Menu Icon

KOTZUR, Martin and Lisa

Martin Kotzur (1833-1916) and his wife Lisa née Towk (1834-1900), Lower Lusatian Wends from Janschwalde, arrived at Port Jackson, Sydney from Bremen aboard the Gottorp in September 1857. Martin and Lisa had been married at Janschwalde on 5 May 1857, just prior to leaving Germany. On arrival in Australia, they travelled to Portland in Western Victoria aboard the Wonga Wonga, settling soon after with other Wends at Neukirch (Byaduk), near Hamilton.

Little is known about Martin and Lisa Kotzur’s time at Byaduk, where they presumably carried on agricultural pursuits. Five children were born there – Marie (1858), Johann (1860), Wilhelm (1862), Anna (1865) and Bertha (1867). All were baptized at Hochkirch (Tarrington) by Pastor Schurmann.

Early in 1868 the Kotzurs, along with neighbours the Kilo, Groch and Ebert families, left Byaduk and travelled overland to Jindera in the Riverina area of New South Wales. On 16 April 1868 Martin selected 182 acres (portions 54-55) at Gerogery and named it Pioneer Farm. On 3 April 1873 he took up a further 320 acres (portion 108, Castlestead). He was naturalized as a New South Wales citizen on 16 November 1869.

The Kotzurs farmed portions 54-55 for 15 years and portion 108 for 11 years. While at Gerogery four more children were born – Friedrich (1869), Martin (1871), Ernst (1873) and Louise (1875). In 1874, Martin took up an additional 320 acres (portion 165 Castlestead) in his son Johann’s name, but the land was never finally purchased, as the family decided to move to Wallandool South.

In 1877 Martin took up portions 90-91 in the Parish of Sherwyn between the Wallandool and Walla Stations and with his sons Johann and Wilhelm began to clear the thick pine-scrub forest. Johann Jun., also began to clear portions 87-88 which his father had selected for him. Martin used the cleared timber to erect a house on portion 91 which he named Blue Lane and Lisa and the younger children moved there from Gerogery in 1877. Other families such as Lieschke, Salzke, Schneider and Scheetz soon followed.

In 1883, Martin left his eldest sons at Alma Park, as the area around Blue Lane became known, to move to 640 acres of land in the Parish of Mundawaddery (portion 113). By October 1883 Martin, Lisa, Ernst, Wilhelm and Louise had all moved there and become foundation members of St John’s Lutheran Church, Pleasant Hills. They named this property Rock View.

All of Martin and Lisa’s children except Friedrich, who remained single, married fellow Wends or Germans and farmed nearby. Lisa, already ill with cancer, died on 13 November 1900 aged 66, when she fell from a cart while Martin was driving her to see her doctor at Henty. She was buried in the Old Lutheran Cemetery at Pleasant Hills. On 19 November 1902, Martin remarried, to J. K. Henriette Schneider née Altmann. He died on 21 September 1916 at Blue Lane aged 83 and was buried in the Alma Park Lutheran Cemetery. Henriette died on 25 October 1934 at Haberecht’s Hill Top farm and is buried at Milbrulong Cemetery.

By Robert Wuchatsch (summary based on book A Thin Line But Not Invisible: The Kotzurs in Australia 1857-1997 140 years of growth).