South Kilkerran and the Hundred of Kilkerran were both named after Governor Sir James Fergusson's family home in Scotland. The area was first settled in the early 1870s when farm land became scarce in areas around and north of Adelaide, Hahndorf and the Barossa Valley.
After the passing of the Strangways Act in 1869 many sons of German settlers, who had no hope of a sizable farm in the Barossa made the move to Yorke Peninsula. Among them were members of the Bittner family from Tanunda and of the Hoffrichter family. The Hoffrichter family had arrived in South Australia during September 1845 and the Bittner family on 6 November 1848.
Another long time resident was Heinrich Carl Lutz. Born on 10 May 1830 he arrived in South Australia in 1848. He made his way to Burra where he worked some years until, like many other South Australians, he went to Victoria in the hope of finding gold. He was reasonably successful and on his return to South Australia started farming at Hamilton. He also married Johanna Auguste Caroline Lutze, who was born on 22 February 1834. They moved to South Kilkerran in the 1870s where they worked their own farm. Heinrich died 3 November 1899 and his wife Johanna on 12 February 1905.
The first Lutheran Church was dedicated on 8 October 1876. Among the German settlers were members of three religious orders; the Moravian Brethren, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Immanuel Synod. In 1878 members of the first two groups built the St. John Church which they both used in separate services. In 1882 people of the third group moved into the district and they too used St. John's. The church building was also used as a school until a separate school became available. A new church was dedicated on 10 February 1907.
At one time there were as many as three schools in the town. In December 1905 Mr. J. A. Zimmermann, who had charge of the German (Lutheran) school at South Kilkerran for about nine years, left the district, having accepted a similar position at Mannum. A farewell social was tendered to Mr. Zimmermann and had a large attendance. Mr. F. J. Hastings presided, Messrs. C. F.G. Heinrich, L. Wehr, and others expressed regret at Mr. Zimmermann's departure. Several presentations were made, including a purse of sovereigns and an illuminated address, which was prepared, printed and framed by Wilfred Schirmer, aged 12 years, was read by that scholar.
F. W. Heinrich, an old and respected resident of South Kilkerran, passed, away on 26 July 1902 from the effects of an accident which occurred 15 weeks previously. He was 69 years of age and left a widow, four sons, and two daughters. He had been farming for 47 years, of which 23 years on the Peninsula. Previously he was engaged in agriculture near Tanunda. He was noted for many kind acts to the poor.
He was not the only one. With the economic downturn in South Australia during the 1880s The Advertiser launched the Poor Fund. Donations came from all over South Australia. Among them were £10.15.6 from employees of the loco department of the SAR. Residents from Yongala donated £4.0.3 while those who worked at Martindale in Mintaro gave £3.17. Naturally Theo Marks of the South Kilkerran German School sent in £0.13.3 from his students.
Hardship was also felt at South Kilkerran. During the early 1890s several shop keepers were declared insolvent. In March 1892 Heinrich Ludwig Struck had to close his shop. In December of the same year William Adair, farmer, was declared insolvent but as he had at least some assets he was awarded a second class certificate. Three months later Emma, F.H. and John Edwards, trading as storekeepers at South Kilkerran were also declared insolvent.
Other prominent families settling at South Kilkerran were the Koch, Dutschke, Gerschwitz, Kohlhagen, Heinrich and Linke families. On 4 April 1902 Bertha Louise Koch drowned after falling in a water tank, from which she was pumping water, on Robert Dutschke’s property. She was only 23 years old.
In March 1914 it was reported that Hermann Alfred Hasting had lost his life while working on a chaffcutter on 26 February. His body was partly dismembered, and death must, have been instantaneous. Both legs were broken below the knee, and one was com pletely severed from the body at the upper end of the thigh. The head was smashed, and other parts of the body received minor injuries. Mr. Hasting was 30 years of age. and single, and was highly respected by all who knew him. Much sympathy is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Hasting, a younger son of whom was killed in a paddock while ploughing about five years ago.
The second annual convention of the South Australian Luther League of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia was held at South Kilkerran on 10 April 1931. with a reception at St. John's schoolroom. On Saturday morning the conference opened with the Rev Doehler in the chair. Papers were read by Miss C. Mickan and the Rev. T. G. Obst. On Sunday special services were held at St. John's Church, the speakers being the Rev. C.A. Weckert, of Laura, the President General (the Rev. J. Stolz, of North Adelaide), the Rev. P. J. Lehrmann, of Angaston, and the Rev. E. Stolz, of Appila. On Monday morning the sessions continued till noon. At 2 pm. there was an outing, and at 8 pm. a concert.