History Posts Cemetery Precinct
Archibald Little (1812-1903) emigrated to South Australia in 1839. He and his wife moved to Echunga before settling in Mount Barker, where they spent their lives farming. The family is known to historians for a surviving letter that Archibald wrote to his relatives in England, recording his experience of emigration. Other members of his extended family also entered the annals of early Australian history, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Allan Bell (1817-1894) and his wife Ann (née Young, 1817-1891) emigrated from Scotland to South Australia in 1839 with their infant son. They built up a large sheep station at Monteith, and established ‘Dalmeny Park,’ a prosperous farm of 700-800 acres, north of Springs Road, Mount Barker. They won several international prizes for wheat during the 1850s, which boosted the prestige of the South Australian grain industry, and of Mount Barker in particular. Allan and Ann had ten children, all of whom survived to adulthood. In 1890 the family’s youngest son, 45-year-old Peter Young Bell, was killed in a railway accident, and in 1903 his 13-year-old nephew, also called Peter Young Bell, died as a result of diabetes. Allan, the two Peters and other Bell relatives were all interred at Mount Barker Cemetery.
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.
Caleb Potter was a tinsmith. He remained in Sussex when many of his relations emigrated to South Australia in 1839, after which his father, Peter Potter, wrote a famously negative report about conditions in the colony. However, the fortunes of the Potter family in South Australia improved so markedly over the next decade that in 1852 Caleb made the trip to Adelaide with his wife and children, ultimately settling in Mount Barker.
Charles ‘Louis’ von Doussa (1850-1932) was born in Hahndorf to Prussian immigrant parents. He became a high-profile lawyer and politician. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Mount Barker township, and he enjoyed great popularity for his generous and open-handed participation in the life of the town. His memory was honoured by the construction of a granite memorial, built through public subscription. The von Doussas legal practice still operates in Gawler Street, and is one of the oldest law firms in South Australia.
Clara May Stanley (1877-1919) was the wife of W.H. Stanley, editor of the Mount Barker Courier. She was the first person in Mount Barker to die of the so-called ‘Spanish flu,’ and was rumoured (unjustly) to have introduced the pandemic to the town. Her death aged 32 set off a series of events that resulted in W.H. Stanley leaving Mount Barker suddenly and without trace.
David Teakle (1810-1895) arrived in South Australia in 1837 as a labourer, but by the time he died in Mount Barker in 1895 he was a wealthy man. He worked in a number of occupations, including storekeeping and farming, but he was also able to profit from property speculation, and he was at the leading edge of a property boom in Mount Barker in the early 1880s.
Eliza Ann Hall (1821-1902) was born Eliza Sinclair. She emigrated from Scotland’s Orkney Islands in 1851 with an extended family group that included her husband, William Miller, and her mother, Jane Sinclair. The male breadwinners within their immediate circle all died within a few years of their arrival in South Australia. The surviving women struggled to make a living for themselves and Eliza’s two children. They battled for support from the Destitute Board until Eliza married elderly Mount Barker Springs widower John Hall.
In 1856, 18-year-old Eliza Dunn was the first person to be buried in the ‘Wesleyan Glebe’ cemetery (later the Mount Barker Cemetery). She was the daughter of prominent businessman and philanthropist John Dunn. Her brother John junior wrote in his journal of his grief at her sudden death, reportedly from rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disease that can result from scarlet fever or streptococcal infection. The marble monument on the Dunn Crypt where Eliza was interred was erected after John Dunn’s own death, 46 years after that of Eliza.
Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ McNeil (1864-1892) was born at Ballarat into the family of educated Scottish immigrants Neil and Elizabeth McNeil. Lizzie married English-born doctor Leonard Watkins Bickle (1857-1921) at Gawler and they settled in Mount Barker. Lizzie died of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) in 1892 at the age of 28, leaving two children. Her husband eventually moved from Mount Barker and remarried, but before he left he gave the town a tract of land. It is still used – as he had wished – as a green recreational space.
Scottish-born Elizabeth Flockhart (1819-1887) described herself as a widow when she married Thomas Hall (1822-1884) in Pirie St Adelaide, but the details of any previous marriage, and the circumstances under which she arrived in South Australia, are obscure. The couple raised sheep in the Bugle Ranges near Mount Barker and had ten children, all of whom survived to adulthood. When Thomas Hall became mentally incapacitated at the age of fifty, Elizabeth was left with responsibility for her husband and her family as well as for their farm.
