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KRÜGER, Johann Carl August

Johann Carl August Krüger (known as Carl) was born on 11 January 1802 in Cottbus, Brandenburg, Prussia and arrived in South Australia aboard the Victoria with his wife Maria and four children on 6 November 1848. Details of his formative years are unknown to us, however, he would have been baptized a Lutheran and we do know that he learnt the trade of pipe organ construction. In 1833 Carl married Maria Duch, in Cottbus. Maria was born on 6 April 1805 in Leuthen, Prussia, her parents being Martin and Anna Duch. Johann and Maria’s family of three sons and one daughter were all born in Cottbus: August Carl (16/8/1834 – 18/12/1904); Gustav (16/1/1838 – 6/7/1910); Johann Theodore (27/10/1839 – 10/8/1875); and Maria Auguste (2/2/1844 – 27/3/1923).

Prior to emigration, the Krüger family lived at Priebus (now in Poland), where Carl was employed as an organist and organ builder. Following their arrival at Port Adelaide in 1848, Carl established a small farm at Hoffnungsthal (Valley of Hope) near Lyndoch in the Barossa Valley. In 1850 he built a pipe organ for the St. Jacobi Lutheran Church. The construction method employed on this organ is considered unique as the casework is also the frame – there is no internal structural frame as such – with all the mortises, cornices and dovetailings finished to a very high standard. After 130 years service it was found that the windsheet was in “as new” condition. The wooden pipes are yellow pine, the blocks jarrah and Australian red cedar was used for the stoppers. Metal pipes were of the continental style, their mouths embossed from the inside, which were formed before the pipe was hand rolled. These metal pipes were among the first to be manufactured in South Australia. After 161 years this organ is still in “near showroom” condition. In 1928 it was moved from Bethany Lutheran Church to St. Thomas’, Stockwell.

In 1851, Carl Krüger Jun., moved to Hochkirch (now Tarrington) in Western Victoria. The valley of hope became the valley of despair when in 1853 Hoffnungsthal was flooded from torrential rain. Carl, like many in the district, had to move and he briefly resettled at Moorooroo, still in the Barossa, to farm cattle. However, the land there was poor and a further move was made, this time to Western Victoria.

In 1855 the Krügers settled in the Hochkirch district. In 1857 Carl was naturalized and farming at (Lake) Linlithgow. This property remained in the family’s possession until the early 1930s. In 1863 Carl built another pipe organ, for St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Hochkirch and this organ remained in service until 1928, when the new St. Michael’s church was consecrated. Today, the old organ is located at a Tanunda museum. In the 1860s land was acquired at Boolite (near Sheep Hills and Minyip) in the Wimmera. Farming at Boolite proved too difficult for the returns given and it is believed that this property was relinquished by the 1890s. Carl died in Linlithgow on 24 October 1871 aged 69 years and was buried in the Tabor Lutheran Cemetery. Maria, his wife, died in Linlithgow on 23 July 1877 aged 72 and was also buried at Tabor.

Carl Krüger’s headstone is testimony to the beliefs he carried through life. It is adorned, in bas-relief, with a chalice, considered as one of the strongest symbols of Christian faith. The chalice is seen as the human heart’s yearning to be filled with the true spirit of Christ, as symbolized by wine. His epitaph reminds us how the good fight had been fought (how he lived accordingly to his faith) and subsequently death was mere repose, sleep, prior to the resurrection and subsequent judgement where the just would be crowned with the reward of eternal life.

by Paul Kruger – July 2011.