Bulletin # 4
Buchsfelde District - History
This account is compiled in part from notes written by the late Mr. Mueller, who resided at Rosedale S.A. Besides being postmaster at Rosedale until its closing, he was a keen fireside historian who derived much pleasure in documenting information about early German settlers in the Barossa Valley and Buchsfelde districts. Additionally, a quote is reproduced from Rodney Cockburn’s "What’s in a Name - Nomenclature of South Australia". Other items are taken from "The Bunyip", E. F. Combs "History of Gawler" and "Gawler Handbook" by George E. Loyau (former editor of Gawler Bunyip) published 1880.
In the early 19th Century, practically all of Europe was in turmoil. This followed the uprising of the French people against their aristocracy in 1789 when financial reforms were passed and the Republican government carried on a successful war by reign of terror - The French Revolution.
This led to revolutions in all German states with the result many Germans fled from their homeland. One group came to South Australia and became known as the Eighteen-Forty-Eighters. Several families travelled out on the "Princess Louise" in 1849, and others came before or on later sailings. They settled about four miles downstream of Gawler on both sides of the Gawler River.
On arrival in the area, some lived in caves in the riverbanks for a time. And we do know that a small settlement was thriving at Buchsfelde by the end of 1850. In the group were many intellectuals - geologists, philosophers, theologists, orchardists, millers, and one of their group, Mrs. Kreusler, was a taxidermist. Most of them were musicians.
From their humble beginnings on the riverbanks, they became landowners, prospered and held leading positions in Gawler and surrounding districts. One of their group, Dr. Richard Schomburgk, became a magistrate, was honorary curator of the Gawler Museum, had a keen interest in the sciences, carried out garden pursuits and in 1865 was appointed Director of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
Rich alluvial soil brought down the river in countless floods made the river flats suitable for orchards and vineyards. Further away from the river, less intensive cultivation of farm crops was pursued. The orchards near the river were soon in full production, and with full scope given to grafting and budding, in some cases seven varieties of fruit were grown on the one stock. One keen vigneron, is reported to have had 68 varieties of grapes in his vineyard. In time, a fruit delivery round was established as far afield as Mallala.
The settlement of Buchsfelde spanned both sides of Gawler River - the north side in Mudla Wirra District Council, and southern side in - Munno Para. Origin of the area’s name is reported in Rodney Cockburn’s "What’s in a Name - Nomenclature of South Australia":
"A few years ago the late Leopold von Buch had some young German friends about to leave their fatherland and emigrate to Adelaide. The illustrious geologist paid them a farewell visit and knowing that their means were limited left them a draft for 300 Thalers on the table when he left. A note soon arrived requesting their acceptance of the present, the donor pleasantly remarking that in case he visited Australia, he should want shelter and a roof, and that he wished to contribute towards providing one. The emigrants eventually arrived safely and set up a home and shelter near the Gawler River and called the settlement Buchsfelde"
Did the accommodation offer span 125 years ? In about 1977, a descendant of Leopold von Buchs, bearing the same name as his illustrious ancestor, visited Gawler on a sentimental journey to retrace the steps of the pioneers. He met several descendants, including Myrtle Urlwin.
According to the "Gawler Handbook" published in 1880, Buchsfelde was "at one time laid out for a township, but either in consequence of death, or the departure of former inhabitants, has long since failed to be regarded in the category of towns. Its land is now devoted principally to agricultural purposes, for which it appears eminently adapted."
By early 1851, some nineteen families comprising 61 adults and 27 children, resided in the area. This is documented in a petition submitted by the colonists to the governor for a land grant on which to establish a church (long since demolished, it stood in what’s known present day as the "Schomburgk" Cemetery).
The region abounds with history, and some good reading on the lives of the colonists can be obtained from early editions of "The Bunyip"; the 1880 "Gawler Handbook"; 1907 "History of Gawler"; and if you can translate early German print there is a lot of information in the early German newspapers. Researchers are cautioned however to verify dates contained in some of these publication, as it has been known for errors to occur.
Buchsfelde name returns ! Many German place names in South Australia were Anglicized in the early 20th Century, when the British Empire was at war with Germany. Most South Australians will know many popular towns whose names were juggled about in this way, but thankfully have now been restored to their original names. Buchsfelde too was a casualty of war and lost its name to - Loos. However, it is believed that the Buchsfelde name has, or is being restored and the original name (incorrectly spelled) now appears in current editions of the UBD Street Directory. Our contact tell us that this incorrect spelling is the next thing to be addressed.
Other communities in the area have in recent times produced good local histories on their early settlers. The District Council of Mallala produced one for their region in 1985 called "Life Around the Light". So . . . now it should be Buchsfelde’s turn ! And the whisper on the grapevine is that there is someone in the area, who for the time being will remain unnamed, who is interested in doing just that ! Shouldn’t we be offering as much support as we can ?
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