Sunday, 16 December 2018

Hellwigs of South Australia

Variations: Hellwig, Helwig, Helbig.

Hellwigs were among the early Prussian immigrants to South Australia. They arrived on immigrant ships from Germany.

ARRIVALS 1838-1855
Source: Barry Leadbetter,

  • Zebra from Altona, 1838
    Friedrich HELBIG /HELWIG /HELLWIG (died at sea) family
    Elisabeth Eleonore nee Koch
    Johann Wilhelm, child
  • George Washington from Bremen 1845,
     Georg Carl Christian HELLWIG, aged 26, Miner single

  • Gellert from Bremen 1847,
    ADOLPH (Johann Carl Adolph) HELBIG / HELLWIG  family
    Clara nee Fritsche,
    Maria, child
    Carl, child
  • Hermann von Beckerath 1847,
    Christian Friedrich Valentine HELLWIG / HELWIG age 22  single
  • Ceres  from Bremen, 1849
     J. Carl Christian Gottlieb HELLWIG age 19, ore sorter, single
  • Helene from Hamburg 1855.
    Johanna HELLWIG single


These were found in sources other than ship passenger lists, eg BDMs, newspapers, gazettes.
  1. Carl  born c.1830, who married Anne/a Denecke/Donecke in 1854, arrived before Dec. 1854 and was the father (?) of Carl Wilhelm Eduard who changed his surname to Elvey. This is most likely J.Carl Christian Gottlieb, aged 19, ore sorter, who arrived on the Ceres, departed 1849, arrived 1850. He called himself Carl and is exactly the right age.
  2. Carl who died in the Destitute Asylum in 1872 after being in Hospital. Had one child.
  3. Carl, younger brother of Christian, who was ill a long time then died in 1872
  4. Carl Wilhelm Eduard son of Anne nee Denecke and Carl, born 1855, later changed his surname to Elvey
  5. Christian Friedrich Valentin; arrived 1847, on Hermann vov Beckerath farmer of Lobethal; native of Lautenthal, Hanover [Germany]; age 28 y; in SA 6 y; Memorial 12-8-1853; Oath 11-11-1854; Certificate 23-8-1853; Source(s) GG 12-1-1854, PP 1872, A821, A729 (v2). (Naturalisation record)
  6. Georg Carl Christian; miner of Balhannah; native of Lautenthal near Goslar, Germany; age 30 y; in SA 3 y; Memorial 9-7-1849; Oath 22-8-1849; Certificate 16-7-1849; Source(s) GG 28-12-1848, GG 5-7-1860, PP 1872, A821. (Naturalisation record)
    (Note: 4&5 came from the same district. Moved to area close to each other, both Naturalised. Could they be brothers Christian and Carl of #3?)

Friday, 25 May 2018

James Clarks of the Fleurieu Peninsula

I'm trying to pin down James Clark, brother of Tom Clark, Chief headsman of the Encounter Bay Whale fishery. James apparently came to South Australia from Sydney, bringing his family overland on a horse-drawn dray. This was not the way people normally travelled between the colonies. It would have meant crossing unmapped territory and to me the story is extremely unlikely. Only the direst necessity would have driven a family with three toddlers to undertake such a dangerous journey. Perhaps the family made the last part of the journey from their port of arrival to Encounter Bay on a horse-drawn dray. But what Port of arrival would that have been? There are no likely candidates for James and family among the recorded arrivals to South Australia by ship.

It looks like James was at Encounter Bay for the peak of the whaling, until about 1850. Where did he go then? There are many references to James Clark/Clarke in newspapers and some detective work is required to sort out which might be our Jim.

In 1843ish:
  • James Clark, father of R.B.Clark, brought his family to SA from Sydney via horse dray.
In 1848 there were:
  • James Clark who had a fishery at the mouth of the Onkaparinga River (1.)
  • James Clark Jr, son of the above (1.)