Henry Albert Victoria (‘Miller’) Peake (1897-1982) was a popular amateur bandleader, musician and sometime filmmaker based in Mount Barker. The Miller Peake Band, and others like it, played a vital role in the social lives of young people by animating Saturday night dances in small locales throughout the district. They also tirelessly supported charitable and patriotic events, and contributed immeasurably to the social fabric of their towns and regions.
John Dunn (1802-1894) was an experienced flour miller when he emigrated from Devon to Adelaide with his family in 1840. From his base in Mount Barker he pioneered the milling business in South Australia. His company Dunn & Co. became profitable on a global scale. Its success allowed Dunn to take up a political career, and he served both in South Australia’s House of Assembly and its Legislative Council. Dunn was renowned for his charitable largesse and his commitment to the local community. The high regard in which he was held was demonstrated by the respect displayed by the people of Mount Barker on the day of his funeral.
Mary Anne Shepherdson, née Craike (1804-1858) and her schoolmaster husband, John Banks Shepherdson (1809-1897) emigrated to South Australia from Yorkshire in 1837, when John took up a two-year position as Director of Schools in Adelaide. Mary Anne was reluctant to leave England with four children under ten but came to terms with the prospect of two years abroad. In the end she never returned to England. John turned to farming in the Adelaide Hills and later pursued a high-profile legal career, while Mary Anne dedicated herself to their family, which included seven Australian-born children. Unlike John, who outlived her by 39 years, she left few traces in the historical record. She changed the spelling of her name to Marianne in about 1847 and died in 1858 at the age of 54. John remarried six months later.
Thomas and Mary Paltridge and their six children were part of a group of emigrants who left Devon for South Australia in 1846. Mary’s relations, the Dunns, had preceded them, and were already well established in the Adelaide Hills. The Paltridges settled in Mount Barker where they established a bootmaking business. In 1854 they opened a tannery, which found great commercial success as Thomas Paltridge & Sons. The tanning business formed the basis of the Paltridge family’s fortune and became one of the foundational industries of Mount Barker. It operated until 1975.
William Richardson (1818-1883) emigrated to the Mount Barker area in 1839, aged 21. After farming in Mount Barker for several years he founded ‘Dalveen’ pastoral estate near Woodchester. He married Jane Rhind (1825-1901) in Adelaide and they raised ten children. William’s nephew, Adam Watson Richardson, left Scotland for Melbourne in 1853 and arrived in Mount Barker the following year. He established a pharmacy on the corner of Gawler and Walker Streets, and his shop became a fixture of the town for the next forty years. He also established pharmacy branches in Nairne, Woodside and Mount Pleasant. He married twice and fathered thirteen children.
Roderick McKenzie (1829-1890) was born into a non-conformist religious community of emigrant Scots in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1829. When he was 22 years old he took part in an extraordinary maritime odyssey in which the entire community relocated to the antipodes. When most of the group paused only briefly in Adelaide, ultimately to put down roots in New Zealand, Roderick chose to remain in South Australia. He settled in Mount Barker in 1854, working as a saddler and harness-maker, and later as a general storekeeper. He and his wife Mary Paltridge had nine children. He died in 1890, aged 61.
Scottish-born Walter Paterson (1811-1894) arrived in Adelaide with his young family in 1839. He farmed at ‘Greenbanks’ in Mount Barker with his business partner, Thomas Lambert, and later acquired ‘Yunkunga’ near Wistow. He purchased Nixon’s Mill at Windmill Hill in 1844 and operated the mill for nine years. Paterson was an ingenious inventor and woodsmith and created all manner of farming implements and machinery. He made some useful improvements to the Ridley stripper, a South Australian-designed reaper and thresher that transformed the harvesting of wheat in the 1840s. Paterson’s wife Helen, who died in died in childbirth in 1842, is memorialised by a sundial marks the site of her grave near Wellington Road.
The Webbers were stonemasons and builders who arrived in the Mount Barker area in 1861. They were amongst the families who made a notable material contribution to the construction of the Mount Barker township. As was common in the period before antibiotics and vaccinations, they endured the deaths of a number of children in infancy, as well as the loss of several family members from diseases including measles, influenza and pneumonia.