one day that he was thinking he’d like to be a pastor. His father replied,

“That’s only for pastor’s sons. Not farmer’s. You’d be better off to go on the road and crack stones.” Edgar was confirmed in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church by Pastor Ortenburger on 18th November 1917.


“After we finished schooling and confirmation we had jobs round the house. Agnes went to help Mrs Herman Pech after her husband died. Marie went to Alf Beckers. We never went out anywhere much. We went to Church on Sunday mornings. We’d go home from church, change the horses and then go to Christenlehre [Young Adult Group that included Bible Study]. There were 40 to 50 at Christenlehre, held in the afternoon. All in German. Choir practice on the other Sundays.”

Agnes and Marie: “We worked stooking hay, loading it – and carting wheat. Marie: “Father sent me to help the neighbour too because he was loading on his own!”

Agnes and Marie each spent three months in the Barossa Valley to learn dressmaking.”

“Both Agnes and Marie learnt to play the organ from Mary Dack in Laura, but after she moved away we didn’t learn any more.”

Our Neighbours

“We visited the Daly’s sometimes – the nearest neighbours, about a mile away. Two Kennedy brothers lived in the old house near Ted Lange’s. They had bought it from Humphries, and later Herb Lange bought it. The Kennedy brothers had an old Oldsmobile car. They often came to play cards. We went to the football with them.” … Ed Zwar.

Mother Wilhelmine (Minna)

“Mother was a good cook. We were never short of anything to eat. We had lots of fowls, sheep and pigs.” Ed Zwar. When mum needed help some of the Altmann’s, Tilly and Lydia [their cousins! K Z]] would come. A girl Jane Drage (?) learnt German from us.”


“We did our shopping at Laura. Our mail was always to the Laura Post Office. It was a bigger place then.”

Share Farming.

The two boys Alf and Ed spent a lot of time and worked together for years. Alf was five years older than Ed and he had a five furrow plough and seven or eight horses. Ed had a three furrow plough and five or six horses. Their grandfather Peter Zwar lived on the Wirrabara farm after 1904 – the year after Ed was born. When Alf was a teenager Alf and young Ed would walk a plough and horses to Wirrabara and stay there a week or so.

The Farm

The home farm was small and some of it badly affected by salt magnesia and not suitable for cropping. A look at the farm on Google Earth shows the affected areas and probably the poorest land in the District. In my days [Kevin Zwar] the neighbouring paddock, then Lange’s, was never cropped and was overgrown with box thorns and we children had great fun hunting rabbits with our dogs. Peter Zwar had made up for the poor quality soil with his blacksmith work, and he also share farmed land. In 1914 he share farmed for Davidson, a bachelor. Then he share farmed land for Kargers, and then for Weston’s [both adjoining the Zwar farm]. Peter also share farmed for Traugott Pech for some years. The land hadn’t been cropped before and the first year they got 8 to 10 bags per acre.

More Land

Peter Traugott Zwar had bought the 99 year lease on a three cornered paddock of 104 acres from Henry Hannett on 4th December 1908. Then he sold it to his son Edgar Heinrich Zwar 5th June 1930 [a few months before Edgar married]. Then it went to Glenn Zwar in 1975.

An aerial photo of the Zwar farm, 1938


The Barn

When Ed was a teenager they built a barn – a huge one for those days.

“The barn was built with native pine timber from the farm at Wirrabara. We sawed the logs ourselves. It was built about the end of the War.” Ed Zwar. In 1919 the silver wedding dinner for their parents was held in the barn. A photo shows numerous relatives and friends posing outside the house. The children met some relatives they had rarely seen before.

The First Car

“Our first car was bought in 1924, a Buick 4, and Father [Peter] drove it, and no one else for quite a while. It was white. The leather upholstery was ‘Zwar’ leather [from the tanneries of Zwar relatives in Victoria. K Z.]. We now had to drive to Church via Staker’s corner as it used to get too wet for the car [leaving home eastwards K Z.] across the flats over to Lange’s.” Ed Zwar


Alf was the first married. He married Jane Borgas (1924). The following year (1925) Agnes also married a Borgas (Emil). Two years later Marie married Herbert Schultz. Ed lived at home with his parents for three years. He was courting Rita Becker. They went to the same Lutheran church at Pine Creek, had gone to school there together, and only lived about five kilometres apart. At the Jamestown show one year Ed’s father had suggested to Emma Becker that Ed and her daughter Rita would make a fine couple, and Emma replied, “But she is so young!”.

Ed’s parents moved to the Laura blocks just outside the Laura township on the 14th August 1930. Six weeks later Edgar Zwar and Rita Becker were married in their home church at Pine Creek on 2nd October 1930. Rita was 22 and Ed almost 27 years old. The church was decked out with many hanging clusters of blue, purple and white Wistaria flowers. The minister was pastor Ern Stolz and they were the first couple he married since coming to the Appila parish to take the place of Pastor Ortenburger who had been the pastor since 1891. Ortenburger and his wife returned to Germany in 1928. They sent the couple he had baptized and confirmed a special greeting from Germany for their marriage.

The wedding reception was held at ‘The Willows’, the Becker homestead.

The Great Depression

The couple married in about the worst financial year of the 20th Century. The Great Depression would run until the Second World War came along. Nobody had money! Ed’s brother gave the couple a haystack as a wedding gift. I asked Ed how he managed in the Depression years. He said there were times they had no money to pay the bills. Sometimes he used tactics like posting off a cheque without signing it. This gave several more weeks of time before the cheque was returned with the message that he had forgotten to sign it! However, they never went without food as they killed their own sheep and pigs for meat, had eggs from the fowls and milk and cream from the cows. They grew some vegetables and were well supplied with vegetables by Rita’s mother Emma Becker who had a large vegetable garden at ‘The Willows’. They baked their own bread.

Both Alf and Ed were to make repayments to their father over the years for their farms. For Alf it was to be 60 pounds per annum [not all the land was cleared] and for Ed 80 pounds. In the Depression years they did what they could but didn’t manage to repay the full amount each year.

There were two breaks that helped Edgar.

The Lanz Bulldog Tractor.

Edgar’s father in law [who died in 1936] had given Edgar 100 pounds to buy a Lanz Bulldog tractor.

“No more horses! The horses tended to get sick and some used to die due to the brackish and salty water. There had been many dry seasons and we used to have to cut about 100 tons a year of feed for the horses. Now I worked the Bulldog day and night and I also worked Priors. This helped me get on my feet.” .. Edgar.

“I remember going to Laura railway station in 1936 to pick up the Lanz Bulldog tractor. Mr. Clark of Appila garage was the agent. He picked it up at the Laura railway station and drove it to our farm at 4 mph. It took him two hours. It had a set of steel wheels that we never used. We fitted it with the rubber tyres that were also supplied with it.“ …son Melville Zwar.

Characteristics of The Unusual Lanz Bulldog Tractor – by Melville Zwar

Starting the Bulldog

On the front of the tractor was a steel housing acting as a head to the piston. Inside this was a hot bulb which was heated to a low glow red by the blow lamp. The blow lamp as it was called used petrol. When lit it was pressurised by a small pump attached to the half litre tank and it gave quite a hot flame to heat the bulb.

Then to start the engine there was a fuel pump with a hand lever which was given 2 or 3 strokes to put fuel into the hot bulb for starting. The steering wheel was used to start the engine, it was designed so it could be taken apart and the wheel end was used on the flywheel. The tractor had one large flywheel (approx. 900mm diam. ) each side about half way along. The steering wheel stem was inserted in to fly wheel and rocked back against compression to make it start. The steering wheel was easily removed because the engine started very slowly, 650 rpm was max. working speed. It could start running either way so you had to make sure it was going the right way (clockwise) This was fairly simple.

The two flywheels were connected by the crankshaft to which was attached a piston (about 250mm diam.) which went backward and forward, not up and down as usual, the hot bulb providing ignition and was always a bright red hot when engine was going.

No idler

It had no idler or governor, which meant when the throttle was put back to idle, it ran erratically. It ran on any combustible fuel, (definitely not water) but recommended was crude oil, a dark coloured cheap fuel, unrefined diesel one might say. It definitely had a loud bang about it, even with a muffler, but all single cylinder engines are noisier than multi cylinder.

Pulling Implements

In those days all implements were operated from the implement which meant steering and all controls including the steering wheel were operated by an extension from the tractor as there were no hydraulics, and all implement controls were from the implement.

One time my father Edgar, after backing the tractor up to the header to hook it on, went and hooked up all the extension bits, got on header to drive off and found out he had forgotten to hook up to the header. Consequently when he released the clutch the tractor took off and left dad sitting on the header. It was all slow motion so he could run and catch up to the tractor and the only damage was a bent up gate.

One other experience was when you were ploughing and the going got a bit heavy and the engine started losing revs, you had to watch out you didn’t get too close to stalling point before releasing the clutch, as when the engine picked up revs again it could well be running backwards so when you went to take off again, forward gear became reverse. It did happen a few times.

Farm Building Changes

The Bulldog Tractor led to a number of building changes. A car shed had already been added to the eastern end of the Barn before Edgar married. It had a cement floor and included a car pit, usually only found in garages. The 1912 model T ford of the parish pastor was serviced in the car shed. Edgar’s first car was a hard top and square shaped tourer Pontiac. Now a tractor shed and truck shed were added along the northern side of the barn.

A major change was the number of haystacks which had been essential to feed the teams of horses. After they had been used up for stock feed these stacks were not all replaced.

In time some of the sheds with straw roofs were converted to iron roofs. The original main shed that had included the stables, the chaff shed, and the original barn where the oldest brother of Edgar had died in a tragic accident in 1900 was rebuilt with corrugated iron roofing. There was a central old wall running through the centre of the main shed that was built of pug and straw.

One section now became the cowshed with the milking machine driven by a petrol engine. The little old straw covered cow shed now became home for the school horses Mick and then Toby, until it was no longer used and was demolished.

The salt damp affected the walls of the farmhouse. About 1938 the builder Shepherd underpinned the walls.

“He used to ride his pushbike out the 12 kilometres from Laura on gravel roads to do up the fretting walls on the house. He arrived early each morning and left when it got dark.” … Melville Zwar.

In 1916 ? Peter Zwar had bought a large Hornsby petrol watercooled 6.5 horse power single piston engine (made in England) at the Laura Show that drove the chaff cutter, and this cut chaff for about 50 years. [The engine still runs and is now on display in the Roseworthy Agricultural College.]

In 1949 Edgar bought his first truck, a Lend Lease green Chevrolet that had previously been an Army truck. Previously he had towed a wagon with the Bulldog tractor to cart his seed wheat and fertiliser on the farm for seeding the wheat, oats and barley crops.

In time the old hut and blacksmith buildings on the farm were replaced by a large iron workshop that included electric machinery like a welder and power tools. The modern farm machinery and implements could be repaired on the farm.

The old sheep yards and a long straw roofed shed where the sheep were shorn in the 1930’s with hand shears were demolished. The sheep were shorn by machines driven by a petrol engine in the Becker shearing shed until more additions were made to the southern side of the big barn on the Zwar home farm. These later extensions included tractor and machinery sheds, and a modern shearing shed with some undercover sheep yards.

Some of the last straw sheds to go were the pig sties. Ed’s children loved to hunt for sparrow eggs in the straw roofs, and sometimes they shared out the eggs and had sparrow eggs fights.

The fowl shed always had an iron roof. The fowls were free range during the day but locked up at night to protect them from foxes. Fox hunting at night with a spotlight and a utility was an exciting night of entertainment with the Becker uncles. There were always far too many rabbits on the farms, and regular efforts to plough the burrows in, and an attempt to gas the warrens were usually losing tactics in a battle until the myxomatosis virus put the farmers on the winning side.


The Becker Family loved fishing. With the Pine Creek running through their farm and next to their house they enjoyed catching yabbies. The Beckers and their spouses co-operatively shared ownership of a long sea fishing net. A major fishing expedition at least once each year was the drive through the Port Germein Gorge to a secluded beach on Spencer Gulf. A team would wade out up to their waists into the sea with one end of the net dragging out behind them, and they pulled it in a half circle back towards the beach to trap fish and crabs. There were usually enough fish for each family to get several feeds. Kevin Zwar remembers hearing on one of these fishing excursions that King George had died.


In the depression years the Karger family in Laura who were friends of the Zwars went bankrupt. They had several paddocks on the southern side of the Zwar farm.

“The bank offered the land to me (and the house in Laura – I refused the house as old Mrs Karger would have had nowhere to live).” Edgar Zwar.

This was good land for cropping. Edgar used the Bulldog tractor and a scoop to add a dam to water the sheep. This land also helped Edgar to get on his feet.

Farm worker Harry Fimmel

“I remember Fimmel quite well. He used to live in the room on the west side of the three rooms behind the blacksmith shop on the farm. He had a horse and hooded buggy he used to get around in. He took Rhonda and me to school when the weather was wet and we couldn’t ride the bike. From this I would guess it would have been 1941-42. I don’t know how long he was on the farm, but used to help with farm work. When our neighbour great uncle Ted Lange lost an arm in a chaffcutter accident, he helped out there for a time. I remember him becoming ill at one time and spent a time in bed and Dr. Tassie (at the time) used to come out daily and see him. The room he lived in became the petrol storage shed later.” … Melville Zwar.


Edgar and Rita had five children between 1932 and 1943 – Melville, Rhonda, Glenn, Kevin and Valma. The first three started their schooling at the Caltowie Extension School only about 3 kilometres from home, and when it closed at the end of term one in 1944 the eldest three then went to the Stone Hut public school, followed by Kevin and Valma who received all of their primary schooling in the Stone Hut school. The children went to school by a horse and jinker. The first horse was called ‘Mick’ and the second one was ‘Toby’. Edgar Zwar was Chairman of the Stone Hut School committee for a number of years.

Pine Creek Church

Edgar took over the ‘Yardmaster’ [Property Caretaker] position for the Pine Creek congregation for 25 years after his father had already held the position for 25 years. He chaired the project for a vast renovation of the Church in the early 1950’s that included a lot of voluntary labour. Edgar spent nearly every weekday with busy bees and the building project at the Church for many months. By then he had two sons who could run the farm.

Wife Rita

Rita cared for and fed the children. On Monday morning she boiled the water in the copper and did the washing, putting the clothes through the ringer and then hanging them out to dry on a long clothes line. There was no refrigerator for the first fifteen years until a kerosene one found a place in the kitchen.

Rita milked the cows by hand in the morning and the evening, helped by the older children, until the milking machine was installed in about 1947. The children were so excited to see the cows milked by machine on the first day they made their horse Toby race all the 8 k’s home so they didn’t miss the first milking by a machine. It was the earliest they ever arrived home from school. When they were old enough the daughters Rhonda and then Valma helped with the milking. They loaded the large and heavy milk cans onto a utility and took it nearly two k’s out to the main road for the Golden North milk truck to collect. In the evening several buckets of milk were carried to the pig sty and fed to the pigs.

The children had their tasks. One collected the eggs and fed the fowls, which were all free farm in those days and only locked up at night to keep them safe from the foxes. Their water trough was topped up from a small rainwater tank. Another chopped the wood and cut some kindling for the stove. Others helped with the milking, from about 7 or 8 cows by hand to about 20 cows after the milking machine arrived.

The Evening Meals

In the cold winter evenings when all the outside jobs were finished and the children came in for the evening meal – we called it ‘tea’ in those days – father would open the flagon of port and pour out a glass of wine for everyone, according to their size. A tiny sherry glass that only held about as much as a thimble for the smallest child and then larger glasses for the older ones according to their age. We never drank beer. The wine came from Uncle Wally Bartsch who worked for a winery in the Barossa Valley.

The evening meal began with table grace, and closed with a a devotion read by Edgar from a series of devotion books supplied by the Lutheran Church. After the children had finished their education at Immanuel College they would later read the devotion for the day. Then Ed and Rita would retire to the lounge to listen to the big radio, and the children would do the dishes.

Ed Zwar home with ‘Freelight’



In 1946 Mr Kranz the electrician in Caltowie installed the 32 volt electrical system powered by a freelight. The children were fascinated to flick a switch and a globe would light up the room. The kerosene lamps and the candles were packed away.

The Country Shows

A major outing in early days had been the Laura Show. The Beckers exhibited horses, fowls, vegetables and other products. In later years after the Laura shows were discontinued, it was the Jamestown Show, and then the Crystal Brook Show also became popular.


Laura was the regular weekly shopping centre. Port Pirie was for major shopping excursions like clothes, visits to the dentist and Christmas presents.


In the morning father would have left for farm work before the children were up for breakfast. After breakfast the children would harness the horse and put it in the jinker and leave for school about 7.30 am and arrive at Stone Hut about an hour later, tie the horse up under a pepper tree that used to be in the old hotel yard [but the hotel had burnt down about ten years earlier] and then walk to the school several streets away.

There was one teacher, and about 20 children in a good year. The Zwar children rarely missed school. The only day they didn’t have to go to school was the day there was a ‘pig killing day’ at home and all the Becker Uncles and Aunts came to help. One year it snowed on pig killing day – the only time there was ever a fall of snow on the Zwar farm. The next day on the way to school the sheep still had snow on their backs.

“On the way to school we had plenty of time to learn memory work for Sunday School at the Pine Creek Lutheran Church on Sundays. I think the hour journey to and from school on the jinker helped mould us together as friends for life!

After school we walked to Woolfords, the only shop in Stone Hut. It was a General store. In Summer we could book up a large bottle of soft drink to share between the two or three of us on the way home. In Winter we could buy a packet of Yo Yo biscuits to share on the jinker on the journey home. If we had pocket money we could buy a little ‘penny’ ice cream [one cent] or a normal single cone for threepence [two cents].“ … Kevin Zwar

Secondary School

The alternatives after primary School were to go to Stone Hut and then catch the School bus to Gladstone High School – about 90 minutes in time, or to stay at home on the farm, or go to boarding school in Adelaide. The five children all went to boarding school at Immanuel Lutheran College in Adelaide. One advantage was that the first year included a thorough Confirmation Course, taken by the Headmaster, Rev J E Auricht. All five children were confirmed in Adelaide by Pastor Auricht.

Immanuel College

Melville was the eldest and the first to go. He had finished Primary School at Stone Hut the same year the Second World War ended. There was still petrol rationing and food rationing. In 1946 Melville was put on the 7 am train at Gladstone with a suitcase of clothes, and along with cousin John Zwar they went on the four hour train journey to Adelaide. They had never been to Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. When they arrived at the Adelaide railway station they had to find their way to Immanuel College in the North Walkerville suburb. Melville went to Immanuel for three years. Then it was Rhonda’s turn for two years, and Glenn for the next two years, followed by Kevin in 1953. Valma also went for two years while Kevin was there too as he followed the call to the Lutheran ministry and went through Immanuel College to complete Leaving Honours. His years included the move of Immanuel College from Walkerville to Novar Gardens.

Farm Water

The salty water had always been like a curse on the Zwar farm. The original settlers had sown plantations of tamarisk trees that were salt tolerant in an attempt to lower the underground salt water table. The water table round the Zwar house was less than two metres in some years.

In the 1950’s this all changed with the connection to the River Murray pipeline. A pipe was run from near where the Caltowie Extension School had stood, about three kilometres south of the Zwar home. In time this river water was connected to troughs in the different paddocks and the windmills went quiet and in time they disappeared from the landscape. The sheep and other farm stock thrived on the clear river water.


A major development for Edgar was to begin share farming for the Featherstonehaugh brothers Franck and Percival. They had no sons and Edgar and his two eldest sons Melville and Glenn share farmed their large properties for many years. They were great to work for. In the worst drought years they generously told Edgar he could have what little crop there was as he had a family of five children to keep and feed.

Farm House Extensions

In the nineteen forties a new laundry and a boys room, with an enclosed veranda, were added to the southern side of the Zwar house. In 1953 the front veranda and front rooms of the house were changed. A new kitchen was added. The old kitchen was divided to became a sewing room and a new bathroom. An indoor toilet was added to the house to fill the role of the old outdoor thunder drop toilet that had stood next to a tamarisk tree near the old cow shed. The undergound tank that had served as the fresh water supply was filled in.

240 Volt Powerlines

In the late 1950’s the 240 volt power line was connected to the farm. The old 32 volt glass batteries were retired. Dumped outside they would break apart in the cold frosts and then end up in a deep gutter leading into the salt creek which had become the major rubbish tip for the farm.

The 240 volt power was a great improvement on the old 32 volt system. Many more items could be connected to the power and it was far more stable and reliable than the 32 volt system.


During the Korean war the price of wool boomed and helped farmers in the District get on their feet financially. During these years the Zwars ran about two thousand sheep, many on share farms.


The Appila Lutheran Parish were great supporters of the Hermannsburg Mission in Central Australia. Members worked there in different roles, including lay administration, as teachers, missionaries, builders and water explorers. In the late fifties Edgar spent three months to help build the Aryonga Lutheran Church. He enjoyed living and working with the aboriginal people.


In mid 1963 Edgar and Rita joined a group of Lutherans on a trip to Europe that included the Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Helsinki. The sea journey and the visit to Europe were broadening and exciting experiences for the couple who had never been overseas.

Retirement to Laura

Edgar and Rita retired in the late 1970’s from the farm where Edgar had been born and had spent all his life so far to a house in Laura.

They enjoyed spending time with family, relatives and friends, and playing lawn bowls. Edgar lost his wife Rita to cancer on 10th January 1988. Edgar passed away in the Laura hospital eighteen months later on 6th June 1989, aged 85 years following severe heart attacks. He had served on the Hospital Committee, for many years as chairman, and he had fought to keep the hospital open when there were government moves to close it.

Edgar and Rita were buried in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila, where they had both gone to school and to church together.

The old farm house became vacant when they moved into Laura and has since deteriorated to the point where the floor boards are breaking, several sheets of the iron roof have blown away and decay has set in.

In 2010 Kevin Zwar took some of the original timber from a doorway of the parlour, and used the timbers to frame a painting that his auntie Agnes Borgas nee Zwar had commissioned her daughter in law to paint from a photo taken in the very early days when Agnes had lived there as a child.

The property remains in the Zwar family.

© Kevin P Zwar

Mona Doreen SCHULTZ nee Welke (C 6.5.1a)

Detailed biography


Mona Doreen Schultz was born on the 13th of February 1929 at the Blyth hospital. She was the only daughter of Oscar and Sophie Welke and a sister to Laurie. Oscar and Sophie were farmers at Condowie. Mona was baptised at Condowie Lutheran church on the 31st of March 1929 and confirmed on the 26th of October 1942. Mona attended Hart and Brinkworth schools.



Ken and Mona Schultz

Mona married Kenneth Herbert Schultz on 11th Sept 1952 at Condowie Lutheran Church by Pastor Leske. They were married for 61 years.


Mona and Ken made their home on the Laura blocks where they lived with their 2 sons Trevor and John. Mona worked with Ken in their carton manufacturing business. Mona loved her garden and was very proud of it. Her other hobbies included Knitting, flower arranging and crocheting. Mona was a member of the Laura Lutheran church which she attended every Sunday. She was involved in many church activities and functions helping out generously when ever she could.

Go To Lady

Mona was dearly loved by all her family and was especially loved and close to all her grandchildren and great grandsons. Mona was always the go to lady in the family when anyone had a problem or was in trouble! Most of these problems were sorted out with a caring ear, a can of coke and a block of chocolate.

Later Years

In later years Mona spent her days visiting Ken in the Laura hospital where they would eat lunch together and have a rest in the afternoon.

Mona passed away suddenly on Friday the 17th of January 2014.

Mona had a gentle nature with a heart of gold, cherished memories we will hold.

© Bianca Schultz

Marie Sophie SCHULTZ (C 6.5)

Detailed biography

Fifth Child and second daughter of Peter and Minna Zwar 9.3.1902 – 13.7.2001


Marie was born on her parent’s farm [between Caltowie and Stone Hut] on March 9th, 1902, the 2nd daughter and 5th child of six born to Peter Traugott Zwar and his wife Caroline Wilhelmine Wandke. Her grandmother Magdalena Zwar was the midwife, and in future years she would always bake a birthday cake for her grandchildren and take it to Church on the Sunday to pass on to her grandchildren. Marie was welcomed as a child of God through Holy Baptism in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila, South Australia on March 30th, 1902, where she also made confirmation of her faith in the Lord Jesus on November 28, 1915, under the guidance of Pastor Adolf Ortenburger. In later years Marie remembered how her grandfather Peter Zwar would lift her down off the buggy by her head when she was a little child!

Pine Creek School

Marie attended the Pine Creek Lutheran School. The Zwar children were taken to school by Nellie – an old horse – and the children sitting on a flat dray. From home they took a short cut across Lange’s paddock and then went via the Almond Tree corner, picking up up several Lange and Wurst children on the way. The journey with old Nellie took about two hours.


Marie and younger brother Edgar


Stone Hut School

When the government closed the Lutheran schools in South Australia during the first World War, the Zwar children went to the Stone Hut public school, about eight kilometres, but a shorter journey than it had been to Pine Creek. At first the Zwar children had difficulties at their new school as they couldn’t speak English! Their parents, Peter and Minna, always spoke German at home. Marie completed her education at Stone Hut. Albert Nayda lived on their farm as a farm worker for many years. He never married. The children liked him. He used to help them with their schoolwork.


After completing her schooling Marie took confirmation lessons from Pastor Ortenburger for half a day each week, usually on a Tuesday or a Friday, depending on which day suited him. Marie was confirmed in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church on 28th November 1915.

Teenage Farm Girl

Marie then helped on the family farm.

“We had lots of cows to milk by hand – about 8 to 12. The horses to feed,” recalled her brother Edgar.

At the same time they helped various families in the district as help was required. The girls had to help with farmwork too, like pumping the bellows in the blacksmith, and helping out with the harvest.

“We worked stooking sheaves of hay, loading them, and carting the wheat,” Agnes and Marie told Kevin Zwar. “Father sent me to help the neighbour too because he was loading hay on his own!” (Marie).


“Marie loved to crochet. She did it a lot at night by the light of a kerosene lamp or by candlelight. She croched doilies, table centres, cot quilts and double bed quilts that hung almost to the floor. There lots of mantel piece hangers, often done on velvet with needlework flowers and croched ones, and even a fly chaser to attach to her pny’s bridle, mzde of pink macrame twine. In later years she also crocheted baby jackets with pure silk thread and baby bonnets to match, for her own children to wear.” [fond memories of Gladys Schild nee Schultz]


“We went to church by buggy via the Almond Tree Corner. We never missed Church. We’d go home from Church, change the horses and go to Christenlehre [Youth Bible Study] one Sunday and to Choir the next Sunday. There was no Sunday School as tthe congregation ran a Lutheran Day School. The children had to read and do their sums in an examination in front of the congregation.” Edgar Zwar

Dressmaking and Housework

Marie learnt dressmaking at Nuriootpa from Miss Keller. She boarded with Laura Borgas at Ed Zimmermann’s home for about the three month’s the course took. Marie worked for a time at Alf Becker’s. Some days she also went and did housework for her grandfather Peter Zwar in his final years and after he had lost his wife – he lived to 93.

“Often in the evenings we would sit out on the verandah and he would talk about the old days in Germany.”
Marie to Kevin Zwar 2.11.1984

First Car

“Our first car was bought in 1924, a Buick 4, and father drove it, and no one else for quite a while. It was white. We now had to drive to Church via Staker’s Corner as it used to get too wet for the car on the flats over to Langes”.
Edgar Zwar


A highlight of the year was the Church Picnic, held in the early days down from the Lutheran Church near the Pine Creek crossing. They did their shopping at Laura, where Agnes and Marie took music lessons on the organ from Mary Dack but soon the teacher moved away and lessons ended.

More information

To read more detail about Marie’s childhood, go to her brother Edgar’s biography (C6,6), listed next after Marie, which can be found on the index page> Index




Marie and Herbert on their wedding day, August 3rd, 1927

In time Marie met Herbert Johann Schultz.


Herbert Johann Schultz

was born Feb. 18th 1906 at Wilmington, the third son of seven children of Julius and Anna Schultz (nee Scheibner). He was baptized in his home on Nov. 18th 1906, and confirmed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ on December 5th 1920 in Holy Trinity Church Appila by Pastor Adolf Ortenburger. Herbert grew up on his parent’s farm at Hammond near the town of Wilmington, where he went to school. The farm was a mixed one, combining sheep, cattle, and wheat growing. In 1921 the family moved to the Laura area. His parents Julius and Anna are both buried at Holy Trinity Lutheran Cemetery Appila. … [Verna Fiedler].The couple were married in the Pine Creek Church on August 3rd, 1927. The ceremony was conducted by Pastor Ortenburger.

Wedding Breakfast was held in the barn shown here in the background on the Zwar home farm.


First Homes

“For the first eight years they lived and farmed a property about 5 kilometres south of the Pine Creek Lutheran Church and School. [Later on Albert and Regina Schultz lived here]. Kenneth and Gladys were born during this time. Marie and Herb moved again to a property [known as Cowins] about 8 kilometres south of the Church. Here they again farmed with horses for ten years. They milked 12 to 14 cows and Ken and Gladys would help separate the milk and feed the pigs. Gladys also enjoyed helping her mother gather the eggs and helped set hens on eggs to hatch the chickens. Marie also had about five geese and they would hatch out the goslings. Ken and Gladys were always afraid of the gander as he would often chase them. The cream was churned into butter and sold to Stone Hut and Laura friends. Marie used a lot of butter for her ‘kuchen’ (German yeast cake). She also baked small cakes and honey biscuits. Everything was baked in a wood stove oven, there was no electricity, and just kerosene lamps for light at night.” [Gladys Schild]

Baking for Bridge Builders

Marie supplied lots of cakes and sponges for several months to the men living in tents nearby. They were building a new bridge over the Pine Creek between Laura and Appila after the old one had been washed away in a huge flood in January 1941. Her brother Edgar said that Marie was such a great cook because their mother had worked in the famous Balfours bakery in Rundle street in Adelaide. Marie really enjoyed doing all the baking. Gladys helped with the baking and then took it to the men working on the bridge a few hundred metres away. Kenneth and Gladys went to the Pine Creek Lutheran school for seven years – the same school as their mother had attended – and they went together on a pony called ‘Skipper’. The four younger children were born during these years.“ [Gladys]

Sunday Lunch

“Grandparents Peter and Minna Zwar visited us at Cowins almost every Sunday after Church and stay for lunch. Later on Grandfather would drive his car home to the Laura Blocks.” [Gladys]

Laura Blocks


“In 1945 the family moved to the Laura Blocks. At first they lived with Marie’s father Peter Zwar. During this time Peter would help his neighbours by washing all the root vegetables in a large tub of water. He also helped to bunch the vegies for the neighbour’s vegetable orders to be hawkered in Laura. This job was done every Tuesday and Friday morning and the vegetables were all grown on the neighbour’s property. Peter made a gate through to the neighbours to make it easier for him to make his way over with his walking stick.” [Gladys]


“When the family moved to Peter Zwar’s place in 1945 they also took their 12 cows along too. Gladys remembers helping to drive the cows about 8 kilometres to the Laura Blocks, following with a horse and a dray load of hay. On arriving at Grandfather’s property Gladys unharnessed trhe horse to leave the drayload of hay at Grandfather’s place. She then led the draft horse close to the fence so she could get on its back and then ride it bareback to their old farm at Cowinns. “During milking Grandfather Peter was often sitting in the in the small sparator room waiting to turn the separator after the cows had all been milked. For a time they sold the milk tothe Golden North Milk Factory in Laura.” [Gladys]


During 1946 Gladys rode a pony for the 15 kilometres from the Laura Blocks to the Pine Creek Lutheran Church for confirmation lessons with Pastor Will Stolz, every Tuesday and Friday, 9 am to 12 noon.“ [Gladys]


In 1948 Herb and Marie were able to buy their own home and land on the Laura Blocks quite close to Grandfather Peter Zwar.“ [Gladys Schild nee Schultz].

Family Home

In 1946 they moved to what would become their family home, on the banks of the picturesque Rocky River on the Laura blocks.

“Herb continued his farming work as well as other sideline activities, like growing vegetables for the local green grocer, operating a dairy and providing milk for Golden North Factory, and serving as a wood merchant. Dad farmed his own land as well as share farming for the Kennedy, Wurst and Hincks families.

During those times Marie was always at his side, helping with the farm work and preparing food for the family, also supplementing the family income by rearing hundreds of turkeys which ended up on the Christmas dinner tables of many folk in the community.“ …Verna Fiedler.


The Schultz family



Marie and Herb Schultz nurtured 6 children – Ken, Gladys, Maurice, twins Glen and Verna, and Myra.

Friday Evening Treat

“Every Friday night after school the kids were given a treat, which was either a halfpenny water ice block or a penny milk iceblock from Mattiskes shop in Laura Main Street.

One day the two youngest girls Verna and Myra thought they would get some shorts on appro from the Eudunda Farmers shop in Laura. And when they paraded with them on in the kitchen, that did not go down well at all, as it was a disgrace to show their legs like that. The shorts went back the very next day.“ … Verna Fiedler.

The evening meal

“Dad would sit at the head of the table with the children seated on a long form on one side and mum on the other side. Dad seemed to take for ever to eat his meal!! us kids would have to sit and wait for him to finish. Then he took the Bible and devotion book out from the draw under the table and he would read Gods word. Dad relaxed in the evening by reading the cartoons in the Advertiser, listening to the wireless for his favourite shows, Dad and Dave, and Bob Dyer pick a Box.” … Verna Fiedler


“Dad involved himself closely with mission activities in his congregation, caring for the church property, as well as serving as treasurer of Men’s Fellowship for many years. He endeavoured to share the word of the Lord by supporting financially many missions. In January 1987 he was awarded a certificate as Life Member of the Bible Society.” … Verna Fiedler.

Mother Marie

“We recall our time in the family home with deep affection. Our mother was blessed with the gracious gift of hospitality and there was always a generous variety and supply of food to nourish family and friends – especially with her noodle soup and cakes. She won various prizes for her baking in the local shows and supplied cakes and butter to local residents. Mum specialised in baking ‘Kuchen’ (German cake) and in 1978, at the age of 76, she won first prize with her ‘Kuchen’ in the Tanunda show. Competing with the Barossa skills was quite an achievement. We also recall that when the foxes, rabbits or crows were around our mother was a good shot with the 12 gauge – at one stage aiming for one crow and dropping two.

Mum was always there for her family, as well as her Lord through her church where she was an active member of the Appila Sisterhood, always available to help with catering where her skills for carving the turkey was appreciated. As we sat around the table with our parents we learned to love Jesus as they read stories and shared the faith. All who came to know our mother, loved her and came to appreciate her care, her generosity, her sense of humour and her friendly warm personality.“
…from Marie’s obituary

Milking the Cows

Kenneth and Mona Schultz have memories of their Dad and Mum.

“Dad & Mum would milk their cows real early in the mornings, We lived close to Dad & Mum, and had several cows to milk. As a young married couple we would occasionally sleep in. Dad would knock on our bedroom window for us to hurry up and milk our cows so they could all go out in the paddock together.”

Final Years

Marie lost her husband in 1987. Herbert died April 7th 1987 at the Booleroo Centre Hospital at the age of 81 years.

Marie spent her last 13 years in the Tanunda Lutheran Rest home until her life came to an end at the grand old age of 99 years and four months on July 13th 2001. All other members of her generation had predeceased her. Like her father Peter Zwar she lived to see four generations. Marie was farewelled in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila and laid to rest alongside her loving husband in the cemetery next to their Church and the School she had attended.

© Kevin P Zwar

Oscar Traugott ZWAR (C 6.4)

Detailed biography

Double Tragedy

Wilhelmine and Peter Zwar were expecting their fourth child. Her mother in law Magdalena Zwar was the District midwife and delivered all of her grandchildren. As usual ‘Lena’ had come to help with the children and the next delivery.

On the 8th of April, Wilhelmine was not feeling well and had gone to bed to rest. The three children Hermann, Agnes and Alfred went to play among the fertiliser bags stacked in the straw roofed shed about 35 metres from the house. In a tragic accident a bag fell on Hermann and also knocked Agnes over. Agnes and Alfred were O K but the bag of fertiliser had broken Hermann’s neck and he died on the spot. Their grandmother Lena had come out to check on the children and furiously dug Hermann out from under the fertiliser and discovered the tragic death of her grandson. None of the men were home at the time.

The shock for his mother Wilhelmine was so great she went into labour and Oscar Traugott Zwar was born the same day. Oscar would only live for 13 days. Wilhelmine and Peter Zwar had lost two of their children in two weeks. Two more children, Marie and Edgar would later be added to the family, never having known two of their brothers.

