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SEILER, family

At least eight members of the Seiler family, Wends from Salzenforst, four kilometres west of Bautzen, emigrated to Australia from 1848-54.

Michael Ernst (known as Ernst) Seiler and his wife Agnes (nee Lehmann) and son Moritz Heinrich arrived in South Australia on 6 November 1848 aboard the Victoria. His parents, Michael and Maria (nee Deutschmann) Seiler, arrived in Melbourne in February 1850 aboard the Pribislaw, then continued on to South Australia, presumably aboard the same ship which arrived at Port Adelaide on 1 March 1850.

When naturalized as a South Australian citizen on 9 September 1852, Ernst’s age was given as 30, occupation mason and address Naudorf near Lobethal. Ernst and Agnes’ family increased to six children before she died of consumption at Blumberg on 11 November 1861, aged 36.

Ernst’s mother Maria Seiler died on 18 November 1852 at Naudorf, aged 63 and was buried at Lobethal. Her husband, described as Michael Seiler, mason, aged 84, died near Lobethal on 16 August 1867, having been “destitute for years.”

Other Seilers to emigrate from Salzenforst were August Seiler, his wife Gertrude and son Johann, who arrived at Port Adelaide aboard the Steinwarder on 5 November 1854, with at least 50 other Wends. August, a labourer and his wife and son settled at Woodside. She died on 16 November 1870 and August on 5 February 1884, aged 74. Both are buried at Lobethal.

Alfons Frencl says all the above Seilers were related, born in the same house at Salzenforst, along with their close relative Handrij Zejler (Seiler), who Frencl states was Michael Seiler’s nephew. Zejler (1804-72), the Lutheran pastor at Lohsa for many years, is considered the founder of Wendish national literature. According to Frencl:

Zejler’s poetical cycle of poems The Seasons and Wendish Wedding for which Korla August Kocor, founder of the Wendish classical music tradition had composed the music, are in their ethical principles for humanity, related to work, belief, life and death, an impressive encyclopedia of Wendish life. Some of his lyrical poems were so close to the village people that they became real folk songs. Even the words of the Wendish National Anthem were written by Handrij Zejler:


Following Agnes’ death. Ernst Seiler married Elizabeth Oak, with whom he had a further five children. In 1866 he relocated his family to New South Wales. He was living at Brown’s Springs near Albury when naturalized as a New South Wales citizen on 8 April 1870. Ernst was later said to have been one of “the early pioneer settlers at Brae Springs near Bethel”, between Jindera and Walla Walla.

After Elizabeth’s death at Burrumbuttock on 13 August 1876, Ernst married Henrietta Gunther, later the same year. Henrietta died in 1892 and Ernst at his son-in-law J. August Schultz’s farm at Jindera on 15 January 1900, aged 77. On his death, the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express stated that Ernst:

Better known as the Jindera artist, has left many mementoes of his artistic talent behind him. His paintings are all over the district.

Ernst is buried at Gerogery.

Source: From Hamburg to Hobsons Bay (1999)