In 1850 there were:
  • James Clark, farmer of Onkaparinga AND Samuel Clark, farmer of Onkaparinga.(2)
  • James Clark, Postman, of Encounter Bay (2.)
  • James Clarke at whose house mass was celebrated at Encounter Bay in 1850. (3.)
 In 1854:
  • James Clark, proprietor of  Sections Nos. 655, 656 and 682, in the Hundred of Myponga (4)
In 1891, our James Clark died

In 1910:
  • The late James Clarke of Yankalilla, whose third daughter Emma, married Hugh Smith (5)
  1. Adelaide Observer SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE 30 Sep 1848
  2.  DECLARATION OF CONFIDENCE IN MR JOHN STEPHENS. (1850, March 9). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 3 (Supplement to the "Adelaide Observer."). Retrieved May 26, 2018, from 
  3. Historic Churches and Parishes of South Australia - Willunga   
  4. Advertising (1854, January 21). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 8. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from 
  5. Family Notices (1910, May 14). The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 - 1922), p. 1. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from
Not our James Clark:
  • James Clark of the Exeter Hotel, Rundle Street
  • James Clarke of Wattle Flat.
  • James Sicker Clarke of Port Adelaide 
  • James Clark, mill owner, gold finder and publican? of Noarlunga.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Tom Clark - Off Shore Whaler

Who was Tom Clark, renowned headsman of the Encounter Bay whaling community, father of Kangaroo Island farmer Robert Clark?

Tom was remarkably shy of the Registry Office. Not only did he not marry his defacto spouse Mary Louisa Stone (nee Connor) he did not register the birth of his son either, even though registration was compulsory. At this stage I don't know whether he had other children, or if he ever married. This leaves his origins clouded in mystery. A Biography of his son in the "Cyclopaedia of South Australia" says that his father Thomas arrived in Australia in 1835. This was before the arrival of official colonists to South Australia, so Tom must have arrived to another colony.

Was he the Thomas Clark who arrived as a convict to Van Diemen's Land in 1835 aboard the ship Mangles? Did he escape and "disappear" into the whaling community, leaving Launceston on the Thistle in 1836? Or did he serve out his term (usually 7 years)  and join whaling later? The latter seems less likely, as whaling was a task for an experienced mariner, and Tom was a headsman in 1846. Where would a convict have got that kind of skill?

What seems most likely is that Tom Clark came to Australia as crew on a ship in 1835 and, finding whaling a lucrative enterprise, left for the fisheries almost as soon as he arrived. He may well have worked for one of the VDL companies before being "imported" to South Australia. It's on record that the ship "John Pirie" brought whaling hands from Hobart to Encounter Bay. (The John Pirie did a number of whaling voyages in 1845 under Capt Shepherd, including Trial Bay, near Streaky Bay, In 1845 It was owned by Jacob Hagen. On one of these voyages it brought back crew from the wrecked Elizabeth Rebecca, which founde3red in Trial Bay 1844 or 45. The John Pirie seems to disappear from South Australian waters after this Source: "Bound for South Austtralia" website.) (Note to self: look for departures of the "John Pirie" from VDL and names of those on board. Also look for those departing with the "Socrates" "Henry" and "Eliza" which were whaling in KI waters in the 1830s.)

Tom had a brother Jim working with him at Encounter Bay. His presence suggests Tom was not brought here as a convict, although it was not unknown for siblings to be convicted and transported together. Did Jim arrive later? Did they both come here as crew on the same ship? On different ships?

Convicts who may have been him.
Thomas Clark arrived VDL 3rd March 1835 on Waterloo

Some notes:

CLARKE Thomas arrived 1836-11-26 on Tam O'Shanter from London
CLARK Charles Thomas (crew) arrived 1836-12-24 on HMS Buffalo from Portsmouth 36-07-13 via Spithead 36-07-23, St Helens 36-08-03, Rio de Janeiro 36-10-12
* says Tom Clark had a whaling brother, Jim Clark.
* Tom Clarke was immortalised in Simpson Newland's book "Paving the Way".
* Lived with Mrs Mary Stone, who had his child - see article:
*In 1836 a Thomas Clark left Launceston on the whaling ship "Thistle" for Port Fairy.
* in 1850 the Barnett whaling company, owned by Joseph Barnett, became a partnership, Joseph Barnett & Thomas Clark (Source: Whaling in South Australia). Tom Clarke worked for Barnett in 1849, and Bennett in 1851 but no employer is recorded for 1850. Most whaling ceased at Encounter Bay about this time.