© Kevin P Zwar

Alfred Edgar Zwar (C 6.3)

Detailed biography

Wirrabara to Caltowie

Alfred Edgar Zwar was born on the Wirrabara farm in South Australia on 7th December 1898, the third child of Peter and Wilhelmine Zwar. His grandmother Magdalene Zwar was the midwife – ‘Lena’ was midwife for all of her grandchildren, as well as many other children born in the District. He had a brother Hermann and a sister Agnes. The following year the young family moved to the Caltowie farm where Alfred grew up, and when he married he returned with his bride to the Wirrabara property where he was born.

Alfred was baptised in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila by Pastor Ortenburger on Christmas Day in 1998.

Double Tragedy

When Alfred was 14 months old a double tragedy struck the family. His mother was expecting a child and grandmother Lena had come to help look after the children and help deliver what would be another brother to Alfred. On the 8th of April, a day when Alfred’s mother Wilhelmine was not feeling well and had gone to bed to rest, little Alfred went with his brother Hermann and sister Agnes over to the straw roofed shed about 35 metres from the house where they played among bags of fertiliser. In a tragic accident bags fell on Hermann and also knocked Agnes over where she was up to her waste in the fertiliser. The bag that fell on Hermann left him covered in fertiliser and broke his neck. Their grandmother Lena had come out to check on the children and furiously dug Hermann out from under the fertiliser and discovered the tragic death of her grandson. Agnes was rescued and little Alfred escaped unscathed.

Oscar Traugott

None of the men were home at the time. The shock for Wilhelmine was so great she went into labour and Oscar Traugott Zwar was born prematurely the same day. Oscar would only live for 13 days. Alfred lost two brothers in two weeks. He would now be the oldest boy in the family. Another sister Marie and another brother Edgar arrived, making a total of four living children. Alfred and Edgar would spend a lot of time together. When they later had families of their own they wouldn’t let the children play on the stacks of wheat bags and super phosphate bags stacked in the barn.


The family lived in the second house built on the property. The first was a stone hut that consisted of two rooms with a flat iron roof. [One can see this hut featured if one clicks on the Zwar ‘Family Tree’ page of this website – behind the many implements.] A single workman, Albert Nayda lived in this hut. The children loved playing games with him and he helped them with their homework.

“He looked after the horses so well he nearly slept with them.” Ed Zwar.

Ed remembered he also loved to play cards. He played the accordion and also taught Alf to play too. Alf would later play his accordion for parties and youth groups. Peter added a room on the western end of the hut that became a boy’s room. He also added the blacksmith and a buggy shed out of corrugated iron along the northern side of the old hut.


Agnes took her young brother Alfred to school when she was about 10 years old. They went across the paddocks to to Lange’s where they teamed up with Carl and Ted Lange and went to the Pine Creek Lutheran School via Almond Tree Corner. His first teacher was Jericho, and Agnes said that he was very strict and cruel with punishments.

Mother and Father

“Mother was always kind and good to us. She tried to help us with lessons and confirmation. When mother needed help, some of the Altmann [cousins] would come – like Tillie and Lydia.” [Sisters Agnes and Marie]. “Father worked from morning until it was dark. He was the blacksmith for the farming district. He went to clearing sales and he and Dick Becker would buy up the scrap iron to use in their workshops. Father preferred blacksmith work to the farm work. He had a certificate as a qualified wheelwright and blacksmith. Once he had 20 or more strippers lined up for him to repair the wheels. He made a set of harrows for Lange’s. He could weld the iron.” [Sisters Agnes and Marie].


“We had confirmation after our schooling was finished. Half a day a week, Tuesdays and Fridays generally – it depended when it suited Pastor Ortenburger.” [Marie and Edgar].

Alfred was confirmed by Pastor Ortenburger on 10th November 1912. His confirmation text was Philippians 3:17-21.


Young Alfred Zwar

Home Life

“We had jobs round the house. Agnes went to help Mrs Hermann Pech after her husband died.” “We had lots of cows to milk by hand – about 8 to 12. The horses to feed,” recalled her brother Edgar. At the same time they helped various families in the district as help was required. The girls had to help with farm work too, like pumping the bellows in the blacksmith, and helping out with the harvest. “We worked stooking sheaves of hay, loading them, and carting the wheat,” Agnes and Marie told Kevin Zwar. We visited the Daly’s sometimes – the nearest neighbours, about a mile away. Two Kennedy brothers lived in the old house near Ted Lange’s. They had bought it from Humphries, and later Herb Lange bought it. The Kennedy brothers had an old Oldsmobile car. They often came to play cards. We went to the football with them.” … Ed Zwar. “Alf bought a camera for two shillings and sixpence and I’ve still got it. When we filled the first film we took it out and washed it – and we thought we could see something! We didn’t understand films and cameras at first.” Marie Schultz nee Zwar


“We went to church by buggy via the Almond Tree Corner. We never missed Church. We’d go home from Church, change the horses and go to Christenlehre [Youth Bible Study] one Sunday and to Choir the next Sunday. There was no Sunday School as the congregation ran a Lutheran Day School. The children had to read and do their sums in an examination in front of the congregation.“ Edgar Zwar “A highlight of the year was the Church Picnic, held in the early days down from the Lutheran Church near the Pine Creek crossing.” [Agnes and Marie.]


Alfred Zwar


“We hardly ever went to the Adelaide Hills to visit the Wandkes [their mother’s family].” Ed could recall going there once. “Grandfather Peter Zwar lifted us off the buggy by the head when we were little children. Father could understand grandfather when he spoke in Wendish but he would reply in German. He didn’t speak in Wendish himself. Father always spoke German at home. “Grandmother Zwar always baked us a birthday cake and brought the birthday cake to Church on a Sunday.” “I remember Grandfather Peter [Senior] talking about the trip out from Saxony, but I don’t remember what he said about it.” [Alfred to Kevin Zwar] Alfred: “I was sent to live with them a week or so at a time. I remember Grandfather Peter speaking in Wendish. Every night before going to bed he would sing in Wendish. He read the evening devotions at the table in German.” “Grandfather said the old homes were built of pine slabs and clay – and the young men used to look through the cracks and see the women.” Alfred to Kevin Zwar, who was amazed to hear this story from an uncle he always considered very reserved and serious!


“Mother was a good cook. We were never short of anything to eat. We had lots of fowls, sheep and pigs.” Ed Zwar. When mum needed help some of the Altmann’s, Tilly and Lydia [their cousins! K Z]] would come. A girl Jane Drage (?) learnt German from us. We did our shopping at Laura. Our mail was always to the Laura Post Office. It was a bigger place then.”

Share Farming

The two boys Alf and Ed spent a lot of time and worked together for years. Alf was five years older than Ed and he had a five furrow plough and seven or eight horses. Ed had a three furrow plough and five or six horses. Their grandfather Peter Zwar lived on the Wirrabara farm after 1904 – the year after Ed was born. When Alf was a teenager, Alf and young Ed would walk a plough and horses to Wirrabara and stay there a week or so.

The Farm

The home farm was small and some of it badly affected by salt magnesia and not suitable for cropping. A look at the farm on Google Earth shows the affected areas and probably the poorest land in the District. In my days [Kevin Zwar] the neighbouring paddock, then Lange’s, was never cropped and was overgrown with box thorns and we children had great fun hunting rabbits with our dogs. Peter Zwar had made up for the poor quality soil with his blacksmith work, and he also share farmed land. In 1914 he share farmed for Davidson, a bachelor. Then he share farmed land for Kargers, and then for Weston’s [both adjoining the Zwar farm]. Peter also share farmed for Traugott Pech for some years. The land hadn’t been cropped before and the first year they got 8 to 10 bags per acre.


When Alfred and Edgar were teenagers they helped build a barn – a huge one for those days.

“The barn was built with native pine timber from the farm at Wirrabara. We sawed the logs ourselves. It was built about the end of the War.” Ed Zwar.

In 1919 the silver wedding dinner for their parents was held in the barn. A photo shows numerous relatives and friends posing outside the house. The children met some relatives they had rarely seen before. The wedding breakfast for their sister Marie was held in the barn when she married Herbert Schultz.


First Car

“Our first car was bought in 1924, a Buick 4, and Father [Peter] drove it, and no one else for quite a while. It was white. The leather upholstery was ‘Zwar’ leather [from the tanneries of Zwar relatives in Victoria. K Z.]. We now had to drive to Church via Staker’s corner as it used to get too wet for the car [leaving home eastwards K Z.] across the flats over to Lange’s.” Ed Zwar


Alfred and Jane Zwar


Alfred was the first married. He married Johanna Ernstine (Jane) Borgas on the 20th August 1924 and they lived on the Zwar farm where Alfred had been born near Wirrabara 25 years earlier. “Alfred built a new stone house for himself and wife Jane before their marriage, this new building incorporated a small room of the old home, which was used as a kitchen.” [Gwen Obst nee Zwar]


Alf and Jane Zwar home

Jane Zwar nee Borgas

Jane was born Johanna Ernstine Borgas, the fifth child of Mr and Mrs C. F. H. Borgas on April 22nd 1899. Jane was baptised and confirmed in the Appila Gloria Dei Lutheran Church by Pastor A Mackenzie, and attended the Wirrabara Public School and the Appila Lutheran School.

After her marriage to Alfred Edgar Zwar the couple made their home on the farm near Wirrabara. They had a daughter Joyce, a son Reginald, and then a daughter Gwenda. After Joyce married Walter Schmidt and moved to the Barossa Valley, and Reg had married Elsie Keller, Jane and Alfred moved to Tanunda in the Barossa Valley in October 1955.

By 1955 Alfred had made repayments to his father Peter Zwar over the years of 60 pounds a year to pay off the farm.




Alfred and Jane Zwar Farm

“I had several good crops out there. It was virgin soil and it had a higher rainfall.” Alfred. “I sowed the wheat with an 18 hole drill. In a paddock of 200 acres I decided to sow in a straight line – and did. Afterwards people congratulated me for the straight drilling. We reaped with a 5 foot and then a 6 foot stripper. Later an 8 foot stripper built by Dignam at Wilmington. At first we had a hand winnower. Then a horse driven one. The horse walked on the pedals. Let the brake off and the horse would have to walk. If too slow, its heels would get caught! – soon trained. A horse would go for 20 minutes and by then sweat all over, and another horse was put in. For wheat – we got one shilling and eightpence a bushel, and it cost us two shillings to grow it.“


Shared Memories

Alfred shared with Kevin Zwar (1975) how “There used to be a snake looking out of the old house. One day I walked in there and the snake came in. We wouldn’t take notice until it ‘meant business’. I decided to kill the snake but it got away. Afterwards it still kept looking out. I took the shotgun and finished it off. I was sorry afterwards, as it was interesting to see the snake always looking out.” “I remember a spot near my place where a bullocky and his bullocks would stop for a spell. One day one bullock refused to to get up – though they tried everything. The bullocky got some straw from my paddock, lit it and put it under the bullock’s nose. The bullock soon got up!”


Joyce, Geoffrey and Walter Schmidt, Alfred, Reginald, Jane and Gwenda Zwar


Alfred took up poultry farming.
Jane was active in the community, in the Lutheran Church Ladies Guild, in the C. W. A. and Bureau work, before ill health limited her activities.

“A series of strokes finally limited Jane to a life of almost total immobility. Experience gained in handicraft work during her association with the C. W. A. now proved a real blessing as she bravely tried to occupy herself with this type of work. In this and in her endeavour to keep up with Church news, reading and in her devotional life she was an example to all of us and again proved the value of having hobbies and interests.

A patient uncomplaining sufferer who experienced the fullness of God’s promise ‘that Godliness with contentment is great gain’ she was called home at the age of 70 years and five months.” … The obituary 1.10.1969

Jane was buried in the Langmeil Lutheran Church cemetery in Tanunda on 1st October 1969.


Alfred continued to live in their home in Tanunda for nearly 10 more years until he transferred to the Lutheran Rest Home in Tanunda in 1978. He passed away on Friday 20th July 1979 aged 80 years and 7 months. The obituary closes with the words:

“Mourning his loss are three children, two sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, 12 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, one brother, Edgar and two sisters – Mrs Borgas – Wirrabara and Mrs Schultz – Laura. Pall Bearers _ David Obst, Herb Tscharke, Daryl Schmidt, Geoffrey Zwar, Donald Zwar, and Brian Zwar.”

The burial was in the Langmeil Lutheran Cemetery on 24th July 1979 by Pastor David Siegle. The text he preached on was Alfred’s confirmation text, Philippians 3.17-21, which closes with the words,

“We however, are citizens of heaven, and we eagerly wait for our saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. He will change our weak mortal bodies and make them like his own glorious body, using that power by which he is able to bring all things under his rule.”   – Good News Bible.


© Compiled by Kevin P Zwar

Marie AGNES Magdalene ZWAR nee Borgas (C 6.2)

Detailed biography

The first daughter

Agnes, as she was always known, was born on ‘Heaslips’ farm near Wirrabara on 19th April 1897. Her parents Peter and Wilhelmine Zwar lived there for the first five years of their marriage. Agnes was their second child – she had an older brother Hermann – and she was their first daughter. Her grandmother Magdalene Zwar was the midwife – as ‘Lena’ was for all of her grandchildren, and Agnes was named after her.


When Agnes was baptized ‘Marie Agnes Magdalene’ in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church by Pastor Ortenburger,

“Mum said, ‘I cried all the way to church and home again, and then I slept when I was put in the crib.’” [Agnes to Kevin Zwar 24.8.1983 at her home.]

Wirrabara farm to Caltowie farm

Twenty months later a brother Alfred arrived. The following year the family moved to ‘Kentish’s’ farm between Caltowie and Stone Hut.

Double Tragedy

When Agnes was nearly three years old her mother was expecting their fourth child. Her grandmother Magdalena had come to help with the family and the delivery. On the 8th of April, a day when her mother Wilhelmine was not feeling well and had gone to bed to rest, Agnes and her two brothers Hermann and Alfred went to play among the fertiliser bags stacked in the straw roofed shed about 35 metres from the house. In a tragic accident a bag fell on Hermann and Agnes was trapped up to the waste [Agnes to K. Z. ]. Agnes and Alfred were O K but the bag of fertiliser had broken Hermann’s neck and he died on the spot. Their grandmother Lena had come out to check on the children and furiously dug Hermann out from under the fertiliser and discovered the tragic death of her grandson. None of the men were home at the time.

The shock for Wilhelmine was so great she went into labour and Oscar Traugott Zwar was born the same day. Oscar would only live for 13 days. Agnes had lost two brothers in two weeks. Agnes would now be the oldest child in the family. Her sister Marie came when Agnes was nearly five years old, and another brother Edgar arrived when Agnes was six years old.


“I started school when I was nine years old. I wouldn’t go before – I was going to stay home! I went to the Appila Lutheran School and Jericho was the teacher. I went on my own as far as Lange’s and then went with Carl and Ted Lange to school. Alf started a year later. Jericho was the only teacher. He was cruel. He put the boys over a chair and hit until they’d barely walk. Pinch the girls till the blood almost ran out.”


Albert Nayda lived in an old hut on their farm as a farm worker for many years. He never married. The children liked him. He used to help them with their schoolwork.

Mother and Father

“Mother was always kind and good to us. She tried to help us with lessons and confirmation. When mother needed help some of the Altmann [cousins] would come – like Tillie and Lydia.”

“Father worked from morning to dark. He preferred the blacksmith work to the farm work. He had a licence as a wheelwright and blacksmith.” [Sisters Agnes and Marie].


“We had confirmation after our schooling was finished. Half a day a week, Tuesdays and Fridays generally – it depended when it suited Pastor Ortenburger.” [Marie and Edgar].


“We had jobs round the house. Agnes went to help Mrs Hermann Pech after her husband died.”

“We had lots of cows to milk by hand – about 8 to 12. The horses to feed,” recalled her brother Edgar.

At the same time they helped various families in the district as help was required. The girls had to help with farm work too, like pumping the bellows in the blacksmith, and helping out with the harvest.

“We worked stooking sheaves of hay, loading them, and carting the wheat,” Agnes and Marie told Kevin Zwar.

“We went to church by buggy via the Almond Tree Corner. We never missed Church. We’d go home from Church, change the horses and go to Christenlehre [Youth Bible Study] one Sunday and to Choir the next Sunday. There was no Sunday School as the congregation ran a Lutheran Day School. The children had to read and do their sums in an examination in front of the congregation.“ Edgar Zwar

Agnes boarded with Miss Matthias at Tanunda for three months to learn dressmaking. [Agnes to Kevin Zwar]

A highlight of the year was the Church Picnic, held in the early days down from the Lutheran Church near the Pine Creek crossing.


Some days Agnes would go to Grandfather Peter Zwar who lived alone in his final years – he lived to age 93. He lived on the same property near Wirrabara where Agnes had been born. One task was to boil seven eggs and place them in a rack in the kitchen so grandfather could enjoy a boiled egg each morning for breakfast.

Laura shopping

They did their weekly shopping at Laura, where Agnes and Marie took music lessons on the organ from Mary Dack but soon the teacher moved away and lessons ended.


Alf was the first married. He married Jane Borgas (1924) and they lived on the Zwar farm where Alf had been born near Wirrabara. The following year Agnes married Emil Borgas on 25th June 1925 in the Pine Crrek Lutheran Church near Appila. They lived on their farm near Wirrabara, and quite near the Zwar farm where her married brother Alf now lived on the farm where Agnes had been born 27 years earlier.

Agnes and Emil started the family with a set of twins, Arnold and Thelma, in 1929. Two years later they added another set of twins – Ronald and Lloyd. They now had four children under the age of three years. Then came a well deserved break of six years before Rita arrived in 1937.

The two sets of Borgas twins


The five children of Agnes and Emil Borgas

Peter Traugott Zwar (C6)

Detailed biography

> Click here to view the Peter Traugott Zwar Photo Album

Sixth Child and fourth son of Peter and Magdalena Zwar 28.11.1866 – 23.3.1955


Peter was baptized on 4 Dec 1866 by Pastor Maschmedt. Godparents: Christiane Schneider (later married Mickan), W. Steinert , G. Kleinig
. When he was 5 years old Peter moved from Ebenezer to St. Kitts where his father had built their new home [It is still standing, though now unoccupied].

Peter attended the Lutheran Day School at St. Kitts under teachers Rechner and Klar and was confirmed 14.3.1880 in the church at Stockwell by Pastor Maschmedt. ConfirmationText John 21 verse 7.


Peter moved north to Appila three days after his confirmation. In a brief life story Peter mentions:

“Came to Appila March 17th 1880”.

Possibly his older brothers John and Andrew were already living there. Ernst had married in 1878 and he lived in the Barossa Valley.


Their father Peter Snr had bought three pieces of land in the mid north of South Australia:
Section 99 – Booleroo – in 1877, and Section 209 Wirrabara from Menz on 3.11.1879 (cf. Wirrabara Book) and sections 110 and 131 – Appila on 17.6.1880.

[It is possible but unlikely the rest of the family only moved north in 1881 – cf. Magdalena’s obituary. Peter had sold the St Kitts property in Feb 1880. I think Jack [Jacob] mentioned in a note he went to Appila in 1878.)


Peter was a qualified blacksmith or wheelwright, but I do not know where he served his apprenticeship and learnt his trade. He was about 14 or 15 years old when he moved north. It was most likely he learnt his trade at Caltowie with the blacksmith Steicke, but it could have been at Wirrabara with Wiley. His son Edgar said his father often spoke about the blacksmith at Caltowie.

Caroline Welhalmine Wandke

Peter met Caroline when she went to Appila to work for her sister, who had married a Jaeschke. Her family lived in the Adelaide Hills at Western Flat, between Mt Barker and Echunga, nearer the Echunga end. […from Reg Butler. Local historian].

Caroline was the third of six children born to Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Wandke (born 30.1.1834 at Leitersdorf, Germany. Died 8th May 1902) and his wife, Maria Elisabeth Wandke nee Kaläue (born 13.3.1834 at Leutnitz, Germany. Died 18.1.1909).

Caroline Welhalmine Wandke was born 9.2.1867 at Lobethal in South Australia and baptized there by Pastor Krause 24.2.1867, and was confirmed 30.11.1879 by Pastor J.M.R. Ey. Text Romans 3.28.

She worked in Balfours cake shop in Rundle Street in Adelaide before she married.

“She learnt to make the good pastry. She was a great cook and her 2 daughters are too” – Ed Zwar.

Caroline became known as “Minna”. Minna signed her name clearly as “Caroline Welhalmine Wandke” so I have used this spelling. Sometimes her name has been given in different spellings.


Minna and Peter were married at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills on 9th February 1894 (her birthday) when they were both 27 years old. Pastor Strempel married them.
Text: Romans 12.12
 Hymn: 1899
 Witnesses: W. Wandke, farmer, living near Mt. Barker
, C. Wandke, farmer, living near Mt. Barker, 
Pauline Boerke (Hahndorf).
Kevin Peter Zwar, a grandson, now wears Peter’s wedding ring.


Minna and Peter lived at Wirrabara for about 5 years (from Peter’s Lebenslauf / Lifestory) in about a four roomed house just across from where Agnes & Emil Borgas’ later lived. [Later this land was bought by Heaslips. The house is long gone – Ed Zwar. Gwenda Obst – “We called it Fogdens”.]

His parents Peter Zwar Snr and Magdalena lived in the same house for a time after 1905. I understand that Peter had built it years earlier. It had a thatched / straw roof. Agnes was born in this house.

“Mum said I cried all the way to the church [for my baptism] and home again, and then I slept when I was put in the crib.” … Agnes.


According to the ‘Lebenslauf’ they next lived at Caltowie. ‘The Laura Standard’  reported on page 3 of Fri 17th November 1899 that

“C. Kentish had asked for rates to be collected from P. Zwar who was now renting his farm.”

They would have moved there in 1899. It seems Peter leased it for five years from Kentish, took out another lease for five years, and then he bought it. We don’t have written records of the first lease.

Two copies of the full lease still exist, stating that Peter leased section 364 of Caltowie from Charles Kentish of Clarence Park (Adelaide) containing 569 acres on 1 March 1904 with the option to buy. ( £200 deposit 3 pounds per acre) plus £1507 balance, plus extra for the blacksmith’s shop and 400 posts. It is most likely that Peter had already leased the property for five years. The farm was on the edge of the Caltowie Shire, but the postal address was always Laura, where they did their weekly shopping.

On 10th November 1908 Peter Traugott Zwar bought a three cornered paddock of 104 acres from Henry Hannett. It was sold to Edgar Heinrich Zwar on 5th June 1930 – a few months before his marriage, and to Glenn Zwar in 1975.


Peter and Minna Zwar


Home on the Farm

On 14th September 1908 the land was transferred from Charles Kentish to Peter Zwar. When they moved to the farm they lived in the second house. It had two main rooms with a verandah. They built on two more rooms on the western end and on the eastern side a long room that ran right along the verandah as a lean-to for the kitchen. The cellar was there, but just covered with dirt (ie. nothing built over it.). They extended the cellar and a builder named Maywald made it deeper and built a small storage room over the top.

The original house – or old hut – is where the working man now lived. It was a 2 roomed house. Peter built an extra room on the western end for the boys to sleep in. On the northern side Peter built on a buggy shed, and a blacksmith shop next to it.

Just before Edgar married in 1930 the builder Shepherd, from Laura, renovated the main house and put a new gable roof on it and plastered the outer walls. When Minna needed help one of the Altmann girls (her nieces) would come, either Tillie or Lydia. The children remembered their home near Wirrabara had a baking oven, but not not this one.

The “blacksmith-farmer”

Peter used to do a lot of blacksmith work when he lived on the farm. He was the blacksmith of the district, and a wheelwright. In the 1914 drought Edgar can remember 20 strippers standing in a line at the blacksmith shop mainly to fix up their wheels. Sometimes his daughters had to pump the bellows. The children were fascinated to watch Peter weld iron together.

“Peter was no farmer.” [son Ed Z]. “He was a blacksmith who lived on a farm.”

The girls had to work on the farm at harvest time too.

“We worked stooking hay, loading it, and carting the wheat.” .. Agnes and Mary. “Father sent me to help the neighbour too because he was loading on his own!” …Mary.

Albert Nayda (from Appila) worked for Peter for years as the farmhand until the children grew up. He loved to play cards. He lived in the ‘hut’ – the original house on the place- next to the blacksmith shop.

“He looked after the horses so well he nearly slept in the stable with them. We all liked him.” [Ed Z.] “He’d bring his accordion. Alf learned to play from him and played a lot for parties and functions.”

Church and Picnic

The annual church picnic was their big social day! In the early days it was held by the Pine Creek, down from the Church and near the crossing. Later it was held at Becker’s scrub in the nearby hills.

“We went to church by buggy – never missed. We’d go home from Church, change the horses, and go to Christenlehre [Youth Bible Study] one Sunday, and to choir the next. We went via Almond Tree corner.” [Ed Z]

First Car

“Our first car was bought in 1924, a Buick 4, and Father (Peter) drove it, and no one else for quite a while. It was white. The leather upholstery was ‘Zwar’ leather (from the Zwar cousins in Victoria -K.Z). We now had to drive to Church via Staker’s corner as it used to get too wet for the car on the flats over to Lange’s.” [Ed Z.]


Peter share-farmed land for Davidson (1914), who was a bachelor. Then he share-farmed land for Kargers, and then for Westons. He also share-farmed for Traugott Pech for some years. The land hadn’t been worked and the first year they got 8 – 10 bags an acre.

Peter was the first person in the district to buy an eight foot Sun header. He bought for £220.

Peter worked the Wirrabara land too. Alf and Ed would walk a plough and horses to Wirrabara and stay there for a week or so. Alf had a five furrow plough and seven or eight horses, and Ed a three furrow plough and five or six horses. The horses would get footsore from the stony ground. They had several good crops there as it was virgin soil and had a higher rainfall than Laura/Caltowie.


Peter was the Yardmaster (Property Supervisor) at the Pine Creek Lutheran Church for 25 years, from 1909 until 1942. Quiet and reserved by nature, he was happiest when he was using his skilful hands to repair a piece of equipment for the Church or for his neighbours.

“Peter couldn’t speak a lot of English, but better than many. He met Traugott Pech in the street in Laura one day during the First World War and they spoke together in German. Someone tapped them on the shoulder and told them to go home”. 
[Ed Z.]


Minna did the shopping on Fridays in Laura. She took the buggy in to town. She took in butter and eggs to sell. She potted a lot of butter for the baker. She was a good cook and entered produce in the Laura show. Bread, butter, cake, poultry.

“We were never short of anything to eat. We had lots of fowls, sheep and pigs.” [Ed Z.]

Double Tragedy

Minna experienced a terrible tragedy on 8th April 1900. She was nearing the time for the birth of her fourth child. Her mother-in-law Lena Zwar had come to be with her and to be the midwife. Her 3 children Agnes, Herman and Alfred were playing in the barn among a heap of fertiliser bags when the bags caved in and Herman (aged 4 years 10 months) was killed. Her husband Peter was not home at the time, and Minna and Lena had to cope with the tragedy. The shock brought on the premature birth of Oscar, who died 13 days later. Minna suffered a nervous breakdown and was not well for some time. The Advertiser newspaper reported:

APILLA, April 18 – A fatal accident happened – a few days ago on the farm of Mr. Peter Zwar, jun., when his eldest child, a boy five years old, was killed. The children were sent to the haystack to play, and had been away only about five minutes. When the mother became anxious and, as she was ill in bed, sent the grandmother to see to them. The grandmother found them in the barn, where she got a terrible shock; a lot of manure which was stacked in bags had slipped and fallen on two of the children. The little boy’s legs only were to be seen. When he was taken out it was found that his neck was broken. His little sister, who was partly covered, escaped with a few scratches. The fatality is rendered more painful as an infant son was born in the home about the same time.”

The Laura Standard

Fri 13th April 1900

FATAL ACCIDENT — On Sunday last a sad accident occurred at the residence of Mr P. T. Zwar, Caltowie extension. Mr Zwar had occasion to leave home for the purpose of getting assistance in the household duties during his wife’s illness, and left his mother in charge of the patient. Shortly after two of his children – one a boy of about five years of age and the other a girl about three years were playing in a shed near the house where 83 bags of manure were stacked. They made a hole in one of the lower bags, causing the manure to run out, and those on top fell over, killing the little boy – Hermann Wilhelm. The other child had its head underneath a bag, but was unhurt. Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents.


Life for their children

They went to the Pine Creek school weekdays, and to church on Sundays by horse and cart via Almond Tree corner. On the way to school they picked up Lange’s and Wurst’s and there were about 6 or 7 children on the cart. It was a solid cart.

The children went to the Pine Creek Lutheran School until the first World War. When the government closed the Lutheran schools the Zwar children went to the Stone Hut Public School. Marie went to Stone Hut for the last few months of her schooling. Edgar went to Stone Hut school for 9 months for the last of his schooling. Smith was the teacher.

“He pulled our hair. We had ours cut short so he couldn’t grip it. Others felt sorry for me as I knew little English, and they helped me a lot. I learnt more in the 9 months there than ever before. Saegenschnitters went there too.” [Ed Zwar]

Ed also recalled:

“When I came home from School my pet kangaroo used to wait at the creek and then he’d race me home. I was riding a pony. The horse that took us to the Appila (Pine Creek) school was called Nellie. It was about 22 years old and used to take us two hours to get there.”

When Edgar finished school he went to confirmation classes. He said he’d like to be a pastor. His father Peter said,

“That’s only for Pastor’s sons, not farmers. You’d be better off to go on the road and crack stones.”

Peter and Minna always spoke German at home. The children did not learn to speak English until they went to the Stone Hut school during the first World War. All the children stayed home after their schooling finished.

“We had lots of cows to milk (by hand) – about 8 to 12. The horses to feed.” [Ed Zwar]


The Silver Wedding of Peter and Minna was celebrated on the farm in 1919. A photo shows the numerous relatives and friends posing outside the house. The silver wedding dinner was held in the barn that had been built just in time to host the celebrations. cf. photo’s of the celebrations/cake.

“The barn was built with pine from the farm at Wirrabara. We sawed the logs ourselves. It was built (before the silver wedding) – about the end of the War.”
[Ed Zwar]

Of Minna and Peter’s children, Alf was the first married (1924). In 1925 Agnes married and Marie in 1927. Edgar lived at home with his parents for a while and then he batched for some weeks after his parents moved to the Laura blocks on 14th August in 1930. Edgar married in October 1930.


Minna and Peter Zwar 1943


Retirement in LauraPeter and Minna lived on the Laura blocks for the rest of their lives. Minna owned the land. They originally bought it from Hill with money she inherited from her parents. Different people had rented it for years. Her brother Fred Wandke (married Altmann) lived there for a time. She had 3 or 4 cows for a time.

Minna and Peter Zwar and grandchildren 1943

When he retired to the Laura blocks Peter did odd jobs for people. He had his blacksmith there. Peter went to a lot of clearing sales and bought scrap metal to mend other people’s broken down machinery. They also grew a lot of vegetables in the first years and lots of citrus fruit trees. There was a huge mulberry tree near the kitchen.


Daughter Marie and FamilyOn the Laura blocks where Peter and Minna retired their daughter Maria lived several hundred metres nearby and helped them a lot. Marie and Herb Schultz had even lived with her parents for a while until they bought their own house close by.

Kenneth Schultz recalls,

“I lived with Grandfather Zwar for a while, and helped to cook for him. The neighbour, Mick Coles grew vegetables for sale around Laura, and Grandfather would help to wash the carrots. Grandfather made a shower out of a kerosene tin, by drilling holes in the bottom. He then poured a bucket of water into it for a quick shower.

When it was time for bed, Grandfather would say his prayers by kneeling at his bedside every night.”

Glen Schultz shared the following:

“We loved our Grandfather and sometimes stood in awe of him. He always needed to be early when he went to church, so while we lived with him, and so that we got the message, he would sit in the car, at least 15 minutes before departure time, wearing his dust coat, and wait for us. That made us hurry along.

I recall also that he owned a large stand up cabinet battery Radio. It stood on the dresser in the hallway outside the kitchen. He was unable to fathom the technology, but he was always ready to listen to the midday and evening news. That was the only time we heard the radio. All other programs were rubbish to him and may be even ‘of the devil’. While we did not like some of the boundaries he set, after all it was his home, and we learned to treasure his values.”

Death of Welhalmina

Welhalmina died 2nd May 1943, aged 76 years.

 “Mother grew weak and died. The doctors (two, one from Jamestown) said she had a lump in her right side – near the appendix – it had been an injury, healed, and      later may have become cancerous – a growth.” (Her daughters).

The Newspaper reported:

ZWAR.- On May 2, at Laura Hospital,

Caroline Wilhelmine, beloved wife of P.

T. Zwar, of Laura, and loving mother of

Agnes, Alf., Marie, and Edgar, aged 76.

(Asleep in Jesus.)”

   The Late Mrs. P. T. Zwar.

“The death occurred on Sunday, May 2, 1943, of Mrs Caroline Wilhelmine Zwar, at her residence, Laura Blocks at the age of 76 years. She was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs Wandke.

 The deceased was born at Tweedsvale on February 9, 1867, after spending most of her youth in the Mt. Barker district she came to stay with her sister, Mrs. E. Jaeschke in the Appila district. On February 9, 1994, she was married at Hahndorf to Peter Traugott Zwar; after their marriage they resided at Wirrabara for five years, then purchased a farming property in the Hundred of Caltowie, where they were engaged in farming pursuits for 30 years. In 1930 they came to retire on the Laura Blocks.

She was a member and an ardent worker of the Lutheran Church all her life, and was a good faithful wife and a loving mother. Her quiet and friendly nature won for her a large circle of friends.

She is survived by her husband, two sons, Messrs. Alfred (Wirrabara) Edgar (Hundred of Caltowie) and two daughters, Mesdames F. E. Borgas (Wirrabara) and Herb. Schultz (Laura); two sisters, Mesdames E Jaeschke (Waikerie) and G. Klemm. (Narromine, N.S.W.).

She was buried in the Pine Creek Cemetery on Monday. Pastor W. F. Roehrs officiated.”

Final Years

Peter now lived on his own. His daughter Marie lived close by and she and her family looked after him a lot in his final years. A granddaughter Verna Fiedler nee Schultz recalls,

“For the rest of grandfather’s life we helped to look after him. We took Grandfather to the Pine Creek Lutheran Church every Sunday. He always wore his dust coat to Church to keep his suit free of dust from the dirt roads.

Mum cooked him a nice hot meal every day. Us kids would take it in turns to carry his meal across the small paddock. Once or twice it was dropped on the way, however we hoped he never noticed!!!

We would often find him sitting on his old miners couch under the back verandah waiting for us. As a reward he gave us lollies from his big lolly jar. We replied with “Dankeshön”, meaning ‘Thankyou” as he mainly spoke German.”

Myra Fechner nee Schultz added, “Grandfather would give us two shillings to buy more ‘penny’ lollies to put in his jar. We were not allowed to put them in the jar for him as he would count them to make sure there really was 24.”

Mr Fixit

Glen Schulz remembers,

“Not only did we cross the paddocks with his lunch, but also with our broken toys. Being a blacksmith, he was able to mend out toys and bikes in a way that they never broke again. No matter how big or small, he would try to fix it. We sometimes watched him at work on his forge and anvil as he shaped a spare part. Maurice learned skills from him which were valuable to him on his farm later in life. From toys and bikes to pitch fork handles grandfather could fix it. We treasured him for all that.

At the same time our shoes would wear through soles and Grandfather was always ready to fix them. He always had a supply of leather which he would cut with his knife sharpened not only on the sandstone but with the leather strap used for sharpening his cut throat razor. Then he threw the leather into water to soften it, placed the shoe on his shoe-lasp, mould the leather to the shape of the shoe while tacking it firm. For us that was fun to watch as he worked with a skill that we were keen to learn from him. No matter whether it was a school shoe – work boot – or delicate female shoe, he was always willing to put a new walking surface on them. We were grateful to him for that as it extended the life of our foot wear significantly.“ …Glen Schultz

Gladys Schild nee Schultz remembers

Grandfather made many toys for his grandchildren, such as 3 wheeler bikes and 4 wheel wagons. Often the wagon wheels were made from shoe polish tins. Then Kenneth would put Gladys in the wagon and pull her round the house yard, often on a slight slope. Grandfather enjoyed watching the grandchildren play.


Peter’s other children helped to look after Peter too in various ways but it was not as convenient as they did not live close by. His neighbours would take Peter to the Pine Creek Lutheran Church on Sundays when he would meet with his friends and some of his own family.

