Historical Background of Hahndorf
Hahndorf was settled by persecuted Lutherans fleeing for their faith from Prussian and East Germany in 1839.
Further information regarding Hahndorf is available from the following:
There are also numerous Publications regarding the History and Heritage of Hahndorf.
Biographical information regarding certain persons mentioned in the text is available from the following external links:
Reasons for Emigration
On 27th September 1817, King Frederich Wilhelm III of Prussia declared that the Lutheran and Reformed Calvanist churches should amalgamate and become one church under the Government.
In 1821, he attempted to force his 'Order of Service' on all congregations. Many Lutherans denied the State any right to dictate to them in matters of religion. After many years of persecution for their refusal to comply with the wishes of the King, many decided to leave.
Further extensive details of the above is available from the Wikipedia site Prussian Union (Evangelical Christian Church.)
Pastor August Ludwig Christian Kavel1, a deposed Lutheran Minister, was one of the principal figures regarding Lutheran emigration to South Australia.
Journey by Sea
Four small ships brought the first group of Lutheran settlers to South Australia.
After one unsuccessful attempt by Pastor Kavell, on the 8th July 1838 he helped 250 Lutherans leave Hamburg, Germany to set sail on the 'Prince George' and 'Bengalee' (financed by Angas) , eventually landing in the colony on 20th November 1838.
On 8 June 1838, another group had embarked on river barges at Tschicherzig and then travelled down the Oder, along connecting canels, and down the Elbe to Hamburg. They then waited at Hamburg for 6 weeks before going to nearby Altona and boarding the Danish ship 'Zebra'3 under the command of Captain Dirk Hahn. A Mrs Richardson financed their voyage which began on the 12th August 1838, two years to the day after the official proclamation of the state of South Australia.
The 'Zebra' was a 3 masted ship of 350 tons built in 1818. Apart from the passengers, the 'Zebra' carried 100 barrels of pork, 100 barrels of flower, 65 barrels of fresh water, 17 hogheads of beer and vinegar, 14 barrels of herrings, 2 boxes of boots and shoes, and 40,924 bricks.
Even before the 'Zebra' left the wharf two children had died. Eight days later two more had died and several more were ailing. Dr Mathieson, who had been appointed to keep order and to distribute provisions, tried in vain to persuade the captain to put into harbour to allow the sick to recover. This scheme was considered impractical. By 24 September the eighth corpse had been buried at sea.
Stringent measures were introduced for restoration of health. All healthy passengers took turns in spending a day and a night on deck so the sick could have more room and air. Sails to catch the wind were let down in all hatchways. The beds were brought out on deck and aired while the sleeping quarters were fumigated with vinegar and juniper berry three times a day. Sufferers of scurvy recovered after a diet of sauerkraut and raw potatoes coupled with compulsory daily exercise. Recurring bouts of chickenpox and typhoid ceased as the ship crossed the equator.
After leaving Altona, the 'Zebra' reached Holdfast Bay (Adelaide) on Friday, 28 December 1838 and Port Adelaide (known as Port Misery)4 four days later on Wednesday, 2 January 1839. The 'Zebra' started with 106 adults and 91 children as passengers. Six adults and five children died on the voyage. The 'Zebra' was the first ship to fly a foreign flag in the port, and as a result attracted considerable interest.
A further ship, the 'Catherina' arrived in January 1839.
The new arrivals were united with Pastor Kavel, who suggested they settle on a second parcel of land in Klemzig 5, next to the first 250 Lutherans who had arrived shortly before them, but they were looking for land of their own to settle and farm.
While his passengers camped in the sandhills, the ship's captain, Dirk Meinertz Hahn, set off to find suitable land where they could settle as a religious community.
By sheer luck, Captain Hahn met William Hampden Dutton, an old acquaintance whose father had been British Consul in Cuxhaven, while walking in Adelaide. William Hampden Dutton and his partners, Captain John Finnis and Duncan MacFarlane, had just purchased 'The First Special Survey'6 of 4000 acres in the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia and were planning to develop a township at the foot of Mount Barker.
Captain Hahn subsequently accepted an invitation from Mr Dutton to accompany him and his partners to inspect the land near Mt. Barker. A party of 12 including Captain Hahn set out to investigate the land in question.
On January 24th 1839, the party journeyed into the Adelaide Hills. They breakfasted on the top of Mount Lofty, lunched under a large gum tree surrounded by virgin bush, and then continued their journey until the country opened out into a fine green meadow with the Onkaparinga River nearby.
Captain Hahn was so impressed with the site that he immediately asked that the immigrants be allowed to settle there. He then personally drafted a contract which he submitted to the owners, William Hampton Dutton, Captain John Finnis and Duncan MacFarlane.
The partners not only agreed to the above, but of their own account added that they would supply 6 milch cows to the group on arrival and if the new settlers proved themselves industrious and thorough workers, they would assist them with the building of a church and school in the following year.
On 28 January 1839, Messrs Dutton7, Finnis8 and MacFarlane9 came to the ship at Port Adelaide and concluded the contract with the immigrants, granting them a lease of 150 acres instead of 100 and asking that each settler was to provide his own agricultural implements.
A number of families from Klemzig and a few passengers from the 'Catherina' which had arrived on 22 January 1839, also expressed interest in moving to the new German village in the Adelaide Hills. To accommodate the extra families, three eighty acre sections, numbers 4002, 4003 and 4004, were allotted to the Lutheran immigrants.
At Glen Osmond, a third Lutheran village became a temporary resting- place on the long trek up Mount Lofty to Hahndorf. Within a few years the rough huts erected by 'Catherina' passengers were abandoned as the immigrants moved further afield in search of more land. At Klemzig, most signs of its early European beginnings had disappeared by 1880 to make way for suburban development.
Hahndorf thus became and still is, the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia.
The Lutheran immigrants spent February 1839 walking from Port Adelaide carrying their belongings on their backs or in primitive handcarts to their new home in the hills. Some families left Klemzig to join them in the more fertile Onkaparinga River valley. When the first group reached the site on the 3rd March at the section of land allotted to them for a settlement, they stopped at a native 'bukartilla' or swimming hole, a little north of the present Post Office, and without waiting to unload, fell on their knees to give thanks to God for bringing them safely to this land of religious freedom. Then came the task of erecting huts and shelters. Later trees were felled and log-huts or pug-houses built. The ground was worked and an attempt was made to grow vegetables.
This land was divided up between the 54 Founding Families of Hahndorf. Of these, 35 families were from the 'Zebra', 17 families were from the 'Prince George' and the 'Bengalee' who had arrived earlier with Pastor Kavel, and 2 families subsequently from the 'Catharina'. The land was broken up into smaller home size blocks, with larger blocks on the outskirts of the town for farming.
The 'Southern Australian', dated 30 January 1839, contained the following news item:
So in great appreciation for his help, the new arrivals named their new home Hahndorf - ('Hahn's Village').