Sunday, June 5, 2011

New information on Ebenezer Teichelmann's father

When I was writing the book on Ebenezer Teichelmann, it was hard to find information about his father Christian Gottlob Teichelmann (1807-1888). Recently I found this very good thesis which throws further light on the Aboriginal area where Teichy spent his younger days.

A Vision Frustrated:

Lutheran Missionaries to the Aborigines of South Australia 1838-1853
Christine J Lockwood
A thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in the School of Social Sciences,
Flinders University, Adelaide.


On 12 October 1838, Christian Gottlob1 Teichelmann (1807-1888) and Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann (1815-1893), from the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden, arrived in South Australia. Originally hoping to go to India, they began Aboriginal mission work in South Australia at the request of George Fife Angas, Chairman of the South Australia Company. Angas promised five years‟ financial support. August Eduard Heinrich Meyer2 (1813-1862) and Samuel Gottlieb Klose (1802-1889) followed in 1840. By 1853 the mission work of all the four had ceased. In 1848 the Mission Society headquarters moved from Dresden to Leipzig. The Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Missions states briefly: „At first [the Leipzig Mission Society] sent missionaries to Australia but this project did not succeed.‟3 These missionaries do not feature among pictures lining the Leipzig headquarters‟ walls today, or among the biographies on the Society‟s website. The South Australian mission was considered a failure, best forgotten.4

In seeking to understand this apparent failure, this thesis assumes these missionaries cannot be understood apart from their theology, and asks what role theology played in shaping their vision, methods and experience, and in bringing their work to an end.

This analysis of the Dresden men also raises questions of wider significance: Who should be responsible for community welfare and fund it? What is the relationship between church and state, especially when aims and values diverge? The thesis throws another light on the relationship between colonisers and missionaries, culture and theology and warns against a simple identification of Christianity with Western civilisation.

The Dresden Mission Society instructed its missionaries to gather information, keep diaries, and prepare detailed reports. Angas also asked for reports. Consequently these early Lutheran missionaries left significant records and the main source used by this thesis will be the missionaries‟ diaries and correspondence with their Society.

Recent years have seen renewed interest in these Lutheran missionaries for their unique linguistic and ethnographic records of the Kaurna (Adelaide), Ramindjeri (Encounter Bay) and Parnkalla or Barngalla people (Port Lincoln). This arose from resources becoming more accessible to researchers. In 1960 the State Library of South Australia acquired two publications of Schürmann and Teichelmann on the language and customs

1 Teichelmann‟s second name is often given as Gottlieb. Wm Bruce Kennedy, Lutheran missionary to the Aborigines, Pastor Christian Gottlob Teichelmann 1807-1888, His Family, Life and Times, Coolangatta, 1989, suggests his name was misspelt Gottlieb on an official document.

2 Known as Heinrich Meyer.

3 Ernst Jaeschke, in Burton L Goddard (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Missions, Camden, New Jersey, 1967, 267.

4 Dr Lois Zweck, Lutheran Archives researcher. Personal communication.


of the Kaurna people, subsequently reprinting them.5 This led to a resurrection of the Kaurna language of the Adelaide area and a renewal of Kaurna cultural awareness.6 Meyer‟s work on the Ramindjeri language and culture7 is being used in Ngarinndjeri language and culture revival programs.8

Other resources becoming more accessible have been Clamor Schürmann‟s diaries and some letters in old-German script which his great-grandson Edwin A Schürmann discovered on microfilm in the State Library of South Australia‟s archives. A partial translation, available in the South Australian Museum, formed the basis for Edwin Schürmann‟s I’d Rather Dig Potatoes, Clamor Schürmann and the Aborigines of South Australia 1838-1853. Geoff Noller is currently retranslating the full diaries for the Lutheran Archives in Adelaide. This material is not all new as diary entries became the basis for letters to Dresden, some of which were printed in the Dresdener Missions-Nachrichten.

In 1984 the Lutheran Archives in Adelaide acquired from the Leipzig Mission Society a large collection of correspondence between the Dresden Society and its South Australian missionaries.9 Leipzig staff had transcribed the old-German handwriting into modern German. The Lutheran Archives in Adelaide now have Schürmann‟s and Teichelmann‟s diaries, and correspondence between Teichelmann, Schürmann, Meyer and Klose and their Mission Society. Some letters are missing. Translation work is unfinished and varies in quality. Different translations exist of some material as accuracy has been hampered by faded, indecipherable handwriting. Friends of the Lutheran Archives, a volunteer group, have published Klose‟s correspondence10 and will soon publish Meyer‟s. Schürmann‟s letters, Teichelmann‟s diary, and letters from Dresden have been translated by Lutheran Archives volunteers. The University of Adelaide‟s Department of Linguistics has been translating Meyer‟s, Klose‟s and Teichelmann‟s letters. Most of Teichelmann‟s letters remain untranslated but, because much of their contents come from his diary, this is not a major omission for the purposes of this paper. This translation work has led to published papers by scholars primarily interested in linguistics, including Mary-Anne Gale, Heidi Kneebone, and

5 C. G. Teichelmann, Aborigines of South Australia: illustrative and explanatory notes of the manners, customs, habits, and superstitions of the natives of South Australia, Adelaide, 1841; C. G. Teichelmann and C. W. Schürmann, Outlines of a grammar, vocabulary, and phraseology, of the aboriginal language of South Australia, spoken by the natives in and for some distance around Adelaide, Adelaide, 1840.