87 Years

Peter died on 23rd March 1955, aged 87 years.

“The night your grandfather Zwar died, Uncle Alf, Herb and Ed were at the bedside at his home reading Scripture texts, especially the hymns on the second article of the creed, including “Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness” (in German)… About an hour or two before he died, suddenly his face lit up, and he called out “Das Licht, das Licht” [the light, the light] as if he could see a bright light we could not see. He was quite excited and we couldn’t see anything!” … 
Ed & Rita Zwar to Kevin Zwar.

© Kevin P Zwar

Andreas “Andrew” Traugott Zwar (C5)

Detailed biography



Andrew Zwar

Andrew was the 5th child and the third son of Peter and Lena Zwar. He was born in the Zwar home at Ebenezer, and lived with the family for a short time near Stockwell, before they all moved onto the Zwar farm at St Kitts.


Move to the North

His father bought land in the Booleroo Centre District in the mid north of South Australia in 1877, and it is likely that his older brother John and Andrew may have moved north soon after the purchase. The remainder of the family at St Kitts moved north in March 1880 to the property at Appila that would be the Zwar family home until 1905. Andrew lived with the family.

Life on the Farm

In 1890 Andrew’s father Peter wrote a letter to Germany and described the good life they were enjoying on the farm. There was a plentiful supply of meat. They killed two or three steers each year and about six or seven pigs. They had everything they needed. They could eat cake every day of the week (and not just on Sundays). He wrote that four of the boys were still at home. This would have included Andrew. The youngest was 15. One son worked with 8 horses to plough and pull the wagon [probably John as he was the oldest], and another worked with 6 horses [likely to be Andrew, the next oldest].

“We now have two 3 furrow ploughs, one even throws the stones out… We also have three 2 furrow ploughs and three single, twenty four [sets of ?] harrows, three wagons, 2 German ones, 2 implements, one for sowing, then the jinker with 2 wheels in case Lena or somebody else wants to go somewhere quickly with only one horse, then we have a special buggy which holds 6 – 7 people; we use it to go to church. We also have 15 working horses and two for riding…..We also have our own forge. Our fourth son [Peter] is the blacksmith who does all the smithy work for us…We have 60 to 70 poultry.”

A year later Peter writes,

“There are 21 horses in the paddock. We have about 80 head of cattle so that each year we butcher 2 or 3 steers as well as 6 or 7 pigs. We lack nothing. Our last harvest was very good. We had more than 1100 bags of wheat. One bag weighs about 260 to 280 pounds.”

About 1899 Andrew moved to Western Australia where his oldest brother was already living. Andrew never married, and we have little information about his life. He returned to South Australia for a visit in 1904 for the Silver Wedding celebrations of his parents.

Final Visit Home

In about 1950 Andrew returned to South Australia to visit his siblings and his nieces and nephews and stayed for some time with different relatives before returning to Western Australia.

Charles Swar, a son of his brother Ernst, wrote that he enjoyed visits to Andrew’s farm over the years.


Andrew died at Nedlands on 10th June 1953 aged 88 years. His ashes were scattered in Karrakatta in Western Australia.

Andrew Zwar

Johanna Anna Altmann nee Zwar (C4)

Detailed biography


Johanna Altmann nee Zwar

“John” Johann Traugott Zwar (C 3)

Detailed biography


John Zwar


John and Emma Zwar nee Klemm


John and Augusta Zwar nee Hein

Wilhelm Emil Zwar (C 2.2)

Detailed biography

Max Immanuel Theodor Zwar (C 2.1.1)

Detailed biography

My Father, Max Immanuel Theodor Zwar


My Father was born in Stuttgart, Germany, as a British Subject while his parents were there recuperating from illness. For more details see the detailed biography of my paternal grandfather, Johannes Ernst Carl ZWAR (C2.1)

Point Pass

Not long after my Father’s birth in May 1912, the family moved to Point Pass in South Australia where Grandpa was the Lutheran Minister at the St Petri Parish. Point Pass is where my father grew up and went to school. Today it is a small village and from visiting there, it looks like it was always a small but nice village.

Max, and parents, Martha and Johannes Zwar

Max, and parents, Martha and Johannes Zwar


When he became a teenager, my Father told his parents that he too wanted to study for the ministry and they sent him to the Basle Seminary in Switerland. But that calling was not to be for him and he then undertook trade training in Germany.


Dad returned to Australia briefly in the early 1930s but then went back to Germany to further his trade experience. As the war approached, Dad returned to Australia at the end of 1938 and met and subsequently married my Mother in June 1939 in Adelaide.

I was born in 1943 in country Victoria but grew up in South Australia, mainly in Adelaide. Dad had a french-polishing and cabinet-making business and we lived in Toorak Gardens, an inner Adelaide suburb. I was their only child.

In late 1952 we all embarked for Europe where we lived for a little over a year returning to Australia in early 1954.

Loss of Wife

Dad had tool-making and engineering skills and worked in that capacity for Philips in Adelaide. Sadly, my Mother became seriously ill and passed away in 1957.


Some time after this my Dad met and subsequently married his second wife, Jean, and they continued to live in Adelaide and at that time my Dad worked for General Motors Holden. Dad and my step-mother had three children. Sadly their first died shortly after birth but two healthy daughters followed; one now lives in W.A. and the other in N.S.W.

Final Years

After he retired, they moved to Blyth, near Clare, north of Adelaide, where both of them had a small craft and gemstone business.

Dad passed away in January 1982 in Blyth and is buried nearby in the Clare cemetery.

© Eric Zwar.

Johannes Ernst Carl Zwar (C2.1)

Detailed Biography

My Great Grandfather

From an A+ Year 12 School Project  by Janine Zwar on the Zwar Families in Australia.

“Johannes Zwar was born on the 5th June 1881 and attended school until the age of 14. Soon after he left he found a job in the Seppeltsfield Winery. It was there he met a Reverend Kaestner to whom he spoke of his desire to study for the ministry. After several years of private tutoring, Johannes was able to travel to Switzerland where he attended a Lutheran Theological Seminary. Six years later he was ordained into the ministry.

During subsequent years Johannes travelled to South Germany and Scotland before accepting a missionary post on the Gold Coast of Africa. It was here he met and married Martha Bellon. While on leave in Germany the couple’s first child, Max Immanuel Theodore Zwar was born on the 14th May, 1912. (My Grandfather).

 The young family never returned to Africa – instead they moved to Point Pass in South Australia where a Lutheran Church was based.

In December 1913 a second child was born whom Johannes and Martha christened Serena Ruth. Unfortunately Serena died in April 1920. It seems after a successful operation to remove her tonsils, the child caught diphtheria from a fellow patient. A year later Johannes and Martha adopted a baby girl, June Grace, to replace the child they had lost.”


My Confirmation Pastor

Esther Kent nee Wittwer [age 91] recalled the pastor who confirmed her:

Pastor Johannes Zwar was a good man, a popular minister and very conscientious in his work.

In the confirmation class half of the instruction was English, and half in German. “I think he was more at home in German! He did well with English. To me he seemed a big man. He was very fair minded.He was poor! He always needed more food for his horses.” 


Letter from Würthemberg to Barossa Valley



10th August 1906

Dear Paul and Bertha,

I have often intended to write to you, but until now it has rem,ained at that. Yesterday in a letter from home I learnt that you, dear Bertha are confined to your bed with rheumatic fever. I feel sorry for you, and it is my wish that the True Physician will soon restore you to health. We are experiencing the most beautiful weather. To me it feels as though the Australian Sun is shining.

I was pleased to hear that you led the Pentecost service as an elder. God grant you his blessing in this calling.

How is the little fellow? I guess he has grown and in three years will be twice the size, when we hope to visit you.

I feel refreshed after spending six weeks holiday with a building contractor’s family. Regards to Uncle and Auntie and all relatives.

Congratulations to Johannes on his wedding, and wish him God’s blessing.


I remain your loving and devoted,ü


P. S.

Regards to my dear W. Mickan and ask him to thank the little daughter Amanda for her letter. Also convey greetings to father Mickan.

(Translated from the original German by  Len Ziersch)


Engagement Card

Engagement Card

 From the Jubilee Souvenir 1935 of St Petri Lutheran Parish Point Pass

The successor of Pastor Michel was Missionary Johannes Zwar. At the said meeting on the 15th of September 1912, the parish decided to send a call to Missionary Zwar. He, by birth an Australian (born at Tanunda), received his theological training in the seminary at Basle in Switzerland during the years from 1903 to 1908. When he had completed his studies he accepted a call as missionary to the Gold Coast in West Africa, The task allotted to him there was that of principal of the secondary school at Christiansborg near Accra. After a, sojourn of four and a half years in Africa, ill-health compelled him to return to Germany. During this sojourn in Germany, whilst residing in the city of Stuttgart, the call from the Parish of Point Pass reached him. He handed the call to the foreign mission committee at Basle and asked for advice: he was prepared to abide by their decision. Since, according to medical advice, he was unable to return to the tropics, he was advised by the committee to accept the call. Regarding it as the will of God he was prepared to return to Australia and to enter the Australian Lutheran Church. In the beginning.of the year 1913, he with his family, returned to his native land, and on; April 28th, landed at Port Adelaide. On Saturday, the 24th of May, his colloquium took (place and on the following day, the 25th of May, being the first Sunday after Trinity, he was installed at Point Pass by the president, Pastor Braun, assisted by the.Pastors Bemmann and K. Gutekunst. Pastor Zwar then preached his inaugural address, basing it on 2 Kor. 5, 16-21. In the afternoon the Pastors Bemman and Gutekunst spoke on foreign mission work.
At the annual meeting of the.congregation, held on February 15th 1914, it was decided to elect ah executive committee.
The rules governing the committee were adopted at the meeting held on the 30th of August 1914. The seven brethren elected to this committee were the Brethren G. Scholz, F. Gaerth, S. Mijkan, G. Gehling, C. G. Jansen, P. Hilbig and 0. Pfitzner. The life of thic committee was to be of short duration, for in the year 1915 it was dissolved in accordance with a resolution adopted at a congregational meeting.
In the year 1919 the congregation decided to give the church a thorough renovation. A committee to deal with that matter was elected, consisting of the following: Pastor Zwar and the Brethren John Leditschke, Julius Leditschke, Andreas “Mickan, August Mickel, Heinrich Jochinke and C. F. Leditschke. The work was attended to by the Brethren Schroeder and Goedecke. The renovated church was re-dedicated on September 14th, 1919, the speakers for the occasion were the Pastors Braun (president), and Bemmann, and the-Pastors Basedow and Sprengel spoke at the mission festival in the afternoon.
In the year 1921, at the Synod held on March 8th at Ebenezer, the split, which occurred in the year 1884, was healed by the amalgamation of the Immanuel Synod and the Immanuel Synod a.a.G. This amalgamation was to prove a blessing for our congregation. For a number of years the two congregations have now held combined preaching services either in this or the neighboring church. Since the end of the year 1920 there has been a comlbined Sunday School here in Point Pass. Since the end of May of the present year (1935) a Young People’s Society has been meeting regularly, which is attended by the young people of both congregations. For this festival a combined choir, consisting of members from both Robertstown and Point Pass congregations, has been formed. During the time of vacancies in either congregation, the pastors of both congregations have assisted.
In the year 1926 English services were commenced. The present rule is that one English service is conducted in the month either in the afternoon or in the evening. On the 4th of November 1934, the first English confirmation service was held, when seven candidates renewed their baptismal vow.

Max, Martha and Johannes Zwar

Max, Martha and Johannes Zwar

Letter to Fellow Pastor Rohde

Point Pass, S. A., 17th September,1926
Dear Reinhold!
It was truly a joy to receive from you such a nice per
sonal letter amongst all the writings while being here, a letter which
did a lot of good for my old ‘Basler’ heart. Please accept my heartfelt
thanks for it ! Yes, I just had to write a contribution towards the
obituary of our dear respected teacher, Pastor kinzler, because there
is much, very much, for which we as his pupils have to thank him.
One can only regret, that not all our present-day pastorjg- are able to
sit at his feet and listen to his instructions. Certainly there would
be then more understanding for the high meaning of the Word of God,
as well as for godliness of the heart. Kinzler was every inch a total
Christian who lived and moved and worked in full consciousness of God.
May the Lord let His Eternal Light shine in mercy on His faithful
servant! But we who have so much to thank him for, want to bear in mind
our task of observing and remaining in what we have learned from him.
So it touches one quite sadly when one sees how all the men with whom
we had contact and who influenced our inner development, depart this
life, one after the other,and we stand here alone.
Still, let us fix our hearts upwards. We believe in the communion of the Saints. “We have a cloud of witnesses around us”. This certainly strengthens the consciousness of the binding ties with those who have gone before us. And we, who have also our citizenship in Heaven, have to let our little light shine here on earth, until we stand in the eternal glory of God’s presence. May the Lord grant this to us in mercy!
That we will be drawn into this ‘run down’ unionism should not trouble us much. Certainly we will remain aware of our church’s point of view, but that does not forbid us from cultivating spiritual fellowship with true children of God of other denominations. The gem of true Lutheranism is the evangelical freedom of the conscience bound only by the Word of God. That I have been tackled over this here in the south, you will have heard and seen in the last minutes. On the occasion of your brother’s address, at which I was a guest, I was inwardly convicted to stand up for our views, and ‘cross swords’ with Brother W. Riedel. The proceedings with lectures and exchange of ideas in the Pastors Conference came to a decision at our last meeting in Adelaide, when the wording in our last minutes was altered and I consequently resigned. There was not much courage in the brotherhood. A commission was supposed to confer with me again. They said I being broad-minded and temperate towards those of other faiths, especially with regard to admission to the Lutheran Lord’s Supper. But the result of the commission’s deliberations was that they had to acknowledge me as a Lutheran in theory and in practice and had to concede that in such cases that arise from time to time the conscience of the individual has to decide. Pastor Riedel of course wanted to know what sort of a conscience that is, whether it is one bound to the denomination or not.

Quite frankly I gave him my answer, that it is a ‘conscience bound to the Word of God’. Unanimously the findings of the commission were carried and adopted and the denominationally-true Brother Riedel had to be silent. I was in the process of by-passing the whole business and going my own way. Indeed as they expressed it, they can do nothing other than recognize and respect our evangelical freedom.
I can readily believe it that you do not feel at home in your present church work. In the Mission-work there was more freedom of the spirit and the faith. And indeed, we do not want to forget that we also have a mission here to fulfill in the service of the Church, namely to win souls for our Saviour in service through His Word. This we want to closely pursue and actively practice, first of all in ourselves, then to others. In this awareness and sense of duty we want to stick closely together as children of our spiritual mother. As such, we have a task to fulfill where the Lord has placed us. Oh yes, certainly, our being here is troublesome, also in regards to our financial position. Our payment, which we receive as servants of the Lord, often does not stretch enough and one has to constantly deal with these concerns. I am like you. It is already close on 14 years that I have been in Point Pass and still I have not come through with how one covers the means of livelihood. Is there something still to be learned in this? How good that one has a God who knows all about how things are. Cast all our cares on Him; He cares for us! You must perceive it, in this respect, quite differently with your dear family. How many young ones do you have? If I am not mistaken, there are quite a few. I recall having once seen a picture of your family. I am sure you have a great treasure there in your dear children, in fact, a gift from God. May the Lord keep them all healthy in body and soul.
I can hardly remember what the matter was which was mentioned on your account in your brother’s address. But if I am not mistaken, it was in connection with our Basler broad-mindedness. I am afraid we will just have to patiently carry that charge. And when someone is denounced therefore, I am the one who has firmly owned up to it. But never mind, we have to bear that for our Lord’s sake and our load is not heavy, for He knows us. Courageously forwards, dear Reinhold! Do not forget, what we have so enthusiastically sung: “And if your heart is weighed down with gloomy pain and peace escapes you; when discontentment and faint-heartedness break your joy: 0 calm the wailing! In Jesus you have Light”. What a blessing will sprout forth when we follow the Lord to serve Him, whether it be in the Mission or on the Mission-field of His Church here. When His springs flow into us, the dry land soon becomes green. Forwards and upwards looking and joyfully put our hand to the plough. We need to say it to each other, for also my soul needs exhortation; it is often tired and dull. But each one is strengthened by the other and so we want to boldly go on until we reach the goal. No, you do not need to ask for pardon because you were complaining. I do that, too often, and it does me good that you have written to me so openly about it.

As you wrote, the Wilhelmsdorfer Pastor Kuebler is quite sick, He was a fine manfwho was dear to me, too. I won’t forget how he got me to give my first sermon there in the Chapel. I felt like a sheep being led to the slaughter. They are past times, but pleasant, neverthe-less. Of my dear brother-in-law Bellen, we have now again some better news. He had become seriously ill and for weeks his life hung in a balance. They doubted that he would make it. But, praise God, he is now better.The reports in the’Mission Papers’ (Heidenboten) about the new beginnings in Africa are heart-warming. How hard was the fall of dear-Vielhauer! May G-od be his consolation. But now , I will close, dear brother. Please receive, together with your dear wife and family, warm greetings from us all.
Yours truely,
John Zwar



End of Ministry – Jubilee Souvenir

In the year 1932 Pastor Zwar’s ministry came to an end by his death. The illness which caused his death, dated back to the year 1928. In the year 1930 the parish requested him to take a two months holiday and aided him with a monetary gift. His condition however, was gradually getting worse, so that he, in accordance with medical advice, underwent a serious operation on December 10th 1932. Although the operation was successful he did not recover and after lingering for a few days he passed away on the 17th of December in the Rua Rua Hospital in North Adelaide. He held his last service here in Point Piss on the second Sunday in Advent (to-day three years ago), preaching on the 10 talents and closing his address with the words: “Handelt, bis dasz. ich wiederkomme.” After almost twenty years of service in this parish, this faithful servant of the Lord was called home. His illness certainly was serious and the operation still more serious, but not one of his people, friends or members of his congregation expected his end, but it seems, he himself had a notion of his approaching death, for a slip of paper contained the following words, written in December 1932, therefore shortly before his death: “If my work should terminate and God calls me away.” On December 18th, in the presence of a great nunifber of people he was laid to rest in the St. Petri cemetery here in Point Pass. In the church Pastor  Siegle preached the funeral sermon, basing it on 1 Kor. 15, 57. This year  (1935) the parish erected a monument to his memory.

January 16 1933. LUTHERAN HERALD

From Our Midst.

Pastor Zwar called home.

The prevalence of cases of illness among our Pastors during the last twelve months is a solemn voice of God speaking to our congregations and their shepherds. But the unexpected and sudden home-call of one of our ministers, who according to human estimation could yet have done many a year’s work, really stunned us. — We rejoiced with him that the intended operation was to relieve him of many discomforts and troubles. And when after the severe shock that the operation gave him, the doctors confidently reckoned with a speedy recovery we again rejoiced with the relatives, fully believing that now he would be able to return to work with more active strength than in past years. But — the Lord had His own way. Now that He has taken him home we humbly bow and submit to His will, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love Him. God grant that we may be found servants, who, while their day lasts, faithfully, and in the strength of the ever present Lord work and wait for his appearing.
The burial took place in the congregation’s cemetery in Point Pass on December 19th, and was attended by a large number of’ people. In spite of the great amount’ of work during the Xmas season the ministers would not be kept from following the earthly remains of their brother to their last resting place. This was also the case on the side of the congregations, who were in the thick of harvesting.
We counted 17 ministers of our U. E.L. C. A. and also
one from the neighbourhood, a member of’ the
E.L.S.A. The church was not able to hold more
than about half of the people.
The corpse which had been brought up from
Adelaide on Sunday, was placed in the church so
as to give, to mourners and friends an opportunity
of having a last look at the peaceful features of the
 sleeping Pastor.
On Monday afternoon the coffin was brought to the front of the Manse, where Pastor Braun, ex-president of the S.A. District of the U. E. L. C. opened the burial service by reading a psalm and offering up of a prayer, after which the congregation sang one of the deceased’s favourites: “Home with Thee, Home with Thee . . (Lasst mich gehen . .)
Then the coffin was carried back into the church where Pastor Siegle preached a sermon on 1. Cor. 15. 57: “Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He showed how that victorious power that overeometh. even death filled the hearts. The liturgical part of the service was in the hands of Pastors Renner and Rohde. The Point Pass Choir rendered a few favourite hymns of the departed .(Weine nieht! and: Jerusalem, du Schöne). At the graveside the acting president of the S.A. District, Pastor Heidenreich, on behalf of the Ministers of the District and with appropriate words laid a beautiful wreath on the coffin. He was followed by Pastor Siegle representing the Ministers of the Victorian District and his own congregation Murtoa, who also with a few words laid down a wreath. Then Pastor Proeve gave expression to the sympathy shown by his parish and also his choir. The latter sang that beautiful hymn: ‘Daheim, o welch ein süsses Wort …”

A resume of the Pastor’s life was read by Pastor Renner. The General President then spoke in honour of the deceased’s valuable services rendered to the Church, he having been a member of various Committees i.e. Foreign Mission, Church Papers, and General Finance.

Now that we have come back into our home again, one’s thoughts cannot but revert to the sorrowing widow sitting in the now still rooms of the Point Pass Manse. Surely the Brethren in the ministry and the congregations look upon the departure of Pastor Zwar as a great loss, but the heaviest blow fell upon the family. Here the breadwinner and husband, who could be depended upon, is no more! Nevertheless, God’s great and glorious promises still shine over the wife, mother and children, promises that always remain yea and amen. And we the members of the Church and the parish will not remain behind if God calls us to give a helping hand in order to redeem His promises. Mrs. Zwar has requested us to say that she very highly appreciates the many tokens of sympathy shown by friends far and near who were present at the funeral, especially the many Ministers who during the Christmas season were so busy. But we think there is nothing to thank for, for was it not the last honour we eould show our faithful fellow-worker. May he now rest in peace. In the following we now give an abridged history of his life, which was kindly handed to us.

Obituary of Pastor Johannes Zwar.

The deceased, Johannes Ernst Carl Zwar was born on Whitsunday, June 5th 1881 in Tanunda as the eldest son of John Ernst Karl Zwar and his wife Bertha, nee Buhlmann. He was baptised on the 19th June in Stockwell by Pastor Maschmedt. His early years were mostly spent in Tanunda where in 1893 he was also confirmed by Pastor Reusch. After confirmation he entered as apprentice the blacksmith shop of Mickan Brothers at Rhine Villa. Later on he felt more and more a desire to serve the Lord in His vineyard. A special experience with his Lord brought things to a head. In 1902. through the agency of his revered pastor, Pastor Kaestner, he successfully applied for admittance in the Basel Mission College, and pastor and congregation bade him farewell in the church, July 3rd 1903. After a strenuous course of study lasting 5 years he was sent out as missionary to the natives of the Gold Coast, “West Africa, though he would rather have preferred to work in India. But God’s ways are best. For several years he superintended the native High School. In 1910 he married Martha Bellon, daughter of the late Pfr. Bellon of Wuerttemberg. After about 4 years’ work in Africa he returned to Germany on furlough, where his eldest son Max was born, 1912. On account of the condition of his health he was not allowed to return to the tropics and therefore accepted a call that came to him from the Point Pass Parish and where he was consequently inducted May 1913. For nearly 20 years
God granted him grace to labour in this parish, leading many a soul into the arms of the Good Shepherd. It always gladdened his heart when he found that his love was accepted and reciprocated and would fain have enjoyed the fellowship of other Christians if he could have only made it possible. For 10 years he faithfully served the S.A. District Synod as Secretary, though often he felt the strain of it. When the 50th anniversary of his birthday came round he was particularly moved to see how his congregations came along to celebrate this occasion with a pleasant surprise. But after all in great humility of heart and mind he gave the honour and glory to God.
About 4 years ago he developed gallstone trouble with increasing sufferings as time went on. In spite of growing weakness he still faithfully attended to his duties. As things got worse, he eventually decided to consult a specialist, who advised him to submit to an operation. On the Sunday prior to his entering the hospital he preached his last sermon to his congregation at Point Pass. With freedom and impressiveness he exhorted his hearers faithfully to use the talents entrusted to them, concluding with the words: “Occupy till I come!” It was hard for him to part with his flock and it was his prayer that this his last appeal might result in wonderful blessings for his congregation. His frankness and amiability won for him many a heart, and his peaceful disposition brought back peace and harmony into many a. home and heart.
Under the skilful hands of the doctor the operation performed on the 10th of December proved a success, but the shock was too great for the weakened constitution so that in the afternoon he took a serious turn and during the ensuing 24 hours his life hung in the balance. When he again revived somewhat he asked to thank all who so kindly thought of him and prayed for him. But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts for on the Friday prior to his death his strength was failing fast, so that on Saturday the doctor held out no more hope. During his illness and in spite of his weakness he repeatedly asked his wife to read verses of Scripture to him as also appropriate hymns, such as Psalm 23 or “Be Thou my consolation and shield when 1 must die” (Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden) or “Thanks from my heart I offer” (Ich danke dir von Ilerzen . .’). When Pastor Basedow had come in to pray with him he recognized him for just a fraction of time, stretched out both hands as if to embrace him and then lapsed again into unconsciousness until he gradually passed into the eternal rest accompanied by words of comfort prayed by Pastor Bemmann. His end was perfect peace.
One daughter and one son predeceased him. He leaves a sorrowing wife, a son in Germany, one daughter, also a mother of 80, an only brother and other relatives. We rest assured that now has come true what the hymn says:

“There I shall dwell forever, no more a parting guest,
With all Thy blood-bought children in everlasting rest.
The pilgrim toil forgotten, the pilgrim conflict o’er,
All earthly griefs behind me, eternal joys before!


© Kevin P Zwar

Ernst Traugott Zwar / Swar (C)

Detailed biography

Ernst Traugott ZWAR/SWAR


Ernst was born at Ebenezer near Stockwell in the Barossa Valley in South Australia on 22nd May 1858. Ernst was the second child and the first son [of ten children] born to Peter and Magdalena Zwar. The family were renting a small farming property next to Peter’s brother Johann in the Ebenezer District in the Barossa Valley where Peter leased 80 acres at Ebenezer from John Pannach (section no. 204). They lived for a few years in a house on this property. Ernst would have attended the Ebenezer School.


After this they moved several kilometres and apparently lived by the St Thomas Lutheran Church near Stockwell. Ernst’s parents Peter and Lena Zwar were foundation members of this new Lutheran congregation. Pastor Maschmedt was their first pastor. The Church was less than two kilometres north of Stockwell. In 1904 it would be replaced by a new Church built in Stockwell. There are several trees that now mark the old site on the bank of a creek.

St Kitts

During this time Peter built a house on the farming property he had bought in the St Kitts District and it seems the family moved onto their farm in 1872. The ‘St Kitts’ name marked a District but was never a town, even though it had two Lutheran Churches, each with their own cemetery, and each congregation ran a school. The Zwar family continued to worship at Stockwell, where the children were confirmed by Pastor Maschmedt , and several were also married there by him.


Ernst qualified as a blacksmith, and this trade would be his work for the rest of his life.


On 20th June 1878 Ernst married Anna Ottilie Bertha Buhlmann in St Thomas Lutheran Church near Stockwell. Ernst was 20 years old and he was the first of Peter and Lena Zwar’s family of ten children to marry. His older sister Maria would marry Traugott Joppich in the same church in the same year a few months later in October. The youngest of Ernst’s siblings were the twins Otto and Carl. Ernst and Bertha initially lived in the Barossa Valley. Ernst was the only one of Peter and Lena’s family not to move north to the Appila District of South Australia. His sister Maria went north after she married Traugott Joppich in the same year – 1878. His parents and his other siblings all moved north within the next two years. Ernst and Bertha had two children. Johannes Ernst Carl Zwar was born in 1881 and Wilhelm Emil Zwar in 1885.

New South Wales and Melbourne

The marriage between Ernst and Bertha was an unhappy one. They first moved to Burrumbuttock in N.S.W. where their second son Wilhelm (Bill) was born. Then they moved to Melbourne. Bertha left Ernst but the date is not certain. Ernst would later in life claim that this marriage failed because he was too young and immature when he married. Bertha was nearly six years older than Ernst.

Annie McDermid

Ernst met Annie McDermid in Melbourne and Annie ‘kept company’ with him.
Ernst then moved to W.A. where he sent for Annie and they were married in Albany in 1895. By that time he had changed his name to Ernest Charles Swar. Ernst and Annie had two children: Ruby Madeleine Swar, born in 1897 and Charles Ernest Swar, born in 1899. Andrew, a younger brother of Ernst also made his way to Western Australia and lived with Annie and Ernst for some time.

Visit to South Australia

In 1904 Ernst and Andrew both made their way back to South Australia to celebrate the golden wedding of their parents who lived on a farm at Appila. Several group photos taken at this time are the only known photos we have of Ernst.

On his return to Western Australia Annie left Ernest when she found out that his first wife was still alive. Ernst became involved in several court cases regarding bigamy (which was not proved) and maintenance (which Ernest had not paid). Newspaper reports of the day give details of these cases.

Beatrice Blunderfield

By 1913 Ernest had married again, this time to Beatrice Martha Swar (nee Blunderfield). Ernest and Beatrice lived in Kalgoorlie. Ernest died in January 1936 aged 77. He was buried in the Church of Christ section of the Kalgoorlie cemetery. No mention is made of any children from this third marriage.

Deaths of Ernest and Beatrice Swar


Funeral Notice Jan 22 1936 for Ernsest


Funeral Notice 8 Dec 1942 for Beatrice Martha Swar



Bertha Buhlmann

Bertha Buhlmann

Ernest’s first wife, Bertha, lived with the first of their two children, Johannes and his wife Martha in Point Pass, South Australia where Johannes was the Lutheran Pastor until his death in 1932. Bertha died in Adelaide March 21st 1944 aged 91 years. Their first son Pastor Johannes died in 1932 while their second son Wilhelm died in South Australia in 1955.

© Eric Zwar [Great grandson of Ernest Swar]

Maria Magdalena Joppich nee Zwar (C1)

Detailed biography

Peter Zwar (C)

Detailed biography

Click here to go to the Peter Zwar Photo Gallery

Early Years

Peter was born at Drehsa on 15th May 1824, a Wendish village about 10 kilometres east of Bautzen in the Kingdom of Saxony. His birth certificate, issued at Gröditz by Pastor Andreas Voigt on 27th May 1844, reads, “PETER ZWAR the 6th legitimate son of Johann Zwar, gardener in Drehsa…” [It should read “6th legitimate child…”]

When Peter was born he was next in line to two living brothers – Andreas, 6 years old and Johann two and a half. The eldest brother and two sisters had died before these three boys were born. When Peter was almost three years old a sister, Maria was born, and she was the only sister to reach maturity.


Peter began school near Wurschen (a village 2 kilometres northeast of Drehsa) in 1831, and continued there for eight years. The school was a solid large house outside Wurschen, on the edge of a lake with a variety of fish in it. The teacher lived in one end of the house and the other half was the school. [Today it is a beautiful home with a family living in it. Later in the century a school was built right in Wurschen, and now this later one is called the ‘old one’ and a newer school now stands alongside it.] During his second year at school a sister Magdalena arrived, but died two years later. In his fifth year at school another brother arrived, but was stillborn. A year later his youngest brother Karl arrived. Peter left school on 13th March 1839 when he was almost 15 years old.


Eleven days later Peter was confirmed by Pastor Voigt in the Lutheran Church at Gröditz after passing an examination and gaining good results. His confirmation text was 2 Timothy 2 verses 22 and 23:

Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help. But keep away from foolish and ignorant arguments; you know that they end up in quarrels.

Apparently Peter did not always heed the advice of the text in the years following. When he writes to his teacher in 1865 he says:

“Sometimes I reflect on my life and thank God that He did not call me away in my younger years when I was not walking in the ways of the Lord as I ought.”


Peter turned 15 in May 1840. He had two older brothers, a younger sister and two younger brothers. The youngest, Karl, was then two and a half years old. He began to look for a job. He found an opportunity near Dresden, the Capital of Saxony, about 65 kilometres from home. Peter was vaccinated against Small Pox.

Servant Report Book

Before taking up work he had to apply to the authorities for a Servants Report Book. This 32-page booklet gives a detailed description of Peter on page one:

Age: 15
Height: Normal (or ‘medium’)
Hair: Fair (‘blond’)
Eyes: grey
Nose: Straight
Mouth: Normal
Face: oval (or ‘long’)
Particular features: None

The above mentioned has been living with his father, the Gardener Zwar in Drehsa. He was confirmed and vaccinated against smallpox. With the permission of his father he wishes to take up employment near Dresden.
Drehsa 21st December, 1839.

Page two gives the authorization by the Apprenticeship Board and the seal of approval is stamped on it. Round the edge of the wax seal are the words: VON EINSIEDELSCHE GERICHTE ZU DREHSA

Pages 3 to 8 give a detailed list of numerous rules governing apprentices and their relation to their employer (in whose home they usually lived). At the end of each year the Master would give a brief report that would be signed by a witness, such as an accountant, councillor or a Judge, and a seal would be attached.

Death of Father

Peter began work at Hühndorf near Dresden on New Year’s Day 1840 under Johann Gottlieb PIRTZICH. On 20th March 1840 Peter’s father died. Peter was 15 years old. The responsibility for looking after his mother and the younger brothers and their sister Maria fell on the oldest living brother, Andreas.


We are not told what kind of work Peter did for Pirtzich at Hühndorf. Exactly two years after he started there his employer writes in the Servants (or ‘Apprentices’) Book:

“The owner of this book has been in my services from the beginning of 1840 unti1 the start of 1842, and has in that that time served me in a faithful, obedient and honest manner.”
Hühndorf 1 Jan. 1842.
Cert: Johann Gottlieb Pirtzich
Witness: Joh. George Rühle (Judge).

Peter spends the year 1842 working at Unkersdorf for Karl Gottlob Berthy, who reports that Peter conducted himself

“in an honest, faithful and diligent manner.”

At the beginning of 1843 Peter is back at Hühndorf employed as a groomsman on a farm. Apparently he soon felt his future did not lie with horses, and it seems that by mutual consent with his employer he left on 3rd May. The report says that Peter:

“served honestly, diligently and faithfully. However with his agreement he will be discharged without further delay.”

From 8th May until the end of the year Peter worked as a farmhand for Carl Wilhelm Pietsch.

Unkersdorf Again

At the beginning of 1844 we find Peter back at Unkersdorf again, this time working as a farmhand for Carl Gottlieb Bartz.Peter turned 20 in May and was now eligible for his 2 years military service.

Birth Certificate

Peter applied for his birth certificate and Pastor Andreas Voigt issued it on 27th May. At Drehsa four days later a description of Peter is added to the certificate:

Hair: blond (fair)
Height: 71 inches
Eyes: bluish
Nose: straight
Mouth: normal
Special features: none
Occupation: farmhand

On 6th December 1844 Peter received exemption from military service from the Military Recruiting Centre at Dresden on the grounds that he was medically unfit.

Apprentice Carpenter

Peter continued working as a farmhand for Carl Bartz until 19th April 1846. He had been there 15 ½ months and conducted himself as usual “in a faithful, honest and diligent manner.” Peter had apparently built up a good reputation at Unkersdorf. He now begins work there as a carpenter’s apprentice under Joh. Heinrich (Master Carpenter).

Home Visit

In 1847 Peter gets permission to go home during the winter months until the carpentry work would begin again. Peter Kaiser, a councillor, signed a statement that Peter conducted himself in a faithful, honest and proper manner while staying with his mother from 3rd January until 14th April. (The Kaisers were good friends of the Zwar family. They were guests at Johann Zwar’s wedding that year. Little did Anna Kaiser, only 10 years old, dream she would become Johann Zwar’s bride at his second marriage 16 years later in Melbourne, Australia). Peter was probably home again for his brother Johann’s wedding at Purschwitz, about 5 kilometres northwest of Drehsa. Johann was the first of the family to marry.

Qualified Carpenter

Peter completed his apprenticeship in the art of carpentry on 3rd January 1848 and received an official certificate to say he was a qualified carpenter. The wax seal shows a carpenter’s square and compass, an adze, mattock and hammer. The certificate gives his name as Friedrich Peter Zwar, the only time we have a record of Friedrich as one of his names. He had begun his apprenticeship on 3rd January 1846 and graduated exactly two years later.


We know nothing about Peter in 1848. Times were hard. There had been three successive years of drought. There was general unrest throughout Europe. In Saxony the Wends sent a petition to the Prime Minister asking for wider official use of their Wendish language. Peasants began forming associations for better conditions under the feudal landlords. A ‘Peasants Petition’ was published in the newspaper in June asking for better conditions but it remained unanswered. A number of people were considering migrating to the New World, to the Americas or Australia. There had been letters and brief reports for five or six years about Germans who had migrated to South Australia. Shipping agents were looking for passengers to fill their ships and gave glowing reports of the new countries, including Australia.

