This article has been written by Philip COLE, and loaded onto this page on 14 June 2021.

Friedrich Gottlob SCHIRMER (widower, born 1782) was from the village of Nickern in the administrative district of Züllichau, province of Brandenburg, Prussia, (now modern day Poland).  He arrived Port Adelaide with his family 28 December 1838, on the Zebra.  With him were son Johann Christian SCHIRMER (33) with wife Anna Dorothea, neé KIRSCHE (34) and their son Gottlob (4); son Gottlob (28, single) from Guhren (not considered in some sources a son but circumstantial evidence suggests he is; he was a 'servant' to miller WITTWER from Guhren who also emigrated on the Zebra, ( the villages of Nickern and Guhren are about 5km apart), son Johann Georg (16, b1822 Nickern), and daughter Eleonore (11) as well as Christian's mother-in-law, widow Friderike KIRSCH (56).  

There may have been another son, Friedrich Wilhelm born 1828, the records are not consistent. (In 1850, another possible son, Johannes Peter Friedrich born 1821, arrived on the Alfred.  They emigrated from Prussia to South Australia, with Pastor KAVEL, to seek freedom to follow their old Lutheran traditions.  Friedrich Gottlob and Christian are recorded as two fo the 52 (54?) founding families of Hahndorf.

The story of the founding of Hahndorf is well documented elsewhere.  For this narration, of particular interest is the cottage at 19 Victoria Street, Hahndorf.  The 2004 Heritage Survey of Hahndorf says: 'The first subdivision of the town comprised a U-shaped set of allotments with St Michael's Lutheran Church at its centre, the eastern side of the Main Street as its base and Victoria Street as its left arm.

Of the 54 original allotments, 52 had already been developed and contained huts or pine dwellings by 1840.  One of Hahndorf's original settlers was Gottlob SCHIRMER, who in 1839 was allotted  the property on which 19 Victoria St now stands.  He constructed a half timbered cottage which survives in excellent condition to this day, and is one of the oldest surviving half-timbered buildings in South Australia. Its distinctively early detailing with its tiny windows implies and early date c1839, or early 40's.  this is one of the best preserved and most representative pioneer cottages in the area.

The Hahndorf Property Titles Database indicates that the land on which the cottage stands was allocated to Gottlob SCHIRMER, widower, from Nickern.  This is presumably Friedrich Gottlob.  By 1853 this and a number of other parcels of land in Hahndorf are shown in the database to be held by Gottlob SCHIRMER, farmer (again presumably Friedrich Gottlob, and not his son Gottlob).

Other references have Friedrich Gottlob residing with his eldest son Christian, which could infer that son Gottlob held the land parcels.  There is no evidence this is the case.  A reasonable scenario is that Friedrich Gottlob held the land, which he and his sons farmed.  All parcels were sold by 1857 when the families moved to Nain, near Greenock.

Johann Georg's name appears in the list of Hahndorf settlers who gave an oath of allegiance in 1839, although his father and brothers names are not included.  He was naturalized in 1848.  In 1850 he married Ernstine Louise KRÜGER, who arrived on the Skjold in 1841.

The Hahndorf Property Title Database shows that in 1853 he held Lot 43, Main Street, (part of the second Hahndorf subdivision, of land on the western side of Main Street, and now 11 and 13 Main Street, and 39 Auricht Road); and Lot 221 Main Street (now 22,24 and 26 Main Street); and sold the properties in 1856.

In the mid 1850's conflict arose between Pastor KAVEL and Pastor FRITZSCHE (who arrived on the Skjold ) that led to some of the families in Hahndorf loyal to Pastor KAVEL to move to the Barossa Valley.  This group seems to have included the SCHIRMER brothers Christian and George, who are recorded at Nain and Greennock form the late 1850's, and which would be consistent with the SCHIRMER Hahndorf land sales in 1856 and 1857.  Gottlob probably moved to Woodside as a number of his children were born there, and later to Freeling.

It is not known when Friedrich Gottlob died.  Johann Georg (d1880) is buried in the Nain Lutheran Lutheran Cemetery, as is Ernstine Louise (d 1910).  She would have been one of the last of the immigrants who arrived on the Skjold in 1841.  Johann Christian (d1876) is buried in the Nain Zum Schmalen Wege Lutheran Cemetery.  Gottlob, who was the last survivor of the brothers (d 1888) and said to be one of the last of those who arrived on the Zebra in 1838 is buried in the Freeling Cemetery (noting possible brother Friedrich Wilhelm, who survived until 1911).

In 1881, Ernstine Louise, now a widow with address Greenock, is reported to have purchased from the Government Sec 223 Hd Anna (Steinfeld).  The purchase arrangement was subsequently transferred to her son in law Carl Robert LEIBIG who with his wife Caroline Elizabeth (daughter of Ernstine Louise), later lived on that land.


Photographs to follow asap