Hoffnungstahl in the Barossa Valley

Hoffnungsthal, Valley of Hope

Hoffnungsthal, on sections 567 and 568, comprising 740 acres, in the Hundred of Barossa was established by a small group of 13 Lutheran migrant families from Germany. They arrived on the Heloise in 1847 and leased land from the South Australian Company. They were later joined by a group of Wends migrants which inluded Dahlitz, Gassan, Gorman, Kappler, Kilian, Noack, Matuschka, Miatke, Pumpa and Schuppan.

The township only lasted about six years as floodwaters, after some exceptionally heavy rains in October 1853, swept it away. The inhabitants were offered new leases by the South Australian Company but only 30 accepted. Some decided to settle in nearby Lyndoch. Others were so disappointed that they left for Victoria and a few even went as far as America. The church was still used until 1867 when facilities were established on the Independent Chapel premises, previously used by the Baptists. The former Hoffnungsthal congregation now became known as St Jakobi.

The German migrants had arrived from Bremen on the 476 ton Heloise, chartered by the emigration agent for South Australia in Bremen Eduard Delius. The ship was captained by Jan Beckmann and left on 12 October 1846. She arrived at Port Adelaide on 17 March 1847. Among her 214 passengers were 40 farmers and 14 miners. Both occupations were very welcome at that time. Several of the migrants went to Klemzig while others moved the Lobethal. Those who moved to the Lyndoch Valley named their new settlement Hoffnungsthal, Valley of Hope. During the voyage six children were born and six passengers died, including a young sailor, Pelser Kerter, aged 20, who fell overboard.

The early Germans certainly were impressed with South Australia's valleys. Already they had named one Lobethal, Valley of Praise and another one would soon be named Rosenthal, Valley of Roses. There were also Blumenthal-Valley of Flowers, Grunthal-Green Valley, Friedenthal-Valley of Peace, as well as Palmenthal, Rheinthal, Steinthal, Oliventhal, Gnadenthal and Schoenthal.

Among some of the first setlers of Hoffnungsthal were Christian Menzel, born 1791 with his second wife, Maria Dorothea Richter, and ten children and Johann Huf with his wife and four children. Johann was born in January 1803 and had married Anna Christiana, born in May 1812, on 18 March 1832. During the voyage Christiana gave birth to her fifth child while the weather was hot and steamy and the sea rough with water sloshing around her. They had first moved to Bethany but later joined the others at Hoffnungsthal.

Some of the other migrants settling at Hoffnungsthal were August and Theadora Beinke, Paul Reinhold Seelander, Johann Krieg with wife and five children, Johann Miebus with wife and three children and Johann Semmler with his wife and their four children.

They were soon followed by some settlers who had previously moved to Bethany. Among these were Johann Brasch, Gottlied Blaesing and Gottfried Ossig. Later that year another six families joined who had arrived on the Gellert. In 1850 they were joined by Gotlob and Augusta Fromm who arrived on the San Francisco.

Within a few months of their arrival they had completed more than a dozen huts, with its own flower and vegetable garden, dug a well, erected fences and cleared some 200 acres of farming land. This was nearly doubled in 1848. In an effort to secure the service of Pastor Heinrich August Eduard Meyer for their church, the congregation was more than willing to contribute 16.13.4 and 16 bushels 40 pounds of wheat for his keep. Before the end of September they had built their own chapel where on 8 October the first confirmation was held.

The Church was built of planks they had sewn from trees on their own holdings. The walls plastered with clay and the roof thatched with rushes. It was dedicated by Pastors Kavel and Fritzsche. It was also used as a school and twice a week prayer meetings were held. Every year they celebrated the anniversary of their emigration from Germany.

As was the case with many other settlements, no matter how small or isolated, they all produced their proof that anything was possible. In the case of Hoffnungsthal it was Johann Gottlieb Otto Tepper. Born on 19 April 1841 in Posen, Prussia, he migrated with his parents when only six years old. He was schooled at Hoffnungsthal but when about 14 left to farm at Lyndoch. When naturalized in 1865 at Tanunda he was listed as storeman.

After passing the required examinations Johann was appointed teacher in 1867. Two years later he was at Two Wells and ten years later at Ardrossan. In 1883 he was appointed natural history collector at the South Australian Museum. This was followed by an appointment as botanist and entomologist. During that time he wrote many scientific papers and remained at the museum until 1911. He died on 16 February 1923.

By 1850 more than 20 families owned and worked parcels of land of 20 acres or more each. Several others owned blocks of 10 to 19 acres. The Ossig family owned 60 acres. At its height, Hoffnungsthal contained 37 cottages, out houses, church, school and cemetery. When gold was discovered in Victoria, a small group of German Lutherans who had arrived on 17 March 1847 and settled at Hoffnungsthal, could not resist its temptation. They left the town hoping to return soon with plenty of gold. Few did!

It all came to an end for Hoffnungsthal when in October 1853, after a week of rain, the village became flooded to a depth of more than two metres. It destroyed all the crops, and any source of income. The church, also used as school, came through without too much damage, as it had been constructed on an elevated site, and was used for many years yet. Some of the settlers had no intention of leaving though, not for Victoria or America. They cut their losses and started all over again at Neu (New) Hoffnungsthal.

Among some of the settlers at New Hoffnungsthal were Carl Joachim Schmidt, born 27 February 1834 at Schmadebeck, Germany. At the age of 19 he came to South Australia on 1 January 1854. He spent some years at Hoffnungsthal but in 1872 moved to the Wimmera in Victoria. Anna Caroline Rattey arrived in December 1856 and was employed as a maid with John Leske. She later moved to Springton and married Friedrich Herbig. They were to have 16 children. Caroline died on 19 March 1927 and was buried at Friedensberg.

Another small group, consisting of Johann Carl August Kruger and his family, Johann Samuel Schultz with his wife Anna Rosina and their eight children, all moved to Hochkirch in 1855. Johann and Christine Huff and Johann and Dorothea Mibus, who had also arrived on the Heloise, moved to Hochkirch, now called Tarrington, in Victoria as well.

For those who remained at Hoffnungsthal, life had to go on. To secure the supply of fresh meat slaughtering licences were granted to Carl Feitz and August Hermann in December 1860. During a meeting of the Barossa East Council on 12 August 1861 Jacob Baker and Andreas Hermann were sworn in as Constables. At the same meeting Mr Menzel authorized that 6 could be expended on roads at Hoffnungsthal.

On 14 November 1862 the Hoffnungsthal land was granted to Gottlieb Miebus. In January 1870 the Hoffnungsthal bridge was impassable on account of logs having washed down the stream and deposited on the road. In October 1874 C. Heusler wrote to the Council that he was willing to buy the three roads adjoining his land for 3 per acre and pay all expenses. His offer was accepted for a total payment of 31.18.0.Three months later more roads were closed and sold off at Hofnungsthal.

On 20 August 1883 history repeated itself when 30 years after the floods of 1853, once again large amounts of rain caused the flooding of the Hoffnungsthal lake over an area of 40 acres. This time the damage was minimal and T and G Schenke and J Noske launced a boat which they intended to be used for sporting purposes.

In 1918 the name of Hoffnungsthal was officially changed to Karrawirra, but reverted back to its old name in 1975.

Hoffnungsthal Burial Site

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