Military Call-up

In 1849 there was a revolt by the peasants at Dresden, which was put down after some days of fighting. There was another military call-up and Peter had to go for another medical examination. On the back of his birth certificate it states:

Height: 72 inches.
At today’s other examination he has been found totally unfit and is definitely exempt from military commitments.

Loebau 7 July 1849.
The Royal Recruiting Commission in the 2nd Zone of the Bautzen District.

We are not told why Peter was medically unfit for military service. His younger brother Michael was not so fortunate. He had just turned 20 and was due for his two years of military service, and his sympathies lay with the peasants and not the army.

Brother Michael Leaves for Australia

Michael decided to leave the country. He could not do so until he had completed his military service, and he could not leave officially without a passport. So he left without one. It is said he hid under a load of vegetables until his ship left port. On 23rd August 1849 the ship Pribislav sailed for Melbourne in Australia with Michael on board. The passengers were Wends and Germans who had been encouraged to go to the land of Promise by a shipping agent named Hartig. The family waited to hear word from Michael. His sister Maria wrote so he would receive her letter by his birthday (15th May). Johann wrote and asked what things were like, as he was considering going to Australia too. In fact all the family were considering it, even their mother.

There was no word from Michael. They might possibly have heard from others that Michael had arrived safely in Australia despite being severely ill on board ship. A year after Michael left there was still no word from him. Johann and his wife and their little daughter Maria, and also Peter began making preparations to go to Australia.

Passport for Peter

Peter applied for a passport to travel overseas, and received it on 24th May 1850. It includes the following description and details:

No. 9 
Kingdom of Saxony Passport for foreign lands valid for 3 years

Personal description
Age: 30 years
Height: 71 inches
Hair: brown
Forehead: low
Eyebrows: thin
Eyes: bluish-grey
Nose: thick (broad)
Mouth: normal
Teeth: healthy
Beard: blond (fair)
Chin: broad, no beard
Complexion: healthy
Special features: freckles
Signature of owner: Peter Zwahr

Paid with 1 schill. 5 pf.

All military and civil authorities are requested to let pass and travel unhindered, and to assist and protect when necessary.

The bearer of this: Peter Zwar
Occupation: Carpenter
Born and a resident at Drehsa who travels without attendants (accompaniment) to Australia.

Weissenberg 24 May 1850, Royal Saxon Court of Justice
D. Metten

Requirements in regard to military conscription: is free.

Brother Johann Leaves for Australia

For some reason Peter changed his mind and decided not to emigrate to Australia in 1851. His brother Johann became the leader of a group of 98 Wends who made the journey to Australia on the ship Helene that sailed from Hamburg on 20th August 1851. Johann intended joining his brother Michael in Melbourne, but when the Helene called in at Adelaide a number of Wends living in South Australia called on them and convinced some of them, including Johann Zwar, to stay and help them with the harvest. Although Johann later visited Melbourne he settled in South Australia at Ebenezer, a Wendish community in the Barossa Valley.

News from Australia

It was two years since Michael had left home and there was still no word from him. Almost six months later his family received his first letter home. He was working on a farm 60 miles from Melbourne, at Point Henry near Geelong. He had gone through quite a difficult time, particularly because he could not speak English. He advised the family not to rush out to Australia to join him. He thought his mother was too old to go through the rigours of such a long journey. He had received Maria’s letter right on his birthday! It cheered him up no end. Michael is hesitant to recommend his brothers should join him. Johann had already left for Australia. Michael writes in his long letter:

“My dear brothers! Should the Fatherland be visited by troubled times, then come out to me. If on the other hand times are peaceful and you can live on what you earn, then stay at home. That would be better and you would have a less troubled life. I leave it to you; I will neither encourage nor discourage anyone.”

Michael made it clear that they would have to be prepared to work hard and overcome many obstacles if they wanted to join him. Johann wrote letters home too and told them about life in South Australia.

Peter Marries Magdalena

In 1854 Peter decided to marry and take his bride out to Australia. His passport was updated on 24th May at Weissenberg. On the back of the passport it states:

The owner commences his travels on the l5 June this year, first of all through Leipzig to Hamburg. 
Weissenberg 24 May 1854 Royal Courts

Owner departs from here 4 July 1854 Drehsa

On 25th June 1854 Peter Zwar married Magdalena Pätzold (Batz or Bötz in Wendish) in Gröditz. (?). He was 30 years old, and Magdalena 22.

Magdalena Bätzold

Magdalena had been born at Nechern on Christmas Eve 1831. The Zwars travelled through Nechern only three kilometres from their home on their way to church from Drehsa to Gröditz. Magdalena received her schooling at Wurschen, the same school as Peter Zwar. She was confirmed in the Lutheran Church at Gröditz by Pastor Andreas Voigt, the same Church where Peter had been confirmed. Magdalena was the seventh child of the Gardener Johann Bötz and his wife Marie nee Rentsch. On the marriage records in Gröditz Magdalena is described as the third and youngest daughter. Her passport was issued at Wurschen only three days before the wedding. Her occupation is given as a “servant” and she is described as “born and living in Nechern”.

Her passport has the following description and details:

Kingdom of Saxony No. 46 
Passport for Foreign Lands Valid for 1 year

Personal description:
Age: 22 years
Height: medium
Hair: blond (fair)
Forehead: free (not covered by hair)
Eyebrows: blond
Eyes: grey
Nose: proportioned
Mouth teeth: natural
Chin: oval
Complexion: healthy
Special Features: none

Signature of owner: Magdalena Bätzold

paid with 1 schill. 5 pf. All civil and military authorities are requested to let travel unhindered and to assist with protection & help when necessary the bearer of this.

Magdalene Bätzold

occupation: servant 
born and living in Nechern who, in company with her fiancé travels to Australia via Hamburg and who is legitimated through this document

Wurschen 22 June l854 Royal Saxon Court of Justice
E. Goig [?]
Holder is with Zwar

(On the back of the passport) Owner commences her travels from here via Leipzig to Hamburg on the 
4 July 1854
Johann Storch Local Judge

The newlyweds planned to leave on 4th July for Hamburg and travel by train via Leipzig.

The following notice, translated by Chris Greenthaner, appeared in the German Newspaper:


On the 3rd festival day of Pentecost, various tools, namely a [forked?] straw cutter and some [?] flax, as well as some items of clothing, will be sold to the highest bidder against payment in cash, at the home of Peter Zwahr, carpenter in Drehsa.   Commences at 2 pm.


The ship Steinwarder sailed from Hamburg on 16th July. Tradition has it they caught the ship with three hours to spare.

On the passenger list they are described as

“Zwahr Peter and his wife Magdalena, from Drehsa, Saxony, Carpenter.” (Kopittke Shipping List)

The list also includes “Adreas Schneider, from Drehsa, Saxony, Farmer.

Arrival in Australia

The 320-ton ship, with Arns as Captain, arrived at the North Arm Quarantine Station in South Australia on November 5th 1854. There had been a lot of sickness on board ship so she was detained at the Quarantine Station for several days before being allowed to sail up the Port River to berth. The Doecke family history book reports:

“The majority of the passengers were from the same area in Saxony as were the passengers of the “Helene” three years before. There were also quite a number of passengers from Prussia and the other German states. … After encountering very heavy seas for much of the voyage, the group arrived in extremely poor health at Port Adelaide on the 5th November and disembarked on the 6th. Seven people died on the wretched voyage, 3 women, and four children, there was also one birth.”

The ‘South Australian Register’ Mon 6.11.1854 reported:

Steinwarder – arrived 5.11.1854 at the North Arm Quarantine Station. 320 tons. Capt. Arns left Hamburg July 16 1854. As the vessel is not yet wholly free from sickness, she will be detained at the North Arm for a few days longer under relaxed quarantine regulations. The passengers ….”

Peter and Magdalena went to Ebenezer and lived with his brother Johann Zwar and his family in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.Peter always called his wife Lena, the shortened form for Magdalena [or Magdalene – both spellings occur in her papers].


Peter later wrote:

“At first I pursued my calling as a carpenter/builder. I erected 16 houses, and a church measuring 54 feet long by 26 feet wide.”

The church was the first Lutheran Church built at Ebenezer and was opened in 1859. Peter did the carpentry work. When the church was later dismantled, to be replaced by a new one Peter’s initials could be seen on some of the timber.

“I remember seeing his name ‘Peter Zwar’ on a number of the beams supporting the thatched straw roof when the church was being demolished in 1905. My uncle Paul Zwar bought the old church building and used parts of it in building a barn and implement shed on his property at Ebenezer”.
Arthur Zwar
[I think the barn is still standing – KZ, 1998]


Peter also worked the land. One of the main aims of the Wends who migrated to Australia was to own their own land. In their experience at home it was the wealthy who owned land. It was almost impossible for the average person to own land such as farming country.

Many of the Wends who came to Australia had a trade or profession, but gave it up to own and farm their own land. Some of them, like Michael Zwar, struggled at first and found it hard to justify leaving home, so only wrote their first letter home when they had bought some land, something they might never have achieved if they had stayed at home.Peter leased 80 acres at Ebenezer from John Pannach (Section no. 204) and lived for a time in a house on the property. [In the 1970’s the current owners (Tscharkes) showed me several rooms and a bake oven in reasonable condition and built after Peter’s time; and also the remnants of an older bake oven they think Peter built while he was living there.]

Peter also leased another 80 acres (section 2995) and two lots of 10 acres each on sections 2995 and 2996. In 1865 Peter wrote a letter [possibly to Joh. Heinrich at Unkersdorf under whom he learnt his trade as a carpenter]. He wrote:

“The land here is not as level as it is where you are in Unkersdorf and Steinbach, but it is rather hilly…” “I have 70 acres of land and put it under wheat with two horses. I reaped more than a thousand bushels of wheat. Everything here is done with machinery.


Peter’s ink drawing of the wheat stripper


We don’t cut the crop with a sickle like we used to. I have one of these machines that is drawn by four horses. It pulls the heads of wheat off, knocks the grain out, and throws the chaff and wheat into a big drum at the back of the machine. The contents of the drum are emptied out on a patch of hard ground at the end of a round. In this way I harvest six or seven acres in one day.”

Peter includes a delightful little ink pen drawing of his Australian stripper being pulled by a horse!

Magdalena and Children

Peter and Magdalena were still living on the Pannach property in 1869 when Elizabeth was born, 12.7.1869. [Her daughter Elizabeth Koch said that My mother always said she was born on the (later known as) Tscharke property.]

Magdalena was busy bearing a child every two years and caring for the family. The children were all born in Australia, and the first seven were born at Ebenezer:
Maria Magdalena on 6th May 1856
Ernst Traugott on 25th May 1858
Johann Traugott on 26.10.1860
Johanna on 2.11.1862
Andreas Traugott on 13.9.1864
Peter Traugott on 28.11.1866, and then a break of three years before
Elizabeth Johanna arrived on 12.7.1869.

Peter and Magdalena Zwar and their five children l to r: Ernst, Johanna, John, Andrew, Maria. c. 1866.


St Kitts

On 19th March 1866 Peter Zwar bought 109 acres of land at St Kitts (section 304) from George Boback. It was about 10 kilometres from Ebenezer. George Boback returned to Germany with his wife and two sons, and then migrated to America.

It seems the Zwar family moved to St Kitts in 1872. Peter built the house there. He may have built the house before the family moved in. On a chimney between the ceiling and the iron roof there is a large “P” (about 60 cm high) painted on one side, and a large “Z” on the other. On the stone gable of the house two sprigs of peppercorn tree leaves were carved in the stone, and between them the words ‘Gott mitt uns P Z.’ The house was lived in until 1954 and is still standing, though the front doors and the mantelpiece have been stolen.In 1872 Peter finished building a solid stable (still standing) with “P 1872 Z” carved on a stone high up on one end. The barn was used as the St Kitts hall for school functions, meetings, dances and card evenings until 1954.

Final Three Children

The last three children were born at St Kitts:

Charles Jacob on 26.8.1873 and the twins
Carl Heinrich and
Hermann on 7th March 1876.

Hermann died a little over a year later [4.7.1877] from measles. His grave lies in the St Kitts Lutheran Church cemetery. The remaining 9 children each lived to be more than 80 years old.

On 14.12.1875 Peter bought 48 acres (Part of section 306) and 55 acres (Half of section 91) from Thomas Shearer [with a mortgage to J F W Koch 13.11.76, discharged 16.2.1880].

Life at St Kitts

St Kitts was a farming community (and never a town). The Jericho family lived across the road from the Zwars. St Peter’s Lutheran Church was about one kilometre south of Peter’s place, but Peter belonged to a different Synod of the Lutheran Church. The children attended the Lutheran school and were taught by the teachers Rechner and Klar.

Peter Zwar is listed as a foundation member of the Stockwell Lutheran Church, which began in 1865 as a branch of the Ebenezer congregation. Pastor Maschmedt, the first pastor, was still there when Peter moved north about 1880. Previously Peter had been a member of the Ebenezer Church, which had remained independent of any Synod until 1865. Peter and Magdalena had brought a supply of Wendish religious books with them to Australia. This included a thick book called “Domjaza Postilla” that had belonged to Magdalena’s father and was inscribed “Johann Petzold in Nechern 1845 “. [The book is now in the Lutheran Church Archives in Adelaide.]

Peter and Magdalena had a large family, including six boys. Ernst was learning his trade as a blacksmith. Peter looked for more land. The opportunities in the St Kitts and surrounding areas were limited. The land was expensive.


On the fifth day of June 1878 Peter Zwar was naturalized as a British subject in the Colony of South Australia. He was 54 years old and he had been in Australia for 24 years.

New Land in the North

Peter bought land about 250 kilometres to the north in South Australia where land was cheaper and more land was being opened up. He bought 623 acres (section 99) near Booleroo Centre on 13th July 1877. It seems his son John worked this land with the hope of one day owning it. Then Peter bought section 209 from Menz near Wirrabara on 3rd November 1879. It seems as though some of the boys moved north and began clearing and working the land.

In the meantime their oldest son Ernst had married on 26th June 1878. He was a blacksmith and lived in the Barossa Valley.

Then their eldest child Maria Magdalena married Johann Traugott Joppich on 29th October 1878. They settled at Wirrabara. The first grandchild, Anna Maria Joppich was born on 14.8.79. On 16th February 1880 Peter paid out his mortgage to J F W Koch and five days later he sold all his St Kitts land to Falland, who lived there and became the butcher of the St Kitts District.

On the Appila Plains

As soon as their son Peter Traugott was confirmed at Stockwell on 14th March 1880 he went north apparently to join several of his brothers there. The rest of the Zwar family either moved north at this time too, or only later on. One source says they moved north the following year. [cf. obituary].

On 17th June, 1880, Peter Snr bought another block of land, sections 110 and 131 near Appila from Daniel Meirs, and he and Magdalena lived there for the next 25 years. In 1891 Peter mentions that he built their house ‘already before the marriage of their youngest daughter’ in 1889. He describes the house as “60 feet long and 40 feet wide with 6 rooms and 9 doors. It cost about 1500 Taler and is covered with a galvanised iron roof.

Peter and Lena would live in this house until all of the children were married, and then sold it in 1905. The house is still standing though no one lives in it. [2012 KZ]

More Grandchildren

The first grandson was born when Johannes Ernst Carl was born to Ernst Zwar and his wife Bertha Buhlmann 5.6.1881. They had stayed in the Barossa Valley.

Johanna married Edward Altmann and their children started arriving in 1882.

A busy mid-wife

Magdalena Zwar became the District midwife, and the midwife for her family. She was often away from home as there were over 50 grand children to bring into the world. She even went to the Barossa Valley for the birth of the children of her daughter Elizabeth who had married Christian Johannes Koch.

When she was away the granddaughters were called on to make the butter and do other household work. Her granddaughter Mrs. Dowling was born in a house only several hundred yards away. She recalled how Magdalena was often called out in the middle of the night. Magdalena would be away for three or four days and then come home to check all was well. She would tell them she had bought a baby. Then she would go back to the place for another 9 days.

“She went fairly often.” She was midwife to all of her son Peter’s children. She was with her daughter-in-law Minna the day one of the little boys died in an accident in the barn, which brought on the premature birth of another son who died some days later. One wonders what would have happened had Magdalena not been there. The men were not at home and Magdalena was a strength of support to Minna during this tragic time when she lost two of her children.

Popular Grandmother

Lena was kind hearted. She always remembered to bake a cake for the grandchildren’s’ birthdays. She also made German wedding cakes. The grandchildren thought their grandmother was a wonderful woman.

Mrs. Dowling (grand daughter) recalled putting the milk in wide dishes in the cool cellar. After a day or two they would skim the cream off the top and make butter. [When Mrs. Dowling was 8 years old Magdalena got their first separator – 1897.]

“Peter was tight. She had to keep the house on eggs and butter as well as being a midwife. A man would come by from Jamestown to buy eggs and Magdalena would sneak down and sell eggs and other goods and Peter would not know about it. This was her pocket money.
Mrs. Dowling 1978

Grandfather Peter

When he was shaving Peter used to lather his face with a rabbit’s foot and this really amused the grandchildren. [Marie Schultz]. Despite what his wife told him, Peter firmly believed a man only needed a bath once a week, and that was on Saturday night before going to Church on Sunday. This practice applied even when Peter was doing work that made one dirty, like digging a well. When Peter dug a well near their house and close to the road, [You can still see the top of the well, but it has been filled with rubbish – K Z ] Magdalena was near the top of the well chatting with others when an excited call came up from one of the diggers at the well bottom announcing that they had struck water. Magdalena called back “Push him under, push (Peter) him under!” [… from Ed Zwar and various others].

The Good Life in Australia

In 1890 Peter wrote a letter to Germany and described the good life they were enjoying. There was a plentiful supply of meat. They killed two or three steers each year and about six or seven pigs. They had everything they needed. They could eat cake every day of the week (and not just on Sundays). He wrote that four of the boys were still at home. The youngest was 15. One son worked with 8 horses to plough and pull the wagon, and another worked with 6 horses.

“We now have two 3 furrow ploughs, one even throws the stones out… We also have three 2 furrow ploughs and three single, twenty four [sets of ?] harrows, three wagons, 2 German ones, 2 implements, one for sowing, then the jinker with 2 wheels in case Lena or somebody else wants to go somewhere quickly with only one horse, then we have a special buggy which holds 6 – 7 people; we use it to go to church. We also have 15 working horses and two for riding…..We also have our own forge. Our fourth son [Peter] is the blacksmith who does all the smithy work for us…We have 60 to 70 poultry.”

A year later Peter writes,

“There are 21 horses in the paddock. We have about 80 head of cattle so that each year we butcher 2 or 3 steers as well as 6 or 7 pigs. We lack nothing. Our last harvest was very good. We had more than 1100 bags of wheat. One bag weighs about 260 to 280 pounds.”

Peter also describes the delicious watermelons they grow on the farm. He draws a little picture of the melons on their runners on the bottom of a page. Peter sends some seeds to his in-laws in Saxony.


The Lutheran congregation was the centre of their social lives. One Sunday Peter and Magdalena had gone to church at Appila (Pine Creek) in their buggy and pair. Their son Charlie and one of the other lads had stayed home and were experimenting with gunpowder. Charlie put a tin over the gunpowder as it exploded and it blew his thumb off. They wrapped his thumb/hand in a sheet, made their way to the church, walked down the aisle in church during the service and showed his parents! They quickly took him to the doctor in Booleroo in the buggy and pair!

1890 Financial Crash

In 1890 there was a big financial crash and Depression. This, coupled with some bad seasons meant that John could not keep up the payments on the 623 acres at Booleroo Centre and he lost it. [Nor could John pay his father back the money he had borrowed, so they did not get along after that.] One grandson told me that Peter never again lent any of his sons money to buy land. [However check the Booleroo Times book page 175 Section 99. 13.9.1901 Zwar Peter (title issued.)


Peter and his family remained in contact with his brother Johann in the Barossa Valley and his family. Sometimes they visited each other. Arthur Zwar, a grandson of Johann recalled:

“I drove Peter to Tanunda once to the hotel and he gave me a florin – freshly minted – a fortune in those days*”.

Elisabeth Koch remembered that Peter was visiting them in the Barossa when they had a big flood in 1913.

It seems Peter virtually lost contact with his brother Michael who lived at Broadford in Victoria. In 1891 he asked his in-laws in Germany in a letter for any news of Michael as he knew Michael had visited Germany [in 1878 ?].

Speaking Wendish

When the old people got together they would talk in Wendish. When the Petschels (Johann Zwar’s daughter Maria) visited her sister at Quorn they would speak in Wendish. At home in Victoria Maria had a Wendish Calendar on the mantelpiece. One could turn a knob and change the dates. Gus Zwar (Laura, South Australia) recalled his father John [son of Peter] talking Wendish, especially with Mrs. Nitschke [Johann’s daughter] from Ebenezer. He also said, “The Petschel’s would come over from Victoria and speak Wendish.

Peter and Magdalena would speak to each other and the children in Wendish. The children understood it and replied occasionally in Wendish, but usually they replied in German. The grandchildren knew some Wendish phrases, mainly curses or swear words! Only two families in the Appila congregation spoke Wendish. The services were all in the German language. The Pechs were Wendish and were the only family in addition to the Peter Zwar family where the old generation spoke Wendish.

Golden Wedding

In 1904 Peter and Magdalena celebrated their Golden Wedding. Ernst and Andrew travelled all the way over from Western Australia. This family photo shows the immediate family seated outside the front door of the house Peter had built on the Appila Yarrowie plains.

Standing: L to R: Andrew Zwar, Pauline (1st wife) and Jack Zwar, Ernst Zwar, Minna and Peter Zwar, Carl Zwar. Seated: Anna & Edward Altmann, Magdalena and Peter, Marie and Traugott Joppich. Absent: John Zwar, Elisabeth Koch – she was expecting a child!.


On this special occasion Peter and his six sons and a grandson posed for the blacksmith and farm machinery photo that is featured on the Zwar FAMILY TREE Page of this website.


When the last son Carl married and left home in 1905 Peter sold the property on the Appila plains to James Daly on 25th September. It was the best land he ever owned. Although he was still a fit man he was 81 years old and Magdalena 74.

They moved about 10 kilometres to land near Wirrabara. At first they lived in a straw roofed house of three or four rooms Peter had built (some years earlier) on land that became known as ‘Menz’s’ block. It seems his son Peter had lived there for about five years after his marriage in 1894. Mrs. Dowling said:

“Grandfather Peter built a house there – two rooms, and a straw roof. Peter Zwar’s (Jnr) used to live there too. Peter Jnr then moved to Kentish’s near Laura.”

Peter (Jnr) wrote in his brief statements about his married life:

“The first five years I lived at Wirrabara, then Caltowie…”

Gwenda Obst [nee Zwar] grew up on this property and she recalls:

“Peter’s was up on top of the hill and made of upright slabs of wood with pug filling. Alf used to live there at times with his grandfather. I grew up there, and it was later used as a shed, and only pulled down when it no longer served a purpose, probably in the mid 1940’s.”

Then Peter had a small stone house built. [He did not build this one himself.] His grandson Alfred later built a new stone house for himself and wife Jane before their marriage in 1924. This new building incorporated a small room of the old stone home on the eastern side, which was used as the kitchen.

Pine Creek (Appila) Church Bell

In 1910 a large church bell Peter had ordered arrived from Germany. It weighed 10 cwt (half a ton). It carries the words:

“Ehre sei Gott in der Hoehe Luc 2:14 Gegossen von CHR. STOERMER Erfurt Deutschland 
Gewidmet von Peter Magdalene Zwar Appila 1910.”

A grandson Edgar Zwar could recall the exciting trip to the Laura railway station when he was seven years old to load the bell on the wagon. The large bell still hangs at the Appila Church.

Final Years

Magdalena became ill with cancer. The Joppich’s (her daughter) lived just up the road [near Borgas’s]. Ida Joppich recalled:

“My sister Bertha looked after her when she was ill with stomach cancer at the end; and she had to put up with a lot from Peter, but she was cheeky enough to put up with it.”

Magdalena died on 19th May 1910. She was 78 years old. One of the obituaries mentions that she died at home. It describes her as a very highly regarded and hardworking woman, one of the oldest settlers in the District who had been blessed with good health until shortly before her passing.

It also says the couple had lived at ‘Bethel’ for 18 years. This is an obvious mistake. It should read ‘Ebenezer’ and ‘St Kitts’. If there was a connection with Bethel it was because the Moravian Brethren Pastor Schondorf from Bethel had ministered to the Ebenezer congregation from 1854 to 1859. I think he dedicated the first Ebenezer church in 1859. He had a profound influence on the Zwar families in their early years in Australia. Obituaries are often put together in a hurry at a busy time of preparation for a funeral and are not always accurate.

[The obituary also mentions they moved from St Kitts to Appila in 1881. I think it was more likely to have been 1880. I once saw a note written by Jacob (West Coast) saying he had moved north in 1878 or 79 – I can’t recall which one. He would only have been six or seven years old at the time. Peter Jnr wrote that he went north 3 days after his confirmation – March 14th 1880. Peter Snr had sold the St Kitts property on Feb 21st 1880. So I think they moved north in 1880. Some of the older boys had probably gone north before this, as land had been bought in the north in1877 and ’79. Maria married Johann Joppich in October 1878 and they settled at Wirrabara, but I don’t know if they went there immediately. KZ].

In his letters Peter referred to his wife as Lena. Maybe everyone called her Lena.

Living Alone

After the death of Lena Peter lived alone. There were granddaughters who would come and do the housework and some cooking on each weekend. One recalled having to boil seven eggs and sit them in a row on a rack in the kitchen. Peter would have an egg for breakfast each morning. Because he lived to such a great age many of the grandchildren got to know him and many stories were passed down.

Peter could be a moody character! For years there had been times he would go into a melancholy stage and shut himself away in his room and “sulk” for days on end. Food would be passed through the door at mealtimes. It is said that Peter had two doors built into each room of their house on the Appila plains so they could each have their own space and not bump into each other in the house.

Their oldest daughter Agnes recalled keeping house for Peter.

“When in a temper he would shut himself in his room and would not come out for tea, and he would yell out in Wendish.”

Ida remembered that he growled a lot. One day she went there to help out and she wore a dress with a collar with white lace and he told her off for coming to work dressed so flash!

“Often in the evenings we would sit out on the verandah and he would talk about the old days in Germany.”
Mary Schultz

Agnes could also recall her grandfather telling her about life in Germany, but she could not recall what he said. One day there was a noise outside when Mary was there with him and Peter thought it might be a robber so he grabbed a broom handle and poked it through the window and called out “I schiess, I schiess (I shoot, I shoot)…! and Mary laughed and laughed. Another time a commercial traveller called and asked for permission to camp in the paddock overnight. Next morning Peter went and asked him if he sold pencils, and the traveller said “Yes” and handed him one to look at. Peter said, “Thank you, that is for the permission to camp in my paddock overnight!”

Sometimes the grandsons would stay with him. Alfred and Edgar would each walk their plough and horses from ‘Kentish’s’ near Caltowie to Wirrabara and stay with Peter for a week or so. Alfred recalled Peter speaking Wendish. “Every night before going to bed he would sing in Wendish, but he would read the devotions at table in German.” Edgar recalled, “I heard my grandfather say his prayers in Wendish when we would work his land in Wirrabara. My father [Peter Jnr] could only speak a little Wendish.” When Alfred came home from working in the paddocks Edgar would go out and open the gate for him and tell him if grandfather Peter was in a good mood to talk to or not.

Age 93

Peter lived to the grand old age of 93. In those days there were no Old Age Homes to retire to and none of the modern medicines and tablets. The flagons of Port and Sherry were about the only medicine to relieve the pains and help the aged to get a good night’s sleep.

The grandchildren came and did the housework. A schoolteacher used to call on Peter on his way home. One day Peter had a heart attack. He made his way down to the roadway where the teacher found him and took him to the Altmann’s [ Peter’s daughter’s] place in Wirrabara where he died a few days later. It was 27th June 1917.

The funeral left from the Altmann’s house. As was the custom the coffin was open in the house and the mourners would call and view the body. Grandson Edgar aged 14 would recall that “Grandfather looked just normal.” The coffin was closed and the funeral procession made its way through the hills to the Pine Creek (Appila) Lutheran Church.

After the service the coffin was carried from the church to the cemetery about 100 metres away. One obituary says that one son and one daughter had predeceased him, and 16 of the grandchildren had also predeceased him.

The Advertiser newspaper printed the following announcement

Wed 4th July 1917

The death occurred on Wednesday of Mr. Peter Zwar, an old resident of the Appila district. He was 93 years of age, having been born, in Saxony on May 15, 1824. He married in 1854, and a fortnight later he and his wife sailed for Australia, arriving at Port Adelaide in November, 1854. He first resided at Ebe- nezer, and then removed to St. Kitts. In 1880 he went to Appila and selected land, and carried on farming, until about ten years ago, when he retired and went to live near Wirrabara. In 1904 he celebrated his golden wedding. His wife died about six years ago. He left six sons, three daughters, 50 grandchildren, and 36 great-grandchadren.

Rita Becker was 10 years old at the time. She later married one of the grandchildren. When I asked my mother Rita if she remembered Peter Zwar she said,

“Oh yes. I can remember this old man who used to come walking into church stooped over. Nobody used to live that long in those days!”

© Kevin P Zwar

Click here to go to an early letter by Peter from Australia

(Victor) Edward Petschel (B 1.2.5)

Detailed biography

Farmer of Wail, near Dimboola, Victoria


Victor Edward Petschel was born 20 August 1918 Dimboola, Western Victoria and grew up on the family farm, ‘Rosenhugel’ at Wail, which is still held by the Petschel family. His parents were Christian Bernhard Petschel (1872 – 1946) and Minna Louise Holtkamp (1878 – 1938).


Edward Petschel began his education at Wail State School in 1924 and later attended Immanuel College, North Adelaide from 1933 – 1935. Two subjects he had difficulty with were Latin and Greek. Reports in The Echo reveal he was included in Football and Cricket teams and had the nickname of “Vep”. The Echo reported that as a cricketer he was a “valuable fieldsman”, and in football “handles the ball cleanly and with certainty”.


After leaving Immanuel, Edward returned to the family farm until joining the Army in January 1940, just a few months after the outbreak of war. He was posted to Adelaide River in the Northern Territory, serving in the 19th Machine Gun Battalion for two years. He applied to enlist in the RAAF at Noonamah, Northern Territory, 3 December 1942.


Edward joined the Royal Australian Air Force 31 March 1943 at the No 1 Receiving Centre Melbourne and was allotted the Service Number [437562]. Training began at No 1/ITS (Initial Training School), Somers, Victoria and on 24 April 1943 after 3 weeks he was categorized as a WAG (Wireless Air Gunner).


Edward married Verna Clara Helen Schultz at Dimboola, 17 July 1943. Her father was Pastor Wilhelm Johann Georg Schultz. Verna was duly noted as Edward’s next of kin, and her address was Nhill.


Next was 1/WAGS (Wireless and Gunnery School) at Ballarat, 22 July 1943, where he learnt the wireless/radio side of things. Following that was the gunnery component of his course, beginning 18 October 1943 at 3/BAGS (Bombing and Gunnery School) Sale, flying in Fairey Battles and Airspeed Oxford aircraft. Here he gained his Air Gunner’s Badge, 11 November 1943.

Overseas Service

From here he went to No 2 Embarkation Depot, Sydney, NSW and embarked for overseas service, 26 November 1943. Upon arrival in the United Kingdom, 10 January 1944, Edward was sent to 11/PDRC (Personnel Dispatch and Reception Centre) at Brighton, which was the receiving station for RAAF aircrew. Being an air gunner meant he didn’t languish here too long and on 15 February 1944 was sent to 18/OTU (Operational Training Unit) and later 27/OTU, Litchfield, where he would have met the rest of his crew and trained in Wellington twin engined bombers. As they were destined to fly four engine aircraft, the crew was sent to 51 Conversion Base, 7 June 1944, to be first familiarized with the Short Stirling and then graduate to the Avro Lancaster. On 17 August 1944 he was posted to 97 Squadron RAF as a mid-upper gunner.


97 Squadron Royal Air Force, whose motto was “Achieve Your Aim”, had previously become a Pathfinder Force Squadron in April 1943, which duties consisted of accurately marking the target for the following bomber stream and it was attached to No 5 Group, RAF Coningsby from 18 April 1944. One would assume it would have followed on such duties here and become part of the 5 Group Marker Force.

Bohlen Raid

On the night 20 – 21 March 1945 No 5 Group, Bomber Command, sent a force of 224 Lancaster and 11 Mosquito aircraft to attack the synthetic oil plant at Bohlen, south of Leipzig, Saxony. Reports of that night indicate the weather was clear and visibility good. Flak (anti-aircraft fire) in the target area was moderate to intense. The attack was successful as the plant was put out of action and it was still that way when captured by American troops several weeks later. Nine Lancasters were reported lost.

Posted Missing

Edward’s Lancaster (Serial PA973, Squadron Call Sign OF – C) was posted as missing over Bohlen, Germany on the night of 21 March 1945, just weeks before the end of war in Europe. There was no evidence forthcoming to suggest what happened to the aircraft, like whether or not it was shot down over the target. No communications were received from the aircraft before it disappeared.Victor_P._death_notice

Presumed Dead

Following post war investigations, with no trace of the aircraft or crew being found, it was recorded in 1949 that Edward and his crew were officially listed as presumed dead and had no known grave. Other crew members were: John Dennis Cottman, pilot; Aubrey George Murray, navigator; Harold James Arney, wireless operator; John Stewart Coster, bomb aimer; Lawrence Joseph Bull, rear gunner; John William Cross, flight engineer. All the crew were Australian except for Cross. This crew also appears to have flown 20 missions with 97 Squadron and 2 with 106 Squadron. An operational tour for Bomber Command consisted of finishing 30 such missions.

Roll of Honour

Edward served in the Army and Air Force for almost the duration of the war, and at the time of his death was just 27 years old, leaving behind his young wife, Verna. Flight Sergeant Victor Edward Petschel [437562] is commemorated on Panel 284, Runnymede Memorial, United Kingdom, for aircrew lost in that theatre of war and have no known grave. He is also named on Panel 128, Commemorative Courtyard, Australian War Memorial and the Roll of Honour at Dimboola.

© Paul Kruger

Bernhard Traugott Zwar (B.13)

Detailed biography

The Youngest Child

The youngest child and fourth son of Johann and Anna Zwar nee Kaiser.

Bernard was the last of 13 children born to Johann Zwar. Of the three girls from the first marriage, Maria, the eldest was 28 years old and married, another married the same year as Bernard was born, and the other one presumably was still at home and helped Anna look after her seven children.

Bernard was the youngest of the seven children born to Johann and Anna Zwar, nee Kaiser. The oldest child, Johannes, was 12 years old when his youngest brother Bernard was born.

The birth certificate records the birth of Traugott Bernhard Zwar on 20th June 1876 to John and Anna Zwar formerly Kaiser. His father’s occupation is listed as “Homeopathic Doctor”. Later in life he shortened his name to Bernard, and gave Traugott as his second name.


Bernard went to the Ebenezer Lutheran Church School where they were taught in German, and then to the Stockwell State Primary School. [1] John Dallwitz later recalled how he would walk with Bernard and Hermann Zwar from Ebenezer to Tanunda to school on Monday mornings and return on Fridays. [2] Bernard then attended Prince Alfred College in Adelaide.

One of his school reports “… shows that he was a bright boy who excelled in German”!

He loved going home to Stockwell for his holidays and one of his greatest pleasures was breaking-in horses. His favourite sport was lacrosse. [3]

On 20th March 1892 he wrote a brief letter to his mother (in German) from Adelaide. He wishes her a Happy Birthday, blessings from God, and the wish for her that

“While I am on this earth, to become a devout child who never causes you any trouble.” [4]

Medical Student

Bernard was keen to study for the Lutheran ministry. However this would have meant going overseas to either Germany or the U.S.A. His older brother Hermann had begun studying medicine at the Adelaide University so Bernard decided to join him. He began his medical studies in March 1895. Three years later a row developed at the Adelaide Hospital and the Clinical School was closed. The senior students moved to either Sydney or Melbourne.