  • CLARK Thomas, headsman (1846 Hagen, 1847 Wilde, 1848, 1849 Barnett, 1851 Bennett) Names in brackets are his employers as a whaler. Source: South Australian Government Gazettes 1844-51

Saturday, 3 March 2018

John Thomas - Straitsman

Here's an exploration of the history of John Thomas, Straitsman, alias "Long Tom".

From Julie Gough's Blog:
Pungerneetterlattenner [AKA Maria/Sall, Abducted by John BROWN after BROWN‘S drowning  lived with John THOMAS, p.119, WIS p.863]
 Purnernattelattenner [AKA Sall, Abducted by John BROWN, lived with James EVERITT [sp] for a time after BROWN was drowned, living with John THOMAS on Swan Island in 1837, p.19-120]
 Teekoolterme [taken to Kangaroo Island by Black JACK WILLIAMS, after WILLIAMS drowned she was taken by John THOMAS, at Aboriginal Settlement 1831, p.121]
Pungerneetterlattenner [AKA Maria/Sall, Abducted by John BROWN after BROWN‘S drowning  lived with John THOMAS, p.119, WIS p.863]
Wapperty [AKA Wobbelty, 5’10”, stout made, b.c.1797, father Mannalargenna, Abducted by John THOMAS, lived with John STARKER/STOCKER who also lived with Nicerumpowwerrerter [Mary] and Maytepueminner [Maria], perhaps not at same time. John STARKER was drowned at the Leven River on his way back to Launceston from the westward islands c.Sept 1830 FM 14/9/1830, 1/10/1830, 2/10/1830. After John STARKER’S death John MYETYE seized Nicerumpowwerrerter [Mary] and Wobbelty, giving the former to Edward TOMLIN and keeping Wobbelty [p.100], After John MYETYE died [p.123] Wapperty lived with Robert REW, who brought her to the Aboriginal Settlement in 844. Bessy MITI/RUE her daughter to John MYETYE married John MIRA on 27/3/1847, Wapperty died Oyster Cove 12/8/1867. p.123]
 Woretermoeteyenner [AKA Wattermoteer/Woretermoteteyer/Waremodeenner/Pung/Bung, Big Musselroe, b.c.1790, sister Wottecowidyer, Abducted by George Briggs by whom three children [JG:  at least 5 children: Dalrymple Briggs, x unnamed died from burns, Mary Briggs, Eliza Briggs, John Briggs]. Sold to John THOMAS for a guinea. Lived for a time with John BROWN. Taken by James PARISH to the Aboriginal settlement FM 19/12/1830. “Had a husband among the blacks”: Phillip. Had boy by James MUNRO when she lived with him FM 19/12/1830 [JG: no, Munro looked after young John BRIGGS aged c.5+, until? Munro took John to Hobart when he went to petition the Governor for the return of women], p.123]
 John Thomas/James Thomas – Long Tom – ex Ltn pilot – 'Briggs afterwards sold her to John Thomas alias Long Tom for a Guinea “…this man is still living in Launceston and is employed as Seaman on Board of Griffiths” c1829-31

From the Centre for Indigenous Family History site:
THOMAS, JOHN, also called Long Tom, white, marr. Nimarana , Tasmanian full 
     blood. Children:
THOMAS, PHILLIP senior, also called Captain Phillip, b. 1831; d. 28 Feb. 1915, 
     age 84. f. John Thomas, m. Nimarana. marr. Jane West and, 
     Eliza Bligh. Photo. Man 1920 pl. K., fig. 2.
THOMAS, JAMES senior, b..1828 approx., d. 1850 approx., age 22 approx. 
     f. John Thomas, m. Nimarana, Tasmanian full blood. 
Also lists a great many descendants 

Okay, here's what we've learned so far. Thomas was a shipping pilot from Launceston. He abducted, "took on" from other sailors, or "bought" a number of Aboriginal women, whose names we know. About 1830 he was employed as a seaman by Griffiths, a whaling/sealing company.

