Daniel Heinrich Lemke, Organ builder, Farmer and Teacher

Daniel Heinrich Lemke

Organ Builder, Farmer and Teacher

Daniel Heinrich Lemke

Daniel Heinrich Lemke was born on 11 December 1832 at Grabowo Hauland, Posen. He migrated to South Australia on 18 November 1855 and settled at Hoffnungsthal in the Barossa Valley. His parents were Gottlieb Lemke and Anna Elizabeth Huf. Daniel became a farmer and liked what he saw and did. After only four months in South Australia he put pen to paper and applied for a Certificate of Naturalization. Being described as a fit and proper person by his sponsors it was approved on 13 March 1856. He was now able to buy land but changed after a few years and wanted to become a teacher. In October 1860 he advertised his land, section 15 in the Hundred of Barossa, for sale. He started his teaching career at Gruenberg in 1861.

That same year he married Louise Caroline Saegenschnitter on 22 April at Gnadenberg. Louise was born on 13 January 1835 and migrated to South Australia on 25 August 1859. They were to have five children; Gustav born on 13 February 1862 at Gruenberg, Albertina on 1 August 1864 at South Rhine, Berthe on 17 October 1868 at Rowland Flat, Elizabeth on 19 November 1870 at Gruenberg and Emma on 18 June 1872 also at Gruenberg.

He was not only a teacher and farmer, but also a mail contractor. However he is best known as an Australian Organ builder who had been trained in Berlin. While teaching at Eden Valley and the Gruenberg School at Moculta he apparently built 13 organs. Four of them still exist today. Two of them are still used today. The oldest, built in 1874 is now at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church at Gruenberg while the second organ, built in 1875 is at the St John's Lutheran Church at Ebenezer.

Another organ he built for the Immanuel Lutheran Church at Light Pass. When this congregation modernised their organ they sold it and it is now at the Lutheran Church at Frankston, Victoria. Daniel made his own wooden pipes for his organs, all of which are blown with foot treadles by the organist. However when Daniel was plying the organ his son Gustav had the job of pumping the bellows.

In 1875 he was dismissed from the Gruenberg School but re-instated the next year. While living at Sandleton he was a teacher, farmer, postmaster and mail contractor. The Sandleton post office opened on 1 September 1881 in Daniel Lemke’s house but within a year residents felt the need for three mail deliveries a week instead of two. They petitioned the government and were successful in April 1883 when Daniel Lemke became the Mail Contractor for the next three years for a total payment of £135. His daughter Berthe had the contract between 1889 and 1892.

The school was conducted from January 1882, with Richard Bergmann as first teacher followed by Daniel Lemke. Bergmann took over from 1884 until 1889. The school closed in 1896 but the church remained open until 1955 after which services were conducted in private homes until 1969. Trustees for the church and section 185c on which it was built were Daniel H Lemke, Ludwig Semmler, Wilhelm Sperling, Gustav Obst and Wilhelm Ullrich.

During the 1880s Daniel showed that he was also a good salesman. With a drought in the Barossa he bought four strippers on credit and took them to the Riverina area to sell. With the help of his son and three daughters they walked the full distance and catered for the horses which pulled the machines. After having harvested a few paddocks the local farmers were much impressed and bought the four wheat strippers. With the money left over, after paying Linke, the manufacturer, he put in his own crop and did well. During January 1891 Daniel harvested some 700 acres averaging 20 bushels. His son Gustav later became a farmer at Sandleton.

He died on 2 July 1897 and was buried at St Paul’s cemetery Sandleton. Seven months after his death, DH Lemke’s property was auctioned by C von Bertouch on 11 February 1898. It included section 189 of 383 acres, which had been cleared by grubbing and contained two dams and a two-roomed cottage, sections 167 and 172 of 484 acres and section 274 of 323 acres. Section 185 of 441 acres came with a six-roomed stone house, a large underground tank and stable for 12 horses. The new owners would become neighbours of the Gerlach family who lived on section 186. Daniel's wife Louise died on 22 April 1914 at Tanunda, aged 79. She was buried at the Tabor Cemetery at Tanunda.


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