Bernard and Hermann moved to Ormond College in Melbourne and completed their medical studies at the Melbourne University where they each graduated with an M.B. in 1899 and ChB in March 1900. Bernard topped the class, won the Exhibition in Medicine, and was placed first on the list for the seven resident positions at the Melbourne Hospital. During his student days he had won a number of scholarships. In his three years at the University of Adelaide he obtained first-class honours on each occasion, and shared the Thomas Elder and Davies Thomas Exhibitions. [5]

“Bernard was appointed to the Resident Staff of the Melbourne hospital, then in Lonsdale Street, and in 1901 became Senior Resident, and for a while Medical Superintendent. He was a Resident Medical officer from 1901 – 1904, and then Medical Superintendent at the Austin Hospital, where his grandson subsequently studied. During this time, besides obtaining his M.D., he founded the Nurses’ Training School and was also responsible for medical officers of the hospital coming under the control of the Medical Superintendent rather than the Matron, as they had been previously.” [3]


Medical practice has come a long way since Bernard entered the profession. About the time that Bernard was born the doctors in the Western World were debating the value of Lister’s published theories on aseptic surgical techniques. Lister’s theories on antiseptics received a lot of opposition, particularly in England, his home country. When Bernard was 10 years old a house surgeon at the Melbourne Hospital reported on operations performed there, and made special mention that “in none of these cases was the spray used.” When Bernard graduated there were older surgeons who still had some doubts about the claims of ‘Listerism’.

Relatives in Victoria

Bernard’s immediate family lived in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. He would try to write to them on their birthdays, and also gave them medical advice. He sent his brother some ointment to treat his corns.

Bernard also had many relatives living in Victoria. On his mother’s side, Uncle Andrew Kaiser had settled in Hawthorn. Auntie Maria Kaiser had married Johann Hirt and they lived near Ballarat. On his father’s side, his oldest half-sister Maria had married August Petschel. They lived on a farm near Dimboola. His uncle Michael Zwar had settled at Broadford.

When he lived in Melbourne Bernard had Zwar cousins living in Broadford, Beechworth and Preston. In the early days he would go to visit the cousins at Broadford by train. In a letter to his parents he mentioned that he went out hunting with three others at Broadford and within several hours shot 40 to 50 kangaroos, 4 hares and a fox. At one stage he courted Ada, the youngest of Michael Zwar’s children. He and Ada went to the Barossa Valley to visit Bernard’s parents, but his father would not allow them to marry as they were first cousins. The two remained good friends over the years.

Over the years Bernard would medically treat many of his relatives as well as other Wends. They looked up to him with a great deal of respect. In time they would proudly boast if a member of their family had been operated on by Dr. Bernard Zwar.


In 1904 Bernard went overseas for post-graduate studies. He had a special interest in Neurology and Tuberculosis. He was 28 years old. The Melbourne “Argus” announced,

“Dr B. Zwar, who will shortly leave on a visit to Europe, was yesterday appointed by the executive committee of the Victorian Association for the Prevention and Cure of Tuberculosis to represent the association at the International Congress on the subject, which will be held at Berlin next October [1904].”

At the conference Bernard was able to converse with the world famous Bacteriologist Dr Robert Koch.


Bernard worked at various hospitals in London. For a time he was clinical clerk to Sir William Gowers at the National Hospital, Queen’s Square.

Relatives in Saxony

During his time in Europe Bernard visited his relatives in Saxony. It was 54 years since his father had left Saxony. Bernard took a photo of the house in Drehsa where his father had been born. He also took a photo of his uncle and aunt, George and Anna Kaiser, along with their daughter and her husband, Mihan, holding their baby daughter Lenka the day after her baptism in 1905. 87 years later (in 1992) Lenka made contact in Australia with her relatives and was amazed when she was sent a copy of the photo for identification, and saw her baptism photo.

The relatives in Lusatia treasured this visit by Bernard. In future years they would always ask about him in their letters to Australia. They always looked forward to receiving letters from him too, but his parents would reply that he was a very busy man, and they also did not hear from him as often as they would like. In fact his parents hoped that he would one day set up a practice near them in South Australia. Bernard explained to them that his work would be centred in Melbourne. He had completed his studies there and made good contacts there.

Bernard’s ship landed in Melbourne on 18th December 1905. He went to the Barossa Valley and spent 3 days with his parents to tell them about his trip and report on their relatives. He had photo’s of the relatives in Saxony, the village of Drehsa and the Zwar house still standing there. (The house was demolished a few years later).

It seems that contact with the relatives in Germany continued until the 1930’s. Gradually the letters were less frequent, the older people died and their descendants did not personally know their relatives overseas. Then the War came and there was no contact with the Zwar relatives for over 50 years, until 1984, and the Kaisers even later, until 1992.

A Distinguished Medical Career

Bernard returned to Melbourne early in 1906 and went on to build one of the most distinguished careers in medicine in Australia as a surgeon and administrator. It is difficult to give a summary of his life’s work and still do justice to his many achievements. A glimpse of his status may be gained from the fact that when Don Bradman was in Melbourne and needed medical attention it was Bernard who treated him. A portrait of Bernard, painted by Mr. Charles Wheeler, was hung in the main entrance to the Royal Melbourne hospital as a tribute to his outstanding service to the Hospital over a period of 46 years. The lieutenant Governor, Sir Edmund Herring, officially unveiled the painting several months before Bernard died. After recent renovations the portrait was moved to take centre place in the Historical Room.

St Vincents

On his return to Australia Bernard gained the degree of M.S. in 1908, and joined the staff of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, as surgeon to out-patients and junior surgeon to in-patients in 1909.

“While there he helped the hospital to obtain recognition as a Clinical School of the University of Melbourne. He also introduced the use of ‘heavy’ spinal anaesthesia with which he had been impressed in Germany, and later wrote in the ‘Journal of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ of the dangers of this type of anaesthesia.” [3]

On 9th October 1909 Bernard wrote a letter to his father for his 90th birthday. The following is a translation from the original German script

9th October 1909

My dearly beloved Father!
The reason for this belated letter is not that I had forgotten the date of your birthday. I had planned that it should reach you on your birthday.

During the last few days I have been so busy with sick cases and operations that I didn’t have a minute to spare to write, so I had to be content to send a telegram. I would love to have visited you and personally delivered my good wishes. It is almost unbelievable how difficult it is for me to get away from my work and for this reason it was impossible to come. Although somewhat delayed, dear father, I wish you God’s blessings for the year you have just begun. May the Heavenly Father guide you with his protecting hand. My heart is full of thankfulness, firstly to God who has kept you with us so long, secondly, to you dear father for all the love and care you have given me.
 Heartfelt thanks for this dear father. As for myself I am very well 
and I hope these few lines find you the same.

With hearty greetings,
in childlike love,

Honorary Surgeon and Army Medical Corps

In 1911 Bernard was appointed as the Honorary Surgeon to Outpatients at the Melbourne Hospital. He visited his parents at Easter but could only stay for several days. He had found the work difficult in his first years. He wrote to his parents that his situation had improved. The following year he also joined the Australian Army Medical Corps with the rank of Captain.

Bernard’s father died in 1912. He had visited his father shortly before his death, and then returned to Ebenezer again for the funeral.

Serving in World War I

When war broke out in 1914 Bernard volunteered at once and served as a Major in the R.A.A.M.C. in the Second Australian Stationary Hospital and later in the Second Australian General Hospital. He embarked on the 14th December and served in the Middle East. He needed all his skills to treat the many wounded soldiers at Gallipoli. He was in the first hospital ship at the Gallipoli landing. In Egypt one task included the treatment of the men with venereal disease. In a memorandum Bernard reported,

“The following are the result of careful personal enquiries from the first 300 patients under my charge in No. 2 ASH Jan. 1915.
 The vast majority were youths, some still in their teens, others in the early twenties – 85.3 per cent had been infected for the first time.
 The greater number of these assured me they had been ignorant of the
risk they ran. I have reason to believe most of them.” [6]

Bernard returned to Australia in 1916 and continued as a Temporary Area Medical Officer until 1921.

On his return from the Middle East he went to South Australia and spent four weeks with his mother who was now in her eigthieth year. She died in June the following year.


Bernard had travelled to the Middle East on the same troopship as a young nurse, Essy Craig, whom he had met at the Melbourne Hospital. On his return to Melbourne in 1916 they renewed their acquaintanceship and were married on the 4th of May. From 1918 to 1927 they lived at 54 Collins Street next door to the Melbourne Club.

“From there he conducted a private surgical practice, as well as holding the position of Honorary Surgeon at the Melbourne Hospital, and sometimes travelled there for an emergency operation by push-bike or a horse-drawn cab.”

Essy and Melbourne Hospital

Essy continued her association with the Melbourne Hospital. She started an outpatient canteen to provide, for a penny, a cup of tea and a bun for the doctors and patients. From this developed the present kiosk named the ‘Essy Zwar Kiosk’ in her honour.“ [3]

When World War II began the members of the hospital Red Cross Auxiliary formed a sewing group. They met in the Zwar home every Friday during the War.

In 1918 their only child John was born.

A journey to Europe

In 1927 the family travelled to Europe. The “Australasian” printed a lengthy report by Essy of their trip. (5.11.27) The first paragraph reads:

“Many aspects of life overseas were discussed this week with Mrs. B. T. Zwar, who has just returned with her husband (Dr. B. T. Zwar) from a visit overseas, in which their travels took them from England and Scotland to the Norwegian fjords, the peaceful atmosphere of the Hague, and the bustling life of Brussells and Amsterdam, and thence to famous picture galleries in Dresden and Munich. The travellers saw post-war conditions in Berlin with the military glamour of the past changed into a tireless commercial activity, fast bringing wealth and prosperity, and later attended a session of the Peace Conference at Geneva. A visit to Paris … and finally the journey through Switzerland and Italy to catch the home-bound ship at Naples, brought the crowded months to a close.”

In the detailed report that follows Essy does not say whether they visited the Zwar and Kaiser relatives. Dresden is only about 80 kilometres from Drehsa so it could be assumed that they did call there.

Lessons from Overseas

Bernard was impressed by the many subjects medical students had to study in different countries in Europe. He was particularly impressed by the practice of students having to gain practical experience in clinical work before they could start their own practice. In Melbourne only the most successful students were appointed as a Resident in a hospital to gain practical experience. The majority went into practice without it, including those who took up solo practices out in the country towns.

A Career in Melbourne

When they returned to Melbourne they lived for a brief time in a flat at St. Carol’s, South Yarra. Bernard had bought land at Malvern and had a home built there. They moved into it in 1928. They had a great love of flowers and gardening and he developed a beautiful garden that gave him much pleasure for the rest of his life.

New Melbourne Hospital

Bernard, or ‘Zeddie’, as he was affectionately known to his friends and students, continued his work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. One of his greatest achievements was to have a new Melbourne Hospital built on a site next to the University.

“He had joined the Committee of Management in 1925 and was President of the (now) Royal Melbourne Hospital from 1937 until 1945. In this capacity he worked strenuously to secure the rebuilding of the hospital on the Parkville site, adjacent to the university. This project had been always close to his heart and he lived to see it accomplished.” [5]

‘The Bulletin’ carried the following report on the 19 November, 1941:

“When Premier Dunstan hoisted the marble into position at the new Royal Melbourne Hospital last week, Dr. Bernard Traugott Zwar, Royal Melbourne’s president, witnessed the culmination of one of the biggest jobs of organisation in Victoria’s history. … he has held more executive positions than any medico in Melbourne. He was one of the founders of the College of Surgeons of Australia. He is 65.”

Bernard had an amazing memory. During meetings he could accurately quote from memory the dates and contents of letters that passed between different bodies in previous years.
 Some of the positions he held included the following:

Deputy Chancellor of the Melbourne University for two years (1943,44).

Stewart Lecturer in Surgery at the university from 1924–1935. 
This involved, besides lecturing, much examining duty. The latter work, owing to the absence of many examiners on war service, he continued to perform until two years before his death.

Member of the Standing Committee of Convocation, 1924, 25, was elected to the Council in 1935, and, being re-elected, remained a member until his death. He served through all these years on the Faculty of Medicine.

President of the Melbourne Medical Association in 1922 and 1923 and of the Melbourne University Association in 1935.

President of the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses Association in 1922-24,
Chairman of the Nurses Board of Victoria in 1924-1927.

One of the founders of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and a member of the Board of Censors, a member of the medical board of Victoria, and of the Advisory Committee to the Repatriation Commission, a member of the Anti-Cancer Council, and Honorary Treasurer of the Medical Defence Association of Victoria.

Bernard was made a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in 1941.

From 1937 until his death he was Chairman of the Board of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Research in Pathology and Medicine.“ [5]


Dr. Bernard Zwar died on 16th January 1947.

The human side of ‘Zeddie’ was presented in the obituary published by his medical colleagues: [5]

“He loved his home, his pictures, his flowers and his books, and was a delightful host. As a young man he played lacrosse and was very fond of country walking. Later, however, he preferred tennis and golf.”

Dr. L. S. Latham

“He had many other interests outside his professional and hospital activities. He put the same intensity and enthusiasm into his games as he did into his work. He loved his tennis and golf and was the moving spirit in the circle of enthusiasts with whom he played. He was an active member of the Wallaby Club for many years and intimately knew most of the walks and beauty spots within a day’s journey of Melbourne.

“He was a keen bridge player and played with zest and carefree abandon on occasions a persistent over caller, but would advance to the attack and meet the inevitable defeat with the utmost gallantry and goodwill.”

“He had a keen appreciation of books and pictures and the breadth of his
reading was remarkable in one who had so much of his time taken up by
his various activities.”
Dr. Victor Hurley

“It was always a joy to be with him, for he had perhaps more than any man I know or have known a real and abiding gift for friendship. His knowledge and his interests were extremely wide, and his influence on people and especially on his large circle of friends has been immense. You could not spend any time with him, however short, without imbibing some of his great enthusiasm for all that was good and noble or being infected with some of his hatred and contempt for all that was petty and mean. Here was a man indeed who never lacked the moral courage to stand up for all he regarded as right or against what he knew to be wrong. Few men I feel are privileged to possess this great quality in such a marked degree. And perhaps never did his truly great qualities appear to greater advantage than in the last months of his life when stricken with what he knew was a mortal illness. All those who were privileged to associate with him during these last few tragic months were humbled by the wonderful courage and fortitude with which he bore his misfortune. And through it all until the very end he remained the same great and heroic figure full of friendliness and thoughtfulness for others.”
Lieutenant-General Sir Edmund Herring

The funeral service was taken by the Rev. Dr. John Mckenzie in the Toorak Presbyterian Church where the Zwar family worshipped for many years. It was the express wish of Bernard that his funeral should be short and simple and that no word of exaggerated praise should be used in describing his character and work.

Bernard had been thrilled in 1942 when his son John completed his medical studies and graduated with honours and was appointed as a Resident at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. It also gave him great satisfaction to see his son serve in New Guinea as a Captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps. He would also have been delighted to know that a grandson, Robert Zwar, also became a doctor.

A Remarkable life



From ‘The Bulletin’, September, 1941

What makes the achievements of Bernard’s career even more remarkable is that he achieved it all despite his German background and name. He was born in Australia, but his parents had both come from Saxony, and in the War years this was a big handicap for most people in a similar situation. In the famous second referendum on Conscription in the first War anyone with German blood was not allowed to vote, even if they had been born in Australia. (The second referendum was defeated by a greater margin than the first one).


Bernard always maintained a close friendship with Dr. Konrad Hiller who also had a similar background. [I think Hiller’s father was a Lutheran pastor; and his mother was a sister-in-law to Maria Petschel, Bernard’s half sister. … K. Z.]

There were times when some medical men would put on a stiff upper lip and refuse to acknowledge or speak to Hiller and Zwar because of their German background. Mrs Hiller was the buyer for the Red Cross Kiosk at the Melbourne Hospital. It is significant that the history of this Auxiliary body of volunteers states,

“At the beginning of World War II, Mrs Hiller asked for leave of absence” and other women took on the buying. [7]

Early in his career with the armed forces Bernard was advised that he would not have a career future if he remained a member of the Lutheran Church. He joined the Presbyterian Church and remained a faithful member all his life. However it must have been an extremely difficult and courageous step for Bernard to take. His parents were both zealous supporters of the Lutheran Church and Bernard himself had at one stage wanted to become a Lutheran Pastor.

Historical Memorabilia

The Royal Melbourne hospital has a historical section with information and memorabilia on Bernard. It includes a school report from Prince Alfred College, one of his notebooks from his time at the Adelaide university, photographs, including Bernard in a handsome new car, and as one of the “Victorian Medical officers Bound for the Front”. It also has his own wartime photo album, and his first wooden stethoscope.

Papers by Dr Bernard Zwar include the following:

An Address by B. T. Zwar, M.D., M.S. (Melbourne, Retiring President of the Victorian Branch of the British Medical Association. Delivered 4.12.1929 at the Annual Meeting. 
Reprinted from The Medical Journal of Australia, December 21, 1929.

The Melbourne Hospital and the Development of Surgery in Victoria:
 An Historical Sketch
 By B.T. Zwar. 
Reprinted from ‘The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery, Jan., 1933.

A 14 page typed manuscript, undated, titled:
 An Address to R. M. Os and Medical Students of the Royal Melbourne Hospital TO R. M. Os. B. T. Zwar

A 13 page typed manuscript, undated, titled:
 An Address to the Nursing Staff of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. B.T. ZWAR.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital – Some Milestones In Its Developments 
by B. T. Zwar (Written shortly before his death)


[1] From an account written by Arthur Zwar, in the possession of Kevin Zwar.

[2] “The Leader” Newspaper. Angaston 23.1.1947.

[3] From an article written by Bernard’s son John and published in “CHIRON” Journal of the University of Melbourne Medical Society Volume 2 Number 1 1988.

[4] Letter held by Kevin Zwar.


[6] Quoted in “The ANZACS” Patsy Adam-Smith pages 69,70.

. A four-page typed manuscript, without author’s name.
”Written in 1957″ is pencilled in at the bottom of the last page.

© Kevin Zwar 2012

Maria Zwar (B1)

Detailed biography

Born in Saxony

Maria Zwar was born on 2nd August 1858, the first child of Johann and Magdalena Zwar. Her marriage certificate in Melbourne gives ‘Kleine, Saxony’ as her birthplace, but a detailed map of this area of Saxony shows no village by that name. She may have been born at her grandmother’s home? 
Her parents were living at Drehsa. A brother was born in Saxony but he did not live.

The Only Child to Emigrate

Maria was the first child of Johann and Magdalena Zwar nee Schmaal and the only Zwar to emigrate to Australia as a child. Her parents Johann and Magdalena Zwar, her uncles Michael and Peter Zwar, and her cousin Ernst Zwar all went to Australia as adults.

The Adventures of a Three Year Old

Two weeks after her third birthday Maria Zwar and her parents left their home in Saxony and would never return.

By Train to Hamburg

On Saturday afternoon 16th August 1851 they boarded the train at Bautzen along with about 90 other Wends who were also emigrating to Australia. Maria’s mother was some months pregnant. Her father was leader of the Wendish Group, the largest to emigrate to Australia, and he was kept busy with travel arrangements and train tickets. It was a delay with getting tickets at Dresden that led to them missing the train and they stayed overnight in the Dresden railway station. After their evening meal they sang Wendish hymns, and the singing attracted a number of people.

The next morning they were up early to catch the 5 am train to Leipzig. In the afternoon they spent several hours in Magdeburg and then travelled on to the city of Wittenberg. After dark they had to cross the Elbe River on a Steamer, and this was a scary experience for some of the travellers. They were up early again the following morning to catch the 6 am train from Wittenberg to Hamburg.

Leaving Hamburg

Their ship was waiting for them in Hamburg and intended sailing in two days. However a group of Germans from Silesia who were to travel with them had not arrived so they changed plans and prepared to travel on a smaller ship called the ‘Helena’. It would be her maiden voyage.

While they waited for the ship to be loaded they stayed in the guest house ‘Stadt Neuyork’ where they enjoyed the spacious rooms and good meals. Maria’s father was kept busy sorting out loading arrangements as the emigrants had brought lots more luggage than expected. Some of the large and heavy boxes had to be loaded and unloaded three times before everyone was satisfied. There was still more luggage and some had to be left behind to go to Australia by another ship at a later date.

Sailing the Oceans

On Saturday 23rd, a week after they had left home, the ‘Helena’ sailed up the estuary to Glueckstadt where they were delayed by wild weather. After eight days they tried to sail but had to turn back after several hours. On September 3rd they managed to sail to Cuxhaven. They following day they sailed out onto the ocean. It was a strange experience for the emigrants to look out and see nothing but the sea in all directions.

The parents pointed out France and England to the children as they made their way through the English Channel. Many of the adults were soon seasick. At first the children were not so affected, but later on when the children became ill it was far more serious and some of them died. One can only guess at the effect this would have on Maria. Little Marga Mirtschin died on 14th October. Her body was wrapped in white linen and tied to a board. Everyone attended the service, held in both the Wendish and German languages, including several hymns and a spiritual address by Peter Döcke. The captain went forward, removed his cap and offered a prayer. Two sailors slowly lowered the body into the ocean.

Twelve days later three year old Andreas Mirtschin followed his sister. Thirteen days later it was the turn of Andreas Ponich, only three months old. The Zwars were close friends of the Ponich family.

An Education

The voyage was an education in many ways. The passengers enjoyed watching the sharks, dolphins and flying fish, and particularly the whales. A shout would go up when whales were spotted and everyone would rush up on deck to get a good view. Someone caught an albatross and they tied a little board to its neck with the words “The ship ‘Helene’ of Hamburg” before letting it fly away.

Storms and a Baby Brother

Their ship went through a number of storms. By November 27th they were so far south towards the Antarctica it began to snow and those without warm clothes suffered from the cold. The same evening a fierce gale blew up and they feared it would smash everything to pieces. People called out to God for mercy.

On December 4th the sea was still rough. Maria’s mother was going into labour. Her father Johann Zwar later wrote:

“At 6 am we were together in bed drinking coffee when a huge wave suddenly hurled itself over the ship, covered the deck and rushed between decks. It also entered my cabin so that little Maria, who was still asleep, was completely covered with water. I lifted her up but I and my wife found ourselves sitting in water. There was a considerable amount of water between decks, and boxes, cups, boots and other things were floating around everywhere.

… We had to change into new, dry clothes but every bed and pillow was soaked and all the while the hour of birth was drawing nearer. But God that very day sent warm weather so that the beds all dried. That afternoon my wife gave birth to a son and that without the doctor assisting. The captain and all others were happy about this event and congratulated me, particularly since they had feared that the anxiety experienced may have affected my wife adversely.

However all went well and our new little son was baptized on December 14th. He was a healthy child which caused us to be very happy. However our joy was soon taken according to God’s will for he passed away after several days and was buried at sea on December 21st, not far from the first Australian Island”. [Kangaroo Island – translator – as Johann also mentions it is only 60 miles from Adelaide.]

Burial of Brother at Sea

Maria’s baby brother was buried at sea the same way as the other children who had died on the journey. His little body was wrapped in white cloth, tied to a piece of wood, and gently lowered into the sea during the service. A sailor lifted Maria up so she could see the body as it slid into the water. This image stayed with Maria for the rest of her life.

Arrival in Australia

Port Adelaide The Helene arrived at Port Adelaide in South Australia on Christmas Eve, 1851. The Zwars had intended going on to Melbourne, where they would be close to Johann’s younger brother Michael Zwar who had arrived in Melbourne several years earlier. However a number of Wends who had settled at Rosedale near Adelaide several years earlier called on the newly arrived group. There was much excitement as some were old friends and even relatives. The local Wends needed help with their harvest and suggested the new arrivals could join them for a while and then still go on to Melbourne, nearly a thousand kilometres further on at a later date if they still wanted to go there.


The Zwar group of Wends rented a house in Port Adelaide to store their goods while they went to Rosedale to help with the harvest. One of the Rosedale children was Christian August Petschel, six years old. Maybe he hardly noticed the three year old Maria Zwar. The irony is that some of the Rosedale families, including little August Petschel, sold up and trekked overland to Victoria some months later, together with four of the families who had been in the Zwar Group, but Johann Zwar and most of his group stayed in South Australia. Maria Zwar stayed in South Australia because of the Rosedale Wends. Eighteen years later she would go to Victoria to marry August Petschel who had trekked overland to settle at South Hamilton, and she would spend the rest of her life in Victoria.


Maria Zwar stayed in South Australia where her parents, along with other Wends, were founders of a new settlement they called ‘Ebenezer’. One source [p. 56 ‘Barossan Foundations’ …Elfrida Jensen] says they arrived there before New Years Day 1852, only a week after their ship had landed at Port Adelaide], but the paragraph has a number of quite inaccurate pieces of information.

The district that would become known as Ebenezer was in the Barossa Valley where a good number of Germans and a some Wends had been pioneering new villages and farms for about ten years. Langmeil and Tanunda were the first villages.

Ebenezer never became a town, but developed as a farming area with the Lutheran Church, school and cemetery as the centre of the community. It was one of the few Wendish settlements in Australia’s history.

A Primitive Beginning

For Maria it was a primitive beginning in her new land. She was a three year old in the crudest of pioneering days where the first families went into virgin bushland and made a home and a living. In their humble ‘home’ the family had Wendish devotions and prayers in the morning and in the evening. Their first home was built out of wood and pug in 1852. Maria’s father also worked at clearing and farming the land. Maria told her grand children how she helped spread the grain by hand from a bag hanging in front from her shoulder.
Maria’s sister Anna Zwar was born on 13th January 1853.

At this stage Maria only spoke Wendish. When she heard German spoken she did not understand it and she said it sounded like geese chattering to her!

Uncle Peter and Bride arrive

When she was six years old Maria’s uncle Peter Zwar arrived from Saxony with his bride Lena and the honeymoon couple lived with his brother Johann Zwar until settling on a small farm nearby. Uncle Peter was a carpenter and spent time building houses in the district until he had enough money to buy his own farm. He did the carpentry work on the first Lutheran Church buit at Ebenezer.


A sister, Christiane, arrived but she soon died. On 22nd October 1856 another sister arrived for Maria Zwar and they also called this one Christiane.


In her life story Maria says that she first attended the Wendish school and later the German school at Ebenezer. This seems to be the only evidence of a Wendish school in Australia. There may have been others but there is no record. The year Maria Zwar turned ten the pioneers built a proper though humble school at Ebenezer. On Sundays it was used as the Church. It is likely the German language was introduced with the opening of the new school. Maria now had to learn German. Later in her life Maria would always insist that her children and grand children use the German language.


Early in 1859 the first Ebenezer Church was dedicated. It had a thatched roof. Maria’s uncle Peter did the carpentry work and carved his initials on some of the main timbers, as was his custom.

Death of her Mother

Maria’s mother had never been a strong woman and now her health began to fail. Her mother Magdalena Zwar had developed tuberculosis and it became apparent she would not recover. Magdalena’s main concern was for her three daughters, Maria, the oldest and only eleven years old, Anna, six years old, and Christiane nearly three years old.

Magdalena prayed she would live to see Christiane reach her third birthday. Magdalena shared her concerns for the future of her children with her husband Johann, and advised him to marry again after her death so the children would be properly cared for. Magdalena even suggested several likely women. Johann secretly hoped he might find work in the Lutheran Church somewhere so he could care for the children himself.

Maria’s mother died on October 22nd 1859, aged 40 years. It was Christiane’s third birthday. Maria was eleven years old and Anna was six.

Life a Battle

Life became an ongoing battle for the family. Maria kept going to school. Her seven year old sister Anna should have been attending school too, but she had to stay at home so she could look after little Christiane during the day while their father was out working the farm. It was a battle to survive.

After a long time Johann Zwar employed a German woman to act as housekeeper. She had gone to Australia and left her husband behind in Germany. The children entertained one another. One night one of Maria’s sisters hid outside behind a trough with a live black cat and threw it in Maria’s face as she went past. Maria screamed with shock and fright, and only realised what had happened when her sister Anna burst out laughing. [Mrs Lou Petschel]

In 1862 Maria Zwar was confirmed by Pastor Staudenmeier at Light Pass.

A Step-Mother for Maria

On April 6th 1863 Johann Zwar married Anna Kaiser in Melbourne. Johann had gone to Melbourne the previous year to look at the possibility of doing mission work for the Lutheran Church there and he had stayed with Anna’s brother Andreas Kaiser for a few weeks. After he returned to South Australia Johann wrote to Anna and after a series of letters they decided to marry.

Maria probably did not remember Anna, but Anna Kaiser also came from the same village of Drehsa in Saxony, and had even been a guest at Johann’s first marriage, to Maria’s mother. 
Maria was nearly 15 years old when her father arrived home from Melbourne with her step-mother. Her father Johann and step-mother Anna did everything they could to try and help the children adjust to life with their step mother. Anna had herself experienced a step-mother as a teenager and she and her sisters had problems, especially when the step children began to arrive. It was probably a main reason Anna’s 15 year old sister had left home and gone to Australia. So Anna Zwar was aware of the problems and tried her best to be a mother to her three step-daughters. Then the first of seven children arrived.

Johannes arrived early in 1864, followed the next year by Salome.

A journey to Melbourne

The relationship between Maria and her step-mother Anna deteriorated. Maria resented her step mother. They arranged for Maria to go to Melbourne in 1856 where she stayed with Andreas Kaiser, Anna’s brother and his family. Maria enjoyed her time there, and made another visit to Melbourne the following year in 1867.


In 1869 Maria Zwar made another journey to Melbourne to marry Christian August Petschel.
 It was an arranged marriage, but who actually arranged it is not clear. The Petschel’s were also Wends. They were known to the Zwars and the Kaisers. For a time they had lived at Rosedale in South Australia and were one of those who talked Johann Zwar and his group of Wends to stay in South Australia.

Then the Petschel’s moved to the Hamilton District in Victoria, about 400 kilometres west of Melbourne. Their farm was on the road between Tarrington [Hochkirch] and Hamilton. It may have been Andrew Kaiser and his wife who made the arrangements for the marriage, with the consent of Maria’s father Johann Zwar.

Marriage to Christian Petschel

Maria Zwar and Christian August Petschel officially met for the first time in the Kaiser’s home in Hawthorn three days before their marriage. They had written to each other for some time. They were married in the Lutheran Church in Melbourne by Pastor Hermann Herlitz on the thirteenth of July 1869. Maria was 20 years old and Christian 27. Maria’s uncle Michael Zwar signed the marriage certificate as a witness to the marriage. He lived about 50 Kilometres north of Melbourne.

Andrew Kaiser had signed a declaration which read:

“I, Andrew Kaiser of Hawthorn, being the Guardian of Maria Zwar in this Colony, 
hereby give my consent to her intermarrying with Christian August Petschel, Farmer, of South Hamilton.
Hawthorn 7th July 1869.

[signed] Andrew Kaiser.”

Apparently Maria’s father had not attended the marriage. It was 800 kilometres away and he had a wife and little children to care for at Ebenezer.

The story was often told, when August Petschel and his new wife Maria nee Zwar were traveling by horse and wagon to South Hamilton after their wedding Maria was still addressing her husband as ‘Mr Petschel’. She was a very polite young lady and always insisted on correct manners. Christian gently suggested that his friends and relatives might think it strange if his wife called him ‘Mr Petschel” and suggested she call him ‘August’.

Christian August Petschel

Like Maria, August Petschel had also travelled to Australia from Saxony as a child. August Petschel was born at Neukirch in Saxony on 13th January 1842 on his parents’ farm. He emigrated to Australia with his parents in 1848 when he was only six years old. August also had an older brother and sister. In later years his sister Christiane wrote quite a detailed account of their journey across the oceans and the early pioneering years in Australia. She was two years older than August. Two uncles, younger brothers of their father also made the trip. There were revolutions in a number of areas in Europe, including one in Dresden less than forty kilometres from the Petschel farm. It seemed as though there would be war and the young Petschel brothers would be called up to fight in the army. Their father encouraged them to go to Australia with their older brother and his family.

“Then came the last Sunday when all the relatives assembled to bid us farewell and partake of a final cup of coffee and kuchen [German cake]. Many tears were shed, as it meant parting, never to see each other again.” [..from his sister Christiane’s account].

“On Monday, August 3rd at 9 am we were conveyed to the railway station in a farm wagon accompanied by grandfather.

In Berlin we were forced to stay the night where everywhere traces of the recent revolution could be seen and which caused us great anxiety so that we were glad to continue our journey next morning hale and hearty. The same day at 4 pm we arrived at Hamburg and soon found our lodgings where we stayed till the 13th August. Up to this time all the families stayed together. We all occupied one large room, sleeping in our clothes on a floor covered with straw.

…Naturally, for us children this was a great novelty, and strange to say, none of us ventured out on the streets. I can quite vividly remember the awful noise and smell on the streets, which still makes me shudder when I think of it. However we survived it without anyone getting ill.” They boarded their ship the Alfred and it was towed up the Elbe River by a small steamer, “where dear old grandfather said farewell and returned to his home. The parting was very hard and sad and although grandfather repeatedly said that they would follow us to Australia the next year, this however never came to pass.”

The Alfred

The Alfred was a large ship and carried 300 emigrants. In the first days the people became seasick.

August Petschel’s sister described life on board ship:

“We had pickled pork and corned beef alternately on the whole voyage. 
Shortly after breakfast each day a barrel of meat was opened and a call of “Meat” was sounded over the whole ship. The occupants of each double cabin received a piece of meat weighing two to three pounds. This was washed in seawater, all objectionable parts having been cut off and a small round tin disc bearing the number of the cabin was fastened to each piece and handed over to the cook.

Vegetables consisted of Monday – peas. Tuesday – pearl barley. Wednesday – sauerkraut with half a potato for each person. Thursday – lentils. Friday – beans. Saturday – rice. Sunday – pudding.

These were our midday meals for fully 16 weeks. Twice each week, ship biscuits, butter and sugar were distributed. For breakfast we had coffee and tea in the evening, with buttered ship biscuits, but no milk during the whole voyage.”

Rio de Janeiro

“Only on two occasions did we see land, the coast of England, and later Rio de Janeiro, where we called in for some loading. Most of the passengers went on shore, including my parents, and we children stayed on board and only saw the town at a distance. At Rio de Janeiro we saw and tasted oranges for the first time in our lives.”


“The captain, by the name of Decker, was a pleasant and friendly man, he was accompanied by his brother, later we heard that both had settled down in Adelaide. As we neared Australia, the captain gave us the choice of landing at either Adelaide or Melbourne, and we decided on Adelaide, reaching that port about Christmas.

We were surprised to see how bare everything looked with only two or three small ships at anchor. At low tide these ships leant over to such a degree that one wondered that people could walk on deck.

When our good ship “Alfred” anchored, we had to make arrangements to go ashore. Before we left we arranged to have a farewell dinner, which consisted of fresh mutton, fresh vegetables, and fresh bread, and you have no idea how this was enjoyed by one and all after partaking of stale food for four months.

The next day we decided to land but can you imagine how. Everyone had to climb down the ship’s rope ladder assisted by a sailor. I personally felt very scared but we all managed to get into the boat safely.

When we arrived at the pier there were no steps to ascend and we had to be hauled up about 8 to 10 feet and then we all heaved a deep sigh of relief. Now another mode of transport awaited us. A large dray drawn by oxen, on which our bedding and other belongings were packed with our four families on top of same and in this way we travelled a distance of 8-10 miles, to a German settlement called Klemzig.”


Arriving in the dark, shortly before midnight, we had no idea of our surroundings. The men had all stayed on the ship waiting to see our cases unloaded, which took a long time, so that it was over a week till they turned up, and here we woman and children all alone in a strange country among strange people.


“We felt very relieved when after 5 or 6 days wagons arrived and took us to Langmeil, Tanunda, a distance of about 40 miles. Father and the other men were still away seeing to the unloading of our cases.

We had great difficulty in finding a house, but eventually were able to secure the newly built schoolhouse, although not completed. One room only had doors and windows, which however sufficed us – we now at least had a roof over our heads. We had just settled in when our menfolk arrived, now we had more courage. Mother had often shed a few tears at being left so alone amongst strangers…

In this room we lived for 6 weeks and attended church services in Bethany every Sunday. Whilst there we experienced our first earthquake. Towards evening on one day we heard a distant rumbling, then the earth shook. During our sojourn in Tanunda, six families from Saxony purchased some land 8 or 10 miles away at a sale. Now work began in earnest.”


“There was absolutely nothing on the place, not even a hut; but, with our goods we were simply dumped down and the wagons drove off. Nearby there was a creek, called Sandy Creek. After a general discussion, it was decided to call our settlement “Rosenthal”.

