The WEDEMEYERs of Eastern Australia, Chapter 8

The "WEDEMEYERs of Eastern Australia" section of this site is divided into 10 chapters, and also appendices extending over 5 pages (sections). Please read in sequence by following the links at the bottom of each page or use the "Quick Nav" at top right. If you wish to select individual chapters, please click on the top left link to the Sitemap page. Please note the WEDEMEYER photo galleries here.

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John William Henry (Harry) WEDEMEYER was born on 25 Aug 1863 in Gayndah, Qld, but his first names were not registered. He used different names at different stages. He was Harry when he registered his father’s death, William Henry when he married, John William H. at his daughter’s birth and John William Henry at his own death. The ages given on the various certificates verify his 25 Aug 1863 DOB. Our ancestors made things difficult!

Harry's life story is told with links to other parts of the site so that you can see the source documents in full. An example is his obituary which is a most significant and interesting document, found only as a newspaper clipping, since the original newspaper never survived. Somehow, John WEDEMEYER (d. 7 Apr 1984) collected the clipping, passed it on to Colin WEDEMEYER (d. 18 Sep 1995), then Colin passed it on to his sister, Alice McARTHUR. Now read on.

Harry’s earliest years were in his parents lodging house in Meson St Gayndah on land bought in 1858. In 1862, the year before he was born, his father said in several court cases: "I am a shoe maker residing in Gayndah and I also keep a lodging house (in Meson St)....". Gayndah State School opened on 12 October 1863, less than two months after Harry was born. Harry probably enrolled at this school in 1868, which would give him four years of schooling until he was aged nine in 1872. At this time the family moved to Drummers Creek near Mount Perry (Mt Perry) to keep the Southern Cross Hotel. His father was an educated man, thus his home environment would have subsequently compensated for the lack of a school at Drummers Creek. By the time Drummer's Creek Provisional School opened on 5 April 1880, Harry was aged 16.

Harry (aged 20) took up a 160 acre Selection 1255 on 13/12/1883, subdivided from Walla Run. Harry fulfilled one requirement of the lease when he took up residence by March 1884, and apparently ceased living in the family hotel at Drummers Creek. However, finances became difficult for Harry. The family hotel burnt down on 23 Apr 1885, his father died on 5 Oct 1885, farming seasons were not favourable and Harry found himself responsible for the expenses of the three family Selections! Rentals were not paid in 1886! His answer to the problem was to work in Eidsvold from about August 1887, being one of the first arrivals after the discovery of gold there. He wrote to Minister for Lands on 28 Feb 1889. He said that notwithstanding his locating to Eidsvold in 1887, he had been home regularly maintain the Selections. How did he return regularly? Perhaps he worked with his brother Louis as a carrier of supplies from Mt. Perry to the gold diggings at Eidsvold? By Oct 1889 he had accomplished a lot on his own selection. Improvements included: Railing , £58/16/-. 15a scrub land cleared & burnt off, £60, Slab house, bark roof, £5/-/-, and his Selection was used for grazing cattle and horses. Harry’s letter continued, to ask permission to be absent from the Selection so that he could enter a contract with an Eidsvold mining Battery for the carting of quartz. Harry said: “It is constant, & supplies my teams, if I can hold it, it will give me a start in life.” It appears he received approval, and he received free-hold of his Selection on 30 Oct 1889 for £20.

On the other hand, Harry’s letter may have been less than frank about his reasons for remaining in Eidsvold. He did not mention that he married Martha Alice CORNWALL on 18 Jul 1888 at Gayndah. Furthermore, when he wrote the letter on 28 Feb 1889, his wife was 6 months pregnant with his first child, and his real home was then just out of Eidsvold, at Craventown. His son, William Henry WEDEMEYER, was born on 15 Jun 1889 at Craventown.

