The area covered by the town of Sedan originally was pastoral land held under occupation licence from 25 September 1845 by George Melrose who took up the Rhine Run. During the 1860s and early 1870s farming land became hard to come by as the sons of established farmers looked for new holdings rather than wait for part of their fathers’ estates. If there were several sons in the family it would only be the eldest son who inherited the family farm. The others had to look elsewhere. This forced the government to break up most of the large pastoral holdings in and around the Adelaide Hills and survey them into new Hundreds. The Hundred of Bagot was proclaimed on 19 April 1860.
As roads between farms and settlements soon became established, a post office was opened by E. Homburg in 1872 at the intersection of some of these. In 1873 J.W. Pfeiffer was granted section 52 in the Hundred of Bagot and within two years he had subdivided it and established a town which became known as Sedan, named after an 1871 battle during the Franco-Prussian War.
Pfeiffer could see the need for the production of flour locally rather than sending it away without the benefit of “value added” As early as 1881 he built a flour mill and thus providing employment for local men and a reduction in transport costs. During its long history the mill had several owners, among them Tucker in 1888, H.R. Buckerfield in 1903, E.W. Buckerfield in 1906 and the Sedan Milling Company in 1934. The mill closed in 1966.
In 1883 Pfeiffer extended the town on part of section 46, surveyed by Carl Von Bertouch, and named it Sedan East. Von Bertouch was well acquainted with the area. He had started out as a surveyor in Blumberg. In the early 1850s he was also Commissioner for the District Council of Talunga and surveyed Mount Pleasant in 1856, Eden Valley in 1864 and Moculta in 1865. For several years he was managing director of the South Australian Banking Corporation at Tanunda and regularly bought gold from miners at the Barossa goldfields.
The Sedan Hotel opened in 1881 with Robert Fotheringham as its first publican. It too had many owners but it is still operating today. With many of the early settlers being German, a Lutheran Church was completed and opened on 23 November 1873. It also served as a school from 1876 until 1917. A Congregational Church was started in 1919.
By 1883 the town could boast two blacksmiths, two saddlers, two stores, a bank and a shoemaker. In 1884 W.F. Day was the manager of the branch office of the Commercial Bank. In 1909 the Bank of Adelaide opened with W.H. Broadbent as its manager.
The one thing most wanted by the Sedan settlers was a railway. They tried hard and long before it was realised. As early as September 1884 a deputation from the area went to see Thomas Playford, commissioner of Public Works to press for a line from Monarto to Sedan. Nothing was achieved. After many years of agitation some parliamentarians visited the area in 1902. No doubt they had a good reception and were looked after by the hopeful settlers but 12 years later they were still waiting.
Heinrich Adolph Zadow, a long time resident of Sedan, was very much involved with community affairs and worked hard to improve the town’s facilities. He served on the North Rhine, later Keyneton, District Council and the Blanchetown District Council as well. He was a tireless advocate for a local telephone service, a water supply and a railway line.
Zadow was also the local correspondent for the Chronicle newspaper. In September 1910 he reported that two heavy laden waggons, drawn by 14 horses, left every week for Adelaide with the area's produce. One storekeeper had collected 4500 dozen eggs, 4000 lb of butter, 100 sheepskins, 600 lb of tallow and 500 lb of cream in one week. Other storekeepers had received similar amounts. Even better news was that, to improve transport, it was finally decided that a bridge would be build across the North Rhine River.
In 1914 while Secretary of the local Railway Committee he gave an interview for the Observer during which he stated that the line was most urgently required. During his 15 years in Sedan he had seen remarkable progress but this had slowed down because of the lack of reliable and efficient transport. A line would benefit numerous farmers according to Zadow and we must have it or our progress will be seriously retarded. If we don't get it now we shall go on fighting until we do. But it was not until 13 October 1919 that the first train finally arrived at Sedan. They only had the benefit of the line for 45 years as it was cancelled in 1964. It was reopened on 16 December 1966 until 12 December 1967 to facilitate the laying of the Swan Reach to Stockwell pipeline.
Another welcome addition to the town was the Sedan Hall. It was built on land donated by Gottlieb Lehmann and opened by W. Shannon in 1912. Some ten years later a Brass Band was started with Adolph Seidel as first conductor.