Building Our House

“Naturally we could not live in the open, so the first thing was to build a house. Father and his two brothers took axes and saws and went into the bush for building material, which was not an easy task as suitable wood was scarce. When eventually they found a suitable tree it would be felled, trimmed and sawn so that it would be as light as possible for it to be carried home on their shoulders. This was firmly rammed into the ground and they would set off to search for another suitable tree, and so on till sufficient timber was obtained. When the framework of the roof was finished the problem was how to cover it. Not so very distant there was an old settlement called “Hoffnungsthal”, and all of the settlers offered father straw for the roof, if he would thrash it.

This had to be done with a flail. This kind offer was certainly worth considering, so the three brothers each made themselves a flail and off they went, leaving us again on our own. In a few days they reckoned they had sufficient. In the meantime father had purchased a wagon and two bullocks, so they loaded up the straw, brought it home and at once started thatching the roof, but alas, it barely covered half the roof so they had to go back and do enough thrashing to finish the roof. We at once occupied the house although it looked more like a birdcage as it was without doors and windows.

Now came the job of pugging the walls. Water was to be had not far away, so father made a sledge out of an old tree, fastened a barrel on it and harnessed our bullocks to it; in this way the water was brought to the spot.

Then men then mixed the loam with their feet and when thoroughly mixed it was applied or plugged on the walls and behold – the finished house. Calico was tacked to the window openings as well as to the doorframes, and there stood our mansion, which consisted of two rooms. Soon after another two roomed house was built for my bachelor uncle, who used the one room as a carpenters workshop as the other settlers had given him order for windows, doors, and bedsteads; timber was obtained from native pine trees growing in the vicinity, for the sawing of which a sawpit was constructed.”

Land Clearing

“Next the land had to be cleared and ploughed so that we would have our own wheat for bread for the following year. I still marvel at the great amount of work these three brothers did during the first year. Mother helped the men whenever she could, and we children assisted at times, as there was school to attend.”


“A bake-oven had also to be constructed for which father used several big flat stones for the hearth, over which an arch-shaped dome of pug was built. This oven served us for the three years we lived in Rosenthal. A 60’ deep well was dug for water, but turned out unfit for use. The land had to be fenced in as well as making a compact enclosure for a garden, cow yard, pigsty, etc., and at the same time clearing more ground for cultivation.”


“A fairly large church was built of sun-dried bricks on our land, father being the mason or bricklayer and uncle the carpenter. It was surely the hand of Providence that at this time we were amply supplied with sheep meat.”


“I must mention that the other families that left Germany with us had similar experiences… We purchased several goats which provided us with the necessary milk, but these were soon disposed of, as we found them too thievish, causing us great worry. Then father bought two cows, but as we had no paddock for them they would stray away from the place and eventually could not be found. After several months one was found but she had learnt to crawl through every fence and got into the wheat crop. That was no good so she had to be slaughtered. Scarcely had our neighbours noticed that father understood the killing of a beast, he was made slaughter man for the whole community.

During the second year of our sojourn in “Rosenthal”, father got ill with jaundice, but soon recovered. His brother, the carpenter, also got ill and had to consult a doctor. He was very despondent and thought his days were numbered but the Lord was gracious and gave him back his health.”

Welcome New Migrants

“Whenever a ship with new settlers arrived at Adelaide, it was customary for each householder to meet the ship with his wagon. Each settler would then bring back one or two families who later would help us to reap our harvest with sickles and as payment the respective families would be provided for. At this stage I would make a remark about our harvest and that is that for our very first crop, father managed to get a handful of wheat which was carefully sown and tended and when ripe, cut down with a pair of scissors – this provided us with seed for the following year’s harvest.

By meeting the ships, the migrants were made to feel at home in our midst, and we could advise and help them in different ways.”

To Victoria?

“Quite a number of families came from Madgeburg. My parents and several others did not feel at home with these new settlers, so they discussed amongst themselves the idea of leaving the settlement.

There were several reasons for this, firstly, on account of the heat which made the water brackish, and secondly as regards land, which was good for ordinary cultivation, but not suitable for vegetables, so that most of the year we were without vegetables.

One of our party corresponded with a friend in Melbourne, who had written that they had lovely soil for vegetables, and the heat was not so severe. We therefore decided to send a man to investigate.

The person sent to investigate went to Adelaide and caught a boat to Portland, a little over half way to Melbourne, and there he met the squatter Henty who could speak a little German. Henty enthused about the great potential of the land for farming. One could see for one’s self the lush vegetables growing in the gardens. The reporter did not go on to Melbourne but returned to South Australia.”


“When our friend returned his report caused a great sensation. Now we discussed in detail the best way to get to Portland with our belongings. We already possessed implements for cultivating the land, as well as livestock, the latter we naturally wanted to take with us. But how could this be done? We were informed that there was a great desert of 400 miles between South Australia and Portland. It was decided to send two of our party, accompanied by a Mr. Blandowski – who was a good bushman – to explore the overland route and especially where to find water, where we could camp at night, as we intended traveling in the Autumn. In a few weeks they returned with a good report. They had found a beaten track which at times was only a narrow path, by following this track we could not go wrong.

After harvest in the following year we sold our land. Part of the wheat we had gristed and sent by boat to Portland, along with some furniture and cases. The furniture and cases we never saw again but the flour arrived safely. Our party consisted of eight families, three of which had just arrived from Europe and decided to accompany us.”

The Wagon Trek

“To provide sleeping accommodation as well as shelter from rain we built hoods over the wagons. Chaff had to be taken for horse feed, also a bag of flour, on top of these was our bedding. Across the front of the wagon was the tucker bin, which served as a seat and at the rear of the wagon a coop was fastened containing the poultry.

Our herd of 52 cattle was driven by two of the party. For the conveyance of the eight families, we had eleven wagons, two of the party and father owning two wagons, eight of which were drawn by horses and three by bullocks. And so, in God’s name, we started by journey to our new home, leaving Rosenthal early in May 1852.

The journey took us 4 weeks, averaging about 20 miles per day. I as well as all the older children walked the whole distance. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip as everything seemed so romantic to me.”


“Immediately we stopped to camp, we children would gather wood for the fire. Every evening a big fire was lit so as to give us coals for baking bread. As soon as there were sufficient coals each mother came and raked the coals into a circle and deposited her camp oven containing the dough therein, in the circle and placed some coals on top of the lid of the oven and in about an hour’s time the bread for the next day would be done. Dough was usually prepared in the morning, kneaded again at midday and so it was ready for baking in the evening. Throughout the whole journey our meals consisted of bread and butter and tea without milk. Everybody was happy and contented and what was more important everyone was well during our journey.

The owner of one wagon had eight children, of which the older ones had to sleep in the open. God blessed us with fine weather, except one night when it rained, causing those sleeping in the open many tears, as their feather beds got saturated.

However the worst was still to come. On account of the heavy roads some of the horses got knocked up and could not keep up with the other teams, this caused the family many tears in their great distress. Father solved the problems. Every evening when we stopped to camp, father would send his younger brother back with the bullock team to assist the unfortunate family, the bullock team was hitched onto the pole of their wagon with a chain and so the combined teams had no difficulty in bringing them to the camp and everyone was happy again. Fortunately these incidents happened when we were nearing the end of our journey and soon all discomforts were forgotten.”


“…On our trip to Portland, Sunday was also observed when horses and cattle could rest and feed on the grass in the vicinity. Old and young would sit on a stump or rock with the reader in the centre; as we had no hymn book we could not indulge in singing. Those were lovely days and time passed quickly.”

[signed off] Christiane Hiller nee Petschel


When they arrived at Portland there were some empty houses available as the owners had gone to the goldfields. The families rented these homes and looked for land. There was no land for sale. The local people in Portland found people from Germany a novelty. The local children brought boxes to stand on so they could look in the windows at the strangely dressed people inside. The families of Petschel, Hundrack and Rentsch rented land on the Fitzroy River near Heywood, about 35 km north of Portland and Wilhelm Petschel took a job as a groomsman at the Heywood Hotel, then owned by Mr Bilston. [Deutscher, A Family History. Ray Deutscher. p 45]

It seems they made some money selling eggs from their poultry and milk, butter and cream from their cows.

Land Applications

Applications to the government for land to be put on the market in the area proved fruitless. The Lutheran Pastor, Clamor Schurmann arrived and his family shared a house with another family in Henty. Pastor Schurmann wrote letters to the government as he was fluent in English, but no land became available. These were the gold rush days and the government had difficulty keeping people in the public service.

On Henty’s advice Michael Deutscher and Wilhelm Petschel rode about 80 km north to inspect crown land at South Hamilton then known as The Grange. The area known then as South Hamilton described that land being south of the Grange Burn [Grange River]. However, the land was due east of the “Town Centre”. [Deutscher, p 47]

Land did not become available for months and then speculators bid prices far too high for the Wends to compete with.

“Because of the high prices only three, Wilhelm Petschel, Johann Hundrack and Michael Deutscher, purchased properties. Altogether they purchased a total of 230 acres for which they had to pay the ‘enormous’ sum of £1,359/17/–, the lowest price being £4/4/– and the highest £8/12/– per acre.

The land was divided between Wilhelm Petschel, Gotthelf Petschel, Johann Rentsch, Johann Hundrack, Andreas Duetscher and Michael Deutscher.” [Deutscher, p 50]

“The Hufs and the Petschels were the first German families to move to The Grange during a cold, wet August 1853.” [Deutscher p. 51]

Starting all over Again

August Petschel’s sister wrote:

“Once again we had to start on virgin soil, as at Rosenthal. This time it was not so difficult as we had gained much experience and brought many things with us. We had now found that we could live quite comfortably in a tent for the time being, until we had time and material to build a house. Father erected a tent in no time with a pugged chimney, and a frame covered with calico for a door. In this tent we lived for about a year, it being quite comfortable even in stormy weather. We were surrounded by squatters, the bleating of their sheep and lambs sounded in our ears day and night, so that we did not feel lonely.

The first thing was to fence in our land, to keep out all stock, which was usually allowed to graze anywhere until the land was taken up. Next the land had to be cleared and prepared for cultivation. We arrived in August, and the winter was a very wet one. When the man ploughed, the water just streamed into the furrows. In spite of that we sowed oats and a little wheat. By this time, it was late in the season, and the crops did not grow higher than a root, but the heads were nice and full. And then the problem arose how to harvest our crop., it being too short to cut with a sickle so we decided to pull it out by the roots, and tie it in bundles by means of long grass.”


“Now, at this stage we had a very unwelcome experience. One very hot day, about midday, with a very strong wind blowing, a bushfire raced down upon us. The dry grass, which had grown very rank, burnt furiously. We ran to beat it out with gumtree branches, and on looking we noticed our fences burning. We rushed home to save our clothes, and bedding which we threw down the cellar, our old bachelor neighbour also brought his along, and did the same as our cellar had a pugged roof. To save our tent we intended to draw water out of a nearby well, which was 20 feet deep. It was an extremely anxious time, everything happened so quickly, when low and behold a miracle happened; the wind suddenly died down, the fire was under control, and we were saved. The only loss we sustained was our fences, what was far more important our first crop was saved, although the grass surrounding it was burnt. Our neighbour’s wheat crop, which was almost ready for harvesting, had the heads roasted, but otherwise it was intact.”

Lutheran Pastor and School

Pastor Schurmann arrived from Portland to look after the Lutherans in the area.

“For Pastor Schurmann we built a manse, two roomed, the walls being pugged and the roof thatched, and soon after a church of similar material was built. The congregation being small gave him a certain amount of leisure, so he started a school with six children of which I was one.”
[Christiane Hiller nee Petschel.

No doubt Christian August Petschel, now eleven years old, was also one of the students. It may have been his first school. His older sister says that she had only had a few months of school prior to this. However their experiences from life over the past five years since leaving their home in Saxony had equipped them well for the years ahead. The farmers did well. In the next ten years dozens more Germans and Wends arrived and settled in the District.

Church Disputes

Typical of the early Lutheran settlements in Australia there were disputes in the congregation. At one stage in the 1860’s there were three different Lutheran Churches in Hamilton. The Petschels joined a group that broke away from Pastor Schurmann’s Church in 1857 and formed a new congregation, which became St Luke’s. Pastor Hausmann from Geelong took their services in the home of Wilhelm Petschel. Then they obtained the services of Dr Carl Loessel. Eight families raised 215 pounds and built a church on 2 acres of land donated by Michael Deutscher. St Luke’s Church was opened and dedicated debt free on 10th March 1863. [The building still stands and is now a museum in Hamilton on the main Ballarat Road.]

There was soon a serious dispute with Dr Loessel and one of the elders locked him out of the Church. A number of followers left with the pastor and they built another church in Hamilton. After eighteen months this congregation folded. Some of the members went back to Pastor Schurmann and others left the Lutheran Church altogether.

Meanwhile the St Luke’s congregation looked for another Lutheran pastor and in 1865 Pastor C G Hiller arrived. This was an important event for the congregation as he stayed for many years, but even more importantly for the Petschel family as the new pastor married Christiane Petschel, the sister of the Christian August Petschel who married Maria Zwar.

South Hamilton

Although Maria Zwar and August Petschel’s marriage was an arranged one it seems to have worked out particularly well. The two were opposites in character and complemented each other. Maria was prim and proper, immaculately groomed, strict and a strong character. August was relaxed, casual, warm and loveable.

They lived at South Hamilton. Over 100 years later a pile of stones lying near a fruit tree in a paddock a little way in from the main road was all that remained of their house which stood near ‘breakneck corner’ between Tarrington and Hamilton.

August Petschel was very skilled with his hands. It seems he could build anything. It was said he was only 15 years old when he built an organ (probably a reed organ). August was a gifted musician and would often play the organ for Church services.

“Then he started clock repairs and was so successful at it that later on when he got married, he could not decide what to make a living at, farming or watchmaking…(August is entered in the Baillier’s Directory of 1868 as a watchmaker of Hochkirch.)” 
[The Petschel History p. 129]

Children for Maria and August

In time August built two German wagons, built his own buggy and made his own harness. 
Maria was busy too. Three children arrived in three years.

Their first child Clara Amalia Petschel was born on 9th August 1870.
They called her Amalia.
Then came Christian Bernhardt [Ben] Petschel, born 22nd October 1871. August Edward Petschel was born 29th January 1873. They called him Edward.

New Land Releases

In 1873 new land was being surveyed and opened up for settlement in the Wimmera District about 200 kilometres north of Hamilton. August Petschel took out a lease on allotment 102 containing 320 acres of land on 22nd August 1873. It was part of the lease agreement that a number of improvements equivalent to one pound per acre had to be made to the property in the first year or the lease would be forfeited. August was an experienced pioneer. He left Maria (pregnant) and their two children in South Hamilton and went north and camped on his lease, built a shack to live in, and started fencing and clearing the property.

Then August went back to South Hamilton, and Maria and the three children moved north with him with 2 wagons and horses and arrived on the property at Wail on 2nd May 1874.

“They arrived at their destination on 2nd May at 11 pm after having evening meal at sunset nine miles from their selection, and providing feed etc. for the horses. The convoy was made up of two wagons with two horses on each. The first was driven by grandfather (Gotthelf), the second by mother [Maria] and her three children, whilst father, (August) was droving cattle on his hose behind. Because the distance from Hamilton to the land was about 100 miles it took the family about three days to get there.”
The Petschel History p. 129

August was 32 years old and Maria 25. August officially became a naturalised citizen on 1st May. One had to be a naturalised British subject to own land.


Maria Petschel was again a pioneer on virgin land in Australia. She had the experience and the toughness to do well in this situation. She had also married a successful pioneer farmer. 
Maria and August called their house ‘Rosedale’ [Rosenthal] after the first settlement the Petschel’s had lived in in South Australia, and from where they also looked after the Zwar Group of Wends after it arrived at Port Adelaide in 1851. [Bert Starick interview 1979]. [The Petschel History says they called their selection at Wail ‘Rosenhugel’.]

Third Time

The Petschels had been among the first pioneers to clear the virgin bush at Rosedale. Then they trekked overland about 600 kilometres and pioneered the land at South Hamilton. Now August Petschel started again for the third and last time.


August bought a winnower and added a horse treader to it which he designed and built himself. The horse would drive the winnower by walking on the one spot on the treader. It was so successful August did a lot of contract wheat cleaning in the District.


Sometimes the pioneering life was tough for Maria. One day when Maria had little children to look after, August left home to go and search for a horse that was missing. He was away for days and Maria feared the worst. She was quite anxious and uptight by the time August arrived home. She rebuked him for being away so long, and he said, “Woman, haven’t you got faith in God?” And she went to bed and cried.
[…Lou Petschel].

Their son Nathaniel Otto Petschel arrived 17th October 1876. They called him Otto.

Pioneer Photos

There are two photos taken about 1877. One shows the first house at Wail with Maria and August out the front of the house, with three of their children standing and the baby Otto in the pusher. The other photo shows the first shed they built.

Land Purchases

August took out a mortgage on allotment 102 on 14th July 1876 and paid it off to the Oriental Bank Corporation on 24th July 1880.

On February 3rd 1879 he bought allotment 21 of 220 acres from Patrick Lynch for £2-10-0 per acre. It was just over the road and due east from their homestead. August paid in cash.


Their fifth child, Christian August Petschel [Gus?] was born in Dimboola on January 1st 1880 and baptised in St Johns Lutheran Church Dimboola by his uncle, Pastor Hiller. [Pastor Hiller had married the sister of Christian August Petschel when they lived in South Hamilton. So many families moved north from the Hamilton District to the Wimmera that Pastor Hiller and his wife Christiane moved there too. They lived in the Lutheran manse in Murtoa.] The Petschel’s were staunch supporters of the Lutheran Church. August would go to Synods to represent his congregation.

Maria and August were foundation members of St John’s Lutheran Church in Wail (1876).

“August was the organist from the foundation of the church until 1906 when it was moved to Katyil, for 30 years. He and his father Gotthelf, were elders of the congregation and August a Sunday School teacher. Pastor Hiller conducted about eight services a year and the other Sundays various members including the Petschel’s conducted reading services until a minister was appointed in 1882 (Pastor Hampe). On 3rd August 1902 the church was moved to Dimboola and rededicated there.”
[The Petschel History p. 130]

The Petschel farm prospered. It was rich agricultural soil ideal for cereal cropping. In 1903 Amalia wrote that the crop of oats in a small paddock at Katyil was seven feet high. In 1898 Otto married Auguste Stoessel. He was heartbroken when she died after giving birth to their first child.

Granny Petschel

In later years everyone called Maria ‘Granny’ Petschel. She lived to be nearly 90 years old and many of her grandchildren were married before she died and got to know her well. The following includes memories from some of the grandchildren.

Granny always insisted her children and grandchildren speak to her in German. They were not allowed to read books written in English, but only German books. One recalled that Granny had no time for Englishmen and Aborigines! This attitude was passed down. Lena Smith, a grand daughter, married an Englishman and was not allowed a wedding reception. Sometimes when Granny carried on about ‘German’ one of her children would remind her that she was really only a Wend herself and this would get her angry!

Alf said that Granny blamed the British for anything that went wrong in the world. As a result he rebelled and became pro British.

Lena recalled that Granny had a marvellous complexion. “She never had a wrinkle on her face.” When she was about 18 years old Lena made a trip to South Australia with Granny to visit the relatives.

“She would not let me go (by myself) with any of the young people. She never left me out of her sight. Lena remembered visiting the Kleinigs, Kochs, Nietschkes and Bertha Zwar. “Granny never relaxed; she was stiff with them all.”

Her grandson Erich Starick said that Granny Petschel

“had a lot of confidence in herself. She was the driving force behind her husband. She had a lot of courage.”

In some ways Maria was remembered by her grand children as very strict. Clara Petschel remembered her granny as stern and bigoted, ‘she spits fire out of her eyes’. She could also remember her granny reading a poem to her in Wendish.

“When Granny Petschel went to South Australia she loved to talk Wendish with her sister Christiane Schnell.”

Granny often spoke Wendish to Tot Petschel, and taught Tot the Wendish words for a number of things.

Bert Starrick lived with Granny for a time and recalled;

“Granny was a severe woman. I got a lot of beltings with the whip and lots of blue bruises on my legs. I told her a lie once that I wasn’t late for school. When she rang up and found out the truth she belted me up. I’ll never forget it. Her husband was quiet and kind.”

Bert also remembers that Granny had a Wendish calendar on the mantelpiece and one could turn the dates on [by sliding a type of rule with numbers on it.]

Con Petschel recalled:

“Maria Petschel was an aristocratic sort of woman. Strict. Never a hair out of place, and completely neat and tidy to a fault.”

Granny’s birthday was always a party for the grand children – the day of the year. “Grossmumma’s Geburtztag”. She always liked to be called ‘Grossmumma’ and not ‘Grossmutter’.” Lena Smith said that it was so wet one year on Granny’s birthday they had to walk the 14 miles to visit her as it was too wet to drive, and ‘Granny was delighted’.


August Petschel was an amateur photographer. He processed the films and printed the photos himself. As a result there are numerous photos of Granny with each of her children and grandchildren, taken at various times like birthdays and confirmations. They sent copies to the relatives in South Australia.

Maria could not get to South Australia for family events like the marriages of her many relatives. They would send her photos and her daughter Amalia would mount them in a book and neatly write in their names. It is probably the best collection in Australia of Zwar photos from the early generations. The collection was passed down through the Starrick family.

Grim Determination

The following incident gives an insight into Granny Petschel.
 After her son Otto married, his wife died after giving birth to their first child, a son. The parents of the wife, Otto’s in-laws, took the baby into their family and cared for it. This meant Otto could not see his son as often as he would have liked. Granny Petschel wanted to raise the baby herself, but the families could not agree to this arrangement.

“One day Granny and Otto travelled near to his in-laws farm and parked the buggy behind some trees. There were still a lot of trees on the roadsides in those days. Otto called in on his in-laws as though he had walked there. After a while Otto found an excuse to take his baby son outside for a walk. His mother-in-law made him put a hat on the baby as it was quite hot outside. Once he was outside Otto ran across the paddock to the spot Granny was waiting with the buggy. His brother-in-law took after him and threw some stones, one of which just missed the baby; but Otto managed to climb into the buggy and get away.”

Granny raised the child until Otto married again. Later when the child was about eight years old Granny took him in again.


In 1902 August began building a new home about 15 kilometres away at Katyil. In May Amalia writes,

“Pa also spent several weeks at Katyil, but came home on Saturday and left again early Monday morning with the builders and workmen. At times there were eight or nine men on the place. Ma had to drive there two or three times a week with a buggy load of food. Every week I baked 24 to 26 loaves of bread and cooked other things as well.”

In 1903 Maria and August moved into their new home. It was built with pug on the inside and weatherboards on the outside. They called it ‘Ebenezer Villa’ after Maria’s first home in South Australia. Maria developed a nice vegetable garden but the caterpillars destroyed it, especially the cabbages. “The whole garden round the house was heaving with caterpillars like a big ants nest.” (Amalia. Letter 15.11.1903).


About this time their son Ben (Christian Bernhardt) Petschel married Minna Louisa Holtkamp and he and his bride lived in the old home at Wail. [?]

Gustav married Alwine … in 1904 ?…and they lived quite near his parents August and Maria at Katyil.

Their daughter Clara Amalia married the widower Johann Frederick Max Starick on 29th August 1906. They lived on the farm at Wail. [?]

Their son August Edward Petschel died on 19th July 1903, aged 30 years and six months.

In 1938 Otto married a second time, to Lilian May Brewer.

Letters and Visits

Granny’s daughter Amalia was a prolific letter writer, and kept in close touch with Granny’s stepbrothers and sisters in South Australia. From a reference in a letter by Amalia it seems Granny had been over to South Australia to visit the relatives in 1904. On some of her visits to South Australia Granny would also call on her cousins at Melrose (Children of her Uncle Peter Zwar) as she made her way north to Quorn to visit her sister Christiane Schnell.

In 1904 Dr Bernard Zwar, Granny’s youngest stepbrother made a stop in Dimboola on his way home from a trip to Queensland. Bernard was the youngest of her stepbrothers and was born in South Australia seven years after Granny married and moved to Victoria.

Death in Melbourne

In 1912 Granny and August Petschel attended a Synod in Melbourne. They were staying with the Kaisers at Hawthorn when August Petshel died on 11th March. It was the very same house where August and Maria had first met only three days before their marriage over 40 years earlier. In her brief ‘Life Story’ Maria wrote

“Where we began together, there we were separated.”

Funeral and Grieving

At the graveside at Wail, during the funeral service a stumpy tail blue tongue lizard was crawling up to the edge of the grave and looked as though it might fall in. Otto Gaulke politely bent down, picked it up by the tail and neatly flicked it back behind him without looking where it was going. It landed on the ample bosom of Mrs George Nettlebeck, and she nearly fainted in fright. (She bent forward and the lizard fell off).
[…Con Petschel]

Maria grieved deeply for her husband. The death of August had come without warning.
 Gus and Alwine Petschel moved in with Maria for about 12 months before moving back to their own house only a few chains away. Maria then stayed in her house until a few days before her death.

“The daughter and daughters-in-law took turns looking after Granny – four months at a time.” [Clara Petschel nee Starick].

Death of Maria

Maria Petschel died on 16th February 1937. 
The following obituary appeared in the local paper
[The information must have been collected in a hurry to meet a publishing deadline as most of the dates given are incorrect…Kevin Z]

“The death occurred at Dimboola of one of the oldest residents of the district, in the person of Mrs Maria Petschel (nee Zwar) of Katyil, at the age of 88 years. Deceased who was the oldest daughter of the late Dr. and Mrs Johann Zwar, was born in Saxony, Germany. In 1857 [1851] she came with her parents to Australia, who settled at Ebenezer, near Stockwell, S. A., where the deceased spent her childhood. 
In 1868 [1869] she was married to the late Mr. Christian August Petschel, the ceremony being performed by Pastor Herlitz, of Melbourne. They then resided in Hamilton until 1874, when they came and selected land at Wail. They lived there until 1903, when they went onto the land at Katyil, where her husband died in 1911 [1912]. The deceased resided there until Thursday of last week, when her nieces went for her to bring her in to Dimboola, but who found her seriously ill. She received medical attention and was removed to Lister private hospital where she passed peacefully away at about 8 o’clock on Tuesday morning. The union was blessed with five children, viz., Clara Amelia (Mrs M. Starick, Wail), Christian Bernard (Wail), August Edward (deceased), Nathaniel Otto (Melbourne), and Gustav (Katyil), 17 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. The funeral took place yesterday, the cortege leaving St John’s Lutheran Church for the Wail Cemetery. Services at the church and graveside were conducted by Pastor Schultz. The pall-bearers were Messrs. A. T. Polack, C. J. Block, R. Schilling, R. Hedt, F. W. Gaulke and I. G. Bothe. The mortuary arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Martindale and Sons.”

© Kevin P Zwar

Johann Zwar (B)

Detailed biography


Johann was born in Drehsa, Saxony on 16th October 1821. He was the fifth child of Johann and Anna Zwahr (nee Hennersdorf), but the first three children had already died by the time Johann arrived. The fourth child, Andreas, was Johann’s elder brother by three years and Andreas would stay in Saxony all of his life.
When Johann was two and a half his brother Peter arrived. Peter would go to Australia in 1854.

When Johann was five years old a registered school opened at Wurschen less than several kilometres from Johann’s home village of Drehsa. We do not know which years Johann would have attended. (His younger brother Peter went there for eight years.)

When he was five a sister Maria joined the family, and she was the only sister of Johann who would grow up to adulthood.

A brother Michael arrived two years later, and Michael would be the first of the family to go to Australia.

When he was ten a sister Magdalena was born but died before Johann was a teenager.

The following year the family was saddened again by the birth of a stillborn son and brother.
Johann was fourteen when his youngest brother Karl was born in 1836.

We have no record of the school Johann attended. HIs younger brothers and sister Magdalena would attend the school at Wurschen, after it had been upgraded to a Government school. We have the school lists and his younger brothers and sister are on the list, but not Johann’s name. It is possible he may have attended a different school nearby.

When Johann was eighteen years old his father died, in 1840. His older brother Andreas became the male head of the Zwahr family.

Personal Records

We have no personal records from Saxony of Johann Zwahr. We have personal records of his younger brother Peter, including his baptism and confirmation certificates and teenage employment records, plus the detailed passport to allow him to go to Australia from Saxony. It is possible Johann had brought similar documents to Australia. His son Johannes was interested in the family history and had written to their Lutheran Church in Saxony in 1922 and received a letter with details of his father Johann Zwar’s family and ancestry.  His son Arthur shared with me his deep disappointment that after his father Johannes died during the Second World War in 1940 the family destroyed all the old family photos and papers. It could have been dangerous to have German records and  documents in the Barossa Valley during the War. Arthur was working in Queensland at the time and had not attended his father’s funeral.


To be continued …

Maria Zware (A2)

Detailed biography

Only Daughter

Maria Zware [as the surname is spelt on her birth certificate] was the only daughter born to Andreas Zwahr and his wife Christiane nee Mutscher, (from Sornssig – about 6 km’s southeast of Drehsa.).

[Her father Andreas (Born 8.5.1818) was the oldest living brother of the three Zwar brothers – Johann, Peter and Michael – who emigrated to Australia. Andreas only married in 1855 when he was in his late thirties, after his three brothers had moved to Australia.]


Maria was born on 11th December 1856 and baptized in the Gröditz church on 17th December when she was six days old. Her godparents were:
Anna, wife of Andreas Benad [?] the builder at Drehsa.
Karl Zwahr at Drehsa (Her uncle, the youngest brother of Andreas, Johann, Peter and Michael Zwar).
Magdalena Morbe, from Oelsa – near Lobau, about 10 km’s southeast of Drehsa.

Death of Parents

Her mother Christiane died when Maria was a young girl. Then Maria’s father died in 1869. Maria and her brother Ernst were brought up with the two children of her uncle and godfather, Karl Zwahr, and his wife. Karl was a Master butcher at Grosspostwitz – directly south of Bautzen, and about 11 km’s southwest of Drehsa.

Invitation to go to Australia

In 1878 her uncle Michael Zwar visited from Broadford in Victoria, Australia. He tried to convince Maria to migrate to Australia but she decided to stay in Saxony. However her brother Ernst went to Australia in 1880, and there were times during and after the first World War when Maria regretted not having gone to Australia too.



Maria and Bernard Hartmann outside their home in Rammenau, Saxony c. early 20th C

Maria married Bernhard Hartmann in 1878. They lived at Rammenau – 30 km’s west of Drehsa. A granddaughter and great granddaughter of Maria and Bernhard were living in the same house 120 years later, in 1998. The house had been remodelled.

Maria and Bernhard had seven children. When Maria wrote to Australia on 10th January 1923 their two sons and three of their five daughters had died. It is a touching letter:

Dear Cousin and Family,

Greetings to you and your whole household across the ocean. You will no doubt be surprised to get a letter from me, from Uncle Andreas’ daughter Maria Zwar of Drehsa. After the death of my dear father when I was a child of 10 years I was raised by uncle Karl Zwahr and grew up with Johann and August. Uncle Karl looked after me as if I was his own daughter, and I still mourn him to this day. My thoughts, ever since childhood are of Australia.

I still have from my childhood a letter I received from Uncle Peter that he wrote to my sainted father. I treasure it greatly. I often told my husband’s relatives about Australia, and how my brother Ernst also migrated to Australia. He has long since gone to his eternal rest, as John of Grosspostwitz wrote to me. When Uncle Michael was in Germany in 1878 he wanted to take me back with him to Australia. At that time there were golden times in Germany, but what difficult times we are experiencing now after the terrible World War, and ever rising prices of goods; bread at 300 Marks, a cwt of potatoes 900 Marks, a cwt wheat 1700 marks, a pound of meat 1000 marks, a suit 100,000 marks, and a pair of boots 40,000 marks. When Uncle Michael was in Germany he took back with him many goods at cheap prices, but today they can’t be bought at all, and no employment.


Bernard and Maria (seated), with daughters Hedwig and Martha, and granddaughter Trundel

Old people are in great trouble. We had to go through bad times. We had seven children but five of them died. One of them, 32 years old, whose husband died in an accident, so we had to take in their children, a son and a daughter. The two daughters are married but live far from here and so we are alone.

The bad times are God’s punishment; he wants to chastise us, but people have fallen away from God. Dear Johann, if you are well when you receive this letter, please greet all the relatives, even though I have personally met only Uncle Michael when he was in Germany. May God keep you and your family in good health and happiness. With many greetings from
 Maria and Bernhard Hartmann.

PS Lieber Johann, 
I must just let you know that 8000 French soldiers have entered Germany. We are facing a new war. We can’t buy anything. Our money is worthless. If only we had the money that you in Australia have, we could put some by for our old age, but here it is impossible; it’s getting worse. If you receive this letter and are in good health, please write to us to show that you are still alive.

Once more hearty greetings to you all.”

Diamond Wedding Anniversary

In 1938 Maria and Bernhard celebrated their Diamond Wedding, along with their two daughters and families and many friends, when he was 84 and she was 81 years old.

A Musical Person

Bernhard was a musical person. He was in the Regimental Band when he served in the army in 1903. He belonged to a male choir for 50 years and was actively involved in promoting male choirs. He gave of his best for the Church Choir. He was honoured by the German Male Choir Society with a special letter and with the Golden Honour Pin. He had belonged to the male choir since 1871 and was the oldest member.


For 60 years he had been a member of the Soldiers Kyfhauser League [similar to the R.S.L. in Australia] and he received a special letter for his loyalty to the League. For many years he served the community as a volunteer Fire Fighter.

The anniversary couple took great interest in the political events of the last few years.

“The whole congregation expresses to both of them their most heartfelt congratulations in the hope they will experience more good years in the evening of their lives.”

The photo in the newspaper shows the couple on the seat in the front of their little house.


Several years after their marriage they had bought the block of land where they still lived, Rammenau No 89 D, and here they found happiness with their family on their own patch of dirt. It says that the couple, very much liked by all, are both still healthy and fit for their age. Two sons and five daughters were born to the marriage. Both sons and three daughters had already died.

[In 1998 a grand daughter Ruth lived in their home. She has supplied us with photos of Maria and Bernhard Hartmann, and their descendants.]

Ruth’s daughter Carmen Gurtler lives there and runs a dress and fabric shop from the bottom floor. Carmen has two daughters, one of whom is married and has a child. The family have been gracious hosts in recent years to visitors from Australia.

© Kevin Zwar

Melvin Alfred BECKER

Detailed biography

Birth and Baptism

Melvin Alfred Becker was born on 24th August, 1916 at Laura, the fourth child of Richard and Emma Becker. Melvin was baptized in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Appila, on the 17th September. His funeral would take place in Laura exactly 97 years later on 17th September in 2013.

As a child Melvin grew up with 6 siblings, Rita, Eric, Frieda, Linda, Lorna and Rex.


Melvin began his schooling at the Pine Creek State School on 22nd January 1923 when he was 6 years old. He left after four years, at the end of 1925 on 17th December. Melvin began at the Laura State School with his older sister Frieda on 26th January 1926. He finished his schooling at Laura on 20th November 1929 when he was 13 years old.


Melvin Becker


Travelling to school by horse and cart meant not only learning the three R’s, but also tending to the horses.


Melvin’s confirmation classes were at the Lutheran manse, Pine Creek. As far as he could remember, he rode his bike or the horse, a distance of about 9 kilometres one way, three times a week to attend classes. He was confirmed on 16th November, 1930 with 7 other boys.

The Willows Farm

Melvin’s first working job on the home farm was stooking hay, and then feeding the sheaves of wheat into the chaff cutter to make feed for the farm animals. He also spent many hours walking behind the horse teams working the soil. This made for long and arduous days. Melvin was most pleased when his father built a seat on the implement, making land work much more comfortable.


While still at home his neighbor Ern Wurst offered Melvin share farming work, which he accepted to help increase his income. At one stage he bought a tractor which made farming much easier. When asked by his daughter, Christine in his old age “How much horse power did it have?” he quickly replied “Not enough!”.


As life progressed he was brother-in-law to Eddie Zwar, Anna Becker, Rheiny Wurst, Wally Bartsch and Grace Becker, and became an Uncle to many nieces and nephews.

Music and Flood

During this time, Melvin was a member of the Pine Creek Band playing, we believe, a tuba or double bass. Unfortunately the instrument, along with all of his 21st Birthday presents, disappeared down the Pine Creek in the great flood in January 1941.



Melvin and Alice Becker wedding. Rex and Grace Becker attendants.

On his birthday, 24th August 1950, Melvin married Alice Louisa Ottens. Melvin and Alice met several years earlier when Alice stayed at the Becker home for a youth convention. As the courting became serious Melvin, his brother Rex and a friend Arnold Wurst, would travel together to Brinkworth to see their respective girlfriends. Alice was delighted that Melvin was first to be dropped off and last to be picked up.



