Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 03 – Conflict at the Mission Station

On July 5, 1841, Mr. Schmidt writes that he had commenced school­keeping, and had some days above 20 children around him. 

The native children who attended the mission school were taught side by side with the few children of the whites, the missioners thinking that in a mixed school the discipline of the white children would have a steadying effect on the black. The youngest children only of the natives, generally those about six years of age, could be persuaded to submit to school discipline. They learnt readily enough, but the constant habit of going into the bush with the tribe prevented any sustained training. The children would learn the Lord’s Prayer, and then when the tribe visited the township, repeat it to the whites in the Settlement in  return for  a  coin, a penny or a sixpence. 

Education was, in fact, merely a matter of merchandise to the native youngsters; attendance at school was regarded as a service rendered to the whites, to be paid for in food.5

The missionaries tried to learn the language and culture of the Aborigines and hoped, in time, to break down their nomadic habits. Many people at that point in time, believed the Aborigines to be no better than animals – depraved like the convicts in the nearby Moreton Bay Penal Settlement. Nevertheless the Lutheran missionaries were receiving financial aid from the mission society under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church and had been warmly welcomed on their arrival by Dr Lang.

The missionaries discouraged handouts from the start. Whenever the natives helped in the building or gardening, they were paid wages in the form of food. The Aborigines came to accept the missionaries and even attended the Sunday services. They always greatly enjoyed the hymn singing.

But thieving became rife amongst the natives. Night watches had to be kept in an effort to prevent raids on gardens. Even when the missionaries were summoned to prayer by the hammering of a tin dish, the natives came to learn this was the safest time to raid. Once, Haussmann was attached on an out-station and seriously wounded. 6

The worst attack came one night on 21st March 1840when the Aborigines approached carrying firebrands and menacing spears and clubs. … the missionaries fired warning shots to frighten them off. The commandant of the nearby Moreton Bay Penal Settlement, L. Gorman, demanded an explanation of the incident. He had heard that several natives had been wounded and regretted the incident because he had been on excellent terms with them for forty miles around. Opposition for the mission continued. The Government was convinced that Zion’s Hill should be closed down and a new mission established further away from the evil influence of the penal settlement. 8

Nundah Free Settlers Monument (photo by Lankiveil) This monument in modern-day Nundah commemorates the Zion Hill settlers.


5. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.

6. Turner, Pam; First European Settlement of Queensland 1838-1988’, Zion Lutheran Home 1987

7. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.

8. Turner, Pam, op.cit.

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 02 – The Mission Station

As the result of Dr Lang’s visit to Pastor Gossner at the Bethlehem Evangelical Church in Berlin, ten laymen expressed willingness to undertake the journey:

Gottfried Haussmann, farmer, and his wife Louise Wilhelmina.

Johann Gottfried Wagner, a shoemaker.

Peter Niquet, bricklayer, and his wife Marie Sophia

Ambrosius Theophilus Wilhelm Hartenstein, weaver, and his wife Wilhelmine Christina

Johann Leopold Zillmann, blacksmith, and his wife Clara Louise.

Friedrich Theodor Franz, a tailor.

Ludwig Doege, a gardener.

August Rode, a cabinetmaker, and his wife Julia Emilia.

August Olbrecht, a shoemaker.

Moritz Schneider, medical student, and his wife Caroline. (Moritz died from typhus in the Sydney quarantine station). 

The party was joined by two clergymen, Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and Christoph Eipper, and their wives Louise and Harriet. Without these two clergymen the English parliament refused to provide financial assistance for the undertaking. 4

In all, with their wives and children, the party numbered twenty persons. 

In July 1837, the missionaries and their families sailed from Bremen for Greenock, Scotland, where they embarked on “the fine first­class Bristol-built ship Minerva, 380 tons, under the command of Captain Thomas Furlong.” 

The Minerva arrived at Sydney on January 23, 1838. On March 19, several of the missionaries left for Moreton Bay in the Government schooner Isabella, 126 tons, Captain More. They arrived at Moreton Bay on March 30, 1838, the remainder of the party arriving in June of the same year. 

When the missionaries arrived at Moreton Bay, the Settlement was on the verge of being transformed from a penal to a free settlement. The convicts, who in 1831 numbered 1,066, were being gradually withdrawn, and in 1837, the year before the arrival of the missionaries, only 300 were left. 

The area between the Settlement and the coast remained in the undisturbed possession of the blacks. In this area, a site was allotted for the formation of the mission station, covering about 640 acres, by Major Cotton, Commandant of the Penal Settlement at the time of their arrival. 

In his 1841 account Pastor Eipper describes the missionaries settlement:

“Their settlement is situated on a hill, from which they have given it the name of Zions Hill, it consists of eleven cottages with enclosed yards, kitchens, storehouses, etc.: these cottages are built in a line on the ridge of the hill from east to west.  In front of the houses small gardens are laid out down the hill towards a lagoon; at its base and in the rear of the yards larger gardens run down on the opposite descent. The houses are either thatched or covered with hark; the walls are built with slabs and plastered with clay both inside and outside, being whitewashed with a species of white clay found on the spot, and mixed with sand.  The ceilings are formed of plaits of grass and clay wound about sticks laid across the tie-beams, and the floors of slabs smoothed with the adze; each cottage having two or three rooms and one fireplace.” 

Sketch of the German Mission Station at Zion Hill


4. Nundah and Districts Historical Society Inc. op.cit.

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 01 – The Missionaries:

From Moreton Bay’s beginning as a penal settlement in 1824, the authorities   intended to use it as a base for missionary work among the aborigines. The Governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane, intimated through the Attorney General, Mr. Saxe Banister, to a deputation from the London Missionary Society, a wish that something might he attempted on behalf of the aborigines.

