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Paul Gerhard (Garry) Zwar

  • Born: 20 October 1899. Ebenezer, South Australia
  • Parents:
    Paul and Bertha Zwar nee Becker
    • Married:
    • Mary Therese Charlotte IKER
  • Lived:
    Ebenezer in South Australia, Melbourne in Victoria, New South Wales, Toowoomba and Brisbane in Queensland
  • Died: 28 Ma 1991
  • Buried: Brisbane, Queensland

Autobiography of Garry Zwar

Introduction by Kevin Zwar

When beginning a new Lutheran Parish in Gladstone in Queensland late in the 1960’s I became aware of a Garry Zwar who lived over 400 k’ms away in Brisbane. So I contacted Garry for information on our relatives and was able to visit him several times before we moved to the Warrnambool Parish in Victoria.

Garry was related to me through both my mother Rita Becker – and my father Edgar Zwar. In the Zwar Family we were only distant cousins, but Garry’s mother Bertha Becker was my Great Auntie through my mother Rita Becker.

Garry grew up in South Australia and then lived interstate in Victoria and New South Wales before he settled permanently in Queensland, where he lived for most of his life. In his many travels with his work over a number of years Garry visited more of our distant Zwar relatives throughout Australia than anyone else ever did! He often called on them and sometimes stayed with them.

The following account of his life is made up of quotes taken directly from his letters telling me about his life and our Becker and Zwar relatives. It is an Autobiography. I think it gives us a good overall picture of life with his Becker and Zwar family connections in the first half of the 1900’s.



“Dear Kevin,

Now to the chief items you wish to know:”


“Re my late mother Bertha M. Zwar, she was a sister to your grandfather Richard Becker – the late father of your mother Rita. She passed away in 1942 aged 67. Her birthday was July 7th.


“Her children of six [actually 8 – K P Z]I happen to be the eldest.

1. Paul Gerhard Zwar born Oct 20th 1899.

2. Brother Edward Herrmann Zwar born Feb 7th 1902.

3. Alfred Zwar born Mar 30th – 1902

4. Sister Frieda M Zwar born Mar 16 – 1905

5. Sister Mary July 20 – 1906

6. Brother Rudolph – born Oct 23 – 1908”

[7. Martin – born Nov 8 1911 … K P Z

8. Conrad – born June 20 1914 … K P Z]

[from Letter: To K P Z from 37 Hawthorne St. Woolloongabba 4102. Jan 15 1979]


“My late grandmother taught me to read German when I was five so when I went to Ebenezer Lutheran School I was proficient in this. Still now “Wenn ich nür dass Englische nicht zu güt fort kann, spreche ich Deutsch.” Then when I was 12 I was sent to the Stockwell State School. We had a brilliant teacher from London who was afraid I could not pass an exam. I was determined to pass it he gave me three hours night school for months. Anyhow I passed the exam in six subjects – English, Arithmetic, Algebra, History, German which was no problem and one subject I forget. This with 18 months at this State School.” [Letter to K P Z Aug 31 1978]

Grandfather Johann Zwar

“I was 11 years of age when my good grandfather Johann [Zwar] passed away. As his house was only 2 chains from ours that is why I saw him nearly daily and so remember his various interests so well, also the last few years of his life he enlisted me to drive him to Tanunda occasionally as he had to cross 2 railway crossings as he was turning deaf. He would not have heard the train whistle. My grandfather Johann Zwar was born in 1821 died at 90 in 1911 when I was 11 years of age.” [Letter to K P Z Oct 17 – 1976]

“My late grandfather Dr John Zwar, my late mother liked him very much as also us kids.” [Letter July 19 and 24, 1976]

Becker Visits

“I am very happy to have had the pleasure to meet you and get to know you as after all we are also related as the Becker family descendants as your great grandfather the late Uncle Richard Becker was brother to my late mother. He used to visit us occasionally many years ago and we liked him very much as also Auntie Emma. We of course returned some visits to him. My late mother visited him 3 months before he died as she felt she wished to see him before he passed on. This of course was many years ago when I was a boy and … Henry Wegner who married Auntie Edel (my mother’s sister) told us that Uncle Richard used to have a ‘Star’ English motor car his first a late Readers Digest tells that a Star motor car … is now worth $30,000 in U S A as an antique.

