Father Vogelsang

Father Vogelsang

Hermann Heinrich Vogelsang, better known as Father Vogelsang, was born in Germany on 17 March 1832. This son of a blacksmith arrived in South Australia by the Sophia on 16 August 1866 and within two months was on his way to pioneer the establishment of a Lutheran Mission at Killalpaninna where he remained until his death forty-seven years later.

Together with Johann Ernst Jacob he went through some very hard times but he remained faithful to his calling and stayed at the mission, eventhough several attempt were made on his life by the Aborigines during the early times. On a later occasion, when he collapsed from dehydration, his life was saved by an Aboriginal woman. Eventually the Aborigines became quite friendly and remained so until the mission closed.

During a short absence from the mission in 1867 Vogelsang married Dorothea Heistermann, born 17 January 1838, who had just arrived from Germany. Naturally she went with her husband back to the mission. Their first son Julius was born at the mission but died at an early age and was buried on the shore of Lake Killalpaninna.

In 1875 Dorothea took ill and Vogelsang took her, and their son Heinrich in one of the German wagons down south for medical aid. After having travelled more than three hundred kilometres her condition deteriorated near Hookina. Vogelsang tied his son to the wagon and hurriedly left for Hookina for help. She died on 8 April 1875 before his return and was buried at Hookina. Heinrich was left with Pastor J.G. Rechner and his wife at Light Pass. When Vogelsang arrived back at Killalpaninna he found his house gone up in flames.

On 29 August 1877 Vogelsang married a second time. This time to Anna Maria Auricht, who was born at Langmeil on 3 April 1855 and was baptised by Pastor Kavel. Anna's sister, Maria Elisabeth Auricht, married Johann Ernst Jacob. The Vogelsang family had eight children, two sons and six daughters, who were all born at the mission without the aid of a doctor. Anna's second child Hermann, born on 18 June 1880, later became a teacher at Killalpaninna in 1907 taking over from his sister Dora.

Another son, Ted went to Tanunda after his schooling to become a carpenter. After completing his apprenticeship he returned to the mission where his skills were badly needed. Together the Vogelsang and Jacob families became the main stay of the mission. Whenever missionaries withdrew from the work, they stayed at their post. Jacob forty years and Vogelsang until his death in 1913. Both men, and their wifes were respected by the Aborigines, Afghans, pastoralists, drovers and bushmen.

Vogelsang was moved to Kopperamanna in 1895 to prevent continued trespassing by drovers who let their stock graze on some of the mission land. Although only a lay missionary, Vogelsang often did perform the work of a seasoned missionary. It was at Kopperamanna that their daughter Helen was born on 20 August 1896. Their house was, like most other buildings at the three different stations, made of sunbaked bricks. These were produced by the Aboriginal labourers from clay, rushes and sand.

While living at Kopperamanna 'Father' Vogelsang took morning and evening devotions and Sunday service with the Aborigines in their Dieri language. Vogelsang was in charge of the Aboriginal workmen and collected fees from drovers using the well for their stock. His blacksmith shop often served as a place of refuge for the down and out wanderers in the north. For many years the fortnightly Marree-Birdsville mail called at the non- official post office at Kopperamanna where Vogelsang sold stamps, collected and dispatched the mail.

Anna Maria Vogelsang stayed with her husband at the mission and was present when the first Aborigines were baptised by missionary Flierl. She stayed on after her husband's death until the mission closed when she went to live with her children at Lowbank. 'Mother' Vogelsang died at the age of ninety on 12 October 1945.

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