Marriage photo of Harry and Martha on 18 Jul 1888 Marriage photo of Harry & Martha
Courtesy: Alice McArthur

Eidsvold was full of opportunities in those days. It is said that at the peak of mining there were about 69 hotels. This must have attracted the rest of the family to join Harry after GHL’s death. By 1890, Harry’s obituary said he had a Selection near the Stockman Battery, "where he lived happy and comfortable with his wife and little ones, two of his brothers and a sister". Presumably, he had just moved from Craventown. "Two other sisters …..have situations in Eidsvold". Harry’s Eidsvold Selection and the Stockman Battery were at "Spring Gully". This is a property along a gully which eventually empties into the Burnett River opposite the "Eidsvold Station" homestead. It is found on a back road which runs from the present day Eidsvold township, past the air strip, over Mt Rose and then down the other side. His brothers Lou and John both called themselves "carriers" about that time, and probably worked on Harry’s bullock wagons when they lived with him. His sisters with "situations in Eidsvold" were Minnie and Elizabeth…. probably in one or other of the many hotels. When these girls married, they described themselves as "housemaids".

Unfortunately, Harry died accidentally on 27 Dec 1890, following a fall from his horse at "Spring Gully". He was buried in the Eidsvold Cemetery, but records were not kept in the early years and the position of his grave is not known. His name is listed on a memorial board at the entrance to the Eidsvold Cemetery, together with the other people whose graves could not be located. Harry died intestate and his Walla Run Selection was mentioned in his assets, but with no mention of his "Spring Gully" Selection or his home at Craventown. Perhaps his holdings at Craventown passed on to his brother Louis, who lived there for the rest of his life?

Harry’s Descendancy Report

This report is made from the CORNWALL point of view, and gives details of Harry WEDEMEYER’s wife Martha Alice re-marrying after his death.



An initial effort has been made below on Louis' life story. He has proved a most colourful and memorable character. Please e-mail with any further information.

Louis & Henrietta at their wedding Marriage photo of Louis & Henrietta
Courtesy: Elsie Watt (1912 – 2006).

Carl Wilhelm/William Louis (Louis) WEDEMEYER was born on 4 Nov 1866 in Gayndah, son of (Georg) Heinrich Friedrich Louis (Louis) WEDEMEYER & Elizabeth DAVIS. At that time GHL described himself as: "I am a shoe maker residing in Gayndah and I also keep a lodging house" (in Meson St).

Pictured at the left is Louis & Henrietta at their wedding.

Louis’ earliest memories would have included his life as a six year old in the Drummers Creek “Southern Cross Hotel” when his family moved there about 1872. His father’s involvement in establishing the Drummers Creek school in 1876 would have meant that he would have attended there as an 13 year old when the school (next door) opened on 5 April 1880. Iris Bancroft (1903 - 2003), said in a letter to Frank WEDEMEYER: "Louis went to Drummers Creek School, because my aunt Mrs. George Blundell (Mrs. Dahtler’s mother) attended there with him - that would be about 1878 - 79"

Louis (aged 17) took up a 160 acre Selection 1262 on 18 Dec 1883, subdivided from Walla Run. Louis fulfilled one requirement of the lease when he took up residence by Nov 1883, and apparently ceased living in the family hotel at Drummers Creek. Next year, he appeared in the Small Debts Court, Tenningeering on 7 Apr 1884 where Patrick Reddy (Ruddy?) claimed £10 as value of a horse killed against Louis WEDEMEYER Snr. & Jnr. Both parties appeared in Court. Judgment £4 + £1/17/- costs (Total £5/17/-).

Finances became difficult for the family. The family hotel burnt down on 23 Apr 1885, his father died on 5 Oct 1885, farming seasons were not favourable. How were the expenses of the three family Selections to be paid? Rentals were not paid in 1886! Louis obituary throws light on how he assisted in meeting payments and fulfilled the requirements of improving his selection: "As a young man he was a carrier, firstly of supplies from Mt. Perry to the gold diggings at Eidsvold and later of the quartz from the mines to the batteries." His Mt Perry to Eidsvold run would allow him to travel backwards and forwards to Walla to maintain the Selections. When his brother Harry died on 27 Dec 1890, Harry’s obituary said that Louis lived with him in Eidsvold. Most likely they operated the bullock teams together to fulfil Harry’s “contract with an Eidsvold mining Battery for the carting of quartz”.