The original (Becker) was Uncle Gunder as we called him liveda few miles from us a really lovely man cheerful always had a cheerful laugh and manner so of course was popular by everybody.

He was a brother to late Uncle Richard [Becker’s] mother. I believe he had 7 daughters, one son all of which had fairly large families only one daughter is still alive a lovely person now 83 – used to write to us frequently.

Also was glad to get to know each of late Uncle Richard’s brothers and sisters one Uncle Gotthold at Henty N S W. He had two sons good chaps both and one daughter.” [Letter to K P Z: July 19 and 24, 1976]


“As a teenager at our Ebenezer home we had [pet] rabbits Grey white and yellow in a cage on the farm. Whenever we were short of meat one of us used to shoot a few rabbits in adjoining vineyards.” [Letter to K P Z Aug 31 1978]

The Schliebs family

“The late Emil Schliebs and his wife (nee Schulz) had a family of six children all of which were good friends of mine. Their names from the eldest are Richard (about my age of 70) Alma who married my brother Eduard. Then Gerhard then a daughter whose name I can’t recollect married a Mr Woods at Nuriootpa then Ivy, married a Mr Miller near Truro last Leslie, a school teacher. Don’t know what Gerhard is doing now but Richard has his late parents farm at Muculta married a Miss Parbs?. Was a councillor for Angaston for some years.” [Letter to K P Z Feb 5 1970]


“I left South Australia permanently in 1930 and 1939, and only paid very occasional visit to S. A. mainly to my mother and some immediate relatives and old friends between 1930 and 1939 – since only one in 1945 – since 1930 I travelled interstate to 1942 approximately 4 years each in the 3 Eastern States . So I have had very little personal contact with most members of the Zwar families in South Aust since 1930 except for a 100 or so cousins and friends visiting us in Qld over the years mainly from the Barossa my home district. When I was in Victoria for 4 years viz 1930 to 1934 I occasionally visited my Uncle the late Dr Bernard Zwar. Also spent many happy weekends with Mr H. P. Zwar and his sisters at Broadford, children of the late Michael Zwar, who was a brother to my grandfather Dr John Zwar of Ebenezer and your great grandfather Peter Zwar. Michael Zwar had 8 children [actually 11 – K P Z] however I only got to know four.…I’ve been more in touch really with this Victorian branch of the Z family since 1930 than the South Australian and still hear from a daughter of the late H. P. Zwar also saw her when visiting Brisbane a few years ago telling us all about her impressions of numerous world tours she had, also hear from one of his grand daughters occasionally.” [Letter to K P Z Feb 5 1970]

Immediate Family

“My own immediate family are poor and occasional corresponders, and often have to wait some years for a reply, although I am happy to say many of my cousins in the Barossa Adelaide etc write to us regularly. Also are happy to visit us when visiting Queensland, as we are also very glad to see them and usually visit Queensland during the Winter.Have not heard from brothers Alf and Rudi for some years, but from information Alf is in Adelaide and Rudolf stays with Wasyl Petaluk, husband of very late sister Frieda. Wasyl I learn is again married. Wasyl, I never knew him at all,Frieda used to write to us occasionally before she passed away.

Our Ebenezer family of my brothers and sisters valued and saved none [of historical papers] they were relegated to a heap and burnt . I could not carry them with me in my extensive travels all over Sth Aust, Victoria, N S W and Qld travelling about 50,000 miles each year.

