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Past Events

Peters Hill 150th Anniversary

by John Noack

The Peters Hill Church’s celebration of its 150th Anniversary was held on 15 October 2006

Peters Hill consisted mostly of Wendish settlers from Lower Lusatia when the St Peters congregation was formed in 1856. The first service was held in the home of Johann Noack, which was built of stone with a thatched roof. Pastor H.A. E. Meyer, the pastor at Bethany, conducted occasional services at Peters Hill.

On 15 October, 2006, this early period of history was recalled when Pastor James Winderlich, a descendant of Johann Noack, came to the church on a german wagon drawn by two draught horses. The church, which had been carefully renovated by the Friends of Peters Hill Church, was full and the congregation was amused when Pastor James climbed up into the pulpit high above the altar and then asked the congregation whether they could see him. He spoke of the faith displayed by the biblical Hebrews as they migrated from Sumer to Palestine, then down to Egypt and eventually through the wilderness to their Promised Land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. He compared this to the faith displayed by the germanic and wendish immigrants who sailed for about three months from Hamburg to Australia, their Promised Land and soon built their school and church upon arriving at Peters Hill.

A community lunch under the gum trees was followed by a visit to the site of the first church service in Johann Noack’s home in 1856 and a visit to the Pioneer Cemetery, which now has a detailed map on the site showing the names of those buried and the locations of their graves.

The Friends of Peters Hill have worked very hard to preserve the church and cemeteries and their Newsletter always lists pioneering families, including the Wends from Lusatia, who settled in this district in the mid-1800s. Some early Wendish families here included Bartusch, Borrack, Domaschenz, Dreckow, Duldig, Fladrich, Gormann, Gassan, Groch, Hondow, Huppatz, Jarick, Kschenka, Krueger, Lehmann, Marschall (Marscha), Miatke, Noack, Petatz, Proposch, Pumpa, Schuppan, Schwartz, Starick, Teschner, Zoellner and Zerner. Few of these families remain there now, although the Huppatz and Zerner families still call it home or still have farms there. James Huppatz also cares for the original Huppatz home, which is incorporated into his present house.

Considering the crowd attending, it is clear that many descendants enjoy returning to Peters Hill, which their ancestors may well have viewed as their very own Garden of Eden.

The September 2006 edition of the Newsletter of the Friends of Peters Hill Church Inc includes a brief biography of Pastor Heinrich Eduard MEYER (1813-1862), some notes on the family of Christian and Maria FLADRICH by Brian Hennig and a letter by Matthes SCHWARTZ, sent to Germany in 1864 and submitted by David Simmons. Matthes comments that “the people here are 20 times better off than in Germany” but in regard to mail, he wrote “I wanted to send you money but I heard that the letters do not get there”.