Married life began living in a house built by the early settlers, on the farm that Melvin had been share farming. Seven years later when the neighbor decided to sell, Melvin and Alice bought the portion of the property they had been working. In 1964, Melvin and Alice moved into a new home they had built adjacent to the original house.


The marriage was blessed with three children, Janice, Graham and Christine. Later the arrival of three grandchildren and then five great grand-daughters brought much joy to Melvin and Alice’s lives.

Farm Life

Farm life evolved over the years. The early years were cropping and sheep farming, supplemented by milking cows, initially by hand, and raising chickens to sell eggs and hens. When milk and egg regulations were introduced the farm became cropping and sheep only. Melvin and his younger brother Rex worked closely together to enable the farm work on both their farms to be carried out successfully.


Melvin was a hard worker and a skilled engineer and welder. This was evidenced by the improvements he made to the farm. These included building sheds, a shearing shed, sheep yards, the dip and other projects. An example of this skill was when Graham had returned from Whyalla to help on the farm. A “shortcut” from one paddock to another at about 9 pm one night with the Power Take Off Header, led to the P.T.O shaft being bent like a banana and some rarely heard colourful language from Melvin. After initially thinking the worst, several hours later their combined efforts had the P.T.O header back together and ready to go.


Melvin was a kind and gentle man. He had a great sense of fairness and commitment to whatever he undertook. His faith in God was evident in his life through his love for his wife Alice and his children. Their wellbeing was always foremost in his thoughts and actions. His faith also led him to be involved in organizing the supply of grain to the Hermannsberg Mission in Central Australia in his earlier years, and later as treasurer of the Pine Creek Lutheran Church for 17 years.

Fond Memories

Melvin’s love for his family has led to the following fond memories from his children.

Daughter Janice

The Christmas Tree

Janice fondly remembers the Christmas tradition of Dad and Mum taking them to the Becker scrub, several days prior to Christmas Eve, to select a native pine for their Christmas Tree. The tree would be placed in the lounge, the doors shut and not opened until Christmas Eve. In later years they found out that Dad had greatly enjoyed helping mother with the decorating.


Janice remembered how Dad had previously enjoyed fishing. When Glenn and Janice moved to Elliston they took him to Lock’s Well for Salmon fishing. He must have enjoyed it, as there was quite a climb down the cliff to the beach where there are now several hundred steps. Mostly they would come back with no fish so the steep climb back up hill wasn’t over burdening!


When the grandchildren were young and they visited the farm, their grand-Dad would sit in the lounge chair after tea. It was never long before the children were leaning against the chair or sitting on his lap, quietly enjoying being in his company.

“I remember my Dad being most content and happy when he was farming the land with Mum by his side.” Janice

Son Graham

The House Roof

Graham remembers the mischief that was caused by himself, inadvertently through Melvin’s actions. When very young (about two years old), he had climbed up on the roof of their home to explore after Dad had forgotten to take the ladder away from the house while repairing the roof. This caused Dad and Mum some panic while trying to figure out how to get him down.

First Driving Lesson

When Graham was five years old, Dad was burning off in the paddock and had left him in the truck. Having watched his Dad change gears many times young Graham initiated his own first driving lesson. Dad was left very bemused to see the truck trundling towards him with no apparent driver!


Farming was not always dull with Dad. Having decided to remove a small dead tree with explosives, their first attempt failed to detonate with Dad commenting “what a fizzer!”. After a suitable time the second attempt (now unintentionally a double charge), resulted in dirt and rock landing on the workshop roof, Dad running for cover and the tree stump sailing past the house into the adjacent paddock. The so-called small dead tree had to be removed from the paddock with the frontend-loader.

“Dad laid the foundation for my engineering skill and the knowledge I have now for which I will always be grateful.” Graham Becker

Daughter Christine

Farmer Helper

Christine remembers his strength, gentleness and patience when as a child she would sit on his lap in the big lounge chair after tea or when being hoisted over the gates while out in the paddock.

For a time as a child she took great delight in shaving him on a Saturday night and for nephew Paul, and nieces Karen and Alison’s benefit, “Yes, it was an electric shaver”.

Christine spent many happy hours in the paddock with Dad, helping him around the farm. “At times we had disagreements because I thought I knew better. Mostly he would know best and we would finish the project with laughter.”

Water Diviner

Dad’s ability to divine for water was a marvel to watch.

“The lasting memory I have is of the inspiring love and respect shared between Dad and Mum and his love and pride in his family.” Christine.

The 1980’s

During the 1980’s Melvin and Alice built their second home in Laura, moving there to allow Graham to live on the farm. During this time Melvin continued to go out to the farm to help Graham, made improvements to their house block in Laura, and enjoyed playing bowls on Saturdays.

Move to Adelaide


Melvin 90th Birthday and wife Alice

In 2006 Melvin and Alice moved to the Lutheran Retirement Village in Glynde in Adelaide. They enjoyed the friendship of good neighbours in their Court. Melvin’s interest in the land always remained. He would make several trips back to the farm every year.

The Last Year

In 2012 Melvin’s health started todeteriorate. He was cared for in the North Eastern Community Nursing Home, and for the last two months in 2013 at the LHI Glynde where he was cared for with great kindness by the staff of Flynn Ward.

With Janice beside him, Melvin passed away peacefully in the early hours of Wednesday morning the 11th of September 2013, at the grand old age of 97 years, and seven years to the day of moving from Laura to Glynde.


The Laura Lutheran Church was full for the funeral and farewell service led by Pastor John Gerhardy on 17th September 2013, 97 years to the day after Melvin’s baptism in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila. His godson Kevin Zwar read Melvin’s confirmation text, 1 Timothy 6:12-16, and the eulogy prepared by Melvin’s family.

This biography of Melvin Becker is completely based on the eulogy.

Heinrich Friedrich RUDOLPH WINTER

Detailed biography

A Life of Courage, More Courage and even Deeper Courage


Rudolph Winter was born in the Winter home at Laura on the 2nd October 1890. He was the first child of Heinrich and Anna Winter. His early childhood was as normal as could be with siblings arriving regularly. Gustav came when Rudolph was 11 months old, then Sarah next about 15 months later, and Bertha 15 months later.


Rudolph had probably started school at Laura the year Ottilie joined the family, followed by Luise, another 14 months later and Adolph in June 1899. Rudolph was now nine years old and the eldest of seven children.


Then a tragedy struck the family, particularly for Rudolph, and this would affect the rest of his life. On 17th January 1900, when Rudolph was 9 years old, his parents wrote the following letter to her sister Bertha who had married Paul Zwar and now lived near Stockwell in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. The following is the first section and then closing words of the letter, and was translated from the original German by Chris Greenthaner.

Laura 17 January 1900 Gott zum gruss, [Christian Greetings], Dear Siblings,

                 We must write to you again. We haven’t heard from you for a long time. 

The last time was when your dear child was sick and I would very much like to know if he is better again. We’ve been through a lot in the last six weeks. Two of our children were very sick – Rudolph and Ottilie. We were hardly able to shut an eye for 22 nights, and the worst night of all Mrs Rohlach came and helped out. Rudolph was very cold for two days and a night and couldn’t speak any more, even when he would have had to. We had two doctors. The one from Gladstone had no idea what was wrong with the children, and the Laura one thought that they had been stricken by a stroke / apoplectic fit and that Rudolph must have had the influenza and must have got a severe cold together with that. He still can’t walk and his whole right side is paralysed. He can not lift his right arm at all and he crawls like a little child. Tilly is once again walking around. Last Sunday, eight days ago, there were people called here early, already by nine o’clock. In Laura it had been said that Rudolph was dead and they wanted to see him once more. Reichelts and Cleggets were here Sunday afternoon. They had also heard that he had died. But it was not so. The dear God had let them recover again. But they were frightening hours when they were so sick and when they screamed with pain – that was terrible. Now if only they would soon be completely recovered. Heinrich had the influenza as well, and the little one Adolph was very sick and after everything he was quite thin, but now he is quite energetic and has put on weight. Our little son was born on 20th June and is named Carl Alfred Adolph. … … . Please excuse my bad writing. I am so weak in my head, probably from the many full weeks [we’ve just been through]. So now we remain with sincere greetings to all, With love, Anna and Heinrich Winter.


The severe illness that the doctors could not diagnose was poliomyelitis, the virus that would run rampant about 50 years later, causing temporary paralysis for some victims and permanent paralyses for others. For Rudolph it was permanent.

A Battle

One can scarcely imagine the trauma for not only Rudolph, but also for his parents and his 6 young siblings. Three more siblings arrived. Firstly Frieda in the same years the above letter was written, then Johan three years later and Carl 6 years after the letter, making a total of ten children when Rudolph turned 16.


I think this heading describes the remainder of Rudolph’s life. With his right side paralysed, Rudolph persisted until he could talk and walk again. As an adult he would keep his useless right hand in his right hand pocket.


Rudolph taught himself to use his left hand with a variety of skills that included artistic pencil sketching and oil painting. He loved to give his paintings and sketches as gifts to his relatives and friends. P8230004

Wedding gift to Rita and Edgar Zwar 1930



With sheer determination he also managed to do hard farm work that included driving a team of horses.


Rudolph found a girlfriend who dearly wanted to marry him, but she was an only daughter in a family of boys and her parents refused to give her permission to marry.Rudolf_Winter_home_441Rudolf_Winter_home_

Halbury House

His uncle Richard Becker helped Rudolph buy his own house at Halbury, and here Rudolph capably looked after his home and himself and lived a normal life in the community until his death in the Northfield hospital in Adelaide on 15th September 1964, just 17 days before his 74th birthday. By coincidence, my sister Rhonda nursed the girlfriend – in her last years – who had not been able to marry Rudolph. Elsie never married. © Kevin P Zwar


Photo Gallery

I would like to add a gallery of Rudolph’s paintings and sketches to this website as a special tribute to a person of great skill and courage and determination. The coloured oil painting by Rudolph featured above used to hang in the Dining Room in the “The Willows” Becker home near Laura. Rudolph gave his cousin Rita Becker and Edgar Zwar a painting on their marriage in 1930 and it hung in the Zwar Dining Room. It is now with the Glenn Zwar family. A member of the same family, I consider myself fortunate to have a fine pencil sketch by Rudolph of Mount Remarkable (in South Australia) that used to hang in our laundry on our home farm. I have had professionally help to frame it and it now has pride of place in my study in Melbourne. Mount_Remarkable_R_Winter

Mount Remarkable pencil sketch by Rudolph Winter

Rudolph Winter Drawing , a gift to Frieda Wurst nee Becker.                  ...Joy Wurst

Rudolph Winter Drawing , a gift to Frieda Wurst nee Becker. …Ian Wurst

Painting by Rudolph Winter

Painting by Rudolph Winter: A birthday gift in 1916 to his Uncle Richard Becker.                        Provided by Joy Wurst

Use ‘CONTACT US’ on this website to contact me and email me, or arrange to post to me, a photo of any of Rudolph’s sketches and paintings that you might be fortunate to have. I would feel honoured to make a photo gallery of his works that we could all enjoy.

A Winter Family History Book

For a wide ranging book of over 300 pages of information on the Winter Families in Australia


by Lyall Kupke and Collin Pfeifer [1985] copies are currently [2013] available from the Lutheran Church Archives in Adelaide for $15 [$25 posted]. Contact address: Lutheran Archives, 27 Fourth St, Bowden SA 5007 Tel/Fax: (08) 8340 4009 Email: lutheran.archives@lca.org.au

Agnes Cecelia BUCKLOW nee Noske

Detailed biography

Youngest Child

Agnes was the 10th and youngest of ten children born to Carl and Henriette NOSKE nee Leske.

She grew up in their home at the base of Hughes Gap (between Laura and Crystal Brook) in the mid north of South Australia. One can still see some stone ruins of the house among Pepper trees on the southern side of the highway at the base on the eastern side of the Gap.

We know little of Agnes’ childhood.

However we have an interesting event in her life recorded in the Port Pirie newspaper, The Recorder.

A Port Pirie Lady Swindled.

In last Saturday’s issue of the Recorder it was mentioned that a man giving the name of “ John Buckley” had been arrested in Melbourne on a charge of having defrauded a young lady of Port Pirie of certain sums of money.

The facts are that Miss Agnes Noske, of Port Pirie, has recently been receiving telegrams from Melbourne, signed “John Buckley” asking for money.

The name signed was that of a friend of Miss Noske, and, thinking that he might have met with bad luck and be in need of help, she responded to the call. Between Sept. 23 and 6th instant she sent two amounts of £1 10s and £2 neither of which were acknowledged; but when she received another telegram asking for £3 her suspicions were aroused, as she knew that Mr John Buckley would be most unlikely to seek assistance from anyone, as he was industrious and always in work. Moreover, he had relatives in Melbourne who would help him if he required aid.

Miss Noske mentioned to the police here that she thought someone was using Mr Buckley’s name. Detective Noblett made inquiries, the Criminal Investigation Department, Melbourne, was communicated with and Detectives Manning and M. Williams were detailed to looked into the matter. It was arranged that Miss Noske should send a registered letter addressed “ Mr John Buckley, Fitzroy Post Office,“ which was the office from which the suspected telegram had been des- patched. The detectives waited at the Fitzroy Post Office for three days before the man appeared. On Thursday he arrived, and asked for a telegram addressed to John Buckley. He was handed the registered letter, and was asked at the same time whether he expected it. He said he did, and formally claiming it, signed a receipt.

The detectives then approaching him, asked if he was John Buckley. He said he was. He was then asked to open the letter and read it. This he did and found that it set forth that the money would be sent if he required it, but for the sake of safety it would be addressed to his sister. The man who claimed to be Buckley was not able to tell the detectives the address of John Buckley’s sister, and began to flounder when questioned. He admitted having sent all the telegrams, and having received the money. He also admitted that he was not John Buckley, but said he had been authorised by Buckley to collect his telegrams and letters, but he could give no account of Buckley’s movements beyond the fact that he had travelled with him on a boat between South Australia and Melbourne. He was then locked up and charged with forging telegrams, and with obtaining a letter by false verbal representations.

Accused gave the name of Alexander Williams, and said that he had come over from West Australia for the Cup carnival.

Miss Noske, who was employed as a shop assistant in Port Pirie, left on Monday for Melbourne to give evidence.

The accused Williams was working on the wharfs here for over 12 months.

Port Pirie Recorder and North Western Mail (SA : 1898 – 1918), Sat 31 October 1908, page 4


Agnes and John Buckley were married in 1915 and would spend the remainder of their lives in Melbourne.

A Lively Character



The Bucklow Family: John, John and Agnes

Agnes was an interesting extrovert and made lively company. She would read ‘the tea leaves’ to foretell the future, and practiced phrenology, the reading of the ‘shape and bumps’ on people’s head to analyse their talents and charaterisitics. She herself had the gift of the gab, and her husband John had a very quiet temperament.

Agnes,‘Jack’ and John Bucklow on an outing in South Australia. Richard Becker in white coat.


The Beckers

Agnes had become close friends with her niece Emma Becker. There was only two years difference in their ages. Agnes would visit the Beckers at “The Willows”. Even after Agnes had married John Bucklow and she lived in Melbourne they made trips to “The Willows” in South Australia to visit the Becker family.

The Bucklow family on the Becker lawn at ‘The Willows’


Rita Becker

In about 1922, after her confirmation at the end of the previous year, Rita Becker went from “The Willows” to Melbourne for a holiday with her (great) Auntie and Uncle Bucklow in Melbourne. At this time the Bucklows had a shoe shop. They took Rita to the main tourist spots and visited Ferntree Gully in the Dandenong Ranges, St Kilda and the beach, and they had a day out and took the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff. Rita became friends with their young son John, about 10 years younger than Rita. The Beckers always knew young John as ‘Jack’. Rita and Jack would stay in contact for the rest of their lives.

The Bucklows outside the Shoe Shop Doors


Golden Wedding Floods

In late January 1941 the Bucklows went to South Australia to celebrate the 80th Birthday of her sister Pauline Zanker at “The Willows”, but were held up by the worst floods in South Australia’s recorded history. The Pine Creek flooded and caused havoc to the Becker farm. It flooded through “The Willows” home to a depth of almost 2 metres. A few days after the floods subsided the Noske Family were able to get together and clear a space for a family photo at “The Willows”.

“The Willows” 80th Birthday: L to R: Walter Noske, 4 sisters – Pauline Zanker (80), Martha Zanker, Emma Havelberg, Agnes Bucklow; standing – Ted Noske.


Fitzroy Hotel

(Built in the 1850’s. Originally called the “Leviathon”, then the “Renown”, and in 2013 is called the “Gertrude”. It is on the corner of Gertrude and Napier streets).

On 21st January 1925 the following notice appeared in the Melbourne newspaper:


I, Jinnie Cannon, the holder of a victualler’s licence for Leviathon Hotel, at Gertrude street, Fitzroy, in the Fitzroy Licensing District, and I, John Bucklow, of 15 Johnson Street, Collingwood, hereby give notice that we will APPLY to the Licensing Court at Melbourne on Monday February 9, 1925, for the TRANSFER of the LICENCE TO THE SAID JOHN BUCKLOW. DATED JANUARY 30, 1925 JINNIE CANNON JOHN BUCKLOW”

This would have been an interesting experience as this is listed as Squizzy Taylor’s haunt in Fitzroy until his death in 1927. Rex Becker remembers his (great) Uncle John Bucklow telling him that he kept a baseball bat handy under the bar to help him keep order in the hotel!

The Argus newspaper Melbourne, 1934


Renown, Fitzroy. Agnes C Bucklow to Clara Ellen Davidson. Universal Fitzroy. 3 Nov 1934

APPLICATION for TRANSFER of LICENCE I, Agnes Cecilie Bucklow the holder of a Victualler’s Licence for Renown Hotel at Gertrude St Fitzroy In the Collingwood Licensing District and I, Clare Ellen Davidson of 26 Alma rd Cam berwell hereby give notice thot we will APPLY to tho Licensing Court at Melbourne on Monday 12th November 1B34 for tho TRANSFER of the LICENCE to the sold Clara Ellen Davidson Dated 31st October 1934 AGNES CECILIE BUCKLOW CLARE ELLEN DAVIDSON

Other Interests in Melbourne

Melvin Becker recalled that John Bucklow’s sister had a Deli in St Kilda. There was a famous Chevron hotel on St Kilda road where a Bucklow was the manager for many years, and for a time I assumed this could have been John Bucklow, but after John’s death there were still advertisements in the newspaper for various staff and applications were to be made to Mr Bucklow at the Chevron hotel. John did have siblings in Victoria, but I have no information other than their names in a brief newspaper notice when they attended a family funeral. (K P Z)

Death of John Bucklow

8th April The Argus newspaper 1954

BUCKLOW, John. On April 6 (passed peacefully away), at his home, 469 Punt road, South Yarra, dearly beloved husband of Agnes, loving father of John, father-in law of Maxine, brother-in-law of Walter, Theodore, Martha, and Emma, aged 77 years, late of 327 High street, St. Kilda. (South Aus- tralian papers please copy.)

BUCKLOW. – The Funeral of the late Mr. JOHN BUCKLOW : will leave his home, 469 Punt road, South Yarra, THIS DAY (Thurs- day), at the conclusion of a ser- vice commencing at 2.50 p.m., for the Coburg Cemetery. W. G. APPS. & SONS.PTY. LTD..

Agnes Bucklow

I have no record of the death of Agnes. I would appreciate any additonal history of Agnes and John Bucklow. (K P Z)

Young John Bucklow



John Bucklow jnr.

John was the only child of Agnes and John Bucklow.


In 2012 Melvin and Rex Becker recalled that young ‘Jack’ Bucklow – as they knew him – had possibly grown up to be an artist and that maybe he had moved to Sydney.

On going through their sister Rita Zwar’s Birthday book 25 years after Rita’s death, her son Kevin noticed that she had included John Bucklow’s Sydney address in the back of the book. On a family visit to Sydney after Christmas Kevin hoped he might find someone in John’s street who might just remember John Bucklow. It was a long shot! Kevin’s daughter Heidi drove him to the street where he called on the house. When Kevin mentioned the name “John Bucklow” the owner said, “You should go next door and ask my mother as John used to live here and my parents knew him!” His mother was most helpful even though it had been maybe 30 years since John had been their neighbour. In the following weeks she emailed the following information.

From Alice, about young John Bucklow

“I have spoken to a neighbour who confirmed that John was an artist, as he knew someone who had seen his paintings on the walls in his house.”

“I remember John and his wife Maxine as good neighbours, pleasant and courteous. They came to our house for a neighbourhood party , probably thirty-five or forty years ago. Then they lived in Italy for some years, and had to return to have the health support as Maureen’s Huntington’s chorea progressed. They had known not to have children because it was in her family.

They built low stone walls and planted pencil pine trees, reminding them of Italy. John cared for Maxine at home with patience and love in the years until her death, which would have been very difficult for him. He was sure that she was still better with him, that there could be some sense of recognition, and would not put her into care.

Subsequently he had Parkinsons’ Disease, and lived at home with a carer who got him to sign the house over to him. I believe that he wanted to leave his books (paintings?) to a university. He then was in a nursing home, I think in Gladesville or Ryde.”

Sydney University

A search on Google turned up a Maxine Bucklow who was a senior lecturer in industrial relations at the University of Sydney – c. 1950’s and 60’s. The university now has an annual scholarship in her name. I shall look for information from the university to confirm that this is our John Bucklow’s wife.

Maxine Bucklow Memorial Prize for Organisational Studies

“Established in 2004 by a donation of $5,000 from the 50th Anniversary of the Teaching of Industrial Relations and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney. The prize honours the work of Dr Maxine Bucklow who was a founding member of the Industrial Relations and Organisational Studies group at the University of Sydney. The award will be made for meritorious performance by a student in the third year honours program in Work & Organisational Studies who is proceeding to fourth year Honours. The selection of the student who is awarded the prize will be made by the recommendation of the Chair of Discipline to the full-time staff of Work & Organisational Studies on the basis of the students results in third year Honours.” University of Sydney

Maxine Bucklow part of a team

“On August 8 1997 Geoff Sorrell died after a long battle with emphysema. Geoff, a New Zealander by birth and a lawyer by training, was active in the public sector unionism in New Zealand before coming to take up a post in the Economics Faculty at the University Sydney. With Kingsley Laffer and Maxine Bucklow, Geoff helped to build the field of industrial relations at the university through the 1960s and culminating in the establishment of a separate Department in 1974.”


John Bucklow was a finalist in the Sir John Sulimann art competition in 1956, and a finalist in the Wynne competition the following year.

I assume this was ‘our’ John Bucklow, and hope to find confirmation of this in future. Any help would be much appreciated!

I haven’t been able to find any birth or death notices on Trove for either John or Maxine.

I would like to pay a special tribute to John and Maxine. Their considerate and unselfish decision not to have any children marks the end of this line of the Leske / Noske Family.

© Kevin P Zwar


Detailed biography

The above information is from the work of the late Dean Saegenschnitter, who collected and compiled ‘Before and After’, a Family History of the Saegenschnitter descendants of Auguste Emilie Lydia Becker and Carl Friedrich Gustav Saegenschnitter.

Permission was given by Deans’ family to publish his work.

Telegram: from Gustav Saegenschnitter to Paul Zwar 17th January 1908. … K Z.


© Before and After by Dean Saegenschnitter


Detailed biography

The following biography is the work of the late Dean Saegenschnitter, who collected and compiled ‘Before and After’, a Family History of the Saegenschnitter descendants of Auguste Emilie Lydia Becker and Carl Friedrich Gustav Saegenschnitter.

Permission was given by Deans’ family to publish the biographies which he called ‘Backgrounds’.

Early Years

Albert was born on the 6th February, 1904 at Caltowie Extension, and was baptized on 21st February of the same year in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church by Pastor Adolph Ortenburger. Unfortunately Albert lost his young sister and mother in 1908. His two older sisters would have looked after the three boys and their father, until after their father remarried in 1909. Some time later the girls went to live with Aunties of the Becker and Wegner families.

School and Church

There is a photo showing him attending Pine Creek Lutheran School. Albert was confirmed in the Pine Creek Lutheran church on 3rd November 1918 by Pastor Ortenburger. Later he attended the Youth Group and was involved with the choir.

Another Farm

The parents purchased another farm approximately 3 miles south, this was soon after the Father’s remarriage, but they did not live there till around 1932-33. After the family moved, Albert stopped at the old homestead and batched until his marriage.


On one occasion when he visited his sister at Sandleton, and the various cousins in the Sandleton and Stonefield districts, he met Flora Gertrude Kalisch, and he married her on the 7th February, 1935. Their reception was held at Mrs. Seiboth’s at Eden Valley. The couple then moved back to the farm where Albert had been batching for the last nearly three years.

The Best Years

The next 10 years were the happiest of his life. His wife, being brought up on a farm, was a great helper, especially with animals and birds, particularly birds, for she always had a good collection of these. During harvest time Gertie worked out in the paddock with Albert bag sewing etc. During this time it was not uncommon for drovers to take sheep along the 3 chain road; this ran along the side of their farm. Albert had a bore, which the drovers used for their horses and sheep.

Gentle Nature

Often his young brothers would visit on Sundays on their motorbike and this provided great enjoyment for all. Albert who had a gentle nature, loved mixing and talking with people, especially going to sales and also visiting friends at their homes,


Unfortunately in 1944 due to drought they sold their farm and moved into Laura where they purchased a small 3 acre property with a house. On the block he put down a bore. This enabled them to have a good garden of fruit trees, vegie’s. As well, a good portion was planted with Lucerne. This was for the fowls and cows. The milk from the cows was sold to the Golden North factory. Albert worked at the Laura Flour Mill, delivering chaff and flour to Port Augusta, Quorn, Wilmington, and Port Pirie. Due to his good nature he was always last to get started and always late home.

Barossa Valley

In 1952, Albert and Gertie decided to move to the Barossa, there buying a small house on a deep block. Albert worked in the mill at Tanunda, but soon found that flour dust affected his health. He then joined the Highways Department at Nurioopta, remaining there until health and memory deteriorated by 1968.

Last Years

He initially was cared for by Gertie, then was admitted to the Tanunda Hospital and later to the Home for Incurables. It was here that he died in the 13th August 1975. He was buried in the Langmeil cemetery inTanunda. Gertie continued to live in the home until November 1975, when she sold the house and moved into daughter Doris’s self contained flat.

© Before and After by Dean Saegenschnitter


Detailed biography

The following biography is the work of the late Dean Saegenschnitter, who collected and compiled ‘Before and After’, a Family History of the Saegenschnitter descendants of Auguste Emilie Lydia Becker and Carl Friedrich Gustav Saegenschnitter.

Permission was given by Deans’ family to publish the biographies which he called ‘Backgrounds’.

Early Years

Ben, as he was commonly known, was born at Caltowie Extension on the 9th of April, 1900. He was Baptized, Confirmed and attended with the family in worshiping at the Pine Creek Lutheran Church. He attended the Caltowie Extension School for his education (not known for how long ).


On leaving school he then helped on the family farm, occasionally going to another farm that the Father had bought, which was 3-4 miles south-east of the homestead. With brother Dick, they would spend several days there, looking after stock, taking with them enough flour to make dampers, cold meat and vegetables, making stews and dampers.


Unfortunately the youngest sister and his Mother died in early 1908, which had an upsetting effect to the whole family. The Father then re-married in September 1909. Later Ben’s two older sisters went to live with Becker & Wegner Aunties.



Ben and Elsa Saegenschnitter

One time when visiting relatives in the Moculta in the Barossa Valley region, he met Martha Elsa Marks. They were married in the Zion Black Hill Lutheran Church on the 13th October 1927 by Pastor A.W. Goessling. The reception was then held on the reserve opposite Elsa’s family home at Caunament.

Caltowie Extension Farm

After their marriage they went to live on Ben’s small farm, which was near by his fathers. In July son Dean was born, then when he was about 12 months old, Ben sold the too small farm.

Pompoota Farm

Then he bought a small dairy farm, which was on the reclaimed irrigated swamp at Pompoota. They milked about 30 cows, had about 300 fowls and as well several breeding sows, selling off the young pigs as suckers. The milk was sold to Southern Farmers in Murray Bridge. This was collected by river-boat from a wharf about one mile from the dairy. This boat brought our many items, such as meat, butter, super and fowl feed. The milk was collected twice a day in the summer months, once daily in the winter. The family remained until 1947.

Murray Bridge

Due to Elsa’s poor health, when the farm was sold and the Family had a house built in Murray Bridge. While waiting for the home to be built Ben bought a caravan and with the family visited relatives up north in the Caltowie area.

Southern Farmers Factory

On returning, Ben went to work at Southern Farmers factory in the boiler house. Later son Dean joined him at the factory but he worked in the milk receival area. Unfortunately Elsa’s health deteriorated, she finally passed away in August 1952. Ben saw his son Dean married in February 1953, and he went to live with him, but never got over Elsa’s death, so ended his life in October 1953. Both Elsa and Ben are buried in the Murray bridge cemetery.

© Before and After by Dean Saegenschnitter


Detailed biography

The following biography is the work of the late Dean Saegenschnitter, who collected and compiled ‘Before and After’, a Family History of the Saegenschnitter descendants of Auguste Emilie Lydia Becker and Carl Friedrich Gustav Saegenschnitter.

Permission was given by Deans’ family to publish the biographies which he called ‘Backgrounds’.

Early Years

Richard was born at Caltowie Extension on 18th June 1898 to Carl Friedrich Gustav Saegenschnitter and his wife Auguste Emilie Lydia Saegenschnitter nee Becker. Richard was baptised July 31st 1898 in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila. Richard was confirmed and attended church with his parents at the Pine Creek Lutheran Church. He went to the Caltowie Extension School, and he attended until he was 12 years old.


He lost his Mother and young sister in early 1908. This was a great loss to the family.


After leaving school he helped his father on the farm. In 1921 he bought his own farm which was located about 6 miles east of Laura.


Richard, on the 16th April 1925, was married to Louise Hilda Saegenschnitter by Pastor F. J. Lehmann. Louise had been born on February 6th 1900 at Sandleton, and baptised on February 18th 1900 at Sandleton.

Richard continued to work his farm until he had heart problems in 1939. He then sold all his implements and horses, and he then share-farmed, until November 1945.

Barossa Valley

He sold the farm and went to live in the Barossa Valley, at Nurioopta. Here he worked at the Viticulture Station until his retirement in 1965.


Richard and his wife Hilda went to live in a granny flat at the rear of their daughter’s home. Hilda passed away on October 28th in 1979. Richard remained with his daughter until early 1981, when he went into the Fullarton Lutheran Homes. He passed away on June 15th 1983. He and Hilda are buried in the Enfield cemetery.


© ‘Before and After’

by Dean Saegenschnitter

Clara Martha HULDA SAEGENSCHNITTER nee Saegenschnitter

Detailed biography

The following biography is the work of the late Dean Saegenschnitter, who collected and compiled ‘Before and After’, a Family History of the Saegenschnitter descendants of Auguste Emilie Lydia Becker and Carl Friedrich Gustav Saegenschnitter.

Permission was given by Deans’ family to publish the biographies which he called ‘Backgrounds’.

Early Years

Hulda was the first bom child of Gus and Lydia Saegenschnitter. She was born at Caltowie on 30/7/1894, going to the Caltowie Extension school for her education. She was Baptised by the late Pastor C J Siegele and confirmed on 20/12/1910 by Pastor A Ortenburger at Pine Creek, Appila. She, with her family attended church services there also.

Teenage Years

After leaving school, Hulda helped her parents on the farm. Unfortunateely her Mother passed away when Hulda was only 14 years old in 1908. Her Father re-married the following year. Some time later Hulda went to live with Uncle Heinrich & Auntie Edel Wegner, at Pine Creek near Appila.

Sandleton and Husband

In the latter part of 1925 Hulda went to Sandleton to help her sister who had twin sons at the end of December 1925. This gave her the opportunity in meeting her future husband, Carl Freidrich Saegenschnitter. They were married in the Sandleton Lutheran Church on 12/6/1927.


They then went to live on a property at Moppa, which was several Kms north of Nurioopta, it consisted with a small vineyard, as well milking several cows and keeping 50-100 fowls. The eggs were sold to the grocer, the cream picked up weekly from the farm.

Daughter Elma

(Information supplied by her sister Linda Saegenschnitter)

Elma Iris Saegenschnitter grew up on her parent’s farm, two miles west of Nurioopta, in the area called Moppa. She was a very shy and timid child. She had a tewar of schooling at Stonefield, and during this time she stayed with her Auntie and Uncle Lydia and Paul Evers. This was so she had the company of a cousin going to school.

In 1936 Elma came back home and went to Nurioopta Primary School. It was in this year that her sister Dulcie commenced school.

In March 1937, she suddenly took ill, and taken to the Doctor and Hospital at Nurioopta. Here she unfortunately died. Elma is buried in the Nurioopta cemetery.

Son Melvin

(Information supplied by his sister Linda Saegenschnitter)

Melvin Rudolph Saegenschnitter was born on 20th August 1928. Melvin was accidentally scalded when only 10 months old, by a saucepan of boiling water which tipped over him. He died on June 7th 1929. He is buried in the Nurioopta Cemetery.

Daughter Greta

(Information supplied by her sister Linda Saegenschnitter)

Greta Stella Saegenschnitter, their fouth child, was born on 2nd January 1933. Greta only lived for three months when she died on 6th April 1933. She is buried in the Nurioopta Cemetery.


In 1949, Fred ( Hulda’s husband) sold the property at Moppa, moving to Ebenzer, where they only had a few acres, Hulda at that same time kept her fowls, while Fred helped neighbouring farmers and working in the local vineyards.

Hulda was always a keen gardener, having a nice vegetable garden, as well taking great pride in growing flowers, particularly chrysanthemums and dahlias.

After several years of declining health, Hulda died on the 11th. May 1953, and Fred , the day after his 69th. birthday, had a stroke and died on the 2nd. July 1955. Both are buried in the Ebenzer cemetery. They had a family of six children, five girls and one boy.

© Before and After by Dean Saegenschnitter

Frieda Ruth WURST nee Becker

Detailed biography

Frieda Ruth Wurst nee Becker


Frieda was born at Laura, South Australia, on 22 June 1913, the third child of the late Gotthilf Benjamin Richard and Emma Cecilia Becker, and the sister of Rita, Eric, Melvin, Linda, Lorna (deceased) and Rex.

She was baptised on 3 August 1913 and confirmed on 13 November 1927 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Appila, by the late Pastor Adolf Ortenburger.


It was in the same church that she married Reinhold Edgar Wurst on 10 October 1940. The marriage was blessed with four children: Yvonne, Joy, Ian and Shirley.

Frieda was a member of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Appila, until April 1958 when the family moved to a dairy farm at Virginia and joined the Lutheran Church at Salisbury, SA.

St Stephens

In October 1960 the family moved to South Plympton, SA, and took up membership at Faith Lutheran Church, Warradale, and in 1968 joined St Stephens Lutheran Church, Adelaide. Frieda remained a faithful member at St Stephens until her death.

Death of Reinhold

After the death of her husband on 23 March 1973, Frieda made her home at Lockleys with her daughter, Joy. In 1992 she moved back to the original home at South Plympton and lived with her son and daughter-in-law, Ian and Gloria and family. After a fall resulting in a broken hip in late December 1994, she went to live with her older daughter and son-in-law, Yvonne and John Kuhlmann, and their family at Penfield, SA. Here she was under the spiritual care of Pastor Peter Traeger of Elizabeth.


Frieda was a home maker, a loving wife and mother. She loved to knit, crochet, sew and read. She loved animals – her dog, cats and canaries. But most of all she loved her garden and wherever she lived she had a thriving and colourful garden. She was a generous and supportive person, with a wonderful sense of humour and a loving smile. In the latter years particularly, arthritis robbed her of the enjoyment of many of her interests.

Sadly Missed

On 23 March 1996 Frieda had a fall which resulted in a fractured pelvis and serious complications. She passed away early Sunday morning on 24 March 1996, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide.

She is sadly missed by her children: Yvonne and John, Joy, Ian and Gloria, Shirley; her grandchildren, Tony and Janet, Sean, Lisa, Adam, Emma, Rita, Craig, Darren, and Simon. She is also survived by two brothers, four sisters-in-law, and her Aunt Hilda who was her godmother.