It is probable that Louis accepted the main responsibilities for the family Selections, helped by younger brother John Ernest who was 8 years younger than Louis. The Walla farms continued to add their improvements. The bailiff reported on 10 May 1889 that Louis’ 160 acre selection was occupied by the selector and used for grazing cattle. It had a slab house with an iron roof. By May 1889 improvements included: Fencing: £65, Slab house, iron roof: £15. Total: £80. His Selection was used for grazing cattle. Louis successfully gained a deed of grant to the Selection on 6 Nov 1889. (Qld State Archives Reference: LAN/AG195). Its southeast corner was on the junction of the Perry and Burnett Rivers.

The detailed rate records found for the Drummers Creek Hotel site show that Louis assumed responsibility for the rate payments from 1887 to 1901, even though he married in Nov 1892. His mother resumed responsibility for the rates from 1901 to 1904 after she re-married on 28 Jul 1898. These records show that Louis lived at Walla and Drummers Creek between1887 and 1890, and then at Eidsvold until 1901..... with the various occupations of initially carrier, then farmer.

Louis' first five Children. Photo ~ 1906 Louis’ 1st five children ~1906

Louis' marriage in 1892 may have caused the WEDEMEYERs to leave and then dispose of the Walla farm. Partial information received from the Gin Gin Rate book shows that Louis' mother had moved to Bundaberg by 1893 (with Minnie, Elizabeth and Maggie?) and still owned freehold land at Walla.

Pictured at the left are Louis' first five Children. Their names are written on their photos (from L to R) as: Dud, Henry, Muriel, Dad (Ivan), Ben.

Louis' life from the time of his marriage is taken up in his obituary: "On the 29th November 1892, he was married to Miss Henrietta Elsebach in the Church of England, Gayndah". Henrietta was born on 29 Sep 1872 in Gayndah Qld and married Louis when she was aged 20. Louis was aged 26 at the time of his marriage. His obituary then said: "They settled near Eidsvold where Mr. WEDEMEYER later became interested in cattle grazing and the breeding of blood horses".

Timber Licences granted to Louis WEDEMEYER in the Government Gazette give us some idea of his earlier occupation: 15 Feb 1896, to cut hardwood; 15 Jan 1898, to cut hardwood; 8 Oct 1898, firewood. We then trace his residence and occupation in the Electoral rolls. The 1900 Queensland Electoral Roll lists: WEDEMEYER, William Louis, residence Craventown. The 1903 Commonwealth Electoral Roll then tells us how he transported his hardwood logs. He is described as a "teamster" (driving bullock wagons) and his residence was confirmed as Craventown in the Eidsvold polling place. In the 1913 Roll he was a man of property… still in Craventown, but now he described himself as a grazier. The same listings were also made in the 1922 and 1934 Rolls.

By 1920 Louis had established a very successful network of family properties and was considered in the community a man of considerable means. The ages are given of the family members in 1920 as well as the address of their cattle interests shown by the 1918-19 and/or the 1920-21 cattle brand books of Queensland:

  1. Carl William Louis (Louis) (aged 54) address Eidsvold, cattle brand 3LK (K… rotated 90° clockwise), earmark code F2
  2. Henrietta (48) address Eidsvold, cattle brand 4WY (W… 90° counter-clockwise), earmark code X6
  3. John Henry (Henry) ( 27) address, Ivanvale, Eidsvold, cattle brand PD6 (D… 90° clockwise).
  4. William Louis (Dud) (25) address, Ivanvale, Eidsvold, cattle brand W6W (first W… 90° counter-clockwise).
  5. Kate Muriel (Muriel) (21)
  6. Ivan Desmond (Ivan) (19) address Glenview, Camboon, cattle brand D8W (D… 90° counter-clockwise).
  7. Charles Burnett (Ben) (15) address Eidsvold, cattle brand CW†, earmark code CS15
  8. Thomas Frederick (Tom) (13)
  9. Eileen Maude (Maude) (10)
  10. Wilhelmina Elsie (Elsie) (8)


Image of Ivan & Ben outside butcher’s shop. Outside WEDEMEYER Bros Butcher’s shop about 1925: L to R— Harry BIRD, Ivan & Ben WEDMEYEYER.
Harry, Ivan & Ben married the CROFT sisters. The car: "Born 1914. Still going strong on Plume".
Photo: courtesy of Scott Jones-Christ, grandson of Harry.