I am glad you received a lot of information from Arthur Zwar he made a special hobby of records of the big Zwar family for years more so than any Zwar I know … he would be very reliable.” [Letter to K P Z: Feb 5 1970]

South Australian Visits

” I always stayed with Ben Gunder who has an 800 acre farm at Hornsdale. His late father was a cousin to your late grandfather Richard Becker. Ben is one of my best friends ever since we were together in the Barossa.Also I paid a brief visit to Aunt Emma [Becker], Rita’s mother who I always found a very lovely person to visit, met Rev Stolz there … and had pleasant chats with him for hours on Auntie Emma’s lawn one afternoon. Also spent one evening at your Auntie Mary (Mrs Shulz [Schultz]) who I always found a humorous and congenial person.” [Letter to K P Z Oct 17 – 1976]

Peter Zwar at Ebenezer

“You mentioned that your great grandfather Peter Zwar spent some years after he arrived in Australia with my grandfather at Ebenezer, and did carpentry jobs – maybe he made the doors and windows of the first church at Ebenezer which were of extra good workmanship and strong construction. My late father bought all the windows and doors of this original church when it was demolished and had them fitted into a 3 chain long wheat shed built of bricks and stone and held 2000 bags of wheat which still stands today as far as I know has double front doors which would be as sound today’s as when they were made. This very useful shed was built by an Uncle of the late Rev F Noack – Hermann Noack.Peter Zwar your great-grandfather I took to Moculta when a boy to visit a Koch family.” (Elisabeth Koch, a daughter of Peter – K P Z)

“I still remember a Karl Zwar who used to visit us some times at Ebenezer when I was a school boy a friendly man a brother to your grandfather Peter Zwar – quoting from memory.”

Toowoomba Friend

“I am also blessed with a wonderful [friend] who gives me genuine brotherly love even though he is not related is a dedicated Lutheran at Toowoomba Hume St Church visits me almost monthly, spends 2 days with me and is wonderful company kn own him for 40 years does jobs for me here is an efficient tradesman and reasonable in his charges. I could not find a better friend in the whole world.” [Letter to K P Z May 23 1976]


“Just a bit re the Victorian branch of the Z family of the late Michael Zwar .… I spent many happy weekends at the three sisters at Broadford also at the house of H. P. Zwar, who was a most interesting personality, he was mayor of Preston for years, also chairman of 3 companies – also a State member for 12 years and considered one of the most popular personalities in Melbourne. He had a tannery at Preston which his son Hermann (who I also met at his father’s place) sold I am informed for 400,000 pounds some years ago.”

Association with the late H. P. Zwar

“His suggestions helped me a lot in my business owing to his much maturer experience in business. H. P. Zwar passed away at 85 years.

His brother Albert Zwar had a tannery at Beechworth Victoria … Albert was also a member in the Vic State parliament for 12 years.

Another, Charles Zwar son of late Charles Zwar Vic is a noted musician now in London.

The above elder Zwars were cousins of your grandfather Peter Zwar. They were well and favourably known in Victoria.”

Toowoomba Home

“We have a nice house in Toowoomba, now let, where we intended to live, however we could not stand the cold there in the Winter which is 3 degrees below Adelaide, so when you visit us here, don’t expect to find a posh house.” [Letter to K P Z Feb 5 1970]


“Still have some colour postcards Uncle Bernard sent to my grandfather by B. Zwar in 1905.”

Piano and Organ

“My late Mother [Bertha] – sister to the late Richard Becker – learnt to play starting at 11 years of age and used to play our lovely organ at home every evening for half an hour also played the organ at Ebenezer and Stockwell Churches whenever their constant players went on holidays.I still remember [Del] playing one of my favourite ‘Under the Double Eagle” by Wagner. Mary used to play it every evening for half an hour, included Sacred Songs. I miss this and particularly Mary who was a lovely wife and companion.”

Newspaper Clipping from Garry

Thank God for Joh


“Sometimes the well educated with degrees today do not achieve as much as the self educated… the late H. P. Zwar Mayor of Preston Victoria for 12 years also State member for that electorate for 12 years put the labour man out for 12 years also director of 3 companies he had a very ordinary State School education mainly milking cows.

His son Herman sold his tannery for 600,000 pounds when a pound was worth a pound.

Mr. A M Zwar of Beechworth was a Country Party member for 12 years.

The late Bernard Zwar who could not speak English when he was till 12 at a Lutheran School – who ended up as one of the leading surgeons in Australia as acc. M.D. M.S. CBE. FRAC. S etc etc. In 1905 he was asked to represent Australia at the Berlin Medical Congress, and on return he gave lectures to professional Doctors in some Australian cities lecturing on what he had learnt there. I saw him last in Melbourne in 1942 always found him friendly to me. Also he sent some illustrated cards of the district in Germany where my late Grandfather came from. The Johann Zwar of Ebenezer of which I found a few. Dr Hermann Zwar I remember when he died unfortunately early in 1902 being then Surgeon at Clermont hospital at the time when Clermont was booming.

