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Carl Buermann (1816-1899) and Sophia Grothkast (1826-1907) emigrated on the same ship from Hanover in 1849 and married in Adelaide five years later. In 1857 they moved to Mount Barker, where Carl was a carpenter and cabinet maker. In 1871 the Buermanns suffered the losses of their three youngest children in the diphtheria epidemic that peaked in South Australia in the early 1870s.
Immigrants from Prussia and East Germany had arrived in South Australia as early as 1838, when George Fife Angas, chairman of the South Australian Company, sponsored a group of religious refugees from Silesia, led by Pastor August Kavel. Other groups followed, including the well-known party of Lutherans who arrived on the Zebra in 1839 and settled at Hahndorf (named after the master of their ship, Captain Hahn). Between the 1850s and 1870s large numbers of German immigrants arrived weekly at Port Adelaide. By the outbreak of World War I, ten percent of South Australians were of German descent.
Carl Buermann (1816-1899) and Sophia Grothkast (1826-1907) both emigrated from Hanover in 1849 aboard the Louise, and they married in Adelaide five years later. Carl had spent some time in Burra and had twice visited the Victorian goldfields. In 1857 the couple settled in Mount Barker, where they lived for the rest of their lives. Carl was a carpenter and cabinet-maker by trade, and also worked as an undertaker – a common convention, since carpenters also made the town’s coffins. Carl’s regular advertisment in the Courier read:
C. BUERMANN, CABINETMAKER And UNDERTAKER, Gawler Street, Mount Barker.
A Good Stock of Ready-made Furniture always on hand.
Orders promptly attended to.
In the nineteenth century young children were particularly vulnerable to communicable diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever and gastro-intestinal viruses. The Buermanns had eight children, only three of whom survived to adulthood. Within the space of four months in 1871 they suffered the losses of their three youngest –Adolph, Louisa and Wilhelm – aged respectively ten, seven and four years. All died in the diphtheria epidemic that peaked in South Australia in the early 1870s. A vaccine for diphtheria was not available until the 1930s.
Many immigrants of German origin subscribed to the Lutheran faith. If this was the case with the Buermanns they appear to have abandoned it, as they chose to bury their children at the Mount Barker Cemetery rather than at the Lutheran Cemetery in Hahndorf. The Mount Barker Cemetery, originally known as the ‘Wesleyan Glebe Land,’ was officially opened in the early 1850s as a Wesleyan burial facility. From the mid-1860s the cemetery operated as a non-exclusive Methodist and Uniting burial ground under the administration of the Methodist Church until the Mount Barker Council took over its management in the early 1970s. In 1852 Mount Barker also saw the founding of a Catholic Cemetery, still in use not far from the General (formerly Wesleyan) Cemetery. Anglican parishioners of St James Church in Blakiston were interred in the cemetery there as early as 1846.
The surviving Buermann children were married at the Anglican church in Hutchinson St, Mount Barker (formerly Christ Church, now Christ the King Anglican Church). In 1888 Carl Buermann junior (1858-1936) married Eva Paltridge (1861-1942), granddaughter of Thomas Paltridge and Mary Ann Dunn, whose families feature elsewhere in these History Posts.
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