In May 1922 Louis purchased a butchery business at Eidsvold (see above photo) to combine with his slaughter yards ( 3 miles out of Eidsvold), as well as his extensive grazing interests. The butchery business was run by Louis’ son, John Henry. The 1922 & 1934 Commonwealth Electoral Rolls describe John Henry as a "butcher", living in "Eidsvold". Note the photo described the business as "WEDEMEYER Brothers".

Louis with Horse. Photo: Courtesy of A & B Wedemeyer Louis with horse

In 1925, newspapers recorded that Louis stated that much of his property was (1925) in the possession of his family, but the value (unencumbered) of his own (not in possession of another family member) was between £16,000 and £20,000.

The newspaper went on to report that Lou said he had about 600 or 700 head of cattle. The value of cattle at the farm gate was £2/10/ per head… which is a small comparison with the 2004 price of ~ $430. On a personal note the paper stated that: "no man on the Burnett could say they had ever seen him wearing anything else than a panama hat or a cabbage tree hat"… and also that: "he usually wore tweed trousers as his "dress" trousers".

Compare the above information with another 1925 source which suggest that Louis had not divested his major holding to his sons at that time, and also that the newspaper report of his cattle holdings was understated:

District: Banana. Name of Owner: Wedemeyer, L., J. H. & W. L. (Louis and his sons John Henry and William Louis). Name of Station: Glen View. Postal Address: Camboon. No. of Cattle: 950. No. of sheep: —.

Source: The Australian pastoral directory list of stockowners in the states of … Queensland… etc. Sydney NSW: Pastoral Review, Aug 1925:188.

In 1925 an Andrew Warner was mentioned as being employed by Louis as a horse trainer and for general work on cattle. Louis remained very "hands on" with horses, and the above photo of Louis in his 80's shows him working with a horse. Lou's grandson Doug, recalls that Lou rode to his last muster aged 84.

The Big House at Craventown The "Big House" at Craventown in 1949.
Courtesy: Marian WEDEMEYER

Louis bought up the old miners' homestead leases, which made up the town of Craventown. His close-knit family remembers his "big house" and its surrounds with affection.

Pictured at the right is the Big House at Craventown. Daughter Eileen Maude (Maude) (1910-2001) tells of life at Craventown and Eidsvold as a child saw it:

"At Craventown we had a large house with a spacious dining-room which was ideal for sing-songs around our pianola. Townsfolk including Mrs. Monk, Sinclairs etc., would arrange a get-together, including the teachers of Eidsvold School. If contact had not been made through the WEDEMEYER children at school of impending parties, Mrs. Cutler, the head teacher's wife, used to come jogging down the road in her pony and sulky to give prior warning of the surprise party that night. There would be music and singing and later we would have soft drinks, tea and eats supplied by everyone. There was no alcohol.

On the way to school in drizzling rain, Elsie my sister, and I used to shake trees till we were quite wet. Mr. Cutler would send us over to his house where Mrs. Cutler dried our clothes and we played all day with the Cutler children. At school, if we left our tucker bags outside, Cutler's pony would have a treat. I remember in the backyard of the school near the shed, the grass was very long. This used to be tied, mostly by the boys, in snares to trip the unsuspecting.

Tom, my brother, Elsie and I used to ride a horse triple back to and from school. At the cemetery, on the way home we'd have a great game of marbles with the Reisers and Birchleys until Frank Bannah reported us to our parents. Later when I was working at my brother Henry's Post Office Hotel, Mr. Wallin the Head Teacher, and his son, Clem had reason to stay there. Mr. Wallin was in the habit of taking cold showers. Clem was to do likewise. When I was making starch for the linen, where you required hot water, Clem secretly approached me for hot water. He splashed in the hot water instead of the recommended cold shower. Mr. Wallin was none the wiser."

Source: Roach, EM. Snippets. Eidsvold State School, 1889-1989:Centenary. 1989.


The photo below, taken in about 1953, shows a family gathering near the front corner of the old house. The family are listed from left to right (W = WEDEMEYER): Children: Rosalind Roach, Arthur W. Front: Henrietta & Louis W, Bessie W, Coryl Roach, Winifred W, John W. Back: Elsie & Allie Watt, Ivan W, Ozzie Roach, Tom W.