A Charles Zwar who got his legal LLB first then decided to make music his career used to play the Melbourne Town Hall organ for awhile prior to that. This is just to mention a few.

My late grandmother taught me to read German when I was five so when I went to Ebenezer Lutheran School I was proficient in this. Still now “Wenn ich nür dass Englische nicht zu güt fort kann spreche ich Deutsch.”

Then when I was 12 I was sent to the Stockwell State School we had a brilliant teacher from London who was afraid I could not pass an exam. I was determined to pass it he gave me three hours night school for months. Anyhow I passed the exam in six subjects – English, Arithmetic, Algebra, History, German which was no problem and one subject I forget. This with 18 months at this State School. Today unfortunately many graduates in medicine, law etc cannot get a job owing to the present depression. Even many educated pupils in Qld cannot even spell words correctly, according to C M Courier [Newspaper]. I may misspell some words in this letter owing to very poor eyesight.”


Zwar Vacuum Machine


Zwar Vacuum Machine -  Keith Zwar

Zwar Vacuum Machine – Keith Zwar


    Name Plate - Kevin Zwar

Name Plate – Kevin Zwar



Plunger – Kevin Zwar

“The [washing] machine is easy to operate by hand for a copperful for 5 to 7 minutes when I used to sell I took a boy with me to prove to customers how how easy it is to work.

The fact that [I] sold 15,000 with no complaints speaks for itself.”  [ Letter to K P Z Aug 31 1978]


Zwar Washing Machine 001



Zwar Washing Machine 002

“I enclose a catalogue of the line I used to handle interstate from 1930 to 1942 ended up selling 15,000 units. But the war terminated our supplies in 1942.

G. Z.”               [Letter to K P Z Feb 5 1970]


“I know Warrnambool well as I sold 700 – 800 Zwar Washing machines in your city and District as including the towns and districts of Pt Fairy Camperdown Terang and Colac. At Colac I became friends with its leading solicitor P. Arundell M. A. L.L.B. who invited me to his house to have tea whenever I was in Colac. He could speak four languages but not too Good in German so after tea he invited me into his lounge to only speak to him in German so he could brush it up. He visited us on his annual holidays her [Brisbane] and at Toowoomba about 12 times. He was one of our very best friends.”   [Letter to K P Z  Aug 31 1978]

 Re Western District Vic

“In 1932 The Western District of Victoria that is Colac, Terang, Camperdown, Warrnambool, Port Fairy etc had also had a good season enabling me to sell approximately 7 to 8 hundred Washing Machines at that time. Nine years later I paid a short visit to each of these towns met many old customers who were friendly by expressing the [good] purchase of their Washing Machines.” [Letter to K P Z Jan 15 1979]


 “For 20 years local and interstate doctors specialists etc told me I had a tired heart. Dr Sheil after sending me to an Xray also an electrocardiograph specialist that my heart was O K but I had an unusual large hiatus hernia pressing against my vital organs thereby giving me long bouts of severe pain at my age then 62 an operation was ill advised the P. A. hospital will not touch it even today – that is to operate. [Letter to K P Z Aug 31 1978]


Wife Mary Zwar, two visitors, Garry Zwar   (1969)

Wife Mary Zwar, two visitors, Garry Zwar (1969)

“Since the sudden passing of my dear late wife Mary 5 years on Feb 11 – she was a wonderful wife and companion for over 20 years. We were very happy throughout. She used to play sacred hymns on our lovely piano daily for half an hour and had a gifted singing voice. Now it is an empty house. Also I haven’t the energy to keep my house as tidy as a good wife can.

… I sincerely hope that this finds you in reasonable good health,

With Christian greetings to yourself, Del and family,

Yours Sincerely,

Garry                          [Letter to K P Z: Jan 15 1979]


Original Page of a letter in Garry’s distinctive handwqriting.

Zwar original Letter