On the Tasmanian Names Index There are many departure records for him as a seaman from 1818. January 1818 he was on the "Jupiter" bound to Kangaroo Island.(a whaling/sealing site). 1822 he was whaling and sealing. Says he arrived at Tasmania on the ship "Caroline". 1830 he was on ship "Clarence" to "fisheries". 1831 he was on Britannia bound to Swan River. Jul 1832 he was on the ship Deveron, whaling. The latter were all departures from Hobart.

1836 he was on the "William" bound for Portland Bay (a whaling site). Oct 1836, on the "Thistle" ( a whaler) to Port Fairy. These were depart Launceston.

From 1839 he's listed as a passenger to Port Philip a few times. No more departures from Tas. after 1840

Straitsmen and Straits Women

Day told me that they sometimes made a voyage to the main land and had in this way provided themselves with women – whether by purchase or violence he did not say.
‘Some early recollections’ by B.T. Finniss Transcript of original manuscript in The Borrow Collection, Flinders University Library)

See also: References for Straitsmen and Straits Women
               My WikiTree Page for Straitsmen and Straits Women

Well, it didn't take long for me to go somewhat off course. That's how it is with Genealogy; one person leads to another, and next thing you know you're in another place hundreds of miles from where you started. I wanted to know more about the sealers' women of Kangaroo Island; they were people, they had families, they had stories and also descendants living today. But their very existence has been brushed aside in favour of the story of the colonial "Utopia" South Australia was meant to be. I couldn't let this rest. It was so totally unlike the history I'd been taught in school.

The so-called Straitsmen ranged between Bass Strait, Kangaroo Island, and King George Sound, accompanied by the indigenous women they had abducted or persuaded to go with them, and their children. Sometimes, when the wildlife was plentiful, they spent years in one place before moving on. What this meant for the women was that they were displaced from their own people and country, sometimes permanently. Sometimes there was no one to speak their own language with. They were forced into work, hunting animals on a scale that must surely have offended their culture. If they didn't comply they were beaten. Amid all this, they raised children fathered by their masters.

Palawa women (from Tasmania) were preferred because of their superior skills at hunting and trapping. They dived for shellfish, caught Mutton Birds, collected eggs, trapped kangaroo and wallaby, hunted and skinned seals, filled sacks of salt and crewed boats, prepared food and sewed warm fur garments for the men.

Maybe you've come to this page because you're decended from one of these women. Welcome. I would love to talk to you and maybe we can share some information. Please introduce yourself in the comments section below.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Book: "Kangaroo Island, Past and Present"

"Kangaroo Island, Past and Present, being a short history of the oldest settlement of South Australia" by Kingscote Country Women's Association, c 1955. Printed in South Australia by "The Advertiser" printing office, Adelaide.

In the early 1950s the Kingscote Country Women's Association published a book of records and recollections called "Kangaroo Island Past and Present". The book mentions a great many people and places but does not have an index. In 2017 - 18, Anne Tichborne produced an index in three parts that will be useful to historians and anyone researching the people of Kangaroo Island.  The index is in three parts: People, Places, Ships and Wrecks.

This Link will take you to a permanent page where you can access the index.


The subject of this Blog is the History of South Australia's biggest island and the Genealogy of its people.

I'm engaged in a project to put all of Kangaroo Island's Early Settlers on WikiTree, the free genealogy site that aims to connect all the world's people through our family trees. This Blog is where I will make notes, argue with myself and collect references, photos and so on.

I'm a member of the Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association and the Genealogy and Heraldry Society of South Australia. My interest goes beyond birth dates and relationship - I want to know about the lives of the people who preceded me in this place we call South Australia. My forebear, George Granger, was one of those who settled on Kangaroo Island in the early days of the colony and there are people still living there who are related to me.

If you have a story to tell that's related to Kangaroo Island or its people, please do tell me about it - just Post a Comment below. 

Enough said. Now let's get down to it.