Family gathering near the front corner of the old house Family gathering near the front corner of the "Big House"

When Louis and Henrietta became frail, his son Ivan and his wife Bessie stayed with them in the big house.

Grave Headstone of Louis and Henrietta
Photo: PD Strong, 2001

Louis lived in his home at Craventown until his death following a broken hip. Carl William Louis (Louis) died in "Craven Town", Eidsvold, Queensland, on 18 Jun 1958; he was 91. Dr F.J Minogue and Rev. V.S. Forester attended. He was buried in Eidsvold #1 Cemetery, section E, row 1. Louis left everything to Henrietta in his will. It would appear that in retirement he had divested himself of most of his property, since the value of his property was listed in the inventory as only £6,457 for leaseholds from the Crown. Henrietta then went to Brisbane to stay with her daughter Muriel. Henrietta died in Brisbane, Queensland, on 11 Apr 1963; she was 90. She was buried on 13 Apr 1963 in Eidsvold #1 Cemetery, section E, row 1.


Louis' obituary said:

"He was a fine man. The passing of Mr. Carl William Louis (Lou) Wedemeyer at his home "Craven Town" Eidsvold on Wednesday morning 18th June, removes yet another link with our early history. Mr. Wedemeyer who was 91, led a most active life until very recently. He was the oldest living member of a family which has been associated with the Gayndah and Eidsvold districts for more than a century. This association goes back at least to 1858 when records show, land in Gayndah (now occupied by the new State School) was purchased by Louis Wedemeyer (father of the deceased). Mr. Wedemeyer was born in Gayndah in 1866. As a young man he was a carrier, firstly of supplies from Mt. Perry to the Gold diggings at Eidsvold and later, of the quartz from the mines to the batteries. On the 29th November 1892, he was married to Miss Henrietta Elsebach in the Church of England, Gayndah. They settled near Eidsvold where Mr. Wedemeyer later became interested in cattle grazing and the breeding of blood horses. Besides his widow he is survived by four sons, Henry (Eidsvold), Ivan (Gayndah), Ben (Maryborough) and Tom (Brisbane) and three daughters Muriel, (Mrs. W. Beebe Brisbane), Maud (Mrs. O. Roach, Brisbane) and Elsie (Mrs. W. Watt, Biloela). One son, Dud (Bundaberg), predeceased him recently."

Source: He was a fine man. Monto Herald. 10 Jul, 1958.

After Louis and Henrietta died, Henry WEDEMEYER occupied the old house until 1980. The house was finally demolished after 1983 due to white ant infestation. The Craventown property continued under the name of "Melrose", which was the name given to the house on the opposite side of the road to the "Big House". Louis' grandson Doug lived there until his early death on 23 Aug 2001. His wife Marian said: "During (Doug's) formative years he was influenced strongly by his grandparents, Henrietta and Lou, who lived in the big house at Craventown. From them he learned many of the bush skills, which he used throughout his life. In particular, it was from Lou that he derived his enduring interest in horses and his love of the sport of racing." The Craventown property finally passed out of WEDEMEYER hands with the auction of "Melrose" on-site on Fri July 2, 2004. The advertisement described it as follows:

"Area: Freehold 152 hectares, Leasehold 54.4 hectares. Total 206.4 hectares. Situated 5 km from township and school. Included in the acreage is 23 approx 5 acre blocks to be offered as one package. Improvements: Beautiful 5 b/r Queenslander- kitchen, dining room and lounge area- neatly positioned on the bank of the picturesque Burnett River. Machinery and hay shed. Stock yards. Pasture: Biloela buffel grass, Pangola grass, legumes. Water: 1800 gph bore, dam, Property is connected to the Eidsvold water supply, permanent water holes in river. Agent's comments: This sweet property, earlier known as "Craven Town", is riddled with history from the gold mining era. It has been in the WEDEMEYER name for over 100 years and is a genuine but reluctant sale."

Source: Central & North Burnett Times. Jun 10, 2004:37. Note: Obtained excellent price.

Louis’ Descendancy Report

The Story Continues