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DEUTSCHER, Michael and Christiana

Michael Deutscher (1811-64) and his wife Johanna Christiana Eleonora née Schwartz (1815-80) arrived at Port Adelaide from Hamburg aboard the Alfred in December 1848 with five children – Johanna Carolina, August Ludwig, Carl Traugott, Christiana Carolina and Ernst Traugott. The Deutscher family, from Zschorna, 13 kilometres east of Bautzen, were accompanied by Michael’s brother Peter Andreas Deutscher and his wife Agneta née Albert and his sister Magdalena and her husband Johann Gottfried Liebe.

Michael, who was born at Doberschütz on 1 May 1811 and Johanna Christiana Schwartz, born at Seitschen on 15 October 1815, had been married at Göda in 1834. After their marriage, they lived at Zschorna, where Michael’s father had relocated his family when he inherited a flour mill there in about 1823. The water-driven mill passed to Michael on his father’s death in 1836 and he continued to operate it until the Deutscher family emigrated to Australia.

Michael Deutscher had been the leader of a group of 40 Saxon Wends, including children, who emigrated aboard the Alfred. On arrival in South Australia, the Wends spent a short time at Klemzig, then moved to Rosenthal, where Michael and several others soon purchased land. Michael, his brother Andreas and brother-in-law Gottfried Liebe were naturalized as South Australian citizens on 30 December 1848, less than a month after arrival.

In January 1849 Michael purchased 208 acres at Rosenthal from Hermann Kook for £ 1 per acre (Sections 1716 and 1720). Although he established a farm there, Michael considered the land too hot and dry and the water brackish. Although good for growing wheat it was not suitable for vegetables. In 1852, hearing good land was available in Victoria, Michael and some other Alfred Wends sold their land at Rosenthal and travelled overland by wagon in April-May 1852 to Portland. They were accompanied by four Wendish families who had arrived aboard the Helene in December 1851 and Johann Huf and his family, who were German.

As Christiana was pregnant and no suitable farmland was available for purchase, Michael Deutscher and Peter Burger rented a farm near Mount Clay, east of Portland. The Deutschers and other Wendish families hoped to buy a 640 acre section, but when land was finally put up for sale at South Hamilton in May 1853, they were only able to buy 230 acres for £ 1,359/17/-, the price being too high. Michael purchased 81 acres in his name and 37 acres in the name of “Michael Deutscher and Others.” Of the 37 acres, Michael sold 10 acres to the Lutheran congregation for a church and school and 25 acres of his 81 acre block to his brother Andreas.

In May 1853, Michael wrote to Pastors Meyer and Schurmann in South Australia to advise on conditions in the Portland district and how Schurmann, who had previously accepted the Wends’ call as pastor, should travel to them. Michael had acted as lay reader to the Wends at Rosenthal and went on to play a key role in the establishment of a Lutheran Church at South Hamilton. A long and bitter dispute with Pastor Schurmann, however, led Michael and several other Wends to leave St Michael’s in 1857 and form a separate congregation known as St Luke’s.

A further three children were born in Australia to Michael and Christiana Deutscher – Traugott Michael, Traugott Wilhelm and Johann. All their surviving children except one married Wends or Germans – Johanna Carolina married Carl Huf; August Ludwig married Emily East; Carl Traugott married Johanna Magdalena Heine; Ernst Traugott married Paulina Peucker; Traugott Michael married Johanna Paulina Walther; and Johann married Maria Wilhelmina Thomas and after she died, Bertha Hoffman. All these children, with the exception of Ernst, moved to Murtoa when land became available there during the early 1870s.

Michael died at South Hamilton on 9 August 1864, aged 53, two days after the death of his youngest daughter Christiana, who was aged 19. They were buried together in the South Hamilton Cemetery. Christiana died on 13 August 1880 aged 64 at her daughter Anna Huf’s home at Green Hills where she had lived out her final years and was buried at Murtoa.

The Deutscher name later became well known in Australia through the successful engineering business established in Melbourne in 1917 by Walter Arnold Deutscher (1894-1959), one of Michael and Christiana’s grandsons. Ironically, Walter dropped the “c” from the family name in 1922, changing it to Deutsher for simplicity. The company was eventually sold to the Illinois Tool Works, Chicago.

By Robert Wuchatsch (summary based on book Deutscher: A Family History 1848-1986).