The village of Langhorne Creek was laid out near Langhorne Bridge, on section 3552 in the Hundred of Bremer, by George Green in 1854 and named after the Langhorne brothers, Henry and Alfred Langhorne, cattle drovers, who brought cattle overland to Langhorne's Station in the 1840s. Being on the busy road between Strathalbyn and Wellington, where cattle drovers and coaches crossed the Bremer River, one of the first businesses to open was a post office. J. Knight supplied this service from 1854. At the turn of the century, the mail still came via Strathalbyn and was delivered by G. Pallant.
Even before the official proclamation of the town, land had been surveyed to accommodate interesting farmers. One of the firsts to buy land along the Bremer River was Frank Potts. Potts, born in 1815, arrived in South Australia on the Buffalo in 1836. He worked for Captain Lipson and later traded from Kangaroo Island on his own boat. In 1848 he married Augusta Wenzel and while on his way to Wellington saw the potential of the land around the ancient flood plains of the Bremer and Angas Rivers. He bought sections 3557 and 3560 on 14 February 1850 and established Bleasdale Winery, named after the Rev J.I. Bleasdale, who was renowned for his interest in viticulture and the development of the South Australian wine industry.
The Potts were to have a long association with the town and local area. By the early 1860s the Potts had planted a vineyard and later were also involved in the boat building industry. The Beltana was completed in 1873 followed by the Wilcannia in 1875, Bourke in 1876, Dispatch in 1877 and the Milang in 1878. These paddlesteamers worked the Murray River from Milang. Potts' descendants still own and operate the winery today.
Another early settler was James Baird from Lower Finniss. He took up section 3550 in April 1850. Thomas and Edith Burgess also settled at Langhorne where their son Edward was born in 1856. Thomas Burgess died on 9 May 1861, aged only 48, after a long and painful illness. He was much respected by all who knew him. Other early residents were William Harris, Samuel Davis, Thomas Soar, Louisa and Joseph Sedunary, Thomas Hendy, Anna Steer, James Davidson, John and Sarah Young, Peter and Margaret Matthews, and William and Elizabeth Abraham.
The Borrett family also had a long association with Langhorn Creek. Several generations called the town home. On 24 March 1868, J.A. Borrett married Esther Hill in the Wesleyan Chapel at Strathalbyn.
There was certainly an early interest in vine growing by some of the early settlers. William Hill took up land in the 1850s. His granddaughter later married Arthur John Follett who established his first vineyards during the 1880s.
By the early 1860s the town had a school which was big enough during the 1880s to employ Charlotte Cochrane as sewing mistress. She resigned in February 1885 and was replaced by Emma Baylis.
Members of the Cochrane family had been and remained at Langhorne Creek for many years.
Mrs. Susan Cochrane, widow of the late Mr John Cochrane, died on Tuesday, May 6 1902 at her residence, Dunreath, Langhorne's Creek, after a four week's illness. Her obituary stated that she was 85 years of age, was a very old colonist, and one of the first settlers in this district. She was born near Falmouth, Cornwall, and left England in January, 1847, on the ship Theresa, arriving in South Australia in May of the same year. After residing with her people for three years at Scott's Creek she was married in 1850 to Mr J Cochrane.
A year later she overlanded to the Bendigo goldfields with her husband and young son. When the gold fever in the neighbouring State had abated they returned to South Australia, and at once took up land at Langhorne's Creek, where Mrs. Cochrane and family had resided ever since, a period of 49 years. She leaves one son (Mr. Hugh Cochrane, of Ambleside) and two daughters (Mrs W A McQuarrie and Mrs A H Wenzel, of Langhorne's Creek), and seven grandchildren. The deceased lady had a large circle of friends, by whom she was much respected. In the local Wesleyan Church on Sunday last the Rev. J. Trevorrow preached a funeral sermon.
First Store 1870 (SLSA)
The town also had a Primitive Methodist Chapel. Some of the first to be married in the Chapel, by the Rev H. Cole, were John Young and Sarah Ann Docherty on 28 February 1860. There was a saddlery and a well-stocked store, operated by W D Stephenson and his wife. Mrs E M Stephenson would have been very busy indeed. On 19 July 1865 she had a daughter followed by another in May 1867 and yet another barely one year later. On 16 March 1872 their daughter Fanny was born but sadly died two weeks later on 29 March.
It also had a Hotel where John McCallum was only too happy to serve his customers.
A few years later the town had more than a hundred residents, many of them youngsters. It had two stores, a post office and telegraph station, wheelwrights, blacksmiths and a pound. It even had its very own resident magistrate, Mr JD. Cave, Esq, JP. Most likely he did have some time left to help his wife who had a daughter on 26 March 1861, at their residence Blackheath, and another on 20 June 1863.
The Southern Argus, in 1869, said of the town that it 'is a very prettily situated township. The natural beauties of the country have not all been obliterated by the hand of the agriculturist. There are still a number of spots in the vicinity for a little quiet recreation for the residents and visitors'. It is still like that today and one of the most interesting sites to visit would be Bremerton Winery where wines can be tasted in a stone horse stable, built in 1866, and restored by the Willson Family. The complex is part of Bremerton Lodge Homestead built, from local limestone and red gum timbers, for William Hill. Bremerton started off as a small agricultural settlement but is now, like Kent town, part of Langhorne Creek.
Early March 1870, the Bremer Lodge had its annual picnic when more than sixty members met at the Lodge room. They marched to Pott's paddock, where every preparation had been made for a day's enjoyment. Lots of toys were distributed to the children in an utmost attempt to do justice to all. At about 6 o'clock the brethren paid a visit to Bleasdale to thank the owner for his kindness and marched to the hotel for dinner. About seventy members took part in a sumptuous repast prepared by Host McCallum. Several speeches were made by PT Hill, Borrett and Collan. After singing a number of songs the company broke up at an early hour, having spent a pleasant day.
There was more to Langhorne Creek than wineries alone. In 1892 Charles Henry Gray opened a brewery. He had been brewing beer for the last thirty-five years. He built the first brewery at Melrose in 1859. In 1864 he was at Stirling where he was declared insolvent in 1866.
Three years later he opened another brewery at Blinman, where he stayed until 1876. From there he moved to Beltana and finally to the Willows at Pitchi Richi which burnt down in 1883. But there was no stopping for Gray. In 1888 he was brewing again. This time at Blakiston in the Adelaide Hills until his last move to Langhorne Creek.
By the close of the 1880s the town had a population of well over a hundred, living in more than 20 houses. Postmaster and Resident Justice was WT Smith and Robert Lewis kept the Bridge Hotel. Among some of the farmers were, John and George Borrett, George Robert Cleggett, Robert John Clifford, John Davies, JWC Fischer, Samuel Gardner, Frederick Natt, Edward H. Powel and C.F.T. and William Wenzel.
The Langhorne Creek cemetery provides some interesting evidence about early and longtime residents.