6 See Rob Amery, „The First Lutheran Missionaries in South Australia, their contribution to Kaurna language reclamation and the reconciliation movement,‟ Journal of Friends of the Lutheran Archives no. 10, October 2000; and „Beyond Their Expectations: Teichelmann and Schürmann‟s Efforts to Preserve the Kaurna Language Continue to Bear Fruit‟, in Walter F Veit (ed.), The struggle for souls and science: constructing the fifth continent: German missionaries and scientists in Australia, Alice Springs, 2004.

7 H A E Meyer, Vocabulary of the Aborigines of the Southern and Eastern Portions of the Settled Districts of South Australia, Adelaide, 1843.

8 Mary-Anne Gale, The Linguistic Legacy of H A E Meyer: Missionary to the Ramindjeri people of Encounter Bay, 1840-1848. Conference paper, University of Adelaide, October, 2005.

9 Originals are now in Franckesche Stiftungen zu Halle, Studienzentrum August Hermann Francke archives.

10 Joyce Graetz, (ed.) Missionary to the Kaurna, the Klose Letters, Friends of the Lutheran Archives Occasional Paper no.2, North Adelaide, 2002.


Cynthia Rathjen.11 Document locations and translators can be found in the bibliography and will not normally appear in this work‟s footnotes.

This thesis has benefited from the works of church historians A Brauer and F J H Blaess.12 The Dresden Society‟s annual reports and works by Ernst Otto13 and Hermann Karsten14 have provided theological background. In One Blood, 200 Years of Aboriginal Encounter with Christianity: A Story of Hope, John Harris discusses the Dresden missionaries‟ work in the broader Aboriginal Christian mission context.15 In her PhD thesis, Anne Scrimgeour uses Schürmann‟s and Klose‟s letters and Teichelmann‟s diary to explore what she calls South Australia‟s early 'civilising mission‟ and its focus on Aboriginal schools.16 She sees the missionaries as part of the colonisation process and „Christianization‟ as an integral part of the „civilisation‟ of the natives necessary if Aboriginal lands were occupied. This present thesis asks to what extent the missionaries‟ aim was to „civilise‟ the Aborigines.

This thesis is also informed by newspaper articles, Colonial Secretaries‟ correspondence, Protector of Aborigines‟ reports, Angas papers and parliamentary papers which have also been examined by other writers. The records of the missionaries and their Society are the most valuable source because they provide unique insights not widely researched. This is especially so of jointly written missionary letters and conference reports and Dresden letters addressed to its missionaries jointly. Missionary records are often treated cautiously by scholars. They are seen as propagandist or as reporting what mission societies wanted to hear. However these Dresden missionaries‟ records are remarkably frank and honest. They often report things the Society would not have liked to hear and which did not reflect well on the writers. They express despair and failures as well as joys. As suggested by the choice of sources, this thesis attempts analysis from the missionaries‟ perspective.

The photographs of Teichelmann and Schürmann on the monument at Piltawodli (see Illustrations) are of mature, experienced men and these are the images most familiar to us. However, it is important to remember that Schürmann was twenty-three and Teichelmann thirty when they arrived in South Australia. Similarly, Protector

11 Mary-Anne Gale, The Linguistic Legacy of H A E Meyer; Heidi Kneebone, „Why Do You Work? Indigenous perceptions of Lutheran mission work in the Encounter Bay area, 1840-47,‟ Journal of Friends of the Lutheran Archives, no.10, October 2000; Cynthia Rathjen, „A Difficult and Boring Task: Clamor Schürmann and the language achievements among the Parnkalla, Port Lincoln – 1840-1852,‟ Journal of Friends of the Lutheran Archives, no.8, October 1998.

12 A Brauer, Under the Southern Cross, History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia, Adelaide, 1956; „A Further Page from the Life of the Fathers‟, The Australian Lutheran Almanac, Adelaide, 1930, 41-67; „More Pages from the Life of the Fathers‟, The Australian Lutheran Almanac, Adelaide, 1937, 43-68. F J H Blaess, The Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Australia and the Mission Work amongst the Australian Natives in connection with the Dresden (Leipzig) Lutheran Mission Society and the Hermannsburg Mission Institute 1838-1900, BD Thesis, Concordia Seminary, St Louis, USA, 1940; „Missions – Pioneers in Australia‟, serialized in The Australian Lutheran, Adelaide 1947-1948.

13 Ernst Otto, Hundert Jahre Missionsarbeit, 1979.

14 Hermann Karsten, Die Geschichte der evangelisch-lutheran Mission in Leipzig, Guenstow, 1893.

15 Sutherland, second edition, 1994.

16 Anne Scrimgeour, Colonizers as Civilisers: Aboriginal Schools and the Mission to ‘Civilise’ in South Australia, 1839-1845, PhD (draft copy), Charles Darwin University, 2007.