In his book Cooksland Dr. John Dunmore Lang describes the genesis of the German Lutheran Mission he was instrumental in founding at Nundah: “My attention,” he writes, “was strongly directed to the subject of establishing a mission to the aborigines of Australia so early as the year 1831, and during that year, and in the year 1834 I made  three  successive  attempts to establish such a mission by means of Scotch missionaries, but without success.

The difficulty of securing Scottish missionaries was probably due to the fact that at the time there was an exodus of Scottish peasants to Canada, and that the Scottish clergy preferred to follow their own flocks to minister to their spiritual needs in the new home they sought beyond the seas. 1

In 1837 Dr Lang had been in Great Britain in search of missionaries to evangelise the Aborigines in the Moreton Bay area. He had been about to return to Australia without any success when he heard of Pastor Johannes Evangelista Gossner and his lay-missionary training centre at the Bethlehem Evangelical Church in Berlin. Dr Lang travelled to Berlin and enthusiastically outlined his plans to Pastor Gossner and his students, saying he felt Moreton Bay was ideally suited to a mission station. 2

A knowledge of Australia was widespread throughout German-speaking Europe: Yde T’Jercxzoon Holman, or Holleman, was second in command of the Heemskerk on Tasman’s second voyage, and on Cook’s second voyage he was accompanied by two German scientists, Johann Reinhold Forster and his son, Johann Georg Adam. The son’s work in particular, with its account of the Great Barrier Reef, was widely read.  A German account of’ the third voyage was also published. Flinders on his voyage in the Investigator (1801-1803) had with him an Austrian, Ferdinand Bauer, whose account of the voyage was embellished with 1400 illustrations of Australian botanical specimens. 3

Doryanthes excelsa

This is an image of Doryanthes excelsa from Ferdinand Bauer’s ‘Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae’.


1. Sparks, H.J.J.; Queensland’s First Free Settlement 1838–1938.

2. Nundah and Districts Historical Society Inc.

Queensland’s German Connections

The Power Point Presentation of Queensland’s German Connections

I was privileged last week to be asked to deliver my Power Point Presentation ‘Queensland’s German Connections’ at Brisbane’s German Club as part of German Week. 

You may download the slides that make up the Power Point Presentation If you click on their German Week webpage at http://germanweek.com.au/event/german-history-day/

Then scroll down to the agenda and click on slides in the 1:30pm timeslot. You should then be able to download the full presentation.

Click on the arrow tip to download slides

Next weekend and expanding on this theme, I’ll start a new blog series entitled ‘Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement’.

Vessel ‘Caroline’ quarantined in 1882 at Peel Island

Further to my blog of 22.06.2018 listing the ships known quarantined at Peel Island between 1873 and 1896, Alison, one of my readers, has kindly offered the following additional information regarding the voyage of the vessel ‘Caroline’ of 1882:

The Brisbane Courier Tuesday 2 May 1882:

‘Caroline’, immigrant ship, from London, via Plymouth, was refused pratique (permission granted to a ship to have dealings with a port, given after quarantine or on showing a clean bill of health) yesterday in consequence of fever having broken out amongst the passengers during the voyage. She will probably be towed to the quarantine station to-day. 

The Brisbane Telegraph, Wednesday 3 May 1882:

In Quarantine.— A Government Gazette Extraordinary was issued yesterday afternoon, containing a proclamation to the effect that;— ‘ Where it has been reporter to the Governor in Council that the infectious disease called scarlet fever exists on board the ship “Caroline,” lately arrived from Plymouth, at the Port of Moreton Bay, and now lying at anchor in that port: Now, therefore, His Excellency the Governor, by and with the advice of the Executive Council, and in pursuance and exercise of the authority vested in him by the said Act, doth order, and it is hereby ordered, that the said ship, and all the crew and passengers thereof, together with all the persons now on board, be placed in quarantine, at the Quarantine Station, Peel Island, and so continue until other order shall be made in that behalf.’ 

Brisbane Courier, Friday 5 May 1882:

THE Under Colonial Secretary received a telegram yesterday from Mr. J. Hamilton, superintendent at Dunwich, giving the names of the persons who died on board the immigrant ship Caroline during her voyage out.

They are :-

  1. Hugh Elliott, infant, who died of the 2nd February, from convulsions resulting from diarrhea (diarrhoea).
  2. Mary Hay Elliott, 2 years old, on the 3rd February, of marasmus (undernourishment) and bronchitis. 
  3. Eliza Dinein, infant, on the 2nd February, of diarrhea.
  4. Edward Floyd, infant, on the 25th February, of hydrocephalus (a condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain, typically in young children, enlarging the head and sometimes causing brain damage) and diarrhea.
  5. William Henry Oliver, 5 years old, on the 9th March, of scarlatina fever (or scarlet fever, an infectious bacterial disease affecting especially children, and causing fever and a scarlet rash. It is caused by streptococci).
  6. Charlotte Oliver, 2 years old, on the 10th March, of gastric fever.
  7. Ellen Jones, 2 years old, on the 24th March, of gastric fever. 
  8. William Jones, infant, on the 21st April, of scarlatina fever.
  9. Ellen Mears, infant, on 24th April, of scarlatina fever.

The Brisbane Telegraph, Wednesday 10 May 1882:
RELEASE OF THE CAROLINE. AN order of Council appeared in a Government Gazette Extraordinary issued yesterday afternoon, releasing the ship ‘Caroline’ from quarantine, the health officer having certified that no contagious or infectious sickness exists amongst the crew.  

(All entries in italics are explanations inserted by this editor, Peter Ludlow)