Her family and friends mourn her passing but are thankful that she is at peace with her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

[The Obituary of Frieda, supplied by Joy Wurst]


Rita Amanda ZWAR nee Becker

Detailed biography

> Click here to go to Rita’s Photo Gallery

Rita Amanda Becker

Rita was the first of seven children born to Emma and Richard Becker. She was the only child born on the Appila farm. Born on the family farm on 12th December 1907 and then baptised in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church which they could see about two or three kilometres from their home on 29th December of the same year.


Baptism Certificate for Rita Zwar

Rita’s auntie Elsa Zanker was a godparent as Rita was born on her birthday. Her other godparents were Alfred Becker and auntie Lydia Saegenschnitter.

Early Story

Rita’s parents told her about one incident that happened when Rita was about two years old. The Beckers kept a saucer of milk on the veranda for their pet cats. One day her mother went out and found Rita on her fours lapping the milk together with a snake! [Rita to K Z.] Rita wasn’t harmed, but I don’t know what happened to the snake.

The Willows Farm

About this time Richard Becker bought “The Willows” farm near Laura. The Advertiser reported on 1st October 1909


Becker Land Purchase – ‘The Willows’

The Willows property is still in the hands[in 2013] of descendants of Rita.


A brother Eric arrived three days after Rita’s third birthday. Her sister Frieda arrived when she was five.

Lutheran Day School

Rita began school at the Day School next to the Pine Creek Lutheran Church in 1914. From their former farm the Beckers could see the church from their home, but now it was a ten kilometre journey. We don’t know how Rita travelled to school in her first years as she was the first to go and there were no other children nearby she could have gone with.


Pine Creek School Band

In the 1916 school band Rita is the girl on the far right – in front of the drummer. The lad in the centre of the back row – 6th from each end – is Edgar Zwar – her future husband. Rita has named each person in this photo. You can find it in the section: ‘Rita Becker Photo Album’.


School Closed and State School Opened

In 1917 the South Australian government closed all the Lutheran Schools, including the Pine Creek school. In July of the same year the Government opened it as a State School with Jack Stevens as the teacher.


Pine Creek State School. Rita is 3rd from left on front seated row. Eric is bottom left – on ground.

{missing page}](School list by Rita Zwar nee Becker) Rita attended this school and left us with a photo from the teacher, Jack Stevens, and all the students – which she named, but it doesn’t say which year. Her younger brother Eric is also in the photo. There is another photo of the State School children, with Rita second left in the back row and Eric is on the other end of the back row? The teacher is Miss Thomas, but we don’t have the exact year. If it is 1920 then Frieda would be on this photo – if not, it was taken in is 1919.]


Pine Creek State School? Rita 2nd from left in back row.

There is no record of Rita attending the Laura school. She attended confirmation lessons at Pine Creek and was confirmed in 1921 when she was nearly 14 years of age, the normal age for confirmation. One record shows Rita completed her schooling in March 1921. She then began attending confirmation classes. Rita had particularly enjoyed the art and craft classes and would have loved to develop her skills in this area but didn’t have the opportunity. At some point Rita did take organ lessons, maybe from Mrs McHugh in Laura who taught her young sister Linda in later years [*Rex Becker].





Rita, probably in confirmation dress 1921



Confirmation Certificate for Rita Becker

Rita was confirmed in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church on 20th November 1921 by Pastor Adolph Ortenburger, several weeks before her 14th birthday. The text reads

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

Life Home on the Farm



Boating in Pine Creek at Beckers; l to r: Emma Becker, Annie Geier, Frieda Becker, Rita Becker, and Melvin Becker in front.

The children grew up on the bank of the Pine Creek and soon learnt to swim.They would go yabbying, or rowing in the long stretches of water that were normal in the creek in those times. On the farm there were baby animals to care for, cows to milk, horses to feed, fowls to feed and eggs to collect. Rita helped to care for the young siblings as they arrived. There were clothes to wash and hang out on the lines to dry, and then iron. She learnt to mend clothes, to sew and knit. Her mother developed a vast vegetable garden. Her father had developed a large orchard that ran down to the main road.





Rita Becker in St St Kilda

In the early twenties Rita went on a holiday to Victoria. She enjoyed a stay with the Bucklow family in Melbourne, her great uncle John and auntie Agnes and their little son John who made a number of visits to the “The Willows” in South Australia over the years. With Rita they visited Ferntree Gully in the Dandenong Ranges, Rita also enjoyed the St Kilda beach, and they had a day out and took the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff.


Queenscliffe [photo by Rita Becker]


Queenscliffe Beach [Rita Becker photo]

Rita also visited the Gus and Otto Zanker family cousins on their farms near Jeparit in Victoria.


Otto Zanker family: L to R: Ruby, Elsie, Otto, a daughter, Mrs Otto Snr, Otto snr.

Zanker Family

The Becker family were closely involved with the Zanker families in their social life. There would often be Zanker relatives visiting, staying for a few days at The Willows, or going for a picnic in a forest, or at the beach at Port Germein.

Youth Group


Rita in 1920’s

The Pine Creek Church had an active youth group that met on Sunday afternoons every fortnight, and these included a variety of functions that included Bible Studies, outings, birthday celebrations and concerts. On the other Sundays they had choir practice.

Sister Lorna

When Rita was 17 a baby sister arrived prematurely and died after two months. Two years later a brother arrived in Rex, and Rex remembers his oldest sister Rita as the one who cared for him like his mother.

Edgar Zwar

In the late Twenties Rita was attracted to another member of the Pine Creek youth group in Edgar Zwar. The families were quite close. By road they lived about 5 kilometres apart, but much closer ‘as the crow flies’. Their fathers would go to auctions together to buy timber and metal to work on in their workshops. One year at the Jamestown Show Edgar’s father mentioned to Rita’s mother Emma Becker that Rita and Edgar seemed to make a fine couple, and Emma replied, “But Rita is so young!”


Rita Becker and Edgar Zwar were married on 2nd October 1930 in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila when Rita was 22 years old and Edgar was 27.


Edgar Zwar and Rita Becker 2nd Oct 1930

Pastor Ern Stolz married them. It was his first marriage in the Appila parish and they became close friends.


Pastor and Mrs Ortenburger


The Greeting

Pastor Adolf Ortenburger who had been their only pastor and who had baptised and confirmed both of them had returned recently to Germany. He sent them a photo and a special greeting.
The reception and wedding breakfast were held at the ‘Willows’, the Becker home. Photos were taken on the front lawn. Edgar was the youngest and the last to be married in his family. Rita was the eldest in her family and it would be another 10 years before there would be another wedding in the Becker family.

Lorna Pauline BECKER

Detailed biography

3rd March – 1st May 1926

Lorna Pauline Becker was the sixth of seven children born to Richard and Emma Becker. Lorna was a premature baby and wasn’t expected to survive. She lived for 59 days and died at home. Lorna was the fourth and youngest daughter. “She looked more like her Dad than any of the other children.”
… her sister, Rita Zwar

Lorna was buried in the Pine Creek Lutheran cemetery near Appila.

Eric Oswald BECKER

Detailed biography

Celebrating the Life of Eric Oswald Becker

15th December 1912 – 7th September 1992

Eric Oswald Becker was born into this world on 15th December, 1910 and into his heavenly Father’s kingdom through baptism on 8th January, 1911 at the Pine Creek Lutheran Church, Appila.


Eric was the oldest son and the second of seven children born to Richard and Emma Becker. On his passing in 1992 Eric joined three of his sisters, Rita Zwar, Linda Bartsch and Lorna Becker and was survived by his two brothers, Melvin & Rex, and his sister Frieda Wurst.

Early life

His early life was spent happily on the family farm at Laura where his well known skills as a handyman were developed. He attended the Pine Creek Public Lutheran School before beginning work on the land.

In 1924 on 16th November his Lord led Eric to make his public confession of faith at his Confirmation, a confession of faith which would be the mainstay of Eric’s life.

Eric Becker on his Harley Davidson


The Lord blessed Eric with a wife and new home on their farm near Caltowie in 1942. Three children, Dawn, Colin and Lorna followed as Eric and Anna developed the farm.

Eric on his 70th birthday

Lutheran Church

At Redeemer Church Caltowie Eric served his Lord and his church faithfully as Elder, Secretary/Treasurer and as a key member of the Men’s Fellowship. His devotion continued at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Jamestown following the closure of the Caltowie Church.


Eric and Anna moved into Jamestown in 1981 to enjoy a working retirement. Although his health failed in 1989, Eric struggled on in difficult circumstances, cared for by Anna.

Eric will be remembered by us as a hardworking, caring and friendly man, devoted to his Church and his family.

Eric’s Lord remembered him on the morning of September 7th 1992 and took him home.

Anna Louisa BECKER nee Borgas

Detailed biography

“Celebrating the Life of Anna Louisa Becker, 2 December 1912– 4 June 2006”

Anna Louisa Borgas was born on 2nd December 1912, as the tenth child of Carl and Emilie Borgas nee Wurst, at their Appila home, with Auntie Marie Borgas as mid-wife. On 15 December Anna was baptised by Pastor A. MacKenzie.


Anna commenced schooling at the Appila Public School mid year 1919. With her sisters Emilie and Vera, Anna mostly walked the three miles to and from school. On gaining her year seven Qualifying Certificate Anna wasn’t of age to leave school and remained the following year as a ‘Monitor’ assisting the teacher. For the first half of the year these duties were on an unpaid basis, however for the remainder of the year she received thirteen shillings and six pence a fortnight. ($1.35). This was considered good pay for one at thirteen years of age.

Teenage Years and then Yandiah

Anna was confirmed by Pastor S. Rudolph on 11 December, 1927 in the Fullerville Church. Anna remained at home to help with the house duties and milking the cows. In 1933 Anna spent six weeks in Tanunda at a dressmaking course. Following Carl’s marriage in June 1942, Anna, together with her parents and invalid brothers Norman and Walter moved to a house in Yandiah.


On Saturday, 8 August 1942, after a courtship of some twelve years, Anna and Eric Oswald Becker of Laura were married in the Gloria Dei Church by Pastor J.B. Traeger. The couple settled on a property 4 miles west of Caltowie. Grain crops and sheep provided their main income, with cows, pigs and poultry supplementing the income. Over the years Anna reared and raised many hundreds of turkeys. During the first year Anna would drive the horse and sulky to Caltowie to deliver cream and eggs to the railway station; from there they were dispatched to the factory. After a good first harvest they were able to buy a small Ford utility and Eric taught Anna to drive as she had never learnt. Anna’s father didn’t believe in women driving cars!


Anna and Eric successfully continued their farming; extending their acreage with the purchase of adjoining property in 1956, the land they had share-farmed for many years. Eric was a handy man and built a number of sheds and various other improvements to the farm and machinery. Anna tended the garden and grew many of their vegetables.


Both Anna and Eric were regular and active members of the small Redeemer Lutheran congregation at Caltowie until its closure in October 1981, after which they joined St. John’s Jamestown. While their children attended the Caltowie Primary School they served on School committees in various capacities.

Retirement and loss of Partner

In February 1981, prior to Colin’s marriage, Anna and Eric retired to a home at 48 Alexandra Terrace, Jamestown. Anna continued her love of gardening while Eric pottered about in his work shed. During 1989 Eric’s health declined and subsequently it became evident that the home and large block were more than they could manage. In July 1991 they moved to a small unit at Belalie Crescent, Jamestown. Eric and Anna were able to celebrate their Golden Wedding with family, relatives and friends on 9 August 1992. Eric was called to his heavenly home on 7 September 1992.

Active Senior Years

Anna continued to live in her unit after Eric’s death. She spent many hours tending her garden, cooking, playing cards with her neighbours and enjoying knitting and making jigsaw puzzles. Anna continued to drive her car around Jamestown for shopping, Probus and Senior Citizen’s. She continued to be actively involved in Church and Ladies Guild.

Belalie Lodge

Prior to her 90th birthday in December 2002 Anna decided the time was right for her to move over the road to Belalie Lodge and hostel accommodation, when a room became available. She was quick to add she didn’t want to move before Christmas. In August 2003 Anna moved into her new home over the road at Belalie Lodge, and as one of her friends said when visiting her after the shift, “How is your ‘motel’ accommodation, Anna?”

Anna made many new friends and joined in the activities of the home. Some weeks there were not enough days to just sit and rest; there were always things to do. When she went into the Home she didn’t think she would take many jigsaw puzzles, there would be no where to do them. The collection had grown and she found time to do one in her room and with some of the other residents worked on another in the lounge room. No doubt Anna did the majority! A puzzle from Anna’s niece was started about 2 weeks ago and completed late last week.

Church and Family

Although unable to attend Church she still took an interest in what happened. Church services at the Home were eagerly looked forward to. Anna took great interest in her grandchildren and their activities and whereabouts, and enjoyed the weekly telephone calls to or from her daughters. Colin and family called on her at various times each week. Anna was blessed with reasonably good health during her life time. The Lord called her to Him suddenly early Sunday morning 4 June, 2006. She leaves to mourn her children: Dawn, Colin, Lorna In-laws: Allan, Joy, Brian Grandchildren: Bruce and Ann, David, Roger and Roxanne Richard, Heidi, Bill Mark, Rebecca, Johanna


Our sincere thanks to the staff of Belalie Lodge who cared for Anna’s every need in a most caring and professional manner. She loved you all and spoke often of your care and concern. Also to the relatives and friends who called or phoned Anna; the time you spent with her was much appreciated. We give thanks to God for the life of Anna and what she has meant to each of us.

Source: The Obituary

Author(s) not known to me at this stage. KPZ

Ernst Zwar (A1)

Detailed biography

“Little” Ernst

In Australia Ernst was called ‘Little’ Ernst to distinguish him from his cousin Ernst, a son of Peter Zwar.

Ernst was born in Saxony after three of his uncles had gone to Australia. Both of his parents died at a young age. Ernst had a sister Maria. [I am not sure which one was the eldest as I don’t have his date of birth. On handwritten ‘trees’ he is usually listed first.] After the death of their parents they were brought up by their Uncle Karl in Saxony who was their godfather. Maria says he treated them as his own family.

Encouraged to emigrate

When Michael Zwar went back from Australia and visited his relatives in Saxony in 1878 he strongly encouraged Ernst and Maria to emigrate to Australia. Maria remained behind, and later regretted her decision. Ernst went to Australia in 1880.

South Australia

Kevin Zwar says, “My father-in-law Tom Heinrich told me that Ernst had worked on the Heinrich farm at Worlds End near Burra at one time.”

In her research Gwenda Obst found the following:

“Ernst Zwar lived on the Booboorowie Station in South Australia and was permanently employed there as one of the permanent staff. The station had a large woolshed.


Ernst Zwar and his wife, Hannah.

In 1992 the cottage Ernst had lived in was still there. It was a four roomed cottage with a verandah out the front and a picket fence and a little gate at the entrance. There was a large cellar away from the house to the north, with a washhouse near it. Some pepper trees gave shade to the cellar and the washhouse. There was also another big shady pepper tree between the house and the cellar on the western side.”

Gwenda’s sister remembers:

“Mrs Zwar going to Burra with other people in a horse and buggy and Hannah had brown paper wrapped round her head as it was supposed to be good to give relief from headaches.”

Ernst passed away in 1912 aged 58 years, leaving his wife and a daughter, Rita.

A notice appeared in the The Burra Herald on 21st August:

“Mrs Zwar and her daughter wish to thank Drs. Steele and Ashton, also the Matron and Nurses at the Burra Hospital, and all kind friends during their sad bereavement.”

Hannah moved into Kooringa [Burra]. On 25 September 1929 The Burra Herald carried an advertisement,

Geo. Hann
“has received instructions from Mrs Zwar, of No. 5 McBride Cottages, opposite Kooringa Methodist Church, to sell by public auction – Thursday, Sept. 26th at 2 o’clock, as follows. A list of household furniture follows, plus a new 1600 gallon tank “2 collars and winkers and a host of sundries.”

Hannah survived her husband Ernst by 20 years and died in Adelaide 1st September 1936, leaving a daughter Rita.

Two days later, back at the Booboorowie School there was a celebration of Children’s Day. The report gives us an insight into life in the district for Ernst, Hannah and Rita Zwar:

“The head teacher opened the day with a discourse on the early history of Booboorowie. The address was enhanced by a display of photos of events and incidents in the district early history, collected from local residents.”

“The head teacher, having been born in the district, had little trouble in making his lesson interesting to his listeners and touched on the old Booboorowie station, shearing, woolcarting etc, the little old school in the Methodist Church, Mr Chas. Fahey’s shop, New Year’s Day at the big waterhole in Yakilo and so on up to the cutting up of the station into its present close settlement. Old residents mentioned were Messrs Louden, Bevan, J. Q. Hofan, Affolter, Zwar, and so on.”

The Burra Herald, 8 Sept 1936.


© Kevin P Zwar

Andreas Zwahr (A)

Detailed biography

Oldest of six

Andreas is the first of six children of Johann and Anna Zwahr to live to adulthood. Three children named Andreas [who lived for only one month], Maria [two years] and Magdalena [one month] had died before Andreas was born. It was often the practice to name a child with the same christian name as a child (or maybe two) who had died as an infant.

Therefore Andreas who lived into adulthood is coded (A) on this Zwar Website, and his descendants are labelled (A) plus numbers like (A1) and (A1,2)

Four other brothers plus a sister who also lived to adulthood are coded (B) through to (F), in order of birth.

Son Ernst

Andreas is the first to live to adulthood in the family, but he is also important to the Zwars in Australia because his son, Ernst Zwar, migrated to Australia in 1880 to join his three uncles, who had moved to Australia in the 1850’s.

Daughter, Maria

Andreas and Christiane also had a daughter Maria Zwar who married Bernhard Hartmann. We are in contact with Maria and Bernhard’s descendants in Germany. They have been enthusiastic supporters of the Family History and have welcomed and entertained visitors from Australia.

Death at 51 Andreas Zwahr was a small crop gardener and died of tuberculosis of the lungs aged 51 years and 5 months in 1869. Andreas and Christiane Zwahr, had both died by 1869 when their two children were still teenagers.

© Kevin P Zwar

Emma Cecilia BECKER nee Zänker

Detailed biography

I am still working on the detailed biography.
Contact us if you have any suitable material to contribute.

Gustav Moritz BECKER

Detailed biography

Born in Janny, Silesia

Gustav was born on the 29th November 1836 at Janny, near Prittag in the Grünberg District of Silesia, the son of school teacher Friedrich August Becker. Janny (sometimes ‘Jany’) was a small village about 8 kilometres north east of Grünberg, the main centre of this area of Silesia and a large place.

Adelaide, South Australia

On the bottom side of the world a small village had been founded in 1836, the same year Gustav Becker was born. The new village was called ‘Adelaide’. It was the first village in a new British colony the British named South Australia, and it was ruled from Britain.

Queen Victoria

When Gustav was one year old Queen Victoria was crowned as the new ruler of England and her colonies. Queen Victoria was raised by her German mother. She married the German Prince Albert and they had 9 children. The British monarchy in Gustav’s lifetime had far more German blood than English. Any foreigners who wanted to buy land in the new colony of South Australia had to first swear allegiance to Queen Victoria. Gustav would later do this. [This law didn’t apply to the local aboriginal people who had lived there for countless thousands of years. They couldn’t ‘own’ land in South Australia at this time.] Queen Victoria ruled until she died about a year after Gustav died in South Australia in 1899.


When Gustav was born there was no Country named ‘Germany’. The area we now call ‘Germany’ was a collection of different states and Kingdoms – with their own Royal families – who had regularly fought wars against each other over the previous centuries. For example, about 25 years before Gustav was born the French army led by Napoleon fought against Gustav’s Country, but the German Kingdom of Saxony fought with Napoleon against Prussia. In Australia one of Gustav’s children would marry into the Zwar family. The Zwar’s were from the German kingdom of Saxony. Prittag [now Przytok] lies today in Poland.


The Prittag Church

Gustav grew up in the top corner of Silesia. If he walked north about three k’s from Janny he came to the German State called Brandenburg. In Silesia the Becker family worshipped in the Lutheran Church at Prittag.


Prittag Church, now Roman Catholic

I have video of my wife playing the pipe organ in the Church in 1994.


Balcony and Pipe Organ of Prittag Church

Janny was in the Lutheran Parish of Prittag. It had a population of 231 in 1905, and was in the County [Kreis] of Grünberg.


The Lutherans who settled in the Barossa Valley in South Australia named one of their churches ‘Grünberg’. In Silesia the Grünberg district had been famous for centuries for its grapes and wines. The town had a population of 14,000 people in the late 1800’s. Today it is a city in Poland (and is now called Zielona Gora), with a population of over 300,000 people. When a host took my wife and myself for a visit to Janny, Prittag and Grünberg in 1994, I said that I was amazed to see that Grünberg was a city with one of the largest churches I have ever seen in it’s centre. He asked me to consider the shock he felt when he was in the Barossa Valley on his only trip to Australia and his hosts pointed to acres of vineyards with a tiny little church on a rise, and some cows grazing nearby, and they announced “That is Grünberg”!


Gustav Becker qualified as a wheelwright. This followed a strenuous apprenticeship, followed by demanding journeyman requirements. One had to get special (and costly) permission from the authorities to open a trade in one’s local area, and this was virtually impossible to achieve if there were already enough wheelwrights in the local community. This could have been a reason for Gustuv considering going to Australia on the other side of the world.


In 1841 over 100 people had left the Grünberg District for Australia with Pastor Fritzsche as their leader. This followed persecution and prison sentences ordered by the King of Prussia and his government for anyone not joining in the decree that the Lutherans and Calvinists must combine so there would be only one Church in the Prussian Kingdom. The King who made these decrees had actually died in 1840 and the persecutions ceased and the decree was cancelled in 1844, but the plans of the emigrants had been made and properties sold so the emigration to Australia went ahead in 1841. In 1844 another 21 left the Grünberg District and went to Australia.

Large Emigration Period

In future years many more people would emigrate to Australia from Silesia, but the reason was no longer religious persecution. There were many reasons people left German countries, including the reports of gold rushes in Australia, or the compulsory military service for two years for all 20 year old males into the army to go and fight in wars. Parents who had lost a son or two in battles didn’t want any more of their sons involved in military service. The industrial revolution, firstly in England, meant machines and factories were producing materials and goods previously produced in thousands of little villages and the people in villages in Europe now experienced poverty. It is estimated that between 5 and 6 million Germans left Europe in the 1800’s for the New Countries overseas, mainly to the Americas. A trickle made their way to Australia.

Long Journey to Australia

It was twice as far to go from Europe to Australia as to North America, and it also cost double the price. The shipping agents who scoured the countryside for passengers really had to work hard and tell wonderful and fantastic stories about Australia to get people to pay up and board a ship to Australia. The agents were paid a certain amount for every person they could get on board a ship. Some agents even pretended they and their family were going too! Children under 14 years were half price or less and some mature teenagers went on board and were still listed as children when they arrived in Australia!


Gustav Becker made his way to Hamburg to board a ship in 1860, long after the religious persecution of Lutherans had ended. The gold rushes were still making the newspapers. There were letters from friends and relatives in Australia, sometimes published in the local newspapers, telling how one could even buy land if one worked hard. In Silesia only the richest people like ‘Lords’ owned large tracts of land.

‘Sophie and Friederike’

Gustav left Hamburg for Australia on the ship “Sophie and Friederike” on 25th October 1860 with 76 other passengers and arrived at Port Adelaide in South Australia 114 days later on February 16th, 1861. He was 24 years old. From the Kopittke Shipping Records:

‘Sophie & Friederike’ “Newspaper Report in The South Australian Advertiser Monday, February 18, 1861. The Sophie & Friederike of the Johann Cesar Godeffroy line was a schooner of burden 87 C.L.1 and dimensions 96′ 3″ x 25′ 0″ x 13′ 6″.* She was built in 1844 in Stettin as the Gladiator. She was purchased from Hellwig & Sanne of Stettin by the W. & S. Hauer line on 19 Oct 1850. In 1852 she was reconstructed and on 21 August 1856 she was sold to the F. Laeisz line, and then resold on 7 September 1860 to the Johann Cesar Godeffroy line. This was her only voyage from Hamburg to Australia with any of the owners, and the only voyage with the Godeffroy line. After leaving Adelaide, she visited various trading ports before being sold in 1863 in China. Sophie & Friederike Captain J Oesau, to Port Adelaide, departed [Hamburg] 13/10/1860″

There is a List of 77 passengers.

“Passenger 16: Becker Gustav (from) Rittag [ie. Prittag] Prussia Stellmacher [Wheelwright] age 23. Male.”


“Gustav teamed up with a partner and they worked in the Adelaide Hills searching for gold, but his mate cleared off with their finds.” [Grandson Melvin Becker to Kevin Zwar].


“Dad said that my great grandfather Gustav Becker worked in the copper mines at Kapunda when he arrived.” Christine Becker


Auguste Ernestine Becker nee Gunder

Auguste Ernestine Becker nee Gunder

When he was 26 years old Gustav married Auguste Ernestine Gunder on 24th September 1863 at Neukirch in the Barossa Valley. Auguste had been born on 27th March 1842, and had emigrated to Australia in1849. She had lived for a time at Light Pass and then at Neukirch.


The official papers state that Gustav Moritz Becker of Neukirch near Stockwell, a wheelwright, and native of Janny, aged 28 years, applied for citizenship and then took the oath of allegiance on the 28th day of April 1865. One had to be naturalized to purchase land in the new British Colony of South Australia, so it is likely Gustav bought or intended to buy land soon after this date.

Appila Farm

The ‘Appila Land Settlements’ published in “Between the Ranges – A Centenary History of Land Settlement at Appila 1872 – 1972″ by J. D. W. BABBAGE records the following:

SECTION 75 12/11/1872 [sold to] Gustav Moritz Becker 10/1/1880 [Land title issued to] Gustav Moritz Becker

They had moved north to Appila and bought virgin land. They would need to build a home, and here on this farm they would have seven children.

Seven Children

The seven children of Auguste and Gustav Becker were: Gustav Adolph ALFRED BECKER (19 Aug 1864 – 26 Aug 1946) He married Christiane Mathilde SCHAEFFER Anna Bertha Dorothea BECKER (26 June 1866 – 1939) She married Carl Heinrich WINTER (1867 – 1945) Auguste Emilie Lydia BECKER (2nd Sept 1868 – 1908) She married Carl Friedrich Gustav SAEGENSCHNITTER ( – 1931) Gotthelf Benjamin RICHARD BECKER (22 June 1870 – 1936) He married Emma Cecilia ZANKER (12 Aug 1885) Gotthold Emanuel BECKER (28 Feb 1873 – 1948) He married Caroline Emma WINTER Bertha Magdalene BECKER (24 July 1877 – ) She married Paul ZWAR (1870 – ) Martha Marie Edelgarde BECKER (1st May 1882 – 1978) She married Heinrich Carl Wilhelm WEGNER (– 1946)

Wheelwright Farmer

Workbench Becker

Gustav was a qualified wheelwright. Above is the workbench Gustav made from red gum timber for his workshop where he produced a variety of articles including  horse drawn carts and drays.

The screw on the workbench made by Gustav Becker.

The screw on the workbench made by Gustav Becker.

Some of his hand tools have been handed down through his Becker decendants. Gustav also farmed the land. Many of the emigrants from German Kingdoms who were qualified in a wide field of occupations bought up land and became farmers. It was only the ‘Lords’ who owned the land back home where they had grown up in Europe, and it was a great achievement for the son of a schoolteacher to be able to buy acres of farmland and live like a Lord!

Church and School

Gustav became involved in the Lutheran Church in its earliest days before there were any Lutheran schools, churches or pastors in the Appila area. I have attempted to keep this part of the Becker history as simple as possible. There was a Hugo Becker with a large family who was a school teacher and who played an important role in the early years at Appila. He wasn’t related to Gustav Becker, so to avoid confusion I haven’t mentioned Hugo in the following account of the early years.

For Detailed information

For a detailed study on the early days of the Lutheran Churches and Schools in the Appila and surrounding areas of South Australia I recommend you read the large 284 page book “They Went to the North – Lutherans in the Upper North of South Australia” By Rhonda Traeger Copies are available for purchase from: Lutheran Archives 27 Fourth St. Bowden South Australia 5007 Phone/Fax 08 8340 4009 Email: lutheran.archives@lca.org.au

Wide Variety

In the early days of European settlement in South Australia one found a wide variety of German folk from many different German States and Countries. In the churches they came from they had different hymnals, devotion books and customs. For example, in some Lutheran Churches the males sat on one side of the church, and the females on the other side! Wives couldn’t sit next to their husbands! The men went to the Lord’s Supper first, and then the women. Some sang three hallelujahs at the close of the service, and others only one. One could feel uncomfortable if one came from a different Lutheran background in Europe.

Lay People

In Australia the laypeople now had to make many decisions and take on responsibilities, like paying for and building a church, or deciding which Pastor to call, and then providing a house for him and his family. Most of these decisions were made and paid for by ‘governments’ in Europe. Suddenly the lay people had important roles to play, and I think it is fair to say there were times they didn’t handle it the best ways possible!


Lutheran Pastors who came from different countries and kingdoms in Europe had trained in different seminary’s and sometimes were suspicious of each other. It took 130 years before the Lutherans could all belong to the same Lutheran Church in Australia – and even then several congregations and a pastor or two chose to remain quite separate.

Virgin Land

Gustav Becker bought land near Appila when it was first opened up for sale in 1872. A house needed to be built and the land fenced and cleared for farming, and crops sown to get some income.

Pastor Ey

Pastor Rudolph Ey lived and worked in a parish at Carlsruhe a hundred miles south of Appila. It seems he made a trip North to visit some of his members and other Lutherans who had moved to the Appila area in 1872. The following year he went north again and took services, including one in the Ernst Joppich home near Appila. In 1875 Pastor Ey dedicated a chapel on Joppich’s farm [section 15]. It became known as the Pine Creek Chapel. Gustuf Becker was one who worshipped there. During the week the chapel building also served as a school. It would serve as a school for 100 years and many Becker descendants had their education in this building. But not immediately.


Gustav belonged to one of two different groups of Lutherans who worshipped together in 1875. Within a year or so the two groups of Lutherans decided they couldn’t worship together and it seems for a few years they worshipped separately, in the shared chapel, and the group Gustav belonged to [Later known as the ELCA Synod] later met together in the Pech family home. After several years they were ministered to by Pastor Johannes Thiessen.

Few Records

Please Note: The following account of Becker land and another school and congregation is partly assumptions and guesswork as there are no records apart from the Appila land records and the fact it is mentioned in early letters, including some written by Gustav himself, and published in the book “They Went North” by Rhonda Traeger.

Section 17 New Chapel and School

On 5th January 1880 Gustav’s father-in-law Johann Gottlieb Gunder bought sections 16 and 17 of Appila land from Patrick Maloney. It is not clear what buildings stood on this property, but four months later Gustav bought this land. He offered the use of part of this land as a school, plus a school house for the teacher. One source says that

“The school at section 17 was well established by August 1879”

but this is questionable as Gustav Becker only bought the property the following year in 1880. It seems there was a ‘house’ of some sort on the property, and it is possible the little congregation built a new school plus a house for the teacher.

Pastor Thiessen Leaves

At one stage Gustav offered the new house, at that stage not yet completed, as a possible manse for Pastor Thiessen, but changed the offer to the old house which needed improving, and when he moved there Pastor Thiessen had to make improvements himself. By this time virtually all of the members had fallen out with Pastor Thiessen and he moved away to Caltowie (where he lived in a house he owned).


There is no record of teachers and students at this school. At one time, about 1881, a young teacher named Wachtel arrived at the start of a new school year. He started on Monday morning, and taught until Friday afternoon and then he shot through! He may have been the last teacher at the school.

Purchase of Chapel Land

In 1881 the congregation bought a section of Becker’s section 17 so the congregation could own the Chapel land, now held for the congregation by three trustees. [It would be sold in 1919, and the Gloria Dei Church built on the new property (Borgas) on section 111].

Pastor Dorsh

In 1881 Pastor George Dorsch arrived with his wife. He was the first pastor to come to Australia from the Missouri Lutheran Synod in America. In the next century almost countless pastors would follow him from America and serve in the ELCA Lutheran Synod in Australia. Pastor Dorsch moved on after only two years. For some years the congregation would struggle to get a pastor and some families joined other Lutheran congregations in the District.

More Land

The Appila Land Records show that Gustav Becker bought section 2 & 72 on 23rd February 1889. This would pass on to Gustav Adolph Alfred Becker fourteen years later on 31st January 1903. In 1927 it went to Wilhelm Hermann Julius Schultz.

Pine Creek School


Pine Creek School c. 1898 Photo Courtesy Pine Creek Church Archives

After the ‘Becker’ school closed the children of both groups attended the school at Pine Creek. It was also natural that children of the local German/Lutheran families would intermarry, and newly weds then had to decide which congregation they would join. At some stage Gustav Becker and his family seem to have joined the Pine Creek Lutheran congregation. There was only one Lutheran Church in the Appila district that had a cemetery, so many are found in the same resting place in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church cemetery, on the same section of ‘Joppich’ land where the first Lutheran chapel/school was built and dedicated by Pastor Ey in 1875.


Gustav Becker died at Appila on 5th November1899, of ‘calcinoma ventric Nephritis acuta’ [Rita Zwar nee Becker]. He was buried in the Appila Lutheran cemetery, aged 63 years.

From the Appila Church Funeral Records: > Entry no. 46: [English translation by Edgar Zwar from the original German]. “BECKER Gustav Moritz. Son of a teacher. Grew up at Prittag in Silesia. Emigrated 18th Oct 1860. Married 24th Sept 1863 Auguste nee Gunder at Neukirch. Moved to Appila. Seven children.”

The Laura Standard

Fri 10th November 1899

Death of Mr. Becker. – It is our painful duty to chronicle the death of an old and respected resident of this district (Mr. G. Becker), which occurred on Sunday last at his residence near Laura. The deceased gentleman had been in ill-health for the past eighteen years, and a little over a week ago had an attack of influenza from which he never recovered. The late Mr. Becker (who was 62 years of age at the time of death) came to reside in this district twenty-seven years ago, and was one of the first settlers in Appila, prior to which he resided at Neukirk near Stockwell, where he was in business as a carpenter and wheelwright. In our district he was engagewd in farming pursuits. From the time of his entrance into the colony the deceased gentleman was very successful. He leaves a widow, four daughters (Mrs. Winter, Mrs. Zwar, Mrs Saegenschnitter, and Miss Becker), and three sons – Messrs. Alfred, Richard, and Gottlob Becker. The funeral took place on Tuesday last in the German cemetery near Pine Creek, and was largely attended. The Rev. Mr. Ottenburgher officiated at the grave.

Auguste Ernestine Becker nee Gunder

The entry no 64 in the church records reads:

1902 “BECKER: Widow of Gustav Moritz Becker. Appila. Liver failure following Hepatitis. Emigrated 1849. Lived at Lights Pass and also at Neukirch then at Appila. Married 24 Sept 1863. Seven children.”


The Laura Standard

Fri 26th December 1902

THE LATE MRS. BECKER. – We regret to record the death of Mrs. Becker (widow of the late Mr. G. Becker) which occurred on Tuesday morning last at her residence. The deceased lady was an old and respectred resident of this district, and was 60 years and 9 months old at the time of her decease. With her late husband, Mrs Becker came to reside in this district 29 years ago, previous to which she resided at Neukirch, near Stockwell. The late Mr. Becker died on November 5, 1899.

Friday 9 January 1903


Becker. – On December 23, 1902, Erstine Augusta, relict of the late Gustav Moritz Becker, of Appila, aged 60 years and nine months. May she rest in peace.


Gustav and Auguste Becker headstones in Pine Creek Lutheran Church cemetery near Appila

Farm passed on to Son Richard

The Land Title to the Appila Property, section 75, was taken over by Gotthelf Benjamin RICHARD BECKER on 31st January 1903. In later years the property went to Johann Frederick Zanker (16.4.1920); Edwin Henry Glasson (24.9.1947) Trevor Cross (11.5.1962)

Land Sections 2 & 72

The Appila Land records show that Gustav Becker bought sections 2 & 72 from James Clark on 23rd February 1889. It passed on to his son Gustav Adolph Alfred Becker 14 years later on 31st January 1903; then to Wilhelm Hermann Julius Schultz 5th April 1927.

Other Families who emigrated to Australia from Yanny [or Yany] and Prittag at different times in the 1800’s were:

[NITSCHKE George – from Janny] [BAHR – from Janny] From Prittag: SCHRAPEL SEIDEL Christian HENTSCHKE Johann Christian, and Johann Gottlieb NICOLAI Johann Christoff HÖEPPNER Johann Georg NITSCHKE Gottfried HEPPNER Christian HELBIG Marie Elisabeth KLAR

© Kevin P Zwar