Gebhardt Brothers

The Gebhardt Brothers

Gustav Adolph Gebhardt, born in Hanover Germany on 23 September 1833, migrated at the age of twenty-five with his brothers Carl and Ernst in 1858 after the death of their parents. They arrived on the ship Ohio. Ernst became a bullock driver, Carl a farmer in the Barossa Valley while Gustav remained in Adelaide where he found work as a butcher with Gabriel Bennett.

On 25 July 1859 Gustav married Caroline Wilhelmina Horstman, born in 1836 at Oldenburg, Germany. It was not long after that he took his wife to Burra where he opened his own butcher shop, much to the dislike of the local butchers. When his cart was stolen and the spokes of the wheels sawn off it resulted in much sympathy from the local miners, most of whom now became his customers. He did well and was soon able to buy stock for breeding.

His brothers eventually followed him and both operated a butcher shop in Aberdeen until 1879. Carl later leased his shop and premises to H.M. Goodgidge, another butcher, but when he moved out Carl tried to sell the lot. In January 1886 he advertided the property as a shop and five rooms, stable, killing house, harness room, outhouses, cellar, well with good water and pig yards. All were fenced securely.

Gustav and Carolina's first child, Sophia Augusta, was born at Kooringa on 24 February 1861. They eventually had eight children. The last child, Albert George Gottlieb, was born on 27 August 1879 at Mackerode. During the 1860s Gustav started buying land, two thousand acres at Mount Cone, near Mount Bryan, and 1,200 sheep. Unfortunately he lost most of them during the drought of 1863-4, but was able to survive. Slowly he increased his land holdings and in 1873 he built a beautiful home on his by now 27,000 acre property which he named Mackerode.

His wife was instrumental in the planting of many trees around the house and on the rest of the property which she watered by hand. In her spare time she often walked to Burra, a distance of ten kilometres to sell eggs and butter, much like the early German women from Hahndorf. Later they had several domestics and even men servants.

During the late 1870s Gebhardt, like most residents of the mid north, suffered substantial losses from rabbits. Many of them, and the government in Adelaide, talked a lot about how to solve this problem but did very little. Gebhardt advertised in the local paper for rabbit catchers, paying good wages. He had a number of them employed night and day. In a period of four weeks they killed 60,000 rabbits. The effects were minimal as he said because 'as fast as he killed them, others came upon his property from surrounding Crown Land'. A few weeks later he advertised for twelve dogs and a working overseer to take charge of the rabbit catchers.

At first Gustav used only Lincoln sheep and imported some of the best from England for his breeding programme. However after many troubles with these sheep he changed his mind and started buying Merino sheep. Regardless of his troubles, he still won a number of prizes at the Burra and North East Agricultural, Horticultural and Floricultural Show of 1881 for his non-Merino sheep. His brothers Carl and Ernst won many more prizes at the same show for their Merino sheep.

In 1882 Gustav sold all his Lincoln sheep to Patrick Gleeson of Victoria and bought 3,000 Merino sheep to start a Merino Stud. He also became involved with Markaranko, a property on the Murray River. This was not a success and when the lease expired he took his family on a trip around the world. After the birth of his last child, and Mackerode running smoothly, Gustav became more and more involved in the affairs of the local community. On 10 March 1883 he was elected Councillor for the District Council of Mount Bryan.

More time and care was also taken up with gardening. He started building a windmill over a well near the house and pumped the water onto the garden. Although the water was slightly brackish he soon had some excellent results. Gustav retired in 1889 and bought a house in Brighton, near Adelaide. After some years he became bored with it all and started to look for a property to breed a few sheep. In 1898 he bought the 2,400 acre estate of Corryton Park.

When Gustav had originally retired in 1889 he left the Mackerode estate to his sons Charles Ernest, born 20 May 1863, Ludwig Wilhelm, born in Braunschweig Germany in 1876 during a visit of his parents to their native land on their world trip and Albert Gottlieb, born at Mackerode on 27 August 1879. Gustav died at Glenelg in 1900 after a visit to Mackerode and was buried at Brighton. His wife died twenty years later on 24 November 1920. Gustav and Caroline's sons, and their sons, continued their pastoral pursuits around the Burra area.

Charles Ernest acquired Corryton Park and Ludwig took over Mokota, a property of 11,000 acres in 1903. Ludwig became very involved in the local community and was, like his father, a member of the Mount Bryan District Council for several years until elected to the same position in 1907 at the Burra District Council. He also played cricket for Mount Bryan. Albert stayed at Mackerode. He became also involved in local affairs and was a member of the Hospital Board at Kooringa and also played cricket for Mount Bryan. In 1906 he married Miss M. Sangster, eldest daughter of Dr Sangster of Kooringa. Albert donated land for the building of an Anglican church. The foundation stone was laid on 29 July 1914. During that same year he took on an apprentice from a migration scheme to introduce young English boys to South Australia.

The contribution made by the Germans, rich and poor, has been of enormous benefit to South Australia. This group of migrants have left rich resources for the writing of both Family and Local History. However many other books have been and still could be written on their contribution to South Australia or the treatment they received in South Australia during the wars.


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